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Top 10 Lists

Lists, lists, lists. Thousands of alternative records compiled, collated, and crammed into an array of Top 10s on hand to help you make sense of indie's sprawling history. Both definitive and debate-starting, these wide-ranging rankings veer from dead serious to dead silly.

10 Last-Minute Picks for SXSW 2014
For all those en route to Austin, here's ten bands building some late buzz for SXSW 2014.

10 International Acts to Watch at SXSW 2014
With hundreds of overseas bands flying into Austin, here's 10 foreign acts to watch at SXSW 2014.

10 International Bands to Watch at CMJ 2013
A strong international contingent is coming to New York for CMJ 2013, lead by Joanna Gruesome, The History of Apple Pie, and Shine 2009.

10 Last-Minute Picks for CMJ 2013
With CMJ 2013 imminent, here's ten acts —from Tweens to Weaves to Wet— drumming up some last-minute buzz.

10 Awesome SXSW 2014 Shows
Trying to make sense of the chaos in Austin? Here's 10 SXSW shindigs not to miss.

10 Bands to Watch at SXSW 2014
For those about to SXSW, here's 10 buzzworthy bands to keep an eye on.

10 Bands to Watch in 2014
From Alvvays to Haerts, Temples to Thumpers, here's 10 bands bound for a big 2014.

Top 10 Breakout Bands of 2013
From Chvrches to Savages, Autre Ne Veut to Waxahatchee, here's 10 new bands who made a big splash in 2013.

10 Bands to Watch at CMJ 2013
With the indie world descending on New York for another CMJ Music Marathon, here's ten best bets for 2013, from Arp to Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.

30 Best New Bands of 2013
2013 has turned out another crop of hot new names, from Dead Gaze to Speedy Ortiz. Here's a look at the best of the year.

10 Bands to Watch at Coachella 2011
Battling the desert heat at Coachella? Here's ten picks to click at the 2011 fest...

Top 20 Albums of 2013 So Far
With the long-awaited returns for The Knife and My Bloody Valentine, 2013 delivered great records early.

Iron and Wine 'Ghost on Ghost'
With swelling soul music strings and boisterous horns, the jazzy 'Ghost on Ghost' is Iron and Wine's most audience-friendly, festival-ready record. But has the hushed beauty of Sam Beam been lost?

10 Awesome SXSW 2013 Shows
Amongst the chaos and carnage of SXSW, here's ten shows to head to.

10 Last-Minute Picks for SXSW 2013
With the entire indie world descending on Texas for SXSW, here's 10 bands who come bearing buzz.

10 Bands to Watch at Coachella 2013
If you're baking in the desert at Coachella, here are 10 acts --from The Evens to Thee Oh Sees, with the Postal Service in between-- to help keep you cool.

10 International Acts to Watch at SXSW 2013
From the manifold foreign acts descending on Austin, here's ten bands to watch for.

10 Bands to Watch at SXSW 2013
Thousands of bands will be vying for the blogosphere's attention in Austin. Here's ten that are likely to drum up some buzz.

10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2013
2012 was the year the world was supposed to come to an end. 2013 is the year that The Avalanches and My Bloody Valentine are supposed to put out new records.

10 Bands to Watch in 2013
Here's a rundown of a run of bands bound for big things in lucky '13.

20 Overlooked, Underrated and Under-the-Radar 2012 Albums
In 2012, these awesome albums flew under the radar and fell between the cracks.

10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2012
Not every album manages to justify hype or fulfill great expectations. From Best Coast to Scott Walker, here's ten acts whose 2012 output failed to live up to past accomplishments.

Top 10 Breakout Bands of 2012
From Fidlar to The Men, Diiv to Grimes, these bands found their fortunes on the rise in 2012.

30 Best New Bands of 2012 So Far
From amongst the many new musical arrivals in 2012, these acts --like Bleached, Diana, Diiv, Teen, Tops, Trust-- have stood out.

