Friday, December 18, 2009

Best of the Oughts: Albums 11-20

This list is a nice mixture of things. There are several years represented. the subgenres are all over the place. The first and last comp of the top-100 resides in this ten. There are break-up albums, albums of social protest, rock records, Gypsy music, two-piece bands, seven or eight-piece, etc. It's all here.

20. Various Artists - Dark Was the Night
I generally stay away from compilations for any list, but this one is great from beginning to end and it contains a ton of material. This is maybe my all-time favorite compilation, just ahead of a couple of other Red Hot releases in the 90's.

19. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
There is nothing like a breakout album chock full of breakout tracks for a band you love. The Stripes were virtually unknown at this point. Then a few singles and their accompanying videos broke things wide open. Soon, every band was guitar and drums with a "the" at the beginning of their name and an "s" at the end.

18. At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command
R once commented that this doesn't sound like anything else I listen to. It doesn't. That's how good this record is. At the Drive-In had a fleeting run, but they went out with a bang. Relationship of Command documents that bang.

17. Spoon - Gimme Fiction
Spoon's decade was way better than their last. This record is what convinced me to begin accumulating their older material. It's so big and danceable. Even a bad show at the Blue Note supporting this album couldn't sour my love for Gimme Fiction.

16. The Shins - Chutes too Narrow
This album was out long before Garden State broke the band. It's crisp production upbeat tempos were a change from Oh, Inverted World, but ever-present are James Mercer's melodies and pop sensibilities.

15. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
Although the synth-happy tendencies of Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown/Handsome Furs is lost in Isaac Brock's production, the result is as hard-hitting a debut as the decade has seen.

14. Beck - Sea Change
Break-up albums are typically angry or empowering. They either tear apart those who have wronged you or build you up with a hopefulness for love-yet-to-come. Then there are records like this one. It tears you down and the only thing that comforts is the assurance that someone else has felt this much hurt.

13. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Generally, the only knock on this album is that it followed Funeral.

12. Japandroids - Post-Nothing
I might have overshot with this record, but I played it over and over this year, making up for the previous nine. It may fade over the years, but I will always turn to it when rawk is called for.

11. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
Who would have ever thought Gypsy music would so good and timely? Zach Condon came out of nowhere (by way of New Mexico, the Balkans, and Brooklyn) to deliver one of the surprise sounds of the decade.

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