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.

Best Albums of 2008 – #10-1

Here is the rest of my best albums of 2008!

#10 Deerhunter: Microcastle – Another late entry in the top 20, this one landed all the way into the top 10. I, like many people, just didn’t get Cryptograms, Deerhunter’s previous album, but Microcastle is packed with pop gems – almost like Sebadoh for the 21st century.

#9 Hot Chip: Made in the Dark – The odd thing about Made in the Dark is how uneven it is. When it is great, it is great. When it is not, it is downright boring. However, the mass balance of greatness versus boredom leans heavily towards the greatness side of the equation, so Made in the Dark is at home at #9.

#8 Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend – Although this album was released all the way back in January, I found myself returning to it throughout the year. That is usually a good sign for a band and even though most of the cool kids think they are way too cool for Vampire Weekend, it is worth your while not to be.

#7 Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes – Another self-titled debut on the top 20, the Fleet Foxes are #1 on many folks’ “best of” lists. I love the harmonies, the production and the “familiar-yet-exotic” feel of the album. If anything, the Fleet Foxes will age the best of any album of the list.

#6 Girl Talk: Feed the Animals – You know, when it comes down to it, putting a Girl Talk album this high is a real testament to how weak 2008 was for music. Heck, Girl Talk is really just a ‘oos version of Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers, but its OK because Girl Talk uses graphic hip-hop rather than ’50s pop songs. That all being said, I listened to this album probably more than any other in 2008, but some of that might just have been the “music nerd” factor of identifying all the snippets.

#5 TV on the Radio: Dear Science. – This album helped revive my interest in music for the year. It might be the most straightforward and accessible TV on the Radio album thus far.

#4 Hercules & Love Affair: Hercules & Love Affair – Another debut … that might be the legacy of 2008: so many great new bands. I suppose Hercules & Love Affair isn’t totally news, but they are yet another piece of the DFA “Midas Touch” and the fact that Antony (of Antony & the Johnsons) should be a dance diva.

#3 Los Campesinos!: We are Beautiful, We are Doomed; Hold On Now, Youngster … – Los Campesinos! were by far the most prolific excellent band of the year. Two wonderful albums within the space of 12 months leaves us with more than enough sloppy pop songs to digest. I agree with the general listening public that We are Beautiful, We are Doomed is better than Hold On Now, Youngster, which means that Los Campesinos! might have skipped over the sophomore slump by recording until their fingers bled.

#2 Portishead: Third – Well worth the wait. Dark, sinister and surprisingly refreshing for the band that only took a decade to record a new disc.

and now …

#1 The Walkmen: You & Me – Surprise! You know, this one snuck up on me. When I first listened to You & Me, I knew it was much better than the last few by the Walkmen, but little did I know how much it would grow on me. How it did! The album is dark and dusty, yet not melodramatic. The production matches the mood to a tee, weaving the songs into haunting and echoing tales. Yet, it has this overarching good-feeling that is easy to miss unless you really sit down with the album. Most people likely missed this album altogether, the Walkmen, to an extent, are a post-hype band, but You & Me  shows that the band is hitting their stride head on.

 

Try it out: “In the New Year”

See #20-11

Trying to get my enthusiasm for music back …

So, I haven’t bought a CD in forever, since July. OK, well, I correct that a bit. I did download an album (specifically Basquiat Strings, which I couldn’t find in CD form anywhere). However, I finally decided I needed to do something about my dearth of new music, so I ordered 4 shiny, new CDs … and I’m actually excited about them now that they have arrived. Namely, they are:

  • TV on the Radio: Dear Science
  • Okkervil River: The Stand Ins
  • The Walkmen: You & I
  • The Rumble Strips: Girls & Weather
We’ll see if they have the power to get me out of my musical funk.