La Bodega

Tales and pictures from our little corner of the world.


Another Damn Best of List

The end of the decade is approaching, which means everybody that considers themselves a music critic MUST create a list of the best albums of the decade. So, lucky for you, you can now argue with my picks for top (favorite) albums of the last 10 years. Here goes!!

Honorable Mentions

I started my list as a top 50, but when I realized that there was a clear distinction between the first half and the second half, I decided to cut it down to 25. So, here are the albums that were also some of my favorites but are in no particular order.

Tool - Lateralus
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music
Doves - The Last Broadcast
90 Day Men - At Panda Park
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
The White Stripes - Icky Thump
Tomahawk - Mit Gas
Sons and Daughters - This Gift
The Rapture - Echoes
Explosions in the Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
Dr. Dog - Fate
The Decemberists - Her Majesty, The Decemberists
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl
The Wrens - Meadowlands
TV On The Radio - Desperate Youths, Bloodthirsty Babes
Parts and Labor - Receivers
Espers - Espers II
Neko Case - Blacklisted
The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Doves - Kingdom of Rust
Dismemberment Plan - Change
Built To Spill - There Is No Enemy
Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
The Walkmen - Bows and Arrows

Top 25

My musical taste really took a turn beginning in the year 2000, mostly due to the top four albums in this list. There are a couple people specifically that I really have to thank for helping steer me towards more intelligent and musically gifted bands. Without those album and those people, God only knows what I would be listening to these days. It really was a great decade in music. Here are the albums that defined my decade.

25. Radiohead - Amnesiac: Part 2 of Radiohead's re-imagining. Unfortunately this album stood no chance to have the same impact as Kid A since it came out second, but just as musically stunning as it's counterpart.

24. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights: While they never really seemed to realized their potential after a great debut, Turn On The Bright Lights left a big impact on the decade. A handful of copycat bands came out pretty quickly (although you can certainly argue that Interpol was a Joy Division copycat), but none of them were nearly as good as Interpol.

23. My Morning Jacket - Z: Arena rock can be a good thing, as displayed by many of the songs on Z. Only on a couple songs do they rear back and bring the country jam mostly heard on their earlier albums. The rest is more of a showcase for Jim James and his amazing pipes.

22. Ween - White Pepper: I've made no secret of my love affair for Ween. this pick was more or less out of necessity to get them in this list. While The Mollusk is more cohesive, White Pepper is just full of really good songs.

21. Spoon - Girls Can Tell: With Girls Can Tell, Spoon made the switch from a more aggressive sound to indie pop, and look where it has gotten them. They are now one of the biggest indie acts around today.

20. Fugazi - The Argument: Fugazi was always unpretentious punk rock at it best. The Argument was seemingly, unfortunately, their swan song. But also one of their best.

19. Fantomas - The Directors Cut: Just a great concept for an album. If anybody could make old horror/thriller movie themes into schizophrenic noise rock, it's Mike Patton.

18. Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely: This album stands up to most of The White Stripes catalog. Jack and Brendan Benson share lead vocal duties and exchange sweet riffs throughout the album masterfully.

17. Sigur Ros - Takk: Sigur Ros reached it grandiose peak with Takk, while also delivering their best pop song with Hoppipolo. They could have cut a couple songs as the running time is a bit long, but the album is a wonderful spectacle.

16. British Sea Power - The Decline of the British Sea Power: OK, so I am a sucker for seafaring thematic albums, but this album rocks. From the waving and hushed Bowie like vocals, to the frenetic Pixies like songs, to the over the top theme, BSP's debut is still their best.

15. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf: QOTSA peaked on Songs For The Deaf, as no band leader Nick Oliveri was booted for being too hard of a partier. It is a shame too, because many of the best songs were sung by Nick. Nevertheless, Josh Homme has always been the mastermind behind the band, and Songs For The Deaf still brings the goods.

14. Constantines - Shine A Light: Bruce Springsteen meets Fugazi. Yes, Shine A Light is that awesome.

13. Spoon - Kill the Moonlight: Spoon's minimalist pop perfection. Things have only gotten bigger for the band since Kill the Moonlight, but never quite as good.

