I first came across the New York City rockers in 2002. I jammed to the post punk guitar licks and up beat drum sounds of Interpol, who at one time graced every one of their live shows in matching blacking suits. Their debut album, Turn On the Bright Lights. It captured the essence of NYC, especially on tracks like "NYC," and like "Untitled," both of which boast an ethereal reverb and delay guitar effect that alludes to the infinite beauty of the twilight city lights.
When Portishead dropped their debut album Dummy in 1994, I was completely floored. The English three-piece, naming themselves after their hometown haunt, served up haunting vocal work, intricate, sinister, spaghetti western guitar work, and hip hop beats to go with rap staple record scratches. The band all but defined the trip hop genre, the best to do it out of the bunch (Tricky, Massive Attack, Sneaker Pimps). Dummy featured standout tracks like the moody "Sour Times," girl power anthem "Glory Box," and the lulling lullaby, "It's a Fire."
Though Exitmusic dropped their first album in 2007, I didn't discover the duo until 2015. Their 2012 album Passage is one of my favorites of all time, ethereal and visceral and emotive. The husband and wife team of Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church are sadly no longer a husband and wife team, but that didn't stop them from releasing 2018's The Recognitions, a nine track opus to their crumbling but still amiable relationship. Passage was a game changer for me, putting the band onto my map with standout tracks like "Passage," "The Night," and "White Noise."
Deftones first came on the scene in 1995 which their tinny, blistering album Adrenaline. They only improved from there after being roped into the nu metal scene alongside Korn and Limp Bizkit, introducing melody to their brutal brand of metal. Around the Fur was a concept album by any other name, and my personal favorite Deftones album, only to be followed up by canon high point White Pony. Singer/screamer Chino Moreno's lyrics were obscure but metaphorical, his feral scream intermittently soothed over by his cool, calm croon.
6. Beach House
I first heard Beach House back in 2014 with a single from their 2012 record Bloom called "Wishes." It captured a sort of 50s rocker gloom that might have serenaded a melancholic drive out to Inspiration Point. The electric duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally had charmed me well with Bloom tracks "Wishes," which features one of the best segments of instrumental music I've heard, and "Myth," which also features one of the other best segments of instrumental music I've ever heard.
5. The Autumns
The Autumns were a band introduced to me by a couple of friends back in '97. They first recorded a couple of tracks for me from the band's first LP, The Angel Pool. When I fell in love with the tunes, I then had to have my own copies, finding that The Autumns first released an EP called in 1996 called Suicide At Strell Park, which featured one of my favorite all time songs, "Pale Trembles a Gale." Labeled as dream pop/shoegaze and influenced by bands like Cocteau Twins, The Autumns remained LA indie darlings for years to come.
I first came across Coldplay when their debut album Parachutes dropped on American soil. I fell in love with the album, and the first single from it, "Yellow." The album was full of debut gems, filled with INFP anthems written by famous INFP Chris Martin. Parachutes ranks among one of my favorites of all-time, and following it, the band continued to hit gold, achieving worldwide commercial success. A Rush of Blood to the Head served up such hits as "Politik," "In My Place," "Clocks," and "The Scientist." Martin and company had locked in on heartfelt, melodic masterpieces to make the world sing.
3. Smashing Pumpkins
I first encountered Smashing Pumpkins when they were still called Smashing Pumpkins, as opposed to The Smashing Pumpkins (which never quite stuck for me). I first encountered their Siamese Dream album in high school, which has remained a favorite of mine. It ushered unique vocals and searing guitars, melodic chimes and whimsical music videos, which gave us a glimpse of singer/songwriter Billy Corgan with hair. I then discovered their b-sides and rarities album, Pisces Iscariot before they released grand scale double album in 1995, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Like Coldplay and Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo started strong and tapered off toward the end. I first discovered the band after their 1998 sophomore album, Without You I'm Nothing, which is still my personal favorite album of all-time. It featured gems such as "You Don't Care About Us," "Ask For Answers," "Without You I'm Nothing," "Every Me Every You," and "My Sweet Prince." During the time, singer Brian Molko was highly inspired, his guitar riffs and musical composition magical, and his lyrics metaphorically poetic.
1. Jeff Buckley
Where to start with an artist like Jeff Buckley? He's one of those once in a lifetime sort of singer/songwriters, and while he never achieved the mainstream success of his inspirations Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan in his living years, he has now obtained a posthumous cult following that drools over every new composition his estate releases. Jeff, the son of the legendary Tim Buckley, released his debut album, the watershed Grace in 1994. It featured a slew of originals and covers, some highly unexpected like "Corpus Christi Carol" and "Lilac Wine."