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Discovolante's Best of: 1990

From the beginning of the year to the end, via the Sputnik release calendar.
Fame and Fossils

Icelandic collective Reptile (or Risaeolan) was a band that at one point boasted 6 members, including an accordion player. They only released one album, which was released in the UK only, "Fame and Fossils", before calling it a day in 1992. The album is chockful of eccentric merriment, with a kooky sound that ends up being a sort of hybrid of jazz-fusion and tropical island music, and with quirky English lyrics delivered in a thick Icelandic accent. An album that deserves a far grander legacy than it has.
Hardcore Devo Volume 1

I've held the opinion for years now that early Devo is best Devo, and outside of their brilliant debut album from 1978, this is some more proof. "Hardcore Devo Volume 1" chronicles some of their earliest demos when they were nice, unabashed and fantastically insane. Many of the tracks are said to have predated modern punk rock by a few years, while the others are from the same realm of psychosis that The Residents hail from.

Everybody loves Fugazi.
4Skinny Puppy
Too Dark Park

The grim, scorching nature that is "Too Dark Park" is something else entirely. The suffocating nihilistic tone that encompasses the album is of legendary magnitude, and is one of the biggest reasons that Skinny Puppy are thought to be of the highest caliber of electro-industrial acts.
5The Mission
Carved in Sand

Largely regarded as their finest album, The Mission's "Carved in Sand" was a brave departure from their usual gothy sound into a much more vast alternative one. A gamble that paid off both critically and commercially, as it would be their best-selling album to date.
6The Go-Go's
Greatest Hits

A compilation of some of the best sunshiny new wave pop ditties of the 1980s. Pop greatness.
7LL Cool J
Mama Said Knock You Out

Egged on by a feud with fellow hip hop veteran Kool Moe Dee, as well as lower-profile rivalries with Ice-T and MC Hammer, LL Cool J concocted the best album of his long career. Spearheaded by the immortal self-titled track, it also contains gems like the underrated "Eat 'Em Up, L Chill", as well as the cool, laidback head-bobber classic "Around the Way Girl".
8Public Enemy
Fear of a Black Planet

While it is pretty much impossible to match the greatness that was "It Takes a Nation of Millions...", the follow-up "Fear of a Black Planet" does a damn good job coming close. The lyrical material is a lot more complex as was the goal of emcee Chuck D, with the beats being just as dense and complex. Despite how high the bar was raised by "It Takes a Nation of Millions...", "Fear of a Black Planet" is one of the few rare moments in music to match that level of brilliance practically seamlessly.
9Naked City
Torture Garden

Naked City was John Zorn at his best. Unflinching while being simultaneously fascinating and mesmerizing, their 1990 albums are undoubtedly their finest moments. Their compilation in particular, "Torture Garden", is a work that exists solely to shock and broaden the senses of the listener.
Babysitters On Acid

Never being ones to shy away from crass satire that bordered on shock value, Lunachicks reached the apex of their career with the release of their first album "Babysitters on Acid", with each track exemplifying just what made them so good: rowdy hardcore-yet-melodic punk with grungy overtones with topic matter that at times succeeded in following the footsteps of punk shockers like The Plasmatics, while at other times excelled at being random, off-kilter psychobabble. Without a doubt the best punk album of the early 90s.
Frizzle Fry

One of the true alt metal classics, "Frizzle Fry" is Primus at their best.
Strap It On

With its uncompromising and complex, confrontational nature, Helmet's debut album "Strap It On" broke much ground in the alternative universe. Definitely my all time favorite of theirs.
13Babes in Toyland
Spanking Machine

On "Spanking Machine", Minneapolis all-female noisy alt rockers Babes in Toyland created their utmost best work, in my opinion. Loud, unforgiving and raw to the bone, the end result being both menacing and chaotic and unlike anything that came beforehand. One of the greatest albums in alternative rock, and what seems like the blueprint to Hole's career.
14A Tribe Called Quest
People's Instinctive Travels & The Paths of Rhythm

A nearly immaculate debut that puts A Tribe Called Quest at the top of the hip hop universe, for very good reason, and one of the very first albums to bring alternative hip hop to life.
15The Youth
The Youth

Filipino rock legends made their debut in 1990 with the release of their first EP, which gave the band an immediate buzz in the burgeoning Filipino rock scene. It's hard to not see why, with the EP having a melancholic punk-tinged sound, which takes heavy influence from UK post-punk bands as well. What is widely considered to be a demo among their fanbase, it is ironically the best the band ever sounded.
Smell the Magic

Around at this point already for five years and with an album already under the belt, L7 really made their name known with the release of their second album "Smell the Magic", which took the ferocity of their self-titled debut and cleaned it up just enough to add a layer of blistering heavy melody which border on alt metal territory, essentially creating the sound that they would be known for throughout the remainder of their time as a band.
Scumdogs of the Universe

In 1990, GWAR catapulted into rock superstardom with their second album "Scumdogs of the Universe", which remains to be generally regarded as the band's best effort to date. And with an opener as immortal as "The Salaminizer", that is a legacy well deserved.

Shoegaze icons Ride's first album, "Nowhere", is an album that is both dazzling and awe-inspiring which takes shoegaze in a serene, highly melodious direction which it never really went before or to since. An album that rose the bar so high, Ride could never measure up again.
19Jesus Jones

In 1990, electro-alt-dance rockers Jesus Jones released their magnum opus "Doubt", which was the case both critically and commercially speaking. The songs are slick, well produced pop pieces which are very effective in their mission of being earworm extraordinaires, with "Doubt" most significantly containing their anthem "Right Here, Right Now", which is one of the best pop tracks of the decade, in my opinion.

"Gala", Lush's first ever album release, compiles their first three EP's, and since those EP's are rather fantastic in their own right, "Gala" ends up being a stupendous listen. The album that officially marked Lush's place in 90s music history.
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