Albums to Cure Your Need For 90s Nostalgia

by Tena on August 14, 2012

in Curvy Pop

In college, I gave my best shot at growing dread locks, but only lasted two weeks without washing my hair until my roommates threatened to kick me out.  I was guilty of wearing men’s Levi’s from the used jean shop on campus (approximately two sizes too large), flannel shirts, and Doc Martens, pretty much daily. Point being, the 90s were not a proud moment for me, fashionably speaking.

However, we did have good music.

I interned at the local alternative rock radio station and was exposed to many new genres and artists. I prided myself in having an eclectic taste in music and the 90s were an ideal time for me to spread my wings. A decade that spewed a rebirth in popularity of music festivals like Lollapalooza and Lillith Fair, the 90s opened up many diverse kinds of music from grunge, gangsta rap, alternative, and teen pop.

We all know which albums were critically acclaimed. I could easily list all things U2, Radiohead, Nirvana, Beck and Smashing Pumpkins, like every other list does, but how fun is that?  This is a list of albums that I own and so should you. They are great from beginning to end, a gauge of any great album, and when they’re over I find myself mourning The Larry Sander’s Show and the Clinton Administration.

Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morisette: With emotional lyrics full of angst and rage, if you suffered through a bitter relationship in the late 90s, chances are good that you sang some of these songs into your hairbrush in front of the mirror.

Ten, Pearl Jam: A less abrasive introduction to grunge and alternative rock than, say, Nirvana, Pearl Jam’s Ten tackled weighty topics and set the lyrics to a more universally classic rock sound that had a mainstream appeal.

Blind Melon, Blind Melon: The popular track, No Rain (and, equally, infamous video with the girl in a bumblebee costume) is just a small taste of what Blind Melon offered in this self- titled album. Rooted in a classic southern rock, Blind Melon’s sound is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and Lynard Skynard, without being blatant. Song to not be missed: Change.

Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik, Red Hot Chili Peppers: With numerous chart topping hits, this would be the album that would outrage die hard Red Hot Chili Pepper fans everywhere that the band had “sold out” because now they would now have to share them, but it’s just that good.  Luckily, for many mainstream radio listeners, they could finally discover the funky grooves that RHCP have to offer. Anthony Kiedes dug deeper, lyrically and emotionally, in this album and it paid off.

August and Everything After, Counting Crows: A debut album that would impress with a nice mix of easy and cool.  A way with catchy hooks, like Mr. Jones, Counting Crows proved they know how to make hits, but still stay hip.

The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Black Crowes: Their second album further perfects their style of classic blues/ rock. Each and every song on this album is heartfelt and gives the feeling of sitting in on a jam session with the band (and quite possibly a cloud of smoke lingering above.)

CrazySexyCool, TLC: In this second offering from TLC, they moved away from the hip hop/rap of their debut album and found their strength in R&B with soulful, smooth vocals and timely lyrics.

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLaughlin: Groundbreaking album that helped pave the way for a decade’s worth of successful female songwriters. McLaughlin’s haunting vocals fit the raw emotion behind the lyrics and the tracks flow together seamlessly and leave you wanting more.

3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days in the Life of, Arrested Development: Politically conscious and thought provoking lyrics are set to a fusion of rap, soul, blues, hip hop, and funk. Innovative and interesting in both its sound and messages.

Metallica (The Black Album), Metallica: In this album, Metallica made a wise decision to streamline their sound. The heavy handed guitar riffs that once kept them securely in the metal and thrash genre, were simplified towards a more stripped down, melodic and commercially, radio friendly direction.

Mama Said, Lenny Kravitz: As an avid Lenny fan, I had to do a coin toss between this and Are You Gonna Go My Way. Both are equally representative of his musical influences like Lennon, Prince and Hendrix and unapologetically retro. Each track on both albums are flawless and layered and effortlessly display his talent. That being said, I believe Mama Said is more authentically Lenny and less produced and polished than the follow up.

Tuesday Night Music Club, Sheryl Crow: Her debut album, less pop than intended by her record company, on a second attempt was grown out of a collaborative effort of jam sessions, beer drinking and writing songs with fellow musicians, aptly titled, Tuesday Night Music Club. The rough around the edges, homemade and acoustic feel of this album is consistent and enjoyable.

