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Alternative Music: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Alternative Music 101 - Are 'Alternative' and...
We debate the question that has plagued mankind for centuries: what do 'alternative' and 'indie' actually really mean? And is it just the same thing?
The 20 Best Record Labels for Indie Music
The greatest ever indie record labels.
The 10 Best Post-Rock Albums Ever Made
10 records, no singing. Well, almost. Ten of the brightest lights shining in post-rock's instrumentalist darkness.
Our 10 Favorite Math-Rock Albums
Tally your time-signatures! A guide to the essential, indispensable math-rock records.
10 Most Inspired German 'Krautrock' Albums
West Germany in the 1970s was a fertile time for progressive, mind-altering music.
The 10 Best Ever Slow-Core Records
Slow, sad, frighteningly quiet: a rollcall of classic 1990s LPs from these masters of the spartan.
Top 10 Songs From Twee-Pop Heroes 'Belle and...
The Scottish outfit have had a long (and brilliant) career of sterling pop songs. Here are the ten best.
Top 10 Albums by The Fall
Ever wondered where's the best place to start for a Fall neophyte?
Top 10 Lo-Fi Albums
Home taping didn't kill music, it revolutionized it. Here's 10 classic home-made records committed straight to analogue tape.
The 10 Best Shoegaze Albums Ever Made
Dewy, dreamy, distorted guitar. Mumbled, barely-there vocals. It's ten classic shoegaze LPs, from MBV on down...
Top 10 Post-Punk Albums
The '77 UK punk explosion has long been wildly overrated. It was everything that came after that was truly revolutionary.
Interview: Pat Grossi of Active Child
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Upcoming Alternative Album Release Dates
Sort through the glut of new releases with this guide to the upcoming indie-music release schedule.
Alternative Music 101 - Your FAQ Primer
Your guide to the confusing basics of Alternative Music. Just remember: there are no dumb questions.
Top 20 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.
Scott Walker - Artist Profile
Teen pin-up turned avant-garde recluse. The strange music and even stranger life of Scott Walker.
Top 30 Albums of the 1960s
The radical records that broke the mold, moved music forward, and influenced generations of artists to come.
Top 10 Riot-Grrrl Records
Riot-grrrl's righteous indignation of sloganeering politics produced a run of raucous, rocking records.
Top 20 Concept Albums
Tired of records that sound like random collections of files? Here's 20 LPs of singular theme and sustained narrative.
Top 20 Albums of 2014 So Far
From Tune-Yards to Sun Kil Moon to Angel Olsen, here's the highlights of another awesome year in indie music.
Top 10 Twee Albums
The class releases that defined the growth of twee from tiny, self-contained English scene to global underground culture.
Tune Yards 'Nikki Nack'
Tasked with following up 2011's Whokill, Merrill Garbus's third Tune-Yards LP is both more anthemic and more anxious.
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.
Top 30 4AD Albums
The best 30 albums from the first 30 years of the all-conquering indie powerhouse.
10 Infamous Concerts
Ten bizarre, embarrassing, and much-remembered underground live-shows that have endeared their own, modern-day mythology.
Artist Profile: Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten's songs are stark confessionals recounting life in a destructive relationship.
Interview: Alex Scally of Beach House
Baltimore-based duo Beach House's slow, droney, comedown dream-pop has legions of listeners analyzing it for meaning. But the band's Alex Scally isn't one of them.
Sufjan Stevens - Artist Profile
Sufjan Stevens is an artist defined by his ambition.
Genre Profile - Post-Rock
A look at the ragged instrumentalists and jazz-schooled dorks that've made up post-rock's wordless movement.
10 Obscure Albums That Became Classics
Ignored, reviled, or 'lost' on their original release, these obscure LPs eventually proved hugely influential.
10 Bands to Watch in 2014
FKA twigs, Haerts, Mas Ysa, Temples, and Thumpers headline 10 bands primed for a 2014 breakout.
Top 10 Bright Eyes Songs
Ridiculous ambition, vicious self-loathing, attacks on God, and a scream bordering on hoarse: the best works of Conor Oberst.
