A much less coveted (yet still important) list than greatest debut albums, these third albums dropped at pivotal moments in these band’s careers.
No one ever talks about the third album with so much hype usually surrounding a band’s debut work. Even the second release in a band’s catalogue is notable because the pitfalls of writing a new record while touring relentlessly split up more groups then anything.
But researching this list I realized that many of these entries were the mainstream’s first look at these groups. A kind of ten-year-overnight-success story. Many third albums dropped at huge crossroads in artist’s careers, a masterpiece before a massive hiatus, like Refused’s Shape of Punk to Come or a gigantic comeback record like Jane’s Addiction’s, Strays the magic number three always seems to have some sort of backstory to it either launching its group into superstardom or acting as the final nail in the coffin.
Here are a hundred and fifteen or so fantastic third albums that I hope you like. Maybe even some will fill you with nostalgia. Again, I am not a musical expert or journalist by any stretch of the imagination and I’ve used a list randomizer as to assure no biased or ranking has been applied to these records. I will be releasing ten at a time periodically.
Chevelle – This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In)
Release: September 21st 2004
US BILLBOARD 200: #8
Singles: “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)” “The Clincher” “Panic Prone”
Why it rocked: Chevelle did little to rock the boat on their third record but why fix what wasn’t broken? On This type of Thinking… the trio would continue making air tight, emotional bangers and perfecting their TOOL-lite formula.
Afterwards: This Type of Thinking would see the band begin to fade out of the limelight for some time. It would be their last effort with all three original brothers in the group as well. They would spend the rest of aughts quietly releasing records before making a massive commercial comeback in the early 2010’s.
Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
Released: May 9th 2011
Label: Favorite Gentlemen
US Billboard 200: #21
Singles: “Simple Math”
Why it rocked: Boy genius songwriter Andy Hull described Simple math as a concept album about his 23 year old mind questioning everything and anything but you wouldn’t believe it by listening. Hull’s grasp on life, however internally shaky, presents itself as sure as a man carving his proclamations into a slab of stone.
Afterwards: The Atlanta based five piece would continue touring relentlessly throughout the 2010’s while watching their indie following swell. Finally, in 2017 they would break through to mainstream radio waves with their lead single, “The Gold” off of their nearly perfect album, A Black Mile to the Surface.
TOOL – Lateralus
Released: May 15th 2001
US Billboard 200: #1
Awards: 1 Grammy Win
~ Best Metal Performance (“Schism”)
Singles: “Schism” “Parabola” “Lateralus”
Why it rocked: Well because it’s TOOL.
Afterwards: TOOL did their usual TOOL thing and waited another four hundred years before gifting the world, 10,000 Days to lukewarm reviews (for them). It would be their last release for another decade.
Bad Brains – I Against I
Released: November 21st 1986
US BILLBOARD 200: N/A
Why it rocked: An understanding of the D.C. punk scene in the eighties is a prerequisite to appreciating the importance of Bad Brains. The historically racist Skinhead Punks controlled the underground scenes of Washington at the time and faced a fire bombing at the hands of brand new punk band, Bad Brains. Not just a victory for African American artists, Bad Brains acted as a testament that art is more effective than violence to channel ideology and even more importantly, acceptance. Considering I, Against, I has songs covered by dozens of artists over several decades now only reinforces their genre blending importance.
Afterwards: The group would continue their genre bending extreme alternative even despite lead singer, H.R. and younger brother drummer, Earl Hudson quitting and being replaced during the recording. (Originally replaced by Chuck Mosley, H.R. would scrap and re-record all of the vocals for the following album himself).
Adele – 25
Released: November 20th 2015
Label: XL / Colombia Records
Billboard 200: #1
Awards: Six Grammy award wins
~ Artist of the
~ Album of the Year
~ Best Pop Vocal Album
~ Record of the Year (“Hello”)
~ Song of the Year (“Hello”)
~ Best Solo Pop Performance (“Hello”)
Singles: “Hello” “When We Were Young” “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” “Water Under The Bridge”
Why it rocked: Very few vocalists living or otherwise have been blessed with the raw intangible tools that Adele has and 25 shows her absolute mastery over them all. 25 introduces more modern Pop and Electronic music to her signature traditional R&B sound but little of that really matters. You pay the price of admission for the power of her voice and stay for her unique interpretation of love and loss.
