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!

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The Best of the ’00s Part 4: #70-61

Away we go …

70 Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002) (left) – It has always amazed me that this band went from “She Don’t Use Jelly” to this – a prog rock epic for the 21st century. Yet, oddly, I have trouble of thinking of a lot of things to say about the album beyond the fact that I like hearing the music.

69 Hot Chip – The Warning (2006) – They started off a little more electrosynth than they have become, but no less fascinating. “And I Was a Boy from School” is a minor epic in synthpop, up there with “Blue Monday” and “It’s a Sin”.

68 Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position (2007) – If Patrick Wolf doesn’t have one of the longest careers of anyone on this list, I would be surprised. Then again, he might also never release another album, that is the way of the musical prodigies like Wolf. This album is so richly textured but it is really the utter brilliance of the the title track that has me returning to The Magic Position.

67 Various Artists – Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2006) – Should I admit I’ve never actually watched the movie from which this soundtrack is culled? No matter, the music is what really matters, with some excellent live performances from Dead Prez, Black Star and a show-stopped by the Roots with Erykah Badu. This would put to rest any argument that hip hop artists aren’t musicians.

66 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (2008) – I suppose the Fleet Foxes are sort of the logical progression from Appalachian folk rock into the realms of alternative rock. Fleet Foxes might be considered Palace Music re-envisioned in a pop music world.

65 Konono No. 1 – Congotronics Vol. 1 (2005) (right) – It is hard to ignore an album made by a bunch of musicians who made most of their instruments from scrap cars on the streets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The music ends up emerging into an almost trancelike universe showing a sort of parallel evolution of sound.

64 Mclusky – Do Dallas (2002) – It must be fun to be a bunch of badasses like Mclusky? I mean, they have the balls to play sounds like “The World Loves Us and Is Our Bitch” or “Fuck this Band”. They were severely underappreciated during their brief, two album, existence, sort of a Welsh version of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.

63 The Black Keys – Thickfreakness (2003) – I’ve always felt a little sorry for the Black Keys. I mean, fundamentally, are they that much different than the White Stripes, musically speaking? Both borrow heavily from guitar-centric blues, both rose out of the indie rock ranks, yet only one became international superstars … and it wasn’t the Black Keys. Did the right band become famous? Maybe … maybe not.

62 Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (2005) – When Bright Eyes released their dual album I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, I was one of the few who liked the electro-pop Digital Urn better than It’s Morning but ah, tastes do change I suppose (although I still think “Easy/Lucky/Free” from Digital Urn is one of Bright Eye’s best songs and videos). I’m not sure I care for the track that Conor Oberst’s career has gone since, but I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning has staying power.

61 The Pipettes – We are the Pipettes (2006) (left) – OK, so maybe The Pipettes are one of those bands that gets a lot of credit because it was constructed of three attractive British female singers. It might have helped a lot. That being said, this sort of soul revival was a very nice welcome in the midst of a very moody decade – this is why I still love my real pop music, no matter what the hipsters try to tell us.

Here is the iTunes iMix for 70-61.

If you’ve missed the rest of the best, here are 80-71, 90-81 and 100-91.

The Best of the ’00s Part 1: #100-91

Now that I’ve gotten the Best of 2009 out of the way, it is time to start the best of the decade. Well, that is to say, my favorite albums of the 2000s. Lets begin!

100 Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications (2009) (left) – Yes, nothing like starting the list with an album from this year. Jarvis has had a successful career since going solo from Pulp, but Further Complications was a significant step for his former band – mostly thanks to Steve Albani’s raw production. Of course, having a song that talks about paleontology doesn’t hurt either.

99 The Walkmen – Bows + Arrows (2004) – Sometimes I feel bad that my feelings about an album is almost entirely based on a single great song. Bows & Arrows is a great album, but it is so weighted towards the absolute magnificence of “The Rat”.

98 Bon Savants – Post Rock Defends the Nation (2006) – I’ve recently heard that the Bon Savants are no longer fronting the same lineup. This is too bad considering how great their debut 2006 album was – a real power pop gem.

97 Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger (2006) – A lost piece of brit rock that didn’t get the attention it deserved – a logical evolution from Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and Gang of Four. You would have though that all those people falling for Bloc Party would have loved Maximo Park as well.

96 The Shins – Oh, Inverted World (2001) – I would imagine this is the first entry that might cause people to gasp. “How could he rate the Shins so low?” Well, it happens. I bought the album because everyone was, and sure, I enjoyed it, but rarely do I find myself returning to it. Fun alternative pop, but not much to stick to you bones.

95 The Knife – Deep Cuts (2006) (left) – Scandinavian synth monsters! Deep Cuts was much cheerier compared to their more well-known follow-up Silent Shout, but it made it all that more accessible. Just think Abba if they loved their Joy Division.

94 Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) – Again with the gasps. I like Coldplay, just like I like U2. There is nothing wrong with that – they right catchy pop songs, that really, that is a skill in itself. I don’t need to have my ears barraged by songs in odd meters layering 26 different vocals in a sandwich – sometimes I just like a good piano line.

93 Papas Fritas – Buildings & Grounds (2000) – Now, here is a real missed gem of the decade. The swan song of one of the best power pop bands from Boston, Buildings and Grounds was the most cohesive of the band’s offerings – like Fleetwood Mac for the new century.

92 Gogol Bordello – Gypsy Punks (2005) – Maybe I just have a soft spot for this kind of odd eastern European punk – its both sinister and fun-loving at the same time. Case in point, “Start Wearing Purple” is equal parts pop hit and disturbing back-alley threat.

91 Tiger Saw – Sing! (2005) (left) – Another one of those Boston bands with a short lifespan that’s still kickin’ around after a decade (see comments below), but Sing! was the closest that the Hub has come to having a Built to Spill in its midst.

