The Best of the ’00s Part 10: #10-1

My favorite of the decade! Thanks for memories!

10 The Blow – Paper Television (2006) (left) – Maybe I’m just fond of synth pop, but when Mikhaela and Jona decided to write pop songs, the result was 10 songs of perfection. This is what happens when a band decides that all the dabbling and wandering in music noise just isn’t working, so maybe writing songs that go somewhere is the way to go.

9 The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001) – It made the White Stripes huge, it brought the so-called “garage sound” to the forefront and still sounds as fresh as it did when it came out.

8 Ted Leo/Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak (2003) – If there is anything I am susceptible to, musically, beyond the usual synth pop, it is power pop. The ’90s was dominated by the likes of Matthew Sweet, but if anyone took the baton of power pop rock, it was Ted Leo. Hearts of Oak a few of the most epic pop songs of the decade, including “The Ballad of the Sin Eater” and “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” Every decade needs someone who knows how to (a) rock and (b) do it with style.

7 Bright Eyes – Lifted (2002) – It might not be the most polished of Conor’s efforts, it might not be the most raw of his oeuvre, but the Lifted was the the most satisfying of the bunch. I mean, Conor was really prolific over the last 10 years, with his ups and downs, but really, like Alex Rodriguez, he’s still only 29 with an amazing track record. Who knows where his career might go in the teens.

6 Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003) – OK, so he didn’t retire like he said. However, he did put the energy you might expect from someone trying to leave on top of his game into The Black Album, leaving pretty much every other rapper in the dust. However, like MJ or the Rocket, Jay-Z couldn’t stay away (to mixed results).

5 Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030 (2000) (right) – I might be just piled praise on The Black Album, but here I am ranking another hip-hop album higher. Why is that? Del the Funkee Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Damon Albarn put together what is possible the only hip-hop/electro space opera – all set in the year 3030. Is this a nerd’s dream come true? Yes, yes it is.

4 Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala (2007) – How does a Swedish singer make the best Afro-rock-pop album of the last decade? How does he inherit the Graceland gene from Paul Simon over 20 years after the fact? Beats me. However, there is so much to enjoy on Night Falls Over Kortedala, solid through-and-through. Over the last 5 years, “Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo” might have taken over for “You are the Light” as my most played song.

3 Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (2004) – Did any debut album of the ’00s have the impact of Franz Ferdinand? If you’re looking for a candidate for the most complex and satisfying pop hit of the decade, you really don’t have to look further than “Take Me Out.” I think Pitchfork nailed it when they described it as a good Brit pop song that Franz Ferdinand found a great song inside.

2 Postal Service – Give Up (2003) – Alright, so maybe another debut had a bigger impact. Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard took synth pop to correspondence college and we ended up with the most slyly infectious album of the decade. Of course, the timing of Give Up‘s release seem to sync up with my life in the first half of the decade, leaving me turning to it for the extreme ups and downs that dominated the Corvallis/Seattle days. I’m not entirely sure how the Postal Service will be remembered – I think it is Sub Pop’s best selling album ever, beating out Nirvana’s Bleach, and we may never see another Postal Service album again, but the ’00s wouldn’t have been the same with it.

1 LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver/45:33 (2007) (left) – Really, was their any question (OK, maybe there was). James Murphy took electronic music, spun it around, dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st century and produced what was the most nuanced and captivating album of the decade. He went from bombastic (“North American Scum”) to enthralling (“All My Friends”) to sardonic (“New York I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down”) to downright tender (“Someone Great”) – it was hard to find fault with Sound of Silver, it felt like an album that needed to be made. And we’re all better off because of it.

Here’s the iMix for #10-1.

See the rest of the Top 100.

And a happy 2010 to everyone!


The Best of the ’00s Review: #100-11

Yes, we’ve made it to the top. In all honesty, the end of the decade kind of snuck up on me. I didn’t even realize it until I started seeing articles like “team of the decade” or “the best gadgets of the ’00s”. It is a little strange to think I started the decade as a first year graduate student sleeping on a couch and finished as a assistant professor who knows a house. Go figure, eh? Anyway, this is not a post about me in review, but rather to finish off my favorite 100 albums of the decade. Lets review!

