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Thursday, March 20, 2008

“The Indie Rock 25” by Entertainment Weekly

posted by on March 20 at 14:08 PM

Your obvious choice for music industry commentary Entertainment Weekly just posted their list of which indie records defined music in the past 25 years. Each year gets one record, here’s what they chose:

1984: The Replacements, Let It Be
1985: The Smiths, Meat Is Murder
1986: R.E.M., Life’s Rich Pageant
1987: Dinosaur Jr., You’re Living All Over Me
1988: Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
1989: The Pixies, Doolittle
1990: Fugazi, Repeater
1991: My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
1992: Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted
1993: Built To Spill, Ultimate Alternative Wavers
1994: Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand
1995: Archers Of Loaf, Vee Vee
1996: Belle And Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
1997: Modest Mouse, The Lonesome Crowded West
1998: Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
1999: Sleater-Kinney, The Hot Rock
2000: Yo La Tengo, And then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
2001: The Shins, Oh, Inverted World
2002: Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights
2003: The White Stripes, Elephant
2004: Arcade Fire, Funeral
2005: Bright Eyes, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
2006: The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America
2007: Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
2008: Radiohead, In Rainbows

Here’s what has to say about it:

Well-versed in the knowledge that nothing gets people clicking around Web sites like a photo gallery, nothing gets people arguing on the Internet like a slightly specious list, and no demographic has more work-hours time to click on said photo galleries and argue over said lists than the knowledge workers who proclaim themselves lovers of the nebulously defined genre “indie rock,” Entertainment Weekly has put together a photo gallery/list called “The Indie Rock 25,” which assigns one album to each of the 25 years since 1984, a year that was apparently defined by the Replacements’ Let It Be. There are some arbitrary rules (no solo acts, albums that came out on an indie overseas but a major in the U.S. are OK), some arbitrary picks (see: Bright Eyes in 2005), lots of white dudes (cf. 1993: Ultimate Alternative Wavers over Pussy Whipped? Really?), and an obligatory mention of Radiohead, whose stature in “indie” probably wouldn’t exist were it not for the major-label machine of 15 years ago but I’ll probably be stuck arguing that until I’m blue in the face.

Predictable list, sure (something pointed out in Idolator’s comments). I agree with Hold Steady for 2006, but disagree with Bright Eyes for 2005. And sure to Neutral Milk Hotel, but does anyone else think Modest Mouse should’ve come a little sooner? Maybe that should’ve been 1995 instead of Belle and Sebastian? But then again, I just really don’t like B&S.

What are your thoughts?

RSS icon Comments


What does "indie" mean?

Posted by flamingbanjo | March 20, 2008 2:27 PM

That's absolutely the right Modest Mouse record, as is Sinister for B&S.

Posted by Eric Grandy | March 20, 2008 2:31 PM

Actually, I think the list looks pretty good up to 93 or so (beyond that I'm unqualified to judge), though it seems a bit weird not to have Husker Du on the list.

Posted by Joshua H | March 20, 2008 2:32 PM

love Let It Be, but would've preferred Double Nickels On The Dime for 1984. oh well.

Posted by brian cook | March 20, 2008 2:43 PM

It's a list. A safe list. Not inaccurate. Shrug.

Posted by mackro mackro | March 20, 2008 2:50 PM

thank god there is no definition for 'indie', so there is no way to describe in what ways this list is wrong.

radiohead is indie in 2008, but not indie in 1997? okay, guys.

Posted by cosby | March 20, 2008 2:56 PM

with the exception of in rainbows as this year's pick [although radiohead is now an indie band due to technicality, a cop-out is still a cop-out] and bright eyes in 2005 [black sheep boy? feels, anyone?], i think EW put out a SURPRISINGLY accurate list. sure it's safe, but a safe list from a mainstream mag is way better than a bunch of wild pitches that'll send the internet up in arms.

and i honestly can't remember a truly great indie-rock record to come out in '93, so maybe ultimate alternative wavers was a pretty solid choice.

Posted by douglas martin | March 20, 2008 3:45 PM

this is an incredibly inoffensive list.

