Alternative Music Reviews & Recommendations
By Anthony Carew, About.com Guide
- Latest Album Reviews
- Other Album Reviews
- Top 10 Lists by Year
- Top 10 Lists by Record Label
- Top 10 Lists by Genre
- Definitive Albums: 1960s
- Definitive Albums: 1970s
- Definitive Albums: 1980s
- Definitive Albums: 1990s
- Definitive Albums: 2000s
- DVD Reviews
- Book Reviews
Latest Album Reviews
The latest longplayers put under the unwavering critical scalpel. Learn which records are worthy of the hype, which are best avoided, and why.
- Antony and the Johnsons 'Swanlights'
- Sharon Van Etten 'Epic'
- Deerhunter 'Halcyon Digest'
- Magic Kids 'Memphis'
- Arcade Fire 'The Suburbs'
- Best Coast 'Crazy for You'
- M.I.A. 'Maya'
- Mountain Man 'Made the Harbor'
- Wolf Parade 'Expo 86'
- The National 'High Violet'
- Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti 'Before Today'
- The National 'High Violet'
- Broken Social Scene 'Forgiveness Rock Record'
- MGMT 'Congratulations'
- She and Him 'Volume Two'
- Broken Bells 'Broken Bells'
- The Morning Benders 'Big Echo'
- Joanna Newsom 'Have One On Me'
- Yeasayer 'Odd Blood'
- Beach House 'Teen Dream'
Other Album Reviews
Notable records from the recent past, run-over and reviewed to within an inch of their longplaying life.
- The Big Pink 'A Brief History of Love'
- Built to Spill 'There is No Enemy'
- Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band 'Outer South'
- Dead Man's Bones 'Dead Man's Bones'
- Devendra Banhart 'What Will We Be'
- Dinosaur Jr 'Farm'
- The Flaming Lips 'Embyronic'
- Owen Pallett 'Heartland'
- Grizzly Bear 'Veckatimest'
- Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions 'Through the Devil Softly'
- Kings of Convenience 'Declaration of Dependence'
- Phoenix 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix'
- Sonic Youth 'The Eternal'
- St. Vincent 'Actor'
- Tortoise 'Beacons of Ancestorship'
- Vampire Weekend 'Contra'
- Why? 'Eskimo Snow'
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs 'It's Blitz!'
- Yo La Tengo 'Popular Songs'
- review archive
Top 10 Lists by Year
Swiftly seize upon the indie realm's most prized specimens with these categorically categorizin' Top 10 lists.
- 10 Acts to Watch at CMJ 2010
- Top 20 Albums of 2010 So Far
- 10 Forgotten '90s Bands That Need to Be Remembered
- Top 40 Canadian Albums of the 2000s
- Top 30 Albums of the 1960s
- 10 Acts to Watch at SXSW 2010
- 10 Bands to Watch in 2010
- Top 100 Albums of the 2000s
- 10 Most Influential Bands of the 2000s
- Top 30 Albums of 2009
- 10 Great Debut Albums from 2009
- Top 10 Breakout Acts of 2009
- 10 Bands to Watch at CMJ 2009
- Top 20 Albums of 2008
- Top 20 Albums of 2007
- 10 Acts to Watch at SXSW 2009
- 10 Great 2008 Debuts
- 10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2008
- 10 Killer Under-the-Radar Albums from 2008
- Top 10 Breakout Acts of 2008
Top 10 Lists by Record Label
Carefully-vetted lists of the very best records released by some of alternative music's most important record labels.
Top 10 Lists by Genre
The albums that defined a style, a sound, or a scene; the benchmarks upon which genres were built.
Definitive Albums: 1960s
The radical records that broke the mold, moved music forward, and influenced generations of musicians.
- The Monks 'Black Monk Time' (1965)
- The Fugs 'The Fugs First Album' (1965)
- The 13th Floor Elevators 'The Psychedelic Sounds of...' (1966)
- The Velvet Underground 'The Velvet Underground And Nico' (1967)
- Various 'Tropicália ou Panis Et Circensis' (1968)
- The Incredible String Band 'The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter' (1968)
- The United States of America 'The United States of America' (1968)
- Os Mutantes 'Os Mutantes' (1968)
- Tyrannosaurus Rex 'My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair...' (1968)
- Alexander "Skip" Spence 'Oar' (1969)
- Brigitte Fontaine 'Comme à La Radio' (1969)
- Nico 'The Marble Index' (1969)
- Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band 'Trout Mask Replica' (1969)
- Scott Walker 'Scott 4' (1969)
Definitive Albums: 1970s
Underground music continues to mutate in strange and unexpected ways. Studio-recording becomes its own art-form. Punk starts a revolution.
