Alternative rock became so mainstream by the mid-'90s that it's hard to determine what the other alternative was by then.
Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam had carried the alternative rock banner to the top of the mainstream charts in the early '90s, and the success continued with bands like Counting Crows, Green Day, Oasis and Radiohead expanding the format's template.
All of our picks today come from the broader alternative rock scene of 1994-95; one of those bands - Live - still maintained vestiges of its grunge roots. Ditto for our bonus pick of the day, Blind Melon's "Soup" album, which was released just two months before lead singer Shannon Hoon died of an overdose on the band's tour bus in New Orleans.
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
CHUCK'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
Throwing Copper (1994)
Why I Love It
Although Live had already released two albums, the band found its sweet spot and knocked this third one out of the park. The music fits in perfectly with the direction rock and roll had taken at the time, but it had more of a cerebral quality to it than some of the other songs on the radio. I have always loved the originality of the music on this record. Lead singer Ed Kowalczyk also wrote every lyric, which makes it all the more impressive. It's one of my favorite albums of the era and part of a strong decade of rock and roll music.
"Selling the Drama," "I Alone" and "Lightning Crashes"
Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day
A nice mid-'90s gem uncovered by Chuck today. I hadn't heard this in years, but hits like "I Alone" and "Lightning Crashes" are instantly recognizable. I was in Austin at the University of Texas when this album was released, and it contains music that's part of the soundtrack of my life that takes me back to those years whenever I hear it.
KENDALL'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
The Innocence Mission
Why I Love It
I have my friends Cory Collins and Brian Wells to thank for this one. I think it was, specifically, Cory who turned me on to their "Umbrella" album from 1991, and I was immediately hooked.
While this is their most overtly commercial album, it also sparkles and shines in a way that their other records up to that point don't. I'm not even sure it's my favorite Innocence Mission album ("Umbrella" and "Birds Of My Neighborhood" are in the running, too), but it may be the most accessible album to people who aren't familiar with their music. It also includes their biggest hit to date - "Bright As Yellow" which bubbled under on the Billboard charts at No. 117 while hitting No. 33 on Modern Rock Tracks (now known as Alternative Songs).
"That Was Another Country," "Speak Our Minds" and "I Hear You Say So"
Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day
Kendall introduced me to the Innocence Mission back when we were roommates in Austin for a short time. I was a fan from the beginning. Karen Peris has such a distinctive and soothing voice that is pleasing to the ear. I am amazed this record wasn't a bigger commercial success. It's a solid effort that was right in the mid-1990s wheelhouse.