.

Best Indie Albums

Creating any ‘best of list‘ is always problematic, not only aesthetic judgement employed but also its effect. Often, a credible enough list can defeat the original point of a list, a bit like reciting unmentionable magic spell. The secret magic is broken the minute it is made public. That is the case with early indie list in the 80′s when often cited innovative indie bands ultimately transformed, became part of major labels and fueled the most profitable era of recording industry. All this could easily be a silly weekend musing about economics, rebellion, love, and freedom were it not for current popular music scene. What is now the last four remaining major labels (Universal, Sony, Warner Music, EMI) control some 80% of global market share in 2005 (1) and very much dictate how mass entertainment is presented. Things should change.But despite all that, this is not meant to be gloriously noble list. It doesn’t follow the cliche about “spirit of the rebellious minstrel who refuses to compromise for the sake of a bag of gold.” Pragmatically, MdM needs to find albums that are not owned by major labels, turning them as source of sound textures and alternate aesthetic construct, shifting center of gravity away from major labels. As added bonus, the list also shows trend in under appreciated work opening all sort of overlooked sounds. In the end this list is about starting point to explore alternatives beyond what is offered by major labels. Something that MdM can contribute.

The 60′s

001. Thelonious Monk – Misterioso [LIVE] (Ojc, USA, 1958)
002. 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (Collectables, USA, 1966)
003. Misunderstood – Before The Dream Faded (Cherry Red, UK, 1966)
004. Moby Grape - Moby Grape (San Francisco Sound, USA, 1967)
005. Zombies – Odessey and Oracle (Big Beat UK, UK, 1967)
006. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Safe As Milk (Buddha, 1967)
007. Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity Arkestra – Atlantis (Evidence, USA, 1967/69)
008. Anthony Braxton – For Alto (Delmark, 1968)
009. Pearls Before Swine – Balaklava (Get Back Italy, USA, 1968)
010. Donovan – A Gift From A Flower To A Garden (Collector’s Choice, UK, 1968)
011. The Flat Earth Society – Waleeco (Arf Arf, USA, 1968)
012. Mad River – Mad River (Edsel Records UK, USA, 1968)
013. Savage Resurrection – Savage Resurrection (Mod Lang, USA, 1968)
014. HP Lovecraft – II (Collector’s Choice, USA, 1968)
015. CA Quintet – Trip Thru Hell (Sundazed Music Inc., USA, 1968)
016. Ed Askew – Ask the Unicorn (ESP-Disk, USA, 1968)
017. Amon Düül – Psychedelic Underground (Repertoire, Germany, 1969)
018. Frank Zappa – Hot Rats (Zappa Records, USA, 1969)

The 70′s

019. Vashti Bunyan – Just Another Diamond Day (Dicristina Stair, 1970)
020. The Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass – Les Stances a Sophie (Universal Sound, 1970)
021. Funkadelic – Free Your Mind and your Ass Will Follow (Westbound Records Us, 1970)
022. Pretty Things – Parachute (Repertoire, UK, 1970)
023. Os Mutantes – A Divina Comedia Ou Ando Meio Desligado (Omplatten Records, 1970)
024. Popol Vuh – In Den Gärten Pharaos (SPV, Germany, 1971)
025. Ash Ra Tempel – Ash Ra Tempel (Spalax, Germany, 1971)
026. Klaus Schulze – Irrlicht (Inside Out U.S., 1972)
027. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (Umvd Import, UK, 1972)
028. King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Discipline Us, UK, 1973)
029. Betty Davis – Betty Davis (Mpc Limited, 1973)
030. Faust - Faust IV (Blue Plate Caroline, 1973)
031. John Fahey – Fare Forward Voyagers (Takoma, 1973)
032. Can – Ege Bamyasi (Mute, 1973)
033. The Meters – Rejuvenation (Sundazed Music Inc., 1974)
034. Frank Zappa – Apostrophe (‘) (Zappa Records, USA, 1974)
035. Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom (Hannibal, 1974)
036. Richard Hell – Blank Generation (Stiff, 1974)
037. Charlemagne Palestine – Strumming Music (Shandar, 1977)
038. Townes van Zandt – Live at the Old Quarter (Tomato, 1977)
039. Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance (Blank Records, 1978)
040. Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians (ECM, 1978)

