The indie music community is quite polarizing, but has some undeniable records. I spoke with producer/songwriter Torna, and he helped rank the top ten indie records from 2000-2009 in this world. FYI: These rankings have nothing to do with “indie labels”; it’s more about the genre.


  1. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

SW: Debbie Downer over here, but we’re starting this piece with a funeral.

T: Why not? The thing that I’ve always loved about Arcade Fire is that they make suburban doldrums sound super urgent and gorgeously cinematic.

SW: Rebellion (Truth).

T: Funeral is melodramatic in all the best ways.

SW: I concur. It’s a solid coping LP.

T: It made me feel heard as a teenager, like rock and roll might really be the cure for pubescent angst.


  1. Andrew Bird – Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005)

SW: You talk about puberty and Mr. Bird discusses eggs. Food for thought.

T:  It’s a hell of an omelet too. The sonic palette is in it’s own universe – looped layers of violin, rock rhythm section, whistling, glockenspiel…

SW: Measuring cups, fake palindromes, MX missiles…

T: Lyrically he’s fascinating to me – heavy on wordplay and free association, building worlds around little details… kind of like zooming in on his subjects with a microscope

SW: You sound like you work in music production or something.

T: Who told?


  1. Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf  (2002)

SW: I just go with the flow.

T: Songs for the Deaf is such a gloriously grimey sounding record. It was the one that bridged the gap between the old Black Sabbath records I loved so much growing up and the cool-kid indie records my friends were into at the time.

SW: This album was HUGE. “No One Knows” was everywhere and Dave Grohl is my hero.

T: The momentum he brings to that record is monumental.

SW: You think I ain’t worth a dollar, but I feel like a millionaire. 

T: I think my favorite thing about it is that it manages to be heavy but also laden with pop hooks – stoner-sludge but also not too self-serious.


  1. St. Vincent – Actor (2009)

SW: St. Vincent. Strangers. Save. Same. Sequel.

T: That sounds like an Andrew Bird lyric.

SW: I’m laughing with a mouth of blood.

T: I’m a huge fanboy, so I’m predisposed to only say nice things about Annie Clark. 

SW: She’s definitely underrated as a guitar hero, for sure. Shredder!

T: My favorite things about Actor are the juxtapositions – these gorgeous lullabye melodies against shards of guitar noise, orchestral flourishes against pummeling drums…


  1. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)

SW: I don’t think of pummeling drums when I hear Bon Iver, but I should re-listen. I haven’t done such since forever ago.

T: It’s strange to go back to this record having heard the more recent ones, which lean more sonically experimental and lyrically impressionistic.

SW: This record seemed to be the album of that year for many.

T: The story of it was so integral to hearing it – sad guy goes into the woods of Wisconsin with a guitar and comes back with this album.

SW: I was blindsided.

T: Jesus…


  1. The Strokes – Is This It? (2001)

SW: Potentially for the modern age…

T: Is This It is the spiritual embodiment of the scene in New York at that time.

SW: So true! I was in Michigan when it came out, but my band covered “Last Nite,” proving that The Strokes’ gospel was spreading in the early-00s.

T: It was just such cool music. By design, for sure, but there’s something endlessly listenable about it – I think it’s how Julian Casablancas managed to write catchy melodies while still sounding like he couldn’t be bothered to take the cigarette out of his mouth.

SW: Remember when every band from that time period included the word “The” and a pluralized noun? That time period is often hard to explain to someone born after.

T: It didn’t help that so many of them sounded like The Strokes


  1. Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)

SW: I don’t think that any band can effectively imitate Radiohead.

T: I don’t think that Radiohead can imitate Radiohead. Every album sounds so different from its predecessor.

SW: They’re constantly evolving. This album’s release campaign was ahead of its time with the “Pay What You Want” model.

T: For sure. I know people might fight me on picking this Radiohead album over say, Kid A, but I think the release strategy was so culturally important. And I think the songwriting is better.

SW: I agree. In Rainbows is literally a jigsaw falling into place.

T: (puts face in hands) 


  1. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

SW: I am trying to break your face.

T: Anyway, this is the most heartbreaking record on the list. I think it’s also the one where Jeff Tweedy settled into his stride as a lyricist and the band shed the last vestiges of the alt-country movement they helped start

SW: Spin Magazine LOVED Wilco. I feel like they had stock in the company or something.

T: It got a 10 from Pitchfork too. It was absolutely the critical darling of the moment. Lucky for us, it’s also a stunning album.

SW: I have no reservations about that sentence.

T: The label had reservations about putting the album out though


  1. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People (2002)

 SW: That’s a horse of another color… Onto Broken Social Scene!

T: This is my favorite album on this list.

SW: Pitter patter goes my heart… It’s definitely worthy of a silver medal slot, even a gold one!

T: I feel like no band threw everything into a blender to greater effect than Broken Social Scene. Pop writing sensibility with a more left leaning production aesthetic, rock sonics with reference points in orchestral and electronic music… it’s such a gorgeous mess of a record.

SW: Glad we brought it up before more people forgot about it.

T: Not to be cheesy, but I’ll never forget this one.


  1. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (2007)

SW: And this one is #1!

T: It’s the one that I think is the coolest. Never been a better marriage of dance and rock.