Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The best albums of the 2000s: 80-71

We begin our latest installment with yet another tie. Actually, we do not, although there are some other ties in this installment. When we first posted this, we somehow overlooked the No. 80 album in our countdown. But that error has now been corrected, and the blogger who committed this sin of omission has been duly reprimanded (see note on No. 80 for a further explanation). (P.S. This is the only entry of the weekend. We'll be back with the next chunk of musical goodness on Monday.)

P.S. - Thanks to Largehearted Boy for including our project in his Best of the Decade list of lists.

80. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

The story goes that after his band broke up, Justin Vernon went to the woods of Wisconsin and emerged from his dad’s hunting cabin after the long winter with this ethereal album. Kind of like a modern day indie Thoreau. - MD

As penance for omitting this important musical contribution from the initial post, I am growing a beard today as an homage to Mr. Iver. (P.S. - It was only recently that I learned his name should be pronounced Bone Ee-VERRR. I really should be more attuned to these things.) - AC

Skinny Love - Bon Iver

Penance bonus: For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver

79. The New Pornographers, Challengers (2006)

This album was a grower for me, as it’s not as accessibly frantic as their previous works, but once it got me, it would not. Let. Go. A deep and beautiful album. - GC

Another solid effort by Canada's premier alt-indie supergroup. - AC

Not the best New Pornographers album, but very, very good all the same. I can listen to this on repeat for hours. - MD

I did enjoy the record, and though it didn't make my list, it is well worth your time. - HR

Mutiny, I Promise You - The New Pornographers

79. Dr. Dog, Fate (2008)

These guys are often compared with Brian Wilson, as a post-sixties pop band that produce good music with melodies. I didn't really understand what that meant, but you listen to Fate a few times and before you know it, you'll be boppin' to the tunes like they've always been on your radar. A real surprise hit for a band that's arrived. - RB

To me it came off as simple, at first. Saw Dr. Dog at Lolla 2008 and fell in love - appreciate almost every song and the diverse, almost geeky keys, vocals, percussion, and guitars. A pretty accessible album - the band's fifth - makes this whole music-thing look and sound easy. - HR

The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer - Dr. Dog

76. Lucinda Williams, World Without Tears (2003)

This Louisiana native sticks true to her roots of Delta Blues and hard country to create some of the most powerful and painful songwriting in alt-country circles. World Without Tears is filled with heartbreak and struggle, story-songs told in a world-weary whiskey voice and spare production values. This is Lucinda Williams's masterpiece. - AC

When my son (now 6) was a colicky baby I would put him in his swing with this turned way up to drown out the screaming, and we'd both find peace for a little while. And I didn't get out (that colicky son was first of three kids in four years) to see much live music this decade, but I did get to see Lucinda twice at a historic theater in downtown Lexington. She is one of the best - a master songwriter with a voice that just gets better with age. - MD

Those Three Days - Lucinda Williams

76. Kathleen Edwards, Failer (2003)

Another excellent Canadian import, Kathleen Edwards has a gift for being both blunt and tender. These songs are enjoyable, affecting and unique in their humor and grace. - GC

I didn't rank this album, but it's fantastic. Canadian country at its finest, truly. The song "Hockey Skates" will leave an imprint, too. -RB

Six O'Clock News - Kathleen Edwards

76. DJ Danger Mouse, The Grey Album (2004)

A brilliant mashup of the Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's Black Album, this album helped pave the pave the way for future mashup artists like Girl Talk and M.I.A., and gave us a sample of this master mixologist's production talents. - AC

The album that brought Danger Mouse to prominence cost absolute nothing for those who heard it. Despite the attempts of The Beatles label to shut it down, it gave people who "don't listen to rap" a reason to change their tune. - RB

99 Problems - DJ Dangermouse

74. Various Artists, O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack (2000)

Not only an outstanding collection, it did the seemingly impossible by making bluegrass cool in the mainstream. The resulting Down From The Mountain Tour also was one of the best of the decade. - TN

Ralph Stanley finally gets his due. - AC

Big Rock Candy Mountain - Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock

74. Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004)

I will forever be grateful to “Float On” for getting me through the last few months at an increasingly torturous job. Thanks, Isaac. - GC

There isn't anything about this album that really reached out and grabbed me. But the collection of tunes and sounds here tend to envelop the listener and make for an interesting experience. I can't really explain it. But it's good. - AC

Everything in context. MM tweaked our ears just a tiny bit so we could be open to some of the creative stuff coming later in the decade. - HR

Float On - Modest Mouse

71. Rufus Wainwright, Poses (2002)

This album is both epic and granular. You can somehow picture both the flip-flops on Fifth Avenue and the sweeping majesty of the landscapes and castles his songs evoke, while never losing sight of the fact that these songs are about people held, for better or for worse, in love’s sway. - GC

Ok, I adore Rufus. We just have to get that out of the way and acknowledge that. Love Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk. Composition, voice, lyrics... 'these are just a couple of my cravings.' - HR

Poses - Rufus Wainwright

71. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Source Tags & Codes (2002)

It's hard to explain this band, with everything from their wacky name to pegging them to a particular genre. Still, if you like rock on the fringes of the experimental, with long breaks and introspective lyrics, give this album a spin. -RB

I think of Trail of Dead as the My Bloody Valentine of the 2000s. This record explores every dimension, all emotions, instruments and effects. It doesn't hurt that you the talents of both Keeley and Reece at the singing and songwriting helms alternatively. Unparalleled in context. -HR

How Near How Far - ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

Relative Ways - ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

71. Tegan and Sara, This Business of Art (2000)

It's fairly safe to say Canada will never produce a more talented set of lesbian twins than the Quins. "My Number," from this album, was the first indication of how good they would become. - TN

My Number - Tegan and Sara


  1. I saw Dr. Dog open up for the Raconteurs in 2007; fantastic live band.
    The O Brother soundtrack I think was one of the decades most pleasant surprises.
    I can't even put into words how I feel about the Dangermouse...:)

  2. Courtney - I think Danger Mouse may have been the most influential music-maker of the decade, based on his work with the Grey Album, Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, etc. Although I think a strong case could be made for Jack White.

    Hey, let's start a debate! Most influential music person of the decade, anyone?

  3. Don't forget Danger Mouse's work with Beck on Modern Guilt - love.

  4. I also ranked The Grey Album - mostly for its historical significance and influence. (Not that it's not a great listen in and of itself.) Really, if it weren't for Danger Mouse would we be enjoying mashups in Glee?

  5. Re: Bon Iver (the overlooked addition). I never could get into <For Emma, Forever Ago. But for some reason, I like his Blood Bank EP, released this year. Maybe because there are only 4 songs on it. A little Bon Iver goes a long way for me.

  6. Holly - Modern Guilt is a terrific album. Beck and Danger Mouse seem like natural collaborators.

  7. 0 for this entire post except for two songs: "Float On," which is awesome, and "Man of Constant Sorrow."

  8. Chris - Only 1 of the 10 in this installment made my personal list, and that was the Lucinda Williams album, World Without Tears.