Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007

The 100 Best Indie-Rock Albums Ever?

By Evan Rytlewski
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The 100 Best Indie-Rock Albums Ever? Thems fighting words, but... November 15, 2007 | 03:01 PM A list of the "100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever" scheduled to appear in the December issue of Blender has gone online. The bloggers are already debating it, mostly half-heartedly, but before I dork out and join them, I'll go out on a limb and say the magazine actually did a pretty good job. Now for the nitpicking: 1. Odd inclusions were inevitable considering the loose definition of "indie-rock," but it's hard to imagine anyone classifying De La Soul, Green Day and M.I.A. as indie-rock. 2. Although most of the chosen artists deserve the honor, the album selections themselves occasionally seem a bit random: Who really believes Cat Powers' The Greatest is a better disc than You Are Free or the Covers Record; or that Yo La Tengo's Painful reached greater heights than I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, or that Rilo Kiley's mediocre major label debut More Adventurous belongs on the list more than their excellent Saddle Creek effort The Execution of All Things? I could go on like this for pages, of course, but most of my complaints would be based on pure, occasionally arbitrary preference (I'd much rather see, for instance, Modest Mouse's major-label Moon and Antartica over Lonesome Crowded West, and Fugazi's Red Medicine and The Argument over Repeater). I am genuinely impressed, though, by the list's top 10 selections: 10 The Smiths - The Smiths 09 Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers 08 My Bloody Valentine - Loveless 07 The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground 06 Arcade Fire - Funeral 05 Pixies - Surfer Rosa 04 R.E.M. - Murmur 03 The Replacements - Let It Be 02 Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation 01 Pavement - Slanted And Enchanted Excellent albums, all. Funeral, the newest of the bunch and thus a contentious inclusion, has already earned its placement—it sets the standard for the modern indie-rock album. The Velvet Underground's laidback self-titled album, although recorded in a pre-indie era, inspired a multitude of influential '80s and '90s college rock, from shoegaze to slowcore, and continues to be a template for the indie singer-songwriter records. R.E.M.'s Murmer was the first great college-rock record of the '80s—and the best college-rock record period—laying the groundwork for the seminal indie-rock that would follow, including, most notably, well, Pavement's Slanted And Enchanted, the definitive indie-rock album and a safe choice for number 1 (even if, as I've often argued, it isn't even Pavement's best album, but again, that's nitpicking).
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