Posted by josh | March 20, 2008 3:49 PM

Bubble and Scrape came out in 1993. I wonder why that one didn't make it...

Posted by Megan Seling | March 20, 2008 3:52 PM

not a bad list @ all, still cosign brian @ #4

Posted by lar | March 20, 2008 3:55 PM

Yeah, that list actually has several of my favorite albums on it.

Posted by Jeff Kirby | March 20, 2008 4:04 PM

If you have to make lists, this is actually a pretty damn good one. And I gotta agree with Grandy - Lonesome Crowded West is the definitive Modest Mouse album.

Posted by rk | March 20, 2008 5:00 PM

That's a pretty decent list, but Bright Eyes and Modest Mouse. And Interpol can only be there as a proxy for Joy Division.

Obviously OK Computer should be on there and maybe Daft Punk Live instead for 2008. I like the Spoon album, but would have gone with The National Boxer or Les Savy Fav for 2007.

Posted by left coast | March 20, 2008 5:03 PM

ok computer didn't make it because it's on a major label.

and i'm with the crowd on this one the lonesome crowded west is definitely modest mouse's definitive album. the closest successor would be the moon and antarctica, but, like nearly every modest mouse record, could stand to be trimmed down by about three or four songs.

Posted by douglas martin | March 21, 2008 3:56 AM

A very safe list, though it's interesting to see any lingering vestige of punk slowly drain from indie rock after the late 90's.

Posted by tallchris | March 21, 2008 7:29 AM

This isn't as bad as most lists of its ilk. I'll echo TC's point and and extend it to also cover noisy rock - the sort of thing that really defined the 80's (ugh) Amer-indie genre.

I also think the the Sleater-Kinney and Yo La Tengo choices are really odd. If I think about most of the previous years' selections, they are archetypal albums, maybe for the band but often for an entire style of music. There's no way that the '99 and 2000 picks even come close to this. I would have probably picked _Keep It Like a Secret_ for '99 (and used my selection there for _Bubble and Scrape_ as Megan noted) and maybe _1000 Hurts_ for 2000. There should probably be a Death Cab selection on this list, too, given how emblematic they are in terms of the independent music world.

I didn't see this as a list of the "best" records of each year, just the ones that best captured the prevailing indie winds of the time. I'd like to see it go back to '80 or '81, too.

Posted by danmohr | March 21, 2008 7:56 AM

I'll admit 2007 was pretty thin albumwise, but couldn't they do better than Spoon? please.

Posted by rexmundane | March 21, 2008 3:18 PM

Built to Spill obviously belongs up there somewhere, but I would have gone with Superchunk's On the Mouth for 1993.

Posted by kid icarus | March 21, 2008 4:50 PM

I would have fit Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey in there somewhere.

Posted by elswinger | March 21, 2008 5:21 PM

You don't have a clue Martin, half those albums are from major labels - released or distributed. Doolittle could barely be indie under your standard, so Bleach can be on instead.

Husker Du could have made it in '84 (Bob Mould is in town next week), Mudhoney would be hard pressed to make it, but Ministry (also in town next week) should have.

Posted by left coast | March 21, 2008 6:22 PM

Perfect Teeth by Unrest and Deep End by Tsunami both came out in 1993. I can't even think of what Built to Spill sounds like, though there's no question I've heard them plenty of times before, so can that album of theirs really be the best choice for 1993?

Posted by Philip | March 21, 2008 10:07 PM

Didn't "Exile In Guyville" come out in 1993? That's what my iTunes says. If so, that's the choice, easy.

Also agree with Grandy: B&S for 1996 and Modest Mouse for 1997, absolutely no question about it.

As for 2005, I don't have a big problem with Bright Eyes. (That's a great album.) But doesn't it seem as though "Come On Feel The Illinoise" would've been a better choice? That record was huge.

Posted by beardo | March 22, 2008 3:28 AM

beardo's right on. "Exile In Guyville" owned 1993. But this list only covers bands, not solo artist.

"There's Nothing Wrong With Love" should be the Built To Spill choice for 1994. Not that I don't love their debut.

I dunno... Are solo artists not considered indie for some particular reason?

Posted by KeeKee | March 22, 2008 8:16 PM

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