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Best Albums of the Aughts

Posted by phduffy on 2009-12-01 15:09:28

csmallz asked me to post his list of the best albums of the aughts:

20. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst (2008)

For folks who love Bright Eyes - this might be a bit sacrilegious, but I have to admit this is one of the most complete and amazing country albums recorded by someone not in their 70s in decades. Seeing Conor perform pretty much the whole album in its entirety (except for probably the best track on the album, Milkthistle) in Louisville, Kentucky was once of the highlights of the decade for me.

Favorite Track: Milk Thistle

19. Angels & Airwaves - We Don't Need to Whisper (2005)

The impetus for buying this album was a heavy dose of weed cookies and a desire to do parcour. Tim and I spent at least 2 hours in the damn store looking for it before we found out - it wasn't out til the following week. The album brings back a lot of great memories of living at 416 College Street - and lots of funny stories. Also, what a dick move Tom De Longe played on the other Blink 182 guys by basically just ditching them to form this post-punk apparatus.

Favorite Track: The Adventure

18. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (2005)

Probably my favorite party album of the 2000s. Every song makes my heart thump and after seeing them live at Lollapalooza (and making Radiohead sound um...quiet), I have to admit I developed a deep respect for the sheer excitement these folks produce.

Favorite Track: This Modern Love

17. Death Cab for Cutie - Plans (2005)

I have a lot of memories of listening to Plans, when I felt like I didn't have many plans. Generally the album I've turned to when my last has been in a state of flux and so I owe DCC a debt of gratitude for this one. While purists may charge that it is a shift away from their adept lyricism and low-fi feeling - I will follow Ben Gibbard into the dark.

Favorite Track: Marching Bands of Manhattan

16. Iron & Wine - Around the Well (2009)

I find Iron & Wine is at its best in the unique one-off tracks, b-sides, songs for soundtracks, etc. This album brings them all together, from their cover of Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" to the epic ballad "Trapeze Swinger" that includes the lines "The pearly gates had some eloquent graffiti, like "we'll meet again"; "fuck the man"; "tell my mother not to worry"...."

Favorite Track: Trapeze Swinger
15. Dead Prez - Let's Get Free (2000)
It was revolutionary, but gangsta. It let the world know that Black Power was not dead - it also let the cops know that they may very well be. With its scathing anger mixed with afrocentric love, it produced such lines as "I throw a molotov cocktail at the precinct..." and "they schools don't teach us shit, my people need freedom."

Favorite Track: Police State

14. Peaches - The Teaches of Peaches (2000)

Some time in 2004, Tim and I were walking up Spadina street and the dude wearing like pink pants, a yellow mesh shirt, big 'ole Elton John glasses and major headphones is walking past us in a proud saunter singing at the top of his lungs "Sucking on my tities like you wanting me calling me..." I was sold. And peaches did not fail to shock and disturb. By far the most powerful sexually explicit album I have ever heard - one that makes Lady Gaga seem like Doris Day circa 1947. Peaches will/should never be topped.

Favorite Track: AA XXX

13. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar (2005)

So the fact that this album sounds like it could have been performed in pretty much any century since the Dark Ages is pretty fascinating. With the supposed influx of Roma Gypsies in Toronto, I'd hope for repeated performances in this city very soon - maybe on Thursdays at Press Club. And also, I learned that the guy from Neutral Milk Hotel plays guitar on it cuz Beirut's hands are freakishly small and he can't play guitar cuz of it. Pretty incredible stuff.

Favorite Track: Brandenburg

12. Death Cab for Cutie - Photo Album (2001)

Sometimes it's good to hear about how bad Los Angeles sucks and how people's dad's are dicks and about how coney island isn't what it used to be. But then at other times we laugh indoors at movie script endings and just black out the friction.

Favorite Track: Styrofoam Plates

11. Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War (2007)

Ok. So I have to admit that indie music scene really blossomed in Canada in the 2000s. Yeah there were the sloans, rheostatics, eric's trip, thrush hermits of the 1990s, but realistically - Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg all had their real periods in the 2000s. The Stars are a great example of that (especially since they are both from Toronto and Montreal). This album brings me back to some really important memories of the 2000s - including the demonstrations in Quebec City and the feelings of hope and despair of the Bush/Harper Era.

Favorite Track: Take Me to the Riot

10. Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene (2005)

If this (or You Forgot it In People) were ranked number 1 album of 2000 by anybody, I'd be hard pressed to argue. This is arguably the best album on this list. It produced a sound of music that was completely unique and the decentralized anti-star nature of the band, definitely emulated the systems of development within this decade (including the internet, and the anti-globalization movement). Small-time diffuse, decentered, multi-layered, complex and a little dirty...Broken Social Scene really defined music in the 2000s.

