Originally posted Feb. 13, 2011.
Editor’s Note: This list was condensed into one post (it was originally 5 different posts leading up to #20 – #1 – how annoying!) and reformatted a bit on 9/20/2018. I’m thinking about revisiting this list, paring it down, and reflecting upon how my tastes have changed over seven years. For now, read what my high school self had to say about the albums of the 00s. He makes a good point that since I was 8 in 2000, I don’t have a complete grasp on the breadth of music that arrived in the decade, but rather the stray records I did happen to listen to that weren’t classic rock and anything Pitchfork said was good. Looking back on it now is entertaining to say the least, especially when I see all the records in the #100-#50 zone that I have no recollection of listening to.
Enjoy reading the original musings of a 17 year old on indie rock’s favorite albums.
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Happy (Late) Birthday, Combo Breaker Kid! You’re now one year old! Hooray!
To commemorate this fine occasion, I have compiled a Best of the 00’s list.
To be fair, this list can be late to the party. Considering I was 8 in 2000, I don’t think I had time to process all the music had come out since then. Now that I am older and have more time to validly waste, I can make lists like these. So I’ll be posting lists of 20 throughout this week, starting today! This will be nostalgia from 2009! How fun!
100. Lambchop – Nixon
99. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
98. Interpol – Turn Out the Bright Lights
97. Jay-Z – The Blueprint
96. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
95. Portishead – Third
94. The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic
93. Spoon – Gimme Fiction
92. Rogue Wave – Asleep at Heaven’s Gate
91. Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
90. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
89. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
88. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
87. The Thermals – The Body, The Blood, The Machine
86. Kanye West – Graduation
85. The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
84. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
83. Okkervil River – The Stage Names
82. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
81. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
80. Explosions In The Sky – The Earth Is Not A Cold, Dead Place
79. The Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2
78. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
77. Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll
76. Grizzly Bear – Yellow House
75. Sigur Ros – Takk…
74. of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
73. Beck – Modern Guilt
72. Jason Mraz – Waiting For My Rocket To Come
71. Madvillain – Madvillainy
70. The Postal Service – Give Up
69. Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head
68. Lightning Bolt – Wonderful Rainbow
67. Muse – Absolution
66. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
65. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
64. The White Stripes – Elephant
63. Flotation Toy Warning – Bluffer’s Guide To The Flight Deck
62. CSS – Cansei de Ser Sexy
61. Beck – Guero
60. Alison Krauss & Robert Plant – Raising Sand
59. My Morning Jacket – Z
58. M83 – Saturdays = Youth
57. Hot Chip – The Warning
56. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
55. MIA – Kala
54. The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free
53. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
52. My Dear Disco – Dancethink LP
51. Radiohead – In Rainbows
50. Kanye West – Late Registration
49. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country
48. Deerhunter – Microcastle
47. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
46. The Tough Alliance – A New Chance
45. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
44. Gorillaz – Gorillaz
43. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
42. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Source Tags
41. Sufjan Stevens – Michigan
40. M83 – Dead Cities, Red Seas And Lost Ghosts
39. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
38. Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals
37. Muse – Origin Of Symmetry
36. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
35. Outkast – Speakerboxxx / The Love Below
34. Daft Punk – Discovery
33. The Mars Volta – Deloused In The Comatorium
32. Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism
31. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
30. The Strokes – Room On Fire
29. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun
28. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
27. Outkast – Stankonia
26. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
25. White Stripes – White Blood Cells
24. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
23. Björk – Vespertine
22. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
21. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
Hit the jump for #20 – #1 + little album descriptions.
20. St. Vincent – Actor
St. Vincent disorients her listeners with her petite stature then destroys their judgement with sharp guitar work.
19. Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine
Canadian dance punk outfit is out to bust eardrums and cause a ruckus, which they succeed at.
18. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Indie-poppers create a lush sound scape of intricate guitar/drum work and skillful harmonies.
17. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
The sister half of The Knife creates her own entity of distorted vocals and dark, booming synths.