Top 20 Alternative Christmas Records
Here's how humbug hipsters stuck at family gatherings can commandeer the stereo and not upset the seasonal apple-cart.

10 Last-Minute Picks for CMJ 2012
From Diana to Eraas, Mean Lady to Starred, here's ten bands building late CMJ buzz.

10 International Bands to Watch at CMJ 2012
Thousands of acts are voyaging to New York for CMJ. From Chad Valley to Savages, here's ten of the best.

10 Bands to Watch at CMJ 2012
Every year, the CMJ Music Marathon births a batch of buzz bands. Moon King, IO Echo, and Mac DeMarco headline this year's contenders.

10 Iconic Album Covers
A collection of album covers that are just as iconic as the music within.

Top 10 Bands Who'll Never Reform
Feeling reunion tour fatigue? Here's ten bands that will never get back together.

Top 20 Drag City Albums
If I had to pick a favorite label, it'd be Drag City. From the eternally-awesome Chicago imprint's classic catalog, here's 20 albums to stand in awe of.

10 Obscure Albums That Became Classics
Wildly unpopular in their day, these 'lost' LPs would go, years later, grow to become hugely influential indie albums.

Top 10 Broadcast Songs
The late Trish Keenan presided over a run of spooky, haunted, beautiful beatnik pop and evocative collage.

Factory Records' 10 Greatest Catalogue Items
From Joy Divison to New Order, notepaper to coffins, Factory Records catalogued everything they touched in a legendary discography.

10 Awesome SXSW 2012 Shows
For those about to be overwhelmed in Austin: here's ten killer shows to circle.

10 Last-Minute Picks for SXSW 2012
Ten trending acts who've drummed up some last-minute buzz on the way to Austin.

10 Bands to Watch at Coachella 2012
To all those suffering in the sun at Coachella: here are ten acts you don't want to miss.

Top 20 Albums of 2012 So Far
A countdown of the best LPs to grace our ears in 2012.

10 International Acts to Watch at SXSW 2012
Bands flock to SXSW from all over the globe; here's ten awesome ones from Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Australia, England, Sweden...

10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2012
Will The Avalanches, Cat Power, The Knife, and Mazzy Star all really release new LPs in 2012?

10 Acts to Watch in 2012
From Bleached to U.S. Girls, ten bands primed for a 2012 breakout.

2011: Indie Music's Year of the Saxophone
If your LP didn't have a sax solo in it, you didn't belong on 2011's best-of lists.

10 Most Overrated Albums of 2011
From Girls to Washed Out, here's ten wildly overpraised albums that got way too much love in 2011.

10 Killer Under-the-Radar 2011 LPs
Ten awesome albums that were overlooked by the blogosphere in 2011.

Top 50 Albums of 2011
The very best record released in 2011.

Top 10 Breakout Bands of 2011
In 2011, these ten bands found their fortunes rising fast.

10 Last-Minute Picks for CMJ 2011
Searching for CMJ bands building late buzz? Try: Chad Valley, Co La, North Highlands...

Top 20 Indie Record Labels
The greatest ever indie record labels.

Top 20 Vincent Moon Videos
Vincent Moon's 'Take Away Shows' revolutionized live music video. Here are the highlights of his inspired, improvised work.

10 Trailblazing Female Musicians
Tired of tepid 'women in rock' lists? Here's ten fiery heroines that blazed radical new musical trails.

Top 10 Most Influential Figures in Alternative Music History
From studio perfectionists to singular idealists, with a host of rockbands in between, here's ten figures of infinite influence.

Top 10 Classic Indie-Rock Records
Given the climate of reissues and reformations, it's no longer ironic to call these records 'classic indie-rock.'

20 Best New Bands of 2011
There've been countless bands who've debuted in 2011. Here's the 20 best brand new acts.

10 Biblical Indie Albums
Call them anti-Christian-Rock records: 10 mighty albums rich in religious theme and biblical heft.

Top 30 4AD Albums
The best 30 albums from the first 30 years of the all-conquering indie powerhouse.

