Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2000's

10. Stars, Set Yourself on Fire. Sometimes Stars can be too "cute". But on this album, they resist the urge to be too cutesy and offer up some great though-provoking songs, such as the excellent album opener, "Your Ex-Lover is Dead". The album was eventually covered by several Canadian indie-artists on Do You Trust Your Friends?, thus sealing its legacy as one of the decade's best albums. And after hearing some of the odd interpretations of songs from the album, it makes you appreciate the original album even more.
9. Pete Yorn, Musicforthemorningafter. In a decade that produced dozens of "singer songwriter" douchebags (John Mayer, Jason Mraz), Yorn set himself apart by writing vague lyrics that demanded repeat listens as opposed to the "I got it the first time" songs written by the aforementioned asshats.
8. Radiohead, Kid A. Looking around a lot of "best of 2000's lists", I am finding that Kid A is often ranked at #1. I can see why. Radiohead transformed themselves on this album, after they had transformed themselves on 1997's OK Computer (the best album of that decade), and still managed to sell a shitload of albums while doing it. Kid A not only challenged listeners, it baffled them, which is why I often put Kid A back on the shelf and listened to Computer or The Bends instead. But after years of wearing me down, Kid A has won me over. Songs like "The National Anthem", "How to Disappear Completely", "Optimistic", and "Motion Picture Soundtrack" are some of the best songs the band has ever written. You just won't hear me rave about "Treefingers".
7. Ours, Distorted Lullabies. Ours' frontman, Jimmy Gnecco, has repeatedly been compared to the late Jeff Buckley, and it's as apt a comparison as it is tiresome. Look up any article on the band and you're bound to see the comparison made in the first paragraph. But once you get past the haunting similarities in both singers' voices, you'll find that Ours is more of a Cure-meets-U2-meets-Radiohead blend of melancholy lyrics that somehow uplift instead of depress.
6. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Case doesn't sing songs, she tells stories, and there is no better example of this than the album's first two tracks, "Margaret vs Pauline" and what is perhaps the best song of the decade, "Star Witness". Case's voice is haunting, and so are her lyrics.
5. Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary. Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug hand the mic off to one another on the band's debut, but eerily their voices and lyrics start to blend together over the course of the album as they sing about cities, whales, wedding cakes, fathers, sons and ghosts. It might just be the most challenging album of the 2000's to get into (it took me a couple of years to break through and appreciate the album), but it's also perhaps the decade's most rewarding.
4. Radiohead, In Rainbows. Radiohead returned to glory with this 2007 album, which they released on their own, on a "pay what you want" format. In Rainbows is also a return to an easier Radiohead sound, hearkening back to earlier albums such as The Bends or OK Computer. Whereas Kid A challenges the listener's patience at times, In Rainbows does nothing but satisfy.
3. The Strokes, Is This It. The Strokes brought in the aughts with a much hyped debut album that resurrected post-punk-garage-rock with some pop thrown in for good measure. It was such a good album, that it inspired dozens of bands to adopt similar band names (The Shins, The Stills, The Sounds, etc...) and even rip off some of The Strokes' now-identifiable sound. Is This It is probably the album that best captured the sound of indie rock the 00's.
2. The Walkmen, You & Me. I was torn on this one, but ironically, I was always going to choose from two different Walkmen albums, the other being 2004's Bows + Arrows. Whereas that album has about 5 of the best songs the band has ever recorded on it, it also suffers from some lazy throwaway tracks. That's not the case on You & Me. Every song is a masterpiece, from "Donde Esta La Playa" to the album closer, "If Only it Were True".
1. Arcade Fire, Funeral. This album still gives me goosebumps, right from the first note of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels). Arcade Fire runs the gamut of emotions from loss (hence the album name), sadness, nostalgia, love, and finally, optimism. In a decade of great albums, Funeral is the one I go back to the most, and I'm blown away each time I revisit it.

Contenders: The National, Boxer; Arcade Fire, Neon Bible; Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career; Bloc Party, Silent Alarm; Radiohead, Hail to the Thief.

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