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27 Awesome Sub Pop Albums

Posted by Billy Gil, January 16, 2015 04:00pm | Post a Comment

We’re still a few years shy of the 30-year anniversary of legendary indie label Sub Pop, which started in 1988. But why wait? We’re calling out 27 of our favorite Sub Pop albums that you can download now on Amoeba.com. Browse all of Sub Pop’s catalog that we have available here.

Mudhoney Superfuzz Bigmuff [Deluxe Edition] (1988)

Together with Mudhoney’s early singles, this is one of the earliest and most potent statements of the grunge movement, including the eternal “Touch Me, I’m Sick.”

 

Nirvana Bleach [Deluxe Edition] (1989)

Obvi.

 

Green River Dry as a River/Rehab Doll (1990)

An essential grunge document, combining the band’s first two EPs for Sub Pop. If your knowledge of grunge (which Sub Pop was crucial in supporting) starts with Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, this comp (along with Mother Love Bone’s Apple) is a great places to get your bearings on how it developed, shaping punk, metal and classic rock into the sludgey sound we’d come to know and love.

 

Codeine Frigid Stars (1991)

Slowcore heroes’ best album is aptly titled—guitars are bright and brittle, and the whole thing feels like it’s glowing on you gently from another galaxy.

 

The Afghan Whigs Congregation (1992)

The band’s best album for Sub Pop proved grunge could feel mature and classy. Congregation stood apart from the pack, thanks to the band’s stuttering, funk-and-soul-influenced arrangements and Greg Dulli’s slithering vocals and venomous lyrics.

 

Earth - Earth 2 (1993)

Never has tectonic plate-shifting sludge metal sounded so great.

 

Six Finger Satellite The Pigeon Is the Most Popular Bird (1993)

SFS played a kind of unholy update on no wave, fusing wild synthesizers to post-punk noise in a giant middle finger to the alt-rock boom of the era. Gloriously ragged and out-of-time, it would predate a lot of sounds to follow in the next decade.

 

The Spinanes Manos (1993)

Sweet Pacific Northwest alt-pop that never asks too much of you but delivers sweetness for days. Lots of bands have tried to achieve this blend of skill and delicacy since, and few have achieved it.

 

Sebadoh Bakesale [Deluxe Edition] (1994)

On Bakesale, Lou Barlow escaped from the murk of his earlier releases and pulled out his most consistent and catchiest album, stepping out of the shadows from his influences and associations (namely, Dinosaur Jr.).

 

Sunny Day Real Estate Diary (1994)

Sunny Day may have spawned a lot of crappy emo imitators, but the original still feels like something special.

 

Velocity GirlSimpatico! (1994)

There’s a certain ’90s-ness to Simpatico! that makes it a lot of fun to listen to now—the earnestness, cunaffected girl/boy vocals and power chords. But Simpatico! has also aged well because of how well-made these songs are compared with so many alt-rock bands of their ilk—how the vocals of “I Can’t Stop Smiling” dance around each other, the irresistible, bubbling rush of “Sorry Again,” the nervous energy of “There’s Only One Thing Left to Say.” Fans of The New Pornographers and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, take heed.

 

The Shins Oh, Inverted World (2001)

THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE LOL.

 

David CrossShut Up You Fucking Baby! (2002)

Cross attacks American jingoism, racism, organized religion and hypocrisy in all forms on this fearless double-album set.

 

The Postal Service Give Up (2003)

A supposed one-off laptop-pop collaboration between Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello accidently ended up being the best thing either of them ever did. It couldn’t be more of its time in the best way—Give Up’s blinking, retro-mined electronics combined with its heart-on-sleeve lyricism made for a time-capsule worthy document.

 

Comets on Fire Blue Cathedral (2004)

A blast of psychedelic white noise. Blue Cheer plus hardcore plus acid equals brain bursting.

 

Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days (2004)

Perhaps Sam Beam’s finest moment, wiping some of the rust off of his early, rootsier material and beefing up the production, allowing Beam’s sweet and macabre wordplay to shine.

