9. Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers
As much as the Red Hot Chili Peppers kicked down the door at the start of the decade, the mid '90s were not nearly as kind to them. After losing John Frusciante to the pressures of fame and drug addiction, their bounceback with One Hot Minute was not nearly the kind of record that fans were expecting. Just when it looked like we were in for another flameout, the unthinkable happened when the guitar master returned.
Not since the days of Blood Sugar Sex Magik had we seen a track list as solid as Californication, taking the best bits and pieces of every single member and amplifying them. You can tell that these guys have a new sense of joy playing together, with the opening notes of Around the World kicking the album off already at 11. This isn't just an album of nonstop bangers though.
This marks the beginning of the more melodic and introspective side of the Chili Peppers. Though songs like I Like Dirt still show their funk chops, the real signature tracks like the title song and Scar Tissue are subtle hints at where the band was going to go later on albums like By the Way and Stadium Arcadium. Bouncing between nonstop aggression, open hearted lyrics, and just a little hint of beauty, this is basically the closest these guys have come to capturing what life in California is really like.