Greatest Records

Beyond the Canon?

For those of us of a certain vintage, there was something quite disconcerting about identifying selections for the final TNPC poll. After all, we had grown up with the ‘canon’ and we lived out our youth through the latter part of the 20th Century. Much of the music made during that time meant the world to us. But what about the music of the 21st Century? There is a theory that when people reach the age of 33, they give up being interested in new music, and are content to revisit the past, seeking refuge in the familiar, perhaps reliving their adolescence? It’s a gross generalisation of course but there is an irrefutable logic to the claim. The responsibilities of adult life and balancing out work and family commitments, means that for many of us, the latest sounds are skimmed through with little patience. How different it was when we were younger – one had to really live with Trout Mask Replica and Bitches Brew, listening to them day in and day out for months on end in order to cultivate a true appreciation of their merits. And of course those albums – and many others – would prove to reward every ounce of perseverance. So when my early invitations to our contributors began to meet with blank responses (“I haven’t a clue”, “I’ve maybe only listened to ten albums since 2000”, “I reckon no classic record has been made since 1980”) I began to fear the worst.

Not all our contributors are middle-aged of course, but many of those, after their initial reticence, opted to take part in any case. The result? 1437 individual albums were nominated by around 120 contributors. From those,only one album received over 30 votes. If we contrast that with previous Poll-Toppers Forever Changes (45 out of 76) Marquee Moon (65 out of 125) and The Stone Roses (59) it points to a staggering lack of post-millennial consensus, with over 500 titles receiving only one vote. Without question then, the vast majority of our contributors have been listening to – and appreciating – a huge variety of contemporary sounds – far more than I have certainly. For myself, this exercise was always going to be something of an educational experience, overseeing the new list take shape.

The Results?

Block votes inevitably throw up one or two anomalies. Sometimes votes are split: consider the case of Mogwai or Six Organs Of Admittance, both of whom had 7 albums nominated, but neither of whose individual albums managed more than 3 votes – resulting in a frustrating absence from the final 100. More pleasingly, there was a plethora of votes for The Clientele, Low and Broadcast, each of whom is deliciously well represented in the list and rightly so. The most popular artist in terms of the sheer volume of nominations was by some distance, LCD Soundsystem,whose vote was also split very widely.

I’m less surprised about the results than I had anticipated, and know far more of these records than I had expected to know. The poll does not of course claim to be a new canon for the 21st Century, but alongside the other three polls, it should offer a few pointers to those looking to expand their horizons, and if anyone is looking to build a collection of popular music’s greatest 400 albums, they could do a lot worse than start here.

And the winner? Well, it’s somehow fitting that we round off this exercise with pop’s greatest star looking down from the summit, but, fine album though it undoubtedly is, it does somehow feel a little incongruous and unrepresentative – another inevitable consequence of the block vote. Only one person actually placed it as first choice. But there it is. I’m sure many will argue long into the night about its merits, but that’s democracy for you.

Once again, immense thanks to you all for your inspiring recommendations over the last three months. I have been furnished with enough new music to occupy me purposefully for the rest of my life. Now how exactly am I going to find the time to listen to it all? Skim listening just won’t do it. (JJ)

[As is customary, those albums just missing the cut (101-200) are listed in the first Appendix – following the list of contributors. A list of ‘One Vote Wonders’ should appear at the weekend]


The Top 100

100. Thunder Lightning Strike – The Go Team (Memphis Industries, 2004)

99. No More Shall We Part – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Mute, 2001)

98. The Drift – Scott Walker (4AD, 2006)

97. Any Other City – Life Without Buildings (Tugboat, 2001)

96. mbv – My Bloody Valentine (m b v, 2013)

95. World Music – Goat (Rocket, 2012)

94. Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill – Grouper (Type, 2008)

93. Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Ray (Polydor, 2019)

