Best Albums of the Decade. Top 25
Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
I flip-flopped on the position of the two Of Montreal albums several times. As bizarre and cross-genre as the band is, this album feels like "more of the same" from Hissing Fauna. However, it's also much better and maybe even easier to sing along to if you can parse the words.
Menomena - Friend and Foe
Local Portland three-piece who sound like a cross between a Jazz band and The Mars Volta. Given the amount of instruments on the album, I was blown away to see the three of them pull it off live. It's my understanding that they're working on a follow-up album. I can't wait.
Gospel - The Moon is a Dead World
I've fallen hard for post-hardcore and for some reason I really enjoy listening to it in unexpected locations. I feel asleep on the plane listening to Maths on repeat. I wandered around the beach in Hawaii listening to Gospel. Something about it feels so epic, even if it's just some guy screaming. Unfortunately the band is not longer together.
Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
I'm not sure I actually like this band as I don't like their previous work and I don't like their follow-up album "Daisy." Still, I put this on when I'm in a bad mood. The title seems to fit perfectly.
A.F.I. - The Art of Drowning
I've been listening to this album for 10 years. Unlike a lot of the stuff on this list which I discovered later, I think The Art of Drowning might have been my first real punk purchase. Blink 182 and Green Day don't count. The album further refines Black Sails in the Sunset and is the last decent AFI album until this year's Crash Love. Still, even the best parts of Crash Love make me want to put The Art of Drowning on instead.
Gorillaz - Demon Days
How awesome is Danger Mouse? I liked the first Gorillaz album and I love Dan the Automator, but Demon Days is on a whole other level. The album alternates between poppy tracks with hip-hop guests and spacey electronic songs. If you hate diversity, Damon's The Good, the Bad & the Queen is basically an entire album of the spacey songs. Furthermore, Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head might be the most enjoyable spoken-word track of all time. It doesn't hurt that King Koopa is reading it.
The World/Inferno Friendship Society - Addicted to Bad Ideas
These gypsy punk-rockers from NY have always created enjoyable albums, but their energy and multitude of artists and instruments have always been a bit out of control. This concept album (and possible musical) about the life of Peter Lorre reins them in and gives the album an easy narrative to follow all the way up to the sad finale "Heart Attack '64."
Rx Bandits - Progress
My favorite band, probably one of my first concerts and definitely my driving soundtrack for 3-4 years. Progress began the transition from generic 3rd wave ska band to progressive rock gods. I don't think the Rx Bandits have rocked this hard until some of the guitar-driven stuff on 2009's Mandala. This is also Steve Choi's first with the band. Despite the fact that he didn't actually record on the album, it's nice to know he was around. His influence on the later albums completes the bands transition.
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
For what sounds like an incredibly depressing album, I usually finish it feeling uplifted. The Postal Service wrenches my heart a little ever time, but Plans makes me smile. I can't really get into Transatlanticism and Narrow Stairs was a misfire in my opinion, but Plans is something I imagine I'll be listening to long into the next few decades.
La Dispute - Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair
Does anyone else know this band exists? The band fulfills all my 2000s requirements: post-hardcore, concept album and a cohesive listen all the way through. I don't think they've toured in Portland yet, but I'm still hopeful. I imagine the live show must be epic. This album is all about loss and anger. Here's hoping I'm never in a position where this becomes my soundtrack, but atleast it should be cathartic to scream along.
Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
A perfect, polished improvement over Night Ripper. This is the definitive mash-up album. Greg uses a lot more classic songs and rock samples while still maintaining the perfect balance and juxtaposition with various rappers on top. Lil Wayne's Lollipop over Red Hot Chili Peppers? Perfect.
Rx Bandits - Mandala
The climax to a decade of refinement and improvement. The band may have lost all of its horns, but that has unleashed the guitars. Like ...And the Battle Begun and The Resignation, this album was recorded "live" with the band rehearsing until they were confident enough to record it in one shot. The result, as before, is an incredibly organic album, complete with human flaws, missed notes and a perfect representation of their wonderful live show.
