Top Five Indie Albums You Must Own Classic & New

By Ian Dougherty

Do you want to be an indie music fan, but don’t know where to start? Below are some of your core indie albums that every fan should have in his or her collection. Some are classic, others are a little more recent on the music front. Leave a comment if you don’t agree.

‘The Soft Bulletin’ by The Flaming Lips

• It was the first album to fully harness the band’s commercial spirit
• It set the groundwork for their amazing live shows
• Songs like ‘Waiting For Superman’, ‘Race For the Prize’ and ‘The Spark that Bled’

They may be better known for their spectacular live shows featuring Wayne Coyne running across the crowd in a giant bubble, fancy dress costumes, glove puppets and much more but this album contains everything that is great about The Flaming Lips. The introduction to opening track ‘Race for the Prize’ immediately informs you that something special is about to happen, the small count in and then crashing gong immediately gives way to a track that is almost too positive to imagine. Wayne Coyne may sound like Kermit the Frog on acid but as a lyricist and front man he is second to none.

‘Daydream Nation’ by Sonic Youth

• Possibly the bands most accessible album
• The vocal interplay of Kim and Thurston
• It retains all the guitar fuzz that Sonic Youth are known and loved for
• Tracks like ‘Teenage Riot, ‘Candle’ and ‘Silver Rocket.’

There has been an increase in the ‘Don’t Look Back’ series of gigs where a band plays a classic album from their history. In some cases you have been left wondering why an album was held in such regard that it required to be dragged out again years later but this can’t be said about ‘Daydream Nation.’

Opening track ‘Teenage Riot’ sets the tone with its high tempo and squalor and the noise and confusion doesn’t really give up over the rest of the album. It is not often that all the magazines will have the same opinion on indie rock but there appears to be universal acclaim for ‘Daydream Nation’ and it has captured the true genius of Sonic Youth. At times their albums have been patchy and perhaps too experimental for some ears but on this 1988 release they got it exactly right.

‘The Queen is Dead’ by The Smiths

• The album features Morrissey at his most humorous
• Johnny Marr starting to show his true talent on guitar
• Brings together many different styles in one cohesive record
• Tracks like ‘I Know its Over, ‘Cemetery Gates’ and ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes out’

For some, The Smiths will be the perfect template of an indie band such was the mix of intelligent lyrics and working class backgrounds. It is fair to say that the majority of the focus falls upon Morrissey but Johnny Marr showcased a sense of jangle guitar that went a long way to influencing the entire Britpop era.

‘The Queen is Dead’ album has a largely humorous streak running through it and it stands as a strong argument to people who say that indie music is all po-faced and afraid to have fun. Morrissey may set himself up as being pretentious at times but tracks like ‘Frankly Mr Shankly’ and ‘Vicar in a tutu’ indicated he could enjoy a laugh with the best of them.

‘Rings Around The World’ by Super Furry Animals

• It was their largest and most ambitious album to date
• It brought to light so many of their influences
• It has Paul McCartney and John Cale appearing on it
• Tracks like ‘Receptacle for the Respectable’ and ‘Juxtapozed Wit U’

Welsh indie wizards the Super Furry Animals have always been regarded as an innovative and adventurous band but this 2001 release showcased the band at their most “out there”. With not much emphasis on their techno past, this album crosses the gap between indie rock and classic 60s Beach Boys effortlessly. They have never quite managed to equal this masterpiece but they have created a great number of albums since.

‘Funeral’ by Arcade Fire

• The vast array of instruments on show
• Really powerful song, emotionally and musically
• Fantastic percussion and rhythm sections
• Tracks like ‘Wake Up’, ‘Power Out’ and ‘Rebellion (Lies)’

They pulled off one of the hardest tricks in music, namely writing an album about death and change yet making it sound like the most uplifting album of the year. There were a few stand out singles released from this record but collectively it worked tremendously and still stands up to repeated plays today.

Follow up album ‘Neon Bible’ took the band to a higher level and you can see them rivaling U2 and REM in a few years if they continue this upwards trajectory but ‘Funeral’ remains a must hear album for anyone drawn to grandiose statements and classic songs.

Ian Dougherty is a freelance music writer and lover from the United Kingdom. Dougherty has written for well known music magazines, Ezines, and websites for over fifteen years. For the latest in indie albums and to keep up on the latest news on an indie blog, visit, where bands keep more from each digital music download.

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