92. Rounds – Four Tet (Domino, 2003)

91. Donuts – J Dilla (Stones Throw, 2006)

90. The Woods – Sleater-Kinney (Sub Pop, 2005)

89. Up The Bracket – The Libertines (Rough Trade, 2002)

88. Turn On The Bright Lights – Interpol (Matador, 2002)

87. Speakerboxxx / The Love Below – OutKast (LaFace. 2003)

86. Raising Sand – Robert Plant / Alison Krauss (Rounder, 2007)

85. Not The Tremblin’ Kind – Laura Cantrell (Spit & Polish, 2000)

84. Voodoo – D’Angelo (Virgin, 2000)

83. This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem (DFA, 2005)

82. You Are Free – Cat Power (Matador, 2003)

81. Strange Geometry – The Clientele (Pointy, 2005)

80. Love & Theft – Bob Dylan (Columbia, 2001)

79. Bloom – Beach House (Sub Pop, 2012)

78. Tomorrow’s Harvest – Boards Of Canada (Warp, 2013)

77. Diamond Mine – King Creosote & Jon Hopkins (Domino, 2011)

76. Sometimes I Sit And Think & Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett (Milk!, 2015)

75. High Violet – The National (4AD, 2010)

74. Veckatimest – Grizzly Bear (Warp, 2009)

73. Master And Everyone – Bonnie Prince Billy (Drag City, 2003)

72. Lost Souls – Doves (Heavenly, 2000)

71. Time (The Revelator) – Gillian Welch (Acony, 2001)

70. I Love You Honeybear – Fr. John Misty (Bella Union, 2015)

69. The Archandroid – Janelle Monae (Bad Boy, 2010)

68. Kiwanuka – Michael Kiwanuka (Polydor, 2019)

67. The Silver Globe – Jane Weaver (Fire, 2014)

66. Ys – Joanna Newsom (Drag City, 2006)

65. Madvillainy – Madvillain (Stones Throw, 2004)

64. Vespertine – Bjork (One Little Indian, 2001)

63. Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Bad Seed Ltd, 2016)

62. The Greatest – Cat Power (Matador, 2006)

61. Light Up Gold – Parquet Courts (Dull Tools, 2012)

60. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains (Drag City, 2019)

59. Party – Aldous Harding (4AD, 2017)

58. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven – Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Constellation, 2000)

57. Good Kid MAAd City – Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg, 2012)

56. Modern Kosmology – Jane Weaver (Fire, 2017)

55. Sea Change – Beck (Geffen, 2002)

54. Want One – Rufus Wainwright (DreamWorks, 2003)

53. Original Pirate Material – The Streets (Locked On / 679 Recordings, 2002)

52. Haha Sound – Broadcast (Warp, 2003)

51. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (DFA, 2005)

50. Channel Orange – Frank Ocean (Def Jam, 2012)

49. Oracular Spectacular – MGMT (Red Ink, 2007)

48. Tender Buttons – Broadcast (Warp, 2005)

47. Lost In The Dream – The War On Drugs (Secretly Canadian, 2014)

46. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (XL, 2008)

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

44. Oceans Apart – The Go-Betweens (LO-MAX, 2005)

43. Teen Dream – Beach House (Sub Pop, 2010)

42. Since I Left You – The Avalanches (Modular, 2000)

41. Songs For The Deaf – Queens Of The Stone Age (Interscope, 2002)

40. The Noise Made By People – Broadcast (Warp, 2000)

39. Before Today – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti (4AD, 2010)

38. Rings Around The World – Super Furry Animals (Epic, 2001)

37. Untrue – Burial (Hyperdub, 2007)

36. American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash (American Recordings, 2002)

35. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter (4AD, 2010)

34. Things We Lost In The Fire – Low (Kranky, 2001)

33. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens Asthmatic Kitty, 2015)

32. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys (Domino, 2006)

31. Currents – Tame Impala (Modular, 2015)

30. I Am A Bird Now – Antony & The Johnsons (Secretly Canadian, 2005)

29. White Blood Cells – White Stripes (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 2001)

28. Suburban Light – The Clientele (Pointy, 2000)

27. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips (Warner Bros, 2002)

