Here we are in the midst of ’08, a year that will undoubtedly see debut albums by a few bands we won’t know about next year. Or, on the other hand, bands we wish we’d stop hearing about next year. It’s true: Sometimes a group crystallizes their finest moments the first time around, spends the rest of their career trying to somehow tap that early magic. The people at the A.V. Club are smart. They know this, too. In fact, they’ve given us a Top 20. Via A.V. Club:

20 Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
19 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle
18 Supergrass – I Should Coco
17 The Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good
16 Wu-Tang clan – Enter The Wu-Tang
15 Boston – Boston
14 Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw
13 Black Flag – Damaged
12 The Sundays – Reading, Writing, And Arithmetic
11 Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends

10 Television – Marquee Moon
09 Kanye West – The College Dropout
08 John Prine – John Prine
07 The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die
06 Nas – Illmatic
05 The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers
04 The Strokes – Is This It
03 Richard Hell And The Voidoids – Blank Generation
02 50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’
01 Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

Actually, the list is pretty tight. We’re not entirely sure we agree with the inclusion of The College Dropout. Since the pointing out of the ones they missed is inevitable, we’ll get it started with a pair of roses: Guns ’N Roses, Stone Roses. Your move.

Comments (197)
  1. paolo  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    I don’t entirely agree with the strokes and rage, but most are pretty accurate.
    they’re definitely missing bands like bloc party and clap your hands say yeah.
    so disappointing.

    • Eron  |   Posted on Apr 16th, 2008 0

      Well I think Kanye is totally wrong for this list. It is very debatable which is his best album between his first two. Including the Strokes is a joke. I mean they only have two albums out. Artic Monkeys should be on there before the Strokes. If you just want groups that never matched their first album you could certainly include The Pixies. As for groups that peaked with their first album, number one should be The Sex Pistols. But, of course, they never realeased another album.

  2. Ralf  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Well…lots of bands that peaked with their first album went on to do some pretty brilliant stuff later — is this list emphasizing stratification between earlier and later material or just mentioning what bands’ debuts were their best album? If it’s the latter then add Pavement and The Velvet Underground to the list.

    Lots of rappers.

  3. Theodore Roosevelt  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Rage did not spend the rest of their career trying to recapture the sound of their debut. Evil Empire is a great album.

  4. id  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    They forgot to include Arcade Fire.

  5. Ralf  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    The Violent Femmes. Duh.

  6. zik  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    God am I the only one that thinks Evil Empire is vastly superior to Rage’s debut? It’s less “hard” or whatever but it just musically sounds better.

  7. jimmo  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    i whole-heartedly agree with the kanye inclusion.

  8. interpol – turn on the bright lights

    • Riccardo  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

      so agree!! i though i would love interpol forever when i heard that album…not so much in retrospect.

  9. buns  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Okay, first thing Bloc Party has only 2 albums out. little early there poalo. Also, Battle for Los Angeles was WAY better than their eponymous debut. Evil Empire was prolly better also.

  10. why include bands that are in the middle of their career?
    i think the strokes have a lot left, and i guess same with kanye, though i’m not a huge fan. as for bloc party, clap your hands say yeah, and arcade fire…. only 2 albums out by each, but i have to agree on interpol.

  11. George  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Add: Dead Kennedys, Ryan Adams, and probably REM

  12. bd  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    That’s the most random list I’ve ever seen.

    But I agree with Ralf, there’s no greater example of this phenomenon than Violent Femmes.

    Maybe De La Soul comes in second.

    The Shins.

    And Blood Sweat and Tears, but that might be a little too random, although not as random as Marshall Crenshaw.

    • De La Soul? That’s a joke, right? “De La Soul is Dead” is tremendous … and, hell, “Buhloone Mindstate” is equally amazing.

      Totally disagree with Sunny Day’s inclusion on this list. The pink album, for me, is tops.

    • the shins? definitely not chutes too narrow and wincing the night away are equal or better

  13. aardvark  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Counting Crows – August and Everything After

    You can say they suck if you want, but there’s no debate that was there best album by far.

