Amazon’s 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Of All Time

By brandon / March 30, 2009

Every now and then some magazine or other sort of publication decides to trot out their “100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Of All Time.” The last of note we wrote about was Blender (RIP, dudes) in 2007, so it’s ostensibly time for the folks at Amazon to show their own. Before you guffaw, the list has strengths. Like someone finally remembered Jawbreaker and Unrest’s Imperial f.f.r.r. … albeit the “Deluxe Edition.” (It’s clearly a site designed to sell you these very records, so grains of salt, please.) As with all lists, there are head scratchers, i.e. the Postal Service beating Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, the Replacement’s Let It Be, and the Fall, etc., by a landslide. The criteria:

The term “Indie Rock” is undeniably tricky. We challenge anyone to definitively define what is and what is not indie rock–you will fail. For the purposes of compiling this list we’ve decided to use a combination of hard and fast rules and gut instinct. Our hard and fast rules are listed below, but as for gut instinct–you just kind of have to know. For example: John Oates put out a rock record called Phunk Shui on an indie label, however, in no way should Phunk Shui be mistaken for indie rock. Likewise, Black Flag put out many seminal punk albums on SST, but we’re not talking about punk or grunge or classic post-kraut-rock, we’re talking about indie rock. Are Black Flag really indie rock? Not to our ears.

Important to note that there was only one album per artist, Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth, and Sebadoh (Liz Phair is cool with this rule), plus no singles or EPs or comps or greatest hits. Dig in:

100 Dangerous Magical Noise – The Dirtbombs
99 Passover – The Black Angels
98 To Survive – Joan As Police Woman
97 Ultimate Alternative Wavers – Built To Spill
96 Trans Am – Trans Am
95 The Discovery Of A World Inside… – The Apples In Stereo
94 Waiter: ‘You Vultures!’ – Portugal The Man
93 Alligator – The National
92 Horses In The Sky – Silver Mt. Zion
91 Gallowsbird’s Bark – The Fiery Furnaces
90 Louden Up Now – (!!! Chk Chik Chick)
89 The Milk-Eyed Mender – Joanna Newsom
88 The Power Out – Electrelane
87 Cure For Pain – Morphine
86 Worn Copy – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
85 Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls
84 Hearts Of Oak – Ted Leo/Pharmacists
83 Save Yourself – Make Up
82 The Last Match – The Aislers Set
81 The Sea and the Bells – Rachel’s
80 The Ugly Organ – Cursive
79 De Stijl – The White Stripes
78 Nothing Feels Good – The Promise Ring
77 The Smell Of Our Own – The Hidden Cameras
76 Jane From Occupied Europe – Swell Maps
75 Furnace Room Lullaby – Neko Case
74 The Curtain Hits The Cast – Low
73 The R&B Of Membership – The Delta 72
72 II & III – Camper Van Beethoven
71 Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating… – Spiritualized
70 The Fawn – The Sea And Cake
69 Feast of Wire – Calexico
68 Oh, Inverted World – The Shins
67 Will You Find Me – Ida
66 Milk Man – Deerhoof
65 Coquelicot Asleep In The Poppies… – Of Montreal
64 Rejoicing in The Hands – Devendra Banhart
63 Destroyer’s Rubies – Destroyer
62 TNT – Tortoise
61 Neon Golden – The Notwist
60 Daddy’s Highway – The Bats
59 Set Yourself On Fire – Stars
58 Fabulous Muscles – Xiu Xiu
57 Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes – TV On The Radio
56 The Decline And Fall Of Heavenly – Heavenly
55 The Mysterious Production of Eggs – Andrew Bird
54 Pussy-Whipped – Bikini Kill
53 Sing No Evil – Half Japanese
52 Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express – The Go Betweens
51 Emperor Tomato Ketchup – Stereolab
50 And Don’t The Kids Just Love It – Television Personalities
49 Wild Love – Smog
48 Agaetis Byrjun – Sigur Ros
47 Red House Painters I – Red House Painters
46 Advisory Committee – Mirah
45 How Memory Works – Joan Of Arc
44 On Fire – Galaxie 500
43 On – Imperial Teen
42 Mass Romantic [Remastered] – The New Pornographers
41 Gulag Orkestar – Beirut
40 This Nation’s Saving Grace – The Fall
39 You Forgot It In People – Broken Social Scene
38 I Am A Bird Now – Antony & The Johnsons
37 When Your Heartstrings Break – Beulah
36 Our Endless Numbered Days – Iron & Wine
35 Person Pitch – Panda Bear
34 Let’s Get Out of This Country – Camera Obscura
33 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective
32 Let It Be [Expanded Edition] – The Replacements
31 Repeater + 3 Songs – Fugazi
30 Zen Arcade – Hüsker Dü
29 24 Hour Revenge Therapy – Jawbreaker
28 Lift Your Skinny Fists… – godspeed you black emperor!
27 Yellow House – Grizzly Bear
26 The Glow Pt. 2 – The Microphones
25 Black Candy – Beat Happening
24 Funeral – Arcade Fire
23 Moon Pix – Cat Power
22 Diary – Sunny Day Real Estate
21 Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil… – Bright Eyes
20 I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One – Yo La Tengo
19 Kill the Moonlight – Spoon
18 Give Up – The Postal Service
17 Dig Me Out – Sleater-Kinney
16 No Pocky for Kitty – Superchunk
15 I See A Darkness – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
14 We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes – Death Cab For Cutie
13 Michigan – Sufjan Stevens
12 Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth
11 69 Love Songs Volume 1 – The Magnetic Fields
10 Bakesale – Sebadoh
09 Either/Or – Elliott Smith
08 Surfer Rosa – Pixies
07 If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle & Sebastian
06 Slanted & Enchanted – Pavement
05 Imperial f.f.r.r. (Deluxe Edition) – Unrest
04 Exile In Guyville – Liz Phair
03 Spiderland – Slint
02 In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
01 Bee Thousand – Guided by Voices

Yellow House > MPP, for those keeping track. You can see it all in context at Amazon.com. (True, some of the records we chose for our Friendly Deals are on this puppy, too. Including #1. What good taste we have.)