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Sweet 16 (Bonus) Top Albums 

Our friends over at Nuvo took on the daunting task of documenting Indiana's top 100 albums. They spent a year listening, researching and documenting albums, and even asked a whole slew of local music brainiacs for input. Their list is formidable. It's solid and there's a lot of love in their picks. There's also an astounding amount of talent represented. They had strict criteria, which kept out Michael Jackson's Off the Wall and Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction, which is good, because, those albums transcend locality. They also limited each band to one album.

But, those tricky bastards, they did something else -- they got everyone talking about Indiana music. Facebook pages, twitter accounts, blog posts and in-person conversations erupted with delight, outrage and awe. "How could you make a list without ____?" or "No ____. No list!" or "Check it out, my band ____ made the list!"

With all due respect, there are a few albums I would like to submit for consideration. I have no idea who I would remove from their list, so let's pretend it's Indiana's Top 116 albums ever! Or, never mind the number, let's just take the opportunity to celebrate Indiana music. There's room for everybody.


click to enlarge Split Lip was influential enough to have a literary magazine named in its honor. - SPLIT LIP
  • Split Lip
  • Split Lip was influential enough to have a literary magazine named in its honor.

Sardina - Presents -- The only full-length offering by ephemeral indie rockers from the early '90s, and widely regarded in my community as one of the single best albums/bands from Indiana. It really was that good.

United States Three - Watergate -- A great mix of fantastic songwriting and interesting engineering make this US3's most mature and accessible album.

Mysteries of Life - Distant Relative -- Indiana's greatest musical export during the '90s, this had national-level success, including appearances on national television. Perfectly simple songs.

Uvula - About What You'd Expect -- My personal favorite on this list remains this quirky, off-kilter rock with lyrics including, "I'm a clown adding pain to this world."

Split Lip - For the Love of the Wounded -- An insanely mature album for a bunch of punk teenagers from Carmel, the band later transformed into Chamberlain.

Gentleman Caller - Until We are Missing -- I've already explained my love of all things Kenny Childers, but it's worth saying again that he's one of Indiana's best songwriters.

click to enlarge After Ice Nine broke up, members played in bands including Time In Malta, The Problematics and The Dream is Dead. - ICE NINE
  • Ice Nine
  • After Ice Nine broke up, members played in bands including Time In Malta, The Problematics and The Dream is Dead.

Antenna - Hideout - This album distills the essence of early '90s Bloomington. It sounds exactly like what it felt like to be there.

Dow Jones and the Industrials - Let's Go Steady! 7" -- The prototype for edgier Indiana music, it includes the regional anti-anthem "Can't Stand the Midwest."

Ice Nine - Psychology and Extreme Violence -- Unrelenting and unforgiving hardcore that should come with a warning label about this band's ability to melt faces.

The Problematics - The Kids All Suck -- An essential garage rock album that's over before you know it. Every song's an anthem including covers of songs by the Gizmos and The Undertones.

Brando - Headless Horseman is a Preacher -- This just may be the most underrated and under-mentioned band from Indiana. It has a 20-plus-year discography, but this is Brando at its best.

June Panic - Baby's Breadth -- While he's deeply linked to the barren ruggedness of North Dakota, June spent a few years crafting songs about god, death and birth here in Indy. Amazing lyrics like, "I'm newfound joy, I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg." (An honorable mention to Horror Vaccui, which was recorded here in Indy).

click to enlarge Otis Gibbs got his start singing in a bar in Wanamaker when he was just 7, thanks to "Uncle" Brisco. - OTIS GIBBS
  • Otis Gibbs
  • Otis Gibbs got his start singing in a bar in Wanamaker when he was just 7, thanks to "Uncle" Brisco.

The Pieces - The Pieces -- For a few years, the Pieces were the biggest band in Indianapolis. Their eponymous album shows off their combined abilities as players, singers and all-around rockers. It sounds especially good on 180 gram vinyl turned up really loud.

Winechuggers - Grand Rapids -- I love Winechuggers so much it hurts sometimes. Grand Rapids shows off the perfectly mopey and self-effacing songwriting of a guy who doesn't just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, he wakes up under it. And it's beautiful.

Otis Gibbs - Joe Hill's Ashes -- Otis is a little like Kurt Vonnegut:  He had to leave Indiana to be truly great. Joe Hill's Ashes is proof of how good he's become as a songwriter and rising voice in contemporary folk music. I have it on good information that he still accidently writes an Indiana address on forms and letters, so there's hope we'll get him back one day.

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About The Author

Ben Shine

Ben Shine

Bio:
Ben Shine markets meaningful nonprofit missions by day and immerses himself in culture by night. A lifelong music lover, he's been to hundreds of concerts, owns thousands of albums and consistently has three different songs going through his head. Unfortunately, one of them is almost always "Take My Breath Away"... more

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