I know, you just wanna see my list right? In fact, you’re just gonna go scan over it, right? Did you do that already? OK, now let’s talk about me. I grew a lot musically in this decade. I went from liking like disco music and shit like that to enjoying alternative rock that is so indie my friends give me a hard time for it. It’s a shame I never really got into a musical instrument and plugged into the modern music scene early on, as I missed out on the gems that everyone gathers around, like Is This It, and was late to the party with other groups like The White Stripes. So since I can’t really do a list of the albums that meant the most to me at the time, because that list would pretty much just be from 2007-2009, I instead decided to list the ten albums of the decade that I listen to the most now.
All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) by U2
Dear Science (2008) by TV on the Radio
Vampire Weekend (2008) by Vampire Weekend
Hold on Now, Youngster… (2008) by Los Campesinos!
Black Holes and Revelations (2006) by Muse
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002) by the Flaming Lips
10. Stadium Arcadium (2006) by Red Hot Chili Peppers
I’ve really liked what RHCP have been doing post-Californication, and Stadium Arcadium is them at their most triumphant. A double album is a dangerous thing, and generally I find that they are overly long and get boring. Somehow, the Chili Peppers were able to make this whole damn thing engaging, which is an incredible accomplishment. Not only could I not pick a favorite song off this album, I couldn’t easily pick a top five. It’s really that good. Yes, you could argue that they haven’t really done anything that different since Californication, but when I like it so much, I’ll do more than allow it, I’ll encourage it.
9. Because of the Times (2007) by Kings of Leon
Pretty much all of my honorable mentions could have taken this spot. Which is weird, because this is number nine, not ten, but that’s how my mind works. Stadium Arcadium is really good, definitely among my top ten albums of the decade, but this and the honorable mentions have been more important to me at different points in time. I even wrote a whole thing for All That You Can’t Leave Behind before I finally made up my mind. No, I don’t like “Charmer.” But this album is all kinds of good. Like, if I was driving somewhere, and I stopped at a light, and there was someone next to me with their windows down and Because of the Times blasting, I’d be like, “I like the music you listen to.” But they wouldn’t hear me, because the music is too loud.
8. Good News for People Who Loves Bad News (2004) by Modest Mouse
Gotta give love to Washingtonian bands. I’ve got some vivid memories of this album, from the time I accidentally started listening to it with my iPod turned all the way up in math class to some other time that I should remember. Now, some people are going to tell you that The Moon & Antarctica is the great Modest Mouse album of the decade. Those people are wrong. Sure, “3rd Planet” and “Gravity Rides Everything” are great. No, the band did not sell out. Good News for People Who Love Bad News is just really good, from beginning to end. And We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is good too, damnit.
7. Our Ill Wills (2007) by Shout Out Louds
It is rare that an album captures me as much as the sophomoric release from Shout Out Louds. Which is why I was bummed out when my friends didn’t really respond to it at all. I guess this really was the start of me going off in my own direction musically. But Our Ill Wills isn’t on this list because of some strange guilt or because it was a turning point, it’s here because I love it. The strange, dark lyrics coupled with some cheery instrumentation make for one of the most engrossing albums I’ve ever heard. When I coupled this with that great album from Peter, Bjorn and John, I was pretty excited about the Swedish music scene. Then PBJ turned up the suck and Shout Out Louds still haven’t released a followup album yet. But unlike PBJ, I’m sure Shout Out Louds will not disappoint.
6. Sea Change (2002) by Beck
Beck was one of the great rising stars of the 1990s, with immortal classics like Mellow Gold and Odelay. When his long-time girlfriend left him, he was hurt. This brought about a massive transformation, a sea change, in the kind of music he was creating. The resulting album was less absurd and sample- and rap-heavy, less ironic and funny, and a lot more personal. It’s beautiful. There’s no album better suited for when you’re feeling a little down, but it’s appeal is greater than that too. I could have gone with the albums that Beck released after this one, since I like them a lot, but Sea Change is undeniably the most important record Beck put out in the decade.
5. Z (2005) by My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket is a really good band with countless great songs and several of my favorite albums. So I hope you won’t take it lightly when I say Z is thus far their greatest achievement. From the astounding beauty of “Wordless Chorus” to rocking “Off the Record,” Z shows how a great rock band becomes an important one. As they say, “we are the innovators, they are the imitators.” Colin says that My Morning Jacket is like the American Radiohead, and you can definitely hear that in this album. It’s like Radiohead went down south, put on a few pounds and pumped up the rock to new heights.
4. Funeral (2004) by Arcade Fire
I’ve talked about the white appeal of this album already, so there’s not much left to say. Ever since Where the Wild Things Are, “Wake Up” has gained even more power, because I can’t not think of that film when the song comes up. Frankly, if you ever meet a white person who says they don’t like this album, they are lying. Either they haven’t heard it yet or they are trying to impress someone. David freaking Bowie likes these guys, I’ve even watched a YouTube video where they play some songs together. Are you telling me David Bowie is wrong? I ought to punch you in the throat.
3. Takk… (2005) by Sigur Rós
Ágaetis Byrjun probably should have been on my 1990s list, I honestly don’t know why I didn’t have it there. There’s something so magical about this band, and especially that album, that really resonates within me. That album and Takk… have always been fighting for the position of my favorite from the band, and I honestly still can’t decide. Takk… maintains the bands trademark resonating sound, while introducing new elements that feel both organic and mechanical, resulting in a lush sound that just blows my mind. As I’ve always said, the Icelandic vocals just make it seem even more magical. Truly profoundly good music, unlike anything else I’ve ever heard.
2. A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) by Coldplay
I’m always writing about Coldplay because I really like them. Yes, they are popular. Yes, it probably isn’t the most manly thing in the world to like Coldplay. I don’t care. Each album they’ve released is really good. With A Rush of Blood to the Head they went from Radiohead-esque in a more U2 direction. That’s a pretty sweet equation if you ask me. The fact that I probably know the lyrics to this whole album is pretty telling too, since I usually don’t really pay much attention to lyrics. Oh, and here’s a funny fact: I got this CD from my mom. She had bought it already, I’m not sure if she liked it, but I found it one day and brought it down to my computer. The rest is history.
1. In Rainbows (2007) by Radiohead
Everyone likes talking about their favorite modern bands, and I can’t think of anybody that’s more reliable than these rockers from England. After rewriting what an alternative rock album can be with Kid A, kinda doing the same thing again with Amnesiac, and then reestablishing their ability to rock with Hail to the Thief, Radiohead capped off their decade by rethinking the digital distribution of music. In Rainbows is everything that I like about Radiohead, there’s honestly not a weak track here. I could have easily gone with Kid A or Hail to the Thief, but In Rainbows is straight up my go-to album. Whenever I’m writing a paper, bored, whatever, it is In Rainbows where I find solace. In fact, I’m listening to it right now.