Who would have thought that a decade ago – to hear an album in its entirety you actually had to own a CD. Myspace? Imeem? Lala? iPod. iTunes, mp3? You speaking Spanish? Tower Records sure wishes it was 1999 all over again.
Yeah 1999 seems like longer than ten years ago. And just think you probably didn’t even know who My Morning Jacket was or perhaps you were just vaguely familiar with Wilco. After scrambling through the past decade in music, our staff at Glide narrowed our picks for the 50 best albums of the 00’s Not that our favorite albums are any more important than your favorite, but since we are a music magazine – isn’t that what they do at the end of each decade. Enough said, here they are..
#50. Cold War Kids – Robbers and Cowards (2006)
Story telling with clarity and trying to age beyond their years while dressed impeccably, these California boys weaved tale’s of alcoholic woe (“We Used to Vacation”), war wounds (“Hospital Beds”), murder (“Saint John”) and stealing from the blind (“Robbers”). To do all of this in a convincing fashion, and on their first release, states the Kids are a creative force not to be messed with. Blog buzz will only take you so far however Robbers and Cowards shows that the Cold War Kids can produce something better then buzz; great songs.
#49. The White Stripes – Icky Thump (2007)
If Get Behind Me Satan was the Stripes transition album, Icky Thump is the sound of them kicking down their self created walls. More adventurous then anything the twosome strived for in the past (the two bagpipe outings “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” & “St. Andrew” and the ripping flamenco trumpet on “Conquest”) while still rocking the bare bone Detroit blues that won them acclaim (“Bone Broke” & “Little Cream Soda”). Hidden behind the first political outing and the new experiments are some of White’s most powerful song writing excursions to date, “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As Your Told)” and “A Martyr For My Love For You” are crisp winners.
#48. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha (2007)
For Bird’s 7th album, and dire task of following 2005’s Eggs, the dramatic singer-songwriter switched album-to-album gears once again, though this time he skips the elaborate and provides a sense of clarity. His compositions continue to be multi-layered (assisted by the contemporary percussionist Dosh) yet his arrangements and darker lyrical work stray down a less winding path. The result is his most concise effort of his acclaimed twelve-year career.
#47. Cat Power - The Greatest (2007)
On this departure effort from her more quaint solo work, Chan Marshall ventured to Ardent Studios in Memphis to record with many of the original architects of Southern soul music. In the resulting The Greatest, Marshall delivers a new portrait of an old painting, recreating vintage 60’s and 70’s soulful R&B in elegant form. It’s a presumptuous title, one that leaves little room for failure, but Marshall keeps her promise. Add this one to your ‘might get lucky tonight” iPod mix.
#46. Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)
With producer Dan The Automator gone for the second full length, you’d think Damon Albarn would tank into a sophomore slump on this second Gorillaz offering. Instead, the cartoon band soars with the addition of DJ Danger Mouse as Albarn’s new conspirator, along with a slew of guests including Nenah Cherry, De La Soul and even Dennis Hopper. With killer bass lines and a freaky dance vibe (see: "Feel Good," "El Manana" and "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead") there’s enough inventiveness and laid back cool to make Demon Days along with the self titled debut of 2001 purely memorable.
#45. New Pornographers – Twin Cinema (2005)
The third album from the Carl Newman led Vancouver collaborative is another step in the evolution of power-pop indie rock. With Neko Case, Dan Bejar and assorted musician vets at the table, The New Pornographers continue to refine pop hooks from the past while adding a progressive expansion on going where no rock band has gone before. Just don’t call them a super-group.
#44. Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped (2006)
Take the downtown noise/scene setters for the last 30 years and see them go pop, what happen’s? You get Rather Ripped. Of course being the Sonic Youth that they are, nothing is perfectly straight forward, there are still ear catching jangles and time changes, but with efforts such as “Incinerate” “What a Waste” and “Reena” the crew has never been more accessible. “Do You Believe In Rapture?” ranks amongst SY’s best tracks, while Rather Ripped will stand as the starter album for most new fans going forward and a cool slice of history for long time fans.
