Ten Underrated Independent Rock Albums of the 1990s


The Apples in Stereo

When you think of ’90s indie rock, what bands come to mind? Perhaps it’s Sonic Youth, Pavement, Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate. Maybe on a grander scale, you might be tempted to think Oasis, Radiohead, or Weezer (which you shouldn’t).

No matter what scale you use to view the genre, for every good band that received some level of recognition, countless other good bands were lost in the fray.

To come up with a definitive list of the best of that bunch would be too tedious a task. There are simply too many albums to consider and criteria to consider. Listing a handful of forgotten albums that deserve a listen is a much easier option and we will happily go that route. Heck, we won’t even bother to rank them by quality. The order is random. Don’t worry about that and just give them a lislten.

10. Sugar – File Under: Easy Listening

Hüsker Dü was on the forefront of the movement away from crappy hair metal and shitty pop music that came about in the 1980s. After the band broke up, Bob Mould went on to release tons of music that deserves much more recognition that it has gotten to date. F.U.E.L. is at the forefront of that list.

9. Knapsack – Day Three of My New Life

Oh, hey there, emo band. It was a tough call whether or not to put this band on the list. In some ways, it is a pivotal album to many indie/emo kids who grew up in the 90s. However, it is also something that did not make it far out of the decade and deserves to be shared with those who missed out on it.

8. Boy’s Life – Departures and Landfalls

Departures and Landfalls is an amalgamation of elongated intros, background noise, and lo-fi but catchy hooks. This is an album that slowly opens itself up to the listener who will eventually be playing air drums along to the songs and singing out the choruses.

7. Archers of Loaf – The Speed Of Cattle

The Archers of Loaf, one of Chapel Hill’s finer exports, briefly surfaced to the top an an opening band for a Weezer tour, though that did little to bring the band into the limelight. It’s a shame. The Speed of Cattle‘s stark contrast of grittiness and catchiness blend seamlessly into a terrific album.

6. Karate – Karate

Geoff Farina’s stripped down sound and structures allow this self-titled album to show its true worth, not unlike turning off the instruments just to hear the quality of a singer’s voice. Some might argue that 1997’s In Place of Real Hindsight is a better record but I am partial to this album. Karate is also the most awesome band that my band had the opportunity to open up for at the now defunct Stalag 13 in West Philadelphia.

5. H2O – Thicker Than Water

This clearly New York City based punk rock band impressively straddles the line between hardcore punk and pop punk without losing any credibility in the process. It is an energetic, enjoyable album that is equally suitable for thrashing about at a punk rock show as it is to sing along to with the sunroof open on your ride home from work.

4. Polvo – Today’s Active Lifestyle

Of course a Polvo album was going to make this list.

3. Luna – Bewitched

These mellow shoegazers hit the nail on the head with 1994’s Bewitched. This album makes the most of clean tones, simple riffs and the laidback pace that played a nice counterbalance to the punk rock albums of its time.

2. Hum – Its Gonna Be A Midget Xmas (Demo)

Hum attained mainstream success with 1995’s You’d Prefer an Astronaut and its catchy single, “Stars.” The true gem in their collection, though, is this unreleased EP, which is available for free download on their site. http://www.h-u-m.net/downloads/index.php

1. The Apples in Stereo – Velocity Of Sound

Velocity of Sound is indie pop at its finest. If you can make it through this album without finding yourself having fun, we can no longer be friends.

Honorable Mentions:
Onelinedrawing – Sketchy EP #1
Vermont – Living Together
The Helgeson Story - No Mail Days Are Sad Days
The Delta 72 – The Soul Of A New Machine
The Casket Lottery – Choose Bronze
Aloha – That’s Your Fire
Menthol – S/T
Hoover – The Lurid Traversal Of Route 7

Marcello C. De Feo

Founder and CEO at Untied Magazine
Marcello De Feo started blogging in 2002 as a way to promote his band and stay in touch with friends back east when he lived in Colorado. Over the years, he has owned and run many blogs, the most notable of which was FlyersFaithful.com. Untied is his most expansive effort to date and he is ecstatic to have so many brilliant writers on board from the get go.