5 Amazing Alternative Rock Albums Of The 90s


Ah, the 90’s. Some people say it’s their favourite decade of music, and it’s not that difficult to understand why – especially if you’re a fan of guitar-based albums. Rock music went under a renaissance of sorts during these golden years, with grunge, Britpop, pop punk, nu metal and indie in fine voice.

The 90s produced some of the very best alternative rock music, and no serious music fan’s collection could be complete without these five records, which have stood the test of time very well.Weezer's Lead Singer, Rivers Cuomo

So, read on and be prepared for some of the best music ever made!

1. Weezer – Pinkerton (1996)

Weezer had already released the perfect debut album in the form of the Blue Album, which had hits such as “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So”, but they followed it up strongly with the very different Pinkerton. Critics panned the album for its bleaker and heavier tone, but unbeknownst to them, Weezer had actually seen the future of pop punk — emo. Yes, Pinkerton is now considered one of the very first emo albums and you can certainly hear why, with Rivers Cuomo’s self-deprecating and powerfully emotional lyrics. Weezer’s second album can now be considered a sort of history lesson in emo’s evolution, and who knows what Fall Out Boy’s music might have been like without it!

Key Songs: Tired Of Sex, Across The Sea, El Scorcho

2. Soundgarden – Superunknown (1994)

There were many different sides to grunge, but one of the heaviest bands that emerged from the scene was Soundgarden. Once Nirvana developed the grunge scene, Soundgarden got their big break and in 1994 they released their most commercially successful album, Superunknown. It is amazing, plus amazingly heavy! Inspired by heavy metal legends Black Sabbath, Superunknown is their most consistent album, and comes at you with hit after hit, all carried by their phenomenal musicianship and Chris Cornell’s powerful voice.

Key Songs: Black Hole Sun, Spoonman, The Day I Tried to Live

CD Of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless

3. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)

The story of this album’s creation is kind of a legend, but also a tale of warning for young bands. Loveless almost bankrupted MBV’s record label, with a lot of the budget being blown on drugs, but at the end of a stressful recording period, this masterpiece was born. A defining album in the shoegaze sub-genre, Loveless is atmospheric, fuzzy and best played very, very loud. If your ears aren’t bleeding whilst you listen to Loveless, you’re not listening to it properly.

Key Songs: To Here Knows When, When You Sleep, Soon

4. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dreams (1993)Smashing Pumpkins When They Made A Guest Appearance In The Simpsons

Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins is infamous for his controlling nature of the band, but during the 90’s when things were a little more stable he created one of the greatest rock albums ever made. Siamese Dream is a long album with plenty of ambition, but it gets away with trying to punch above its weight because of its infectious heavy riffs and Corgan’s natural gift for self-defeating anthems. The most perfect of these is album highlight, Today, a wonderfully dark pop song about being on the edge of suicide and falling in love with life again.

Key Songs: Today, Cherub Rock, Hummer

5. Nirvana – In Utero (1993)

The Cover Of Nirvana's In Utero

Nirvana may have brought about the massive increase in popularity for alternative rock with Nevermind, but Kurt Cobain and co weren’t keen to just repeat the success of that album. Instead, they took a darker and heavier turn, taking more influence form their contemporaries. It was also, apparently, a deliberate ploy to make the music more inaccessible to the many thousands of people who latched on to Nirvana’s popularity. Although a little more difficult to appreciate at first, In Utero is still one of the best alternative rock albums to grace the airwaves. It’s aggressive, riff heavy and depressing tone can’t hide the fact Kurt Cobain loves to write great pop songs. It’s under rated, and should be adored by more, so grab this CD and some Nirvana clothing to educate your musical tastes.

Key Songs: Heart-Shaped Box, Pennyroyal Tea, All Apologies

These five timeless albums are just a few to get you started in discovering and celebrating the great music of the 90s. The truth is that there are hundreds more that could have been included. So what are you waiting for? Get listening!

Featured images:

Geoffrey Clarke is a part-time music blogger whose favourite band on this list is Smashing Pumpkins.

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  1. Daniel@onlinelessonsforguitar.com says

    Superunknown is super underrated, I mean, the guitar work on it is amazing! Kim Thayil has such a unique touch, and he’s not even fast

  2. DW says

    I miss the 90’s so much! Music was just so much more intense and passionate back then. In Utero was an incredible album. You were just starting to see Kurt Cobain really develop beyond simple power chord guitar rock.

  3. Tom Farr says

    I learned how to play guitar in the 90s, and I remember all these bands so well. It was a great time in music for guitar albums.