Friday, December 11, 2009

The best albums of the 2000s: 30-21

One more of our members, Andrew, has posted his personal picks for the decade. Check out his list -- but not until you see what's in store for you here.

30. TV on the Radio, Dear Science (2008)

Just an enjoyable, funky album, from start to finish. - AC

Unlike Return To Cookie Mountain which led this band to widespread acclaim, this LP is experimental and yet, beautifully composed. It's almost understated, but goes down really smooth. - RB

An underrated album. I've always respected TV on the Radio but never really considered myself a true fan until this release. They're awesome live, too. - SB

Dancing Choose - TV on the Radio

29. Laura Veirs, Year of Meteors (2005)

So happy to see Ms. Veirs rank so highly on the list. “Year of Meteors” is a beautiful, stunning album, unassuming yet urgent. - GC

The best singer-songwriter you've never heard of, Laura Veirs brings honesty and refreshing clarity to every song. Beautifully composed, simple and yet lush. All at once, no less. Also an absolutely joy to see live. - RB

Parisian Dream - Laura Veirs

28. Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

“Fight Test” is one of those few songs that reliably, no matter how many times I’ve listened to it, lifts my spirits and demands my attention whenever it comes on. Now that’s a way to start an album. - GC

This record is full of light; accessible and poignant. - HR

Fight Test - The Flaming Lips

27. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (2007)

Another study of contrasts that works surprisingly well. - TN

What an odd pairing. Who'd have believed the Led Zeppelin front man and the reigning queen of bluegrass would have merged so beautifully? A few tracks on this album don't quite work for me, but in the balance, this is a well done effort. - AC

There are so many reasons this never should have worked. But I'd buy an album of Alison Krauss singing phone listings from the phone book, so that makes it easy to understand where this went right from the start. "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us" and "Please Read The Letter" are fantastic songs. Both Plant and Krauss bring their A-game to this and it pleases. - RB

Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On) - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

26. The White Stripes, Elephant (2003)

A beautiful beast of an album. On Elephant, the White Stripes are harder, darker and more aggressive than ever. - AC

Fully realized Stripes. Impressive. - HR

The Hardest Button to Button - The White Stripes

25. At The Drive In, Relationship of Command (2000)

If the song Arcarsenal doesn't get you fired up nothing will. I used to sit in my room listening to this (album) over and over again just staring at the CD cover, occasionally pulling out the lyrics to try and get something out of it (it's not easy). This album is just so FUN. Screaming to this and bouncing around rooms in college with friends are memories that'll last forever. There's a ton of high energy here (Arcarsenal, Mannequin Republic, etc.) but they know how to slow it down, too (Invalid Litter Dept., Quarantined). Arcarsenal and Enfilade are my favorite songs. These guys are the second band I would have loved to see live, behind Nirvana (Led Zeppelin would be third). - SB

This record is brilliant, the sounds were astounding at the time, absolutely changed my ears. Mad talent props. - HR

Cosmonaut - At the Drive In

24. Kanye West, The College Dropout (2004)

The Jesus-talkin' Kanye changed the way I think about hip hop. - AC

Love him or hate him, his production skills changed the game of hip-hop and braggadocio is only palatable because of his immense talent. Here he arrives still somewhat humble and in awe of his ascendancy into the pantheon of the genre's greats. - RB

"Imma let you finish" - but long before he was a stage stealer-turned-internet meme Kanye stepped out from the production booth to prove he had serious talent on the mic. College Dropout warrants particular interest for higher ed for its biting social commentary on issues of college access and success ("We Don't Care," "All Falls Down," etc.). - MD

Jesus Walks - Kanye West

23. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges (2008)

For years, I've had this love-hate thing going with My Morning Jacket. I would love their hard-driving tunes but was less enamored with their mellower stuff. Plus, I thought they should try harder to subdue their Kentucky roots. But with Evil Urges, MMJ has managed to mitigate my worries, and now I have nothing but love for the band. - AC