#43. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (2008)
Uniquely introduced to the world as “harmonic baroque pop,” Fleet Foxes had previously only mustered small ripples with their EP releases, but ultimately drew a tsunami of buzz with their self-titled, LP debut of 2008. The uncontestable, 2008 version of CYHSY-sized hype saw the band singing “I Shall Be Released” with Wilco and playing on SNL/ But these Sub-Pop’rs do deliver, successfully blending a little CSNY, Beach Boys and My Morning Jacket into what can be deemed an “instant classic.”
#42. Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond (2007)
Re-uniting is always tricky for bands, to do so after almost twenty years by putting out an album that is top notch is unheard of, but that is exactly what the original trio comprising Dinosaur Jr. did with 2007’s Beyond. Exhumed from the tar pits, J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph picked up right where they left off with 1988’s Bug and may have even upped the ante with their killer riffs and drum rolls. “Almost Ready”, “Been There All The Time” and “Pick Me Up” are electric, instantly putting them back on the scene as vital rockers from here to Beyond.
#41. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere (2006)
“Does that make me craaazy?" On the genre bending debut Gnarls Barkley had one “Crazy” single in what Rolling Stone Magazine coined as the song of the decade – it sure was uncanilly catchy as everybody from Ray Lamontagne to Nelly Furtado covered it. The rest of the recording bends the musical landscape as Cee-Loo and Dangermouse deliver on their genre-bending debut that holds up to what a 40 minute pop album should sound like: unconventional, soulful and loads of frenzied beats.
#40. The Slip – Eisenhower (2006)
Eisenhower may come across as a striking change from The Slip of old, but this evolution has been in motion since those early, experimental Gecko days. Melding noise rock with indie pop sensibilities, the northeastern trio have artfully captured the vibrant rock landscape painted by fellow innovative contemporaries. Eisenhower may prove to be just another step in the ongoing Slip journey, but it stands as the band’s monumental achievement nonetheless.
#39. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)
After releasing some excellent albums (All Hands on the Bad One, One Beat) earlier in the decade the ladies decided to call it quits as a group with 2005’s release of The Woods and it is a perfect coalescing of their talents. Exploding and sounding larger then they ever had (and most bands ever will) the band makes a grand statement with the cut-you-down lyrics in “Entertain” putting the early decade makeup-wearing-image-only rockers in their place. The noise buzz, huge drum rolls and snaking guitars on “What’s Mine is Yours” boom and bang under Corin Tucker’s vocal fluttering wail before Carrie Brownstein unleashes an 11 minute guitar workout on “Let’s Call It Love” that pulls from Hendrix and ends up landing her amongst the most feared axe wielders out there. If this is truly Sleater-Kinney’s swan song, you can’t ask for much more.
#38. Neil Young – Prairie Wind (2005)
As Neil Young approached his 60th birthday, not even a brain aneurysm could distract another timeless work of art. With its homespun melodies, Prairie Wind is a far cry from a raucous version of "Sedan Delivery," but this Nashville inspired gem will stand in line with its two predecessors – Harvest and Harvest Moon. The songs formed such a story-telling song-cycle that Jonathan Demme filmed during two nights at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium to become the concert film Heart of Gold. Thankfully Young’s softer side feels at home as much as his brash Crazy Horse side.
#37. Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump (2000)
A mix of spacey keyboards and dreamy space-folk, Modesto’s Grandaddy hit their pinnacle with The Sophtware Slump – an aerial view of a suburban subdivision. Jason Lytle’s melodies are both epic and grandiose as they speak of the dangers of modern society, and the hopelessness one can feel when lost in it. Grandaddy paints a beautiful sonic picture of a bleak future-present that makes for an album that hints at ELO classic rock and indie smarts. The band wouldn’t make it through the 00’s, but Sophtware is a timeless enigma that will hold timeless value as we continue another decade of uncertainty.
#36. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise (2005)
The second in his then planned fifty states project, Sufjan Stevens sets a new standard for ambition with this 22 song orchestral epic dedicated to the Prairie State. With single song titles like "The Black Hawk War, or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You’re Gonna Have To Leave Now and I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight…," Stevens certainly went overboard, but the wide range of styles that cover everything from neo-folk to complex instrumental arrangements make Illinoise a piece of history.
