Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Best of the 2000s: Twenty-Five Best Albums

Sure, we have about six weeks left, but I have decided that I am going to post my top 25 Albums of the Decade.

This decade really changed my music listening habits, and not just because of the invention of the iPod (although that had an incredible effect too). The fact that so much music was available online for download and for listening meant that I didn't have to rummage through some indie record store where some asshole with bad hair looked down on me because I wasn't buying the new "hip" album. I didn't have to take as my chances on my purchases, because for the most part, you could listen to part of every song on any album you wanted to. And if I heard something online or saw some great new artist on Conan, I didn't have to wait till the next day to pick up the album. I know this all sounds rudimentary, but the sheer availability of music made me so much more knowledgeable and made this decade a lot richer for me.

Also, the fact that there are SO MANY SOURCES online which to read about music has pointed me in some really great directions. Pandora, Last.fm, Stereogum, Pitchfork, AllMusic.com, RateYourMusic.com... These have all been great resources for me to find stuff I never would have heard of or known of otherwise.

The last is satellite radio. There is no better way to serendipitously come across great new bands than on Satellite. Go to one of the niche stations and just listen for a few hours, and you will find yourself hearing things you would never hear on regular, terrestrial radio. I really hope that the fledgling format finds an audience because it is now an indispensible part of my life.

I don't think the 2000s (are we calling them "the Aughts" now?) have been THE best decade of music, but they have been one of the most diverse. And although I think pop music hit its nadir some time around 2005, hard-to-find music has flourished and become richer than ever. So here we go ... the soundtrack to my life for the last ten years.

I had considered breaking them up into pop/rock music and hip hop music, but let's face it: the decade has been sort of thin on both, and so I just picked my tops from both and I'm putting them together. Still, I stand by this list as being 100% great. I also considered ranking them but then I just got too lazy.

I will start by saying that my top three albums from 2000-2009 are, in alphabetical order by artist:

  • Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle
  • Shearwater - Palo Santo (Expanded Edition)
  • The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow

Don't ask me to pick my favorite because my mom always said that she couldn't pick her favorite kid, even though she's lying it's clearly me.

I will also give you 40 or so very excellent albums worthy of honorable mention:

  • AESOP ROCK - Labor Days (2002), Bazooka Tooth (2004), None Shall Pass (2007) - Indie hip hop
  • ARIZONA - Welcome Back Dear Children (2006), Fameseeker and the Mono (2007) - Indie pop
  • BABBLETRON - Mechanical Royalty (2003) - Indie hip hop
  • BLACKALICIOUS - Blazing Arrow (2002) - Indie hip hop
  • BLACK MILK - Tronic (2008) - Hip hop
  • BLITZEN TRAPPER - Furr - (2008) - Indie rock
  • BLOCKHEAD - Downtown Science - (2005) - Hip hop instrumentals
  • BLUEPRINT - 1988 - (2005) - Indie hip hop
  • BROTHER ALI - The Undisputed Truth - (2007) - Indie hip hop
  • CANDY BUTCHERS - Making Up Time - (2006) - Piano pop
  • CARIBOU - The Milk of Human Kindness - (2005) Electro-pop
  • ROB CROW - Living Well - (2007) - Indie rock / math rock
  • CUT CHEMIST - The Audience's Listening - (2006) - Hip hop instrumentals
  • DANGER MOUSE - The Grey Album - (2004) - Hip hop
  • EDAN - Beauty and the Beat - (2005) - Underground hip hop
  • EL-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead - (2007) - Indie hip hop
  • EMILY HAINES - Knives Don't Have Your Back - (2006) - Chamber/piano rock
  • FEIST - Let It Die - (2004) - Indie pop
  • THE FLAMING LIPS - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - (2002) - Experimental rock
  • DJ FORMAT - If you Can't Join 'Em ... Beat 'Em - (2005) - Indie hip hop / nerdcore
  • GHOSTFACE KILLAH - More Fish - (2007) - East Coast hip hop
  • ILLOGIC - Celestial Clockwork - (2004) - Underground hip hop
  • JOY ZIPPER - American Whip - (2004) - Dreampop / Indie pop
  • MF DOOM - MM..Food - (2004) - Indie hip hop
  • MGMT - Oracular Spectacular - (2008) - Indie/electro pop
  • MIDLAKE - The Trials of Van Occupanther - (2006) - Lo-fi / indie rock
  • MOTHER MOTHER - Touch Up - (2007) - Indie pop, experimental folk
  • PINBACK - Tour EP 2008 [Ascii E.P.] - (2008) - Indie/math rock
  • RADIOHEAD - Amnesiac - (2001) - Progressive rock
  • DJ RHETTMATIC - Exclusive Collection - (2004) - Underground hip hop
  • SOUL POSITION - Things Go Better with RJ and Al - (2006) - Indie hip hop
  • SPOON - Gimme Fiction - (2005) - Indie rock
  • SUN KIL MOON - April - (2008) - Indie folk
  • SUPER FURRY ANIMALS - Rings Around the World - (2001) - Neo-psychedelia
  • SWITCHES - Lay Down the Law - (2008) - Indie pop / retro pop
  • WOLFMOTHER - Wolfmother - (2006) - Hard rock
  • ZERO 7 - Simple Things (2001), When It Falls (2004) - Ambient techno

