a list of favorite albums makes less and less sense these days. no one buys ‘em. people consume music in one or two song segments from a blog or a friend’s recommendation. still, albums will linger for a while longer as a convenient up-sell when you like a song and as the amount of material you can fit on a piece of vinyl. i like to think of albums as a representing a particular period for a musician. a great album shows a period where special things were happening with a musician’s writing and performing. so perhaps this a list of favorite creative bursts from the last 10 years. i would never claim to be an authority on what the best is, though. my tastes are too narrow for that. there’s too much stuff that i never gave a chance to or just didn’t hear. what i can guarantee is that each of these records is great.
25. spank rock – yoyoyoyoyo (2006)
this phenomenon is beyond over and was built to burn out quickly, but for a while it had people unclenching just a bit. truly great manic production and fun ballsy lyrics.
listen: spank rock “sweet talk”
24. sufjan stevens – michigan (2003)
complex orchestral pop jams next to dead quiet banjo laments. the whole thing is just beautiful.
listen: sufjan stevens “all good naysayers, speak up! or forever hold your peace!”
23. clipse – hell hath no fury (2006)
a record where every track is produced by the same people makes it cohesive and listenable, not some jumbled messy compilation. it also helps a lot to have the neptunes be the producers. there should probably also be a timbaland-produced record on this list cause he’s so great, but i just didn’t listen to him enough.
listen: clipse “trill”
22. thee more shallows – a history of sport fishing (2002)
criminally under appreciated san francisco band. great lyrics over beautiful stripped-down rock songs.
listen: thee more shallows “the 8th ring of hell”
21. idaho – hearts of palm (2000)
one of my favorite bands at their best. barely melodic guitar and piano songs with beautiful unsteady singing.
listen: idaho “alta dena”
20. amy winehouse – back to black (2007)
too many great songs here to leave it off the list.
listen: amy winehouse “love is a losing game”
19. sun kil moon – ghosts of the great highway (2003)
this is so 90s, but pretty much every song stops me and makes me listen.
listen: sun kil moon “si, paloma”
18. wolf parade – apologies to the queen mary (2005)
great straightforward rock record with no skippers
listen: wolf parade “modern world”
17. m. ward – end of amnesia (2001)
portrait of an amazing talent just getting started.
listen: m. ward “color of water”
16. tram – frequently asked questions (2001)
a devastating record full of simple slow guitar rock songs. at least 5 mix tape worthy jams on here.
listen: tram “once i was”
15. julie doiron – desormais (2001)
the best mood setting record on the list. so delicate!
listen: julie doiron “faites de beaux reves”
14. jim o’rourke – insignificance (2001)
include his work with wilco, sonic youth, and loose fur and he’s one of the superstars of the decade. this lp is smart and funny and rockin’. i play it all the time.
listen: jim o’rourke “memory lame”
13. destroyer – rubies (2006)
my favorite destroyer record. huge guitar leads and great sing along na na na parts. if bowie and queen had taken themselves less seriously, they would have made a record like this.
listen: destroyer “painter in your pocket”
12. radiohead – amnesiac (2001)
has some songs that just amaze me. not as odd or influential as kid a, but i like the songs more.
listen: radiohead “knives out”
11. lambchop – is a woman (2002)
such great lyrics! the patient delivery on this record really adds punch to the gorgeous changes in the songs.
listen: lambchop “the new cobweb summer”
10. chad vangaalen – infiniheart (2004)
totally original weird songs. played it non-stop for about 6 months.
listen: chad vangaalen “traffic”
9. page france – hello, dear wind (2005)
every song is a perfect little sad pop gem. the lyrics seem to fit together logically like they were meant to be there. truly a collection of songs meant to be listened to as a whole.
listen: page france “windy”
8. midlake – trials of van occupanther (2006)
this record is on some other level. it’s almost too good. has a note perfect 70s feel. like a darker, less hokey fleetwood mac or america or paul mccartney.
listen: midlake “bandits”
7. edan – primitive plus (2002)
the funnest record on the list. the man djs, raps, and makes beats as well as anyone, but all for the innocent love of it. hilarious and impressive.
listen: edan “run that shit”
6. duster – contemporary movement (2002)
a precursor to the lo-fi, distant sounding stuff of today. every song has achingly sad and beautiful changes. sets an unexplainable mood. more people need to hear it.
listen: duster “the breakup suite”
5. broken social scene – you forgot it in people (2002)
anthem after anthem after anthem. i love every song on this record. you can hear that these people are friends and are sharing who they really are. plus, it’s a great recording.
listen: broken social scene “cause = time”
4. beck – sea change (2002)
another album for the lover of albums. put it on and leave it on. it’s the genius of beck without the samples and nonsensical lyrics. just a man with his guitar and his pain. sing it, brother.
listen: beck “lost cause”
3. madvillain – madvillainy (2004)
plays like a dense hip-hop collage. references and sounds come at you from all angles. two of the best at their best combining to make one for the ages.
listen: madvillain “money folder”
2. lcd soundsystem – sound of silver (2007)
has some of my all-time favorite songs. so inventive and heartfelt.
listen: lcd soundsystem “get innocuous”
1. wilco – yankee hotel foxtrot (2002)
very predictable, i know. i’ve listened to this record the most out of any on this list. the best songs on it are truly classics.
listen: wilco “pot kettle black”
some great honorable mentions:
dosh – the lost take (2006)
studio – west coast (2007)
sleeping states – there the open spaces (2007)
jay-z – the black album (2003)
björk – vespertine (2001)
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