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Some of the Best THIRD Albums in Modern Music (Part Seven)

A much less coveted (yet still important) list than greatest debut albums, these third albums dropped at pivotal moments in these band’s careers.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

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 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.

Beck – Mellow Gold

Release: March 1st 1994

Label: DGC – Bong Load


Singles: “Loser” “Pay No Mind (Snoozer)” “Beercan”

Awards: N/A

Why it rocked: Sweaty bellyflops into motel pools, wet cigarettes, nightmare hippie girls and chicken fat populate Beck’s dystopian anti-commercial masterpiece, Mellow Gold. The only emotion that overtakes the singer’s bleak outlook on post Cold War America is his refined sense of humor throughout with a unmatched sense of white trash wordplay. Baby may have been in Reno with the Vitamin D but Beck was in an Arby’s parking lot, enjoying mellow gold and penning an American classic.

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Release: June 13th 1995

Label: Maverick


Singles: “You Oughta Know” “Hand in my Pocket” “Ironic” “You Learn” “Head Over Feet” “All I Really Want”

Awards: Nominated for nine Grammy Awards

~ WON Album of the Year

~ WON Best Female Rock Vocal Performance

~ WON Best Rock Song

~ WON Best Rock Album

Why it rocked: Opening track, “All I Really Want” acts as a list of demands from red hot and recently scorned songstress, Alanis Morissette on her smash hit, Jagged Little Pill which was *ahem* ironically an outlier album for her. Aggressive, sarcastic and enjoyably Gen X, Alanis goes through all of the same stages of grief as any breakup record but instead of of self pity she switched the narrative lamenting those foolish enough to give up on her.

Everclear – So Much For The Afterglow

Release: October 7th 1997

Label: Capitol


Singles: “Everything to Everyone” “I Will Buy You A New Life” “Father of Mine” “So Much For The Afterglow” “One Hit Wonder”

Awards: One Grammy Award Nomination

Why it rocked: Everclear’s first three albums are very much lead singer Art Alexakis’ autobiographical trilogy. Beginning with a white trash hell upbringing, through his drug addictions, his daughter, divorce and to present day when played back to back it all sounds like a long and cathartic therapy session. Being the third album, Alexakis has went from mere victim of circumstance to not only survivor but aggressor by the end of the Afterglow. The album’s production is sleek, crisp and clean but just beneath the service is the fascinating work of an understated genius trying to figure himself out.

Killswitch Engage – The End of Heartache

Release: May 11th 2004

Label: Roadrunner Records


Singles: “Rose of Sharyn” “The End of Heartache” “A Bid Farewell”

Awards: N/A

Why it rocked: After two successful records, Metalcore poster boys, Killswitch Engage found themselves singer-less. Billed more as a personnel replacement than the formation of a supergroup, the band happened to not only land the singer of legendary underground group, Blood Has Been Shed but the drummer as well. With the addition of Howard Jones and Justin Foley in place, Killswitch would pound out two of their most successful albums back to back and secure their legacies as Metal luminaries.

Foo Fighters – There is Nothing Left to Lose

Release: November 2nd 1999

Label: RCA Records


Singles: “Learn to Fly” “Stacked Actors” “Generator” “Breakout” “Next Year”

Awards: Two Grammy Award Nominations

~ WON Best Rock Album

~ WON Best Short Form Music Video

Why it rocked: Following the world conquering success of, The Colour and the Shape, Grohl and Co. sensed the winds of change by 2000 and had a choice to make. With Pop Punk and Nu-Metal dominating the radio waves the Foo Fighters could either take the route most of their contemporaries had now that Post Grunge was last year’s fabric or they could double down on everything that made them popular to begin with. Obviously they made the right choice but with a few growing pains. There is Nothing Left to Lose is a transitional album for sure, including some of the heaviest Foo’s songs ever and also one of the biggest hits of their career. Ultimately, it’s a dense album with loveable glimpses into the process of the Foo’s carefully cultivating the perfect rock band that would dominate awards shows and radio play for decades to follow.

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