The last decade could have been a musical disaster. In March of 2000, ‘N Sync released “No Strings Attached,” which is still one of the best-selling albums of all time. Why? Who knows. People like pop songs sung by closeted gays. Right, Train? So maybe we didn’t start the decade well, but ten years later, there’s a lot to be proud of. Sure, we all remember Chris Brown, Soulja Boy, and James Blunt, but God sent us these five indie rock albums. Sync them to your ipod classic and enjoy.
5. Funeral- Arcade Fire
“Funeral” changed indie music like few records have. After “Funeral,” a lot more people started paying attention to alternative music. Some fans may even argue that this Arcade Fire album is the only one of its kind. It certainly was the last of its kind. Since “Funeral,” no album has packed such an emotional punch with such listenable tracks. If you’ve never heard Arcade Fire’s “Funeral,” think back to any sucky indie movie of the 2000s, like “Where The Wild Things Are.”
4. Radiohead- Kid A
No “best of” indie list is complete without something by Radiohead. Thom Yorke could loop the sounds of his last handjob and people would praise it. Regardless of hype, Kid A is a really, really cool album. The music is dense and complex, not instantly gratifying like everything else. It’s not feelgood music or party music, unless you party in Williamsburg. It’s just a simply well-done album. Pitchfork rated it #1 of the decade. Don’t question them.
3. Sufjan Stevens-Illinois
No one makes concept albums, let alone good ones, like Sufjan Stevens. If you’re looking for 24 incredible tracks about the state of Illinois, you’ve got it. The sheer craftsmanship in this album is so amazing. The music is gorgeous, and the lyrics are breathtaking. This guy doesn’t sing about the Sears Tower over and over either. Instead, he paints the picture of suburbia and a simpler time. If you appreciate music, or just the art of storytelling, it’s a great album.
2. The Strokes- Is This It
Plenty of bands pride themselves on mediocre garage punk. The first few bars of “Is This It” seem inconsequential. You’re like, “whatever, there’s a lot of guitars and it’s textured.” Then, the weirdest thing happens. The music keeps getting better, and you realize you’re listening to something really special. This is the best thing The Strokes will ever do, and it’s one of the best albums you’ll ever own. It’s gritty, it’s textured, and it’s beautiful.
1. Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Every few million years, a piece of music is released that is simply perfect. Whether you’re young, old, white or half-Japanese, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” will rock you. The 11-track record opens with the lyrics, “I am an American aquarium drinker.” The first time I heard this line, I was in the back of the car on a family trip to Maine, where my brother was at sleepaway camp. I picked up the CD with zero prior knowledge at some music store, and was completely and utterly caught off guard. Delving into the perfections of “YHF” would take too long, so instead, just listen to it. No album I’ve ever heard is as enjoyable. It’s not some deep artistic experiment and it’s not heartbreakingly emotional. “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is just a good album. And in the category of good albums, it also happens to be the best.