So close to the top 20…

Clash was born in 2004. To celebrate our 10th anniversary, and imminent 100th issue, we’re counting down the top 100 albums that pretty much everything we do is based on. These are our favourites since we’ve been in the game – and they’re all celebrated players.

Previous entries:

100-91
90-81
80-71
70-61
60-51
50-41
40-31

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30
TV On The Radio – ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’
(2006, 4AD)

The breakthrough, and perhaps still this always ambitious band’s greatest LP to date. ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’ saw the New Yorkers collaborate with early supporter David Bowie, while turns from members of Blonde Redhead and Celebration further fleshed out their sound into a positively symphonic masterpiece of experimental indie-dance dynamics. With sample nods to Massive Attack and ‘Metal Machine Music’, this was both a high-concept work of staggering originality and a gracious acknowledgement of the influences TVOTR bonded over. One of the ‘rock’ albums of the decade, no doubt, and one that can still absorb a listener within its multifaceted form. Mike Diver

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29
Nicolas Jaar – ‘Space Is Only Noise’
(2011, Circus Company)

Aged just 21, Chile-born, New York-based musician Jaar released his debut LP of staggeringly inventive genre-spliced songs to massive and deserved critical acclaim. Incorporating deep house, minimal techno, European lounge pop, hip-hop, jazz and cinematic sound collage, and using his voice more as an astral instrument than vocal, it's a thrillingly textured, surprisingly paced collection of languorous, sun-soaked, spaced-out reveries. It remains absolutely extraordinary. Anna Wilson

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28
Late Of The Pier – ‘Fantasy Black Channel’
(2008, Parlophone)

Where the bloody hell are you, LOTP? Forget the other projects – get the band back together! This post-Klaxons new rave album is bloody marvellous, and we’re overdue a sequel. (Please, pretty please?) ‘Fantasy Black Channel’ is infectious and inspired, unafraid to do whatever the hell it likes in the name of Having A Good Time. It’s like Liars meets Liberace. And c’mon, couldn’t British music do with more of that, right now? Mike Diver

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27
Portishead – ‘Third’
(2008, Island)

What’s 11 years between friends, anyway? Usually enough for the musicians involved to mess everything up and sour their legacy. Not so Portishead: ‘Third’ is a malevolent, mechanical masterwork leant human edge by those wonderful vocals. Just a little unnerving, it’s possibly the sound of the internet being unplugged, terminally. Mike Diver

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26
Beirut – ‘Gulag Orkestar’
(2006, Ba Da Bing!/4AD)

Zach Condon’s debut LP as Beirut, a troupe assembled around said creative core, successfully fused Western songwriting tradition with elements foreign to ears used to rock’s familiar motifs. Incorporating Balkan melodies, ‘Gulag Orkestar’ was a revelation, an eyes-opening introduction to a whole new world of fusion possibilities. Romantic and raw, this is a folk-coloured odyssey unlike anything before it – inspired by misfortune, by suffering, but coming up smelling like all the roses in the Garden of England. Mike Diver

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25
Grimes – ‘Visions’
(2012, Arbutus/4AD)

It’s a distracting beauty. So much of ‘Visions’ is dominated by that stunning surface, wisps of sound that billow out of the speakers, a pastoral yet synthetic approach which almost belies the fragility of the songwriting underneath. Almost, but not quite. Grimes pours herself into ‘Visions’, with the Canadian artist removing all guards to enter some fraught and challenging emotional depths. A stunning juxtaposition, ‘Visions’ remains Clare Boucher’s defining document – the end of her musical adolescence, the beginning of something more. Robin Murray

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24
Caribou – ‘Swim’
(2010, City Slang/Merge)

A broad career side step away from his previous Polaris-winning psychedelia resulted in a fusion master class from Dan Snaith, which became an instant classic upon release. Melding differing dance genre motifs while retaining a semblance of narrative, this is an album, which despite flashes of lyrical darkness, cannot help but make you smile. Sun-bleached synths, fathoms-deep house, linear minimal tech lines and big bouncy disco coalesce into an undulating underwater suite of great beauty. Anna Wilson

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23
Bloc Party – ‘Silent Alarm’
(2005, Wichita)

If ever an album could define a moment in time, then ‘Silent Alarm’ is surely it. Bloc Party’s electrifying live shows raised expectations to feverish levels, with their debut album widely expected to sharply demonstrate the potency of British indie in the mid-’00s. In the end, it almost succeeds. Paul Epworth’s production is crisp yet energetic, while the songwriting has a rare bite. In retrospect perhaps a little one paced, the highs of ‘Silent Alarm’ – ‘Banquet’, the stunningly elegiac ‘So Here We Are’ – remain utterly inspiring. Robin Murray

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22
Vampire Weekend – ‘Vampire Weekend’
(2008, XL)

Though consistently improving with each successive release, Vampire Weekend’s debut remains as fresh, spirited and likely to surprise as it did back in 2008. Their Afro-prep pop was smart, funny, and – in the rhythm section of Chris Baio and Chris Tomson – tight yet thunderous. Ezra Koenig’s wry delivery is charming, his melodies marrying into the decorative features of Rostam Batmangaji, ensuring songs of privilege and pedantry never take themselves too seriously. More party than arty, this was the first step in a journey that’s proven nothing less than thrilling. Simon Harper

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21
The xx – ‘xx’
(2009, Young Turks)

Mainstream pop was suffocating before The xx introduced compelling space to the mix – and nothing’s really been the same since. Yes, this record’s minimalist sound has its many precedents, but the ghostly self-production born of late-night sessions and Romy Croft’s barely sung vocals were intoxicating and have proven a blueprint for any contemporary pop that wears intelligence beside its immediacy. Mike Diver

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The top 20 of this countdown will run at the beginning of 2015 (to allow us breathing space to run our best albums of 2014 before Christmas - OH LOOK, HERE IT IS), with some very special guest writers offering their perspectives on our top 10. Seriously, you’ll love it. Meantime, check out 100-31 via the links below.

100-91
90-81
80-71
70-61
60-51
50-41
40-31

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