Well, it looks like it’s the end of the first decade of the 21st century (If you are starting at years divisible by 10). A lot of music came out, and a lot of it was great, but I was too poor to afford most of it. Keep that in mind when you start arguing with me about this list of the 10 (or 11) best albums of the decade; these are the best ones that I listened to. Feel free to suggest other music; I’m always open to suggestions. These are not numbered, but I tried to keep the absolute best at the end…
In Boca al Lupo-Murder by Death.
This is a great album by a band who had just figured themselves out. The previous album, Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them was a great concept album that had just begun to explore the Spaghetti Western feel that this band has since mastered, but In Boca was the first album where they nailed it. And it’s a concept album. I love concept albums.
I didn’t even start listening to this one until just recently, but it stayed on my rotation for a good month, and I still put it on. It’s just a solid album that works well as background music, but also holds up to a close listening. I reviewed it HERE.
The Glow Pt. 2-The Microphones
This album is one of those where you can’t really listen to individual tracks; the album is an album, not a collection of songs. It’s strange in that it feels both warm and distant, like landmarks in a desert. It is very easy to become lost in The Glow; I have actually lost my sense of time while listening to it.
The United Colors of Trouble Books-Trouble Books
If The Glow is a desert, then United Colors is an empty street in the middle of winter. This is an album by a band from Akron, and I have no idea how many times I’ve listened to it. If the LP had not come with a CDr of the album, I would have burned out the vinyl already. I reviewed it HERE.
Let’s Get Out of This Country-Camera Obscura
With Let’s Get Out, Camera Obscura managed to out-Belle-&-Sebastian Belle & Sebastian. The resuly is a beautiful album that doesn’t seem to fit any particular time period.
The Lyre Of Orpheus/Abittior Blues-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Nick Cave is really hit or miss. Sometimes, like in the case of Murder Ballads, he seems like he’s trying to hard to be dark and brooding. That’s not the case with this double album, which is probably the best thing Nick Cave has done this decade (besides, debatedly, the screenplay to The Proposition). it’s dark, but not too dark, and he manages to write a few love songs that don’t involve smashing a woman’s head with a rock.
Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs-Andrew Bird
This entire album is solid. The lyrics tend to be a little surreal (Bird admits that sometimes he strings words together because they sound good, phonetically), and his instrumentation is different (distorted violins? Yes, please!), but the two word together to make a great album. “Fake Palindromes” and “Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left” are two of my favorite songs of the decade.
Rabbit Fur Coat-Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
I got this album without knowing anything about it; it just thought the cover art was striking. I was surprised to find that a) this was a country album (kind of), and b) I loved it. “Rise Up With Fists!!!” and “Born Secular” are brilliant. unfortunately, Lewis’s Acid Tongue was nowhere near as good as this album.
Your Big Plans, Our Little Town-Balthrop, Alabama
Full disclosure: I’m friends with one of this bands members. However, even if I weren’t, this album would make my list. It’s a wonderful album about some small town dreamers waiting to get out into the world or for that world to end, whichever comes first. I missed these guys when they came to Ohio (at the Nelsonville Festival), and I stil regret it.
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots-The Flaming Lips
I’ve talked bad about the Flaming Lips on this blog several times, but they have released a few solid albums, and this is one. It’s part concept album (about a karate-fighting girl who must save the world from pink robots) and part collection of songs, but the songs are great. Even more than on The Soft Bulletin, it really sounds like The Flaming Lips are maturing into a non-novelty band.
All Hail West Texas and Tallahassee-The Mountain Goats
I decided to include these as one entry. Both albums were released in 2002, and they mark the end of Darnielle’s low-fi period (All Hail) and the beginning of his proper studio albums (Tallahassee). Again, these are both concept albums, though most of the songs on West Texas work as singles, and Tallahassee features “No Children,” the song that has made more Mountain Goats fans than any other. These two, and perhaps The Sunset Tree, are the albums that I would give to someone as their first exposure to the Mountain Goats. John Darnielle is my personal lord and savior.
And there you have it. These are the best albums of the decade. If you haven’t heard them, you need to fix this immediately, before the next decade begins. So use that Christmas money (or Chanukah, or Solstice, etc., etc., etc.) and go to your local independent music store NOW.