  • 100: Jarvis Cocker: Further Complications
  • 99: The Walkmen: Bows + Arrows
  • 98: Bon Savants: Post Rock Defends the Nation
  • 97: Maximo Park: A Certain Trigger
  • 96: The Shins: Oh, Inverted World
  • 95: The Knife: Deep Cuts
  • 94: Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head
  • 93: Papas Fritas: Buildings & Grounds
  • 92: Gogol Bordello: Gypsy Punks
  • 91: Tiger Saw: Sing!
  • 90: The Anniversary: Your Majesty
  • 89: Girl Talk: Feed the Animals
  • 88: Andrew WK: I Get Wet
  • 87: Beck: Sea Change
  • 86: Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend
  • 85: Jose Gonzalez: Veneer
  • 84: The Walkmen: You & Me
  • 83: Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Its Blitz
  • 82: Sigur Ros: ( )
  • 81: M.I.A.: Arular
  • 80: Breeders: Title TK
  • 79: Amon Tobin: Supermodified
  • 78: Passion Pit: Manners
  • 77: Xiu Xiu: Fabulous Muscles
  • 76: The Faint: Danse Macabre
  • 75: New Pornographers: Mass Romantic
  • 74: Hot Chip: Made in the Dark
  • 73: Yacht: I Believe In You. Your Magic is Real.
  • 72: Ratatat: Remixes Vol. 1 & 2
  • 71: Tilly & the Wall: Wild Like Children
  • 70: Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
  • 69: Hot Chip: The Warning
  • 68: Patrick Wolf: The Magic Position
  • 67: Various: Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
  • 66: Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
  • 65: Konono No.1: Congotronics
  • 64: Mclusky: Do Dallas
  • 63: The Black Keys: Thickfreakness
  • 62: Bright Eyes: I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
  • 61: The Pipettes: We are the Pipettes
  • 60: Badly Drawn Boy: About a Boy
  • 59: Johnny Cash: American III
  • 58: M.I.A.: Kala
  • 57: Xiu Xiu: The Air Force
  • 56: Rhymefest: Blue Collar
  • 55: Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More with Feeling
  • 54: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • 53: Peter, Bjorn & John: Writer’s Block
  • 52: Portishead: Third
  • 51: The Horrors: Primary Colours
  • 50: Suburban Kids with Biblical Names: #3
  • 49: Rilo Kiley: The Execution of All Things
  • 48: Desaparecidos: Read Music/Speak Spanish
  • 47: Cats on Fire: The Province Complains
  • 46: Los Campesinos!: Sticking Fingers into Sockets/Hold On Now, Youngster…
  • 45: Clint Mansell/Kronos Quartet: Requiem for a Dream
  • 44: Weezer: Weezer (2001)
  • 43: Arcade Fire: Funeral
  • 42: Dizzee Rascal: Maths + English
  • 41: The Thermals: The Body, the Blood, the Machine
  • 40: Death Cab for Cutie: Plans
  • 39: White Stripes: De Stijl
  • 38: Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights
  • 37: Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock and Roll
  • 36: Jens Lekman: When I Said I Wanted to be Your Dog
  • 35: Metric: Old World Underground, Where are You Now?
  • 34: White Stripes: Elephant
  • 33: Morrissey: You are the Quarry
  • 32: New Pornographers: Electric Version
  • 31: Blue Scholars: Blue Scholars
  • 30: Die Fantastischen Vier: Fornika
  • 29: The Rapture: Echoes
  • 28: Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism
  • 27: Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell
  • 26: The Strokes: Is This It?
  • 25: LCD Soundsystem: LCD Soundsystem
  • 24: TV on the Radio: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
  • 23: Unicorns: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
  • 22: Radiohead: Kid A
  • 21: Islands: Return to the Sea
  • 20: Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor
  • 19: Radiohead: Amnesiac
  • 18: Interpol: Antics
  • 17: Tullycraft: Disenchanted Hearts Unite
  • 16: Decemberists: Picaresque
  • 15: Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica
  • 14: The Streets: A Grand Don’t Come for Free
  • 13: Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
  • 12: Beta Band: Hot Shots II
  • 11: Beirut: Gulag Orkestar

#10-1 coming soon!

The Best of the ’00s Part 9: #20-11

Into the top 20!

20 Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor (2006) (left) – I know the rest of the universe appreciates Lupe, but I feel that within my circle of music-oriented friends, Lupe goes underappreciated. Of course, any rapper that wants to work giant robots into their rhymes, well, I am all over it.

19 Radiohead – Amnesiac (2001) – Radiohead pulled the throttle back a bit on the full-on synth-rock sound and got it so right. I find myself listening to Amnesiac more than any other Radiohead album, and that includes OK Computer. Go figure.