    • Mark  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

      You can’t be serious about Counting Crows! Recovering The Satellites was far superior to the debut. Even This Desert Life was great. They only lost it with Hard Candy. Amen to whoever said Ryan Adams. His solo career has been a steady downwards trajectory, similar to one of those vertical drop rollercoasters. It’s also way too soon to judge The Strokes or CYHSY and anyway, Room On Fire was massively overlooked. And Mark BT deserves to be shot for including Big Star. Radio City is phenomenal. How about Son Volt, Fountains of Wayne or Ben Kweller? I know I automatically lose 3000 cool points for mentioning them but I think Third Eye Blind’s first record was pretty great and they’ve been crap ever since.

  14. AlexC  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Does it really count as being a one album wonder if you die after your second? I Think Life After Death is an amazing album. Biggie definitely didn’t peak after Ready to Die.

  15. Greg  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Does Britney Spears fall into a special category for peaking with her debut single?

  16. @ George:

    REM? Are you kidding? Conventional critiques would probably assert that they peaked with Automatic for the People; being a fan, I believe Fables of the Reconstruction, Life’s Rich Pageant, Document, AND Automatic are all on par with Murmur.

  17. I’m not the biggest Strokes fan, but I figure it should be obvious to anyone with ears that Room On Fire is an IMPROVEMENT of Is This It? Shouldn’t this be common knowledge by now?

    • studly roberts  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

      It should be! I agree wholeheartedly.

      I also think they’re wrong about John Prine, but I don’t imagine screaming “WHAT ABOUT ‘SWEET REVENGE’?” at the top of my longs will really spark much debate among stereogum readers.

      As for the Modern Lovers, that’s iffy. Yeah, The Modern Lovers were better than Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, but I don’t know of anyone who thinks of them as the same entity. Maybe a second Modern Lovers album would have been just as good, but there wasn’t one, so it’s kind of stupid to have it on this list.
      And naturally the Modern Lovers peaked with their first (only, if you ask me) album: it’s only got the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song ever(!) on it.

    • Room On Fire blew…

  18. javier buchananeversonia  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    the alarm

    and crappy bands like paramore and the academy is… great debut albums, bad,overhyped follow ups.

  20. The Evens.

    Not like Ian Mackaye really needs to vindicate himself any further….

  21. bloodsuck  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    vampire weekend.

  22. the dog  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0


  23. the dog  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0


  24. Kevin  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    @ paolo
    Pavement? Grow some taste: CR and Wowee were both incredible
    also, an artist should have a minimum of 2 albums after their first to be included in this discussion, so guys like clap your hands say yeah are out

    this list isnt terrible, but it’s mostly a bunch of huge names…they didnt really go out on a limb or anything here. I agree with Nas, but only because illmatic is the best rap album ever made, and no one can be expected to top that

    my two cents: clinic
    i win

  25. eldibs  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    do the Sex Pitsols count?

  26. eldibs  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    do the Sex Pistols count?

  27. barry  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    I gotta call shenanigans on the Wu too

  28. Definately don’t agree with Kanye West. Graduation is a great cd, equally as good as college dropout for different reasons. He’s developed a new style and its a great album all the way through, I can recall a few songs that I skip over when listening to College Dropout.

    • machu  |   Posted on Apr 22nd, 2008 0

      i agree. i think its awesome that kanye is doing what he is doing. Aside from maybe timbaland no other mainstream rapper is putting that much emphasis on musical experimentation and all that sonic bullshit…

  29. Kevin  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Haha fuckkk, that wasnt @ paolo, it was Ralf
    and you didnt exactly nominate pavement for the list, either, i read that too fast.
    sorry for the rant :p

  30. kidacomputerok  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Foo Fighters–by far–should be number one. Badass debut, okay to mediocre albums since.

  31. games  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    id…do you really want to include arcade fire into the sophomore slump category? i actually thought funeral was a pretty damn amazing album…

    …yes, there was an album before funeral with a better version of no cars go.