J Mascis Kicks Lou Barlow Out of Dinosaur Jr
When the Dinosaur Jr honcho obtusely let his bassplayer go, Barlow turned around and aired his grievances in a series of Sebadoh songs.
Genre Profile - Lo-Fi
Crack out your Shrimper cassettes! It's a history lesson in the lo-fi movement.
Genre Profile - Shoegaze
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Genre Profile - Freak-Folk
A look at the fleeting flourish of folk-revival revivalists who've redreamt the imaginary hippy utopia for the new century.
Beach House - Artist Profile
Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally recall the history of their slow, narcotic Baltimore duo.
10 Bands to Watch at SXSW 2014
In Austin for SXSW 2014? Here's ten bands, from Connections to Seoul to Solids, you best keep your eye on.
Nirvana - Artist Profile
Profile of the life and death of the alternative legends
Top 10 K Records Albums
10 all-time great albums on the ultimate underground indie label.
Genre Profile - Krautrock
To English ears, the psychedelic, progressive, cosmic sound of early-'70s West Germany heralded a brave new sound: krautrock.
Top 20 Alternative and Indie Xmas Records
Here's how humbug hipsters stuck at family gatherings can commandeer the stereo and not upset the seasonal apple-cart.
10 Awesome SXSW 2014 Shows
Trying to make sense of the madness in Austin? Here's a handy list: 10 killer bills at SXSW 2014.
Bon Iver - Artist Profile
The background, beginnings, and developments of Justin Vernon, also known as Bon Iver.
Top 10 Bands Who'll Never Reform
In an era of retromania, are the any bands left that aren't reforming? Gladly, there are...
Top 20 Vincent Moon Videos
Vincent Moon's 'Take Away Shows' revolutionized live music video. Here are the highlights of his inspired, improvised work.
Top 10 Alternative Starter Albums
The defining entries in any alternative record collection. The iconoclasts whose singular sound has shaped a whole generation of underground acts.
MGMT - Artist Profile
An in-depth look at the brief history of the hype-starting New Yorker duo.
30 Best New Bands of 2013
From Boogarins to Weaves, Haerts to Vår, Béisbol to Wampire, here's indie music's Class of 2013.
She and Him - Artist Profile
Burying the stigma of the 'actor turned singer' forever, Zooey Deschanel's collaboration with M. Ward has produced some wondrous music.
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.' Here are the ten best.
Genre Profile: Math-Rock
The staunchly-punk, time-signature-juggling, nerdy instrumentalist mayhem of math-rock.
Top 10 Broadcast Songs
English electronic act Broadcast presided over a brilliant career of beautiful, strange, eerie songs.
Iron and Wine - Artist Profile
Shy southerner Sam Beam's quiet songs have made a loud noise on the alternative scene.
Mazzy Star - Artist Profile
The disappearance and return of the narcotic balladry of the 90's platinum band- Mazzy Star.
Definitive Albums: Talk Talk 'Laughing Stock'...
On their final album, English moodists Talk Talk created an atmospheric opus that presaged post-rock's rise.
Interview: Dustin Payseur of Beach Fossils
Dustin Payseur recorded his debut LP in a loft without walls, rolling tape in front of house-mates who hated his music.
Vampire Weekend - Artist Profile
Brooklyn's preppiest, poppiest indie outfit has made a career of bright melody and slight controversy.
Guide to the 56th Grammys Best Alternative...
With Vampire Weekend, The National, and Neko Case on the docket, the 2014 Best Alternative LP nominees are weirdly good...
Kurt Cobain wears Daniel Johnston T-Shirt to VMAs
Back in 1992, what t-shirt you wore really mattered.
Modest Mouse - Artist Profile
Isaac Brock's adventures with The Pixies, God, jail, Johnny Marr, and chart-topping success.
The Pixies - Artist Profile
The Pixies blistering use of broad dynamics and innovative re-write of pop-song forms redefined guitar music.
Artist Profile: Nirvana
Profile of the life and death of the alternative legends. Page 2.
Factory Records Profile
Chronicle of the rise and fall of Manchester's legendary Factory Records, home to Joy Division, New Order, the Happy Mondays and more.