#35. My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves (2003)
With Phish on hiatus most of the decade, My Morning Jacket elevated their status as the decades premier live acts of the decade gong on basically to become Bonnaroo’s house band. It Still Moves contains some of their set standard classics: Mahgeetah", "Dancefloors", ‘Golden’, "Master Plan", "One Big Holiday.” It Still Moves is a mix of mix of indie rock, country rock, southern rock, psychedelic and tons of reverb that made My Morning Jacket going from the best kept secret in rock to the next big thing – and surely by way of 2005’s Z, they had attained that.
#34. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker (2000)
Ryan Adams’ first album after he left Whiskey town and the first of ten or so this decade, Heartbreaker is brilliant songwriting wrapped around an alternative-country flair that never gets too twangy. The compositions are raw and stripped down which shows Adams in his comfort zone: him and his guitar along with Emmy Lou Harris on “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and an acoustic based featuring Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Before exploring other genres later in the decade Heartbreaker aint shy of being depressing about the loss of love or broken relationships, something Adams knows pretty well.
#33. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (2009)
Often praised for her vocals, Case excels there and everywhere else, singing about tornadoes, killer whales, magpies, and Mother Earth—natural subjects that continue to inspire her. The buildup of “This Tornado Loves You,” a fine album opener, sets the tone for Cyclone’s grand themes: the swirling and intoxicating mysteries between forever and never. Case’s voice and writing is caught at both ends, and she proves to be as open-minded as ever. If we did a top 100 of the decade, surely we could have fit another three of her albums on the list, but Middle Cyclone is her boldest statement to date.
#32. Spoon – Girls Can Tell (2001)
A great album that often gets overshadowed by 2002’s Kill the Moonlight, Girls Can Tell contains indie rock smarts, big rock power and undeniable hooks. Simple keyboards, one guitar, one bass, drums, ragged vocals– like the Strokes, nothing fancy here but its minimalism at its finest. This sparse straight-ahead rock sound avoids clichés and trendy dance rock sounds of its era while maintain a sense of an addicting sound with no fillers. They would go on to slightly more hype down the decade with Gimme Fiction, but Girls Can Tell is the Spoon’s finest example of doing what they do best.
#31. Radiohead – Hail To The Thief (2003)
We didn’t want to really put three Radiohead albums on this list, but how can we resist? Being bold while borrowing bits and pieces of Kid A and OK Computer, Hail has more peaks and valleys than some of their other releases but what an up and down ride it is – take “Sail To The Moon” next to “ A Punch Up At A Wedding.” With the longest running length and most songs of any of their albums, Hail To The Thief ran the gamut of styles and cryptic energy.
#30. The Black Keys – Rubber Factory (2004)
The raw dog duo of Dan Auerbach on guitar and Patrick Carney on drums busted out from Akron, Ohio with some thunderously stripped down muscle blues, but none of their efforts has yet to top Rubber Factory. Recorded by Carney in an abandoned warehouse in the duo’s hometown the ever present grime and grit seeps into tracks like “Girl Is On My Mind” and their cover of Robert Pete Williams “Grown So Ugly”. The pure blues of “Just Couldn’t Tie Me Down” and “Stack Shot Billy” continue the lineage, hell; “Desperate Man” even distorts a “China Cat Sunflower” vibe into filthy bluesy glory. Then there are the 2 highlight tracks on Rubber Factory; “10 A.M. Automatic” is the drum-breakin’ ass-shakin’ icing on the six-string cake while “The Lengths” surprisingly shows, via lap steel, that the two-piece can slow things down with simple, tear inducing results.
#29. Eels – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005)
Hugely personally, hugely questioning and hugely effective, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations is an album about seemingly everything; life and death, God, love and loss, well mostly loss, but the smirking smile of survival that pops up every now and then conveys some twisted hope through the cracks. Recorded over a series a years with various contributors (everyone from Peter Buck to Tom Waits shows up) the end result produces a patchwork tied together beautifully by emotion. “Railroad Man” is simple honesty, “Suicide Life” is gut wrenching and “Things The Grandchildren Should Know” is a perfectly intense ending to an album constructed on pure feeling.
