Co-written and edited by Brett Buchanan
What’s in a name? How important is the title of an album? These very well may be questions bands labor over when creating a new album. While it may be hard to argue that it is the songs that separate the run of the mill albums from the classic albums, choosing the best title for a record also plays an important role in defining the album. Be it a random phrase, a title of a song on the album or an eponymous title, the name of an album is what we as music listeners associate a band’s music with. Alternative Nation has decided to take a look at ten of the best alternative self-titled albums from the 90’s on.
Blink 182- Blink 182 (2003)
Blink 182 were synonymous with a lot of things during the late 90’s: Fun, fast and catchy pop punk performed to the highest degree while splashing in a touch humor, as to not take themselves too seriously. The one thing they were not known for was maturity. That was until their eponymous album dropped in the Fall of 2003. Led by the success of “Feeling This” and the melancholy “I Miss You,” Blink 182 proved they could craft classic songs outside of the four walls of straight up pop punk.
Key Track: “I Miss You”
Stone Temple Pilots- Stone Temple Pilots (2010)
For their first album in nine years, STP delivered, returning to their roots with this hard hitting self-titled album, which ended up being the bookend of STP’s original lineup. Frontman Scott Weiland, fresh off his five year stint with supergroup Velvet Revolver, brought it vocally and lyrically, helping to solidify STP’s status as one of the kings of Grunge and Alternative Rock, nearly twenty years after their debut.
Key Track: “Take a Load Off”
10. 311- 311 (1995)
If you take a blender and added one part funk, one part reggae influenced rhythms, and throw in some alt-rock and rapping for good measure, you would have 311. The quintet from Omaha, Nebraska burst onto the scene in the summer of 1995 with their self-titled, third album. Catapulted by the singles, “Don’t Stay Home,” “All Mixed Up” and “Down,” 311 pushed their way into the mainstream masses with what was the beginning of a long string of albums and successful singles.
Key Track: “Don’t Stay Home”
9. Alice In Chains- Alice In Chains (1995)
Following up a monster success of an album is never easy. For Alice In Chains, their 1992 album, Dirt, not only helped shaped and define the Grunge movement, it stands as one of the greatest hard rock albums of all time. While they released the acoustic-tinged (and awesome) Jar Of Flies in 1994, it wasn’t until a year later their next LP came out. Featuring a less commercial, harder edged sound throughout, the self-titled album proved another great success for the Seattle quartet. Darker and moodier than its predecessor, this album showed the lasting power and ability Alice In Chains had to stretch its sonic wings. Being their last album to feature original singer Layne Staley, this album holds a special place in the heart of fans of the band and alternative rock alike.
Key Track: “ Grind”
8. Queens of the Stone Age- Queens of the Stone Age (1998)
While boy-bands and teen stars were dominating the late 90’s, out of the California Desert came Queens of the Stone Age. A unique blend of stoner-rock, alternative, and hard rock, the creation of former Kyuss guitarist, Josh Homme, this eponymous debut set the stage and upped the ante for what a great alternative band can and should be, in a music world corrupted by bubblegum pop, and here today gone tomorrow throwaways.
Key Track: “Mexicola”
7. Deftones- Deftones (2003)
If you look at Deftones and believe they played a huge role in the creation of Nu-Metal, you wouldn’t be wrong. By time they got around to this album from 2003, coming off of the major commercial success of 2000’s White Pony, the easy thing to do would’ve been to release an album similar in style and sound, a White Pony Part 2, to capitalize commercially. Luckily for fans of Deftones, the band moved further away from the Nu-Metal genre, incorporating more moody, atmospheric songs as well some of their straightest Heavy Metal material to date.
Key Track: “Good Morning Beautiful”
6. Pearl Jam- Pearl Jam (2006)
Pearl Jam sound refreshed, energized, and aggressive. For Pearl Jam fans who prefer the harder rock sound, this album does not disappoint. Perhaps this is an example of a band going for an eponymous title because they believe it is a career defining album, or an album that perfectly represents the band as it is in that current time. Regardless, it is their strongest album since 1993’s Vs., and has the sound of a band firing on all cylinders.
Key Track: “World Wide Suicide”
5. Temple of the Dog- Temple of the Dog (1991)
Key Track: “Hunger Strike”
4. Sublime- Sublime (1996)
Sublime are a band that perfectly encapsulate the mid-90’s alternative music scene. Creating a sonic assault with a blend of ska, alternative, dub-step and even hip-hop, they sound like no band who preceded them. To this day, two decades since the release of the album, I dare you to listen to a rock formatted music radio station for an extended period of time and not hear “What I Got.” It is a huge song from a huge album from a band whose potential was cut short by the untimely death of frontman/guitarist Bradley Nowell.
Key Track: “Garden Grove”
3. Foo Fighters- Foo Fighters (1995)
Following the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, it would have been easy for drummer Dave Grohl to fade out of the public eye and live a quiet life. After all, he was the drummer for Nirvana. Luckily for everyone, Dave Grohl decided to do the most shocking thing a drummer can do; become the song-writing, guitar-wielding frontman of a band. The gamble paid off. Recorded nearly entirely by Grohl himself, the album went on to become a smash success on the back of singles “Big Me” and “I’ll Stick Around.”
Key Track: “For All The Cows”
2. Weezer- Weezer (1994)
Overdriven power chords with sing along melodies and Beach Boys-esque harmonies. These are the three key ingredients that make Weezer shine. With their Spike Jonze directed music video for “Buddy Holly,” Weezer injected themselves into pop culture ethos, playing at Al’s Diner with the cast of Happy Days. There is nothing wrong with keeping it simple and sticking to what works. And on this eponymous album (the first of four self-titled for the band) affectionately referred to as The Blue Album, Weezer had it working for them, creating the perfect sound of power-punk infused pop-rock.
Key Track: “My Name Is Jonas”
1. Rage Against The Machine- Rage Against The Machine (1992)
Innovative, powerful, and socially conscious, Rage Against The Machine exploded onto the scene with their eponymous 1992 debut. Funk, rock, and heavy metal infused, the sound the “guilty parties” created was ahead of their time. “Killing In The Name Of” serves as almost an anthem of sorts to the Lollapalooza generation; not to mention on the setlist of every bar-band-cover-band. A power trio with a rapper out front informing music listeners about social injustices and giving a voice to otherwise unheard of issues, their influence and legacy cannot be understated. This was the album that started it all.
Key Track: “Take The Power Back”