See also: The 20 Best Albums Not in the Canon: 20-11

*Top 20 Worst Bands of All Time

*Top 20 Musicians of All Time, in Any Genre

*Top 20 Sexiest Female Musicians of All Time

*Top 20 Sexiest Male Musicians of All Time

10. Built To Spill

Perfect From Now On (1997)

Not really grunge but not springy enough to be pop, Built to Spill's Perfect From Now On is that rare, practically non-existent indie rock epic, practically a concept album in its brooding, temperamental contemplation of the cosmos. Lyrically it vacillates between the abstract and the concrete, throwing out images that stick more often than not. (“By the time you read this/ You kicked it in the sun.”) The guitars, meanwhile, sound like they'd like to tell you everything's going to be all right, really, if only they believed that to be the case. -Ben Westhoff

9. Goodie Mob

Soul Food (1995)

More than just a judge on The Voice, Cee-Lo also anchors Goodie Mob, a group that was integral to hip-hop's evolution. In fact, one could easily make a case for Soul Food as the most influential southern album of all time. The template for those who followed, it's a slice of Atlanta, from the gospel-influenced morality tales to the sermons about their region's unjust history. Fellow Dungeon Family members OutKast are frequently included in the canon, likely because their visible early influence from groups like Souls of Mischief made them more palatable to rap critics at the time. Many still, however, react to Goodie Mob's unabashed Southern-ness as if they were speaking a foreign language. -Chaz Kangas

8. Fugazi

Repeater + 3 Songs (1990)

Back when flannel-clad kids, drunk on Nevermind and Ten overran record stores shelves fixing for more “alternative,” good record store clerks offered up Repeater + 3 Songs. Washington, D.C.'s Fugazi represented the prefect marriage of co-frontmen from the seminal Dischord scene: Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat (with his visceral political hardcore) and Guy Picciotto (with his emotional post-postpunk). Released a year before the '90s alt-rock explosion, Repeater stoked the furies of a generation of maturing punks and activists with its earnest anti-corporate rage ballads. Songs infused with blistering punk, tempered by angular hooks and forcefully narrated with searingly sharp lyrics are the reason Fugazi became universal shorthand for, “My music is my politics.” -Paul T. Bradley

7. Elliot Smith

Either/Or (1997)

Everything you love about Elliot Smith — the  gutter punk narratives, the perfect song-structure, the desperation —  is here on Either/Or, which with any justice will be remembered for as long as the Kierkegaard tome for which it's named. From its first verse it's absolutely devastating, the high water mark of a tortured poet who thankfully managed to get his depression on paper before he went down. “Nobody broke your heart,” he sings on “Alameda.” “You broke your own.” -Ben Westhoff

6. Rufus Wainwright

Want One (2003)

Rufus Wainwright, son of singers Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, could have retired after Want One and accurately stated that he'd composed a masterpiece by age 30. His cinematic pop balances rich orchestrations with emotional honesty, and his lyrics capture the zeitgeist of the early 2000s — when “metrosexual” had entered the lexicon (“Oh What a World”) and cellphones on vibrate seemed newfangled (“Vibrate”). He writes of doomed romance with heartbreaking cynicism (“Go or Go Ahead”) and Tin Pan Alley tunefulness (“14th Street”). In the end, Want One is both glorious and bittersweet. -Linda Leseman

5. The Flaming Lips

The Soft Bulletin (1999)

Forget Radiohead's rock-discovers-cyborgs. The real surprise makeover was Oklahoma acid casualties The Flaming Lips riding two decades of warbling trash-psych to major label glory. They suddenly discovered a gift for orchestral pop that influenced a decade of modern rock to follow, from Coldplay to Arcade Fire. The Soft Bulletin remains their most beautiful work, which is not to say that the slashing rhythm attack on “Buggin'” should be labeled anything less than feral.  -Dan Weiss

4. Snoop Dogg

Doggystyle (1993)

The Chronic may have invited the citizens of the world to the g-funk party, but Doggystyle got them settled in, drunk on Tanqueray and high as hell. Smooth-flowing, soft-bouncing and jacked up by the fake radio station concept W-Balls, Doggystyle not only introduced the word “shiznit” to suburban white kids, it also bumped them funkier than they had been in decades. Even the completely rap averse could be drawn in by Snoop's charmingly sinister flow. Biyatches and suckas are adequately forewarned: Snoop's love has limits. -Paul T. Bradley

3. DJ Shadow

Entroducing… DJ Shadow (1996)

DJ Shadow was so visionary that an entire new genre had to be coined for him: the term “trip-hop” first appeared in attempt to describe his first single, called “In/Flux.” But no label can accurately do justice to the melodic and rhythmic achievements of his debut, magnum opus and greatest-album-ever-made candidate Endtroducing…DJ Shadow. The bustling drums and basslines rescued from garage-sale junkpiles complement beauteous piano samples, championship scratching, disembodied spoken comedy, with Metallica and Bjork woven in. That this perfect album was the Guinness-certified first to be entirely stitched together from other records is almost beside the point. -Dan Weiss

2. Neutral Milk Hotel

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)

Our generation's Sgt. Pepper's? Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea too inhabits an imagined, fanciful world, though the emphasis is less on the whimsical than on the dark and bewildered. You may not remember where you were when you first heard it, but you remember how the world was when it first sunk in. There's a reason all your friends can sing the words “Now she's a little boy in Spain/ Playing pianos filled with flames,” and it's not because they make any sense. -Ben Westhoff

1. Slayer

Reign in Blood (1996)

Slayer had been kicking around for several years, but when Reign in Blood dropped it was like a neutron bomb on the metal community. Frontman Tom Araya's opening scream in “Angel of Death” is a mission statement for the 29 minutes of pure blistering thrash insanity that follows. Producer Rick Rubin brought a clarity to Slayer's mayhem that had yet to surface on the band's previous recordings, which featured subpar production. Reign in Blood's influence can be felt whenever a newer metal band performing live can't get the crowd interested; all they have to do is play the opening riffs from “Raining Blood,” and the pit will immediately come to life. -Jason Roche

See also: The 20 Best Albums Not in the Canon: 20-11

*Top 20 Worst Bands of All Time

*Top 20 Musicians of All Time, in Any Genre

*Top 20 Sexiest Female Musicians of All Time

*Top 20 Sexiest Male Musicians of All Time

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