  32. clap  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    SERIOUSLY…what about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah?

  33. Black Flag Damaged? I guess technically their third album, but they had enough recorded output with multiple singers before Rollins to make 2 albums worth of music.

    And Modern Lovers.. that’s ridiculous. All the Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers albums are AMAZING.

  34. Greg  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Honestly though, what the FUCK was going on with that Snoop Dogg cover art?

  35. anonymous  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Clap Your Hand Say Yeah does not belong on this list. They aren’t important enough.

  36. minus rage, john prine and television, this is just a list of shitty bands/rappers.

    i think AIR should be on here.

  37. Mark  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Supergrass’ debut album was great, but most of their other albums (bar their brand new album) have been pretty great too. They definitely don’t belong on this list. Personally I thought that Bloc Party’s second album was superior to their first. But every Strokes album has sucked! The Stone Roses definitely belong on the list. What about Elastica?

    • brian  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

      Supergrass has been putting out consistently excellent albums for ten years man. That’s a totally unfair and uneducated addition to the list.

  38. Jeff K  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Jesus & Mary Chain

  39. mattcandy  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    uh, the title of the avclub’s list specified rock/rap. I agree that bands with only one or two albums shouldn’t be included, unless there’s no chance of them releasing more material. Thus, we can include The Unicorns and The Libertines.

  40. tyler  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Weezer for sure should be on there.

    • Are you kidding? Pinkerton? Weezer definitely peaked on their second album.

      Completely agree with the TBS, Strokes, RATM and SDRE, though.

  41. Mo  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    kidacomputerok I totally agree with you about the Foo Fighters! Glad to see some other people calling BS on naming Supergrass on this list.

  42. T.S.A. GANGSTAZ  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Supergrass’s 2nd album “In It For the Money” is vastly superior to their debut …

  43. YO  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    What about RADIOHEAD?!?!

    …. (kidding)

  44. thad  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Biggie only released “Ready to Die” while he was living, any other album came out after he died, of course none of them were any good!

  45. Stephen B  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Weezer did not peak with the blue album. Even if you like it more, they obviously peaked with Pinkerton and it was down hill after that. I think they tried not to include bands that only had 2 albums to their credit, hence the absence of Bloc Party.

  46. mark  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Arctic Monkeys

    Yeah Yeah Yeah’s

    Amy Winehouse (and i stand by my prediction)

    Band of Horses

    Hot Hot Heat

    Jack Johnson

    Kings of Leon

    Neutral Milk Hotel

    some of these bands have had only 1 or 2 albums out but it’s obvious that they’re done

    • Michael  |   Posted on Apr 16th, 2008 0

      Hot Hot Heat is definitely a good one to include. Their major label signing pretty much put them into the “Whatever Happenned To…” pile and watered their sound down to par with Strokes B-Sides.

      • John  |   Posted on Apr 16th, 2008 0

        Right on, Mike. “Knock Knock Knock,” the first E.P. they released (after acquiring their poodle-headed singer), is by far the best thing they’ve ever done. It’s darker, heavier and has more of a Clash/ Punk sound. Dante De Caro’s departure hammered the final nail in their coffin. I saw them in Toronto just before their first full-length came out; everyone left immediately after opening band “Pilate” performed (which made no sense because they sounded like Coldplay being raped)

    • So you’re saying that Neutral Milk Hotel peaked with On Avery Island instead of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea? Or are you not counting On Avery Island since it was prety much just a Jeff Mangum solo album with a band name on it?

      Or did you just not know that album existed?

  47. bd  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Jesus and Mary Chain were always spotty, but Stoned and Dethroned is a great fucking album.

  48. mark  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    Wait. Scratch Neutral Milk Hotel. I take that one back

  49. T.S.A. GANGSTAZ  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    How about Black Rebel Motorcycle Club … Not that their first album is all that good, but better than the crap they’ve served up since

  50. YOU  |   Posted on Apr 15th, 2008 0

    radiohead – pablo honey

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