The Top 50 Albums of the Noughties!

2009-12-12 | |

This is it guys and gals! Not only has the year almost reached its end, but the decade is approaching its final, earthshaking crescendo. Now, usually, I like to sit down and do a "Top 10" for the previous year, based on a list of songs and a list of albums; but, the end of a decade only happens once every ten, it's time to think BIG or, at least, vaguely larger than normal.

So, I spent the last few sleepless nights perfecting the Top 50 albums of the Decade, in my humble opinion. Very few people will agree 100% with my view; but, it takes all sorts to make a world. Links in the title lead to the Amazon UK page for said album, should you want to buy it. So, let's get looking!

50 – Spiderman of the Rings – Dan Deacon
It's an underrated classic. The people of the world honestly don't know what they missed out by not buying this album en masse. I came across it in 2007, a few weeks after its release, and was thoroughly impressed by the simplicity of this masterpiece of indietronica. It's worth owning just for the 12 minute epic that is Wham City, a song about bears, rats, big sharks, sharp swords, bees bees bees, mace lakes, green snakes and Christ knows what else. Sums up the disorganised chaos of the noughties infinitely.

49 – Citrus – Asobi Seksu
I really recommend people pick this up. It's another 'latter-half' album from 2007. I didn't stumble over this gem until mid-way through Uni last year. I was thoroughly impressed, because it's shoegaze, but then it's not as shoe, and all the more gaze. Think less mumble, and more sweet whisper. Now, while their self-titled album was epic, this one blew it out of the water in no time flat. Check it out for 'Strawberries' 'New Year' and 'Thursday', the most perfect trio of opening tracks ever penned!

48 – Feels – Animal Collective
...and then God created experimental indie, and he saw that it was lacking, so he threw in a Panda Bear and a Geologist to create a band that was to become synonymous with hipster-chic in the noughties. Feels, to me, is probably the most accessible of the Animal Collective albums, and therefore needs a place in this list; it's not so much epic, as a staple of every hipster's collection, bar none.

47 – Comalies – Lacuna Coil
If you don't like this, then you are a dick. “I can't like it,” I hear you cry, “It's Goth metal”. Well, grow up, because Christina Scabbia is not only the best thing to come out of Milan since St Ambrose, but her little Italian group have skimmed the surface of popular metal in the guise of sexy Goth rock. Comalies is a must-have from the noughties if ever there was to be an album which propelled a band to near-mainstream notoriety in Europe; or, as mainstream as you can get when the only people who care are metalheads.

46 – In Case We Die – Architecture in Helsinki
The age of the huge group was begun by Slipknot, and bastardised by The Polyphonic Spree. Architecture in Helsinki come in as the happy middle-ground...the very, very, very happy middle-ground. Twee Pop to the power of seven, this is what Juno's soundtrack should have been; this is what your teenage years should have sounded like; this is what you wish your girlfriend was. In Case We Die doesn't push boundaries, but, it pushes you to smile...

45 – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank – Modest Mouse
Everyone will hate me for this. I know, I know; Good News For People Who Love Bad News is plenty more epic (hell, it went Platinum!). This, on the other hand, is a whole other kettle of fish. This is a side of Modest Mouse that wasn't seen before. This is jangly guitar, this is Johnny Marr, this is Moby Dick on E. In short – it's not their best album by copies sold, but, it's one giant leap in the right direction for them.

44 – The Back Room – Editors
Is it Interpol? Is it Joy Division? No. It's Tom Smith, the moany Mancunian with a voice like treacle. Simple enough to summarise – noughties post-punk = Editors. “You don't need this disease, no, not right now”, but you damned well need this album.

43 – What it is to Burn – Finch
I defy you to tell me that Finch should not feature in the list of the top albums of the decade. I defy you to tell me that Finch were not an integral part of your life if you were aged between 12 and 16 in the early part of the decade, and had succumed to the true side of 'emotional hardcore'. If QOTSA had 'Songs for the Deaf', this album is 'Songs for the Needy'. Get it done.

42 – The Decline of British Sea Power – British Sea Power
I have nothing to say on this album. It speaks for itself. All I will note is: “Where the hell did this come from? It's a diamond in the rough, polished even more by the turd that was British Sea Power's follow-up album”.

41 – Deadwing – Porcupine Tree
Who says Prog is dead? This isn't showy, Genesis-and-Rush-era Prog. This is beautiful, pop-rog. This is a CD you could buy your Genesis loving dad, and he wouldn't complain that it was crap, or the music of the youth. It's another gem of the decade that wasn't overrated, but, neither was it underrated either; it's just an album whose beauty speaks for itself.

