Iconic Indie Rock Albums Turning 20 In October 2023

It’s hard to believe that two decades have passed since we flipped our calendars to the page marked “October 2003.” Although you may not remember much about that specific moment in time, it provided music fans with some incredible records that changed the genre forever.

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Here are three beloved and influential indie rock albums that made a mark on the music world upon their release in October 2003.

Room on Fire, The Strokes

One of the bands at the center of the indie rock rise of the early 2000s was New York City’s glam-but-grunge rock band The Strokes. Although the success of their 2001 debut album Is This It didn’t prevent the group from running into creative battles when working on their follow-up record, the result was worth the stress. Room on Fire spawned three stellar singles, “The End Has No End,” “12:51,” and “Reptilia,” which still rank high among the best of the band’s releases to date.

Transatlanticism, Death Cab for Cutie

The closest thing to indie rock’s version of Queen‘s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in album form, Death Cab for Cutie‘s Transatlanticism shifted the band—and the entire subgenre—into the mainstream. Now-former member Chris Walla molded a near-perfect album, weaving moments of drama and sparseness together to create an emotional and lovelorn magnum opus.

Chutes Too Narrow, The Shins

After earning widespread acclaim for their debut album Oh, Inverted World, indie rock outfit The Shins skipped the sophomore slump with Chutes Too Narrow. Although the record features a slightly glossier sound thanks to production work by Phil Ek, it recaptures the magic of their previous LP and elevates it, leaning further into a guitar-driven soundscape.

Photo of The Strokes by Jason McDonald, Courtesy of Sonic PR

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