Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Rockists Dissect Blender's 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums

We spent a little time this afternoon discussing the merits of and issues with Blender Magazine's list of the top 100 Albums in Indie Rock, released on the occasion of indie rock's "25th Birthday". Now we share those thoughts with you:

G.H.: The commenters on Stereogum are naturally up in arms over the list, but it's not as bad as it could be. Remember folks -- this is Blender we're talking about, literally the least-possible common denominator in music journalism. I would've expected much worse. Ultimately, I think their top ten is accurate but maybe should be re-ordered, and I'd probably sub out Spoon's Kill the Moonlight for Gimme Fiction. But now to the gross injustices. Green Day's Kerplunk? Ker-puh-lease. Nick Drake's Pink Moon? How could an album so obviously not indie-rock be construed as one of the greatest indie rock releases ever? If you're going to play the lifetime achievement/major influence card, then shouldn't Television's Marquee Moon be there? Also, for my money, this list hews too closely to a best of the past five years. Are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs one of the best ever groups in indie rock? I'm beginning to remember why we started this blog in the first place. But seriously, here's my top ten (attempting to define indie-rock in the same but vague way as Blender has): Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted, Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, The Replacements - Let it Be, Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers, The Hold Steady - Almost Killed Me, Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Built to Spill - Keep It Like a Secret, Tripping Daisy - Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb, The Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South, My Bloody Valentine - Loveless, The Olivia Tremor Control - Dusk at the Cubist Castle.

G.L.: I guess my biggest problem with this list is that they seem to pretty loosely define indie rock. There are inclusions that are definitely not "indie" - Is This It, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, and Franz Ferdinand. There are albums that are not "rock" - the aforementioned Pink Moon and 3 Feet High and Rising. And then there are Arular and The Reminder, which are not really "indie" or "rock". Perhaps that's just typical rockist nitpicking and maybe a bit unfair since, as GH mentioned, this is Blender we're talking about -not exactly the most revered publication ever (at all?). Hating aside, there are some pretty great albums here and you'd probably have a tough time arguing that 75 out of 100 of these albums don't absolutely belong on this or a similar list. For me, some notable and surprising exclusions would have to be The Stone Roses (probably in my top 15) and Psychocandy. Most treasonous act of all though? Putting In the Aeroplane Over the Sea anywhere outside of the top 10, not to mention below the likes of White Blood Cells, Mass Romantic, and Arular. See the full list below:

Rob: Just a couple quick notes. I have a hard time believing that Franz Ferdinand, Art Brut and The Arctic Monkeys deserve to have albums on here. I'm not going to lie, there are a few albums here that I have never heard, so I can't pass judgment on all of the listings, but based on what I hear, Le Tigre sucks. It was nice seeing my favorite band for the last 14 years in the top 5. I was also quite surprised to see 2 Hüsker Dü albums on here (although I think Zen Arcade should be placed above The Funeral). I'm a big Bob Mould fan, but instead of New Day Rising, I would have included Sugar's Copper Blue (which, by some people's standards, wouldn't be classified as indie-rock, but then, some people would argue that 10% of these bands also shouldn't be in the same category.) Oh, and where the hell is Broken Social Scene? There is no way that YYYs should be at 37 (even though I do like them) with no mention of You Forgot it in People. I guess TRS thinks alike: NMH should be in the top 10.

100 The Shaggs - Philosophy Of The World
99 Dream Syndicate - The Days Of Wine And Roses
98 Palace Music - Viva Last Blues
97 The Mekons - Rock 'N' Roll
96 TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
95 The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I
94 Half Japanese - Greatest Hits
93 Big Black - Atomizer
92 Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
91 The Chills - Kaleidoscope World
90 Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
89 Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll
88 Daniel Johnston - Yip/Jump Music
87 Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary
86 Flipper - Album - Generic Flipper
85 The Clean - Anthology
84 Beat Happening - You Turn Me On
83 The Misfits - Walk Among Us
82 The Embarrassment - Heyday 1979-83
81 The Vaselines - The Way Of The Vaselines
80 Feist - The Reminder
79 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
78 The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
77 Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
76 Le Tigre - Le Tigre
75 Galaxie 500 - Today
74 The Fall - 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong
73 Meat Puppets - Up On The Sun
72 The Mountain Goats - We Shall All Be Healed
71 Stereolab - Refried Ectoplasm
70 Mudhoney - Superfruzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles
69 Nick Drake - Pink Moon
68 Descendents - Milo Goes To College
67 Hüsker Dü - New Day Rising
66 Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth
65 Various Artists - No New York
64 Cat Power - The Greatest
63 Nirvana - Bleach
62 The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms
61 LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
60 Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
59 Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
58 Built To Spill - There's Nothing Wrong With Love
57 Bikini Kill - Pussy Whipped
56 Archers Of Loaf - Icky Mettle
55 Bad Brains - Bad Brains
54 Unrest - Imperial F.F.R.R.
53 Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
52 Bright Eyes - Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground
51 Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
50 Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous
49 Spoon - Kill The Moonlight
48 Mission Of Burma - Vs.
47 Green Day - Kerplunk
46 Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
45 Fugazi - Repeater
44 Various Artists - Wanna Buy A Bridge?
43 Black Flag - Damaged
42 Brian Eno - Another Green World
41 Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West
40 New Order - Power Corruption & Lies
39 Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
38 The Strokes - Is This It
37 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
36 Elliott Smith - Either/Or
35 Liz Phair - Exile In Guyville
34 Superchunk - On The Mouth
33 The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
32 Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
31 Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
30 Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
29 Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
28 The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
27 M.I.A. - Arular
26 Belle And Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
25 Sebadoh - III
24 The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic
23 Yo La Tengo - Painful
22 Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets II
21 The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
20 The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
19 Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
18 Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
17 The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
16 Slint - Spiderland
15 X - Wild Gift
14 De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising
13 Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
12 Dinosaur Jr - You're Living All Over Me
11 Minutemen - Double Nickels On The Dime
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

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