Brad’s Top 50 Alternative Songs of 1990

Our music buyer Brad shares the first part in his list of the Top 50 Alternative Songs of 1990.

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Rick And Morty [OST] (CD)

Rick & Morty

For Rick & Morty fans, the music in the show is an important part of the whole experience. With improvised and ridiculous lyrics, over the top score moments, the soundtrack on its own serves as a comedy album that parodies genres right and left. One such highlight is the Bowie-esque “Goodbye Moonmen” performed by Jemaine Clement from Flight of The Concords. Also included are the actual songs used in now web-famous moments of the show, such as Blonde Redhead's “For The Damaged Coda” from the episode, “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind.”

The Complete Releases 1956-62 (CD)

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin's position as "The Queen Of Soul" was cemented by her landmark 1967 pop and R&B No. 1 "Respect." However, her career as a recording artist was a decade old by that time, having honed her style and singing gospel, jazz, and blues-influenced material in her late teens. This 48-track collection brings together all of her recordings which were released between 1956-1962, by which time she had established a reputation as a distinctive, soulful, and dynamic performer and had made early inroads in both the R&B and pop charts. It comprises her debut recordings as a gospel artist on the 10" LP Songs Of Faith , for Joe Von Battle's JVB label, made when she was just 14 years old, and then all her singles for Columbia, most of which came from her three albums for the label, Aretha Franklin With The Ray Bryant Combo , The Electrifying Aretha Franklin , and The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin , the complete content of which is also included, along with a track from a multi-artist Christmas compilation. It's a thorough showcase for her talent and style in the early years of her career.

Bones UK (CD)

Bones UK

Vocalist Rosie Bones and virtuoso guitarist Carmen Vandenberg don’t waste a second of their self-titled debut album, confronting everything from the beauty industrial-complex to toxic masculinity and music-scene sexism. GRAMMY-nominated for Best Rock Performance, their song “Pretty Waste” and other tracks, such as “Beautiful Is Boring” and “Girls Can’t Play Guitar,” demonstrate a commitment to using their art to speak their minds, shedding light on the disconnect between the status quo and the far more glorious world inside their heads.

Through A Dark Wood (CD)

Sea Wolf

Indie folk stalwart Alex Brown Church aka Sea Wolf has always been methodical when it comes to his discography. For a career that spans nearly two full decades, Through A Dark Wood is only his fifth album, and comes a full six years after his last release. Fortunately, that extended time is reflected in the quality and intent of these 11 songs, with every guitar line and string section nestled perfectly in place. While “Fear of Failure” is an instant standout with its cathartic chorus, this attention to detail is very apparent on softer faire such as “Frank O’Hara.” This delicately strummed whisper of a song is turned into a kind of kaleidoscopic lullaby thanks to a lush arrangement that seems especially thought out, but never busy, adorning the song with all matter of strings, synth sounds, and even fuzzy electric guitar. Listening to it is akin to watching Bob Ross endlessly sculpt and perfect a landscape in real time.

I Disagree (CD)


Enigmatic internet phenomenon Poppy goes metal for the deeply weird, boundary-pushing I Disagree . Poppy’s vocals are still sweet as candy but her sonic toolkit has gotten quite a bit darker, more aggressive, and louder. That’s right: this is Poppy’s metal record. Imagine bubblegum vocals over furious riffs, where sugary melodic moments turn unexpectedly into horrifying screams. That’s I Disagree ! Poppy’s always been a distinctive figure in the world of pop and this time she demonstrates her ability to bring surprise and strangeness to the well-trodden realm of heavy metal. Interesting and unexpected.

No Holiday (CD)

The Muffs

After receiving a diagnosis for ALS in 2017, The Muffs' singer/songwriter/guitarist Kim Shattuck made a vow with her two fellow bandmates to put together one final album. The world lost Shattuck on October 2nd, 2019, just mere weeks from seeing the fruit of her labors, No Holiday , get released. No Holiday is a fitting swan song, with its eighteen songs having been written over the entire course of The Muffs' time as a band, while presenting all of the sonic colors and moods within the band's wheelhouse. As drummer Roy McDonald stated in an online reminiscence after Shattuck's passing, "this album is her legacy and, in many ways, our proudest moment."

The Vagabond (CD)

Aaron Diehl

Pianist Aaron Diehl’s new album, The Vagabond , is a jazz recording rooted in precedents set by his forbearers such as Art Tatum, Mary Lou Williams, Ahmad Jamal, Roland Hanna and John Lewis, but it will come as no surprise to his fans that there are clear references to his background in classical music. The Vagabond also features Diehl’s interpretation of works “March from Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 12” written by Russian great Sergei Prokofiev and “Piano Etude No. 16” by Philip Glass.

How It Feels To Be Lost (CD)

Sleeping With Sirens

On How It Feels To Be Lost , Sleeping With Sirens pushes their sonic envelope, delivering a delicate one-two punch of towering melodies and tight musicality. Urgent anthems and earnest ballads communicate authentic, raw, transparent emotions through melody, a rhythmic shot, and that intangible essence that makes one feel alive.

Past Tense: The Best Of Sparks (LP)


For the past fifty(!) years, Sparks have been hard to pigeonhole as solely a "rock band." Shape-shifting over the course of their career into whatever genre struck their fancy (glam, disco, new wave, classical, etc) brothers Ron and Russell Mael have somehow made it all work, as displayed on their latest career spanning compilation Past Tense . Selected by the Maels themselves and presented in a few different iterations, Past Tense makes for a great overview of what has made the band consistently good in their own special satirical way.

These Times (CD)

The Dream Syndicate

One thing The Dream Syndicate has consistently been over the course of its existence: hard to pin down to one stylistic label. Each of their studio albums has a sound all its own, and These Times is no different. The second release from the L.A. quartet after reuniting in 2012 finds them inspired in part by J-Dilla's Donuts (twisting & molding expectations and ways of creatively working, not directly the sound of) while tackling the current state of affairs in the lyrics. The resulting album makes the perfect companion for a 2am melancholic drive, pondering the way things are.

Age Of Unreason (CD)

Bad Religion

Punk legends Bad Religion take on the Trump administration with no holds barred on their newest release, Age of Unreason . Greg Gaffin's reassuringly smart and biting lyrics address immigration, fascism, paranoia, and history in these hard, fast, and catchy songs that stick to the band's classic sound. “Chaos From Within” highlights the band's characteristic harmonies and “My Sanity” is sweetly melodic, but everything is sped along by the madcap drums. “Big Black Dog” stands out for its slower, more classic rock guitar and “Candidate” for its punk-ballad sound and satisfying guitar solos.

Citizens Of Boomtown (CD)

The Boomtown Rats

How is it possible for a late ‘70s rock ’n’ band that hasn’t released new material in thirty-six years to sound this good? On Citizens of Boomtown , The Boomtown Rats come out snarling and snotty, sounding mad as hell and fresher than most new garage punk bands half their age. Listening to these new songs is a rip-roarin’, riotously good time. The band sounds more vital than ever, with all their edges and attitude still intact, and dare we say, dialed up way past ten. The Boomtown Rats are legends for a reason and Citizens of Boomtown should serve as an instantly likable introduction to a whole new wave of fans.


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