1994: The 40 Best Records From Mainstream Alternative's Greatest Year

Green Day, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and 35 other bands who made the word "alternative" lose all meaning

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Sonic Youth, 'Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star'
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Courtesy of Geffen Records14/40

14. Sonic Youth, 'Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star'

Sonic Youth's eighth album lacked obvious catchy college-radio-ready singles like "Kool Thing" and "100%," both of which put Sonic Youth on the corners of the mainstream map years earlier. But the record succeeded on the strength of one single — the shimmering, huffy avant-rock sex-romp "Bull in the Heather" — and the general alt-rock zeitgeist of the time. The era was something Sonic Youth reveled in — one song on the album, "Screaming Skull," name checked alt-rock signposts like the Lemonheads, SST Records, Hüsker Dü and Germs guitarist Pat Smear — and their indie-days nostalgia paid off. The record went on to become their highest-charting LP until their 2009 swan song The Eternal. "We were so sick of the big, homogenized rock sound, and we didn't want to get to the point where we would overdo something and just drain all spontaneity out of it," Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo told Rolling Stone at the time. "After a certain number of takes, Butch [Vig, producer] would ask us to do another one, and we'd say no."Kory Grow

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