The 80′s

041. Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (Manifesto Records, 1980)
042. Glenn Branca – The Ascension (Acute, 1981)
043. Jon Hassell – Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya (Editions Eg Records, 1981)
044. Durutti Column – LC (Factory Records, 1981)
045. Wipers – Youth of America (Restless Records, USA, 1981)
046. The Television Personalities – They Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles (Fire UK, UK, 1982)
047. Rain Parade – Emergency Third Rail Power Trip (Restless Records, USA, 1983)
048. Arvo Pärt - Tabula Rasa (ECM, 1984)
048. Husker Du – Zen Arcade (Sst Records, 1984)
050. Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime (Sst Records, 1984)
051. Cocteau Twins – Treasure (4AD, 1984)
052. Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel – Nail (Thirsty Ear, 1985)
053. Beat Happening – Beat Happening (K. Records, 1985)
054. Einsturzende Neubauten – Haus der Lüge (Thirsty Ear, 1985)
055. They Might Be Giants – They Might Be Giants (Bar/None, 1986)
056. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (Sonic Youth Record, 1988)
057. Big Black – Songs About Fucking (Touch & Go Records, 1988)
058. Pixies – Surfer Rosa (4AD, 1988)

The 90′s

058. Royal Trux – Twin Infinitives (Drag City, 1990)
059. Fugazi - Repeater + 3 Songs (Dischord, 1990)
060. Spacemen 3 – Recurring (Space Age Recordings, UK, 1990)
061. Les Rallizes Denudes – ’77 Live (SIXE, 1991)
062. Kinski - Be Gentle with the Warm Turtle (Strange Attractors, USA, 1991)
063. Bikini Kill – Bikini Kill (Rock Stars, 1991)
064. Slint – Spiderland (Touch & Go Records, 1991)
065. Nation Of Ulysses – 13-Point Program to Destroy America (Dischord, 1991)
066. Sebadoh – III (Homestead, 1991)
067. Current 93 – Thunder Perfect Mind (Pidm, UK, 1992)
068. Juliana Hatfield – Hey Babe (Mammoth, 1992)
069. Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (Play It Again Sam Us, 1993)
070. Loud Family – Plants & Birds & Rocks & Things (Alias Records, USA, 1993)
071. Shellac – The Rude Gesture: A Pictorial History (Touch & Go Records, 1993)
072. Even as We Speak - Feral Pop Frenzy (Sarah, 1993)
073. Vampire Rodents – Lullaby Land (Reconstriction, 1993)
074. Red House Painters – Red House Painters I (4AD, 1993)
075. Tav Falco & Panther Burns - behind the magnolia curtain (Triple X Records, 1994)
076. Alex Chilton – Feudalist Tarts/No Sex (Razor & Tie, 1994)
077. Portishead – Dummy (Go Discs, 1994)
078. Bardo Pond – Bufo Alvarius (Drunken Fish Records, 1995)
079. East River Pipe – Poor Fricky (Merge Records, 1995)
080. Will Oldham – Viva Last Blues (Drag City, 1995)
081. Autechre – Tri Repetae++ (Tvt, 1996)
082. Roy Montgomery – Scenes from the South Island (Drunken Fish Records, NZ, 1996)
083. Danielson Famile – A Prayer For Every Hour (Tooth & Nail Records, 1996)
084. Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die (Thrill Jockey, 1996)
085. Blonde Redhead – Fake Can Be Just As Good (Touch & Go Records, 1997)
086. Elliott Smith – Either/Or (Kill Rock Stars, 1997)
087. Ken Vandermark, The Denison/Kimball Trio – Neutrons (Quarter Stick, 1997)
088. Derek Bailey – Guitar, Drums ‘n Bass (Avant Japan, 1997)
089. Labradford – Mi Media Naranja (Kranky, 1997)
090. Amon Tobin – Bricolage (Ninja Tune, 1997)
091. Don Caballero – What Burns Never Returns (Touch & Go Records, 1998)
092. Squarepusher – Music Is Rotted One Note (Nothing Records, 1998)
093. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge Records, 1998)
094. Ani DiFranco – Ani DiFranco (Righteous Babe, 1998)
095. Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombation In 12 Bursts (Burning Heart, 1998)
096. Iditarod - the River Nektar (Bluesanct Music, USA, 1998)
097. Lounge Lizards – Queen of All Ears (Strange & Beautiful, 1998)
098. Kruder & Dorfmeister – The K&D Sessions (K7, 1998)
099. Keith Jarrett – Vienna Concert (ECM, 1999)
100. Thievery Corporation – Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi (Eighteenth Street, 1999)
101. Arvo Part – Te Deum (ECM, 1999)
102. In Gowan Ring – The Glinting Spade (Bluesanct Music, USA, 1999)
103. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs (Merge Records, 1999)
104. Make-Up - Save Yourself (K. Records, 1999)
105. Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I (Desoto, 1999)
106. Sigur Ros - Ágætis Byrjun (Play It Again Sam Us, 1999)