Now here is the full list of 25 (plus one EP), in alphabetical order by artist (click on the album cover for more information):




AESOP ROCK - Float

Independent Hip Hop, 2000




ARIZONA - Glowing Bird

Indie Rock, 2009




BECK - Sea Change

Folk pop, 2002




BON IVER - For Emma, Forever Ago

Indie folk, 2008




CANNIBAL OX - The Cold Vein

Underground hip hop, 2001




NIKKA COSTA - Everybody Got Their Something

Electro/dance pop, 2001




DM STITH - Heavy Ghost

Experimental rock, 2009




BEN FOLDS - Songs for Silverman

Piano pop, 2005




SAGE FRANCIS - Sick of Waiting Tables (Compilation)

Independent hip hop, "emo rap," 2004




GRIZZLY BEAR - Veckatimest

Art-rock, indie rock, 2009




IRON & WINE - The Creek Drank the Cradle

Lo-fi alternative folk, 2002




MADVILLAIN - Madvillainy

Underground hip hop, 2004




STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS - Pig Lib

Grungy indie rock, 2003




OH NO - Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms

Underground hip-hop, 2006




NERINA PALLOT - Fires

Adult contemporary pop, 2005




RJD2 - Deadringer

Independent hip hop instrumentals, 2002




ROGUE WAVE - Out of the Shadow

Indie rock, garage pop, 2004




THE ROSEWOOD THEIVES - From the Decker House EP

Indie rock, folk-pop, 2006




SHEARWATER - Palo Santo (Expanded Edition)

Chamber pop / power folk, 2006




SHEARWATER - Rook

Indie rock / power folk, 2008




THE SHINS - Chutes Too Narrow

Indie pop, 2003




SUFJAN STEVENS - Illinois

Indie pop / progressive folk, 2005




TOBACCO - Fucked Up Friends

Techno hip-hop electronica, 2008




WEEN - Quebec

Ironic art-pop, 2003




WILCO - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Alt-country/rock, 2002



If you want, you can also read about my Best Post-Golden Age Hip Hop albums.


So that's been my decade. If you are interested in sampling any of these artists, I would suggest signing up at Last.fm, because it's the most accessible, it can track the songs you listen to on your iPod automatically, and to my knowledge there is no limit on the number of listens you can have. You can pretty much type in the name of an artist (or any artist you like) and listen to a whole truckload of songs. And let me know if you agree, or if any of my choices stink.

3 comments:

DG Dunford said...

Re: Ben Folds - Songs for Silverman over Rockin' The Suburbs? I don't know if I agree...

Also, I can't say I've bought into the hype around Grizzly Bear quite yet.

What's so great about Shearwater?

Bill said...

"Rockin the Suburbs" to me is okay but more of a pop confection, with his ironic tone that is sometimes entertaining, and sometimes off-putting (like on his latest turd "Way to Normal"). "Silverman" took me a long time to like, but hearing all the songs spread out on my iPod, I realized I liked all of them, and actually like them more separately than as an album.

I love the new Grizzly Bear album. The version of "While You Wait for the Others" with Michael McDonald is great. YouTube it.

What ISN'T great about Shearwater? Chamber-pop piano? Check. Loud crunchy guitars? Check. Booming percussions that create minute-long crescendos? Hell yes. Not for everyone but definitely for me.

Snowbug said...

I would have to say the albums that have the most play in my rotation are "Illinoise", "Sea Change", and "Float". I actually just got "Chutes Too Narrow", and will be checking that out soon.

Others from my playlist: Rumble Strips - "Girls and Weather", Q-Tip - "The Renaissance", Kings of Leon - "Aha Shake Heartbreak" (I do not like their newer stuff as much), and Death Cab for Cutie - "Narrow Stairs"

There are lots of albums from the past 10 years, but these are some that have managed to make my current playlist.