For a while, vinyl records weren’t hip. The early ’90s saw major labels abandon the format for the inferior CD, and even independent artists’ interest began to wane. Through all of this, there was a small contingent of fans who craved albums represented in this media. The desire for large artwork, detailed liner notes and improved sound started resurging, only to find that many albums never received such treatment. Numerous albums have begun making the transition to vinyl, but there are far too many still waiting for such reverence.
10. Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience
Almost 20 years after its initial release, New Miserable Experience still stands as one of the ’90s best pop albums. Hits such as “Hey Jealousy” and “Found Out About You” found the Gin Blossoms becoming radio darlings, but the album’s supporting tracks are just as lovely. With almost two decades under its belt New Miserable Experience has yet to lose an ounce of its infectious persona.
9. At the Drive-In – Acrobatic Tenement
During its brief tenure, this Texas quintet helped change the landscape of post-hardcore. Its final two albums, In/Casino/Out and Relationship of Command, are both essential (and in need of vinyl reissues), but it was Acrobatic Tenement that introduced the scene to ATDI’s power. Cedric Bixler’s vocals epitomize youthful exuberance while the band supplies complimentary arrangements. It was the band’s live show that made them legendary, but Acrobatic Tenement is what got people to watch them in the first place.
8. Discount – Love, Billy
Cover albums are, for the most part, disposable. Love, Billy is the exception. This five-song EP displays the versatility in Billy Bragg’s creations and Discount’s ability to recognize it. The classic “Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards” abandons the subtlety of Bragg’s original and acquires an aggression that had been hiding just under the surface all along.
7. John Brown Battery – Is Jinxed
One of Chicago’s least known emo acts, John Brown Battery never got the respect it deserved. It’s lone full-length was genuine enough to make the band one of the elite in the oft overwrought scene. The band walked a fine line between abrasive Hot Water Music-inspired hardcore and Jawbreaker’s pop sensibility, a sound that wasn’t yet the norm for punk bands.
6. P.O.S. – Ipecac Neat
Polarizing listeners with the first verse of your debut album requires both confidence and the ability to back that up. “Gimme Gimme Gunshots” is a testament to Stefan Alexander’s lyrical prowess as well as his uncompromising attitude by calling out Biggie Smalls within the album’s introduction. While Ipecac Neat is a traditional hip-hop record compared to Alexander’s later work, the few curveballs thrown are some of the best of his career.
5. Castevet – Summer Fences
CSTVT (then known as Castevet) appeared as post-hardcore’s answer to Mogwai with Summer Fences. Utilizing a discordant vocal style with post-rock influence, CSTVT opened the floodgates for the revitalization of the ’90s emo movement. Summer Fences isn’t a mere rehashing of the genre’s predecessors: it was the push forward the scene direly needed. This atmospheric batch of emo would only feel complete when nestled between a record’s grooves.
4. The Wunder Years – Function Over Fashion
Not to be confused with recent pop-hardcore scensters The Wonder Years, this Berkeley, Cal. group struggled to find its footing before releasing this triumphant six-song EP. Jagged guitars wrap around pop hooks and compliment Brian Moss’ desperate vocals perfectly. Function Over Fashion has become increasingly difficult to find due to its out-of-print status on CD, but it is an effort wholly rewarding for opening track “The Wright Wrong” alone.
3. Slingshot Dakota – Keener Sighs
Slingshot Dakota’s time spent as a trio saw the act offering an indie-rock sound that only hinted at what vocalist/keyboardist Carly Comando and drummer Tom Patterson would later accomplish as a duo. While guitarist/co-vocalist Jeff Cunningham added a diverse layer to the band’s sound, it is something that better suits his current endeavor, Bridge and Tunnel. Keener Sighs isn’t as high energy as Slingshot’s follow-up, but it doesn’t need to be. It achieves beauty in its own unique way.
2. Pedals On Our Pirate Ships – Self-Titled
Matt Seymour’s folk-punk entity is criminally underappreciated. While others in the genre often fixated on rock instrumentation, Seymour is at his best when he strips his approach to the bare essentials. “Sometimes an acoustic guitar and a voice is better than nothing/Sometimes just hearing a song that inspires you is really something.” POOPS (such an unfortunate abbreviation) have yet to match the power of Self-Titled, a near perfect release.
1. The Jazz June – The Medicine
It’s hard to justify putting The Medicine on this list. Technically, it does exist on vinyl but was never available to public. Only 10 test pressings were made by Workshop Records before the label closed. Somewhere out there, The Jazz June’s crowning achievement exists on a superior format and its unknown as whether or not the project will ever be revisited. While the band does have other vinyl releases, the only one that matters is The Medicine.