Several years ago while I was interning at 94.1 WYSP I learned that in order for a band or a release to be considered “classic” it has to at least be 15 years old. This was told to me by one of the DJs when I remarked that a late ’90’s Green Day song was in the playlist. WYSP was not known for playing songs that were late ’90’s. They were heavily focused on the ’70’s through ’95 at least. There would be an occasional Green Day song from Dookie but nothing from around 2000.
I recently did some digging and found this a list that I compiled of albums that to this day would be in the “classic” section now. In order to qualify the album has to have been released in 1999. Not only that but it needs to be a sub genre of rock. The point of this list is not to find albums that literally just sound like they came out in the ’90’s but that you can’t believe that it came out in that time period because you still find yourself listening to something off of it.
15. The Bloodhound Gang’s Hooray for Boobies
Let’s kick off the list with a gag entry. The Bloodhound Gang hail from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and have a very interesting genre listing online. To this date the group has only released four albums with this one being their third one. After getting dropped by their first label the band set off on releasing their follow up which featured their first huge hit, “Fire Water Burn.” The band has never been shy in terms of their musical content as their other memorable single which was off of this record was “The Bad Touch,” a song all about sex.
14. Guster’s Lost and Gone Forever
It’s hard to believe that a band that has been around since the very early ‘90’s has only recorded six albums. This was their third record within four years. The indie rock group’s latest effort was met with mixed reviews but that didn’t stop Paste magazine to award Lost and Gone Forever with the 79th best record of the 1990’s.
13. Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity
While the record itself does feel and sound dated it doesn’t change the fact that unlike some of the albums that were released in this year this still remains one of the most audible ones to this day. Jimmy Eat World’s third LP wasn’t quite the breakthrough we thought it would be. The album received a vast amount of critical acclaim in retrospect. One reviewer even went so far as calling it the Led Zeppelin IV of emo rock. It wouldn’t be until 2001’s Bleed American that JEW would reach it’s mainstream success.
12. New Found Glory’s Nothing Gold Can Stay
While debut albums rarely strike gold the debut from New Found Glory was a nice piece of pop punk. With a litany of Promise Ring and Lifetime rip off bands New Found Glory stood out according to All Music, a music website. Alternative Press hailed the record ten years later as one of the ten classic albums of 1999. While the record never had any huge singles that the band would later strike up it did set the ground work for future LPs.
11. The White Stripes’ The White Stripes
Never before has their been a musician as polarizing as Jack White. The man makes good music a majority of the time but he can be a real tool. Ignoring recent comments with regards to the Black Keys and his ex wife we can focus on the band itself. The White Stripes were ahead of their time. Fusing the concepts of blues with modern rock and roll. What came next was something that modern bands have been trying to capture for a while now. White’s vocals soar even on his newer material and it all goes back fifteen years. The album was well received but it wasn’t until 2001’s White Blood Cells that they earned the commercial acclaim they deserved.
10. Wilco’s Summerteeth
Chicago alternative rock band Wilco released their third record to much acclaim fifteen years ago. It marked the first time that the band had charted in the top 40 in the United Kingdom. It peaked at 78 on the Billboard top 200. Wilco’s sound is so incredible that even after all this time it still sounds beautiful. Following the release of Summerteeth each subsequent Wilco record up until 2007’s Sky Blue Sky would be superior to the previous. This includes 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and 2004’s A Ghost is Born as well
09. Beck’s Midnite Vultures
Beck’s seventh LP was critically acclaimed but didn’t do as well commercially as his breakthrough Odelay a few years prior. This marked the start of the time in which Beck would be going more for the electronic folk sound as compared to the earlier work we were used to from the musician. Even though it was so under the radar in terms of sales it was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year at the 43rd Annual Grammy’s. The main highlight track is the opener, “Sexx Laws.”
08. Saves the Day’s Through Being Cool
Emo pioneers and local studs Saves the Day come through with their second album and it featured a more melodic sound than their more hardcore/punk debut. The band’s evolution was just beginning. How influential is this record? Music magazine Alternative Press called this record one of the top ten most influential albums of 1999. Say Anything as well as Lostprophets and Hit the Lights all covered songs off of the seminal record. Pretty solid for a Jersey band.
