Best Indie Rock Albums of All Time: Battle of the Lists!

41yf1e8xnzl_sl500_aa240__2We here at the Mix love lists like a fat cat loves kibble, so we greet Amazon’s compilation of the 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time with open, eager-to-judge arms. After all, we did the same ourselves, just last year; albeit with a slightly different set of guidelines (one album only per each of the last 25 years, no artist repeats, etc).Like us, Amazon eschewed EPs and greatest-hits comps, and stuck fast to actual indie labels (which nixes the bulk of releases from alt giants like Sonic Youth, the Flaming Lips, Radiohead, and My Bloody Valentine). The result? By and large, a pretty solid list.But with topics as arbitrary and polarizing as this, it’s always fun to see the laptop army rise up in all its list-flaming, rageful-comment-posting glory. And like so many out there in internets land, I too have a bone or 12 to pick with Amazon’s choices. First, though, take a look for yourselves:100 Dangerous Magical Noise – The Dirtbombs99 Passover – The Black Angels98 To Survive – Joan As Police Woman97 Ultimate Alternative Wavers – Built To Spill96 Trans Am – Trans Am95 The Discovery Of A World Inside… – The Apples In Stereo94 Waiter: ‘You Vultures!’ – Portugal The Man93 Alligator – The National92 Horses In The Sky – Silver Mt. Zion91 Gallowsbird’s Bark – The Fiery Furnaces90 Louden Up Now – (!!! Chk Chik Chick)89 The Milk-Eyed Mender – Joanna Newsom88 The Power Out – Electrelane87 Cure For Pain – Morphine86 Worn Copy – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti85 Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls84 Hearts Of Oak – Ted Leo/Pharmacists83 Save Yourself – Make Up82 The Last Match – The Aislers Set81 The Sea and the Bells – Rachel’s80 The Ugly Organ – Cursive79 De Stijl – The White Stripes78 Nothing Feels Good – The Promise Ring77 The Smell Of Our Own – The Hidden Cameras76 Jane From Occupied Europe – Swell Maps75 Furnace Room Lullaby – Neko Case74 The Curtain Hits The Cast – Low73 The R&B Of Membership – The Delta 7272 II & III – Camper Van Beethoven71 Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating… – Spiritualized70 The Fawn – The Sea And Cake69 Feast of Wire – Calexico68 Oh, Inverted World – The Shins67 Will You Find Me – Ida66 Milk Man – Deerhoof65 Coquelicot Asleep In The Poppies… – Of Montreal64 Rejoicing in The Hands – Devendra Banhart63 Destroyer’s Rubies – Destroyer62 TNT – Tortoise61 Neon Golden – The Notwist60 Daddy’s Highway – The Bats59 Set Yourself On Fire – Stars58 Fabulous Muscles – Xiu Xiu57 Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes – TV On The Radio56 The Decline And Fall Of Heavenly – Heavenly55 The Mysterious Production of Eggs – Andrew Bird54 Pussy-Whipped – Bikini Kill53 Sing No Evil – Half Japanese52 Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express – The Go Betweens51 Emperor Tomato Ketchup – Stereolab50 And Don’t The Kids Just Love It – Television Personalities49 Wild Love – Smog48 Agaetis Byrjun – Sigur Ros47 Red House Painters I – Red House Painters46 Advisory Committee – Mirah45 How Memory Works – Joan Of Arc44 On Fire – Galaxie 50043 On – Imperial Teen42 Mass Romantic [Remastered] – The New Pornographers41 Gulag Orkestar – Beirut40 This Nation’s Saving Grace – The Fall39 You Forgot It In People – Broken Social Scene38 I Am A Bird Now – Antony & The Johnsons37 When Your Heartstrings Break – Beulah36 Our Endless Numbered Days – Iron & Wine35 Person Pitch – Panda Bear34 Let’s Get Out of This Country – Camera Obscura33 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective32 Let It Be [Expanded Edition] – The Replacements31 Repeater + 3 Songs – Fugazi30 Zen Arcade – Hüsker Dü29 24 Hour Revenge Therapy – Jawbreaker28 Lift Your Skinny Fists… – godspeed you black emperor!27 Yellow House – Grizzly Bear26 The Glow Pt. 2 – The Microphones25 Black Candy – Beat Happening24 Funeral – Arcade Fire23 Moon Pix – Cat Power22 Diary – Sunny Day Real Estate21 Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil… – Bright Eyes20 I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One – Yo La Tengo19 Kill the Moonlight – Spoon18 Give Up – The Postal Service17 Dig Me Out – Sleater-Kinney16 No Pocky for Kitty – Superchunk15 I See A Darkness – Bonnie “Prince” Billy14 We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes – Death Cab For Cutie13 Michigan – Sufjan Stevens12 Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth11 69 Love Songs Volume 1 – The Magnetic Fields10 Bakesale – Sebadoh09 Either/Or – Elliott Smith08 Surfer Rosa – Pixies07 If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle & Sebastian06 Slanted & Enchanted – Pavement05 Imperial f.f.r.r. (Deluxe Edition) – Unrest04 Exile In Guyville – Liz Phair03 Spiderland – Slint02 In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel01 Bee Thousand – Guided by VoicesPersonally, I think it’s hard to argue with GBV at no. 1, though several albums in the top ten could easily take the spot. (Except Exile in Guyville; to me, Ms. Phair does not stand the test of time). However! What the hooty-hoo is Modest Mouse’s stone-cold classic Lonesome Crowded West not doing on here??The inclusion of fuzzrock flash-in-the-pan outfit the Vivian Girls’ 2008 release makes me think the Amazon warehouse is way overstocked on that puppy, and I could easily have gone with different albums for Sufjan (how about the consistently underrated Seven Swans or the rightly lauded Illinoise?), Built to Spill (if we must pick one of the two albums they put out on an indie label, 1994’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love owns) and Cat Power (my heart belongs to 2003’s You Are Free). I see a few more missing faces too—the Smiths, Throwing Muses, Teenage Fanclub, Archers of Loaf, Mudhoney, Dinosaur Jr…So this is the part where I shut my pie hole and turn it over to you, readers. Is this list 100 items of unimpeachable perfection? A total travesty? Give me your quibbles and bits.More on indie music:Morrissey approves Manchester’s own the CourteenersGrizzly Bear’s ‘Cheerleader': Exclusive new trackThe Hold Steady’s concert DVD: An exclusive full-song previewFlaming Lips, Tool confirmed for summer fests