#28. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
Horribly titled but impeccably played Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga finds the indie-pop-rock troopers from Austin, Tx working harder then ever on their craft while branching into new realms and succeeding on both fronts. “Don’t Make Me A Target” is the excellent opener fans have come to expect from this group while “The Ghost of You Lingers” trips things out with a repetitive piano pound that goes from annoying to catchy back to annoying to ultimately great somehow. “The Underdog” blows away the rest with its pitch perfect horns while “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and the bass bump of “Don’t You Evah” will keep you grooving until the sun comes up.
#27. Kanye West – The College Dropout (2004)
Before he was the Kanye of late night talk show jokes, he was a breath of backpack wearing fresh air in Hip-Hop. Kanye’s debut effort still ranks as his strongest and a moment when the game came to grips with a newer generation that wasn’t afraid to rhyme about, school, Jesus, and failure and still manage to speak to the masses, selling millions. Slowing down Marvin, Aretha and Mayfield, with female vocals in the chorus ain’t anything new in Hip-Hop, but “All Falls Down” and especially “Jesus Walks” stand out as vibrantly alive, while The College Dropout as a whole is a worthy listen through and through.
#26. TV On The Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
Samples, distortion and dancing beats are at the foundation of this genre twisting winner by Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio, but there is also strong song construction at work dragging the listener back for repeated listens. Several killer tunes including, “I Was a Lover”; the scorching single “Wolf Like Me” is a pure howler as is “Dirtywhirl”. Vocals from Kyp Malone and a whole crew of contributors (The White Duke himself even pops in for a spin on “Province”) color tracks while Dave Sitek builds the tension with guitars and samples making Return to Cookie Mountain chocolate chip bliss.
#25. Band of Horses – Cease To Begin (2007)
Has there been a simpler song then “Is There a Ghost” to open a great album this decade? Consisting of 3 sentences, rising powerful guitar play and Ben Bridwell’s amazing voice, the track grabs the listener and Band of Horses won’t let up ‘til they are done with you. “Ode To the LRC” is expansive, “Islands on the Coast” is majestic, the honesty of “No One’s Gonna Love You” waltz’s around your ear drums, while “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands” deals with, well read the title. The ringing, melodic guitars and pristine pipes of Bridwell float this album along, rewarding with every spin.
#24. The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
Just as Nirvana was hailed as saving us all from hair metal, The Strokes were responsible for saving us from Fred Durst and kick starting the garage rock revolution of the decade and helping to kick rap-metal into the flusher. Is This It isn’t technically brilliant or lyrically fascinating but it manages to stimulate regardless of the volume. The Strokes weren’t trying to be eclectic on Is This It, they were just playing good old rock and roll and we realized what were missing most of the late 90’s.
#23. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
Pre selling out arenas or selling out to commercials and post the early album struggles comes this slice of indie rock bliss, seizing the moment. The Moon & Antarctica starts with the line “Everything that keeps us together is falling apart” and indeed it is. “3rd Planet” is twitchy, odd, rocking, and the bands best song to kick things off before the album continues in this trend, touching on a variety of styles; quirky folk “Wild Pack of Family Dogs”, odd hip-hop flavor “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes”, backward loops “Gravity Rides Everything”, about 6,000 layers of sound on “The Stars Are Projectors”, while adding up to a brilliant sum of it’s parts.
#22. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
Perhaps the most hyped release in recent history due to overwhelming internet chatter and a UK population which simply ate up Alex Turner’s Northern English tales of young people drinking, fucking and fighting. The beauty of it all is that there are amazing songs to listen too after all the hyperbole settles, “When The Sun Goes Down”, “The View from the Afternoon” and the blistering party jam “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” are all triumphant rock workouts. “A Certain Romance” ends the album on a strummed out, expansive summary note reminding that sometimes not all praise is manufactured bullshit.
#21. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001)
White Blood Cells was the album that put big Jackie White and his little sister Meg on the map and propelled a new wave of garage rock and roll into America’s mainstream. The peppermint clad rockers had their gimmicks, but they also had the raw sound that a generation craved and The Stripes were willing to dispense it in such appetizing offers as “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground”, “I Think I Smell a Rat” and “I’m Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman”. While the duo constrained themselves in a “Little Room” with the blues and primitive instrumentation, when Jack “Fell in Love with a Girl” listeners started swooning as well; the red and white sky was the limit.
#20. The Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic (2003)
Sadly the perfect name for a group that perished way before their time, Guitar Romantic is dually an exhilarating outing in the world of power-pop-punk and a gloomy reminder of what could have been for this band. Catching the innocence of Punk is never easy but the Hearts had it from the start, with the sniffing in “Jailbird”, fickle teen love via “Pretender” and all the heart breaking excellence of “Modern Kicks”. This album has everything; honest lyrics, catchy tunes, and air of eventual world domination, alas all we have now are the memories and Guitar Romantic, R.I.P.
#19. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
Brewed in the frozen north of Montreal, Quebec, Canada Funeral is a eulogy to fallen loved ones of band members, but more importantly an inspirational dramatic overture to all listeners that they should embrace life. Clanging and motoring with chimes, drums and violin strums from what sounds like a cast of thousands on “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and “Rebellion (Lies)” the album turns into systematic call to arms. “Wake Up” is not only the albums most powerful song it is also its message; life is here, wakeup, live it.
#18. Outkast – Stankonia (2000)
Released on Halloween back in 2000, this album was all treat from the Hotlanta duo, and their shining moment before starting to drift apart. The first two verses alone in “B.O.B” show Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s cataclysmic skills on the mic, while they scratch their guitars to the point of explosion with “Gasoline Dreams” before keeping it real on “Gangsta Shit”. Combining their P-funk inspired freakiness, Southern big beats, and intellectual style that are pure Andre 3000 and Big Boi. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing “Ms. Jackson” for months, Stankonia simply resonated with everyone and with good reason.
#17. Dr. Dog – Fate (2008)
The scruffy crew from Philly took their harmonizing and Beatle/Beach Boy/Band influences to their zenith when they served up their 5th album Fate. Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken wrote tunes like “The Breeze” “Hang On” and “100 Years” that are timeless and seem effortless as they float along. Their songs are warm and familiar yet completely Dr. Dog, “The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer” is the perfect example with its piano twinkle’s naturalistic lyrics and tempo changes, it seems like and old friend has come back home with each listen.
#16. Reigning Sound – Too Much Guitar (2004)
Now this is what electric garage rock should sound like, alive, teetering on the edge and manic. Perfectly titled, Greg Cartwright and company have overloaded the six strings to screech fuzz and blast their way through 50’s pop/soul style songs with abandon. It’s not just the tone and sound though, Cartwright is a song writing expert, “Love, is a funny thing/Don’t know it’s real ‘til it caused you pain” from “Funny Thing” is just one example. From the aggression of “We Repel Each Other” to the clanging harmonica in “If You Can’t Give Me Everything” all the scratches bangs and feedback that initially sound (and probably were) off the cuff quickly become essential to this Lo-Fi masterpiece.
#15. The Secret Machines – Now Here is Nowhere (2004)
Sounding like a potent cocktail mixed of all the classic rock giants Now Here is Nowhere explores the solar system with a back drop of fear, looseness and some seriously thunderous drums. The trio of the brothers Curtis and Josh Garza created a prog-inspired palette that is never in a hurry (“First Wave Intact” the opener is 9 minutes) with reason as their sound meanders before exploding into the cosmos. Desperation and isolation are themes explored lyrically and the Pink Floyd meets Led Zeppelin comparisons are inevitable, and deserved.
#14. Sonic Youth – Murray Street (2002)
September 11th is the single biggest event in the past decade and when your bands studio is a block away from Ground Zero it is going to have an even larger effect on your artistic output. Murray Street was Sonic Youth’s answer and it ranks as the groups best offering since the early 90’s. The album succeeds in offering a sampling of the vast elements that make SY one of the most important rock and roll bands, from Lee Ranaldo’s expansive past looking “Karen Revisited” to the blindingly beautiful build in “Rain on Tin” or the straight hustling “The Empty Page”, Murray Street has something for every rock and roll survivor.
#13. The Black Crowes – Before The Frost… (2009)
The most surprising thing about Before The Frost… is how the Crowes have eased back on their Stones/Faces mimicry and embraced their southern Americana roots. Recording live in Levon Helm’s barn with Larry Campbell’s support will ease that transition, but all credit goes to the group which plays and sings confidently and relaxed, the songs shine because of it. “Good Morning Captain” rollicks out of the gate before they dip into disco with “I Ain’t Hiding” and then slide into country with “Apoolosa” just as easily. Never have The Black Crowes been more inline with The Grateful Dead, and they may have
never sounded better.
#12. Ween – White Pepper (2000)
Perhaps the most normal sounding of the Ween albums and politically correct, White Pepper has it all – from the upbeat "Flutes of Chi", to the riveting "Stroker Ace" to the mellow "She’s Your Baby.” Gene and Dean went in all directions from Brit-pop styled rock, a Jimmy Buffett parody (“Bananas and Blow”) and spoonfuls of satire. But most importantly White Pepper is loaded with with direct and indirect quotes and references to the Beatles’ songbook, while making it their own sound.
#11. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
The opening rumble of “Seven Nation Army” still sends shivers; no matter how much that riff is over played it will stand as one of the decades best. The cover of Burt Bacharach was inspired, as was the dirty sexy blues nerve of “Ball and a Biscuit” whose guitar work hits you square in the solar plexus. “Black Math” and “Hypnotize” continue the Detroit dirt rock while the piano of “I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart” keeps showing the range Jack possesses as a songwriter.
#10. Danger Mouse – The Grey Album (2004)
Is this really where the new millennium in music began? It is certainly the first mash-up album to scare record executives shitless, be ingeniously constructed, critically lauded, popularly received, and most importantly, flat out awesome. Forget the controversy it swirled up and just be thankful you get the perfectly matched “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” samples in “What More Can I Say” and the ridiculously suited screech of “Helter Skelter” in “99 Problems”. Two giants combined by a third emerging artist, new media at its finest and most artistic, if Lennon were alive he would get down.
#9. Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
In case you’ve been in hiding, Radiohead made a pay-what-you-like campaign for their 7th proper album. What followed was what the band themselves referred to as their Honky Dory. First it was released as a series of mp3s and then it hit its way to CD. Living up to the legacy of OK Computer and Kid A was irrelevant at this course in their career, but the eerie vocals, chaos, frigid percussion and absolute timeless compositions again surpassed anything anyone else is currently writing. The only difference this time around was the release format. And even that was innovative.
#8. Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
When KID A was originally released in 2000, most people were perplexed. Where were the guitars? Where were the “Karma Police” sing alongs? Was this even a rock album? Sure enough, KID A started the band’s tenure as the professors of constructing challenging ‘artistic music.’ KID A took it all a step forward by letting Thom Yorke’s voice become the lead instrument, a twitching, creepy, pained medium that cried undecipherable but still had you hooked in. KID A was the first of a big middle fingers to the music industry , shrugged off expectations of outsiders considered a rock album should sound like and portray itself to be, soon to be later followed by In Rainbows.
#7. My Morning Jacket – Z (2005)
Indie, Rock, Jamband, Alt-Country, the lines are always blurred and keep getting crossed; music is music but My Morning Jacket certainly opened up genre prejudiced eyes when they came out of the studio with Z. Branching out in new directions, expanding their sound while tightening their craft (the album runs 47 minutes) the band successfully toyed with reggae flourishes (“Off the Record”) and bass heavy repetition (“It Beats For You”). The group still revolves around Jim James heavenly vocals even when he says nothing (“Wordless Chorus”) and rocking guitars (“Lay Low”) but Z busted My Morning Jacket out of any preconceived notions and the world of music is richer for it.