40 – The Fall of Math – 65 Days of Static
Math rock is a confusing subject. Are 65DOS even Math Rock, I sometimes wonder. Meshuggah are often classified as Math Rock/Metal; so, I'll call these Post-Math. Simply put, this is the soundtrack to a movie that you wish you'd written; this is the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic rave, starring Denzel Washington and Samuel L Jackson; this is Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane, on a Boat. Just when you think it's going to fade out, on Aren't We All Running, your speakers are flooded by the Gerard Butler-esque wails of a band that won't go out quietly. This isn't Sparta; this is Static.

39 – The Black Waltz – Kalmah
Screw Black Metal; screw Power Metal; Viking Metal was where it was at in the noughties. We had Turisas, we had Tyr, we had Manegarm, Ensiferum and Falchion; heck, we even had Korpiklaani. They all pale into insignificance when put head to head against this gutteral bit of troll metal. Simple equation for you: Viking + Troll = Epic Win. Not one for the faint of heart, but, good if you like your metal with a bit of meat on its bones. Om Nom Nom, snowman.

38 – London Zoo – The Bug
As Tippa Irie states on this album: “Remember there is only one rulin' selecta, and it's The Bug.” And, boy oh boy, was he right or what? This is a monstrously phat piece of Grime. I know, I just ironically used the word “phat” to praise a piece of underground music, but it's better than any of the words I know. If you're not into grime and dancehall when you start listening to this, you will be by the end. Seriously, best album of the underground.

37 – Cassadaga – Bright Eyes
Sure, Conor Oberst can sing, dance, and play the harmonica, but, this wasn't nearly as great as everyone make it out to be. It's just one of those things, I suppose. Still, it wasn't a bad album either. If you like your country done by a kid from Nebraska, it's your cup of tea; but, if you don't, steer clear. I suppose this was a hit or miss album, but, what it managed to do was create a scene for Conor to embrace, which in turn led to Monsters of Folk, the Mystic Valley Band, and brought him to British shores after a lifetime away from us.

36 – Those Who Tell the Truth Will Die; Those Who Tell The Truth Will Live Forever – Explosions in the Sky
Possibly the hardest choice in making this list was where to put this album. It had to feature, as it is the Mona Lisa of all post-rock albums, brought to shame only by their only other EITS album to feature on this list. It is a monster of its field, a giant amongst the other players; it is God, in CD form...maybe it's only Jesus, but, it's still one blasphemous comparison away from being great.

35 – Strange We Should Meet Here – Idiot Pilot
Electronica + Emo + Acoustics = Idiot Pilot. There isn't much more you need to know, other than when this album was released, this was considered by many a teenager to be quite a brilliant piece of ingenuity, never heard before by our virgin ears. What can I say – if you listen, you will be hooked.

34 – Greater Right of the Wrong – Skinny Puppy
This album could not go by without a mention. When I started the list, it was going to be around #50, and then I re-listened to it, and fell in love all over again. It's not for everyone, but, it's a key player in the electro-goth/Graver scene in this decade, and was what got me hooked on listening to a certain Tampa Bay-based radio station during my formative years.

33 – Iowa – Slipknot
This list would not be complete without this bunch of lunatics making at least one feature. This is their first entry on the list, and for me it's not quite their best, simply because it doesn't have that draw. It's like watching a fight; you cringe, but you don't want to look away. In this case, you think “This sounds like it's been raped,” but then you keep listening. If you want a similar experience without having to own the album, pull some razor-wire through your ear canal.

32 – Gulag Orkestar – Beirut
Gypsy Punk was brought to us by Gogol Bordello, and Beirut's Zach Condon brought us the Gypsy-Klezmer sound without us having to associate with ex-soviet runaways, or actual Klezmer groups. It gave us some brilliant tunes to hum, made us feel wordly, and features heavily in everyday Hipster conversation. Spiffing.

31 – Details – Frou Frou
We were told, as lovelorn teens, by Natalie Portman in Garden State that “This band will change your life” (regarding The Shins), but I feel the quote is more appropriate for Imogen Heap's Frou Frou side-project. Not only is it sweet and ethereal, it's a dead ringer for a life changing album. You can have all sorts of mood swings to it; and, what's best, it transcends any musical boundary I could ever think of.

30 – A Weekend in the City – Bloc Party
We were young, we were stupid, and we allowed Kele Okereke to put this album out. After the wonderful sugary chocolate that was Silent Alarm, this was a tepid cup of coffee, with sweeteners. It was bland, it was harmless, it was pop. In short, it was a good album, worth having in your collection and with a few belters on it, but, it never struck me as winning the race.

29 – Funeral – Arcade Fire
Another one of those “It's in every Hipster's collection.” This is the epitome of indie pop. If Architecture in Helsinki was the Happy Middle-Ground in the age of the group, and The Polyphonic Spree was the sugary sweet centre; then Arcade Fire took this album and made it the chocolate frosting on the cake. It's so good you keep picking at it. I just wish I could have placed it higher, but, with everything else ahead of it, this is as far as it could come, sadly.