Afterwards: The Queen of Hearts continues her dominating reign as a love linguist. Five years later she would release, 30 and it would win another twenty billion awards. Despite this, pddly enough, she is currently doing “Weekends with Adele” – a Vegas residency until the end of 2022.
Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop
Released: March 26th 1996
Billboard 200: #4
Singles: “Big Bang Baby” “Trippin on a Hole in a Paper Heart” “Lady Picture Show
Why it rocked: Originally panned by critics as too far off the beaten path, retrospective reviews and anniversary look-backs view the record much more favorably these days. The record was a bold leap in a new direction for a band that had the embodiment of chaos at lead singer. But despite all of the jail time Weiland was filling his weekends with the band sounded tighter and fresher than ever. The boozy, sex animal persona Weiland perfected early on in his career gave way to a softer, more introspective voice and the band matched out what would be the sweetest and most vulnerable work of their careers.
Afterwards: After cancelling most of the following tour in support of Tiny Music… (a direct support slot opening for Kiss) the band took a break. Weiland would release a solo album and the rest of the band would release an album with some other dude under the moniker, Talk Show. From there STP would reunite and release their next record No. 4 to moderate fan fare and then a 2001 release that would be a complete commercial failure and end the band’s original run completely. Nu Metal killed a lot of genius.
Immortal Technique – The 3rd World
Released: June 24th 2008
Label: Viper Records
Billboard 200: #99
Singles: “The 3rd World”
Why it rocked: The most dangerous rapper this side of the century, Immortal wrote his most devastating manifesto during the final years of the Bush administration. The one man army attacks everything imaginable and his lyrics read like a Bernie Sanders speech if he held an AK-47 at the electoral college the entire time.
Afterwards: Well for one … he started an orphanage in Afghanistan with his proceeds from the sales of 3rd World.
He’s continued his career as an activist, released another record, The Martyr, in 2011 and has told other actual musical journalists he’s currently working on a book.
Green Day – Dookie
Released: February 1st 1994
Billboard 200: #2
Awards: 1 Grammy Win
~ Best Alternative Album
Singles: “Longview” “Welcome to Paradise” “Basket Case” “When I Come Around” “She”
Why it rocked: Aside from it being the first pirated piece of media I have ever owned (a coworker of my mom recorded it to a cassette tape). Or the fact it opened with the first drum solo I would ever learn how to play? Besides those more biased, personal reasons it also happens to be the second greatest pop punk record ever released.
Afterwards: The boys would continue dominating the Alternative charts all throughout the 90’s moving away from their punk roots and into more traditional Rock. This sonic shift would culminate into what contemporary critics would hail as their magnum opus, American Idiot. An album that I, personally think kind of sucks but what the fuck do I know? I’m a moron.
Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
Released: October 5th 2005
US Billboard 200: #7
Awards: 1 Grammy nominations
~ Best Pop Vocal Album
Singles: “O’Sailor” “Parting Gift” “Not About Love” “Get Him Back”
Why it rocked: Even without long time producer Jon Brion at the board, Fiona’s genius still flows through every inch of this record. Long gone are the singer’s lovesick and sad Tidal ways – Extraordinary showcases Apple at her funniest and most easy going, even when a storm is brewing just under the surface. The subject matter, as always, is dark as hell but Fiona thrives and jives in a place where only heartbreak and rage grow.
Afterwards: Fiona Apple would go on another extended break. Known for her extensive bouts of reclusiveness – she would release her fourth album, The Idler Wheel… seven years later in 2012 to universal acclaim.
GOB – The World According to GOB
Released: October 10th 2000
Label: Nettwerk Records
US Billboards 200: N/A
Why it rocked: If Sum 41 was Canada’s answer to Blink 182 then Gob was the Great White North’s Green Day and The World According to Gob was their own, Dookie. One of the finest 2000’s pop punk revival albums happened to be one of the earliest releases. Simply put, cover to cover this album bops.
Afterwards: Gob would find moderate success in the States and even be included in the beloved Madden 04’ Soundtrack. Lead singer Tom would go to replace Dave Baksh in Sun 41 after his departure.