Definitive Albums: Neutral Milk Hotel 'In the...
Neutral Milk Hotel main-man Jeff Mangum still hasn't been able to bring himself to attempt a successor to this slice of longplaying perfection.
10 Biblical Indie Albums
Call them anti-Christian-Rock records: 10 mighty albums rich in religious theme and biblical heft.
Matador Records Profile
A traipse through the history of New York's venerable mega-indie, Matador Records.
Alternative Music 101 - Genre Guide
Don't know your shoegaze from your space-rock? Your twee from your C86? Read on to discover the peculiar secrets of all those baffling genre names.
10 Iconic Album Covers
The most distinctive, most striking, most lauded album covers in indie music history.
St. Vincent - Artist Profile
A look at the life and career of fearsome fretboard shredder, old-fashioned romantic, and all-around dork, Annie Clark.
10 Classic Rough Trade Albums
From Young Marble Giants to The Smiths to Galaxie 500, here's ten awesome Rough Trade LPs, from the golden age of indie.
10 Best Indie Bands to Follow on Twitter
The most entertaining indie-rock Tweeters.
Interview: Annie Clark of St. Vincent
Chit-chat with the chatty and charming St. Vincent. Page 2.
Top 50 Albums of 2013
The moment My Bloody Valentine issued their third album, 2013 was a great year for indie music.
Constellation Records Profile
Chronicle of Canadian post-rock powerhouse Constellation Records.
Top 10 Merge Albums
From Superchunk to Destroyer, Guv'ner to the Arcade Fire, we count down 10 choice discs served up in the history of North Carolina's Merge Records.
Definitive Albums: Os Mutantes 'Os Mutantes'...
These barmy Brazilians' riotous debut album is a freakadelic fusion of Beatles-esque studio experimentation and traditional Afro-Portuguese rhythms.
'Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man'
A film divided into three: one part study of Cohen, one part all-star variety concert, one part stuck-listening-to-Bono.
Ariel Pink - Artist Profile
The life-and-crimes of A. Pink: home-taping enthusiast turned unexpectedly-influential indie music sage.
Interview: Victoria Legrand of Beach House
Dear Victoria: If 2009 was the year of Grizzly Bear, is 2010 the year of Beach House? Page 2.
Top 10 'Obscure' Starter Albums
These unique, unusual, underground albums sound thrilling, strange, and amazing to this day. They're the best 'Obscure' albums lurking in popular music's fringes, inspiring many with their abundant artistry and individuality.
Kill Rock Stars Profile
Profile of the long-running, fiercely-independent Pacific Northwest imprint, from riot-grrrl beginnings to its rebirth in Portland.
Interview: Jason Molina of Songs: Ohia and...
Back in 2002, the late Jason Molina already saw his Songs: Ohia records philosophically.
Elliott Smith - Artist Profile
Chronicle of the rise and demise of the ultimate depressive songsmith.
Interview: Ariel Rosenberg of Ariel Pink's...
Ariel Pink's volumes of lo-fi home-recording were, he thinks, a form of therapy. Page 2.
Interview: Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing
Jack Tatum's music may live in dreams, but he's always been a realist.
Top 10 Most Influential Figures in Alternative...
From studio perfectionists to singular idealists, with a host of rockbands in between, here's ten figures of infinite influence.
Owen Pallett 'In Conflict'
'In Conflict' finds the Arcade Fire fiddler ditching concept-record fantasies for sentiment, songs, and sequencing stitched with conflict.
Genre Profile: Chillwave
It's the summery, nostalgic, warped-sounding electronic music that blew up the blogosphere in 2009.
Top 20 Drag City Albums
The greatest albums from one of indie music's greatest-ever labels.
Alternative Music History: The Sex Pistols Play...
40 people were there, 4000 claim they were. A look at one of the most legendary, influential gigs in modern music history.
Definitive Albums: Kate Bush 'The Kick Inside'...
Kate Bush's grand, resplendent debut was a work of uncommon ambition and artistry for a teen prodigy.
Definitive Albums: The Monks 'Black Monk Time'...
