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.

Erik Gonzalez 100, #100 ‘The Lonesome Crowded West’ by Modest Mouse

So, here is the first in the Erik Gonzalez 100, list of my 100 favorite albums of all time. Remember, this isn’t supposed to be a “best” or “important” or “influential” albums list, just the albums that I have liked the most over my 31 odd years. If you want a refresher on how I scored the albums, see my introduction to the EG 100. Specifically, the equation for each album looks like this:

((4*GS)-((BS)+(0.25*FS)))^3+R^2+2*T+0.5*A+0.75*O

Where, GS = good song proportion, BS = bad song proportion, FS = filler song proportion, R = repeat listening ability, T = timelessness, A = album art, O = place in the artist’s oeuvre.

The score is weighted heavily towards the quality of the songs and the ability to hear said songs over and over, thus being a “favorite”. An album with a perfect score on all accounts would score a 196.5. To give you an idea of the range, the #1 album scored a 162.1 out of 196.5, while #100 scored 77.06.

And here we go!

Special Note 7/29/08: Due to the fact that I’ve discovered it will take me a long time to write ten of these summaries before posting, we’re trying a new strategy of posting them one at a time. Enjoy!

#100. Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West (1997)

I distinctly have this memory of not having any idea what to make of Modest Mouse when I first heard the band when I was in college. Sure, lots of the “people who mattered” were talking about the band in hushed voiced, trying to guard the band for themselves, but whenever I tried to sit down and listen to The Lonesome Crowded West, I was struck with the, well, cacophonous and amateur sounding nature of the whole endeavor. Not really sure what to do with this information, I decided just to ignore Modest Mouse until it went away. Needless to say, this tactic didn’t work too well, and no sooner than had I purchased the 3 CD Matador retrospective Everything is Nice did I finally heard “Heart Cooks Brain” with fresh ears – well, in that I had no idea it was Modest Mouse. And times being what they were, I was very surprising to discover this was the “Modest Mouse” I kept on thinking was a bunch of rabid monkeys banging on instruments (in a sense, they are). I finally, at that point years after its release, break down and buy The Lonesome Crowded West and each listen makes me like it more and more. Admittedly, it is not an easy album to listen to as music goes. Isaac is fairly aggressive and angular at times, both lyrically and musically, but at other points the band puts together some fabulous, dare I say, pop songs (all the hipsters gasp). It was pretty much after The Lonesome Crowded West came out that Modest Mouse began its rapid rise to the top of the pop charts and even added a Smith along the way, but if you really want to start at the right place in their career, this album is where to do it.

Excellent tracks: “Heart Cooks Brain”, “Out of Gas”, “Trailer Trash”, “Jesus Christ was an Only Child”, “Cowboy Dan”, “Truckers Atlas”

EG100 Score: 77.06