Here we go. We’ve finally decided to start our top ten albums of the decade lists, as well as top albums of ’09 as this crazy mixed up decade comes to an end. I’m not sure quite how this is all gonna work out, but I figured we should get through all of these lists without dragging it out too much. I think all of the members of Da Morgue are ready to post their favorites albums of the “aughts”, even Nancy, so this should be an exciting week.
It’s Never Been Like That by Phoenix (2006)
In Rainbows by Radiohead (2007)
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium (2006)
With this album RHCP somehow pulled off the feat of creating two hours of consistently impressive tunes. Sure, the Chili Peppers didn’t really break any new ground with Stadium Arcadium, but they made an album that was able to bring out all of the things this band does best, the funkiness, the in-your-face rockin’, and the beautiful guitar work from musical powerhouse John Frusciante. It’s too bad that Frusciante recently quit the band, it’s seems the Chili Peppers have only been able to reach their full potential with him involved.
9. My Morning Jacket – Z (2005)
This was pretty much the album that made My Morning Jacket one of my favorite bands. They were already a pretty cool little Southern Rock jam band at this point, but this album showed them taking their music to the moon and back. Evil Urges was a great follow-up but I think I like this one a little better just because it rocks a little more, and I like John Leckie’s spacey production. But either way, with this album these guys earned that line in “Wordless Chorus” that goes like “we are the innovators/they are the imitators”.
8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008)
This album didn’t place all that high on my best albums of 2008 list, but since the year ended I’ve continued listening to this album way more than anything else to come out last year. Some people can’t help but hate on them for flaunting their upper-class preppy background by singing about things like oxford commas and Louis Vuitton, but I don’t think anyone can deny how incredibly well crafted these songs are. And these great pop songs combined with the whole afropop influence have made them quite unlike anything happening in indie rock in the latter half of the decade.
7. The Hold Steady – Boys And Girls In America (2006)
I think these guys are just amazing, I mean how many other recent bands can say they put out 4 outstanding albums in just 5 years? Really any of them could of made this list but I think this is where their sound really came together. Craig Finn already showed that he was one of the most unique lyricists in modern rock with The Hold Steady’s first two albums, but with this album there’s plenty of big sing-along choruses and the rest of the band sounds like a real well-oiled machine instead of just a vehicle for Finn’s tales of wasted youth, crazy parties, and Midwest geography. There’ve been plenty of bands throughout this decade that have tried to revive classic rock, but in my opinion this is the only band that managed to pull it off while still managing to sound like true originals.
6. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
When I first heard this album it really struck me in a weird way because when it came out emo was at the height of it’s popularity, and this was an album that was full of emotion that actually felt sincere. So much so that Sean can’t listen to the song “Wake Up” without getting a little choked up. Another thing that amazed me and still amazes me about this album is how incredibly ambitious the production of this album is, it seems like every song just builds to these huge symphonic climaxes and it’s just incredible to me that a band could make such anthemic, fully-realized work on their debut, it’s got to be one of the most epic debut albums of all time. But I think that’s also kind of been a crutch for this band. When their second album came out I barely even gave it a chance, I guess I just couldn’t help but think “what’s the point? They’ll never even come close to Funeral.“
5. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
Why it took me until this year to finally get in to this album I’m not sure, I just know I spent way more time this year listening to it than anything else. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is truly an inspired blend of alternative, country, and experimental rock, and the songs are easily the best batch from Wilco’s now nearly fifteen years of existence. The album is probably best known for the fact that it was the first album to be independently released by a band over the internet, after the album was rejected by the band’s record label. It’s definitely sad to see how the record industry basically went to crap in this decade, but you can obviously see that the industry was pretty fucked up when a major label would refuse to release an album as brilliant as this one.
4. Brian Wilson – Smile (2004)
The release of Brian Wilson’s Smile, an album that Wilson started recording with The Beach Boys in 1966, is truly one of a kind. How many times does a genius of Wilson’s stature get a second chance to finally finish an unfinished masterpiece, and actually pull it off? This album could have turned out to be a huge disappointment, but Wilson and his backing band give these songs the care and attention they deserve, and it’s just hard not to get swept up with the whole sunny disposition of these songs. Yeah, it probably doesn’t quite have the effect it would of had if it had been completed as the follow-up to Pet Sounds in 1966, but it still stands as a great album regardless of what decade it was released in.
3. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
Meg and Jack White had already showed the world that all you really needed to make great raunchy rock n’ roll was a guitar and drums on White Blood Cells, but I think this is the album where The White Stripes really came alive. It’s just amazing what a huge sound Jack White was able to achieve on songs like “The Hardest Button To Button” and “The Air Beneath My Fingers”, but do it so sparingly. Plus you’ve also got plenty of acoustic songs like “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket”, on which Jack White sounds downright charming, something he seems to have lost a bit over the years. It’s also hard not to mention the song “Seven Nation Army”, which has what I would say is probably the definitive guitar riff of the last decade or so.
2. Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
I really can’t think of anything original to say about this album that hasn’t already been said, so I’m not gonna try very hard. This album quite simply defines why Radiohead was, and still is the most creative, innovative, and important band of their generation. They had already taken alternative rock in to uncharted territory with OK Computer, but they somehow managed to take themselves even further with Kid A. There’s barely any guitars on this album, barely any real drums, it seems like Thom Yorke’s vocals were the only thing not created synthetically. But it’s the album’s venturing into electronic music that makes the album seem like something that truly defines this technology-driven decade that was the 00’s. In fact most people seem to be hailing this as the album of the decade and I have a hard time arguing with that, but….
1. The Strokes – Is This It (2001)
The Strokes were just so damn cool. They defined the swagger, frustration, and energy that seemed to be lacking in rock n’ roll at the turn of the century. They had such a simple, bare bones approach to all of their songs, but the songs were so catchy, so rockin’, and yet they seemed like they didn’t even care how good they were, they just were. The Strokes even managed to cause a “garage rock revival” movement that was supposed to save rock music, and even if things didn’t quite turn out that way, the influence of this album on alternative rock is hard to deny. And besides that this is quite simply the album of this decade that I found myself coming back to more than any other. So whether I truly believe this is the best album of the 00’s I can’t say for sure, but more than any other this was the album that got me through the decade.