10 Best Indie Bands to Follow on Twitter
The most entertaining indie-rock Tweeters.

Top 10 K Records Albums
10 all-time great albums on the ultimate underground indie label.

Top 10 Indie Music Documentaries
Ranging from portraits of cult heroes (Roky Erickson) and global icons (Radiohead), here are the greatest music documentaries of all-time.

10 Last-Minute Picks for SXSW 2011
We're taking it down to the wire. With SXSW imminent, here's ten bands making a late case for can't-miss status.

10 Awesome SXSW 2011 Showcases
Feeling lost amidst SXSW's barrage of live music? Here's ten shows that stand out from the crowd.

10 Bands to Watch at Coachella 2011
Battling the desert heat at Coachella? Here's ten picks to click at the 2011 fest...

10 International Bands to Watch at SXSW 2011
Bands come to Austin from all over the world. Here are 10 awesome SXSW 2011 outfits from far-flung shores.

10 Entertaining Interviews from the About.com Vaults
Quotable notables, amusing anecdotes, public repudiations, and choice chit-chat. Here's ten killer conversations with indie royalty.

Top 10 Math-Rock Albums
Tally your time-signatures! A guide to the essential, indispensable math-rock records.

Top 10 Bright Eyes Songs

I was going to call this countdown 'Top 10 Conor Oberst' songs, until I realized that none of Oberst's recent non-Bright-Eyes tunes —in his lazy, dude-wrangling goof-off Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and in the alt-rock-celebrity supergroup Monsters of Folk— are worthy of a spot amongst the songsmith's best work.

Top 10 Post-Rock Albums
Post-rock progressed in a manner reminiscent of many genres: an adventurous spirit shared by a handful of disparate acts eventually growing into a specific sound rife with rules. Amongst all the rec-room crews of quiet-to-loud dudes too scared to sing, there were, however, lots of genuine renegades reworking rock'n'roll's familiar forms; lots of...

10 Acts to Watch at SXSW 2010
February 2, 2010 Every March, thousands upon thousands of artists show up in Austin, Texas. They come for the SXSW Music Conference, stay for the barbeque, and hope to hell that the countless shows they play in the span of four days will, somehow, someway, stir up the kind of buzz that only a confluence of industry bigwigs, tastemaking bloggers, and ten billion bands can drum up. A good showin…

10 Acts to Watch in 2010
January 19, 2010
With the calendar recently flicking over from the last year of last decade to the first year of this decade, it's time to no longer look back, but forward. And, after consulting with tea leaves, Turkish coffee grounds, animal entrails, beetle tracks, smoke signals, and my dickety knee, I've come up with this red-hot hot list of bands that will treat 2010 as their own p…

Top 100 Albums of the 2000s
Given the debate-starting nature of list-making and the angry emails I already feel looming, let's lay this out. The Rules: 1) Strictly only one album per band . Otherwise there'd be like eight Animal Collective albums in here. 2) Popularity isn't everything. If you think album sales = artistic worth, I have one word for you: Creed. 3) ...

10 Most Influential Bands of the 2000s
Some are platinum-selling millionaires, others the most fringe of figures; but it was these 10 who most influenced indie music in the '00s.

Top 30 Albums of 2009
There were so many amazing LPs issued in '09 that a Top 20 just couldn't contain them.

Top 10 Indie Band-Name Clichés of the '00s
Whilst alternative music fused into strange new shapes in the '00s, all the band names started to sound the same. Bands may've been using broadband-'acquired' music collections and easy computer recording to embrace artistic liberation, but the monikers they chose adhered to a new set of conventions. Not simply the classic, pluralized 'The Whatevers,' but distinct trends specific to this century.…

10 Great 2009 Debut Albums
Thousands of new bands delivered first-up albums in 2009. Here's ten of the best.

Top 10 Breakout Acts of 2009
Every year, there are a host of bands who come from out of nowhere to suddenly be, like, everywhere. And it's never been more obvious than in the blogosphere era, in which every cool new band seems to come pre-armed with a smattering of blogger hype. Many of the Class of '09 have felt the hysteria of internet hype; and some, like Wavves, have felt the nasty sting of hype's backlash. Yet, t…

10 Bands to Watch at CMJ 2009
From The Antlers to The XX, Broadcast to the Very Best, here's ten perfect picks from CMJ's sprawling slate of performers.