The 00′s

107. The Mercury Program - From the Vapor of Gasoline (Tiger Style, 2000)
108. Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (Kranky, 2000)
109. Dirty Three - Whatever You Love, You Are (Touch & Go Records, 2000)
110. Acid Mothers & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. – La Nòvia (Eclipse, 2000)
111. Songs: Ohia – The Lioness (Secretly Canadian, 2000)
112. The Third Eye Foundation – Little Lost Soul (Merge, 2000)
113. Happy Apple – Body Popping, Moon Walking, Top Rocking (Midwest Artists Dist., 2000)
114. Ken Vandermark – Burn the Incline (Atavistic Records, 2000)
115. Spaceways Incorporated – Thirteen Cosmic Standards by Sun Ra & Funkadelic (Atavistic Records, 2000)
116. Microphones – Glow Pt. 2 CD (K Records, 2001)
117. Spoon – Girls Can Tell (Merge Records, 2001)
118. Fridge - Happiness (Temporary Residence, 2001)
119. Dntel - Life Is Full Of Possibilities (Plug Research, 2001)
120. Tarentel - The Order of Things (Temporary Residence, USA, 2001)
121. Lali Puna – Scary World Theory (Morr, 2001)
122. Henry Threadgill – Everybody’s Mouth’s a Book (Pi Recordings, 2001)
123. Kammerflimmer Kollektief – Hysteria (Temporary Residence Limited, 2001)
124. The Nels Cline Singers – Instrumentals (Cryptogramophone, 2002)
125. Sharron Kraus – Beautiful Twisted (Camera Obscura, UK, 2002)
126. Jessica Bailiff - Jessica Bailiff (Kranky, 2002)
127. Boards Of Canada - Geogaddi (Warp Records, 2002)
128. Tom Waits - Alice (Anti, 2002)
129. Deerhoof - Reveille (Kill Rock Stars, 2002)
130. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It in People (Arts & Crafts, 2002)
131. Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism (Barsuk, 2003)
132. Low - Things We Lost in the Fire (Kranky, 2003)
133. Do Make Say Think - Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn (Constellation, 2003)
134. Manitoba - Up In Flames (Leaf / Domino, 2003)
135. Surface of Eceyon - Draggyn (Strange Attractors, USA, 2003)
136. John Zorn – Masada Guitars (Tzadik, 2003)
137. Four Tet – Rounds (Domino, 2003)
138. Ricardo Villalobos – Alcachofa (Playhouse, 2003)
139. Mum – Summer Make Good (Fat Cat, 2004)
140. Landing - Sphere (K. Records, USA, 2004)
141. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs (Fat Cat, 2004)
142. 50 Foot Wave - 50 Foot Wave (ThrowingMusic, 2004)
143. Charalambides - Joy Shapes (Kranky, 2004)
144. 65daysofstatic – The Fall of Math (Monotreme, 2004)
145. The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat (Sanctuary Records, 2004)
146. Arcade Fire - Funeral (Merge, 2004)
147. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Self-Released, 2005)
148. Devendra Banhart – Cripple Crow (2005)
149. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty, 2005)
150. The Books – Lost And Safe (Tomlab, 2005)
151. Paavoharju – Yhä hämärää (Fonal, 2005)
152. Venetian Snares – Rossz csillag alatt született (Planet Mu, 2005)
153. Alva Noto – For (12k/Line, 2006)
154. Liars – Drum’s not Dead (Mute, 2006)
155. Boris, Sunn O))) - Altar (Southern Lord, 2006)
156. Uzeda - Stella (Touch & Go, 2006)
157. Panda Bear - Person Pitch (Paw Tracks, 2007)
158. Radiohead - In Rainbows (Self-Released / XL, 2007)
159. Li Jianhong- San Sheng Shi (Archive, 2008)
160. Scott Tuma- Not for Nobody (Digitalis, 2008)
161. Shed - Shedding the Past (Ostgut Ton, 2008)
162. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion (Domino, 2009)
163. Sholi - s/t (Quarter Stick, 2009)

The 10′s

164. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - Before Today (4AD, 2010)
165. Jatoma - s/t (Kompakt, 2010)
166. Zs - New Slaves (Social Registry, 2010)
167. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions, 2011)
168. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation, 2011)
169. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop, 2011)
170. Barbara Morgenstern – Sweet Silence (Monika, 2012)
171. Chromatics – Kill for Love (Italians Do It Better, 2012)
172. Moon Duo – Circles (Sacred Bones, 2012)

Note and content: This list should be seen as work in progress with primary focus on rock and downtempo. Beware that any disgruntled MdM contributers may radically tweak this list at any day they feel like it. Numbers are for tracking purposes, not ranking. Feel free to leave comment.

Thank you note, contributors and sources: Berkeley Place, Music for Ants, Skatterbrain, The Rawking Refuses to Stop!, The Roaring Machine, Loudersoft

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The song makes its imprint
in the air, making itself felt,
a felt world. Here, there,
the stunned silence

of knowing I will not remember
what I heard;

futures that will never happen,
a fluidity we cannot achieve
except as a child
creating possibility.

This is the untranslatable song
hidden in the earth.

-Untranslatable Song [1]