#6. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)
If you were stuck in a time capsule from 1993 when “She Don’t Use Jelly” was all the MTV rage and emerged in 2002, the last musical development you would probably expect is those same Flaming Lips constructing an amazing almost-concept album regarding Japanese Art, Karate, Symbolism and Cancer. How the Lips pulled off this piece of brilliance may forever remain a mystery, but even getting a little too close to Cat Stevens with “Flight Test” couldn’t put a damper on the wonderful music here. Symphonic, emotionally heart wrenching, computer assisted, and a splash of pop perfection with “Do You Realize??” this album is a marvel.
#5 Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)
The Jigga Man wanted to go out a bang, hence, The Black Album. Pristine production and monumental beats support Jay-Z’s top of the heap flow. As opposed to the hungry hustler or the rising contender here he is the bragging CEO’s delivering a crushing performance. The booming classics are just that, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, “What More Can I Say” and especially “Encore” instantly enter the pantheon of all time greats. “99 Problems” is its own beast, ranking in the top 5 of all songs this decade, delivering on every front, just like The Black Album.
#4. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely (2008)
The rock world had been waiting and it finally happened; Jack got himself a band. The first effort from these raconteurs had it’s moments but the stars aligned when Consolers of the Lonely was conceived and rushed to release. Loose enough in production yet utterly precise it destroys speakers with its power (“Salute Your Solution” & “Attention”) soothes with it’s over the top pomp (“The Switch and The Spur” & “Many Shades of Black”) and most surprisingly goes huge with its arena rock-ability (“Rich Kid Blues” & “Consolers of The Lonely”). Brian Stoltz, guitarist for the Funky Meters told Glide in regards to this album: “I can’t find one note on this record to criticize – nothing out there this innovative. In the land of noodles and white gravy, these guys are the saviors of rock ‘n roll.” We agree.
#3. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
Although Wilco has taken slack for its recent binge of pleasantness and growing up, their first coming out party almost didn’t happen. But thanks to Nonesuch Records– Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was born. Hailed first as a novel pop sonic experiment, most everybody already knows the story about the album after the release(save me the typing effort and watch Sam Jones’ I’m Trying To Break Your Heart) if you haven’t already. From the Motown grooves of “Jesus Etc;” the sunny pop of “Heavy Metal Drummer;” the swirling noises of “Reservations;” the avant- garde rumblings of “Radio Cure;” to the rock steady tempo of “Pot Kettle Black” and “War on War” – is there any doubt that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one the best of the decade?
#2. The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America (2006)
“There are nights when I think Sal Paradise was right/Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together” and away we go with piano swells, layers of guitars and lyrics that let you know while cruising the “Party Pit” and swigging your Solo cup of booze you may just stumble upon the meaning of life. Well, we all know it can happen, Craig Finn and The Hold Steady just verbalized it for us, glorifying wasted/partying/youth in such a straight forward matter was startling and exactly what was need in rock and roll. By fusing a punk ethos into their Springsteen inspired grandiose the group got everyone on board from hipsters to metal heads. The storytelling on “First Night”, “Chillout Tent”, “Citrus”, and “Chips Ahoy!” are plainly unique and captivating, Finn is crafting a folklore all his own. From start to finish Boys and Girls in America reminds of successful pasts, explodes in the present, and instills hope for the future.
#1. Bob Dylan – Love and Theft (2001)
The fluidity and depth, in sound and song, displayed here is the most successfully poignant release The Bard of the sixties has graced us with in over 25+ years. Behind the swing (“Summer Days”) rock (“Honest With Me”) lounge (“Bye and Bye”) and country/folk (“Highwater”) is the best supporting act Dylan has used since The Band themselves. By giving his players some freedom to get loose and explore Dylan did the same for himself, there are actual jokes in the lyrics (“I’m sitting on my watch/so I can be on time”) to go along with his beautiful poetic stanzas (“Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay/You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way”). Produce by Dylan himself the sense of warmness and back porch ease oozes out of every pore on Love and Theft, that sense of that anything can happen in a winning direction hasn’t been heard since his “wild mercury days” of Blonde on Blonde.
Dylan said when the album was released, “I think of it more as a greatest-hits album, volume one or volume two. Without the hits — not yet, anyway." Well now it is official, they are all hits.
Special thanks to Shawn Donohue and Shane Handler in their lead help in compiling this list of the decade’s best