18 Interpol – Antics (2004) Even the creepy video for “Evil” couldn’t stop me from being one of the few that think that Antics far outshines their debut.

17 Tullycraft – Disenchanted Hearts Unite (2005) – I’ll be the first to admit, my personal experience in Seattle between 2004-06 plays a very large role for Tullycraft’s high ranking. However, Disenchanted Hearts Unite is the gold standard for indie pop of the decade.

16 Decemberists – Picaresque (2005) – “Mariner’s Revenge Song” is worth the price of admission. More than worth it. You get a bonus with any purchase.

15 Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica (2000) (right) – It is hard to believe that in the ten years since the turn of the century, Modest Mouse has become a mainstream, arena rock band after starting as a Pacific Northwest oddity. Sure, the later albums were the ones that made the Mouse famous, but The Moon & Antarctica still gives me chills.

14 The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come for Free (2004) – Mike Skinner has had a very up-and-down decade, a least musically. The Streets debut was solid, yet somewhat inaccessible outside the garage scene. All the albums since A Grand Don’t Come for Free have been a bit of a mish-mash of ambition. However, A Grand Don’t Come for Free, a hip-hop concept album, worked on so many levels, right down to the show-stopping final song “Empty Cans”.

13 Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (2005) – To me, Silent Alarm might be the album that captures the mood of the decade.

12 Beta Band – Hot Shots II (2001) – I saw the Beta Band in Eugene, Oregon in the early 2002 and it still stands today as by far the best live show I saw in the last 10 years. I usually find myself getting bored at live shows, but the Beta Band kept me absolutely captivated for hours – and I wished they went on. It is hard for me to imagine the decade without the Beta Band playing as my soundtrack.

11 Beirut – Gulag Orkestar (2006) (left) – I can’t even take credit for finding this one. Susan picked this out at Amoeba in Berkeley mostly based on the little review on the front. We popped it into the CD player in my car and I was stunned – where had this been all my life? Seems like things in my life like to run in parallel.

Here is the iMix for #20-11.

And a recap: And if you missed them, here are #100-9190-8180-7170-6160-5150-4140-31, 30-21.

The Best of the ’00s Part 8: #30-21

Almost there!

30 Die Fantastischen Vier – Fornika (2007) (left) – Yes, I did include a German hip-hop album on the list … and in the top 30 no less. And sure I maybe understand 4 words in the whole album, but Die Fantastischen Vier (the Fantastic Four) might have stumbled into the best “aging hip hop stars” album this side of The Black Album.

29 The Rapture – Echoes (2003) – Funny how a little DFA magic can take a good band and turn them into a great band. The opening half of the album is as epic as they come.

28 Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003) – And on the flipside, the opening three tracks of Transatlanticism might be some of the bleakest of the decade. I really wasn’t an obsessive Death Cab fan like many of the rest of my friends, but it gnawed at me for months – all it needed was a good breakup to take over.

27 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003) – There were an awful lot of “hype bands” over the decade – thank you NME – and lots didn’t come close to living up to it. However, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs might be one of the biggest exceptions. Any attempt to compile the best songs of the decade necessitates having “Maps” near the very top.

26 The Strokes – Is This It? (2001) – It is hard to remember now, but when Is This It? came out back in 2001, it was stunning. Music had become so bloated and pretentious that this album sounded like a game-changer (and it more or less was). You could almost believe that the album was recorded in a few days – a perfect pop record for a music scene in need of one.

25 LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (2005) (right) – It was only the beginning – and between James Murphy and Kanye West, Daft Punk has become more popular than ever.

24 TV on the Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (2004) – Right about now, many people are wondering how this list made it so far without any TV on the Radio. It is not that I don’t like the other TV on the Radio albums – I do – but they never really stuck with me like Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes did. Is it unfair to compare about the ouvre of the band? Yes. Does it happen anyway? Sure.

23 Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone (2004) – It is a little hard to come up with words for this short-lived band and this album: a fantastical indie rock epic into the land of wind and ghosts? That might be close enough.

22 Radiohead – Kid A (2000) – A lot of people didn’t like it when Radiohead decided to ditch the guitars for a while and become a synth/goth band, but I wasn’t one of them. Kid A is the most twisted album in the Radiohead lexicon, and that says something.

