I originally wrote this on 03 NOV 2009, but it is an interesting revisit (for me anyway), and it seems appropriate to start this new blog with a few looks back.
If I were writing this now, some things would certainly be different; Arcade Fire would probably be a lot lower for one, and I certainly would add Ponytail’s fantastic 2008 album Ice Cream Spiritual and The Strange Boys’ Nothing 7", both of which I somehow left off despite the fact that I listened to both incessantly towards the end of the last decade. This is not about changing the past, however, it’s about revisiting it.
It is also interesting to note that I was still in my weird “no caps” phase at this point.
ok. it seems like these are pretty popular right now, so i think i’ll throw in my two cents as any good amateur critic would.
my 20 favorite albums from 2000-2009:
1) Radiohead: Kid A (2000)
this will probably top a lot of these lists, and i can’t argue. this album is simply beautiful and it was eye-opening for me—electronic music doesn't have to suck, pop can be painterly and symphonic w/out sounding like “sgt. pepper’s lonely hearts club band”, weird crap can become intensely popular, etc.
2) Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
actually this was my introduction to wilco, and i got see them at the first acl fest—before it got so crowded that you couldn’t breathe—soon after. this album is great: noisy and quiet and gorgeous, spacey and earthy simultaneously too.
3) Arcade Fire: Funeral (2004)
i guess this is sorta when “indie broke”, right? this was so much the soundtrack for the mid-00’s that it can’t not be on this list. this album is a permanent chunk of my brain.
4) Panda Bear: Person Pitch (2007)
i was pretty late getting into the animal collective craze, as a matter of fact, it took panda bear’s amazing 2007 solo album for me to go back and listen to animal collective intently. needless to say, i get it now, but i still think this album is better than anything else a.c. related. it’s like floating in a warm bathtub the size of the ocean and listening to pet sounds while pleasantly high as a kite.
5) Fugazi: The Argument (2001)
this might be a culmination of the 90’s more than a beginning to the 00’s... or it might be the pinnacle of the multi-decade dischord records epic tale. regardless, it’s probably fugazi’s best record and that’s a huge-effin-deal. listen to this really loud. right now!
6) Outkast: Stankonia (2000)
around the time that “stankonia” came out, i had just about completely abandoned the notion of ever liking contemporary hip-hop, but then came the sly & the family stone of hotlanta to save the day (andre being sly and big boi being his family’s stones, if you get my drift). they reclaimed my faith by making popular hip-hop once again about more than (just) big booties, gang violence and machismo and by being so damn FUNKY.
7) Beck: Sea Change (2002)
i’d always liked beck, but this is when i decided that i loved beck. i think i read somewhere that at this point everyone was expecting beck to become our generation’s bowie-like musical chameleon or sumthin. that didn’t happen, but this album has so many good things going for it: country-folk sadness, day-glo-bubble-psych orchestrations, great songs, etc.
8) Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
see number 4 first.
9) MIA: Arular (2005)
new version of “world music”, the rise of internet distribution and hype... you’ve read all those reviews, right? bottom line: this is a really good party album.
10) Sufjan Stevens: Come On Feel The Illinoise (2005)
there is something really universal and timeless about this record, like a neil young album.
11) Yo La Tengo: And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (2000)
i was also a little late getting into yo la tengo (i think it was around 2006 that i really started digging on ’em), but when i went back to search through their catalog, it was this quiet, romantic album that really stood out.
12) My Morning Jacket: It Still Moves (2003)
this is my favorite mmj album. i can totally see the argument that “z” is their best (and i totally cannot see the argument that “evil urges” is), but i think “it still moves” has everything that made the band great; the cozy, fireside country-romance of “mahgeeta” and “golden”, the explosive, psychedelic-ballroom-thrash of “one big holiday” and “easy morning rebel”, etc. this is the album they had to make for “z” to exist and for fleet foxes to get a record deal.
13) Deerhunter: Microcastle / the Weird Era Cont. (2008)
gorgeous, hazy, guitar-driven, shoegazedelica is back and deerhunter is why. god bless ’em.
14) The White Stripes: White Blood Cells (2001)
anybody who knows me very well at all knows that 60’s garage rock ‘n’ roll has always been a cornerstone of my music taste. when i first heard the ’stripes i was a little perturbed, “who are these art school dweebs ripping off MY favorite bands.” oh wait, that's why they are SO GOOD.
15) Sonic Youth: Murray Street (2002)
believe it or not, my first run-in with sonic youth was at the tender age of 7 when i overheard the album “dirty” in a record store with my dad. i thought the stuffed animal on the cover was awesome/creepy-as-crap and also thought that the dissonant guitar noise sounded like the stuff i would “write” when i played my dad’s guitar. i assumed that they were one of those bands that had died with kurt cobain, until this album came out and reintroduced me (and i think a lot of people) to a band that has since become one of my all time favorites.
16) Dirty Projectors: Rise Above (2007)
i have a soft spot for this album. it plays to a lot of my guilty pleasures: conceptual art, 80’s hardcore, complicated afro/prog/jazz reinterpretations of things that are supposed to be simple. i am more than a little ashamed to say that i still have not listened to “bitte orca” all the way through...
17) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: House Arrest (2003/2006)
i read somewhere that ariel pink wanted this to sound like how you remember songs in your head. i think that's a pretty good description.
18) The Wrens: Meadowlands (2003)
this is just one of those perfect indie albums that sounds like a perfect indie album.
19) Sigur Rós: Agaetis Byrjun (2001)
20) Bob Dylan: Love & Theft (2001)
let me first state that 1997’s “time out of mind” is one my favorite albums of all time. “love & theft” was the final album in a string of brilliant albums (1989’s “oh mercy” being the first) that make up dylan’s most recent golden age.