The decade in music

December 31, 2009

The fact that I’m even thinking about the best records of the decade is blowing my mind.  This was a decade that began with me listening to whatever was on the bad modern rock radio station (name a bad early 00’s nu metal band and I probably owned it, or wanted to own it).  So I like to think I’ve come a long ways.  Music is one of the most important things in the world to me and I don’t know where I would be without it.  Thats why it was so hard to cut this list down to my favorite 25.  Lots of my favorite records didn’t make it, but I felt like 25 was a solid number.  Basically, these are the records that shaped, and continue to shape what I listen to.

25. Interpol – Antics (2004)

Kind of an unpopular Interpol choice for many, but I think Antics kills Turn on the Bright Lights. Both have great songs, but Antics has a far better flow to it. Too bad the follow up was a dud.

24. Elliott Smith – Figure 8 (2000)

Not even the best Elliott Smith record, but his middle of the road stuff is better than 99.9% of anything else. RIP Elliott.

23. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)

One of the best opening tracks of all time. I would have to be physically tied up to not air drum the opening of “You Are a Runner…”

22. Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005)

Its kinda hard to pick just one Andrew Bird record, but this is my favorite. Its the first where he really seemed to find his sound. And how can you not like Fake Palindromes?

21. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)

Nobody does catchy better than Brit Daniel. See “The Underdog” for proof.

20. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise (2005)

Yeah, I know. Pretty typical selection. I fell for the hype. It’s still as great as it was when it came out though. An appropriate tribute to my homeland.

19. The Bouncing Souls – How I Spent My Summer Vacation

The record that really got me into punk, which then led me to all the stuff I listen to now. There were bands I liked before this, but I fell in love with The Souls with this album and will forever adore them. What other band could make me stage dive for the first time at the age of 26? None.

18. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (2005)

The best drumming album I’ve ever heard. The tone, the rhythm, everything is flawless. “Banquet” goes in the top 5 songs of the decade.

17. The National – Boxer (2007)

No word of a lie. When I played this song for my father, he said “Yeah, it kinda reminds me of the Crash Test Dummies”. I didn’t really have a response to that.

16. Bear vs. Shark – Right Now You’re In the Best of Hands (2003)

What a criminally underappreciated band. No other band has been able to combine energy and melody like BvS. “Song About Old Roller Coaster” also goes in that top 5 songs of the decade.

15. The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site (2003)

The nerd in me will not allow a Weakerthans record to not be a part of this list.

14. Iron and Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle (2002)

I always assumed “Our Endless Numbered Days” was my favorite Iron and Wine record until relatively recently. There’s just something about his debut that he’ll never be able to re-create. The songs are so simple, but all of them are unique and beautiful.

13. Thrice – The Illusion of Safety (2002)

Total sentimental favorite. I haven’t listened to this in so long, but it reminds me of such a specific time in my life.

12. Minus the Bear – Highly Refined Pirates (2002)

I think Minus the Bear actually became a better band after this, but I’ll always like this the best. “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” not only goes in the top 5 songs, it might be #1.

11. The Shins – Chutes too Narrow (2003)

10. Saves the Day – Stay What You Are (2001)

Another one that takes me back to a really specific time. This was Saves the Day at their peak.

9. Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003)
I know this is another pretty typical selection, but I’ll always have a soft spot for this one. Seeing Explosions for the first time was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

8. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes(2008)

This is one of those records that I absolutely know I will be listening to for however long I listen to music. One of the few that lives up to whatever hype whoever gives them. Absolutely beautiful.

7. Hey Mercedes – Everynight Fireworks (2001)

I actually think this record is most responsible for getting me into what I listen to today. Including Braid, weirdly enough. I would give anything for them to come back full time.

6. Thursday – Full Collapse (2001)

Remember when I said that Wolf Parade song has the best opening song ever? I lied. “Understanding in a Car Crash”, while technically is not the opening track, is even better.

5. Wilco – A Ghost is Born (2004)

This was where you could start to hear the “dad rock” side of Wilco coming out. I go back and forth between thinking this is better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. If I made this list in another month, they might be reversed.

4. Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003)

Toally flawless, regardless of the creative nosedive that Death Cab took after releasing this.

3. Piebald – We Are The Only Friends We Have (2002)

I thought I really loved Piebald a lot, and then I attended one of their farewell shows. Seeing the energy of that show made me appreciate this record even more. Sucks it had to be right before they ceased to exist.

2. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

Poor Arcade Fire. Neon Bible was great, but the follow up had no chance. There’s not much else that can be said. They play every song like it’s the end of the world and it’s amazing.

1. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

If you’d asked me three years ago if this would even be on the list, I’d say not. I was a pretty late comer to Wilco. I’d always dismissed them as Rolling Stone/Spin hype. Even being from Chicago, I just didn’t get it. Then, I happened to see them live and it changed everything. There’s nothing else that can be said about this record that hasn’t been said hundreds of times by hundreds of blogs and magazines. Wilco is the greatest american rock n roll band of the last 20 years.

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July 22, 2009

There is absolutely no reason that this collaboration should’ve worked, but it’s amazing.  James Brown and Pavarotti together on stage.