26. Soul Coughing, Ruby Vroom (Slash/Warner Brothers, 1994)

I saw this quartet open for They Might Be Giants in support of this debut album, and I believed I was witnessing my generation's equivalent to the Talking Heads. Alas, they disbanded after two more albums, both nice tries that rarely approached the gleeful sonic heights of this one. A decade on, this hasn't dated at all and still sounds unclassifiable and daringly weird: "vocalist" (for lack of a better handle) M. Doughty talks/scats/halfway sings over stand-up bass and drums, his own crude guitar snarls, and a playful, symphonic array of samples (anticipating The Avalanches by more than five years). More beat-poetry than hip-hop (with the Tex Avery-ready "Bus To Beelzebub" a neat blend of the two), you could almost deem them a postmodern Tom Waits (just imagine if they had worked together). Forget Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, or Smashing Pumpkins--this was alternative rock.