Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mr. Trend's Top 50 Albums of the 2000s

Here are my top 50 albums of the 2000s, with random comments. This was actually a really hard list to make, and I limited myself mostly to the rock-ish genre (with a couple exceptions). I could do an entire other lists of best re-issues, best non-Western music, and best "things I 'discovered' in the 2000s" but I probably won't. Basically, there was a lot of great music, old and new, that came out last decade, and so I limited myself to the genre I'm most familiar with/capable of talking about here. And while I feel fairly safe about #s 21-50, I think that, excepting my top choice, #s 2-19 could really shift around on any given day.

1. Joanna Newsom, Ys - I just keep coming back to this album, and every time, it blows me away. So much I could say, but I'll limit myself to saying it's the first album I've ever heard where lyrics felt like their own instrument, and I get goosebumps everytime I hit the 14-minute mark of "Only Skin" (along with several other moments throughout).
2. Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam/Merriweather Post Pavilion - Don't ask me to pick one. I can't (not with conviction, at least). I fully and strenuously disagree with Erik, and think that from Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished to Merriweather, AC has been the most interesting band of the decade.
3. Liars, Drum's Not Dead
4. Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
5. Sleater-Kinney, The Woods - The best album from the most consistently great band of the late-90s. I hope they return someday, but if they don't, they went out on the top of their game.
6. Los Campesinos, Hold On Now, Youngster.../We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed -Music rarely has any right to be this energetic, thrilling, and complicated and mature at the same time; that it comes from a bunch of young 20-somethings is all the more remarkable.
7. Interpol, Turn On the Bright Lights - When a friend first played this for me and asked what I thought, my retort was, "I liked Joy Division better the first time around." However, that was pretty unfair in retrospect - Ian Curtis et al did not invent moodiness, and this was some of the best moody ambient-yet-rocking stuff of the decade.
8. Beck, Sea Change - I'm one of those "lyric people" Erik complained about. Still, this album hits heartbreak about as well as anything from the decade.
9. Sufjan Stevens, Illinois - Many complain it's too long, but I don't know what you get rid of; the full songs are essential, and if you take out the little interludes, you still have a 70-minute album (plus, the little interludes perfectly separate the bigger pieces, and are beautiful themselves, save for the 8-second bit before "Chicago," but again - does taking out 8 whole seconds make the album feel "shorter"?)
10. Radiohead, In Rainbows - Kid A may have been more of a watershed, more of an awakening, for many (though I was into Autechre and Aphex Twin before Kid A came out), but I just like In Rainbows a little more.
11. Panda Bear, Person Pitch
12. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain
13. Arcade Fire, Funeral
14. Silver Mt. Zion, 13 Blues for 13 Moons - A live-in-studio sound + all the build up and bombast of Godspeed You Black Emperor + Earnest emotional and political lyrics = one of the most unappreciated albums of the decade.
15. Sigur Ros, Agaetis Byrjun
16. John Adams, On the Transmigration of Souls - For all the talk of Springsteen's The Rising as "the" 9/11 album, it's nowhere near as good, heartbreaking, beautiful, or daring across its 70 minutes as Adams' 28-minute composition is.
17. Cat Power, You Are Free
18. Modest Mouse, The Moon & Antarctica
19. Boredoms, Vision Creation Newsun - Still the best "wake up and get going" album.
20. White Stripes, Elephant - White Blood Cells is great, but this is the one that had all the rocking potential on full display.
21. Burial, Untrue
22. Bat for Lashes, Two Suns
23. Black Angels, Directions to See a Ghost
24. Tom Waits, Real Gone - In the "early stuff/crazy old-man-growling stuff" debate over Tom Waits, I firmly fall in the latter category.
25. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood - Erik and I will disagree on her until the day we die.
26. Menomena, Friend and Foe - A few stickout songs ("Boyscout'n"), but really, it's best as a top-to-bottom album, and more and more interesting with every listen.
27. Bjork, Vespertine - She's always interesting, but this is her best album ever.
28. Gorillaz, Demon Days
29. Libertines, Up the Bracket - They burned out quickly, and the new bands aren't very interesting or good. But for one album, they captured lightning in a bottle.
30. Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest
31. Atlas Sound, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel
32. Flying Lotus, Los Angeles - Steven Ellison somehow combined hip-hop beats, funky rhythms, and Aphex Twin-like ambience into a coherent sound.
33. The Besnard Lakes, The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse
34. DJ/Rupture, Uproot
35. PJ Harvey, White Chalk - Every album is different, but her piano-ballads-with-fragile-soprano album is her most haunting and one of her best, with an emotional core that rivals 4-Track Demos.
36. Vivian Girls, Everything Goes Wrong - The unfortunate backlash against Williamsburg diminished how great and dark this album is. Time will vindicate it.
37. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver - Each album has a couple songs I could do without, but when you write things like "All My Friends," it's hard to go wrong.
38. The Black Keys, Rubber Factory - Akron's finest's finest album (so far).
39. Crystal Stilts, Alight of Night
40. The Knife, Silent Shout
41. M.I.A., Kala
42. Sonic Youth, Sonic Nurse - A very, very solid album, and their best of the decade.
43. Walkmen, Bows + Arrows
44. Deerhunter, Microcastle/Weird Era Continued
45. Portishead, Third - Forget Chinese Democracy (you already did? Oh, sorry) - this was the "comeback" album of the 2000s.
46. Alela Diane, To Be Still
47. Gillian Welch, Time the Revelator
48. Sun Kil Moon, Tiny Cities - Probably the best covers album of the decade, gives a new haunting sadness and beauty to Modest Mouse's songs.
49. CSS, Cansei de Ser Sexy - Yes, the lyrics can be silly, but A) English isn't their first language, and B) when your tunes are that grooving and catchy, who cares?
50. Bruce Springsteen, The Seeger Sessions - Another great covers album, but with a very un-Springsteen sound. You can tell it was just recorded live in a home in a few days, and that's a very good thing.