Top of the Sub Pops

"Sub what?" you say? Why not come away from the dark side, young pilgrim, you are entreated to delete your Razorlight MP3s and cast an ear over the indelible treasures contained in the bountiful vaults of Sub Pop. Ignore these albums at your peril!

Feature by Darren Carle | 30 Jul 2008

Nirvana – Bleach (1989)
Recorded for $606.17 (donated by Jason Everman, who, despite being in both Nirvana and Soundgarden, only recorded a Beatles cover with the latter), Bleach was a downtuned, riff-laden statement of intent from what was to become the most important band of the 90s. Cited as an influence by everyone from Slipknot to Radiohead, it saw sludge-punk misanthropy meet Beatles pop sensibilities in perfect measure and set the wheels of change in motion. [cc]

Video: 'Negative Creep' Live

Afghan Whigs – Congregation (1992)
Incredibly, it wasn’t to be their finest work, but the Afghan Whigs' classic, Congregation, was the album which properly introduced the red-light sleaze, pseudo-sexuality and boozy, trailer-park tales of Greg Dulli’s world. Geographically and musically removed from Sub Pop’s Seattle based, Grunge roots, the Whigs' sound on Congregation was flamboyant, soulful and quite simply irresistible. [pn]

Video: 'Milez iz Ded' Live

Murder City Devils – In Name and Blood (2000)
From the Castlevania keyboards of Press Gang through to the final, primal yelps of Fields of Fire, In Name and Blood saw the Murder City Devils mastering a focused fury unseen on their previous releases. Matching moody ballads with higher-octane rock 'n' rollers, they combined the powers of Supersuckers, Misfits and daresay the Doors almost seamlessly. It’s as much a stand out now as it was at the turn of the millennium. [jm]

Video: 'Idle Hands'

Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)
This immaculate debut flies the flag for post-grunge Sub Pop better than none other. It should've been an impenetrable mess with Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner trading disjointed songwriting blows, nuances and idiosyncratic vocals, but somehow, with the production of Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock (who also signed them to the label), it became a record of boisterous, unrelenting beauty. [fb]

Video: 'I'll Believe in Anything'

Comets on Fire – Avatar (2006)
If Blue Cathedral was an unpredictable smorgasbord of psychedelia, then Avatar equally confounded expectations by serving up a big dollop of, gulp, accessibility. The face-melting guitar reverb beamed in from space was still present, but suddenly the songs were given room to breathe and take shape, whilst losing none of their rich texture and grandeur. [dc]

Video: 'Jaybird' Live