12. Secret Machines - September 000/Now Here Is Nowhere: So this might be cheating, as September 000 is an EP that came out a couple years before Secret Machines' full length debut, Now Here Is Nowhere, but I had to put them together. While September 000 boarders on exploding but shows restraint, Now Here Is Nowhere crosses that line in the first song. Lyrically Sept00 has a more personal feel, while NHIN is shrouded in scifi mystery. I love both equally.

11. Arcade Fire - Funeral: By far the best debut album from a band I have been around to experience. Win Butler perfectly captures the life and imagination of an adolescent trying to find a purpose in life.

10. Spoon - A Series of Sneaks: It still bewilders me how Spoon got booted from Atlantic after releasing A Series of Sneaks. Interestingly, it seemed to do wonders for their career. This is a more aggressive sound than more recent Spoon albums. Not much more to say other than this will probably always be my favorite of theirs.

9. My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves: My Morning Jacket's epic live show seemed to have finally caught up to them on album with It Still Moves. The alt country vibe is still there, but so is the extended jam sessions. There are still some of the quieter, more haunting songs showcasing Jim James amazing vocal capabilities predominant on their first two album, but something breathed new life in to the rest of the band, and It Still Moves is a rollicking good time.

8. Mastodon - Leviathan: A metal album for non-metalheads. The vast and endless ocean can be a menacing thing, and what better classic tale to accentuate that than Moby Dick. The band and the concept was a match made in hell.

7. Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven: Hearing Godspeed for the first time was like hearing a new kind of music for the first time. Rock songs are not supposed to be 20 minutes long. It really is an experience listening to this band.

6. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife: Honestly, I could probably interchange The Crane Wife with any of the other Decemberists album and feel OK about it. I would say The Crane Wife is their most ambitious, but The Hazards of Love topped that and then some when it came out this year. It was, definitely, a big step towards their newer proggy tendencies.

5. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver: I wish I was friends with James Murphy. He seems like he would be a really fun guy to hang out with. Always playing awesome music of old and letting me know how it influences the music he makes. Sound of Silver was just an awesome sophomore album from LCD. While it still had the fun, dancey songs heard on their first, Murphy shows off his songwriting capabilities with some sincerely touching songs to go along.

4. Radiohead - Kid A: What more can you say about Kid A that hasn't been said before. The coolest opinion I read on the album came from Chuck Klosterman, in which he said that Thom Yorke predicted the events of 9/11 with Kid A. If you listen to the album from beginning to end, the scary thing is you could totally see it. Realistically, the album, to me, could be the soundtrack, or an album that tells the story of, some kind of world wide disaster. It's not often a a band becomes the one of, if not the, biggest in the world by taking a daring chance on a completely new and experimental sound.

3. Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica: Desolate, existential, loneliness, God. Those are some of the words I think of when I listen to this album. With The Moon & Antarctica, Modest Mouse reached their creative peak. The album flows from song to song impeccably, culminating in one final, emphatic statement that resonates Isaac Brock's mindset at the time - "And the one thing you taught me about human beings is this: they ain't made of nothin' but water and shit."

2. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells: white Blood Cells was my introduction to the White Stripes. In my mind, they haven't done better than this since. The songwriting is never better with Jack and Meg pumping out some of their simplest, yet most cohesive songs of their career. We all know what Jack can do with the guitar, and on just the few moments when he showcases it on White Blood Cells, you wish you could play guitar like him. I know I do.

1. And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Source Tags & Codes: Cohesiveness seems to be the theme of my top five albums. None exemplifies that as much as Trail of Dead's masterpiece Source Tags & Codes. Each song segues from one to another, with three of the four members of the band trading lead vocal duties without missing a beat. Trail of Dead have almost become a mockery of their over the top art house rock/punk/emo, but Source Tags & Codes matched its grandiose statement with pure musical intelligence.


At 2:37 PM , Blogger FastKlane said...

I wouldn't have guessed TOD to be your number one, but I agree on your reasoning. However, I would have put Funeral a little higher in my list.

At 8:10 PM , Blogger Pat said...

White Pepper, huh? You are just a sucker for songs about Burt Reynolds' movies.

At 9:43 AM , Blogger Grant A said...

Now, that's a pretty good list!


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