The Postal Service - Give Up
I've been to DC and I quite enjoyed it. If I were to attempt to wander the streets listening to this album, I may just end up in a corner hiding from people. This is the ultimate break-up album, but it's not encouraging in any way. I usually end up thinking "I am a fool and an asshole" at the end. Gibbard convinces you that it's all your fault and I'm not sure there is a rainbow at the end. I usually try to avoid listening to this when I'm sad, but I guess misery loves company.
Head Automatica - Popaganda
Another follow-up album that decided to dump Dan the Automator. And yet, like Demon Days, it's better for it. Popaganda does exactly what it claims to, takes Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw's eccentricity and stuffs it into a pop-rock box.
Deltron - Deltron 3030
Hey look, more Dan the Automator! Del the Funkee Homosapien created the definitive hip hop concept album with this loose collection of songs about life in the year 3030, Del's life as a mech warrior and the oppressive regime that true artists must fight against. It's been 10 years and Del has been claiming Deltron Event II is mostly complete. I can't wait.
mewithoutYou - Catch For Us the Foxes
My first post-hardcore album. Basically, one brother asked his other brother to read his poetry (loudly) over his band's rock. The outcome is just pitch perfect.
Rx Bandits - The Resignation
I feel like I've already said enough about the Rx Bandits. This one was the first recorded "live" and ends with the massive build-up of Decrescendo. I'm also happy to see folks in 2003 complaining about America's wars.
The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute
I don't really know how to describe Mars Volta albums. Super-long songs. Unintelligible vocals. Epic.
Leftover Crack - Fuck World Trade
My favorite gutter-punks crafted a surprisingly coherent and beautiful album. There are piano interludes and songs about killing cops. Still waiting on a follow-up, but Star Fucking Hipsters are enough to hold me over.
Why? - Alopecia
Clever, hipster, jewish hip hop. What more do you need to know? Look at these lyrics:
i know, i know
there's nothing more appealing
than the sound of high heels
down the marble tile hallways
of your distict's one allotted
city funded steiner school bilingual
or montessori followed by
a single high pitched scream
followed by breaking glass
but could your anger be mapped
into an interpretive dance
to a trip hop track
could it be bowed out on strings
or strung into a pattern
for a god's eye to bring to
your alma mater's holiday fundraiser boutique thing
Justin Timberlake - Futuresex/Lovesounds
Pop music in the later-half of this decade was defined by Justin Timberlake. Yes, I'm counting Dick in a Box as well. Hip hop music in the same period was defined by Timbaland. This collaboration setup the new king of pop and fully erased his boy-band history. Will there be a follow-up? I hope so.
Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
While Silent Alarm is a great album, A Weekend in the City is really an experience. The perfect rainy-day album, whether you're in London or not. I think I could leave this on repeat for an entire weekend. There is also an instrumental version which is wonderful in a completely different way.
At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command
ATDI's last album. After finally achieving mainstream success with "One Armed Scissor," they promptly imploded. There's never been anything like ATDI before or since. A different monster than Mars Volta, even if they share random, crazy-person lyrics.
The Format - Dog Problems
I've been listening to these guys since we were both in high school. We were even neighbors for a short time. Probably the only Phoenix, AZ band worth a damn. The band finally broke out with Interventions + Lullabies and nearly collapsed from the pressure. So they took a step back and decided to have fun. Dog Problems is the result, incorporating a ton of instruments, whimsical flourishes, a little bit of Beach Boys, a little Bowie and a lot of fun. Nate's new band, actually named "fun," follows the same formula, but probably needs a few more albums to mature.
Say Anything - ...Is a Real Boy
Who am I to argue with statistics. According to last.fm, I listened to this album way more than any other album. I love all the Say Anything albums, but this one is a little more rough and angry, which is a good thing. The new, married, happier Max Bemis is still great, but I enjoy his disgust.