When Sub Pop Records originally started as a full-time record label, it felt like it would be synonymous with grunge.
Soundgarden and Nirvana started as Sub Pop records artists in the late ’80s and early ’90s in the fertile Seattle atmosphere.
As grunge faded and alternative rock became mainstream in the 1990s, Sub Pop emerged from the shadows to become one of the most successful independent record labels in the world today. As a label that’s been around for over two decades, the music has consistently been excellent.
As a result, we have compiled a list of the top Sub Pop albums.
Bleach by Nirvana
When Bleach was first released in 1989, few people could have predicted that it would become one of the most influential albums of the 1990s.
Nirvana’s self-titled first album was an explosive, driving piece of rock’n’roll that felt like a culmination of the band’s ten years of existence at Seattle’s turn of the century. With songs like “Negative Creep,” a generational touchstone, and the rest of Bleach’s $606.17 recording budget, this is the best $606.17 Sub Pop ever spent.
Contrary to popular belief, Bleach was the pinnacle of Sub Pop’s early, underground, garage-oriented phase before the success of Nevermind turned it into retroactive platinum.
Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles from Mudhoney
Mudhoney, Seattle’s grunge renegade band, has practically acted as Sub Pop’s flagship band—or, perhaps, the one band that can’t get rid of—from day one until today.
Superfuzz Bigmuff by Mudhoney, the band’s first full-length album, effectively put grunge rock on the map.
When it was re-released two years later on compact CDs, it included the now-classic hit “Touch Me I’m Sick,” which had become a new fad.
It’s Mudhoney’s signature jam, with Mark Arm shouting wildly over the sludgy, Stooges-Esque racket, and it’s intoxicated, deranged, and inclined to puke.
After leaving Dinosaur Jr., Lou Barlow spent his days and nights creating a bewildering sprinkling of lo-fi ditties, recorded under the aliases Sebadoh and Sentridoh, respectively. By 1994, Barlow had settled on the former, and Sebadoh had become a (semi-) permanent band based on Barlow and bassist/foil Jason Lowenstein, who had previously worked together.
Bakesale, the band’s best, most focused, and most direct effort, marked a turning point for the ever-scrappy group.
With tracks like “Skull” and “Magnet’s Coil,” Barlow showcases his razor-sharp lyricism, which veers between caustic blasts of cacophony and damaged bloodletting balladry.