43. The Ataris, 'Blue Skies, Broken Hearts ... Next 12 Exits' (1999)
Long before they cracked the Top 40, the Ataris were kicking it in Anderson, Indiana, binging on Eighties movies and writing rapid-fire break-up songs à la Descendents. On Blue Skies, Broken Hearts ... Next 12 Exits, their second LP, these Midwestern romantics take great care to season their teenage heartache with bursts of self-awareness ("My Hotel Year") and posi infatuation anthems ("San Dimas High School Football Rules"). Frontman Kris Roe gets downright soppy when he promises to rob a Kwik-E-Mart for his crush in the slow-dance-worthy jammer "I Won't Spend Another Night Alone" – so good it would later resurface on the band's 2003 mainstream-crossover So Long, Astoria. What makes Blue Skies special is the genuine, unfiltered sentimentality of its contents – songs so plush you almost forget the eye-roll-inducing juvenilia of "This Is the Last Song I Will Ever Write About a Girl." As Roe said of the tune 11 years later, "Angst is only good when you're 19 and full of empty causes. When you're 33, two marriages down and trying to find yourself, you look back and laugh at angst." S.E.