We’ve heard what Executive VP Megan Jasper considers to be Sub Pop’s best albums, but now it’s our turn to weigh in. Here’s what folks around the newsroom had to say about their personal picks.
Dan “Monty” Montalto — Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary
Undoubtedly one of the most influential indie records of the ’90s, Diary is one of the few albums that I have kept in constant rotation over the years. The brand of “emo” that this album represents (and essentially created) made for some of the best punk/indie/emo records of the late ’90s (the Get Up Kids, Braid, Piebald, Texas Is the Reason). Any fans of those artists — and all those that followed — owe much to this album. Even lo-fi rockers No Age recently told us that Diary is one of their all-time faves. For a band with a short and frequently troubled lifespan, Sunny Day Real Estate’s discography continues to shine 14 years later.
Chris Harris: The Reverend Horton Heat’s The Full Custom Gospel Sounds of the Reverend Horton Heat
I first discovered the Reverend Horton Heat — which is both a three-piece psychobilly outfit from Dallas, Texas, as well as the stage name of its frontman, Jim Heath — while watching “Beavis and Butthead,” when the band’s “Wiggle Stick” video was put up for ridicule by the cartoon delinquents. I remember thinking I’d never heard music quite like this before; I was only 15 — if my math’s correct — and listened to Jane’s Addiction almost exclusively. I was caught in that awkward phase between listening to what my dad thought was awesome (Pink Floyd) and doing my own digging, finding bands on my own. So I picked up a copy of TFCGSOTRHH and became an immediate fan of the band. Songs like “Loaded Gun,” “The Devil’s Chasing Me” and “Gin and Tonic Blues” introduced me to an unfamiliar sound, one that was dirty, raw and exciting. Live, the band was manic: They ripped through a badass, truly entertaining set, and my impressionable mind was blown. This is one of those records that I can still put on today and not skip a track, which, to me, is the true mark of a solid studio effort.
Christopher “CJ” Smith: Wolf Parade’s Apologies to Queen Mary
Arcade who? With the help of producer Issac Brock, this Montreal quartet rattled some bones in 2005 with their debut LP. Montreal was the new Seattle! Although some prefer the low-fi and dirty production on the band’s previous EPs, Brock brought a tight cleanness to the album that’s allowed it to age gracefully into a modern classic.
Lindsey Thomas: Velocity Girl’s ¡Simpatico!
In 1994, I listened to whatever was on the mixtapes my brother made for our dad’s Geo Metro: Archers of Loaf, Sebadoh, Dambuilders and other bands that make me sigh whenever I think about the ’90s. But none of them were really mine. Then I saw the video for the jangly, summery “Sorry Again” on “120 Minutes” (R.I.P.) and rushed out to buy ¡Simpatico! While the pop songs on the band’s first LP, Copacetic, were muddied with shoegaze inspiration and bad production, the follow-up had just the right amount of polish. The melodies were catchy, the guitars were clean, and Sarah Shannon’s voice floated on top, a much-needed salve for a 13-year-old music fan who was used to only seeing guys in her favorite bands.
Conor Bezane: The Postal Service’s Give Up
Indie icon Ben Gibbard needed a break from his duties as frontman of Death Cab for Cutie, so he teamed up with Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and Jimmy Tamborello of DNTEL for a side project called the Postal Service. Packed with hypnotizing bleeps and beats, 2003’s Give Up was a dance-pop masterpiece. Fans are still anxiously awaiting a follow-up.
Rya Backer: Mark Lanegan’s The Winding Sheet
I really take to Mark Lanegan’s voice. It’s not especially pretty, in fact, it’s — for lack of a better word — intense? The point is, Lanegan could probably sing a Danielle Steele novel, and I’d be totally capitvated. Luckily, The Winding Sheet contains no such content. Rather, it’s a really drony, thoughtful and brooding album that I like to listen to whether I’m happy (to bring me down a little) or sad (to bring me even down-er). It’s probably uncouth to say this in public, as it’s a rather (gasp!) popular number, but my favorite song on the album is “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.”
Got a favorite Sub Pop record or three? Let us know!