With four decade's worth of hindsight, the Monks' still-thrilling debut may've birthed both punk and kraut-rock.
Genre Profile - Slowcore
Slow, quiet, sad, introspective, pretty: a look at those fearless slowcore rebels who first dared to not-rock.
Interview: Bryan Devendorf of The National
The National's perpetually-pounding drummer talks about dealing with the weight of expectations on 'High Violet'.
Belle and Sebastian - Artist Profile
The life and times of the Scottish twee institution.
10 Entertaining Interviews from the About.com...
Quotable notables, amusing anecdotes, public repudiations, and choice chit-chat. Here's ten killer conversations with indie royalty.
10 International Acts to Watch at SXSW 2014
Bands from all over the world are heading to Austin for SXSW. From Boogarins to Vaadat Charigim, here's 10 you better not miss.
Devendra Banhart - Artist Profile
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Definitive Albums: Belle and Sebastian 'If...
The Scottish pop outfit's second LP is one of the greatest records ever committed to disc.
Genre Profile - Riot Grrrl
Chronicle of the riot grrrl movement's furious surge in the early 1990s.
The Decemberists - Artist Profile
Profile of the fore'er whimsical folk-pop troupe from Portland.
Interview: Elizabeth Powell of Land of Talk
The talkative Canadian rocker talks broken bones, Broken Social Scene, Montréal hype, and being mellowed by Bon Iver.
Interview: Justin Vernon of Bon Iver
The woolly Wisconsinite discusses his blessed 2008, whether he's actually ever read Thoreau, and his skillz on the basketball court.
My Bloody Valentine - Artist Profile
A career chronicle of the recently-reborn godheads of the shoegaze movement.
Sub Pop Records Profile
In-depth historical profile of the influential, (semi-)independent Seattle label.
10 Trailblazing Female Musicians
Tired of tepid 'women in rock' lists? Here's ten fiery heroines that blazed radical new musical trails.
Interview: Alison Mosshart of The Dead Weather...
Despite having toured for nearly 20 years, The Dead Weather's statuesque singer still suffers from stage fright. Page 2.
Definitive Albums: Gilberto Gil 'Gilberto Gil'...
The Brazilian establishment was so provoked by Gilberto Gil's mix of Bossa Nova with psychedelia and Afro-Brazilian folk that he was jailed for subversion.
Interview: Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend
The VW frontman defends himself against charges of cultural appropriation.
The National - Artist Profile
The National's slow, steady progression, from unknowns to the band who soundtracked Hope and Change.
Definitive Albums: The Raincoats 'The...
Best known for diffusing punk's heaving machismo, the Raincoats' remarkable, ramshackle debut summons a peculiar musical magic.
10 Last-Minute Picks for SXSW 2014
Ex Hex, Glass Animals, Nothing, Protomartyr, Your Friend: 10 bands building late buzz for SXSW 2014.
Interview: Nathan Williams of Wavves
Post Primavera meltdown, Nathan Williams talks about being the most hated man in the blogosphere.
Why? - Artist Profile
A look at the life and work of indie-pop/backpacker-rap confessionalist Yoni Wolf.
Interview: Sufjan Stevens
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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks 'Wig Out At...
On his sixth solo album, the former Pavement-leader draws inspiration from the NBA, Memphis soul, and rock nostalgia.
Top 20 Matador Albums
Few record-labels have had an ongoing, unbroken run of pop-cultural credibility like Matador Records.
Definitive Albums: Scott Walker 'Scott 4' (1969)
Walker's unquestioned masterpiece is an uneasy mixture of MOR balladry, lyrical savagery, and hesitant avant-gardism.
Interview: Chad VanGaalen
The tall Canadian songsmith talks raiding rubbish skips, building instruments, and the everyman inspiration of the lo-fi movement.
Vic Chesnutt - Artist Profile
Across 20 years and 15 albums, Chesnutt always had a host of willing collaborateurs. Page 2.
Spiritualized - Artist Profile
Chronicle of Jason Pierce's grandiose gospel-space-rock-soul outfit Spiritualized, from post-Spacemen 3 beginnings to his near-death experiences.
