Top 10 Indie Rock Albums of 2008

In 2008, independent rock returned to the underground, where it belongs. Given the grand catastrophe that is today’s record industry, most major-label executives don’t have the time or energy to convince music fans they might like something a little out of the ordinary. They’re too busy recycling variations on what were once sure things while desperately searching for career exit strategies that don’t involve tall buildings, open windows and running leaps. As a result, fringier artists have had the opportunity to develop outside the spotlight, sans the sort of unrealistic commercial expectations that can lead to self-consciousness, compromise and a lifetime of regret. Not selling means not selling out, as the following albums demonstrate.

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Marnie Stern

This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That

(Kill Rock Stars)

In “Prime,” the first song here, Stern declares, “Defenders, get onto your knees,” then forces them to do just that by way of roller-coaster rhythms, staccato vocals and guitar fragments sharper and deadlier than Chinese throwing stars. In an age of dial-twisters and digital manipulators, she’s a genuine instrumental virtuoso. Still, she isn’t searching for the perfect note on tracks such as “Shea Stadium” and “Steely.” Instead, she merges artsy intentions with unfettered passion and takes her listeners to destinations as unexpected as they are exhilarating.

Categories: Music