Sunday, August 22, 2004

The 25 Best "Alternative" albums of All Time, according to Anthony Miccio, State College Area High School Senior, as published in the Centre Daily Times Off Centre teen page in April 1998.

#1) Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat

'This album is arguably [their] best: noisy guitars, caustic vocals, and sprawling rants including a 17-minute monster called "Sister Ray" that never lets up its propulsive beat. Way before its time.'

#2) R.E.M., Reckoning

'An underrated classic that's greater, song by song, than any of the band's other amazing albums. You already know about these guys.'

#3) Feelies, Crazy Rhythms

'Four geeky Hoboken suburbanites made this classic album out of jagged punk melodies, nervous attitude and the propulsive, percussive rhythms that dominate their style.'

#4) Afghan Whigs, Gentlemen

'Most albums of the 1990s are owned by the singles, but this one works best as a whole, like Dark Side Of The Moon or Tommy.' (I have never listened to either of the albums referenced in my life)

#5) Talking Heads, Fear Of Music

'The classic band's last and best "rock" album is a masterpiece of nerdiness and experimentation.' (do a shot every time I write "classic" or "experimentation" in this article)

#6) Pixies, Doolittle

'That soft verse/loud chorus thing that plagues '90s radio started with this influential group, which is why it fits perfectly into WGMR's playlist.'

#7) Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Rust Never Sleeps

'Neil Is Neil.' (man, do I wanna give the adolescent me a big thumbs up for that worthless opener) 'His voice can be grating, but if that's a problem then how come no one else can play his songs right?'

#8) Afghan Whigs, Black Love

'The band's most recent album replaces grunge with a jagged sound that mixes R&B with Sonic Youth-style experimentiaton. The songs are classic and singer Greg Dulli's ability to belt ranks up there with Tom Waits.' (um, Tom Waits belts?)

#9) U2, Zooropa

'The classic band really got it right on this one: classic melodies, futuristic sounds and soul searching lyrics.' (classic.)

#10) Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers

'Jonathan Richman: the first nerd-rocker...If punk means standing out and being yourself, then they don't come any punker.'

#11) Replacements, Pleased To Meet Me

'A great band that was unfairly ignored in the '80s, the Replacements were one of the first groups to mix punk with more mainstream rock sounds. Paul Westerberg is (or is that was?) one of the best lyricists of the modern era.' (was.)

#12) Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand

'...Listen to this diverse plethora of brief-but-endearing songs and you can't help but wonder, "How?"'

#13) Stooges, Fun House

'Loud, rowdy and stunning, this album is too ferocious for radio 30 years after its release. Why aren't they in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame? (Why isn't Iggy?)' (Why am I sharing this crap with you?)

#14) Velvet Underground, 1969 Live

'...It's hard to believe that people could actually create something this great in one take.' (I'm assuming the next sentence was going to be "wowee wow wow.")

#15) R.E.M., Monster

'Love it or hate it, this albums mixes hard rock with high art, creating one of the most important albums in the band's catalog.' (High art? Wow, I was, like this close to being a lil' Jim DeRogatis. Rock lives!)

#16) Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

'Featuring haphazard and occasionally stumbling musicianship and a vocalist who you know could do better, Pavement refuses to be the brilliant band it could. The fact that "Crooked Rain" is near perfect is probably an accident.' (....)

#17) Yo La Tengo, Electr-O-Pura

'Three thirtysomethings from Hoboken who keep making brilliant modern rock for the joy of it, even though only 60,000 people seem to care (which isn't really that bad).' (corny? check. indie? check.)

#18) Matthew Sweet, Girlfriend

'A pinnacle of power pop that only pretentious snobs could dislike.'
( "this kid's got promise!")

#19) Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance

'...this album spotlights psuedo-singer David Thomas pondering the life of his friend Peter Laughter and the fact that Ubu figured out what comes after punk before anyone else could even think about it.' (or so I'd read...)

#20) Girls Against Boys, House Of GVSB

'...If the next album, "Freak*On*Ica," is anywhere as good as this one, then you're looking at the next big thing.' (I'll stand by that.)

#21) Morrissey, Your Arsenal

'...master moper Morrissey...'

#22) Elvis Costello & The Attractions, This Years Model

'Another complicated genius...'

#23) The Fall, 458489 Asides

'Mark E. Smith, a tone-deaf but stunning MC...'

#24) Big Star, Third/Sister Lovers

'...the songs on this album are some of the most emotionally draining you'll ever hear that could still be considered pop.' (I can't decide if I stand by that statement or not.)

#25) Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation

'Every album this NYC quartet has done since 1986's EVOL has been great, but this one features "Teen Age Riot," the band's songwriting pinnacle, as well some of their grandest and most impressively intuitive work.' ("most impressively intuitive"?)

Aside from Zooropa, Daydream Nation and (wtf) Monster I still love these albums a lot. I just thought you might appreciate a glimpse at what I was like back in the day. Back when they used to call me "the music nazi." Back when I'd never known the love of a woman. Back when I was commending Soundgarden for their "authenticity" despite not enjoying a single thing they'd ever done.

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