Dirty Projectors 'Swing Lo Magellan'
After a career of kooky concept records, Dave Longstreth writes a set of love songs about love and songs.
10 Forgotten '90s Bands That Need to Be...
In the internet era, it's nearly impossible for a band to vanish. But these 10 awesome acts have come sadly close.
Interview: John Paul Pitts of Surfer Blood
In the wake of his 2012 arrest, John Paul Pitts took solace in indie-rock.
EMA 'Past Life Martyred Saints'
Tales of painful small-town adolescence add up to a secretly-funny soundtrack for a looming apocalypse.
Interview: Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab
Laetitia Sadier discusses the state of Stereolab, and the state of the modern world, on the eve of her beloved band's ninth album.
Definitive Albums: Patti Smith 'Horses' (1975)
Smith's immortal debut drew from totemic rock'n'roll imagery in its pursuit of transcendent poetry.
Twin Sister 'In Heaven'
Twin Sister are a band of this era: their debut album a disjointed collection of ten individual sound files.
Definitive Albums: The Fall 'Hex Enduction...
For all intents and purposes, The Fall begins and ends with 'Hex Enduction Hour.'
Definitive Albums: Nirvana 'Bleach' (1989)
The best $606.17 recording budget Sub Pop ever presided over.
Definitive Albums: Palace Music 'Viva Last...
Will Oldham's third Palace album is his masterwork; at turns urgent and volatile, reluctant and solemn, lovestruck and heartachin'.
Interview: Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear
Daniel Rossen talks his Elvis-obsessed childhood, mimicking Nick Drake, Department Of Eagle's dark songs, and the joyousness of 'Veckatimest'.
Dirty Projectors - Artist Profile
Dave Longstreth's project has gone from bedroom four-tracking to six-piece blow-out in a march from obscurity to popularity.
Spiritualized Play World's Highest Ever Show
Never one for subtle symbolism, Jason Pierce commands his space-cadets up all 144 storeys of Toronto's CN Tower.
Definitive Albums: Cocteau Twins 'Head Over...
On their second album, Cocteau Twins shook off their goth beginnings and founded their hugely-influential dream-pop sound.
Built to Spill - Artist Profile
The history of bearded fretboard warrior Doug Martsch, and his merry band of Built to Spill men.
Definitive LPs: Incredible String Band 'The...
Decades before freak-folk, The Incredible String Band had already made folkie weirdness into high, holy art.
Definitive Albums: Gal Costa 'Gal' (1969)
Gal Costa's second album of 1969 channeled the tropicalistas political rage into furious, terrifying psychedelia.
Definitive Albums: Slint 'Spiderland' (1991)
Slint's legacy grew in a fashion that matched the music: slow, steady, barely perceptible, ultimately legendary.
Los Campesinos! - Artist Profile
Smartypants twee-pop explosion Los Campesinos! burst onto the indie scene with the release of two albums in 2008.
Interview: Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast
The Best Coast leader talks Jon Brion, backlash, gossip culture, existential angst, and expectations.
Arthur Russell - Artist Profile
Chronicle of the life and times of the fallen angel of disco-as-art, New York cellist and home-recording scientist Arthur Russell.
Definitive Albums: Red House Painters 'Down...
Essentially the early demos of Mark Kozelek, the debut Red House Painters' LP is a landmark in slow, sad, sombre songwriting.
Morrissey 'World Peace Is None of Your Business'
After penning his wildly-successful 'Autobiogaphy,' Morrissey returns to music-making armed with emboldened self-obsession.
Interview: Johnny Jewel of Chromatics and Glass...
The Italians Do It Better mastermind talks the 'Drive' soundtrack, Chromatics' ascent, and being patient in an impatient era.
Yeasayer - Artist Profile
Yeasayer are a Brooklyn-based band that accomplishes no small task: defying genre.
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.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Artist Profile
The intently political Canadian co-op authored the blueprint for cinematic, apocalyptic post-rock.
Real Estate 'Atlas'
Real Estate's third LP's another jangly trip back to the green lawns and leaves of their New Jersey childhoods.
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