20. Goo Goo Dolls, Superstar Car WashGoo still plays a song or two from this live, as a surprise to the diehard fans. One of my best friends and I totally freaked at a concert when they launched into their more hardcore songs from this album, and the performance was awesome. This was such a cool album for fans, because the guys were still pretty hardcore rockers, but brought on some more understandable lyrical work. Their evolution musically has been so cool, growing with fans and somehow maintaining their roots, and I think this was a pivotal point in that long career. There are few albums I write up on for these lists that I immediately want to go back and listen to at that moment, but trust me, on this one I'm heading right for the CD
19. Flaming Lips, Transmissions From The Satellite HeartThe Flaming Lips have always been a strange and fearless band with demented lyrics and genuinely original ideas. Sometimes that mix would result in a misfire, other times it would blend together beautifully, creating powerful musical stew. This album (their SIXTH!) was the one that sold me on the band and made me a lifelong disciple of Wayne Coyne and company. It contained the radio friendly "She Don't Use Jelly" which, when you think about it, should have been on a censor's hit list, and a lovely cover of Ed Rush's "Plastic Jesus." It's the go-to record I recommend for anyone looking to take a first listen to the band before dragging them dressed as a gargantuan white bunny to one of their concerts.--Dufmanno
18. Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Toward EcstasyThis is one of those albums that I wore out on my 5-disc CD changer back in college. I think my favorite track, because it's gorgeous, is the first song, "Posession," partly because it's misunderstood. I remember at the time gals at school were talking about it being a nice love song but sorry drunk college girls, it's sung from the point of view of a guy stalking Sarah, based on her experiences with a kind of crazed fan. In fact, she got SUED by a stalker because he claimed she used his crazy letters as the basis for the song. The legal case went nowhere because the stalker killed himself. True
17. Mariah Carey, Music BoxI got into Mariah Carey because my older cousin, who I thought was sooo cool, was a big fan. When I started buying CDs, I tried to complete a whole catalog of her music (I still haven't, sadly). However, I did manage to secure Music Box, her 1993 release. The two singles that stand out in particular to me are "Dreamlover" and "Hero," though I know there were two more ("Without You/Never Forget You" and "Anytime You Need a Friend"). "Dreamlover" was fun though, and "Hero" was inspiring. I remember the resurgence of the song during 9/11, and that is just a song that is forever lovely. The album, as a whole, is seen as among her most mellow work, but I have to say that I love this side of Mariah. She's classy here, and shows people a lyrical side of her as opposed to just a beauty with an incredible vocal range. There's a real, respectable young lady there and Music Box really took her to a different place in her career.--J-Hawke
16. New Order, RepublicNew Order's Republic is largely known for its in-fighting during the recording sessions—hence its widely mixed reviews—but readers should be reminded of the fact that Fleetwood Mac's brilliant and inspired album Rumours was riddled with backstage conflict, as well as The Beatles' Let It Be (which also garnered varied opinions, but eventually received recognition as #392 in Rolling Stone's 2012 list of "The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time"). It is perhaps during these moments of turmoil that brilliant artists are able to channel that negative energy and leave us with something deeply human and frighteningly relatable. Republic's first single "Regret" appears, on the surface, to lack the tenebrous mark of many previous New Order songs. Rather, it has a carefree John Hughes-like quality—Hook's bass ever present, Sumner's voice lighter and livelier—though not without that muted color palate, which suggests a tone of concession and (appropriately) regret. It's not often you'll find a band continue to evolve after ten years of major success (not including their many years as Joy Division). Too often we see aged musicians idle in their artistic output, producing the same album over and over, eventually staling on stage and falling out from the public eye, not because of backstage turmoil but because of a refusal or an inability to grow. In Republic, New Order rises to the occasion. Songs like "World" and "Young Offender" introduce us to a more modern danceable version of their previous work, and others like "Special" and "Everyone Everywhere" continue to give us the stronger yet more subtle qualities of Sumner's voice that we've all come to love. It's not hard to understand why Republic is one of our Top 20 Albums of '93. It is, in fact, one of New Order's best.--Jacqueline
15. Urge Overkill, SaturationIt's an absolute tragedy that Urge Overkill didn't become the next Nirvana or Pearl Jam. One listen to Saturation and you'll ask yourself the same question. It's one of my favorite rock albums ever, a deliberate attempt by the band to make a hit record which over-delivers in every way. "Sister Havana" kicks things off with incredible riffs and clever lyrics, and they keep the pedal to the medal through killer tunes like "Positive Bleeding," "Bottle Of Fur," and the Susan Lucci-inspired "Erica Kane." Bush and Candlebox may have had the big chart hits, but they look like pathetic amateurs next to Urge
14. Frank Black, Frank BlackIt's no secret that I was gutted when The Pixies met their demise. It was too soon.
The first solo album from the beloved Pixies frontman hit me hard because it pushed me to the full realization that the band might not just be "taking a break." I'd already had one favorite '80s supergroup call it quits on me and a second just cemented my reputation for choosing my music foolishly. "They'll all leave you in the end", everyone whispered. Anyway, this bleak band breakup track record didn't prevent me from racing to the nearest music store to pick up Frank Black's masterpiece and I had to grudgingly admit that it was awesome. UFOs, sci-fi, crazy shenanigans, it was all here, and then there was the fact that Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago played guitar on these scorching songs; that made up for a little. Soon everyone was belting out the lyrics to "Hang Onto Your Ego" and "Ten Percenter" with as much gusto as they'd mustered for "Giagantic" and "Debaser." A new era had begun.--Dufmanno