26. Nixon – Lambchop (Merge, 2000)

25. And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out – Yo La Tengo (Matador, 2000)

24. XTRMNTR – Primal Scream (Creation, 2000)

23. Double Negative – Low (Sub Pop, 2018)

22. Elephant – The White Stripes (V2, 2003)

21. Lonerism – Tame Impala (Modular, 2012)

20. Figure 8 – Elliot Smith (DreamWorks, 2000)

19. In Rainbows – Radiohead (self-released, 2007)

18. Push The Sky Away – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Bad Seed Ltd, 2013)

17. Queen Of Denmark – John Grant (Bella Union, 2010)

16. Third – Portishead (Island, 2008)

15. Have You In My Wilderness – Julia Holter (Domino, 2015)

14. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse (Island, 2006)

13. Geogaddi – Boards Of Canada (Warp, 2002)

12. Come On Feel The Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty, 2005)

11. The Trials Of Van Occupanther – Midlake (Bella Union, 2006)

10. Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea – PJ Harvey (Island, 2000)

9. To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg, 2015)

8. Kid A – Radiohead (Parlophone, 2000)

7. Is This It? – The Strokes (RCA, 2001)

6. Funeral – Arcade Fire (Merge, 2004)

5. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco (Nonesuch, 2001)

4. Sound Of Silver – LCD Soundsystem (DFA, 2007)

3. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (Bella Union, 2008)

2. Let England Shake – PJ Harvey (Island, 2011)

1. Blackstar – David Bowie (ISO / RCA, 2016)



Bill Ainsworth, Camilla Aisa, Michael Bailey (Soft Hearted Scientists), Andy Barratt, Billy Bell, Caroline Binnie, Nick Blakey (Underground Jukebox), Chris Bounds, Holly Boyd, Stephen Boyd, Johnny Browning, David Bruce, Helen Bull, Kevin Byrne, Julie Campbell (LoneLady / Warp Records), Marc (Captain Howdy), Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance), Lucy Clifton, Si Cole, Chris Coleman, Mike Convery, Joe Currie, Campbell Davidson, Laura Lee Davies, Steve Davies, Jon Dennis, Mick Derrick, Neil Douglas, Lionel Duffy, Seamus Duggan, Maureen Dunlop, Peter Ferguson, Jim Ferry, Jason Finch, Declan Flanagan, Feargus Flanagan, Paul Gallagher, Carl Goldspink, Ben Graham, Grasshopper (Sean Mackowiak / Mercury Rev), Darren Grayer, Andrew Hall, Jeff Hartley, Mark Hillier, Robert Hodgens, Dan Holway, Jane Hoskyn, Maartje Jansma, Sophie Jay, James Johnstone, Johnnie Johnstone, Martin Johnstone, Peter Johnstone, Allan Jones, David Keller, Harris King, William Knott, Peter Latimer, Julian Francis Lawton, Paul Lowman, John Marcus, Rob Martindell, Leon Massey, Will McAlpine, Jim McCulloch, Alastair Macduff, Douglas McIntyre, Gary McKenzie, Grant McPhee, Fiona McQuarrie, John Medd, Graham Meikle, Thom Moore, Rob Morgan, Tony Mulraney, Paul Murray, Peter Murray, Huw Neill, Brendan O’Leary, Richard Oxley, Jake Palmer, Thomas Patterson, Mark Paytress, Richard Phillips-Jones, Andy Pidluznyi (New Apostles), Nick Portnell, Brian Randall, Steve Rhodes, Don Richmond, Chris Roberts, Matt Rogers, Coinneach Rooney, Marco Rossi, Martin Ruddock, Chris Sawle, Jo Scollin, Paul Scollin, David Sharp, Amy Shaw, Simon Shaw, Angela Slaven, Jonathan Small, Jason A Spence, Arthur David Spota, Iain Stansfield, Theo Stockman, David Stubbs, Daniel Thompson, Terry Tochel, Ben Travers, Paul Turnbull, Iain Wade, Judah Warsky, Richard Waterson, Stevie Watt, Helen Whiteley-McPhee, Dominic Whittingham, Peter Wilson, Winna Ding, Sandy Wishart, David Wright, Jack Young, Bill Zzuka


