What could be more deliberately argument-provoking than a list of the top indie rock discs of all time? After all, even trying to get agreement on what “indie rock” means is to instigate among purists disputes so vehement and arcane that they would put Middle East peace talks to shame. So I won’t stoop to taking the bait proffered by Blender magazine’s new list of “The 100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever” (the mag’s Top 10 listed after the jump). I’ll just stand back and let others squabble while I watch with bemused detachment…
Aw, heck, who am I kidding?
Let me just say that, for all the editors’ good taste in selecting many of my favorites and yours for inclusion, picking Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted for No. 1 smacks of the same reflexive laziness that routinely lands Sgt. Pepper at No. 1 whenever Rolling Stone makes its greatest-albums-ever lists. And throwing into the top 10 a ringer like the 1969 self-titled album by the Velvet Underground (pictured) really muddies the waters unfairly. Yes, it’s a massively influential album that’s surely on every indie rocker’s playlist, but to place at No. 7 an album that predates Indie As We Know It by a good 15 years is to suggest that you’re really not taking your own task (and the parameters you’ve set for yourself) at all seriously and are just picking discs you think are cool. That’s fine if you want to call the list something else, but I bet you guys could come up with an indie-er indie rock top 10 off the top of your heads. Make me proud, PopWatchers.
Blender’s 10 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever
10. The Smiths, The Smiths
9. Big Star, Third/Sister Lovers
8. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
7. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
6. Arcade Fire, Funeral
5. Pixies, Surfer Rosa
4. R.E.M., Mumu
3. The Replacements, Let It Be
2. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
1. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted