[EDIT Jan 29] I’m really liking Rdio; it feels like a better Spotify… Better social, great web version, and collection management!(!!) So I made a playlist for this article.
Regular people (like renown music critics, famed websites and legendary rock magazines), they do their decade top ten right as the decade ends. That’s kind of silly though, because you’re to close to the events to judge them properly. Right? Right??
So anyway, it’s 2013 and I’ve decided to do a list of my favorite albums of the previous decade. No reason, just because. Please note that these aren’t the “best albums” of the 2000s, just my personal favorites. I’ve also made two completely arbitrary categories (Heart and Punch), because they felt right.
— Heart —
The Postal Service – Give Up
This is probably the album that I’ve spent the most time trying to get people to listen to. It’s a magical mix of electronica and emo explosion, which inexplicably works. I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite album of the decade, period.
The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving
There are no words to describe how much I love The Weakerthans. The best way I can explain it is that their music creates a sort of wonderful melancholy for places you’ve never been. Stephen Carroll’s vocals will seem rocky at first, but pretty soon they’ll turn into a warming guide that you won’t want to quite.
Stars – Up in Our Bedroom After the War
Another Canadian band (in case you didn’t know, the Canadian indie scene is amazing). Stars are a bit more “syrupy” maybe, but just as enjoyable. Some tracks I’ve listened to on repeat for days, never getting bored of them (Calendar Girl, Personal). And then of course there’s the cryptically captivating quote at the beginning of this album, which you’ll remember it forever.
— Punch —
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not
Concentrated drums energy wrapped in an electric guitar package. If you like rock and don’t like this band, you might need to re-evaluate your life. There are also slower tracks (Riot Van, Mardy Bum), which provide a well deserved rests.
Other albums: Favorite Worst Nightmare is more of the same (in a good way). Humbug and Suck It and See seem to have grown out of the “I’m so angry at my parents!” teenager phase. It’s certainly commendable that they didn’t keep doing the same album over and over again, but these later two didn’t do it as much for me.
Eminem – The Marshal Mathers LP
Ok, everyone knows Eminem. The thing that really hit home for me in his earlier work is the fact that he was probably the first artist to use rap to talk about himself (in a very deep and tortured way). I was particularly amazed at the way he does intense dialogue between conflicting aspects of his (pathological) personality, all with beat musicality and brilliant rhyme… I like gangster rap as much as the next guy, but this was different.
The Streets – Original Pirate Material
If you want innovation in rap, this is it. There’s always a lot of cool and new stuff happening in that space, but The Streets are definitely something else. Their British Britishness and the mundane nature of the topics they cover don’t hurt, either.
Sneaker Pimps – Bloodsport
While most people remember Becoming X, very few know of the band’s second act (sans Kelli Dayton). My reaction to hearing she wasn’t part of the following albums was something like “but her voice IS the band!” And in some ways, it was justified: the two “bands” are quite different, and liking one won’t necessarily mean you’ll like the other. But I like both, and they’re definitely worth giving a try.
The Dresden Dolls – Yes, Verginia…
It’s just impossible for me to do a list like this and not mention the Dresden Dolls.
So there you go. Let me know what you think, and what your list would be!
PS: Writing this article, I wanted to use audio tracks to illustrate the albums (I find video is often distracting), and was appalled to discover that it’s just not possible, so I’m left with mostly unofficial (and wonky) YouTube embeds. It shouldn’t be surprising, but the fact that you still can’t easily share track excerpts with friends is such an incomprehensible failure of the music industry that it never fails to sadden me. A topic for another time I guess.