Getting nearer the business end…

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

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70
James Holden – ‘The Inheritors’
(2013, Border Community)

Holden has created an evolutionary dreamtime of futurist paganism, based on William Golding’s novel of the same name. It’s familial yet simultaneously strange, traversing both the topography of an alien planet and the pastoral English countryside. From powdery polyrhythms to oscillating, whip-cracking angular noise constructed from chimerical instruments, it’s a self-built blend of analogue and digital which seems to have a life force all of its own. A masterwork. Anna Wilson

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69
Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’
(2010, Transgressive)

Between an itchy, fidgety debut and their slightly swollen, less-satisfying third LP ‘Holy Fire’ came this Oxford five-piece’s indisputable masterpiece, a set on which their complexities intersected with developed pop nous to stunning effect. Unafraid to get funky on ‘Miami’, and able to delve into textural intimacy on ‘Spanish Sahara’, this set explores its makers’ nuances in a way that wasn’t apparent on its predecessor, which seemed to place style over substance. So such problem on ‘Total Life Forever’, an album that rivets today as it did on release. Mike Diver

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68
Fever Ray – ‘Fever Ray’
(2009, Rabid)

Karin Dreijer Andersson advances the anonymous author concept of The Knife so far that on her solo debut she has become almost a ghost. Her voice continues its sinuous filtered manipulations, affected, genderless yet unequivocally feminine in tone. This is a clammy, claustrophobic album, insular, introspective, and nocturnal; a postpartum document of sleep deprivation and drone-filled banality. Despite its sluggish somnambulism it remains an electric, influenza-tinged, druidic dream. Anna Wilson

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67
Antony And The Johnsons – ‘I Am A Bird Now’
(2005, Rough Trade)

A Mercury success story, ‘I Am A Bird Now’ leapt 119 places in the UK albums chart after it won the 2005 prize. An elegant and elegiac listen, fractured of form, it perhaps was never intended for mainstream exposure – and, certainly, creative core Antony Hegarty has struggled to follow it up with another record of such soul-stealing power. Hegarty’s voice is the star, both stunningly forceful and delicate of impression, and on ‘You Are My Sister’ it slow-dances with the cracking tones of Boy George most incredibly. Mike Diver

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66
Wild Beasts – ‘Two Dancers’
(2009, Domino)

If debut album ‘Limbo, Panto’ marked the emergence of Wild Beasts’ unkempt talent, then 2009’s ‘Two Dancers’ would spark the first signs of the beauty associated with its full flowering. A remarkable achievement, it balances windswept arrangements, ornate lyricism and stark emotional directness to achieve something almost entirely unique in its era. Sounding utterly distinct, ‘Two Dancers’ is the crux upon which Wild Beasts progressed from being an interesting curio into a truly fascinating creative force. Robin Murray

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65
These New Puritans – ‘Hidden’
(2010, Angular/Domino)

I thought of them, to begin with, as standoffish scenesters happy for just a little hype. That was 2008, and the spiky riffs of ‘Beat Pyramid’, an album of fashionable motifs possessing just a couple of set-saving standouts. But then this happened, and my whole opinion on These New Puritans totally changed. Forget more of the same: ‘Hidden’ is wholly lethal, suggesting that its predecessor was a clever power-play, a move to engage with listeners on a level they’d understand before completely scrambling their grey matter with a follow-up completely unlike any other record released in 2010. Or 2009. Or 1909. Or 2014. Sub bass meets razor-sharp percussion, woodwind smacks lips against chainmail and a melon being popped by a hammer, and Jack Barnett’s distanced vocals make more sense here, positioned in a mix that uses each element to benefit the whole, than they ever did over a more ‘typical’ art-rock backing. Spend too long amongst these songs, and you might never find your way out. Mike Diver

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64
Justice – ‘Cross’
(2007, Ed Banger)

If you don’t know, you weren’t there. For me: Primavera 2007. Before then, I’m not sure I got it. After, ‘Cross’ was nailed to my iPod for weeks, my head replaying the Barcelona scenes over, and over. On paper, this is a pretty simple dance album, rippling with slinky house and digital funk, albeit one with some notable ambition – an “opera-disco”, in the words of its makers. But once you’ve been there in the flesh, in an almighty throng and making a bunch of strangers your new best friends, yeah… Then it all comes together and you’re struck: this is magnifique. Mike Diver

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63
Zomby – ‘Where Were U In ’92?’
(2008, Werk Discs)

Airhorn. After a series of dubstep 12”s first surfaced on Hyperdub, sounds of the jungle / ‘ardkore permeated the first full-length LP from the man behind the mask. Arriving on Actress’s Werkdiscs, the nostalgic cuts are feverishly sketched-out, often at only two minutes or less. Injecting jungle into southern US bounce (say whaat?) came mesmerising reworks of Gucci Mane’s ‘Pillz’ and Daft Punk, while the rest of the tracks reinforce his ethos of “f*ck mixing, let’s dance”, which is pretty easy when you’re listening to this album. Let’s be honest, the producer himself was probably barely out of nappies in the early 1990s, but this album revealed a startling aptitude for referencing that golden era of rave. Felicity Martin

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62
Machinedrum – ‘Vapor City’
(2013, Ninja Tune)

Travis Stewart is a beast. A heavy-hitting, prolific beast. ‘Vapor City’, his ninth full-length offering, saw him penning his dreams down – those of an imagined city and its various districts through which we are permitted to roam. The first track, ‘Gunshotta’, triggers an electric shock to the system with its ragga vocal samples and jungle-juke rhythm – it’s a straight-up, no-frills banger. While the rest of the album doesn't bang quite so hard, it’s made up of the melancholic, slow-fast stock that’s put Stewart on top of his game for quite a while now. Felicity Martin

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61
Drake – ‘Thank Me Later’
(2010, Young Money)

His best? For my (not-so-young) money, sure, but others will turn to Drake’s later albums as examples of the Canadian rapper hitting peak form. There’s something about ‘Thank Me Later’ though, something that can only come with the winning relationship of MC and producer. Most of the (at times super minimal) production here is handled by Noah ‘40’ Shebib, at the time barely known – but ‘Thank Me Later’ elevated both Drake and his production partner to new levels of recognition. This is late-night rhyming, afterhours emoting set to wispy beats and melancholic keys. Softer-hearted than so many of his mainstream rap peers, this is Drake before the spiteful swagger of ‘Nothing Was The Same’, a younger artist whose fears and dreams are equally manifested in his assured but cautious wordplay. Mike Diver

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Previous entries:

100-91
90-81
80-71

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