Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the 2000s: Best Albums No. 20-11

20. Burial - Untrue (2007)
The man behind Burial is an enigma. We know his name, William Bevan, and that he's from London, and that's about it. The music is also a mystery: loops of women singing in the distance, shuffling beats that sound like footsteps in the darkness, Untrue seems to tell a lot about Bevan, but then again not really. He may be a very lonely man who finds his happiness when walks through the dark streets at night, or he just enjoys the nightlife of London. We may never know but Untrue is an emotional masterpiece. I can clearly tell you that.

19. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
Natalie Portman fucking ruined it for everyone. I normally say that about Juno, but looking back at 2004's Garden State when Natalie Portman proclaims that "the Shins will change your life." Now James Mercer got an ego and fired his band, and the fat Mexican dude got a job at a Taco Truck. What the fuck happened, man? All angry bitching aside, Chutes Too Narrow is the perfect indie pop record, full of beautiful moments and Mercer's wonderful lyric work with his not-great-but-it-work's-anyway voice, make for a wonderful soundscape.

18. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (2004)
If The Strokes began killing nu-metal in 2001, then Franz Ferdinand dealt the final blow in 2004. A blast of disco and punk, mixed with blatant gayness (though the members are straight as arrows) effectively made it illegal for anyone in a band to have a soul patch. Thanks to monster hooks in songs like "Jacqueline", "Dark of the Matinee", "Darts of Pleasure" and of course the smash hit "Take Me Out", with it's angular riffing, help made the decade a fun one. Ich heiße Superphantastisch!

17. The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
The year is 2001. I was rolling in my Callilac Escalade SUV. My baseball cap was nicely snug and backwards around my head as I rocked out some P.O.D. playing on K-Rock. The song ended and then the DJ said this is the hot new band out of New York right now. They were called the Strokes and all the sudden there was a very repetitive riff and then some dude mumbled something about something that happened "Last Night". I was confused. "Where are the power chords", I thought. "Where is the DJ", I thought. And that's when I knew it, I was done as a human being and I had to conform to the new standard of what rock music is. The world turned once more.

16. Kanye West - Late Registration (2005)
YO KANYE WEST, IMMA REAL HAPPY FOR YOU AND ALL AND IMMA LET YOU FINISH, BUT LATE REGISTRATION IS NOT THE BEST ALBUM OF THE DECADE. OF ALL TIME! OF ALL TIME! While this may be true, West second album proves that West is not just the butt of silly internet memes. Before he went apeshit on ego, West was actually kind of humble. He lost some of it on this album of course, thanks to genius raps tunes like "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" and the ubiquitous hit "Gold digger".

15. Animal Collective - Feels (2005)
AnCo's in love! How cute! The album that essentially began their streak of doing things noisily, but beautifully, the album has some absolutely wonderful moments. The shreiks on "Grass" don't frighten, but please. The tribal drumming on "The Purple Bottle" adds a so much more to the song, and the closer "Turn into Something" seems to cinch AnCo's status as a great band, not on MPP, but on Feels, a sonic experiment done incredibly right.

14. The Knife - Silent Shout (2006)
Listen to "Heartbeats" on the Knife's second album Deep Cuts. It's a sunny and beautiful work. Now listen to "Silent Shout" on the album of the same name, three years after the previous album. It's dark, ominous and haunting. Silent Shout is a masterwork for the Swedish brother/sister duo as they made the move from bright Euro-disco, to a dark and disturbed landscape. An album has never succedded so much in making actually properties of things changing. Temperatures litreally drops when the opening bass drums happens. Babies start crying when "We Share Our Mothers Health" plays. When Karin Anderssen sings with her pitch shifted voice, men turn to stone. That's how powerful this album is.

13. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)
Despite immediate connections to legendary group Joy Division, New York's Interpol have a voice of their own. Of course there are songs about urban angst and loss, Interpol seem to do it with a sense of post-millenial style, and not in a "we got to get out of this place" type paranoia that dominated Joy Division. The album is probably the best work to come out of the wave of "The" bands coming from NYC (despite the lack of "The"). Turn on the Bright Lights continues to amaze 8 years later.

12. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (2008)
Beards: Check. Sadness: Check. Vocal Harmonies: Double Check. The Seattle group stellar debut album is pretty much the perfect album in the category of "sad dudes with beards" music, and it can win anyone over. From the breif bombast of "Winter White Hymnal" to the sort of anthem of "He Doesn't Know Why", Fleet Foxes made one of the most organic albums in the era of electronics and Auto-Tune. And those vocals! So pitch perfect!

11. M.I.A. - Kala (2007)
"Paper Planes" asied, with all it's massive hookiness and earnesty meets ego, Kala is one hell of an album. A sonic revelation, Kala sounds great anywhere you play. It's probably one of the last great sonic albums of the CD album. Kala reminds us why M.I.A. is not to be messed with, from the propulsive stomp of "Boyz" to the intensity of "XR2", showcases M.I.A.'s wit, sarcasm and power. From bollywood to trance to gangta rap, Kala proves that M.I.A. is one tough chick, dude.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of the 2000s: Best Albums No.30-21

30. Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (2000)
Yo La Tengo start to look back on this one. Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley sing about how they met, and all the fights and make-ups on songs like "Here to Fall" and "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House" over what essentially is the soundtrack to driving around a warm summer night in New Jersey. The ultimate couple's album from the ultimate couple's band.

29. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009)
The album cover of G. Bear's third album suggests a sort of intricacy to the music. The colours also suggest a sense of depth and variety. Veckamist is exactly what the album cover is like - intricate and serious, but still has a great sense of beauty to it. A true art rock album.

28. Eminem - The Marshall Mathers EP (2000)
Eminem is essentially was the agent provocateur of rap music in this decade, and boy did this album piss people off. Aside from the allegedly misogynistic and homophobic content, the album really serves as the story of Marshall Mathers, a shockingly intimate album that shows us the other side of Em's picture.

27. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007)
If Eminem battles with what it means to be a man in America, then Kevin Barnes dresses it up in a neon pink shirt and pulls it's pants down. The incredibly flamboyant Barnes (who is straight, and married) delivers his and the Athens, Georgia group it's most focused effort to date, a surrealistic journey into Barnes' transformation into (the very gay) George Fruit. David Bowie approves.

26. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls In America (2006)
God, that album does not do justice to the album. Sure, it's a party, but it as hell ain't a rave. The strongest effort from the hardest working bar band in America, Craig Finn looks at how America gets fucked up, but how we'll somehow get by. It's not all about drinking, these bar bands, but by helping.

25. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)
If Detroit had one good thing happen to them this decade, it would be the White Stripes reminding us why they make quality bands. The ex-wife/husband duo pounded through these tracks of sloppy garage rock tunes, with a little help from Legos and a song about falling in love, they help set the course of what the idea of rock music would sound like for the next ten years.

24. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
One part artistic statement, one part marketing ploy. The only way it would have worked was if the record was any good. Well, to say the least, it did work, and in uncommon Radiohead fashion, they pulled it of with their warmest songs in years, without the classic post-modern angst. Radiohead showed us life after record labels.

23. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
The album where the Flaming Lips became rock stars. Well, not really, but having a gold record and appearing commercials is pretty much rock star in the indie rock sense. In era where everyone was feeling a little post 9/11 angst, the Flaming Lips took us higher with this epic pop album. Though it wasn't a total upper, there are some downers too, but the album as whole could make anyone smile.

22. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (2007)
As an album by itself, Strawberry Jam makes perfect sense as a work, but being in between AnCo's lovelorn Feels, and the equally lovelorn MPP, plus the feel goodness of Panda Bear's Person Pitch, Strawberry Jam makes no fucking sense. It's aggressive, noisy and out there. Despite it's out of context intensity in songs like "Peacebone" and "Chores", there are some truly beautiful moments like "For Reverend Green", "Fireworks" and the meditative "#1".

21. M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts (2003)
2003 was the year shoegaze struck back. Well, not really but in the form of layers of keyboards, thanks to France's M83. Emotional and moving, Dead Cities goes through the highs and lows of of life. With the cover featuring teens lazing in the snow, the album also serves a perfect soundtrack to that moody little time of life.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best of the 2000's: Best Album No. 50-31

And we're off! The first 20 of the top 50 albums of the decade. A reminder that I'm not writing any blurbs for these boys. Tomorrow will be No. 30-21.

50. Various Artists - DFA Compilation #2 (2004)

49. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (2009)

48. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in People (2003)

47. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime (2007)

46. The Streets - Original Pirate Material (2002)

45. Hot Chip - The Warning (2006)

44. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (2008)

43. Mastodon - Blood Mountain (2006)

42. Jens Lekman - Nights Over Kortedala (2007)

41. The Rapture - Echoes (2003)

40. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

39. Deerhunter - Microcastle (2008)

38. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Source Tags & Codes (2002)

37. Madvillian - Madvilliany (2004)

36. Daft Punk - Discovery (2001)

35. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (2007)

34. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell (2003)

33. Kanye West - The College Dropout (2004)

32. My Morning Jacket - Z (2005)

31. Sigur Rós - Ágætis byrjun (2000)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of the 2000's: Best Album Honorable Mentions

25 albums that couldn't be ranked to make it the top 75. Here are some album that I decided not to include in the Top 50. No writing today and tomorrow, when I introduce the first 20 of the top 50. I don't want to get carpal tunnel.

Animal Collective - Sung Tongs (2004)

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (2005)

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)

Cat Power - You Are Free (2003)

Deerhunter - Cryptograms (2007)

The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat (2004)

Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better (2005)

Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna (2008)

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House (2006)

Justice - Cross (2007)

Kanye West - Graduation (2007)

The Libertines - Up the Bracket (2002)

M83 - Saturdays = Youth (2008)

Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica (2000)

Myslovitz - Korova Milky Bar (2002)

No Age - Nouns (2008)

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)

Radiohead - Amnesiac (2001)

Sleater-Kinney - One Beat (2002)

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)

The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come For Free (2004)

The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (2008)

Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)