Sunday, December 6, 2009

The best albums of the 2000s, inaugural post: this one goes to 11

So the seven of us pooled our collective wisdom on all things musical to determine the top 100 albums of the decade. But because of a five-way tie for 97th place (the first of several ties to occur during this exercise), we ended up with 101 best albums of the decade. Since we're planning to share our insights, 10 albums at a time, we begin by bringing you a bonus -- 11 glorious albums that fit our 101-91 spot. Here we go.

97. The Dillinger Escape Plan, Miss Machine (2004)

In your face, aggressive, and genius. Music that's hard enough to perform, let alone write in the first place. They completely changed the metal/hardcore/mathmetal game (call it what you will) with this release. Proof that even the craziest of the crazy doesn't have to lack intelligence. - SB

Unretrofied - The Dillinger Escape Plan

97. Hem, Rabbit Songs (2001)

While we were off being seduced by the dulcet tones of Ben Gibbard, Hem was quietly sitting at home knitting us a rich musical tapestry that will keep us warm for decades. We should be grateful. - GC

Idle (The Rabbit Song) - Hem

97. She & Him, Volume One (2008)

An odd couple, an often compelling disc. Zooey Deschannel's distinctive vocal stylings notwithstanding, I think M. Ward could make a great album with countless chanteuses. - TN

Zooey Deschanel's quirky, plaintive delivery and M. Ward's simple arrangements combine for a beautiful, infectious retro vibe. This is the album Scarlett Johannson and Jennifer Love Hewitt wish they could make. - MD

I Thought I Saw Your Face Today - She & Him

97. Frou Frou, Frou Frou (2002)

I once sat with a close friend for about six hours, while we worked on different projects listening to this album the entire time. Imogen Heap turns this LP into an experience. It's fitting they only did this once, I doubt releasing a second would've come close to how well put together their debut came together. - RB

Breathe In - Frou Frou

97. Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, Streetcore (2003)

Released posthumously (Strummer died just before Christmas 2002), the Clash front man's final album was his best with the Mescaleros. Strummer's weary, gravel-voiced cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. - AC

Redemption Song - Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros

95. The Killers, Hot Fuss (2004)

The bonus tracks on the deluxe edition alone are better than many albums. And to think some critics don't like The Killers? Just jealous of Brandon Flowers' looks and charisma, I guess. - TN

My husband is the big Killers fan in my household, not me, but his stirring renditions of “Mr. Brightside” on Rock Band may be winning me over… - GC

Mr. Brightside - The Killers

95. Asobi Seksu, Citrus (2006)

Jangly, echo-drenched, bilingual shoegaze. In either language, Japanese or English, the sound is heavenly. - AC

Strawberries - Asobi Seksu

92. Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero (2007)

Limiting himself primarily to a laptop while on tour, Trent Reznor wrote his most electronic album to date. A concept album through and through, the album takes a peek at life in the year 2022. And it ain't pretty. The album was a piece of the much larger Year Zero alternate reality game (must-click if you're not familiar). - SB

Survivalism - Nine Inch Nails

92. Glen Phillips, Winter Pays for Summer (2005)

As a teenager, I was obsessed with the music of Toad the Wet Sprocket. While his first solo album did not captivate me, this album grabbed me and would not let go to this day. It’s classically Glen -- reflective, romantic and catchy as sin -- while showing his musical and personal growth. - GC

Duck & Cover - Glen Phillips

92. Bright Eyes, Lifted or The Story Is In the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002)

This is Conor Oberst at his best, in my mind. The right mix of cyncism and emo-romantic rage that doesn't have much of a mainstream parallel. "Method Acting" is the best song you've never heard. - RB

Method Acting - Bright Eyes

91. Thom Yorke, The Eraser (2006)

The solo debut from Radiohead's front man creeps up on you. - AC

Dark electrophine sounds seep through a 2006, pre-In Rainbows (2007), pre-President Obama vibe. Nicely appreciated now through The Eraser Rmxs (2009). -HR

I was late to the Radiohead party. This got me in the door. - MD

Black Swan - Thom Yorke


So, there you have Nos. 91-101. Which should we have kicked off the island?