21 Islands – Return to the Sea (2006) (left) – After the Unicorns came the Islands, and Return to the Sea was so devilishly entertaining (and catchy) that you’d wish that they’d bothered to not get lost ever since. That and Islands introduced me to Busdriver.

Here is your iMix for #30-21.

And a recap: And if you missed them, here are #100-9190-8180-7170-6160-5150-41, 30-41.

The Best of the ’00s Part 7: #40-31

On we go!

40 Death Cab for Cutie – Plans (2004) (left) – Fact: I listened to “Marching Bands of Manhattan” on my way to my Seattle bus stop every day for almost 5 months. And I’d do it again.

39 The White Stripes – De Stijl (2000) – The first of three from Jack & Meg on my list, probably the rawest and could easily have fallen almost anywhere in the top 40.

38 Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (2002) – It is odd, I thought that their debut would have fared better in my mind than the 38 slot, but here we are. Maybe I’m just not as dark as I was 8 years ago.

37 Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock and Roll (2006) – Really, this album is pure pop fluff. Not that it is pop music as such – closer to post-punk than anything, but at least at this stage of the Art Brut career arc, they still existed as almost a novelty. That being said, “Emily Kane” might have been one of the catchiest songs of the decade.

36 Jens Lekman – When I Said I Wanted to be Your Dog (2004) – Not to say this was a transformative album for me, but “You are the Light (By Which I Travel into This and That)” could be the song I listened to the most in the first half of the decade.

35 Metric – Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003) (right) – It is hard for me to deny the fact that a large portion of my love for Metric lies with Emily Haines. So I won’t.

34 The White Stripes – Elephant (2003) – I think I read somewhere that “Seven Nation Army” might be the most downloaded song of the 2000s. Is this really a surprise? However, it is “Ball & Biscuit” that really stands out on the White Stripes top 10 smash.

33 Morrissey – You are the Quarry (2004) – Would you have guessed that Moz would have such a late career surge? Yeah, probably. He is the Sinatra of modern rock – just look for his “Duets” album sometime around 2018.

32 New Pornographers – Electric Version (2003) – I think I’ve already mentioned the idea that the New Pornographers, in my mind, have always been better than the sum of their parts. I’ve tried to get into all the Neko Case or Destroyer or  A.C. Newman albums, but nothing gets me going like all their powers working together.

31 Blue Scholars – Blue Scholars (2006) (left) – Very few people outside of Seattle have likely ever heard of the Blue Scholars, and yes, I am likely subconsciously biased by an hip hop act with an MC called Geologic, but the Blue Scholars debut was enthralling from start to finish (especially “No Rest for the Weary”).

Here is the iTunes iMix for #40-31.

And if you missed them, here are #100-9190-8180-7170-6160-51, 50-41.

The Best of the ’00s Part 6: #50-41

Ah well, Christmas stepped in the way of the top half of my favorite albums of the 2000s, so now I need to get caught up … look for #50-1 between now and Friday!

50 Suburban Kids with Biblical Names – #3 (2006) (left) – Now, here is a real hidden gem, even if one song has been ruined by persistent use in Toyota Prius’ ads.

49 Rilo Kiley – The Execution of All Things (2002) – Jenny Lewis started the decade off with a bang, but, at least to me, seems to be down hill from there. I don’t really understand the fascination with 70s soft/country rock that grasped Jenny, but at least in The Execution of All Things, Rilo Kiley was still a solid rock band that captured grandeur in a tiny package.

48 Desaparecidos – Read Music, Speak Spanish (2002) – Speaking of people with odd soft rock obsessions, Conor Oberst caught that disease, too. However, before he got there, he had a dalliance with punk, resulting in one of the best one-off albums of the decade.

47 Cats of Fire – The Province Complains (2007) – Finnish alternative rock! Maybe I am biased, but it knocked my socks off.

46 Los Campesinos! – Sticking Fingers into Sockets/Hold On Now, Youngster … (2007/08) – OK, yes, I cheated here by combining Los Campesinos! debut EP with their debut album and if you don’t like it, well, too bad. They definitely get the award for best song title of the decade with “We throw Parties, You Throw Knives”.

45 Clint Mansell/Kronos Quartet – Soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream (2000) (right)- Didn’t see this one coming, did you? If you think you haven’t heard this, you’re wrong considering how many movie trailers have used music from Requiem for a Dream. Not only that, but former PWEI leader Clint Mansell was reborn as a movie scorer thanks to Darren Aronofsky.

