29. Teenage Fanclub - Howdy!
Although the so-called "highs" of this album aren't quite as high as other TF albums, this is probably their most consistent outside of Songs From Northern Britain. There's a lot more maturity and subtlety to their songwriting, and it tends to be more of a grower for that reason. But the reward is there for those who stay with it.
28. Elliott Smith - Figure 8
Lots of people were turned off when Elliott discovered what a music studio was, but I think those complaints are largely overhyped. His songwriting is just as strong and the added production and instrumentation allowed for a lot more range in his music.
27. Radiohead - Amnesiac
At first I threw this album off, as many did, as a Kid A throwaway disc. While that's still maybe partly true, that doesn't prevent this from having its own merits. It's even more alienating, more submersive, and a very involved listening experience.
26. The Notwist - Neon Golden
I still think this album is ten times better than Give Up by the Postal Service. I don't know why I always compare the two in my mind, other than both are mostly electronic and pop in nature. This is much less a sunny album, while still having some really catchy melodies to go along with its atmospheric parts.
25. Fugazi - The Argument
Still not their best album (that title will forever belong to Repeater), this is a much more mature Fugazi. This is the sound of a very confident band, making a very confident record.
24. Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling
This is the biggest surprise for me in this list. Mogwai dropped off the map as far as I was concerned and I didn't pay much attention to them. By chance I gave this one a listen and it became my favorite of theirs. They rely less on the post-rock cliche of building crescendos and more on nuances and layers and variety.
23. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
Rarely do bands put out such an incredible record so late in their career. They meld noise, pop, and rock so seemlessly it's almost as if they can do this in their sleep. They are able to expand ideas throughout the album without being overbearing or boring.
22. Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
This is such a hushed album it takes some patience and time to let it unfold and become interesting. It's an album no 17 year old would ever "get." It's about marriage, pain, patience, dancing, and all around growing up. Very much best listened to in the late evening in the dark.
21. Spoon - Kill the Moonlight
The best explanation I've seen or heard about this album, is that it's as if the band members were playing jenga with these songs, seeing how much they could take out while still keeping everything in tact. Almost like the Young Marble Giants, they take pop, simplify it as much as possible, and make some really addicting music.
20. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
Unlike anything I'd ever heard before it, this album - and particularly one of my top 5 songs of the decade, the opener "Leaf House" - was an album that made me rethink things about music and what was possible. It's so weird to the average person, they'd think you were on crack for liking it. But it makes me feel so unhibited, and so free and happy because of the very fact that I not only can like it, and even love it, but that I very sincerely DO.