Monday, January 4, 2010


A little background information here. There are 35 albums on this list. I set out to write up a little something about each. As I began the process, I realised two things. 1) This was going to take forever. 2) I should have started at the bottom of the list. I can't do anything about that now. Instead. I am going to post the entire list, with the top 20 albums done. Then I will fill in the last 15 over time. This will no-doubt keep you all coming back to learn more about my likes a dislikes.

1. Black Sheep Boy Definitive Edition- Okkervil River (2005) - I liked this album when I first heard it in 2005, and I still like it now. Ever since Neutral Milk Hotel made Aeroplane Over the Sea, I have been looking for someone to make an album that wasn't that album, but got the same qualities right. This album came the closest. And then they put out an appendix which had songs that were just as good as the original album. I think we can all agree that never happens. One thing I like about a concept album is for it to not quite add up. Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips certainly has some themes running throughout, but it's more just a collective impression that the songs create. BSB does the same stuff. It's a concept album about being a monster in love. It creates an impression of mud and black and woods.

Favorite songs: Black, Latest Tough, Song of Our So-Called Friend, Another Radio Song, No Key, No Plan

2. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco (2002) - Wilco made a great great album. Then they spent the rest of decade being lousy. At least we have this. Songs about 9/11, American guilt, lost youth, ick of getting old.

Favorite songs: Jesus, Etc, Ashes of American Flags, I'm the Man Who Loves You

3. Funeral - Arcade Fire (2003) - Every year an album shows up with all this press about how it's the next great thing. They compare it to some album you really love and tell you how its just as good. Then you hear it, and you realize that while well-intentioned, those reviews were written by someone who doesn't love those albums like you do. This album was supposed to be badass, and it was badass. Songs about growing up and watching your soul die. From the beginning to the end. Chuck and I saw this band in concert, and I firmly agreed that the whole crowd would have taken to the streets if the band had told us to do so.

Favorite songs: Neighborhood #1, Neaghborhood #2, Wake Up

4. Alligator - The National (2005) - This segues nicely into Funeral actaully. I learned about The National when they went out on tour with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - who were one of the aforementioned next big thing band. CYHSY did put out a fine album that year, but Alligator got played by me over and over. Unlike most of the albums on this list, Alligator kind of runs the gammut in its subject matter. The National usually sing about relationships and growing old, but this mixes in just enough neurosis to come off a little Modest Mouse crazy too.

Favorite songs: Mr. November, Daughters of the Soho Riots, Karen

5. Sharpen Your Teeth (2002) - Ugly Casanova - At first it bothered me that I didn't have any Modest Mouse or White Stripes. Then I realised that Ugly Casanova is Isaac Brock's best work of the decade, and I never cared that much for any White Stripes album. This is a side project for Brock and this guy from a band called Hollowpaw. Also I just looked it up on wikipedia and it turns out there were two other guys in the group too. Go figure. Anyways it takes all the desperate nasty stuff from Modest Mouse, and adds horns. I like horns. "Sharpen your teeth or lay flat." Most of the lines are some version of that.

Favorite songs: Hotcha Girls, Cat Faces

6. Apologies to Queen Mary (2005) - Wolf Parade - This album starts out like a ball of fire. Then it kind of goes to sleep. Then it comes back around again. But I would put its high points up against any other album. I don't understand why my own brother doesn't like it more. Wolf Parade also serves as a nice analogy for my relationsip with Kent. The band is composed of two singers. They each have their own band as well as Wolf Parade. One looks like he has a heroin problem and is in a band that makes sexy urgent songs with his big breasted girlfriend (me), and the other makes really difficult music on his keyboard with his nerdlinger friends (Kent).

Best Songs: Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts, We built Another World, I'll Believe in Anything.

7. Give Up - The Postal service (2003) - I still remember the first time I heard this album. I was painting my mom and dad's back patio, and I had just downloaded it from Napster. I was completely unimpressed. I no longer base my opinions of albums off one listen. I don't know what was wrong with me that day, but I cannot imagine not enjoying this album. Dumb me. This album also claims to have Jenny Lewis on it, though I have never been able to tell where she is.

Best Songs: Such Great Heights, Nothing Better, The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

8. I'm wide Awake, It's Morning - Bright Eyes (2005) - There is nothing more embarrassing than living in Omaha admitting that you like Bright Eyes. Everyone here used to hang out with Conner Oberst at one time or another, and as such, think they are too cool to be a fan of him. I wash my hands of this. This is a great album. It's a crying shame that nothing else by Bright Eyes or Oberst has come anywhere this album the rest of the decade. One thing I know for sure: Making art is often like this. You dabble in it. Then it gushes out of you like a geyzer. Then it turns into a trickle. This was made during the geyzer period for this band. Songs about being young and everything/nothing mattering.

Best Songs: Lua, Landlocked Blues, We Are Nowhere, and It's Now.

9. Volume One - She & Him (2008) - "Cried all night 'til there was nothing more. What use am I as a heap on the floor." Zooey Deschanel made a beautiful record with M. Ward. From beginning to end this is a pitch perfect rehash of the sound of people like The Carpenters, The Beach Boys, Loretta Lynn, and Phil Spector. Recommendable to just about anyone. The only weak spot are some of the covers. Particularly "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

Best Songs: Sentimental Heart, Sweet Darlin', Why Do You Let Me Stay Here, This Is Not a Test.

10. Bright Flight - The Silver Jews (2001) - This is my favorite band, and this album has one of my songs of all time on it. The more I think about it, the more I think this should be higher. I think it suffers from the fact that its predecessors were so good, it didn't stick out that much. But both American Water and The Natural Bridge came out in the 1990s, so by the time this one came out, it just seemed like more of the same. But the song Tennessee is a masterpiece in my opinion, and I Remember You is my favorite song about falling asleep on a relationship.

