Top 20 Greatest OC Albums of All Time: Nos. 10 to 1

For the past 18 years, faithful readers of the OC Weekly have counted on our music section for the continuous cycle of sniffing out the local albums. It goes something like this: We search for them (yeah, we get a shit ton in the mailm too), we listen to them, separate the wheat from the chaff, remind you of their release dates, champion them when they sell a bajillion copies and remind you who told you to give them a listen in the first place. Along the way, we've also made sure to pay tribute to the classic albums that paved the way for OC music culture as we know it. Though there are literally thousands of OC-based offerings worthy of our admiration, there are always going to be a handful of albums that immediately pop into our brain when someone asks us to rehash the best albums that define OC music and also represent both a time and place in our native sound. Love it or hate it, this is what we came up with. Without further ado, here is our list of the Top 20 Greatest Albums of All Time.–Nate Jackson

See Also: Top 20 Greatest OC Albums of All Time: #20-11


10) The Offspring, Smash (1994)
The best-selling independent album ever pressed, the Offspring's Smash became a cornerstone of '90s punk and a rite of passage for every seventh grader with a destructive side. While the group would spend the decade continuing to have substantial crossover success, their formula of sending up social issues and personal anxieties with a distinctly OC punk sensibility was first perfected on Smash. One of the few punk albums to spawn several high-school pep-band staples, tracks such as “Come Out and Play” and “Self Esteem” crossed over to a mainstream rock audience without even trying, resulting in one of the most successful and influential albums to ever emerge from Orange County. (Chaz Kangas)

9) Local Natives, Gorilla Manor (2010)

It's strange to think a band that was constantly being singled out by the Weekly thrived on existing as a tight unit without a singular front man. Since their days as Cavil At Rest, Kelcey Ayes, Ryan Hahn, Taylor Rice and Matt Frazier (former Weekling!) carved their own lane in the indie-rock realm, incorporating thunderous percussion, world music and pop music à la Talking Heads. As a matter of fact, their cover of that band's classic '80s tune “Warning Signs” remains one of our favorite tracks on this album littered with catchy FM gems. (Nate Jackson)


8) Dick Dale, Surfer's Choice (1962)

Certain monarchs–Queen Elizabeth, King James, the King of the Surf Guitar–have given no intention of ending their reigns soon. In the case of the third example, who could dare challenge Dick Dale? The OC-bred, Twentynine Palms-based 75-year-old is still the most famous name in surf rock, still tours nationally and can still glide between reverb-gilded Fender riffs with godly confidence. Fifty-one years ago, Dale's guitar howled its way into American pop culture with Surfer's Choice, a buoyant mix of doo-wop, rock & roll, rockabilly, classic guitar music and (of course) nascent surf rock. Dale jammed the debut with instantly charming tunes, including “Surf Beat,” “Take It Off,” “Death of a Gremmie,” “Shake N' Stomp,” and that song that was in some Tarantino movie. Few royals have been so generous. (Reyan Ali)

7) Sublime, 40 oz. to Freedom
Every track is a solid winner, making Sublime's 1992 debut album nothing short of a masterpiece. Not to mention, it can largely be considered one of OC's most triumphant claims to musical fame (yeah, we know Sublime's from Long Beach, but we're claiming county cred anyway). For many who love the band and music in general, one's copy of 40 oz. to Freedom isn't just an album; it represents a counterculture lifestyle and frame of mind. Albeit a lifestyle and frame of mind that is punctuated along the way by the sound of a bong rip as an instrument, as well as samples of everyone from Eazy-E to Led Zeppelin's “Lemon Song” (for those who have a pre-1994 copy of the disc). And it's almost guaranteed that for as long as this record's around, people will continue to call, “439-0116” to be down with Sublime. (Tina Dhamija)


6) Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle (1993)

Back in the day, when there were music stores in most neighborhoods, people would get pumped about camping out for the release of the newest cassette. Yeah, we said cassette. When Long Beach native Snoop Dogg released Doggystyle in 1993, Orange County couldn't wait. The album pumped out chart-toppers we all bumped to in our cars and in the clubs — G-Funk classics such as “Gin and Juice,” “Lodi Dodi” and “Doggy Dogg World.” Snoop's flow was totally original. The beats that were delivered off this album are undeniably associated with the best of West Coast hip-hop. Doggystyle put Snoop on the map, and while we know the “LBC” isn't technically OC, fuck it, we're going straight gangsta and claiming this one. (Ali Lerman)

5) Thrice, Illusion of Safety (2002)

Identity Crisis represented an unmistakable change of the guard for the OC music scene. You couldn't call their music punk; you couldn't call it hardcore or even post-hardcore. But you could call it angry, imaginative and, at times, even meditative. Throughout the track list of their sophomore album, Thrice became one of the first modern bands to really pull off all of that in a way that didn't sound like reheated tough guy hardcore from the decade prior. And if you can manage to get through the buzz-saw guitars, throat-shredding screams and metal-inspired riffage of tracks without getting a little bit of a charge, you may wanna check your pulse. (Nate Jackson)


4) Fu Manchu-, The Action Is Go (1997)

This definitely ranks as not only one of the greatest OC albums of all time, but one of the greatest skateboarding albums of all time. Capturing the brutal stoner-rock guitar assault of Bob Balch and Scott Hill, this album was a notable step forward in terms of production value, yet it stayed true to the sound and the fury of one of OC's greatest bands. Aside from the fact that “Evil Eye” made it on the soundtrack of the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, this album defines the essence of skate punk culture behind the Orange Curtain. (Nate Jackson)

3) The Adolescents, The Blue Album (1981)

Released in 1981, the Fullerton outfit made their mark on the booming SoCal hardcore punk scene, and this album, a breakthrough in many ways, was well-received by their punk contemporaries but garnered little attention outside of the scene. In the years since, the lineup has shifted time and again, but tracks such as “Amoeba” in its teenage angst are timeless, and we can thank Rodney On the ROQ for putting it on the radio once upon a time. (Ian Joulain)


2) Social Distortion, Social Distortion (1990)

Released in 1990, Social Distortion's self-titled, major-label debut captures the moment when Mike Ness had bled the heroin out of his punk-rockin' veins and let the cool country influences of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams seep in to establish the band's crisp, hard punkabilly sound. Never mind that for many hardcore Social D. fans, the album also points to the moment when the band officially went mainstream with radio staples such as “Ball & Chain,” “Story of My Life” and the band's cover of Cash's “Ring of Fire” hitting the KROQ rotation. Two decades after its release, Social Distortion's eponymous album still plays like the ultimate soundtrack to ditching class to party with a bottle of Jack Daniels down by the railroad tracks on a hot Cali day. (Tina Dhamija)

1) No Doubt , Tragic Kingdom (1995)

You can't make a Top 20 Greatest OC Albums of All Time list without mentioning this record. No Doubt are unarguably the biggest band to spawn from OC, and Tragic Kingdom is their most recognizable album, filled with radio hits that symbolized the FM domination of third-wave ska. Gwen Stefani defies America's perception of today's Orange County woman–who isn't always a blond millionaire MILF wearing designer treads . . . oh, wait. We still love you, and wish we were you, Gwen! Thanks for putting OC on the map. We'll always cherish the '90s image we have of you in that red dress, holding up an orange. (Jena Ardell)

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