Here is the iTunes iMix for albums 100-91.

Best Albums of 2009

I’ve been struggling with this for a few days – with all the work I’ve done (well, its not like its work as such, but you get the idea) on the Best Albums of the ’00s. Should I post my “Best of 2009” when its only December 2? It seems so early, but really, how much will my list change (or does it matter … probably not). I have to admit, with the move to Ohio, first-year facultying, volcano blogging, house buying and everything else, I didn’t pay as much attention to music as I have in the last few years. I suppose my boredom with music in 2008 didn’t help either.

Anyway, considering the Best of the ’00s is somewhat contingent on the albums of 2009, I might as well go ahead and post my list now. Again, bear in mind that this represents albums I (a) actually heard and (b) liked – by no means am I trying to assess the “best”(tm) music of the year. You may like my list, you may hate it. Enjoy.

Best of 2009

Honorable Mention: N.A.S.A.: Spirit of Apollo; Balky Mule: The Length of Rail; Rainbow Arabia: Kabukimono; Rakes: Klang!

20. Volcano Choir – Unmap
19. Various – Score! 20 Years of Merge Records
18. Metric – Fantasies
17. Decemberists – Hazards of Love
16. Nosaj Thing – Drift
15. Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk
14. Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor
13. Beirut – March of the Zapotec
12. Tiki – Past, Present, Future
11. Built to Spill – There is No Enemy

10. Morrissey – Years of Refusal If anything, Moz still knows how to make a good album cover.
9. Mos Def – The Ecstatic Mos Def’s last outing was pretty mediocre, but with the help of a lot more interesting production, The Ecstatic is up there with Black on Both Sides.
8. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm You have to love the second wind of Dino Jr. … Its almost as satisfying as the Mission of Burma comeback years.
7. Busdriver – Jhelli Beam The ups are very up and the downs are, well, down, but if you take the average, it is quite a ride.
6. Franz Ferdinand – Tonight They actually sounded like they had fun with Tonight, unlike their last album that was weighed down under the pressure of following up their gem of a debut.
5. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest You know, I couldn’t get into some of the early Grizzly Bear albums, but this one really clicked with me.
4. Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications Jarvis all rough and rowdy … good times!
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Its Blitz And on the flipside, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs go all synthpop on us … much like Franz Ferdinand, the third album far outweighs the second.
2. Passion Pit – Manners I really didn’t think I would like this album as much as I did, but sure enough its like the Pet Shop Boys for the 21st century.
1. Horrors – Primary Colours (left) OK, if I picked a band that I would have thought would be the least likely to end up on top based on their prior work, the Horrors might have been near the top. Yet, here we are. They ditched the goth/garage persona and instead decided to channel Joy Division, with the help of the likes of Chris Cunningham. It is a perfect blend of melody, darkness and depth – they might be a latter day Radiohead.

Top 100 of ’00s: An Introduction

As we close out the oughts (2000-2009), we find ourselves reflecting. As with any decade, it is always fun/time-killing/inane to make lists of the so-called “best” of that ten-year period. Mostly, these lists are meaningless drivel with no basis in fact or reality – and this is definitely one of those lists. This is by no means the best music of the decade – although you will read many lists that purport to be so. Remember, anyone who tries to tell you they can determine what “art” was “best” is full of high-grade s^&t, so at least we’re straight on that. This is, instead, is a list of albums I enjoyed the most over the last 10 years – half of which I was in graduate school in Oregon, a portion I was in Seattle, one-third I was in Davis, CA and the reminder (and currently) I am in lovely Granville, OH, happily spending my time as a professor in geosciences. I’ve listened to a lot of music thanks to my time at KBVR and writing for Three Imaginary Girls (under my pen name, Erik Gonzalez) – along with all the time I’ve spent talking about music with all of my friends. Its great fun and I’ll likely be making these lists for ages (I hope).

Bobby Kielty sporting the “look of the oughts”.

So, like I said, I am approaching being done with compiling my list of the top 100 albums of the ’00s. I’ll likely start posting them in batches of ten in the next few weeks – and I’ll even try to make some iTunes mixes with choice cuts from the albums I can find on the music store. Remember, this list is not meant to be (a) all inclusive – I’m sure I’ve missed something, and thats life; (b) appeal to everyone – there are definitely certain bands that some people think are good (ahem*fieryfurnacesbrokensocialsceneanimalcollective*) that I dislike greatly – don’t expect to see them here; (c) even represent my favorite music of the decade – there are many songs from less appealing albums that aren’t represented here … I would try to make a Top 100 songs, but I think my head might explode at that; (d) a permanent list of the best of the decade – my opinions/tastes change, and so will my opinion of albums. I wrote a best of the 1990s back in 1999 and I wish I could find that file, but alas, it is lost to the ages. I do remember that my #1 was DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…, so I think I still feel pretty good about that. Here’s to hoping my #1 of the 2000s weathered as well.

Anyway, as a bit of a preview, here is a breakdown of the percentages of albums on my list from each year of the decade. Note that the percentages imply that my Top 100 has more than 100 albums. It does. Deal. The distribution implies that 2006 was the “year for music” while 2000, 2008 and 2009 were not so hot. I think this distribution reflects my general detachment from music in 2000 and the relatively recentness of 2008/2009 – it is hard to judge/rank the bestness of albums that have come out recently against the ruler of giants from the middle of the decade.

The oughts

  • 2000: 7.8%
  • 2001: 10.7%
  • 2002: 12.7%
  • 2003: 9.8%
  • 2004: 10.7%
  • 2005: 12.7%
  • 2006: 14.7%
  • 2007: 9.8%
  • 2008: 6.9%
  • 2009: 3.9%

Look for No. 91-100 coming to this space in the near future.