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.

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The Best of the ’00s Part 3: #80-71

Off we go!

80 The Breeders – Title TK (2002) (left) – I’ve forgiven Kim Deal for the bodily injury inflicted on me in 1994. I have also forgiven her for taking her time between Breeders albums. I think many people were disappointed with Title TK as it had no “Cannonball” and felt more like a home demo than an album 8 years in the making (well, it might not have been in the making for all those years).

79 Amon Tobin – Supermodified (2000) – I remember having a conversation with someone in 2000 about how electronic wasn’t just a flash in the pan but it was hear to stay. Sadly, looking back on that, it was sort of like Homer claiming that the height of rock and roll was Grand Funk Railroad. It doesn’t mean that the decade was bereft of excellent electronic, it just means that it quickly receded into the background (or hybridized effectively).

78 Passion Pit – Manners (2009) – Speaking of which, this might be a prime example of the electro-hybridization. There is a level of uncomfortableness in the album, maybe with the forced falsetto vocals or children yelling the chorus, but really, that is what made it so fascinating. Or maybe I just like music that makes me feel a little uneasy, much like …

77 Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles (2004) – I give a lot of people a hard time for listening to bands that I consider, well, unlistenable because all they seem to do is f&%k around with instruments and suddenly get praised for their genius. Then I think that I might not have an appendage on which to stand because of my undying love for Xiu Xiu. Too bad, I’m going to go on living with this inconsistency.

76 The Faint – Danse Macabre (2001) – My friend Melissa, who seems to have vanished into oblivion, introduced me to the Faint in a record store somewhere in Cambridge. I probably spent a good part of the next year listening to this album.

75 New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2001) (right) – I checked both Mass Romantic and Electric Version out from the Corvallis Public Library (nice job on the part of the music purchasers there), not really knowing what to expect beyond the fact that I had read “hey, the New Pornographers are good.” The last thing I expected was a pile of power pop that was like a lo-fi revival of the Cars (but better).

74 Hot Chip – Made in the Dark (2008) – Sometimes I think that Hot Chip will slowly climb into the top 10 of my favorite bands – sort of like a Pet Shop Boys 2.0. Made in the Dark did nothing to dispel that notion.

73 YACHT – I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real (2007) – I think this album is a fine example of what happens when a band that spent too much time dithering around on previous albums trying to be “experimental” sits down and tries to write pop songs. And yes, it works like a charm. Note to many bands: being catchy and succinct isn’t a sin.

72 Ratatat – Remixes Vol. 1 and 2 (2004/2007) – Maybe I cheated a little bit by including these unreleased (well, released briefly for free on the internet) remix albums on this list, but very few ‘mix tape’ adventures had as much of an impact on my listening habits as Ratatat’s. I eagerly await Vol. 3.

71 Tilly & the Wall – Wild Like Children (2004) (left) – I am a sucker for charming bands and Tilly & the Wall turned the charm dial up to 11. Tap dance percussion? Check. Mixed male-female vocals? Check. Songs about love? Check. They might be a little gimmicky, but you know, sometimes that AOK.

Here is your iTunes iMix for 80-71, which sadly lacks any of the Ratatat remixes and oddly, the Breeders (go figure, iTunes lacks Title TK). Thankfully you can find Ratatat’s remix of Allure on Youtube (audio only) and the Breeders’ “Huffer” (on Conan) as well.

Best of the ’00s Part 1: 100-91

Best of the ’00s Part 2: 90-81

Best Albums of 2008 – #20-11

Two days left in 2008 and I’ll finally start posting my best of 2008. I also want to mention a late-arriving honorable mention, that being the Crystal Castles self-titled album. I only got it about a week ago and I quite like it. Look for #1-10 tomorrow and my 2008 mix to go with it. Anyway, on to numbers 20 through 11 for 2008:

20. Reefer: Reefer – This year, Islands released their follow-up to Return to the Sea, and wow, did Arms Way stink. However, Nick Thornber, who left Islands before Arms Way, released what could be seen as the real heir to Return to the Sea. Bizarre, laidback and somewhat unfocused, it is just far more entertaining that Thornber’s former band’s release.

19. Coldplay: Vida La Vida – Bite me. If anything, Coldplay is catchy as hell, even if they are just U2.1.

18. Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak – Now presenting: Kanye West’s Postal Service’s Give Up.

17. Maus Haus: Lark Marvels – A real darkhorse for the top 20, this album is something like Modest Mouse without the arena rock metamorphism the Mouse has experienced. Well worth your time to check out.

16. Shearwater: Rook – Really intense and full of atmosphere yet oddly familiar sounds. Almost impossible to describe this album except “haunting”.

15. Bonnie “Prince” Billy: Lie Down in the Light – Speaking of haunting, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy) has become much less haunting and much more accessible since his days in Palace. This album is definitely the alternative folk rock that doesn’t bland you to death.

14. Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea – Maybe not the best Silver Jews’ album, but definitely the most focused since American Water. One of those truly underappreciated American bands.

13. Bloc Party: Intimacy – OK, so, a lot of people dissed Bloc Party’s Intimacy. I’m not entirely sure if it was because (a) Bloc Party is no longer cool in their eyes; (b) the sophomore album A Weekend in the City was a disappointment; (c) Intimacy is kind of schizophrenic or (d) all of the above. Whatever the reason, they are wrong. Sure, Bloc Party suddenly finds itself maybe a little too enamored with their synths and yes, maybe they’re just the 00’s version of Jesus Jones, but, well, those are two things that I am susceptible.

12. Xiu Xiu: Women as Lovers – Jamie Stewart is the patron saint of tortured electronic geniuses in America today.

11. Ratatat: LP3 – The most nuanced Ratatat album thus far, it brings in a lot of diverse sounds – both energized and relaxed. Now, they just need to release another hip-hop remix album.

Look for #1-10 tomorrow!