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100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums Ever

08:01 AM Thursday 4/2/09 | |

Amazon.com recently published its list of “The 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time,” with Guided by Voices’ 1994 release “Bee Thousand” at the top of the pile.

Before I get to the rest of the list – and which albums I think they totally snubbed – here are Amazon.com’s rules for defining what exactly is the oh so hip genre of “indie rock”:

“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.”

Only one album per artist is allowed, no EPs or singles, no greatest hits collections or compilations of previously released tracks and albums on the list must have originally been released on an independent label.

  • Pixies

    The Pixies continue to reap the rewards of a decade of fan devotion at Denver's Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
    June 5, 2005

    (Rod Tanaka / tanakaphoto.net)


Here’s the 10 most grandpa-cardigan- wearing, geek-chic-glasses-sporting albums ever, according to Amazon.com. For the full list, click here and then come back and tell us what albums you think they’ve left off.

1. Bee Thousand by Guided by Voices
2. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
3. Spiderland by Slint
4. Exile In Guyville by Liz Phair
5. Imperial f.f.r.r. (Deluxe Edition) by Unrest
6. Slanted & Enchanted by Pavement
7. If You're Feeling Sinister by Belle & Sebastian
8. Surfer Rosa by Pixies
9. Either/Or by Elliott Smith
10. Bakesale by Sebadoh

First of all, I hope this list isn’t in order from best to worst because I definitely don’t think Guided by Voices’ Bee Thousand should be sitting at the tiptop. I’m sure GBV fans would argue with me but I’ve just never cared for the band. I would trade Either/Or by Elliott Smith or If You’re Feeling Sinister by Belle & Sebastian faster than you could spot a hipster wearing old-school Pumas and a tight hoodie at a local rock show.

Spoon is sitting in #19 with Kill the Moonlight but I think that album should be replaced with the band’s Girls Can Tell. And what about #21 – which is Bright Eyes’ Lifted Or the Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground. I much prefer I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.

Although Of Montreal’s Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse can be appreciated for how strange it is (I love, love, love the spoken word track "The Events Leading Up to the Collapse of Detective Dulllight") I think it should be substituted for Aldhils Arboretum.

Oh, and if I could make one more trade I would switch spot #51, Stereolab’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup for the band’s Margerine Eclipse.

Here’s a few albums I think were left off the list:

Komeda’s What Makes It Go, My Morning Jacket’s It Still Moves, Interpol’s Turn On the Bright Lights, Mason JenningsBirds Flying Away, Yeah Yeah YeahsFever To Tell, The StrokesIs This It, The RentalsReturn of the Rentals, Modest Mouse’s This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, The DecemberistsHer Majesty the Decemberists, Wilco’s A.M., Ben Kweller’s Sha Sha, Stephen Malkmus and the JicksPig Lib and Jets to Brazil’s Orange Rhyming Dictionary.

What do you think?

Check out Amazon.com’s list here.


  1. misterchill wrote:

    12:54 PM, Apr 02, 2009

    There's a LOT missing. Old-scholl stuff like the Smiths, Dinosaur Jr, Dismemberment Plan...

    And what about newer stuff like Band of Horses? Vampire Weekend?

  2. jason_woodson wrote:

    12:36 PM, Apr 02, 2009

    I don't see My Bloody Valentine in there.

  3. MuzicSnob wrote:

    10:44 AM, Apr 02, 2009

    Guided By Voices definitely deserves to be #1.  For over 20 years they were one of the hardest working indie bands on planet!  Not everyone "get's" their style and that's ok.  But for us GBV fans that DO relate and "get" what they are doing,  we are completely unanimous about Bee Thousand being at the top of the list.

  4. ralphgonz wrote:

    10:26 AM, Apr 02, 2009

    Not to start a flamewar but Hooterville: major league ballplayers *are* better then minor league ballplayers by default. Major label musicians are generally more popular but apart from earning money they are not "better" in any objective sense. Was Vincent van Gogh a minor league artist because he could barely give his paintings away during most of his lifetime?

  5. hjmsmw wrote:

    10:09 AM, Apr 02, 2009

    What about BIG DIPPER "Heavens"

  6. hooterville wrote:

    08:57 AM, Apr 02, 2009

    greatest indie albums?.....isnt that akin to greatest minor league ball players?

  7. friedoxygen wrote:

    08:34 AM, Apr 02, 2009

    YYY's Fever To Tell, The Stroke's Is This It, and Wilco's AM are all not on the list because they were in fact released on a major label, which was one of the qualifications for the list.

  8. Saneaux wrote:

    08:09 AM, Apr 02, 2009

    I didn't see any early Modest Mouse albums on the list. What gives?