A collection of stand out tracks off of debut albums.
First impressions are important. Doubly important in the billion dollar music industry. On average, musical artists have about fifteen seconds to capture a listener’s attention – so what an artist chooses to do with that first crucial quarter of a minute can be imperative to either gaining or losing a listener forever.
Granted the music industry has changed drastically in the past two decades, furthering itself from full album format, realizing it can make just as much, if not more, on a hot single without the multimillion dollar risk investment of sending a band into a recording studio for months but ultimately, the same truth remains: First impressions are critical.
This upcoming list of best opening tracks on debut albums is by no means an authoritative account. I am not a music critic or music writer by any means. I used to play music in bands but found no real mainstream success. This entire project is only a product of my undying love for the witchcraft that is music. The original time traveling device. The invisible muse.
The rankings are not based on the commercial or critical success of the song or band but it does seem to reflect that higher on the list. Some of these bands are even one hit wonders – with such good opening tracks, that are still impossible to ignore. I hope you enjoy this list and would like to know your favorite opening track of a debut album in the comments.
100.) Pretty Girls Make Graves – “Speakers Push The Air”
Formed: Seattle (2001)
Genre: Post Punk, Indie
Labels: Lookout / Matador
Named after The Smiths’ song of the same name, Pretty Girls Make Graves headed by, Andrea Zollo would go on to record arguably the best release of 2003, The New Romance. After some line up changes and a final release, Élan Vital the band would call it quits in 2007.
99.) Blues Traveler – “But Anyway”
Formed: Princeton, New Jersey (1987)
Genres: Blues Rock / Folk Rock / Alternative
Labels: UD Factory / 429 / Sanctuary / A&M
Active: 1987 – Present
Led by mystifying Harmonica wiz, John Popper, the group would go on to release fourteen more albums (as of this writing) while performing their signature Fourth of July set at Red Rocks every single year since 1992.
98.) Natalie Merchant – “San Andreas Fault”
Origin: Jamestown, NY (Solo in 1993)
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Pop Rock, Folk
Labels: Myth America / Nonesuch/Elektra
Active: 1993 – Present
Following her departure from Alt-Rock band, 10.000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant found immediate success with her critically acclaimed debut solo work, Tigerlily.
97.) The Mars Volta – “Son Et Lumiere/Interiatic”
Origin: El Paso, Texas (2001)
Genres: Progressive Rock / Experimental Rock
Labels: Universal / GSL / Warner Bros
Active: 2001 – 2012
Following the break up of cult heroes, At the Drive In, frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez went on to form the most experimental group to ever get radio play in the 21st century. The group’s debut is an ambitious concept album based around the death of longtime friend and band mate, Jeremy Ward.
96.) DeadGuy – “Doom Patrol”
Origin: New Brunswick, New Jersey (1994)
Genre: Metalcore / Mathcore
Labels: Blackout / Victory / Hawthorne Street
Active: 1994-1997 // 2021 (reunion)
Although not a household name in most modern day Metalcore circles, DeadGuy would prove to be very influential on the Metal and Grindcore boom of the early 2000’s even having “Fixation on a Coworker” (their only proper release) was inducted into the Decibel Magazine Hall of Fame I. 2006.
95.) Orange 9mm – “Glistening”
Origin: New York City (1994)
Genres: Post Hardcore / Nu Metal
Labels: NG / East West Records / Revelation / Atlantic
Active: 1994 – 2000
Formed by Chaka Malik and Chris Traynor the band found success after the release of their first album, Driver Not Included, embarking on major tours supporting, Helmet, Korn, Quicksand, Deftones and Biohazard. After two more full length albums the would split due to poor sales and disagreements.
94.) The Panic Channel – “Teahouse of the Spirits”
Origin: Los Angeles, California (2004)
Genres: Alternative Rock / Post Hardcore
Following Jane’s Addiction third breakup three of the members (Navarro, Perkins and Chaney) formed a “Supergroup” with vocalist, Steve Issacs from Skycycle. The band released one studio album and announced an indefinite hiatus with most of the group returning to Jane’s Addiction.
93.) Dave Matthews Band – “The Best of What’s Around”
Origin: Charlottesville, Virginia (1991)
Genres: Rock / Jam Band / Soft Rock / Alternative
Labels: RCA / Bama Rags
Active: 1991 – Present
Certified platinum six times, Dave Matthews and co have sold well over 38 million cds and dvds. Known for their excellent and improv oriented live show the group has sold well over 25 million concert tickets to date.
92.) Clutch – “A Shogun Named Marcus”
Origin: Germantown, Maryland (1991)
Genres: Hard Rock / Stoner Rock / Alternative
Labels: Atlantic / Colombia / DRT / Earache / Eastwest / Inner Journey / Megaforce / River Road / Weathermaker
Active: 1991 – Present
Blue collar stoner rock heroes, Clutch are the very essence of ten year overnight success. Releasing their debut album in 1993, through constant touring and recording they would create an underground buzz for nearly a decade before they found mainstream success.
91.) The Bravery – “An Honest Mistake”
Origin: New York City (2003)
Genres: Alternative Rock / Dance-Punk
Labels: Island / Universal
Active: 2003-2011 // 2021-Present
One of the first bands to ever have a profile on MySpace, The Bravery seemed perfectly suited as an east coast challenger to newcomer Vegas hotshots, The Killers. But despite all of the ELO now grease and considerable international radio play the brave would sizzle out after only charting two songs. Regardless, Honest Mistake still slaps as hard as it did my junior year, 2005.
Thank you for joining me for the first ten songs on my ridiculous Top 100 list. I hope maybe you found a song you had forgotten, or one you haven’t heard before but will be adding it to your own collection.
Click here for : 90-81