Under The Table and Dreaming, Dave Matthews Band: Known for their eclectic blend of talents and styles, Dave Matthews Band got the formula right in this album. Their signature folk/rock, jazz, African beats combined with solid songwriting are still alive and well, but they were able to reign in their tendancy to linger and draw out some of their instrumentals and keep the listener’s attention with intriguing melodies and the band’s true musicianship.

What album epitomizes the 90s for you?


Jen August 14, 2012 at 7:34 am

Yes! I still own all but 2 of those albums! Still listen to Third Eye Blink, Gin Blossoms and Better than Ezra too!

Brittany August 14, 2012 at 7:55 am

The Verve Pipe, Dishwalla, The Goo Goo Dolls, Poe, The Cardigans, Lisa Loeb, EVERYONE from Lilith, Garbage, The Wallflowers, Veruca Salt, Mazzy Star, Fiona Apple…and um, I MAY have owned a Spice Girls CD also.

Amanda August 14, 2012 at 8:11 am

I was in college in the early 90s and this is my take on the music from that decade…going to a bar in my hometown and seeing all the once popular kids from high school drunk and singing this music. I just could never get into 90s music. This came out in 1989 but it’s the only good thing I remember from that time: 2Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be! LOL Rock on!!

mav76 August 14, 2012 at 9:03 am

It’s a fun party trick to bust out the fact that you know all the lyrics to ‘Jump Around’ or, like, ANY Warren G song. My kids are mortified and awestruck at the same time.

Cassandra from TX August 14, 2012 at 9:11 am

Everything above, plus Barenaked Ladies, Sugar Ray (before they went all boy-band; specifically the album “Floored”), Everclear, Chumbawamba (They were only popular for that one song, but the rest of their album was pretty good), Marcy Playground (ditto), Man or Astro-Man, and did I mention OASIS?

alison August 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

agree, agree, agree, agree, agree…best list ever…every album i was like oh yeah that one was awesome..

penny August 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm

yes, what alison said! ;)

Tarah August 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Nirvana, 311, 3rd Eye Blind, Tracy Chapman, Green Day.

Elizabeth L. August 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm

My early 90s cassette tapes (most of which I still have despite not having a place to play them) include Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Paula Abdul, Billy Ray Cyrus, Alan Jackson, and New Kids on the Block. Eclectic was the name of the game. Also I was 7 in 1992 so that might have had something to do with it…

At some point I got my very first CD, Backstreet Boys (the original US edition thank you very much), which was sort of the gateway drug into late 90s pop that defined middle school for me. You could put in any one of the first five Now That’s What I Call Music albums and I could probably give you a run down of what was going on in my life at the time that song was popular.

But if I had to pick one 90s album that fills me with nostalgia and longing for simpler days (ha!), it would be Hanson and their debut album.

I’m sure that says a lot about me and probably nothing good. :)

Erin August 15, 2012 at 10:35 am

This list reads like the soundtrack to my college experience.

I would also have to add: Hootie & the Blowfish, Live, Lisa Loeb, Savage Garden, Natalie Imbruglia, No Doubt (specifically “Tragic Kingdom”), Paula Cole (“This Fire”), Spin Doctors, Semisonic.

Take me back, Wayback Machine!

Laura August 16, 2012 at 10:21 am

Pearl Jam and Nirvana :)

Ashley August 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm

311 – Music and 311
Alice in Chains – Dirt, Jar of Flies
Beastie Boys – Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty
Digable Planets – Reachin
A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders
Warren G – Regulate
Outkast – Southernplayalisticadillamuzik
KRS-One – I Got Next
Jeff Buckley – Grace
Indigo Girls – Rites of Passage, Swamp Ophelia, The Shaming of the Sun
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Any and All: Bone, Tupac, Biggie
The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic
Rage Against the Machine – RATM, Evil Empire
Wu-Tang – Enter the 36 Chambers
GZA – Liquid Swords
Sublime – Sublime
The Roots – Things Fall Apart
Travis – The Man Who
Weezer – Blue Album, Pinkerton

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