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.


The Best of the ’00s Part 2: #90-81

Well, I meant to post 90-81 earlier this week, but hey, I was busy … but here it is now. Enjoy!

90 The Anniversary – Your Majesty (2001) – In the same group as Papas Fritas, the Anniversary’s followup to Designing a Nervous Breakdown was much more in the 70s power pop spectrum than the post-punk emo of their debut. It also happened to be their swansong, but for half of 2001, it was all I listened to.

89 Girl Talk – Feed the Animals (2008) – Much like my best of 2008 list, I feel a little ambivalence towards putting something like Girl Talk on a list of best albums – it is more of a collage of sound that anything. However, that is postmodernism for you, where patische is just as legitimate as anything – and boy, Girl Talk is a blast.

88 Andrew WK – I Get Wet (2002) – Speaking of album that are merely fun, Andrew WK exists in that netherworld where it is hard to tell if its the album or the concept you like. There isn’t really anything that serious on I Get Wet but the amount of energy released by Andrew WK during the course of the album is enough to grab and keep your attention.

87 Beck – Sea Change (2002) – On the flipside, Sea Change was about as subtle an album that Beck has ever recorded – almost like Beck-meets-Nick Drake in its balladry. You might be concerned that such of metamorphosis might not work out, but somehow Beck’s voice works out beautiful in the stripped-down setting.

86 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008) – Sure, they’re another hype band, but kind of like Jens Lekman’s Paul Simon revival, Vampire Weekend borrowed heavily from that Graceland sound – and it ended up working out just fine. The band lived up to a lot of the hype.

85 Jose Gonzalez – Veneer (2005) – You have to love the scandatino, part-Argentine, part-Swedish, Jose Gonzalez channeled his inner Nick Drake to record a heartbreaking set of guitar ballads. Of course, the high points were his genius covers of the Knife’s “Heartbeats” and Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (and a little less impressive cover of Kylie).

84 The Walkmen – You & Me (2008) – Sure, it didn’t have a standout like “The Rat” (see #99), but the overall experience of You & Me was much more solid – it was both accessible and interesting. It had that dusty, echoing sound that is a signature of the Walkmen (and the predecessor Jonathan Fire Eater) but didn’t get bogged down with Dylanesque meanderings.

83 Yeah Yeah Yeah – Its Blitz (2009) – Like a lot of bands, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had a lot to live up to after their debut Fever to Tell and they sounded like they were crushed by the weight with their ponderous sophomore album. Luckily, after that misfire, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were able to cut loose and have some fun. Its Blitz was more new wave than punk rock, but somehow Karen O just seems like a natural for it – sadly, few others like the album as much as I did.

82 Sigur Ros – ( ) (2002) – I got this album out of a free CD bin in my days at KBVR … I’m still at a loss why they didn’t think it was good enough for use on the station. I actually had no idea what to make of it when I popped it in my CD player (it was 2002), but the near-ambient Radiohead-on-tranquilizers sound combined with the bizarre made-up language was mesmerizing. Of course, I’m still amused when I shocked a friend of mine in 2007 when I informed him that the lead singer was, in fact, a guy.

81 M.I.A. – Arular (2005) – There is definitely something undeniably charming about a Sri Lankan female singer/rapper mixing it up with thick synth beats. Sometimes it was hard to follow M.I.A. and her rambunctious nature, but you had to admit that once you did, it was too much fun to avoid.

Here is the iTunes iMix for #90-81.

And check out #100-91 of my favorite albums of the ’00s.

Whatever happened to the Erik Gonzalez 100? #96-91

So, I got a little sidetracked from the Erik Gonzalez 100 – my list of my 100 favorite albums of all time. Now, I’m going try to catchup by posting much shorter comments on each album until we get near the top.

Here goes:

#96 The Faint: Danse Macabre (Saddle Creek Records – 2001) One of the best post-punk electroclash albums ever, sick and slick as everything. The band seems to have lost focus since then, but it is still get listen. Best Songs: “Glass Danse”, “Agenda Suicide”, “Your Retro Career Melted”, “Let the Poison Spill from Your Throat”. EG100 Score: 78.00

#95 Unicorns: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (Alien8 – 2004) – Mischievous and infectious at the same time. It might be close to the perfect nerdcore album (we’ll see the perfect one later on). Best Songs: “I was Born (a Unicorn)”, “Tuff Ghost”, “Sea Ghost”. EG100 Score: 78.014

#94 Curve: Doppelganger (Virgin – 1992) – They lost their fame to Butch Vig’s Garbage, who was more or less a clone of Curve. Toni Halladay was also possibly the hottest modern rock vixen this side of Tanya Donelly in the early ’90s. Best Songs: “Already Yours”, “Fait Accompli”, “Horror Head”. EK 100 Score: 78.123

#93 Billy Bragg: Talking to the Taxman about Poetry (Elektra – 1986) – Billy begins to get a more robust sound after his “electric guitar and mic” days. An excellent mix of love & politics (as the title might imply). Best Songs: “Greetings from the New Brunette”, “There is Power in a Union”, “Help Save the Youth of America”, “The Marriage”. EK100 Score: 78.291

#92 Nirvana: Nevermind (DGC – 1991) – Ok, yes, this seems really low for the seminal album of the ’90s, but I actually rank the Nirvana discography differently than most people (as you will see later). Don’t get me wrong, it is a fabulous, music-changing album, but … Best Songs: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “In Bloom”, “Something in the Way”, “Breed”. EK100 Score: 78.326

#91 M.I.A.: Arular (Interscope – 2005) – You probably either love the album or hate it, but M.I.A. is definitely ear-catching. The album is sort of patchy and is plagued with dreaded  “skits”, but the good songs are grrrreat. Best Songs: “10$”, “Galang”, “Sunshowers”, “Fire Fire”. EK100 Score: 78.375.