28 – Ellipse – Imogen Heap
Only 3 places away from her Frou Frou album, Imogen Heap makes her second appearance on the chart with this year's awesome piece. Really, this woman should not be allowed to make music, because what she makes is so infectious it's worse than listening to Cheryl Crow, but, so much less of a guilty pleasure. She's the sugar in my tea, and the jam on my bread. Love doesn't sum it up enough.

27 – Soviet Kitsch – Regina Spektor
What can I say? She's a talented young woman. There is no more to it. Soviet Kitsch summed her up perfectly; there was and has been nothing better in her career than this album. It's saccharin sweet, while also dark. It's that coffee you drink to get over a bad night out. I know I've used too many food related metaphors lately, but, I think this is the end of the trail for that. She's just naively sweet, and yet also worldly beyond her years in this. Worth it? Yes.

26 – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips
Oh, Em, Gee. Oh Yoshimi, They won't believe me; but you won't let those robots defeat me. Oh yes indeed. The Flaming Lips. Those crazy crazy men, who knocked Mercury Rev and The Fiery Furnaces off the top-spot of my “bands I love” list back when I was 16. A simple conceptual album, all it needed was...well, actually, nothing. Sample at your own risk.

25 – Sigh No More – Mumford and Sons
This is just an orgasm in an album. There is nothing more to say about it. These boys came out of nowhere and hit me at the end of this year, and won me over in no time. I may have said I didn't exactly like it back when I wrote my review of it, but it grew on me; so much so I think I want to marry it.

24 – The Information – Beck
This is what I was waiting for with Beck. Guero and Odelay were brilliant, but The Information took what was brilliant about Beck and amplified it. It was just simple to get into, and easier to enjoy than any previous Beck album. In fact, I'd recommend you start here and work backwards.

23 – The Milk-Eyed Mender – Joanna Newsom
I couldn't go through a whole 50 albums without Ms Newsom popping up somewhere. She's just peachy. If someone ever could play Princess Peach from Mario perfectly, it'd be Joanna Newsom, and this album is way. I'd gladly sail away with her on a winter's day, even if ships are fallible (I say). We'd have a caravel made from a little wicker beetle-shell, with four fine masts and lateen sails. It'd be awesome, you guys!

22 – Picaresque – The Decemberists
Storytime with Mother couldn't compete with this one. If you can't enjoy it, you're an idiot. Simple as.

21 – Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses – Slipknot
This reminds me of being 14 again. It propelled Slipknot to pop status, and I know that's a bad thing to some of you, but I think it gives people access to a band who changed the face of metal by saying “Well, if Limp Bizkit and Korn are doing nu-metal that way, we'll crank it up a notch and do it our own way, and fuck what you think.” - And what they eventually made was this. And I love it.

20 – Electric Version – The New Pornographers
There are indie albums, and there are Indie albums. This one capitalises every letter, and really doesn't give much room for manouvering. Not only is it party music for the hipster crowd, it also features the lovely Neko Case, which, superficially, is a plus point for any album in the world ever.

19 – Infinity Land – Biffy Clyro
Possibly the best Biffy Clyro album ever, this opened up the floor for them to leave Beggar's Banquet on a high note. It was perhaps the best album of that year but I'm biased. Still, everyone should own a copy.

18 – Songs for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age
Oh, Kyuss, was a good band. QOTSA was a good band. And then this came along, and it is the pinnacle of their existence and probably the pinnacle of popular stoner rock in the noughties. All I can say is “This is an album which any rock fan should own.”

17 – Her Majesty – The Decemberists
Folk folk folk folk. There is nothing more in this album than good old fashioned folk. It's also an album that can make people feel happy. I really like it, but that's just me. It's better than The Crane Wife; it's better than Picaresque, and it's better than anything The Decemberists have put out ever. It is simply the best thing they've done.

16 – Humbug – The Arctic Monkeys
Everyone will wonder why this is the only Arctics album on here; well, it's because it is by far, their best; it's mature, it's gritty, and it sums up what I feel should be the progression of Indie. It should be a progression that follows the mood of the time; not always twee and proper, but also a bit of angstyness during those angst-filled years.

15 – The Earth is Not A Cold Dead Place – Explosions in the Sky
Explosions in the Sky are able to make music that requires no lyrics because its so grandiose in scale. This album epitomises their sound perfectly, and was mostly featured on the brilliant film 'Friday Night Lights', which should really feature on a list of “Films of the Decade” to be honest. Get it. Introduce yourself to Post-Rock in style.

