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Albums You Should Own: 1993 Edition

Picture yourself in the year 1993: it was the year that millions of teens got their first taste of a first-person shooter in the form of the game Doom, the movie Jurassic Park made history with its computer-generated special effects, and the first web browser, Mosaic, was launched. Hair metal was on a sharp decline, and grunge had a firm grasp on alt culture. Let us transport you back in time via some of the most monumental indie albums of 1993, and be sure to let us know what year you'd like us to cover next!

Mezcal Head - Swervedriver

Mezcal Head is the second studio album from British alternative rock band Swervedriver. This is one of those classic albums that would be just as at home in 2023 as it was in 1993. The album pushes the listener through a headspace that is both ethereal and at times jarring. Tracks like “Blowin’ Cool” and “Duress” are filled with swirling, dreamy guitar sounds and blended layered vocals that feel almost like a fever dream, contrasted with tracks like “Never Lose That Feeling/Never Learn” and “For Seeking Heat”, which are filled with punchy, driving rhythms, yet still feel like they fit seamlessly into the album’s narrative.

Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements - Stereolab

This is Stereolab’s second full length LP, following up the mini-EP Space Age Bachelor Pad Music from earlier the same year. Gentle soothing harmonies in French or English against a backing of electronic synths and effects creates Stereolab’s avant-garde style. On a first listen on a turntable, you might be caught thinking that your record is skipping or that your turntable is losing power before coming to the realization that these are intentional parts of the recording. Stereolab’s sound is refreshingly outside of the grunge vibe that dominated a lot of the alternative airwaves in 1993.

Where You Been - Dinosaur Jr.

Where You Been was Dinosaur Jr.’s fifth studio album, containing perhaps their most recognizable track, “Start Choppin’”, which got a fair bit of play on MTV and helped expand their listener base. More experimental than previous albums, it has been generally well-regarded in the years since its release. For new listeners overwhelmed by the size of the Dinosaur Jr. catalog, Where You Been makes a great jumping off point. It’s an excellent transition between the indie Lou Barlow era, and the very J Mascis-forward, signature melancholy scratchy vocals that appeared here and in many of the albums afterwards.

In On The Kill Taker - Fugazi

There’s a lot to unpack in this album. Songs like “Returning The Screw” and “23 Beats Off” feature mysterious atypical chord progressions played impossibly softly alternating with monosyllabic punches of guitar. Other tracks like “Great Cop” and “Walken’s Syndrome” have all of the characteristics of straightforward D.C. hardcore. Though many songs follow the “quiet, loud, quiet, loud” formula, it always feels genuine and incidental coming from Fugazi. In On The Kill Taker isn’t quite as epic as later albums End Hits and The Argument, but is a solid album and a great listen.

Ultimate Alternative Wavers - Built To Spill

This album was the world’s introduction to the band Built to Spill. Doug Martsch’s distinct and unmistakable vocals are backed by syrupy psychedelic guitar leads layered over each other to create a style that is uniquely theirs, right out of the gate. Built To Spill is one of those bands where it’s worth it to listen to the entire discography in chronological order, and this album is a perfect way to hop right in.


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