07. The Get Up Kids’ Something to Write Home About
The second record from the pop punk group was one of the best in a time where the later labeled genre was nonexistent. Emo pioneers, the band put out what some consider to be one of the best records of the late ‘90’s that aren’t on a mainstream label. While the album didn’t spawn many singles it did feature solid tracks that lot of people would overlook. The opener “Holiday” as well as “Valentine” and “Red Letter Day” are stand out tracks but it’s “I’m A Loner Dottie, a Rebel” that will always be my favorite from the record. Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz has gone on saying that there would be no Fall Out Boy if there was never the Get Up Kids. A bold statement, but most likely true.
06. AFI’s Black Sails in the Sunset
Modern AFI changes their sound with each record. And Black Sails is where the band began to change their sound from a more hardcore punk sound to a more goth punk sound. The style worked gloriously for Davey Havok and co as they unleashed their three best records, 2000’s The Art of Drowning, and 2003’s Sing the Sorrow, being among their best works. While this record spawned no singles it did achieve critical acclaim.
05. Incubus’ Make Yourself
For a band that has found itself reinventing their sound pretty early on Incubus has done very well for themselves. The third studio LP might have been their most commercial at the time delivering a pair for radio friendly singles. I remember hearing both “Stellar” and “Drive” in the summer of 2000 on the top 40 radio stations. What shocks me is that there was no singles before the record was released in October of 1999. “Stellar” and “Drive” did help bring the band some new fans but it would be their next two albums that would deliver the best work the band has turned out.
04. Muse’s Showbiz
Very rarely does a debut record for a band age well. Sometimes there are exceptions. Muse’s Showbiz still has the sound that the band wishes they kept after all these years. Since their mainstream discovery back in 2004 with Absolution they have managed to only go downhill. While Showbiz never truly had the favorable singles it did have five of them off of a record that featured twelve songs. Still a pretty good ratio. This would be the first time, but not the last that the band would receive comparisons to fellow country men, Radiohead
03. Foo Fighters’ There Is Nothing Left to Lose
The third LP from the hard rockers featured a handful of singles but only a pair that still garner mainstream airplay to this day. After the passing of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl decided to continue his musical career and that has brought him to the Foo Fighters. After recording the entire debut album on his own he added a full ensemble on 1997’s The Colour and Shape. In their second go around the band put out a vastly underrated album with a single that doesn’t get much attention. “Stacked Actors” still holds up to this day but is critically underappreciated while the lead and big single “Learn to Fly” still sounds incredible to this very day.
02. Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication
Believe it or not, Californication is the band’s seventh LP. Let that soak in for a few minutes. In the early ‘90’s the band’s original guitarist, John Frusciante, left in the middle of the tour promoting Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik only to replace him eventually with former Jane’s Addiction stud Dave Navarro. Navarro brought with him a slightly different sound and yes it was noticeable on their future recordings. Eventually they fired him and Flea reinvited Frusciante to the band and he returned. The record has spawned six timeless singles that you can still hear on mainstream alternative radio as well as classic rock stations. With lead single “Scar Tissue” showing a darker side to the band it may have scared off people but subsequent singles “Otherside” and “Californication” helped back a darker more mature side for the band. Throw in other singles “Around the World” and “Road Trippin’” and “Parallel Universe” and you have a stellar record.
01. Blink 182’s Enema of the State
It’s hard to believe that fifteen years ago the punk rockers put out what is widely considered their greatest album to date. The pop punk trio recorded their first record with Travis Barker playing the drums. Barker immediately made a huge change in their sound as the vastly talented drummer brought a whole new dimension to the band. Sure the record spawned pop punk anthems for the degenerates with “What’s My Age Again?” and the insanely catchy “All The Small Things” but it is the more serious track, “Adam’s Song” that really gave a new perspective on the band. Even after all these years Enema still ranks as one of the greatest pop-punk albums of all time, not just the band’s coup de grace.
I wanted to keep the list at fifteen to fit the fifteen year mark that marks a classic album but here are some honorable mentions:
Korn’s Issues– The numetal group’s fourth record featured the single “Make Me Bad.”
Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn…– The second album from Apple has one of the longest titles known to man, it features the single “Fast as You Can.”
The Counting Crows’ This Desert Life– The band’s third LP features the single “Hanginaround.”
Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle of Los Angeles – The third LP featuring “Testify” and “Guerrilla Radio.
Third Eye Blind’s Blue– The second LP from the group featuring “Slow Motion”
Creed’s Human Clay – The second LP from the rock group is also their most well known featuring the hits “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open.”
Limp Bizkit’s Significant Other- Most well known for having “The Nookie”
Smash Mouth’s Astro Lounge- I am not even touching this one.