Favorite Track: Handjobs for the Holidays

9. Justin Timberlake - Future Sex/Love Sounds (2006)

I think no dance album made this decade was as fun and catchy as this one. Justin Timberlake continues to surprise me with his sincerity and humility. Like he really doesn't have to be humble, but he is. This album would have been way higher ranked if if wasn't for that annoying voice of Timberland. Like dude, I respect you are a great dj - but fucking stay out of the booth. You are no Dr. Dre - you sound like a muppet when you rap.

Favorite Track: What Goes Around Comes Around

8. Postal Service - Give Up (2003)

You have to admit that when you were young - you also really wished that someone would make a whole album using Nintendo music. Postal Service not only did this, they made Nintendo music and turntables more sexy than any bootie shaking hip hop video in history. I may have a bit of a crush on Ben Gibbard, but for a side project, this album has spun more covers, imitators then most mega-bands. This is probably one of the most influential musical projects in recent memory. Also - see the New York Post article that ranks Postal Service's cover of Against All Odds by Phil Collins as the #3 greatest cover of all time.

Favorite Track: Such Great Heights

7. Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

After losing the love of his life, June, and nearing death himself - Johnny cash dug down deep and took ownership of a decade's worth of apathy and sadness and turned the 1990s into something sincere and worthwhile. His cover of Hurt and Personal Jesus probably stand as the first time I honestly realized that sometimes you write songs that are just better interpreted by others. Johnny Cash confirms Trent Reznor's nightmare world, but has the life experience to do it.

Favorite Track: Hurt

6. M.I.A. - Arular (2005)

Arular was groundbreaking. It incorporated underground street hip hop from Britain, Sri Lanka rhythms, Baile Funk from Brazil and the sneer of punk to produce a politically radical dance album that was an anthem for young refugees throughout the world. While Kala might have gained more popular support and was definitely more eclectic, this album feels like an album - like an essay or a poem that was driving to a specific point of calling on migrants to rise.

Favorite Track: Pull Up the People

5. Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism (2003)

Likely the height of poetic genius for Ben Gibbard, this album plays deep into you. You get the sense that this album is epic from its first note and it is heightened as the title track begins "The Atlantic was born today and i'll tell you how/The clouds above opened up and let it out"....and it keeps hauntingly reminding you not to take for granted the things around you.

Favorite Track: A Lack of Color

4. K'Naan - The Dusty Foot Philosopher (2005)

I spent three years working with youth hip hop organizations in Toronto, and K'Naan was an inspiration to every single youth that I met working there. The album is a story from start to finish of a chaotic Somalia produced from a "cold war" between the US and Soviet Union played out in places like Mogadishu, to a tumultuous migrant experience, to life in the hoods of north america to a rising of poor people. This is truly a philosophical masterpiece and deserves high praise.

Favorite Track: Soobax

3. The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site (2003)

This was my most difficult choice, as this album could have easily have been at #1 on my list. A folk masterpiece that invokes imagery that is so real it is at times frightening. Whenever I hear hospital verspers, I think of the last night I saw my grandmother in the hospital before she died. When I hear Reconstruction Site, I think of Rob & Lindsay's wedding. When I think of One Great City, I think of Tim too tall at the Weakerthans concert. The album is genius and was proof to me that the Weakerthans plan to be around for a long time.

Favorite Track: Plea From a Cat Named Virtute

2. Ani Difranco - Reveling & Reckoning (2001)

This album listens as both a really personal diary (reckoning) and a fierce passionate resistance (reveling)....The album opens with the line "Coming of age during the plague of Reagan & Bush, watching capitalism gun down democracy. It had this funny effect on me i guess." The most prolific artist in the last 25 years (I think Ani is closing in on 30 albums), this album spoke to me in 2001 at a time when my whole life was slowly changing. It forced me to open my eyes and understand myself and the society and reality around me. It is both sincere and bitter/both musically astute/lyrically poignant. In probably the biggest time of personal crisis in her own life, Ani produced a double album (only 8 months after released a full length album) that was rife with fear and anger. Released only days before Quebec City in 2001 - this album really underscored my decisions for the next decade.

Favorite Track: Your Next Bold Move

1. The Weakerthans - Left & Leaving (2000)

This album changed my thinking. Gave me perspective. Made me want to do something about everything around me. For fuck's sake, I have lyrics from this album tattooed on my forearm. And each day it reminds me of where I come from and what I can hope for. This is an album of ironic love and melodramatic yearning. From the title track's double entendre of a lost love and a dying city, to pamphleteer's lament for the fall of movements and the dedication it takes to put your head down and keep fighting. From a humanizing poem about youth homelessness (Aside) to the comparison of heart break to a garage sale - John K. Samson weaves the most beautiful poetry put to music since Leonard Cohen.

Favorite Track: Left & Leaving