Nothing evil about this record in my mind at all. Enchanting. - HR

What I said earlier about loving MMJ's constant evolution really comes to a head on Evil Urges. The opening funk notes and falsetto of "Highly Suspicious" practically holler: "I'm Jim James, bitch!" Elsewhere on the album MMJ showcases their signature reverb-laden Southern, 70s infused rock. Still other songs are spare and beautiful: "Librarian" takes the sexy librarian pop culture archetype and makes it tender and believable. - MD

Touch Me I'm Going to Scream - My Morning Jacket

22. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand (2004)

This album became less interesting after the first 100 or so times I played it, but no denying "Take Me Out" is a brilliant bit of quirky pop. - TN

This Glasgow band's debut album was their finest hour. Also, hands down, the best album named for an assassinated archduke I've ever heard. - AC

I can't not move to this. Lots of workout playlists back in the day included this record. - HR

Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand

21. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)

If only the band seemed a little less self-satisfied, smug and smirky, I'd dare to love them more. But when they hit it, they hit it. - TN

This Texas band has churned out some great albums during the 2000s. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, despite its silly title, was Spoon's most accessible. - AC

The Underdog - Spoon


  1. The Plant/Krauss album made my top ten list from the decade as well. So, so beautiful and haunting. Her fiddle playing on "Nothing", I don't know what spirit she's channeling, but that is nothing short of disturbing, it's so good. Oh, and when they sang "Battle of Evermore" when I saw them live, I nearly passed out. No word of a lie.

    What am I missing with My Morning Jacket? I actually loved Jim James' work with other bands on the "I'm Not There" soundtrack, but I couldn't really access Evil Urges in a meaningful way.

  2. Courtney - It took me a while to warm to MMJ. But listen to the sweet guitarcraft and drums on the opening of "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream" and how it segues so hauntingly into Jim James' vocals. Nice. Can't explain why I love it, but I do.

    Mason - "I'm Jim James, bitch!" You had me rolling this morning when I read that.

  3. MMJ is hit or miss for me, really. I preferred Spoon's earlier work "Gimmie Fiction" to the latest one, though I appreciate it belatedly.

    Plant/Krauss is one of those great collabos that gives you faith in music. Like "aah, people really do get this stuff right everyone once in a while."

  4. My quick thoughts:

    Plant/Krauss is outstanding, and FF is a winner too.

    Outside of the singles, Kanye does nothing for me, though, and I agree with Ron that "Gimme Fiction" was better.

  5. I hear a lot about Kayne West's production and how the music is actually good. I want to give the arrogant diot (I think it's fair to call him that) a fair shot. What album should i start with? The College Dropout?

  6. Kanye is a way better producer than a rapper. Hands down. Umm..I'd start with his first album, yeah. The College Dropout is a good place to begin and then Late Registration sounds even more complete in comparison. Jon Brion's production is great stuff and hearing it on a rap album is just insane.

    On Laura Veirs, I saw her live last month which was excellent:

  7. This list is humming along nicely, guys. Really enjoying it.

    I reluctantly agree with Kanye's inclusion, though I really can't make up my mind about him. I think we all knew he was a jerk long before the Swift Incident and his ego just turns me off.

    I think Late is the superior album, though. "Gone" is the quintessential Kanye song and one of the best LP closers ever. It's got that "Day in the Life" build up at the end and a funky, yet, bittersweet vibe that I find irresistable.

    Speaking of irresistable, the Krauss/Plant collaboration completely knocked me out. Definitely one of those "Woah, this actually works" records.

    Loved the Franz Ferdinand debut when it first came out, but it definitely lost some luster over time.

  8. I remember when Franz Ferdinand came out that everyone thought they would be the second coming (just like the strokes), but yeah, their follow-ups fell way short. That debut is awesome, though, especially "Dark of the Matinee."