Saturday, June 12, 2010

Top 100 Albums of the 2000s: Honorable Mentions

I know I'm late on this, but it really has taken this long to solidify my list and suck up the strength to actually sit down and write it all.

Previously, I'd planned to do away with the "albums" list and just stick to the 50 greatest musical artists of the decade. This would prevent me, I thought, from mentioning the same artists over and over. Then I realized that an artist that released four or five landmark albums in one decade certainly deserves recognition. Plus, I spent all the time making the list.

For this first post, I want to throw up some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the list. They're fantastic albums, and I'm sure I'm missing even more that aren't on here. They deserve a listen if you haven't heard them, and in another year they could easily appear in the Top 100.

Here we go:

M83 - Before The Dawn Heals Us

My first M83 album, Before The Dawn Heals Us kicks off with its two best tracks, "Moon Child" and "Don't Save Us From The Flames." The former begins with an instantly recognizable minute of floating-through-space female spoken word. It then blasts us into a Pink Floyd orchestral rocket ride. That's the best I can explain it.

Tom Waits - Blood Money and Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards and Real Gone

The only reason Orphans isn't on the list is that it isn't a studio album-proper. It's a collection of brilliant recordings from years past, segregated into the three most distinctive Waits categories. I've always thought his Bawlers were the best, but it's a bit odd to listen to them all separately instead of mashed together as on his studio albums. Blood Money is also fantastic, but it's probably not in the Top 100 because it doesn't age quite as well as its closest counterparts, 1992's Bone Machine or 1999's Mule Variations. I might like Real Gone the best out of all these albums. It's not included because, well, I just don't think I could recommend it to anyone who doesn't want Tom Waits spitting all over them for 70 minutes.

The Blood Brothers - ...Burn, Piano Island, Burn

Some of the best screaming of any album of the decade. When your album starts with a 35 second blast as good as "Guitarmy," you know you're in for an experience.

Outkast - The Love Below.../Speakerboxxx

As good as this album is, I can't help but wonder if it would have been considered an absolute masterpiece had the fat been trimmed and condensed into under 80 minutes. Still, try listening to "Hey, Ya" and not doing that little dance-swivel in your chair.

TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain

I'm guessing my brother will give me crap for not including this high in the 20s. It's masterful and moody, but isn't as jarring or fun or accessible as follow-up Dear Science.

The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan

The most underrated album of The White Stripes awesome career, Get Behind Me Satan improves on the more intense sound they crafted on Elephant and is as good as any White Stripes album not called White Blood Cells.

Jay-Z - The Black Album

This is one I still listen to frequently, often just as often as The Blueprint, which is saying quite a lot. "99 Problems" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" deserve to be right next to "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" as some of Jay-Z's best singles of the decade.

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

I liked this album much more than others. It helps if you think of it without wanting another Apologies to the Queen Mary. The 10-minute closer "Kissing The Beehive" is an intense, wonderful song, serving as a transition from the earlier nearly-power-pop songs from Wolf Parade's first album and moving them into even more ambitious territory, that I hope is matched on their upcoming follow-up, Expo 86.

Spoon - Kill The Moonlight

In terms of straightforward indie rock bands, Spoon did exactly what they needed to in the last decade. They continually release awesome studio albums. Kill The Moonlight is probably just as good as some of the others. I probably just don't listen to it as often as those I selected to include in the Top 100.

Explosions in the Sky - The World Is Not A Cold Dead Place

The best album from a band that records in a dying genre. With a more accessible sound than the somewhat similar Godspeed You! Black Emperor, one of their songs was actually used as the theme to Friday Night Lights. They have that ability to fill you with a temporary dread, but then lead you to heaven. My friend Brian once told me that he cried near the end of opening track "First Breath After Coma," the first time he heard it.

Boris - Pink

I'm kind of afraid of this album. Putting it on is kind of like being blown back in your chair like the Maxwell tapes guy.

The National - Boxer

It kind of kills me not to have this in the top 100. It's pretty much as good as Alligator, which is on the list. You know what you're getting right after "Fake Empire" starts off the album. Melancholy, beauty, and one of the best voices in modern rock.

Joanna Newsom - The Milk-Eyed Mender

The album that introduced most of the world to one of the great poetic voices of our time. I hate that someone younger than me can write music like this. The biggest complaint most have about Newsom is that they can't get passed the squeakyness of her voice. After becoming a fan, it's impossible to think these songs could be heard any other way.

The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

An album that suffers only because it would be nearly impossible to match Funeral, their debut. Songs like "Intervention" and "Windowstill" are just as grand as the best songs on that record, however, and deserve repeat listens, preferably in the dark alone.

My goal is to do a post a day until we're at the very top. If you've got nothing to do over the next 10 hours (and if you're reading this, I'm going to assume that you do), get these albums and listen.

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