44 Weezer – Weezer (2001) – Rivers Cuomo was dubbed the “savior of rock” after half a decade of rap-metal when “The Green Album” came out in 2001 – and rightly so. Weezer made what could only be called a 21st century Beach Boys album, combining the moodiness of Pinkerton with the pop of Weezer’s debut.

43 Arcade Fire – Funeral (2005) – David Bowie for a new generation, right down to the strange VH1 duet with Bowie himself on “Wake Up”.

42 Dizzee Rascal – Maths + English (2007) – Many people ranked Dizzee’s debut Boy in Da Corner higher, but Maths + English combined Dizzee’s solid skills with production that was accessible to anyone on both sides of the Atlantic (although the US still missed out on “Pussy’ole (Old Skool)” on their version of Maths + English).

41 The Thermals – The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006) (left) – We all make mistakes, and I stuck out with my first review of the Thermals concept album. Sorry Hutch & Kathy!

Here is the iTunes iMix for #50-41.

And if you missed them, here are #100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61 and 60-51.

The Best of the ’00s Part 5: #60-51

We’ve made it halfway … !

60 Badly Drawn Boy – About a Boy (2002) (left) – Both the soundtrack and movie were unjustly ignored by many during the decade – the movie was probably the high point of Hugh Grant’s career and the soundtrack had some of the best songs that Badly Drawn Boy have ever recorded (even a Christmasy tune!) Maybe it helped that the soundtrack never had a chance to get bogged with a lot of the filler that most Badly Drawn Boy albums are burdened.

59 Johnny Cash – American III (2000) – The third of the Rick Rubin Era albums has J.R. Cash covering Nick Cave and U2 along with duetting with Will Oldham. Can it get any better? Not really. This was the high point of the Cash revival years where he nailed both the classic country songs and the modern rocks songs he made his own.

58 M.I.A. – Kala (2006) – M.I.A.’s sophomore album was no slump. More diverse, more experimental and oddly, more popular than Arular, mostly thanks to the long, long warmup of “Paper Planes” into a pop hit.

57 Xiu Xiu – The Air Force (2006) – Yes, I, in fact, have two Xiu Xiu albums on this list. The Air Force is even more disturbing and infectious than its predecessors. “Bishop, CA” is an excellent song for driving late at night on a lonely road if you want to become extremely paranoid of alien abduction or demonic attack. Yes, that is a good thing.

56 Rhymefest – Blue Collar (2006) – Now, if we really want to talk about an album that time forgot, Blue Collar is just that. Did anyone beyond me actually listen to this album? And if not, why? The songs produced by Mick Mark Ronson are bordering on brilliant, stealing from the Strokes and creating a beyond-the-grave duet with ODB (singing”Build Me Up, Buttercup”). Poor lost song of Jay-Z really needs the fates to shine on him.

55 Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Once More With Feeling (2001) (right) – Where would the ’00s be without Joss Whedon? Well, at least my ‘oos. No where, thats where. It actually took me a while to warm up to Once More With Feeling but lo-and-behold, a few years later I’m doing the Buffy sing alongs with the best of them. I imagine many of you might give up on my list right here, but that would be your loss.

54 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! (2005) – When this came out, I think I referred to it as the album David Byrne wishes he made. I still believe that, but I now notice how uneven the album actually is. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with that because when it hits its stride, it really does, but the band has a ways to come back out of the wilderness after their pretty terrible sophomore set.

53 Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block (2007) – There was an awful lot of really great Scandinavian modern rock this decade, wasn’t there?

52 Portishead – Third (2008) – It took so long for this album to come out, I think a lot of people might have expected it needed to be the next coming of Jesus Christ the Album. Luckily, Portishead didn’t just reproduce their last work – they did update their sound with remarkable results.

51 The Horrors – Primary Colours (2009) (left) – The highest ranking album from the current year was a big surprise to me. Their debut was pretty terrible, but the Horrors brought in Chris Cunningham (the video director) to produce some of the album and suddenly they found their Joy Division roots and lost the gimmicky goth pretensions. Is this the next coming of Radiohead? (Probably not, but you never know).

Here is your iTunes iMix for #60-51. Missing from the iMix is Once More with Feeling and Rhymefest, so here are youtube links to make up for it:

Buffy (a great TV rip! … well, no, not great … thank you 20th Century Fox).

Rhymefest: Devil’s Pie

And if you missed it: #70-61, 80-71, 90-81 and 100-91.