10. Animal Collective — Sung Tongs (FatCat, 2004) Although an Animal Collective backlash has been simmering for over a year, with detractors complaining about the ubiquity of Merriweather Post Pavilion and indicting the band for the recent explosion of AC-lite chillwave bands, their influence on indie music in the past decade can’t be overstated. While Merriweather snuck in at the tail end of Spin‘s list, AC’s real breakthrough, back when critics were sticking them with the “freak-folk” label, was Sung Tongs. An album that drew on both pop and noise, it widened the audience for truly strange music in a genre whose touchstones were still of the Pavement, Spoon, and Yo La Tengo variety.
9. Salt-n-Pepa — Very Necessary (London Records/Polygram, 1993) Salt-n-Pepa had their fair share of success before they released Very Necessary, their fourth album, from the widely sampled, perennially thrilling “Push It” to history’s catchiest sex-ed PSA, “Let’s Talk About Sex.” But this 1993 release was nothing short of a phenomenon, full of classic independent lady anthems, from “None of Your Business” to “Shoop” to the single that had every girl reassessing her relationship, “Whatta Man.” To leave Salt-n-Pepa off your list entirely is to ignore some of the best popular hip-hop of the genre’s top 40 golden age, the ’90s.
8. Jane’s Addiction — Nothing’s Shocking (Warner Bros., 1988) We find it an odd choice that, while 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual made Spin‘s canon, while its predecessor (and Jane’s Addiction’s breakthrough) didn’t merit a mention. Both are classics, but Nothing’s Shocking has always been our choice, with its majestic arrangements and Perry Farrell’s superhuman caterwauling. Give “Ocean Size,” “Mountain Song,” and “Jane Says” another listen and see if you don’t agree.
7. The Cure — Disintegration (Elektra, 1989) So, here’s a contrarian choice for you: Of all the records The Cure has released since 1985, Spin picked The Head on the Door. It’s a great album, sure, but isn’t it strange that it earns a spot while 1989’s massive Disintegration is entirely omitted? For 20 years, the album has been a breakup classic, full of heavy goth-pop odes (“Fascination Street”! “Lovesong”! “Pictures of You”! Etc.!) equally perfect for darkened-bedroom crying jags and late-night, top-volume car stereo play.
6. Madvillain — Madvillainy (Stones Throw, 2004) As far as mainstream and slightly left-of-center (e.g., The Roots) hip-hop goes, Spin‘s list is pretty solid. (And boy are you in luck if you’re an OutKast fan!) But what of the early-’00s indie hip-hop renaissance from labels like Def Jux, Big Dada, and Stones Throw? It’s pretty much nowhere to be found. So we’re shouting out perhaps the best album of the bunch: Madvillain’s sharp, smart, and quirky Madvillainy, featuring the epic collaboration of MF DOOM and Madlib.
5. Kate Bush — Hounds of Love (EMI, 1985) The rare album that achieved enormous mainstream success without compromising its creator’s experimental and literary bent, Hounds of Love is an undisputed classic. Split between radio-ready pop songs and weirder, less accessible stuff, it’s got something for every mood. And Hounds of Love is also something of a DIY wonder: Bush financed and produced the entire thing herself.
4. Neutral Milk Hotel — In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge, 1998) Yes, Spin really left the most powerful, influential indie-rock album of the ’90s off their list. Out of 125 albums, including entries by both Fiona Apple and Against Me!, they just didn’t have room for it! Honestly, we’re not quite sure what to say here. If you haven’t heard or can’t appreciate Aeroplane, a gorgeous, poetic, painstakingly crafted and deeply spiritual record that finds love and humanity in one of the Holocaust’s saddest stories, we just feel sorry for you.
3. Galaxie 500 — On Fire (Rough Trade, 1989) Back in the days when college rock was morphing is into alternative, Galaxie 500’s lilting, soft-spoken pop injected some washed-out beauty into the pre-grunge scene. Their vivid, whispered lyrics and sprawling, lo-fi compositions yielded well-deserved Velvet Underground comparisons and made On Fire one of the most influential early indie albums. The trio went on to form Luna, Dean and Britta, and Damon and Naomi. But Galaxie 500’s second album, full of sneakily catchy slacker melodies (“Strange,” “Blue Thunder”), remains their best loved.
2. Ghostface Killah — Supreme Clientele (2000) The Wu-Tang proper and a few other solo projects (Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…) got love from Spin, but what about the crew’s most out-there emcee, Ghostface? Just about everything he touches turns to gold — in fact, Fishscale could easily have earned a place on the list, too — but Supreme Clientele was the first solo record to really showcase his versatile capabilities. When both the hip-hop heads and the indie kids are hailing you as a hero, you know you’ve done something right.
1. Radiohead — Kid A (Capitol, 2000) Get your “WTF”s ready, music fans: Although the (obviously deserving) pre-millennial panic soundtrack OK Computer earned Spin‘s #5 slot and even The Bends managed to clock in at #28. Yet somehow (again, on a list that basically anthologizes Green Day and Oasis), none of Radiohead’s 21st-century work made the cut. Since there’s really no rational response to the oversight, we’ll leave you with the worst pun we can think of: What an “Idioteque” move.