14 – Frances the Mute – The Mars Volta
There's experimentalism and conceptual albums, and then there's this. This is Prog on a whole new level. Why does this need featuring? Because, if you've not heard this album, then you need to, because it is a whole other style of awesome; it's just amazing on another level. It takes some getting into, but, sit down, and go for it. It's the Harry Potter of all albums.

13 – I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning – Bright Eyes
The world of folk has been rocked by Conor Oberst for many a year, but, when he released I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning in the same year as he released Digital Ash, it was more of a shock than normal because both albums are bloody awesome; this one though, this one was the soundtrack of the decade for many a lovelorn teen.

12 – Relationship of Command – At the Drive-In
Gah. What is it with this album? It's better than Frances the Mute; but, it's also on a different scale for comparison. It's just the forefather of any Post-Hardcore which exists nowadays; if it was not for At The Drive-In, a lot of you emokids wouldn't even have your music. So respect, yo!

11 – Silent Alarm – Bloc Party
Yes. Yes. Yes! This ticks all the boxes; hits all the buttons; hell it ticks the buttons and punches the boxes. It's a bloody good album, and deservedly won them a Mercury Prize nomination. Shame it didn't win, because it's bloody good; it's amazing!

10 – Parachutes – Coldplay
Yes. It's the top 10! It is the final 10! Parachutes was the reason Coldplay hit a chord with all the kids. I mean, if you lived in the noughties, and weren't a child, you'd know all the words to Yellow; how to hum to Trouble. This is where the real music begins.

9 – Deja Entendu – Brand New
Another album that anyone worth their salt who spent some time in the noughties, at least if they spent time listening to rock, would know all the words to. This is not only their best album, but a brilliant piece of 'emo'/'punk'... Everyone should own this, just for the singalong moments.

8 – Youth – Matisyahu
What happens when you take a Hasidic Jew and introduce him to reggae? You get Matisyahu, a New Yorker with mad skillz who can rap over reggae beats, and show the passion he has for Yahweh in a sincere manner. The man is a genius, lyrically; a showman; and worthy of being in any Top 10 of this decade!

7 – Hold Your Colour – Pendulum
Drum and Bass hasn't exactly been something huge on this list. Obviously, we haven't had a decade of brilliant DnB; in the 90s, it would have been something different. Still, Hold Your Colour introduced a new generation of kids and kidettes to the world of Drum n Bass, and it was actually decent, rather than half-assed and not thought through. Nowhere near as lame-pop as In Silico, so it deserves to be mentioned, no?

6 – Come On And Feel The Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens
In the age of Twitter, we all tweet; and this is like birdsong to my ears. Sufjan Stevens's voice is so melodic; his songs are so beautiful; and yet, there's always an undercurrent to all of them. Illinoise is the album that everyone should have in their collection; and I've said that a lot in this, but, if you don't own this...I don't want to know you.

5 – Origin of Symmetry – Muse
Who knew that Muse would feature here? Obviously, it had to be done. They've not only changed the face of popular music, but they've also brought out one amazing album after another. Origin of Symmetry started that off, where they left behind the harder sound shown in some of the songs in Showbiz in favour of more melodic, operatic, and generally “prog rock”-ish songs. That move would be the best thing they ever did.

4 – The Flying Club Cup – Beirut
What strikes me as worthy of being in the top five in this album is just the sheer depth of storytelling. Sure, the Decemberists tell stories, but Zach Condon tells stories that mean something; he tells the tale from the point of view of the widow; and much of it is set around France, rather than Eastern Europe, a set of songs from his own experience and knowledge. Brilliant for humming and singing to, and worthy of hipster notoriety.

3 – A Rush of Blood to the Head – Coldplay
Do you remember that song which propelled Coldplay to international success? Clocks? Well, that was this album, and this was a strike of brilliance. It was pop, it was catchy, it was timeless; and Chris Martin didn't sound like the pretentious arse he sounds like now. This is Good Coldplay; this is pre-Sellout Coldplay. This is music.

2 – Absolution – Muse
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. One word: YES!  In short, this album is an opera; it is not a rock opera, but a true opera of apocalyptic proportions. If, when the day comes, the world ends and it needs a soundtrack, I urge everyone to play Absolution as loudly as possible, with the hope that if we go out, we go out with a bang.

1 – Discovery – Daft Punk
For the world's most awesomest brilliantest album in the world in the last ten years...there are few words which can describe it. It's far too amazing to be brought down by the words I can't even come up with without the use of a dictionary. I recommend, however, not buying this album. I reckon, you should go out and buy Interstella 5555, which is the anime version of the album and settle in for the full audiovisual experience.
Without Daft Punk, this decade would not have seen the number of French electronica bands that crawled out of the woodwork in the last few years; we wouldn't have those songs which sample Daft Punk and sell more copies than the original; we wouldn't even have music. It's brilliance astounds me, and should astound you too. Love it; love it; love it!

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