16. The Killers – Hot Fuss
Vegas band makes a name for themselves as a king of the alternative rock uprising of the early 00’s.
15. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Alt-Country masterpiece blends acoustic melodies with electronic noise underneath
14. Elliott Smith – Figure 8
Smith’s last album and possibly his hardest hitting in terms of emotional lyrics and vocal output.
13. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
James Murphy returns to the game more polished than his last outing, and it shows. Songs like “All My Friends”, “Someone Great” and “North American Scum” are instant classics that audiences will chant at every concert.
12. The Avalanches – Since I Left You
The sample wizards create a fantastic island (literally) of sound that gives the listener a tropical vacation. You won’t even know when you leave.
11. Radiohead – Amnesiac
Kid A’s fantastic counterpart, Radiohead elevates the pitches and bathes things in electronic noise to the point of perfection.
10. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Animal Collective’s greatest release thus far (in my opinion) is like being thrown into a giant, musical jungle that contains the most beautiful landscapes and textures. Every song is like being transported to a different part of the jungle with new geographical features, foliage, colors and animals. It’s quite an experience. Also my favorite album of 2009, but whatever, right?
9. Gorillaz – Demon Days
Gorillaz has been one of my favorite bands since 7th grade and this was the first album I bought with my own money. It obviously holds a lot of meaning to me, so my ranking of this album might be a bit biased. Nevertheless, this album contains tons of totally groovy songs like “DARE” and “Feel Good Inc.” and some gentler tunes like “El Manana” and “Every Planet We Reach is Dead” that balance out the funk of rap and bass bouncin’ beats.
8. The Knife – Silent Shout
Sweden’s favorite dark duo carve a cave of an album; synths and drums bounce off the walls while the Dreijer siblings freak the listener out with their eccentric but somehow alluring vocals pound the eardrums. This record is deep with haunting melodies and futuristic beats and sucks you in and keeps you in a beautiful, possessed house. Of course I’m telling you to get this record, but this one, I doubt you’ve heard anything like it.
7. Beck – Sea Change
After Beck’s girlfriend of six years broke up with him, I’d imagine his pain was almost unfathomable. Fortunately for us, he took those intense emotions and boiled them down to possibly the greatest “sad” album to date, or in the 00’s. The acoustic melodies and the occasional strings pull at the sad meter while staying serious and musical, not sappy and overdone. Another amazing thing about this album is that the album before he made “Midnite Vultures” one of the most silly, outrageous albums I’ve ever heard. I know that all the emotion from the breakup flooded into this record, but coming from a polar opposite is feat that cannot be done by many artists.
6. Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel The Illinoise
Even though I live in Michigan, this album beats it. The songwriting ability of Sufjan Stevens is unfathomable and it shows here, while writing deeply hitting lyrics and melodies like in “John Wayne Gacy Jr.” and skillful instrumental tracks like “The Black Hawk War…”. This album created a huge fanbase behind Stevens, who in the past created more experimental music. Now with this new mantra of State projects, he gained a whole new audience! Unfortunately for those folks, he discontinued the state project and returned to making albums, while not as emotionally deep as this one, still of the highest musical caliber.
5. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
I really like The Flaming Lips. Some criticize them for being too weird and arty, which I could agree with in their earlier years of music making. But after a few years the Lips smoothed out a bit and created one of the best albums a career could have. While still retaining their psychedelic sound from their past records, they infuse a sentimental quality into the tracks that weren’t present on the other albums besides their previous “The Soft Bulletin”. The weird, psychedelic sounds plus great lyrics equals one great album.
4. The Strokes – Is This It
Possibly the leaders of the alternative rock movement in the early 00’s, The Strokes founded a new type of rock that sounded vintage in some aspects, but held a totally modern layer underneath. This album, being their debut, clearly carved a generation of music that sounds a lot like this across the world. Rock got revitalized over the boy band craze and guitars were socially acceptable instruments instead of headset microphones. All of the songs are extremely fun to listen to and is undoubtable that this album will still be a classic rock record in 50 years.