Top 10 Twee Albums
The indie-est of all genres, the twee movement —from its beginnings at the end of post-punk to its fully-fledged transformation into its own sub-culture— is often written about in the most condescending of manners. Sure, there was, and still is, a definite sense of infantilism to the bob-cuts and dress-ups and lunchboxes. But this list consists of ten robust works of art; amazing song…

Top 10 Constellation Albums
10 killer platters from the House That Post-Rock Built. From Godspeed! to Clues, and so many in between.

Top 20 Albums of 2007
2007 seemed like an unusually good year for good music. And it wasn't just made by members of Animal Collective.

10 Acts to Watch at SXSW 2009
Every year SXSW turns up a bunch of bands who go from obscure to hyped in a heartbeat. Here's ten acts to watch at the '09 festivities.

Top 10 Kill Rock Stars Albums
The label that gave riot-grrrl to the world has grown into an iconic independent imprint beholden to no singular sound or style.

10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2008
Making a list of disappointing discs is more about unfulfilled expectations than anything else.

Top 20 Albums of 2008
Let's count 'em down: the very best alternative and/or indie records of the year. Old favorites, new loves, strange surprises, unexpected treasures. The essential picks of the '08.

10 Great 2008 Debut Albums
Though the increasingly-leaky digital dissemination of music has lessened the impact of hard-and-firm release-dates, there remains something intrinsically exciting about first discovering the freshly-minted work of a new artist blessed with a distinctive, individual artistic voice. Though many of those on this list warmed up for their first longplayers with impressive EPs, each truly arrived on t…

10 Killer Under-the-Radar 2008 Albums
In 2008, the power of the internet is such that it's possible for any album, no matter how strange and/or obscure, to be thrust out of the shadowy underground into the bright lights of pop-cultural popularity. Yet, the sheer, unending, unrelenting volume of record releases means that, each year, many a wondrous work of borderline-genius will fall through the hype-machine's cracks. With 2008 comin…

Top 10 Breakout Acts of 2008
Every year, a smattering of acts come out of nowhere, releasing unexpected debuts that turn their fanbases from tiny into teeming. Here're the stars of the Class of '08.

Top 10 Lo-Fi Albums
In the 1980s, the British Phonographic Industry launched a short-sighted, essentially silly campaign against the supposed 'piracy' of music enthusiasts taping LPs onto cassettes for friends. The catchy slogan was "Home Taping Is Killing Music". Nearly 30 years on, and it's clear that home-taping revolutionized music. Not simply in the sharing...

Top 10 Merge Albums
Since being minted in 1989, Merge Records has always had the feeling of a label quietly going about its business. Yet, in its history, they've has served up some of the most treasured albums in alternative music’s hard-to-define history. In 2005, when Funeral, the first album by Montréal’s the Arcade Fire, was unleashed unto the world Merge famously only had one PR man on staff; the h…

Top 20 Matador Albums
Few record-labels have had an ongoing, unbroken run of pop-cultural credibility like Matador Records. The New Yorker label, in its 20 years on the job, has released an embarrassment of recorded riches. Hitching their wagon, early, to Stephen Malkmus's star, Matador has found much good fortune; not least of all when they stumbled upon one Chan...