The Next 100…

101. You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen

102. Fever To Tell – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

103. Heartbreaker – Ryan Adams

104. Lesser Matters – The Radio Dept

105. One Day I’m Going To Soar – Dexys

106. Born To Die – Lana Del Ray

107. Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle – Bill Callahan

108. I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron

109. Quiet Songs – Jessica Pratt

110. Modern Times – Bob Dylan

111. Monomania – Deerhunter

112. The Great Destroyer – Low

113. Yellow House – Grizzly Bear

114. Teens Of Denial – Carseat Headrest

115. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

116. Insignificance– Jim O’Rourke

117. Chutes Too Narrow – The Shins

118. Relationship Of Command – At The Drive-In

119. Rated R – Queens Of The Stone Age

120. Person Pitch – Panda Bear

121. Let’s Get Out Of This Country– Camera Obscura

122. Shields – Grizzly Bear

123. Brothers – Black Keys

124. Human Performance – Parquet Courts

125. Stay Gold – First Aid Kit

126. Sun Structures – Temples

127. Aerial – Kate Bush

128. Morning Phase – Beck

129. Blonde – Frank Ocean

130. The Next Day – David Bowie

131. Primary Colours – The Horrors

132. Sophtware Slump – Grandaddy

133. On Your Own Love Again – Jessica Pratt

134. The Power Out – Electrelane

135. Riot On An Empty Street – Kings Of Convenience

136. Yeezus– Kanye West

137. Oh Inverted World – Shins

138. The Real New Fall Album (Country On The Click) – The Fall

139. Joy As An Act Of Resistance – Idles

140. Depression Cherry – Beach House

141. Crack Up – Fleet Foxes

142. Abattoir Blues / Lyre Of Orpheus – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

143. Supreme Clientele – Ghostface Killah

144. Black Messiah– D’Angelo

145. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand

146. The Decline Of British Sea Power – British Sea Power

147. Discovery – Daft Punk

148. Post Pop Depression – Iggy Pop

149. Wooden Shjips – Wooden Shjips

150. Hinterland – LoneLady

151. Cole’s Corner – Richard Hawley

152. Campfire Headphase – Boards Of Canada

153. All Mirrors – Angel Olsen

154. We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest

155. Your Queen Is A Reptile – Sons Of Kemet

156. Want Two – Rufus Wainwright

157. Your Future Our Clutter – The Fall

158. Slowdive – Slowdive

159. Hail To The Thief – Radiohead

160. The Age Of The Understatement – Last Shadow Puppets

161. > – Beak

162. The Life Pursuit – Belle & Sebastian

163. Ease Down The Road – Bonnie Prince Billy

164. Ghosteen – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

165. Sung Tongs – Animal Collective

166. Stankonia – OutKast

167. Takk – Sigur Ros

168. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

169. Bisch Bosch – Scott Walker

170. Real Gone – Tom Waits

171. Hot Shots 2 – The Beta Band

172. The xx – The xx

173. A Ghost Is Born – Wilco

174. The Coral – The Coral

175. Tanglewood Numbers – Silver Jews

176. Margerine Eclipse – Stereolab

177. Devotion– Beach House

178. Bravery Repetition & Noise – Brian Jonestown Massacre

179. Beet Maize & Corn – High Llamas

180. Transfiguration Of Vincent – M Ward

181. White Chalk – PJ Harvey

182. The Epic – Kamasi Washington

183. Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective

184. Cucumber – Sexual Objects

185. Arular – MIA

186. Dongs Of Sevotion – Smog

187. My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura

188. Designer – Aldous Harding

189. Ghosts Of The Great Highway – Sun Kil Moon

190. Let It Come Down – Spiritualized

191. Bavarian Fruit Bread – Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions

192. Titanic Rising – Weyes Blood

193. Rest – Charlotte Gainsbourg

194. Slow Summits – The Pastels

195. The Age Of Adz – Sufjan Stevens

196. Do Hollywood – Lemon Twigs

197. Kaputt – Destroyer

198. Ballad Of The Broken Seas – Isobel Campbell / Mark Lanegan

199. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

200. The English Riviera – Metronomy


And now for something completely different…

One Vote Wonders

Over 500 titles received only one vote. Here are 100 of the more interesting nominations…

Hinterland – Aim

Always – Anti-Socialites

Drukqs – Aphex Twin

Citrus – Asobi Seksu

Moo You Bloody Choir – Augie March

David Axelrod– David Axelrod

Jackleg Devotional To The Heart – Baptist Generals

Disintegration Loops – William Basinski

Every Step’s A Yes – The Bees

The Owl’s Map – Belbury Poly (Jim Jupp)