3. Radiohead – Kid A
Ah Radiohead. What a stigma you hold. Seen to be ultra-hipster territory, most people avoid you because you have that “Creep” song and that MUST mean that all of your stuff is super depressing and grunge filled, right? Well. You’re wrong! You’re really wrong!
Radiohead’s Kid A made a giant splash in 2000. It was #1 on US Billboard and was nominated for several grammys, including Best Alternative Album and Best Album of the year. It was universally acclaimed for being one of the best albums of 2000 and redefining Radiohead’s sound. Before, Radiohead had a more guitar driven sound on The Bends and OK Computer that created a more grunge type genre that Thom Yorke was sick of. After a few electronic bleeps and bloops later and a few string arrangements, the music for Kid A was born.
Emotion pours out of this thing like liquids, creating one of the most entrancing records ever. Through Yorke’s vocals you can sort of feel the paranoia and anger he was feeling about the media and his songwriting, how everyone thought they had an obligation to come up with a great album. Which they did. “Idioteque”, “Optimistic” and “How to Disappear Completely” are absolutely perfect songs that I will listen to over and over. Thanks Radiohead!
2. Burial – Untrue
Some people may see this album and be taken off guard. Thoughts floating around may be “I’ve never seen this album this high in lists” or “What is this album” or “I hate that album!”. Burial, an electronic produced and musician, creates dark, rainy tracks with chopped drum patterns and foggy static that sounds like rain. The vocals are samples taken from female musicians such as Christina Aguilera and Aaliyah that have been stretched out and warped to sound almost ghost-like; a distant memory from childhood. The female voices also give it a soul that would not be achieved with just the beats alone.
The album, to me, sounds like a dreary, rainy day in London-like city: a dark sky with rain drizzling down on the pavement, reflecting the lights from neon signs. People rushing to their next destination with umbrellas and weary expressions. The album goes into a dark night, where the city is slow with activity because families are at home with their children or lovers. The ones that are still in the city are the ones that are the loneliest, searching for a thread to hold onto in the strong current of life.
Each song, like Merriweather Post Pavilion, transports you to a different portion of the landscape or to a different human perspective; like going from a woman with lots of makeup trying to find her purse to a homeless man sitting in an alley. You can feel the humanistic properties expressed through the music, you feel attached to the people as if you were watching a great movie. I may be over-analyzing this, but I love this album because it makes me conjure a movie inside my head and involves me in the music with the producer. Music that gets the listener involved is the best music in my book.
1. Arcade Fire – Funeral
Alright hipster haters. I’m not just choosing this because everyone else chose it, or because they won a grammy for their later work. I chose this album as my number one because I have enjoyed it the most during my time of listening to music. Y’all might say otherwise, but it’s the truth.
I didn’t find them on Pitchfork, or any other site devoted to underground music; I found them on iTunes favorite albums and songs from the past few years. I was a highschool freshman at the time and I decided to buy it because it looked interesting: I had never seen anything like it before. At the time, I was only listening to Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Muse; I had no idea what other music could sound like besides my classic rock and what played on the radio. Fortunately, this broke me out of that mold very quickly. The first time I got to listen to it was on the bus ride home from school, once all my friends got off (I was the last stop). I was floored.
I had no idea music could sound anything like that, with all the piano and guitar, not one of them were striving to be the main feature in a song. Everything blended together to one cohesive song, there weren’t flair-filled solos or insane vocals pleading for attention. There was just pure music making. I probably listened to “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” the whole busride because I thought the whole album could not possibly get any better than that. When I went on though, I found that it was actually consistently amazing, that every song was fantastic and carried itself along without other songs having to help it up a hill.
Pure music making. That’s another sign of a good album or band. The music is extremely pure and from the heart. Now I’m obviously not an expert in music theory or music production, but I am confident in my ability to pick up energy from the musicians through tracks. This album has good energy smeared all over it and it shows: the music is jolly and euphoric, bouncing off the walls and directly into your temporal lobes. It changed my world of music and I have to say, I’m really glad it did.