 

Sleater-Kinney The Woods (2005)

Sleater-Kinney already kicked ass before this, but their sole album on Sub Pop found them teaming with producer Dave Fridmann for an album that pushes every riff and wail into the red, while their songs are their strongest here. Can’t wait for their reunion album, which is out very soon.

 

Wolf Parade Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)

Wolf Parade emerged as one of the brightest of the blog band era, making indie rock feel relevant again in the 2000s with their focus on songcraft.

 

Band of Horses Everything All the Time (2006)

Band of Horses are responsible for making us believe the Pacific Northwest is a place where bearded men wander through the trees singing beautiful songs in impossibly elevated registers on guitars with majestic tunings. Sounds like heaven!

 

Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes (2008)

Now every idiot with a mustache and suspenders is banging on bass drums and strumming banjos like it ain’t no thang. Fleet Foxes still stands head and shoulders above any millennial folk rock, proof positive that heartfelt, harmonic folk music can be relevant and beautiful and better than any music made with computers or electronic instruments. Now, where’s album No. 3, guys?? 

 

Flight of the Conchords Flight of the Conchords (2008)

One of the best-selling albums in Sub Pop’s history (in a very good year for the label), Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie silly anti-folk confections are actually immaculately crafted, referencing bossa nova and the Pet Shop Boys and French pop on an album that dared to ask David Bowie if the cold of deep space made his nipples hard. The show was great, too.

 

No Age Nouns (2008)

Two dudes from the fertile Smell scene of Los Angeles do more with a guitar, drum set and zero vocal skills than seemingly possible on the epically beautiful noise of Nouns.

 

The Vaselines Enter the Vaselines (2009)

The Vaselines’ salty lyrics and perfect pop melodies melt together under heavy distortion. Kurt Cobain was a huge fan, making their classic church-folk inversion ("Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam") into his own. This album collects all of The Vaselines’ released output in one place (sans their reunion albums), replacing their 1992 compilation, The Way of the Vaselines.

 

Shabazz Palaces Black Up (2011)

Sub Pop’s rare venture into hip hop brought out the Seattle-based duo Shabazz Palaces, which includes Ishmael Butler (formerly of alt-hip-hop greats Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire (son of Mbira master Dumisani Maraire). Together they make galactic hip-hop grooves that seem to defy logic, on this superb debut and its fine follow-up, Lese Majesty.

 

Washed Out Within and Without (2011)

The so-called “chillwave” movement was a fun way for people to denigrate the diverse and wholly excellent music made by artists like Neon Indian and Toro y Moi. If we’re to subscribe to existence of such a movement, this is perhaps its apex, an elegant collection of classy electro-pop tunes that evoke both an endless summer and endless melancholia.

 

Beach House Bloom (2012)

Beach House’s most recent album found the duo expanding their watery sonambulist sounds into stratospheric songs that equally reference the classic songwriting of Fleetwood Mac and dream-speak of the Cocteau Twins, seemingly wringing every possible emotion from simply written pop songs.

 

Father John Misty I Love You, Honeybear (Available 2/10/2015)

This isn’t even out yet, but we’re already in love with Father John Misty’s new album. He trades up to a more heavily orchestrated sound this time around that doesn’t smother his direct, folksy songwriting—rather, it elevates his craft to where it belongs, on one of the strongest albums of the early new year.

 

 

 

 

Relevant Tags

Sleater-kinney (16), Iron & Wine (4), Comets On Fire (5), The Postal Service (1), David Cross (5), The Shins (7), Velocity Girl (1), Sunny Day Real Estate (4), Sebadoh (10), The Spinanes (1), Six Finger Satellite (1), Earth (10), The Afghan Whigs (2), Codeine (1), Beach House (30), Green River (2), Mudhoney (8), Downloads (7), Nirvana (35), Sub Pop (18), Wolf Parade (3), Band Of Horses (12), Fleet Foxes (4), Flight Of The Conchords (7), No Age (16), The Vaselines (4), Shabazz Palaces (13), Washed Out (11), Father John Misty (19)