Contributors: SB = Stephen Biernacki; RB = Ron Bronson; AC = Andrew Careaga; GC = Georgy Cohen; MD = Mason Dyer; TN = Tim Nekritz; HR = Holly Rae


  1. I haven't really given NIN much thought since the Pretty Hate Machine days, but Year Zero looks like it has potential in a dystopian sort of way.

    I also haven't given The Killers their due, probably because Brandon Flowers is so damn pretty.

    Hem is a new one for me.

    I'm learning a lot from my fellow music nerds.

  2. It's hard to argue whether an album should be placed higher without seeing the rest of the list, but that Frou Frou album (along with most of Imogen's stuff) swings back through my musical choices at least once a month.

    As for The Killers, still fighting off the urge of saying their first album will be their lasting impression on Rock history...but a great impression it would be.

  3. God the Killers bore me... although Bright Eyes bores me more. Granted, this is coming from a girl who currently has a Ryan Adams song on her music website, so go figure ;) I'd have kicked either of them off of the island.

  4. I enjoy Imogen Heap's stuff, so I've been remiss in not exploring Frou Frou more. But then there just aren't enough hours of the day to listen to the music I already have.

    And I (obviously) love The Killers, but they have argubly the worst A&R people in The Biz. Very often their singles (with the exception of my personal theme song, "Mr. Brightside") are among the dullest material. And almost every bonus or outtake I've heard could easily displace the more mundane album tracks. Go figure.

  5. Courtney - I knew you wouldn't kick Joe S. off the island. In fact, you'd probably put him higher. (He's in my personal top 10 for the decade; I'll post my personal list later.)

    Webslung - Thanks for chiming in. Like Tim, I need to explore Frou Frou a bit more.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. Tim's been talking about this countdown for a while now, so glad to see it in digital print.
    Hem was one of those albums I accidentally stumbled upon in an oh-so-2000s way. The short-lived Audiogalaxy MP3 site used to have a song of the day and "Half Acre" was once featured. I got hooked, bought the album and was very suprised to see that very tune show up in an insurance commercial about five years later.
    If there's any choice I disagree with here, it's NIN: Have they put out anything relevant since The Downward Spiral?

  7. @postrockblog Oh they've put out a LOT that's been relevant since The Downward Spiral. They've been my favorite band for 14 years and its been fun watching Trent evolve.

    Their biggest influence to the masses has definitely been how they're releasing music. If you clicked on the Year Zero link, you know that the music is only a piece of the overall project. You don't see marketing efforts that intense very often.

    When they released their 36-song instrumental Ghosts I - IV collection in 08, the music was released licensed as Creative Commmons. This means it was legally free. Nobody had to actually pay for it. Yet it raked in $1,619,420 in the first week, and was the best-selling mp3 album on Amazon for the entire year:

    Then Trent released The Slip for free as a thank you.

    It's personal taste whether or not the music is relevant, but Nine Inch Nails as an entity, and moreso Trent Reznor, well - he's more relevant than ever and a true pioneer in the music industry.

  8. I grabbed The Slip when it came out for free, and got into it for several weeks. I also grabbed the freebie NINJA Tour sampler but I'm not a big Jane's Addiction fan so I was like, meh.

    Regardless of what you think about NIN from an aesthetic standpoint, you've gotta give Reznor props for his creativity and willingness to explore.

  9. The Killers this low? And an awful NIN album? I'm assuming this means that "Sam's Town" and "With Teeth" are somewhere higher on the list.

  10. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Bright Eyes' early, angsty stuff. You want awesome Bright Eyes, pull out "Fevers and Mirrors." A good sign of the musician he would become before he got so damned boring. (Except for "The First Day of My Life," which is lovely)