It's July 4th! Doesn't feel right to celebrate anything, though.
Fugees, "Ready or Not"
This album was really huge, driven by a rapturous critical reception (and, of course, some seriously bangin' singles). It represents a little bit of a path not taken for hip-hop at large, though, as the Bad Boy Records era was really taking over around this time, which didn't leave a lot of commercial space for other approaches. That it didn't generate a lot of followers is no comment on the quality, of course, as it remains a classic.
Yo La Tengo, "Sugarcube"
A nice confection from I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, the album that you might describe as their breakthrough, although I think that gives short shrift to a bunch of their earlier records. But, regardless of how much I enjoy New Wave Hot Dogs or Painful, this is the album that seems to have gotten them more attention. It remains as good a place as any to explore their music.
Pallbearer, "I Saw The End"
The third Pallbearer album followed up on the critically acclaimed Foundations of Burden, which was one of those metal albums that crossed over and got attention from non-metal critics. And it's easy to see why, it's very approachable music. The clean vocals certainly help the crossover appeal. But enough of that, you're here, you're used to having things that sound like a dispeptic grizzly stepped on a broken bottle, so what do we think about it around here? Well, the consistent position of Five Songs (I just checked!) is that it's fine in the right mood. And yeah - this stuff is actually pretty tame in a lot of ways, and so I really only want to listen to this if I want something kinda heavy but not too heavy. It sounds like a fork in the road in the 80s, where heavy metal could have gone but largely didn't.
Boris, "Riot Sugar"
Now, Boris, I'll always listen to Boris.
Tommy McCook, "Armageddon Time"
This is Skatalites founder Tommy McCook doing stuff under his own name, and so of course it rules.