Record release days are fun no matter what kind of music you’re into. There’s nothing more adventurous than heading to your closest music store to buy your favorite band’s new album. Sometimes it’s just your nearby Best Buy, sometimes you get lucky and live close to a great local record store, and sometimes you might even be lame enough to stay at home and buy all your tunes online.
All jokes aside, even with the changing times and changing musical climate, record release days are still days to look forward to, and there have been a lot of these great days throughout history. In reverse chronological order, here are 10 that stand out the most:
1. October 22, 2012
Releases: Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Taylor Swift’s Red
The most notable recent release date comes from 2012, when one of the biggest modern hip-hop stars and one of the biggest modern pop stars came out with albums on the same day. Kendrick Lamar released his second full-length and critically acclaimed LP, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, which went on to front many early decade’s best lists until he released an even better follow-up last year. Red may not have been T-Swift’s strongest overall effort, but several singles from it (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, “Begin Again”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”) topped the Billboard charts. Both artists emerged from their October 2012 releases with rewards in hand. GKMC received five Grammy nominations, while Red received four.
2. September 12, 2006
Releases: The Black Keys’ Magic Potion, Destroy the Runner’s Saints, John Mayer’s Continuum, Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, The Mars Volta’s Amputechture, Mastodon’s Blood Mountain, Norma Jean’s Redeemer, Papa Roach’s The Paramour Sessions, Sugarcult’s Lights Out
In one of the strongest overall days in terms of quantity and diversity, September 12, 2006 was a memorable date for contemporary music releases. Whether you’re a fan of R&B/pop (Continuum, FutureSex/LoveSounds), alternative rock in all its forms (Magic Potion, Lights Out, Amputechture), hard rock/metal (Blood Mountain, The Paramour Sessions) or metalcore (Saints, Redeemer), you probably own at least one album that came out on this day. The Black Keys, JT, and John Mayer hit the radio, Papa Roach and Sugarcult could be heard on video game soundtracks and at sporting events, and Mastodon and Norma Jean maintained their dominant form.
3. June 29, 2004
Releases: Alexisonfire’s Watch Out!, Atreyu’s The Curse, Breaking Benjamin’s We Are Not Alone, From First to Last’s Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count, Midtown’s Forget What You Know
If you’re a fan of pop-punk, post-hardcore, or hard rock, you should consider June 29, 2004 an absolute blessing of a day. Not only did highly influential gems in Watch Out! and a Sonny Moore-led Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count go down in early 2000s post-hardcore lore, but Atreyu and Breaking Benjamin released extremely solid works that led to greater commercial success and popularity down the road. Midtown’s Forget What You Know didn’t cover either sphere, coming at the end of the New Jersey rockers’ career. A painfully underrated full-length album, one of its offerings (“Give It Up”) ended up on the Madden NFL 2005 soundtrack.
4. August 27, 2002
Releases: Breaking Benjamin’s Saturate, Chevelle’s Wonder What’s Next, Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf, Stone Sour’s Stone Sour, 30 Seconds to Mars’ 30 Seconds to Mars
Another great day for heavy music, August 27 was a noteworthy release date for many of 2002’s best rock and hard rock albums. This is especially considering the slew of bands who released their debuts on this day, which includes four of the five bands on this list (Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, Stone Sour, and 30 Seconds to Mars). These acts broke into markets for the first time in 2002 before becoming mainstream icons in the years to follow. The other, Queens of the Stone Age, put out one of the 2000s best stoner rock records, Songs for the Deaf, on this day, and just the sheer mention of this release probably got “No One Knows” stuck in your head.
5. February 23, 1999
Releases: Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP, Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity, Lit’s A Place in the Sun, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart, Sleater-Kinney’s The Hot Rock
In the last year of the 1990s, several artists managed to cap off the decade with awesome music — much of it on the same date. On February 23, Jimmy Eat World put out an album that made our Top 40 Emo Albums of All-Time list, Jimmy Fallon’s current house band The Roots put out their best record, Eminem introduced Slim Shady to the world, Lit introduced one of the best pop-punk songs to the world, and Sleater-Kinney made their turn from speedy punk into gloomy alternative rock. These albums, as well as “My Name Is” and “My Own Worst Enemy”, still remain relevant today, and that says a lot for what one day in February did for modern music.
6. June 16, 1997
Releases: Radiohead’s OK Computer, Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
England has provided some awesome music over the last half-century, and the ‘90s was a big part of the British rock explosion. Alternative rock legends Radiohead put out their most celebrated release in OK Computer on June 16, 1997, and a lesser-known Warwickshire fourpiece called Spiritualized put out their third album on this day as well. Radiohead followed up The Bends in style with one of the decade’s best records — and one that still holds as a classic today. However, Spiritualized shouldn’t be overlooked, as they released a rock classic of their own on this day as well. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space may not quite be as timeless an effort as OK Computer, but elements like a guest gospel choir flawlessly complemented its psychedelic textures.
7. May 10, 1994
Releases: Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary, Weezer’s Blue Album
For fans of rock, emo, or, just simply, music with a lot of feelings, May 10, 1994 was a day loaded with them. Sunny Day Real Estate came out of Seattle with the same grit as their grunge brethren, but with a more cathartic emotional approach that led them to be considered an early “emo” heavyweight. The release of their first and best album, Diary, conflicted with Weezer’s Blue Album, which was also their first and best full-length. Both acts flaunted thick instrumentation and belted vocals on these records, but Weezer’s sunnier California vibes led them to a better-performing collection of singles: “Undone (The Sweater Song)”, “Buddy Holly”, and “Say It Ain’t So”.
8. March 8, 1994
Releases: Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, Soundgarden’s Superunknown
The ‘90s isn’t done yet. In fact, it’s just getting started, as several of the decade’s best rock groups had clashing album releases — with multiple occurring in 1994. Industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails and grunge rock band Soundgarden released their strongest individual efforts on the same day that year. Written in the “Tate House” in Los Angeles, Reznor’s second full-length, The Downward Spiral, was a dark venture depicting the self-destruction of a man. Coming in the midst of the grunge movement, Soundgarden’s Superunknown went down as the band’s most famed effort, spawning five singles in the process. Both records came out on March 8, preceding the May 10 release of Diary and The Blue Album.
9. September 24, 1991
Releases: Nirvana’s Nevermind, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory
Though the previous three dates were all solid for ‘90s music releases, nothing can beat the records that came out on September 24, 1991. For one, you’ve got Nirvana’s Nevermind, an absolute classic that went down as one of the most defining records — if not the most defining record — of the decade. This September day may have “smelled like teen spirit”, but it also smelled of spicy fruits, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers also put out their most widely acclaimed album then. If “Suck My Kiss” and “Give It Away” didn’t provide enough funk already, A Tribe Called Quest made its lasting mark in hip-hop with The Low End Theory on this date. With the release of three records that are as strong as units as their singles were, this day in 1991 goes down as an all-time great.
10. August 30, 1965
Releases: The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde
Though the ‘70s and ‘80s surely had their moments across their timelines, it was the 1960s that featured arguably the best one-two punch of an album release day ever. Two of the most notable acts in music history released two of the most notable albums in music history when The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde came out on August 30, 1965. You may not have been alive to witness such a day, but you’ve been a living witness to the impact of both of these albums in the years since.