- Vashti Bunyan 'Just Another Diamond Day' (1970)
- Michael Hurley 'Armchair Boogie' (1971)
- Can 'Tago Mago' (1971)
- Neu! 'Neu!' (1972)
- Big Star '#1 Record' (1972)
- Brian Eno 'Another Green World' (1975)
- Suicide 'Suicide' (1977)
- Television 'Marquee Moon' (1977)
- Various 'No New York' (1978)
- The Raincoats 'The Raincoats' (1979)
- Gang of Four 'Entertainment!' (1979)
- Public Image Ltd. 'Metal Box' (1979)
Definitive Albums: 1980s
In the independently-minded '80s, alternative music came of age. A conservative political era inspired radical records whose rage still inspires to this day.
- Young Marble Giants 'Colossal Youth' (1980)
- The Feelies 'Crazy Rhythms' (1980)
- Television Personalities 'And Don't the Kids Just Love It' (1981)
- Jandek 'Chair Beside a Window' (1982)
- The Fall 'Hex Enduction Hour' (1982)
- Marine Girls 'Lazy Ways' (1983)
- Daniel Johnston 'Yip/Jump Music' (1983)
- The Smiths 'The World Won't Listen' (1987)
- Dinosaur Jr 'You're Living All Over Me' (1987)
- Sonic Youth 'Daydream Nation' (1988)
- Spacemen 3 'Playing with Fire' (1989)
- The Pixies 'Doolittle' (1989)
- Nirvana 'Bleach' (1989)
- The Field Mice 'Snowball' (1989)
- Galaxie 500 'On Fire' (1989)
Definitive Albums: 1990s
The '90s found 'alternative music' turned into a depressing major-label commodity. Yet, during this grey age, these technicolor classics proved that there were still sonic frontiers yet unexplored.
- My Bloody Valentine 'Loveless' (1991)
- Slint 'Spiderland' (1991)
- Pavement 'Slanted and Enchanted' (1992)
- PJ Harvey 'Dry' (1992)
- Liz Phair 'Exile in Guyville' (1993)
- Mazzy Star 'So Tonight That I Might See' (1993)
- Arthur Russell 'Another Thought' (1994)
- Guided by Voices 'Bee Thousand' (1994)
- Palace Music 'Viva Last Blues' (1995)
- Tortoise 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die' (1996)
- Stereolab 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup' (1996)
- Sleater-Kinney 'Dig Me Out' (1997)
- Built to Spill 'Perfect from Now On' (1997)
- Spiritualized 'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space' (1997)
- Belle and Sebastian 'If You're Feeling Sinister' (1996)
- Elliott Smith 'Either/Or' (1997)
- Neutral Milk Hotel 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' (1998)
- The Magnetic Fields '69 Love Songs' (1999)
- Cat Power 'Moon Pix' (1998)
- full '90s review archive
Definitive Albums: 2000s
Alternative music rewrites itself into radical new shapes. Genres are blurred. The notion of the 'band' is rewritten. The internet levels the playing field.
- Boredoms 'Vision Creation Newsun' (2000)
- Modest Mouse 'The Moon and Antarctica' (2000)
- Radiohead 'Kid A' (2000)
- Godspeed You Black Emperor! 'Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas...' (2000)
- The Avalanches 'Since I Left You' (2000)
- Clouddead 'Clouddead' (2001)
- Björk 'Vespertine' (2001)
- The Langley Schools Music Project 'Innocence and Despair' (2001)
- The Flaming Lips 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' (2002)
- Sufjan Stevens 'Seven Swans' (2004)
- Joanna Newsom 'The Milk-Eyed Mender' (2004)
- Animal Collective 'Sung Tongs' (2004)
- Arcade Fire 'Funeral' (2004)
- Gang Gang Dance 'God's Money' (2005)
- Panda Bear 'Person Pitch' (2007)
Alternative music on screen. From concert-films, to investigative documentaries, to oddities from strange musical frontiers.
- All Tomorrow's Parties
- Christmas On Mars
- The Devil and Daniel Johnston
- The Fearless Freaks
- Jandek on Corwood
- Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
- Meeting People is Easy
- Mogwai: Burning/Special Moves
- Nico Icon
- The Power of Salad & Milkshakes
- Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
- Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields
- Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell
- You're Gonna Miss Me: A Film About Roky Erickson
The alternative music library, from autobiography and hagiography, to longform criticism and underground zines.