One and Done: 10 Great Bands With Only One Album

The Sex Pistols' John Lydon
The Sex Pistols' John Lydon
Photo by Chris Gray

In today's society of more, more, more, it's becoming a bit of a rarity, especially with all those reunion albums that keep coming out, but sometimes legends have been made from just one big hit. Ever so often one album comes along that is so monumental, we all fall in love with it, and then the band quickly dissolves.

A recent mainstream example would be the Postal Service, but it's especially common in the punk world for a band to make a massive splash and then disappear just as quickly as they appeared. Here are ten who have remained steadfastly committed to being one-off bands, never mind the fame or acclaim.

The Avalanches

Electronic pioneers the Avalanches have never broken up or disappeared completely, but they put out their one record

Since I Left You

in 2000. A promised follow-up has never materialized, but they're popular on the festival circuit to this day.

The Kodan Armada The Kodan Armada is not an especially familiar name, but they were an incredible hardcore punk/screamo band that existed during the mid-2000s. Their style was too heavy to take off in the mainstream, but the one album they managed to get out, a live record called A Collection of Songs, sounds every bit as vital as it did back then.

Cap'n Jazz Cap'n Jazz was no less prolific, releasing tons of splits, singles, and compilation appearances, but they were never an album band. They made one record called Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports, Cards In The Spokes, Automatic Biographies, Kites, Kung Fu, Trophies, Banana Peels We've Slipped On and Egg Shells We've Tippy Toed Over. That was it, but the Kinsella brothers who anchored the band have gone on to become legends in the punk world.

Cannibal Ox Def Jux and the indie hip-hop movement of the early 2000s can largely be credited with the larger direction of the genre today. Where would a guy like Kid Cudi be without the blueprints laid out by producer El-P and the classic group Cannibal Ox? The Cold Vein was their only studio record, but it still holds strong today. They're intent on making a new one now, but so far have only finished a few singles.

The Sex Pistols It's pretty amazing considering how widespread their influence has been and their stature in the punk world, but Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols was the only album the volatile band managed to get out before they broke up. Of course, their legacy has been milked as much as possible with live and compilation releases ever since.

Anatomy of a Ghost You may not have heard of Anatomy of a Ghost, but you've likely heard of their direct successor band: Portugal. The Man. Before John Gourley and Zach Carothers were making music with Danger Mouse, they recorded Evanesce, one of the strongest post-hardcore records of the early 2000s, with Anatomy of a Ghost. The band fell apart immediately after and spawned the softer, more introspective music of Portugal. The Man.

List continues on the next page.


The Modern Lovers The Modern Lovers, produced by John Cale, were one of the godfather bands of punk rock as we know it today. Nevertheless, they only managed to make enough material for one album. Record labels milked the same session for two different records that consisted of all the same songs, but the band really only ever recorded enough for one incredible self-titled debut.

Rites of Spring Emo finds its roots primarily in one album: Rites of Spring's self-titled debut. It was the lone album they recorded, but it inspired an entire world of punk rock which was disparate from the hardcore that had come before. This hardcore could employ emotional hooks and lyrics for which the genre had previously been too masculine.

Members Guy Picciotto and Brendan Canty would revolutionize hardcore again when they formed Fugazi a few years later with Ian MacKaye, who had produced the Rites of Spring record.

Minor Threat Fugazi didn't just spawn from Rites of Spring though. That band also found its origins in another legendary hardcore punk band. Minor Threat, which MacKaye fronted, had an incalculable influence on the future of hardcore punk, and even spawned an entire social movement with the song "Straight Edge." 1983's Out of Step ended up being their only full-length though.

Black Star The union between rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli is still a celebrated one any time it happens, but unfortunately for us they've both had extremely successful solo careers. That means their 1998 album Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star remains the only collaborative album the two have released, and it also remains one of the greatest hip-hop releases of all time.


The Ask Willie D Archives Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses In Upper Kirby Top 10 Downtown Bars, Clubs & Ice HousesThe 10 Worst Rock Singers of the '90s

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >