The beginning of the century saw a boom for indie music, brought about by the interconnectedness of the internet, which made the act of discovery, of sharing, easier than it had ever been in history.
For those who craved for music outside of the mainstream, before the ease of checking out your favorite music blog for what’s new, there was trekking down to the local record store and talking to the clerk or there was college radio–but the quality and availability of these stations varies greatly from region to region.
The internet was the great equalizer for indie music, which is why our list of the top 10 indie albums of 2000-2009 features a handful of Canadians, a British rapper of Sri Lankan descent, and a collaboration between two of Hip-Hop’s best known underground artists. Indie music, once local and regional, had become global.
10. Feist – The Reminder
As a part of super group Broken Social Scene, and with her earlier release, Let it Die, Feist had already made a name for herself when she released The Reminder in 2007. But with tracks like “1234” and “I Feel it All,” this is the album she is best known for, and for good reason.
9. Arcade Fire – Funeral
Before the Arcade Fire had won a Grammy, had shared a stage with David Bowie, and had become one of indie’s best known groups, they were a relatively unknown Montreal band formed by husband and wife songwriting duo Régine Chassagne and Win Butler. Within a few years, they had earned the praise of David Bowie and their breakout debut full-length, Funeral, earned them a spot in indie music’s pantheon.
8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
I remember first hearing Vampire Weekend on Myspace. They had a few tracks on a simple page, before their self-titled album was even released, and someone had emailed me the link. I remember returning to that site day after day and noting that the number of listens was skyrocketing. Anyone who sang about Oxford commas in such a fun, upbeat, an unabashedly nerdy way, was likely to find legions of fans in dorm rooms across the nation, and that they did.
7. Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle
Sam Beam took Americana, slowed it down, and packaged it up into the lo-fi, whispery masterpiece that is The Creek Drank the Cradle. Anyone who doesn’t feel something when
listening to “Upward Over The Mountain” doesn’t have a soul.
6. Madlib – Shades of Blue
Madlib’s perfect blend of hip hop and jazz, a love letter to the deep history of Blue Note Records, is a work of genius. There’s no other way to describe it, and even if it is at times dissonant, or even abrasive, there is no other way to listen to it.
5. M.I.A. – Kala
Within a span of three years, M.I.A. released three outstanding albums, working with Diplo and other artists to seamlessly blend the sounds of the entire world into unforgettable beats, starting with Piracy Funds Terrorism, Vol. 1 (2004), followed by Arular (2005), and culminating with her magnum opus, Kala (2007).
4. Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
Perhaps the finest post-rock album of all time, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place makes one feel exactly what the title suggests.
3. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it in People
Broken Social Scene sounds like joy. Their elaborate lineups and collaborations, their friendship and camaraderie, the harmonies, the blending of so many sounds into something beautiful, all of it comes through in their work. You Forgot it in People, from beginning to end, just exudes love. It is easy to become wrapped up in, and totally worth doing so, again and again.
2. Madvillain – Madvillainy
Fragments, interludes, songs—who can tell what is what on Madvillainy? It doesn’t matter. Just listen to one of the greatest hip hop releases of all time.
1. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox already had considerable indie clout when he dropped his solo album, Person Pitch, under the name Panda Bear. Blending Brian Wilson-esque harmonies with masterful production, if one album sounds like the culmination of a decade’s worth of indie music, this is it.