Best Songs: Tennessee, I Remember You, Let's Not and Say We Did, Death of an Heir of Sorrows

11. Separation Sunday - The Hold Steady (2005) - I didn't care for this album until I heard Your Little Hoodrat Friend on KEXP one day. Then I started mowing the lawn to Seperation Sunday. Each song is a little narrative from the point of view of someone in a particular druggy scene. And there's a lot of bible in there too. My firend Kent's grandpa told him that the early twenties should be about romance and adventure. If he had taken out romance, and inserted drugs, he would be describing Seperation Sunday.

Best Songs: Little Hoodrat Friend, Cattle and the Creepy Things, How a Resurrection Really Feels

12. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (2008) - I completely missed this album in 2008. It was described as electronica, and I have learned through the years that I usually hate electronica. But this is just song after song of loud clangy catchy music set to heavy beats. Lots of screaming. Actually I think it's all screaming. It's both offensive and interesting to the ear. Everything I have written thus far makes it sound lousy. But it's not.

Best Soungs: Untrust Us, Love and caring.

13. Oh, Inverted World - The Shins (2001) - I remember thinking how weird this album sounded when I first got it. At that time, weird was mostly done by singing about weird stuff (Flaming Lips), screaming about normal stuff (Modest Mouse), or singing about weird stuff over weird music (Radiohead). The Shins were weird because of how they layered their harmonies and how they recorded their very conventional set of instruments. Caring is Creepy starts the album with these bizarre piano flourishes. I had no idea what they were when I first listened. And the rest of the album followed suit. Weird layering of voices and instruments. I feel like this album did everything that Grizzley Bear and Animal Collective continue to do. Which perhaps is why I don't see the point of those bands.

Favorite Songs: New Slang, Caring is Creepy, Girl Inform Me

14. Elvis Perkins in Dearland - Elvis Perkins in Dearland (2009) - This Album could very well end up higher as I get further away from 2009. Elvis Perkins ended the decade by writing a collection of really solid songs, and then he recorded them with a brass band, which made them all awesome songs. This album didn't show up on anyones Best of the Year list. Which shows that everyone is stupid.

Favorite Songs: Doomsday, 123 Goodbye, Hey, Heard Your Voice in Dresden

15. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon (2008) - At first I didn't like Spoon, but I mantain that is because Spoon was lousy in the early 2000's. Then they made Gimmie Fiction in 2005, and I was finally able to make some sense of them. I go back to earlier albums still, and can't see the overall appeal. Good songs, but mostly whatever albums. So they followed Gimmie Fiction with this one, and it refined all the good stuff, and mostly eliminated everything I didn't like so well.

Favorite Songs: The Underdog, Black Like Me

16. Songs About Leaving - Carissa's Weird (2002) - This is quiet sad sad music. It's about breaking up. I listen to it when I am having relationship troubles and it always strikes a nerve somewhere. It does a very nice job of capturing the sliver of a relationship that is built around phoniness. Knowing you aren't quite what the other person is counting on you to be.

Favorite Songs: So You Want to Be a Superhero, Low Budget Slow Motion Soundtrack Song for the Leaving Scene, Sofisticated Fuck Princess Please Leave Me Alone (I never realized how long the song titles were. Thank god this came out after my writing song titles on mixtape covers era)

17. Z - My Morning Jacket (2005) - If their most recent album is any indication, this may be as good as My Morning Jacket is going to get. They have always tetered between spacy and folksie. Usually their folksie stuff is good, but they get into some painful jam sessions along the way. On this album they put all that aside, and just made an album with a ton of echos and reverb.

Favorite Songs: Wordless Chorus, Off the Record, Into the Woods

18. Oh, You're So Silent Jens - Jens Lekman (2005) - This is actaully a compilation, but as it was my first exposure to Jens Lekman, I picked it over Night Falls Over Kortedala. Jens Lekman seems to be continually caught between falling in love and tearing his heart out. There are no boring spots in there.

Favorite Songs: Maple Leaves, Sweet Summer Night on Hammer Hill, F Word

19. Her Majesty The Decemberists - The Decemberists (2003) - The Decemberists have broken my heart. They came along as this cutesy story telling band, and they made three really good albums that were both dark and fun, and reminded me of the type of folk music my parents listened to when they were my age. But that concept could only go so far. So they decided to be a prog rock band. This concept doesn't go anywhere at all. But this album is smack dab in the middle of their best time.

Favorite Songs: Los Angeles, I'm Yours, Red Right Ankle, The Bachelor and the Bride

20. So Jealous - Tegan and Sara (2004)- I remember listening to this album at my now wife Chelsey's apartment in 2004, waiting for her to get ready to go out. At that time I thought of Tegan and Sara as kind of a novelty act. Twin lesbian sisters who Neil Young champions. It sounds like a novelty act. Obviously I was wrong. This album has no bad songs on it. It has that shiny production that seems to serve guitar pop really well. A little like Smashing Pumpkins used to use. It suits their voices which already sound like metal.

Favorite Songs: You Wouldn't Like Me, I Won't Be Left, Walking With a Ghost


21. Fate - Dr. Dog

22. The XX - The XX

23. Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant - Belle and sebastian

24. The Execution of All Things - Rilo Kiley

25. The Meadowlands - The Wrens

26. Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene

27. Eagle*Seagull - Eagle*Seagull

28. Back to Black - Amy Winehouse

29. And Then Nothing Turned Inside Out - Yo La Tengo

30. Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem

31. Boxer - The National

32. The Midnight Organ Fight - Frightened Rabbits

33. Oracular Spectacular - MGMT

34. Alopecia - Why?

35. Chutes Too Narrow - The Shins

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