Top 10 'Obscure' Starter Albums
Whilst my Top 10 Starters laid out alternative music’s basics, to just stick to the classics isn’t really keeping with the independent spirit. And the musical underground is littered with off-the-beaten track albums every bit as amazing as their more-acclaimed peers. In that spirit, here’s a Top 10 ‘Obscure’ Starter Albums countdown, a …

Top 10 Sub Pop Albums
Though it'll be forever associated with grunge, Seattle's legendary Sub Pop Records has reinvented itself in the new millennium, presiding over an eclectic lineup of increasingly-successful acts. Here're 10 picks from the label's first 20 years.

Top 10 Starter Alternative Albums
No self-respecting alternative-minded record-collection should be without these unique, unusual, underground albums. Though they haven't sold half-as-many copies, combined, as Bat Out Of Hell, these records have influenced more bands than could possibly be tallied; their individuality and creativity like a lightning-rod for inspiration. Many may not have been hailed in their day, but time …

Top 10 Albums of 2010 So Far
Ahhhh, album of the year lists. Our eternal salvation. Who doesn't love a good meticulous ranking, taking a wild and unwieldy tangle of history and whipping it into numerated order? It's an act akin to playing God: making order out of chaos. And, in an era utterly overrun by an astonishing, neverending influx of new music, these lists have...

Top 10 Thrill Jockey Albums
Chicago's Thrill Jockey Records made its name in the mid-'90s, when post-rock reigned and indie dweebs the world over regarded Chicago as some sort of musical mecca. As the years went on, and Trans Am records grew worse and Tortoise records grew further apart, the label reinvented itself on the fly; widening its borders outside its Windy City...

Top 10 Riot-Grrrl Records
Long before the internet made making connections easy, the riot-grrrl movement was an astonishing web of grassroots networking. Initially growing out of a community of like-minded women authoring feminist fanzines, riot-grrrl marked the moment in which these polemicists put down their pens and picked up guitars. Drawing from punk's original...

Top 30 Albums of the 1960s
In 1960, The Beatles were naff skiffle-beat teens; by 1970, they'd overseen a revolution. In a decade, rock'n'roll had exploded into a global phenomenon; become an artform of genuine expression and experimentation. Whilst The Beatles were superstars, the time was just as fertile for underground counter-culture. The seeds of alternative music...

Top 10 Albums by The Fall
Few discographies are as daunting for the beginner as that of English post-punk mavericks The Fall. Even at their most accessible, the band —essentially irascible frontman Mark E. Smith and anyone he can stand to be around/who can stand to be around him— are eternally abstruse; their albums all strange song-titles, abstract music, and self-sustained logic. They're not always easy listening, …

Top 10 Krautrock Albums
West Germany in the 1970s was a fertile time for progressive, mind-altering music. A host of young renegades, out to author a new German free from the specter of the past, forged deep into psychedelic, experimental, and electronic sound. When these astonishing output of albums arrived on English shores, it was dubbed krautrock , but this was no genre based around a singular sound. From psychedeli…

Top 10 Slowcore Albums
In the 1990s, faced with the torrential onslaught of grunge and the increasingly-abrasive ways of alternative music, a rare handful of artists started to challenge the prevailing rockist mentality. Eventually, these lonesome satellites bands like Codeine, Red House Painters, and Low would be grouped in, together, as slowcore . Membership in...

Top 40 Canadian Albums of the 2000s
Before the '00s, Canadian music was, outside of its shores, treated with a critical derision that served as the musical equivalent of "eh?" jokes; the mocking mention of Rush and/or Alanis Morrissette seemingly obligatory. But, beginning with the flowering of Montreal's Constellation scene in the late-'90s, things began to change. And, by the...

10 Acts to Watch at CMJ 2010
September 28, 2010 From October 19-23, the CMJ Music Marathon will hijack New York City's live venues for the 31st time. Though it's not as...

10 Forgotten '90s Bands That Need to Be Remembered
In this day-and-age, with the internet functioning as some musical library of Alexandria, can anyone still be forgotten? It seems like every band who anyone ever liked has a cult file-sharing following and is all set to reform and play All Tomorrow's Parties. But, scanning the on-line encoding of artistic legacy, you can't help but notice that...

