Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The 111 Best Indie Albums of All-Time

The blogger world is abuzz with Amazon's list of the 100 best Indie albums of all time. Have to say there are some quality choices in there...but the "exclusion" of punk music doesn't make a lot of sense since indie music would likely not exist without it. And excluding some band who started as indie rockers but became mammoth rock stars also feels wrong. Part of the reason bands like REM, Jane's, and Green Day made the leap was because their "indie" release was so good. And they included Death Cab For Cutie which negates their own rule. I'd have to say I agree with Blender's list from a couple years back much more...and I usually hate every list they've ever done. (thank god they're gone).

Anyway, lots of people love to complain when they don't like something...then do nothing about it. So I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and make my own list. But as you know...I always do lists one better and I go to 11. In this case, 111. My rules are such:

A. One album per band.
B. No compilations
C. If an album "originally" was indie distributed (Jack Johnson) then it was included...but if it parterned with a major label distribution company, it was excluded. I may have screwed up on a couple...
D. No rap. I love rap...but there were too many great indie rap albums to include. (DJ Shadow and Danger Mouse sneak in because they are cross-genre)

* Why Elliott? I'll tell you why I choose Elliott. It was a tough call...any of the albums in the 10 could be number one...but in my opinion, Elliott's album was slightly more important. Most people forget that many of the songs from this album went onto be the soundtrack for Good Will Hunting and Elliott's track Miss Misery was nominated for an Oscar. Though MM was not on the album, that moment in time is a very symbolic moment. On the very stage in front of 100 million people, Celine Dion performs her song which was one of the most popular songs of the decade, only to be followed moments later by elliott's hushed tone. I think that moment on stage is the moment indie rock changed forever. That was the moment that indie rock became legit. And it was Elliott's "either/or" that made that moment possible. *

Here are the 111 Best Indie Albums of All-Time:

  1. Elliott Smith - either/or
  2. Jane's Addiction - Jane's Addiction
  3. Pixies - Doolittle
  4. Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted
  5. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
  6. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
  7. R.E.M. - Life's Rich Pageant
  8. Fugazi - Repeater
  9. Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
  10. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over The Sea
  11. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
  12. Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
  13. Husker Du - Zen Arcade
  14. The Replacements - Let It Be
  15. Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
  16. Bright Eyes - Lifted or The Story is in The Soil
  17. Zero 7 - Simple Things
  18. The Damned - Damned Damned Damned
  19. Sebadoh - Bakesale
  20. Interpol - Antics
  21. Bad Religion - No Control
  22. Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
  23. Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
  24. Built To Spill - There's Nothing Wrong With Love
  25. Modest Mouse - Lonesome Crowded West
  26. Black Flag - Damaged
  27. Morphine - Cure For Pain
  28. The Chemical Brothers - Exit Planet Dust
  29. Superchunk - On the Mouth
  30. Beck - One Foot In the Grave
  31. Mogwai - Young Team
  32. Camper Van Beethoven - Camper Van Beethoven
  33. Cat Power - You Are Free
  34. Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
  35. The Fall - This Nation's Saving Grace
  36. Bauhaus - In The Flat Field
  37. The Orb - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
  38. Arcade Fire - Funeral
  39. Slint - Spiderland
  40. Green Day - Kerplunk!
  41. Archers of Loaf - Icky Metal
  42. Unrest - Imperial f.f.r.r.
  43. DJ Shadow - Entroducing...
  44. Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
  45. The National - Boxer
  46. Stephen Malkmus - Stephen Malkmus
  47. Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
  48. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange
  49. Nirvana - Bleach
  50. Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
  51. Bad Brains - I Against I
  52. Ride - Nowhere
  53. Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
  54. The Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am
  55. My Morning Jacket - At Dawn
  56. Happy Mondays - Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches
  57. Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary
  58. Cocteau Twins - Blue Bell Knoll
  59. Feist - Let It Die
  60. Spoon - Gimme Fiction
  61. Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
  62. Smog - Wild Love
  63. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  64. Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me
  65. Moby - Moby
  66. The Cult - Love
  67. The Descendents - Milo Goes To College
  68. Love and Rockets - Seventh Dream of a Teenage Heaven
  69. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
  70. Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy
  71. At The Drive In - In/Casino/Out
  72. Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards
  73. Big Black - Songs About Fucking
  74. Saint Etienne - Good Humor
  75. The Go-Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane
  76. The Beat Happening - The Beat Happening
  77. Tortoise - TNT
  78. Shins - Oh, Inverted World
  79. Danger Mouse - The Grey Album
  80. The Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home About
  81. The New Pornographers - Electric Version
  82. Death Cab For Cutie - We Have The Facts and We Are Voting Yes
  83. Flipper - Generic Flipper
  84. LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
  85. Television Personalities - And Don't The Kids Just Know
  86. Calexico/Iron & Wine - In the Reigns
  87. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - I See A Darkness
  88. The Sea and Cake - The Sea and Cake
  89. Whiskeytown - Faithless Street
  90. Soundgarden - Ultramega OK
  91. Low - Secret Name
  92. Tapes N Tapes - The Loon
  93. M. Ward - Post War
  94. The Anniversary - Your Majesty
  95. The White Stripes - De Stijl
  96. The Flaming Lips - In A Priest Driven Ambulance
  97. Mastodon - Levithan
  98. Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets II
  99. Orbital - Snivilisation
  100. Bikini Kill - Pussy-Whipped
  101. Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South
  102. Mudhoney - Mudhoney
  103. Rilo Kiley - The Execution of All Things
  104. godspeed you black emperor - lift your skinny fists...
  105. Stereolab - Peng!
  106. TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
  107. Afghan Whigs - Up In It
  108. Cursive - The Ugly Organ
  109. The Jesus Lizard - Liar
  110. Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales
  111. The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Her Satanic Majesty's Second Request

