Here's a list of the Top 25 Indie Rock Albums. It's not an individual's list. It was based on solicited votes from blog readers. I don't particularly care for the fact that 3 bands show up twice, but I don't think the compiler/poster of the list liked that that much either - it was an earnest attempt at democracy. It's reasonable that Pavement was one of the 3 to make the list with two albums. It's unsurprising that Modest Mouse was one of the 3, and I still just don't get the Pixies.
Nonetheless, it's a pretty good list. Identifying the best indie rock can be a bit challenging because some of the best bands reached a point where they weren't quite so indie. You can take a look at the list yourself if you want to see the actual albums, but the top 10 were from these artists:
7) Postal Service
6) Belle & Sebastian
5) Sonic Youth
4) Modest Mouse
3) Arcade Fire
1) Neutral Milk Hotel
I guess you can make a case for the Minutemen on this list in the same way that you can make a case for the MC5 or the Stooges on a list of great punk bands, but D. Boon had already died before the term "indie rock" was in regular use. Sonic Youth also doesn't work for me on this list even though they did thrive into the indie rock era. You can call them noise rock or underground rock or maybe even college rock, but they just don't fit my definition of indie rock.
I need to dig through my old issues of Option, Sound Choice, and Forced Exposure that I've held onto all these years to see if any of them were using the term indie rock in the 80s. The term independent was definitely in widespread use, and I can't quibble with the notion of indie bands, but I just don't remember anybody talking about "indie rock" in the 80s. Could those of you that remember the 80s weigh in here? I'd like some comments on this.