Comments (62 total) Add your comment
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  • gra

    Oh, I agree. I think Illnoise or Seven Swans should be in there more than Michigan. I also think The Coast is Never Clear is better than When your Heart Breaks.

  • K

    I love that The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs made it onto there.That is one incredible CD. I agree with a lot of this list…looks pretty good to me, though I agree re The Smiths!

  • Erika

    I agree with most of the list, but I do think City and Colour’s “Bring Me Your Love” (2008) should be on there somewhere. Also, Neutral Milk Hotel should be number 1.

  • Tim

    Good list of albums, terrible order… ‘Daydream Nation’ #12 (way too low), ‘Give Up’ #18 (too high). Constantines should be on there somewhere.

  • danielle

    i totally agree with the outrage over the exclusion of modest mouse
    but i also think that they picked the wrong CD for certain bands. for example, death cab for cutie’s best indie album is transatlanticism arcade fire’s is neon bible andrew birds is armchair apocrypha.
    i also think that iron and wine should be included on the list.

  • danielle

    oh and illinois by sufjan stevens is also significantly better than Michigan. Although Michigan is a really good album Illinois is a better overall album and does a better job of being about the state at hand with numerous references to specific Illinois things (john wayne gacy, casmir pullaski day, etc)

  • Mr. Jones

    1 – Let It Be – The Replacements
    2 – Zen Arcade – Hüsker Dü
    3 – Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth
    4 – 69 Love Songs Volume 1 – The Magnetic Fields
    5 – Funeral – Arcade Fire

  • Kimboorly Bonaza

    How is Mariah Carey not anywhere on this stinkin’ list? This is 100 albums worth of bad music. Maybe if 7800° Fahrenheit was on it, it’d give it legitimacy. Or Chinese Democracy.

  • Em

    Where is Death Cab For Cutie’s Plans?

  • HarlequinTwilight

    @Danielle Iron & Wine is on the list.
    I have to say, they picked some of the wrong albums for some of these artists. Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible is by far their best album. I have to agree that the exclusion of Modest Mouse is so wrong. What about The Replacements? They shoud have been included also.

  • Bespactaled Blowen

    And where are the hits?

  • Anonymous

    Kimboorly you are a complete moron! This is a list of INDIE ROCK! Mariah Carey is not indie rock! Learn to read before you comment…
    Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans should be on here, so should Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, and Modest Mouse.

    • Evan

      Ummmmm….”Plans” isn’t an indie record…it was on Atlantic. So before you blast someone else for mentioning Mariah Carey why don’t you get your facts straight?

  • Trent R.

    Jesse & the 8th Street Kidz???-this is ridic.

  • Officer Farva

    Any indie list that does not include “Shakespeare my butt” by the Lowest of the Low is just a work in progress. This list is lesser for such a glaring exclusion.

  • Lauren C

    1) Viva la vida
    2) In the Zone
    3) Gangsta’s Paradise
    4) Junkanoo
    5) Stone Cold Rhymin’
    6) Philosophy of the World
    7) Permanent Vacation
    8) Pump
    9) Night in the Ruts
    10) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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