Visit my Amazon store for none of these.

11 comments:

Michael said...

Woooooooooooooow.

Seriously.

Seriously?

Seriously?!

This is a great, great, great list. Don't take this the wrong way, but... Damn! You negate almost the whole thing by putting Elliot Smith on top!

He's great, I know. He really is. But to say that he's better than everyone that's below him (and that's everyone, seeing as he's on top!) with so many insta-classics just in the top ten, not to mention twenty-five, or even fifty is akin to shooting yourself in the foot.

Elliot's gotta be lower.

And I mean that in the most loving way. Your site rocks. Keep up the good work.

acompleteunknown said...

I'll tell you why I choose Elliott. It was a tough call...any of the albums in the 10-20 could be number one...but in my opinion, Elliott's album was slightly more important. Most people forget that many of the songs from this album went onto be the soundtrack for Good Will Hunting and Elliott's track Miss Misery was nominated for an Oscar. Though MM was not on the album, that moment in time is a very symbolic moment. On the very stage in front of 100 million people, Celine Dion performs her song which was one of the most popular songs of the decade, only to be followed moments later by elliott's hushed tone. I think that moment on stage is the moment indie rock changed forever. That was the moment that indie rock became legit. And it was Elliott's "either/or" that made that moment possible.

Louisa said...

I would have put Ugly Organ WAY higher. But of course it's all opinion haha! Thanks for making this list! It was obviously well thought out and was fun to read.

alt-gramma said...

I am also VERY impressed with your list. What a lot of work and thought! I'm OK with Elliott Smith; I just would have placed Neutral Milk Hotel higher. I think they both have had a tremendous amount of influence over the music we are listening to now.

Chris said...

i agree with your reasoning for the elliot smith album. its undoubtedly his best album too. i'm also surprised by your inclusion of electronic music however surprised that there was no afx/aphex twin? or would you not consider that indie? orbital's "snivilisation" is one of the best electronic albums i've ever heard.

Allen L. said...

I'm getting through your list for the first time.
Question: Where are Violent Femmes?
The first (and to my mind ONLY) album to go gold and never chart. The album that defines Indie from the start.
I'm surprised to not find the Femmes on this list. Their exclusion is, I think, a detriment to the whole.

Julie said...

Either/Or is my favorite album of all time, so I think you made a great choice putting it at #1. :-)

rickywillson said...

I love to listen to indie songs and I have lots of collection of it. Now I want to know what are the best songs right now and the best indie music too.

indie songs

blurbwhore said...

Great list, but Jack Johnson? The worst type of frat rock ever created. File under: James Blunt. A glaring blemish on an otherwise impeccable list

Liam Morris said...

Great list, I agree totally, except... a priest driven ambulance as The Flaming Lips' best album? What about Yoshimi or The Soft Bulletin?

acompleteunknown said...

Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi are on Warner Bros and are not indie albums.