Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The best albums of the 2000s: 60-51

Whoa-oah! We're halfway there... Today's installment gets us to the middle of our countdown. Enjoy. And please comment.

60. Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around (2003)

Looking at the playlist, you'd scratch your head at the odd mix of covers. What's the Man in Black doing, singing Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails? And why is Simon and Garfunkel in the mix? But aided by producer Rick Rubin's light touch, Cash turns every song into an intimate, spare and haunting experience. Most bone-chilling of all is his rendition of NIN's "Hurt." - AC

Not that The Man in Black needed to cement his legacy, but this was a heartbreaking and exhilarating exclamation point on a great career. - TN

Johnny Cash takes a bunch of covers and delivers a powerful and darkly autobiographical album. I was very glad to rediscover this one during the list-making process. - MD

Hurt - Johnny Cash

59. Tegan and Sara, So Jealous (2004)

The Quin twins have produced a lot of great music, but this is their masterpiece to date. Consistently powerful, catchy and smart. - TN

Take me Anywhere - Tegan and Sara

58. Bloc Party, Silent Alarm (2005)

Catchy techno beats and blips, wrapped around sharp shards of rhythmic guitar, all overlaid by lead singer's Kele Okereke's ghostly vocals. The combination made this debut by the British band one of the more unusual offerings on the indie scene by mid-decade. - AC

Like Eating Glass - Bloc Party

57. Death Cab for Cutie, Plans (2005)

How do you follow up an album like Transatlanticism? You can't. And to DCfC's credit, they didn't try to. Still, some of these tracks are among the group's best. - TN

Another album full of parallel universe top 10 hits. I can’t possibly top Tim's quip about them so I’ll just hush and say that they’re awesome. - GC

Your Heart Is An Empty Room - Death Cab or Cutie

56. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (2006)

Danger Mouse returns to our countdown, this time in cahoots with Cee-lo Green. Together, they create an innovative work that featured one of the decade's most infectious tunes ("Crazy") and my personal favorite, the cover of The Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone." - AC

You can put "Crazy" in the mix for Top 10 singles of the decade. - TN

This thing came out of nowhere. One of the most original albums of the decade, easily. - RB

Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

54. Interpol, Antics (2004)

Simple, thumping bassline and deadpan vocals made this New York band. But it didn't hurt that lead vocalist Paul Banks sounds like he could be Michael Stipe's goth-emo little brother. - AC

While some prefer their earlier work, tracks like "Evil" "NARC" and "C'mere" and "Length of Love" are really enjoyable ballads that don't sacrifice an iota of rock in the process. - RB

Love the space within this album, encompassing - driven. HR

Evil - Interpol

54. Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am That's What I Am Not (2006)

How can these young, snotty Britbrats rock so hard? I don't know, but they do. Jamie Cook does some major damage with a Telecaster. - AC

Deservedly pretentious... must give in to the momentum. - HR

I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor - Arctic Monkeys

53. Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (2006)

A lot of B&S purists hated this record, because it departs from the standards of past releases. But that's one reason I like it. It doesn't sound that much like the Glasgow band's older stuff. Clever lyrics hold more humor and light-heartedness that past efforts. And "White Collar Boy" features a chunky "Spirit in the Sky" fuzz-guitar opening and bassline that sticks in the ear, and conjures up nostalgia for Norman Greenbaum's one and only hit. That alone is enough of a reason for this album to make the cut. - AC

This is indeed a pop album by a twee pop outfit that keeps the coffee shop crowd in a tizzy. Yet, you can't deny this one is full of winners. Simple, breezy and catchy tunes abound on this one. - RB

White Collar Boy - Belle & Sebastian

51. Ryan Adams, Gold (2001)

The first half or so of this album sits among the best run of songs recorded this decade. An inconsistent second half kept me from loving it more. If I had this in vinyl, Side A would be worn out by now. - TN

I'll admit right up front that I love Ryan Adam, so much so that while compiling my top 100 I got distracted from my main list by ranking RA's top albums of the decade. Gold didn't quite make the top of that list, but it is a great album all the same. The coincidental, September '01 timing of "New York, New York" created a post-9/11 anthem. It helped thrust Adams into the mainstream where people like me who weren't originally Whiskeytown acolytes could discover him. - MD

New York, New York - Ryan Adams

51. Broken Social Scene, Broken Social Scene (2005)

Sitting atop the many compelling Canadian indie collectives, Broken Social Scene hasn't done anything as complete or consistent as this sterling disc. Great to work out to as well. - TN

Personally, I put You Forgot It In People above this album as far as energy and achievement, but this self-titled album rocks in its own right. - AC

Improvisationally orchestral - deepens with time. - HR

Swimmers - Broken Social Scene


  1. Ok, even reading the title of that Gnarls Barkley song makes me want to get up and dance, which, I think, is the ultimate test of a good dance song; its mere MENTION gets you moving, never mind listening to it.

    That Arctic Monkeys album is phenomenal; I didn't follow up on subsequent releases, though, mostly from fear of disappointment that they couldn't/wouldn't live up to Whatever...

    Such fun. I know I don't have the energy for this on my site, but I REALLY should take at least a top ten list on.

  2. Courtney - You should make at least a top 10 list and let me know when you post it. I'm going to post my own top 100 eventually, possibly by the end of the week. Yes, my very own top 100. Does that make me crazy? Does that make me craaaazy? Get up and dance, dammit!

  3. I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind... ;)

    It was right before I undertook this compulsive listing thing.

    And I'm dancing. It's a rule.

  4. I deleted this from my original comments for brevity's sake, but to Tim's point that Gold's first half works better....

    Apparently Adams set out intent on making a double album. Instead, his label tacked the first six tracks from what would have been the second disc onto what should have been the first disc (cost saving measures ring a bell, highered folks?). The label then released the final five tracks as a bonus disc ("Side Four" - what it would have been on a double LP).

    Sorry. I warned you I have a bit of a Ryan Adams problem.

  5. I never really listened to Plans by Death Cab. I'm a HUGE fan of Transatlanticism but never was much into their other albums. Can anyone tell me why I should listen to Plans?

  6. Courtney - As for the Arctic Monkeys' later stuff, give Humbug a shot. It has a darker, moodier vibe, probably influenced by producer Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age front man). Not as good as Whatever... but still worth a listen.

    Steve - I am not a big DCfC fan so I can't answer your question. Maybe Tim or Georgy can explain its allure. Or maybe it will forever remain a mystery.

  7. Mason: I'm shocked that Ryan and his record company would have any issues. SHOCKED! Thanks for the explanation ... makes sense.

    Steve: I loved "Transatlanticism" so much, I did kinda dread listening to "Plans." But it's a good album, plenty of great songs.

  8. Plans is full of consumptive goodness for someone who doesn't want to deal with their ambient older stuff or their too pop-mainstream newer stuff.

    It's just the right mix.

  9. Incredible timing by Ryan Adams with the "New York" song and video, but that was one heck of a song.

    Not an Arctic Monkeys fan; a couple of good tunes, but there were too many other similar bands that did more for me, like the Kaiser Chiefs.

    And I heartily agree with all the comments about the Gnarls Barkley single, although the rest of the album is bleh for me.

  10. Chris - Kaiser Chiefs over the Arctic Monkeys? I predict a riot! :)

  11. Chris - Hooray for Kaiser Chiefs > Arctic Monkeys! *riots*

    And Ron, yes, that is how I would sum up "Plans" as well.

    Sorry, a little late to the game with the back-commenting here...