Antlers And The Sun And All The Things That Grow Old And Pass Away – Bird By Snow

A Sea Of Trees – The Blue Angel Lounge

Childqueen – Khadja Bonet

Hunter – Anna Calvi

Transverse – Carter Tutti Void

Popcorn Doublefish – Malcolm Catto

The Longest River – Olivia Chaney

X-Pianos – Chassol

The Cherry Blossoms – The Cherry Blossoms

Cheval Sombre – Cheval Sombre

Black Ships Ate The Sky – Current 93

Working Class Woman – Marie Davidson

You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine – Death From Above 1979

A Long Losing Battle With Eloquence & Intimance – Dredd Foole

Runout Groove – Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time

Here’s My Song, You Can Have It, I Don’t Want It Anymore / Yours 4-Ever – Nicolai Dunger

Allegranza! – El Guincho

We Are All From Somewhere Else – Exploding Star Orchestra

Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever – Felix da Housecat

La Reproduction – Arnaud Fleurent-Didier

Record Collector – The Foreign Films

Insides – Fort Romeau

Personal Record – Eleanor Freidberger

Cabinet Of Curiosities – Jacco Gardner

Pop – Gas

Ghost Dog (The Way Of The Samurai) – Original Soundtrack

Underdog World Strike – Gogol Bordello

The Days Of Mars – Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russon

Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs – Henry Gorecki / Beth Gibbons

The Art Of Funerary Violin – The Guild Of Funerary Violinists

Y Dydd Olaf – Gwenno

In The Pink Of Condition – H. Hawkline

Fletcher Moss Park – Matthew Halsall

Black Blues – Keiji Hano

Excavation – The Haxan Cloak

Bright Penny – Liam Hayes & Plush

Health – The Heavy Blinkers

Chiaroscuro – Arve Henriksen

Proto – Holly Herndon

Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry

Edge Of A Dream – Bert Jansch

Black Origami – Jlin

Orpheé – Johann Johannson

100 Days, 100 Nights – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Take Me Apart – Kelela

Dracula Boots – Kid Congo Powers & The Monkey Birds

Kite – Steven Lindsay

Nerve Up – LoneLady

Hoverance- Raleigh Long

I Trawl The Megahertz– Paddy McAloon

Something For The Weakened – Meursault

MM Food – MF Doom

Les Revenants – Mogwai

The Moldy Peaches – The Moldy Peaches

Morgan Delt – Morgan Delt

Nichts Muss – Barbara Morgenstern

Entranced Earth – The Myrrors

Songs III: Bird On The Water – Marissa Nadler

Variations On A Theme – Om

Forroleidescope – Orquestra do Fuba

Heavy Rain – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Reachy Prints – Plaid

Music For Small’s Lighthouse – Plinth

Moses On A Snail – Robert Pollard

Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder) – Poltergeist

Paranoic Critical – Port Sulphur

The Two Worlds – Brigid Mae Power

1992 – Princess Nokia

The Dark Realities Of The Moment – Professor Brian Oblivion

Matador Singles ’08 – Jay Reatard

Because Her Beauty Is Raw & Wild – Jonathan Richman

The Colossus – RJD2

A Wonder Working Stone – Alasdair Roberts & Friends

Hope Downs – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

How To Live With A Phantom – Shintaro Sakamoto

Live In The Earth: In Dub Chapter 2 – Sandoz

Coping Mechanisms – Si Schroeder

The Bells Of 1 2 – Sol Seppy

Whorl – Simian Mobile Disco

Ascent – Six Organs Of Admittance

EARS – Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve – The Soft Bounce

His Hands – Candi Staton

Funeral Mariachi – Sun City Girls

Pyroclasts – Sunn O)))

Bastard – Tyler The Creator

Thing Of The Past – Vetiver

Turning To The Rooster – Vibracathedral Orchestra

Also In White – Bill Wells Trio

Briarwood – Wooden Wand

Songbook – Woodpigeon

2 thoughts on “TNPC presents The 100 GREATEST ALBUMS OF THE 21st CENTURY

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