Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Top 10 Albums of the 2000s

At can't resist retrospective looks back at years and decades. I'm a sucker for them. So now that a decade dawns and I have a forum on which to publish it, here are my picks for top 10 albums of the decade. Anyone of these would make a great gift for someone who loves music.

10. The Be Good Tanyas- Chinatown

This album is just full of fantastic textures and harmonies. To me, the second best country album to come out in the decade.

9. The Mountain Goats- The Sunset Tree

For most people I know, The Mountain Goats go under the radar. But I'm telling you, this guy is one hell of a talented song writer. His voice is crystal clear and his songs end up being these little stories, often dark toned but with bright happy melodies.

8. Death Cab for Cutie- Transatlanticism

They've had a couple of great albums since this one, but this, to me, was the album where they really came into their own.

7. The Dixie Chicks- Home

My wife is a big fan of the Chicks and a lot of what they do is pretty good in my mind. But this album is by far their best work. Every song is bluegrass, all acoustic, and very well polished. Songs are written by the Chicks as well as Bruce Robison and Patti Griffin (who's album Impossible Dream really should be on this list).

6. Beck- Sea Change

I'm a huge Beck fan. This album--a genuine "break up album"--is his most low key. Beck is fascinated with language and his songs often include elements of rap and hip-hop. But this album is pretty free of anything funky--not that there's anything wrong with that. But often enough in a Beck song, it's hard to tell exactly what he's singing about or how he feels about his subject. But with "Sea Change," he really comes clean and expresses himself clearly.

5. Iron and Wine- Our Endless Numbered Days

This album is a perfect example of low-fi. The whole album is about love and death and is as gentle as its subjects. He heads into really beautiful territory and never leaves. I could listen to it over and over.

4. Sufjan Stevens- Greetings from Michigan: the Great Lakes State

Sufjan Stevens is an extrememely prolific song writer. His songs are personal and deep and moving. This is his first of his proposed 50 states albums. His second, "Come on and Feel the Illinoise" is just as good and could easily be in its place.

3. The Decemberists- Picaresque and Crane Wife

I'm putting these together because a) I'm cheating, and b) they work great together. "Picaresque" is the band's "Rubber Soul" and "Crane Wife" is their "Revolver." Listening to these two, you can hear them turn that same corner that The Beatles did in their development. Really, this is probably my favorite group other than the Beatles.
From Picaresque:

From Crane Wife:

2. Postal Service- Give Up

This album is just wow. It's absolutely amazing and a real look at what music of the 2000s sounds like to me.

1. The Decemberists- Hazards of Love

If the other two Decemberists albums are their Rubber Soul and Revolver, this is surely their Sgt. Pepper's. This one took me two or three times around for me to really become a fan of. It's a rock opera, plain and simple, following one story for 17 songs. To make this album even better, they have a "visualization" of it available on iTunes--basically an abstract cartoon done by four animators that goes for 60 minutes. It's really amazing and my kids even love it (ha! parenting!).

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