Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The best albums of the 2000s: 70-61

Bonus links: Some of us have posted our own personal top 100s on our personal blogs. Check the sidebar links to see Ron's, Georgy's and Tim's best-of-decade picks, and follow along with Holly Rae's hollyraeraedio to read her own countdown. I'm sure the rest of us will post our personal picks soon. Stay tuned.

This installment starts with a three-way tie and ends with a three-way tie. Now if only we could get mashups of music by the artists locked in ties...

68. Beck, Guero (2005)

Sea Change got my attention, but I never really got into Beck until I heard this album. It's just unbelievably good. Not having heard anything from it, I spontaneously picked it up at a going-out-of-business record store for $7. It's obvious I made a good decision that day. Catchy, creative, and full of character. It's also worth checking into the remix album Guerolito. - SB

I've always appreciated Beck's experimentation with sounds, but never more than with this record. "Girl" and "E-Pro" are favorite tracks. - AC

Beck - E-Pro

68. M.I.A., Arular (2005)

Simply (or not so simply) put, you're getting an incredible creative spirit exploring herself musically for the first time who isn't tying herself to any rules. It all feel very natural. It's a more cohesive effort than Kala, and I imagine she had a blast and experienced little heartburn writing it. Favorite song: 10 Dollar. - SB

Steve's assessment is right on. M.I.A.'s graphic arts background surely influences her musical bricolage in a very nice way. - AC

MIA - Galang

68. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)

The album that made U2 relevant again. After finally parting ways with the Flood wall-of-sound effect, this was their return to larger-than-life anthemic rock. - TN

I've loved U2 since my college days, when my cooler roommate introduced me to Boy and October. This band has never been tighter on a studio recording than with this 2000 release, and the writing on songs like "Walk On," "Beautiful Day" and "Stuck in a Moment" convey political and spiritual significance. - AC

U2 - Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of

67. The Swell Season, Once Soundtrack (2007)

Yes, they may be hipsterrific, but you can’t deny that Glen and Marketa have together forged some durable, powerful songs. - GC

If you didn't see the movie "Once," you may yet like this album. If you saw "Once," you'll probably love this album. - TN

I did love the movie and the album. As a bonus, it led me to discover The Frames. - MD

The Swell Season - When Your Mind's Made Up

66. A Perfect Circle, Mer De Noms (2000)

The debut side project from Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, this album emerged out of nowhere to start the decade quite right. Another one you can listen to from cover to cover, it demurs in the ways that Tool raises hell. Rather than just a collection of songs, it's genuinely an experience. - RB

Virtually unknown before this release, everyone should be aware of who Billy Howerdel is today. The primary brain behind this album, dude can write songs and play guitar with the best of them (he's an accomplished singer as well, but that's not on display much here). Excellent rock songs from front to back. I read in an interview that Howerdel initially envisioned a female vocalist for this project, and while I'm sure the result would have been marvelous, I'm quite happy he decided to work with Maynard. - SB

A Perfect Circle - 3 Libras

64. The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America (2006)

I totally swallow the Kool-Aid that Craig and co. are the inheritors to the Bruce Springsteen mantle. I’ve never seen a band be so genuinely anthemic without going over the top. - GC

The best bar band in America than never plays in a bar. Anthem rock for the indie kids. - AC

The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations

64. Alejandro Escovedo, A Man Under the Influence (2001)

AE can go all Chuck Berry on you in a fast minute, as he does with "Castanets," then turn it around and deliver soulful ballads like "Rosalie" and "Follow You Down." Then, just when you're seduced into those sweet, mellow stylings, he'll power up again with "Velvet Guitar," a love song to an instrument that beautifully expresses what many of his fellow guitarists feel. - AC

What AC said. Alejandro Escovedo is a crazy talent. If you get a chance to see him live, do it. And while it's not on this album, "Sad and Dreamy (the Big 1-0)" from around the same time is probably the best song for kids (ostensibly) that you've never heard. - MD

Alejandro Escovedo - Castanets

61. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (2006)

She’s come a long way from “The Wizard.” This album is like the aftermath of a thunderstorm on a hot, humid Southern day: rumbling with power and drenched in longing. - GC

The sounds on this record are classic. Jenny's lyrics make it edgy. Lovely. - HR

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rise Up With Fists

61. Feist, The Reminder (2007)

The clever one-shot video for "1 2 3 4" hooked me first. But the whole album is outstanding and heralded the arrival of Leslie Feist as a first-class songstress. - TN

Feist - 1 2 3 4

61. M.I.A., Kala (2007)

Yes, there are some questionable politics going on here, but much like I ignored Eminem’s misogyny and homophobia, I set them aside here because the music is damned, damned good. - GC

Though it's a bit unfocused and thrown together in comparison to Arular, it's still M.I.A. and still mighty fine. Semi-related: don't visit her website if you're susceptible to seizures. - SB

Pirate skulls and bones, sticks and stones and weed and bongs... -- and an ingeniously sampled Clash track. - AC

MIA - Paper Planes


  1. Oh, my God, the Hold Steady. I could write volumes. In fact, I have. They are the best band in America right now, and I will fight whoever thinks otherwise. Limping left on broken heels ;)

    My infant niece also digs Paper Planes. I don't know whether that is awesome or frightening.

  2. Courtney - I know how strongly you feel about the Hold Steady. They are fantastic. You'll get no fight from me, but I must say I preferred Stay Positive to Boys and Girls in America.

    Maybe your infant niece would also like "Straight to Hell"? ;)

  3. I think she would LOVE Straight to Hell, actually; it's practically the same baseline. I should experiment... ;)

    And yes, I liked Stay Positive much better than Boys and Girls; will it appear later? :)

  4. I'm surprised this entry has garnered only three comments. Well, four now.

  5. I'd put the U2 album higher. Not a big fan, necessarily, but that was an enormous record that brought them back from the pop music abyss.

    Agree entirely on Beck, and I really dig the Hold Steady. Have no particular love for Feist, but the Sesame Street version of "1,2,3,4" is excellent.

  6. Chris - All That You Can't Leave Behind landed in my top 20, FWIW. I'll be posting my personal rankings soon, probably over the weekend.

  7. Re: Hold Steady, I think with all the plaintive plucking, washed out melodies and precise pop strewn around nowadays, we really need something balls-out, and that's what the Hold Steady provide.