Top 10 Belle and Sebastian Songs
The early days for Scottish twee-pop heroes Belle and Sebastian delivered some of the greatest songs ever penned by a lonely prat holed up in a bedsit. Suffering from chronic fatigue, B&S scribe Stuart Murdoch spent the early-'90s peering at passersby out the window, imagining their adventures. This lead to a string of keenly melodic,...

Top 10 Post-Punk Albums
Simon Reynolds' historical tome Rip it Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984 challenged a long-held cultural presumption: that the UK punk explosion of '77 was underground English music's watershed moment, and that, when Sid Vicious started on the gear, everything went downhill. This idea so often delivered with a sense of inescapable...

Top 10 Breakout Bands of 2010
In an internet-centric age, the annual parade of breakout bands has become a yearly tradition; a veritable rite of this blogospheric era. With online word-of-mouth now a swift, catalyzing force, indie acts can go from utterly unknown to hype-blasted within the blink of an eye. Some of 2010's breakout stars went from no one to someone in an...

10 Great 2010 Debut Albums
For devoted music fans, the thrill of the chase scouring blogs, listening to online streams, buying albums by unknown acts is the endless pursuit of the new. That next new band that's going to blow your mind, win your heart, or soundtrack your days. Every year, thousands upon thousands of artists arrive as new bands, and issue their first...

10 Killer Under-the-Radar LPs from 2010 - Best Obscure Alternative Albums...
Even in the blogosphere era, amazing albums still come out and slip through the cracks. With the sheer, unimaginable volume of music being released far outnumbering the seemingly-innumerable music blogs out there, not every record is going to be met with the kind of clamor and acclaim that they deserve (or, y'know, don't , depending). In...

10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2010 - Top 10 Indie Music LP Letdowns from 2010
Disappointment is a funny thing to quantify. What it really speaks of, in a music-listening sense, is expectation. All of the below have, at one point in their career, if not achieved greatness, at least threatened it. All of the below have delivered albums amazing, acclaimed, beloved, or all of the above. But this year, in 2010... not so much....

10 Infamous Concerts
When people list infamous concert experiences, there's a tendency to fall back on Baby Boomer lore. Who hasn't heard about Dylan going electric...

10 Acts to Watch in 2011
December 14, 2010 With the crazy pace of the digital music era the lightning-fast cycles of blog hype, the new musical movements that catalyze in just a matter of months, the home recording projects with two songs to their name who suddenly become overnight next-big-things it's getting harder to predict those about to blow up big. But,...

10 Infamous Concerts
When people list infamous concert experiences, there's a tendency to fall back on Baby Boomer lore. Who hasn't heard about Dylan going electric (the crowd literally cried "Judas!"), Jim Morrison getting arrested on stage in New Haven, or the Rolling Stones employing the Hell's Angels as body-guards at Altamont? But to suggest that infamy ended...

10 Bands to Watch at CMJ 2011
Blue Hawaii, EMA, Forest Fire, Purity Ring, Weekend and more: the picks of 2011's CMJ Music Marathon.

10 (More) Bands to Watch at CMJ 2011
d'Eon and Grimes, Exitmusic, Gross Magic, Holiday Shores, Memoryhouse, Painted Palms, Still Corners, Widowspeak, Wild Flag, Young Magic.

10 Bands to Watch at Lollapalooza 2012
Beneath the rock behemoths atop the bill, here's ten lesser-known but more interesting names in the Lollapalooza line-up.

Top 10 Shoegaze Albums - Greatest Shoegaze Records of All Time
Born in the UK in the late-'80s, shoegaze was a movement that used incredibly loud electric guitars to make something that had little connection to traditional rock'n'roll. Using a host of effects pedals delay and flange, chiefly and abusing tremolo bars, shoegaze guitars stripped away the attack of their instrument; building layers upon...

10 Bands to Watch at SXSW 2012
Trying to work out who to watch amidst the masses in Austin? Here's ten picks to not miss.

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