Today I came across Amazon.com's 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time. Sure, the post was meant to pander to the consumer. Some marketing stiff at Amazon likely saw an opportunity to highlight some great albums, conveniently linked to Amazon's store. The list wasn't a total waste, though, highlighting some spectacular albums and some I found to be duds. No accounting for taste, I guess.
A few of the highlights from Amazon's list: U2 - Boy, Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures, Metallica - Kill Em All, Bob Marley - Catch a Fire, The Clash - The Clash, Kanye West - The College Dropout, Sex Pistols - Nevermind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, The Smashing Pumpkins - Gish, Weezer - Weezer, Sonic Youth - Confusion is Sex, Morrissey - Viva Hate, The Shins - Oh, Inverted World.
(No, I will not link these albums to Amazon. Go support your local DIY store for chrissake.)
A few of the duds: Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill (cmon guys, you started off in hardcore punk then decided semi-intelligent hip-hop babble was your niche?), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (simply because I hate Tom Petty and I do not understand the appeal), The Postal Service - Give Up (I love this album, but it's the only one! Let them release another before you hand them industry cred!), 50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Trying (can't Fitty get rich AND die trying??).
Anyway, the point is that the Amazon list inspired me to create a list of my own, incomplete though it may be. This is part one of a four part series. Without further ado, I give you the Top 20 Greatest Underground Debuts.
20. The Weakerthans - Fallow - Shortly after John Sampson left Propagandhi, he formed the ambitious and callous Weakerthans. Given Sampson's disposition with the Weakerthans, it was probably better he hung his punk shoes up. Fallow defined an awkward new sound in indie that brought another spectacular Canadian band into the limelight of the scene. Track from Left and Leaving.
19. Panic! At the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out - Before they dropped the !, Panic! debuted with a sound that borrowed from recently outed Fall Out Boy, mixing heavily with dance-pop beats and tons of hooks. Too bad Panic! decided to quit the sound they were so instrumental in bringing to the masses. Then again, if a bunch of shitty rip-off bands followed immediately in my footsteps, I'd probably make a change as well.
18. Protest the Hero - Kezia - Protest the Hero showed up just in time to save metal from the clutches of metalcore. Crafted from incredibly tight, heavy beats, wandering bass, insane guitars, and flawless vocals, Protest the Hero took something like ten years to tweak Kezia to perfection. Was it worth it? This humble blogger thinks so.
17. From First to Last - Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count - Before Sonny Moore left From First to Last, the band was a complete unit, blending elements of modern emo and metalcore into abrasive, emotional anthems. The follow-up didn't quite satisfy, but DDMTAHABC will remain a consistent spin on my playlist.
16. The Get Up Kids - Four Minute Mile - There's no doubt in any emo kid's mind that the Get Up Kids are still kings of their genre. Following on the heels of 90s emo success like Texas is the Reason and Sunny Day Real Estate, the Get Up Kids were a defining moment for the emo scene. Unfortunately, a bunch of shitty pop-core bands followed, molding the term "emo" for their own use. Do you see a trend forming here? Track from Something to Write Home About.