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The 100 Greatest Albums of the Digital Age

written by: on November 18, 2011

30. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005):

Despite the whirlwind of hype surrounding them before their debut record was even released, Wolf Parade delivered in spades on Apologies to the Queen Mary. Equipped with electronics, keys, guitar, drums and spastic vocals, the group delves out familiar indie rock tendencies with anthemic scale. Songs such as stadium-ready stomper “Shine a Light” rank among vocalist Dan Boeckner’s best efforts and it’s hard not to sing along to Spencer Krug’s “I’ll Believe in Anything.” In fact, the tracks on Apologies outweigh nearly all of the tracks Boeckner and Krug have done without each other on their supplementary projects. The enticing lyricism and charisma make for striking music. Haunting electro sounds abound, clashing with warm piano-hooks. The end result sounds refreshingly beautiful. – Jon White

29. The Postal Service – Give Up (2003):

Released in 2003, Give Up introduced a project light-years ahead of an Owl City-obsessed mainstream that in 2009 would dig the simple formula of feathery vocals over electro-pop. Personnel Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie created a landscape that was sparkling clean and minimally gritty at times, with themes of innocence, broken heartedness and existentialism. Notable tracks, including “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” “Such Great Heights” and “Nothing Better,” remain classic sing-alongs between old friends, but every bit of the 45-minute album was filled with indielectronica atmospheres for Gibbard to explore, and was punctuated with lightweight-yet-heartfelt vocals for Tamborello to play with.—Ciara Shook

28. Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997):

Here is a whoozy, sinking sensation, a sound reminiscent of something that is close to being nailed down, but at the end of a foggy night soaked in whiskey and clouded by cigarette smoke, it still can’t be identified.  That Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo can craft such an extraordinary collection of songs so diversely paced and structured and yet still evoke these feelings throughout is a testament to their genius.  This album is at one moment ambient and abstract, at the next concrete and simple in its compositions.  Featuring Ira Kaplan on guitar and vocals, his wife Georgia Hubley on percussion and vocals, and James McNew on bass (and the occasional lead vocal), the threesome draw their chief inspiration from the stripped down approach of The Velvet Underground, but add such warmth, depth, rhythmic intricacy and guitar-driven sonic sprawl that they made a beautiful noise that is all Yo La Tengo. –Craig Bechtel

27. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (2010):

As the third and final release from James Murphy, This Is Happening may not have clung to the success of Sound of Silver, but according to “You Wanted a Hit” that’s just not what he’s about. Murphy’s hilarious witty banter in “Drunk Girls” and “Pow Pow” with textured volume and disco-infused beats created a danceable soundscape of ups and downs. Mixing pop, rock, disco, and electronic seems like an easy feat for Murphy and this album embraces the best qualities of these genres creating something seamlessly perfect and unique. With tracks averaging 7 minutes, this album is obviously not meant for the radio, but the dance floor. This Is Happening was a turning point for LCD Soundsystem, it’s just unfortunate that that turning point led to the end. –Kim Manning

26. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003):

The White Stripes’ garage art rock lead by Jack White’s screeching vocals in their fourth studio effort, Elephant is pure sweaty, gritty rock ‘n’ roll. Even the radio driven “Hardest Button to Button” and “Seven Nation Army” are twitching with pounding simplicity and rattling guitar battles. Jack and Meg White use a distinct breed of storytelling lyricism and simple guitar riffs, but present them in a fashion reminiscent of 1970s blues rock. Songs like “Ball and Biscuit” emphasize the raw guitar that The White Stripes are known for with a long guitar solo interlude. Where this album lacks in textured creativity, it shines in power and head-bobbing goodness. It’s a no glam, no frills work of two red-clad, badass musicians. –Kim Manning

25. The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I (1999):

Emergency & I is an extremely anxious record. Songs like “A Life of Possibilities” are about being afraid of the future, and others (“Memory Machine,” “Spider in the Snow”) are scared by the prospect of forgetting the past. It might be a stretch to call it a “coming of age” album, but it is one about growing up, and the fear of failure, or the loss of things and people you used to know and care about. It delivers a message that everyone can relate to, and it takes that message and makes it powerful and poignant. Emergency & I is a record for anyone who’s afraid to grow up, or for those who are afraid of letting go, and as such, is a record for just about everyone. –Charlie Woodman

24. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008):

Vampire Weekend first came to us with refreshingly sly, laidback simplicity on their self-titled debut. Drawing from tones and sounds found in West-African music, these guys are after more than creating mere stationary pop. Tracks such as piping “A-Punk” and classy “Oxford Comma” play off prep culture in a way that is clever, hook-driven and edgy. Frontman Ezra Koenig and the gang won over just about everybody on this release, which boasts relentlessly warm, unpretentious rock. – Jon White

23. Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West (1997):

Lead by the howling vocals of Isaac Brock, The Lonesome Crowded West was Modest Mouse’s second studio album, long before the days of “Float On.” The punk-fused indie rock is smothered in danceable folk-ridden guitar riffs and cleverly playful lyrics. This Portland-based band layers instrumentation in an orchestral rock style in songs like “Heart Cooks Brain” with a sporadic screeching turntable, while songs like “Long Distance Drunk” are simple and repetitive with mellow instrumentation and subtle backup vocals. This album has a down-home feel, suited to the title. In the era of Spice Girls and Hansen, Modest Mouse composed an album so untied to the year it was release that an untrained ear could believe it was released in 2011. –Kim Manning

22. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (2007):

It seems odd that James Murphy is so relatable to a younger generation of listeners, many of whom probably haven’t heard of most of the bands that influence his music. While Sound of Silver reeks of a musical era that has already come and gone, it also sounds tense and urgent. Murphy continues to so eloquently verbalize thoughts that have occupied everybody’s mind at some point, whether it is a feeling of cultural inferiority to Europeans, or an attempt to grieve after losing “someone great.” The truth is, what could be more relatable than a man clinging to his youth? Even the 20-somethings are afraid of losing their edge. –Derek Gossi

21. Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996):

Belle and Sebastian’s masterpiece characterized the dawning of a new age, one where restless late-teens were torn between the old and the new, mixtapes and cds, books and the Internet. Nothing goes so well with the young yet world-weary consciousness of the late ‘90s teen than melancholic twee and Stuart Murdoch’s beautiful, poetical Scottish voice. As the ‘90s blended with the 2000s, If You’re Feeling Sinister delivered exactly what the ever-growing indie scene needed: Angsty, proto-hipster associations with Bob Dylan, The Smiths and a bored, dreamy girl named Judy. After all, if anything is true of the now-firmly-established indie scene, it’s that we’re feeling very sinister indeed. –Leanne Howard

  • Myles Coyne

    Radiohead isn;t that good…

  • Petra Poison

    No Patrick Wolf here? Fail.