Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thom's 25 Favorite Albums of the Aughts 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Alright. I'm back a bit later than I expected, but nonetheless, I have returned. So let's get McArthur on this shit. Here's numbers 12 through 1.

12. Animal Collective - Feels:

It's been a good decade for Animal Collective. It seems like everything they've touched has turned to gold, and not to reveal too much, this won't be their last album on this list. Feels is (I say this too much...) solid from top to bottom, but is elevated to greater heights by the quality of its two best songs -- The Purple Bottle, and, in particular, Grass. The former sounds like a heartfelt love song recorded while the boys (Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Geologist) were freaking out on a combination of Amphetamines and PCP. The latter is a quiet-loud-loud freakout with tribal toms and guttural screams. This album, similar to many of the substances AC ingested while recording it, is highly addictive with some powerful highs.

Fav. Tracks: Grass, The Purple Bottle, Banshee Beat

11. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better:

It bears mentioning that it was incredibly difficult for me to choose which Franz Ferdinand album I liked better: this one, or their eponymous debut. I love them both, and to me, they're virtually interchangeable. However, after some thought, I had to give YCHiSMB the short end of the stick. Of course, it's still at 11, which is hardly something to complain about. I've listened to this album so much that I can't remember certain activities I've undertaken in the past without associating them with Alex Kapranos and co. (among them, the entire Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, and Forza Motorsport). This album is one of those rare ones where my favorite track jumps around between just about every song (Except Eleanor Put Your Boots On, which is just above average). You Could Have It So Much Better is certainly a worthy companion to Franz Ferdinand's debut, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Fav. Tracks: You Could Have It So Much Better, The Fallen, Outsiders

10. Franz Ferdinand - (Self-Titled):

Now, here's the other half of the nice little Franz bundle in the middle of this list, as well as the start of our descent into the top 10. I know this is an annoying, hipster-y thing to say, but I listened to this album before it got popular (if you find that an annoying thing to say, and it probably is, NEVER EVER talk to me about The Killers' Hot Fuss. You will want to murder me). It's always a testament to a good album when its popularity doesn't prevent you from listening to, and enjoying it (one reason Hot Fuss is not on this list: I couldn't look at it for about a year after Mr. Brightside appeared on every teen drama ever), despite the fact that a bunch of douchebags that get spoonfed their music from pop radio claim they love the band after hearing Take Me Out like two times. Anyway, this album is wonderful. It's intense and arty, and it's good to dance to. Take Me Out's surprising 180 turn is easily one of the highlights of the past decade music-wise. It's good. Listen to it (you probably already have...).

Fav. Tracks: Darts of Pleasure, Take Me Out, Auf Achse

9. Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare:

Follow up albums are always tough, particularly when your previous album received loads of hype. That Arctic Monkeys were able to improve upon their debut is remarkable, given the amount of pressure focused on them. Favourite Worst Nightmare is mature where Whatever People Say I Am... was bratty, tight where its brother was noisy, and undeniably more satisfying. The only criticism I can level at it is that it lacked a song as good as Whatever's A Certain Romance, but that's easily made up for by Nightmare's cohesiveness as an album.

Fav. Tracks: Teddy Picker, Brianstorm, Old Yellow Bricks

8. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam:

Basically, read my blurb on Feels, but include the words "tighter," and pretend I expanded my focus to more than two songs. That's Strawberry Jam. Drug reference.

Fav. Tracks: For Reverend Green, Fireworks, Unsolved Mysteries

7. Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson In Crime

Some readers might be thinking: "Thom, this isn't an album. It's an EP. Has your immense time spent away from this site corroded your ability to write a competent post?" To you, I say: shut up, nerds. Now is not the time for nit-picking. As far as I'm concerned, A Lesson In Crime is closer to an album than an EP. Sure, it's short, but that's because of the short length of its songs. It has 8 songs. That's way too many for an EP (which are typically 3-5 songs). Anyway, this album has more energy than pretty much anything else I've heard in the aughts. I saw them live a couple of years ago, and it was like they set off a bomb in the room. Hopefully TPC return to form after a disappointing follow-up (Elephant Shell, which sucked), but A Lesson In Crime will probably be a height they'll never reach again.

Fav. Tracks: Nature of the Experiment, Citizens of Tomorrow, Be Good

6. Tie (That's right, I CHEATED!) The Strokes - Is This It?/ TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain:

I honestly couldn't decide which of these I liked better, so I took the easy way out and put them both in the same spot.

Is This It? was the best album of the garage rock revival it started. Its self titled track has probably my favorite bass line ever. It references Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It's pretty much great.

Fav. Tracks: Is This It?, The Modern Age, Soma

Return to Cookie Mountain is like the Australian Outback. It is the most desolate sounding album I have ever heard. This comparison was likely brought on by my watching The Proposition yesterday, but I think it's apt. This album features sparse musical arrangements, doom n' gloom harmonies, and loads of wonderful songs.

Fav. Tracks: A Method, I Was A Lover, Province

5. Radiohead - In Rainbows:

On to the top 5! This was the first Radiohead album that I really anticipated the release of. Their previous album, Hail To the Thief, had come out when I was still listening to Nu Metal (I'm not proud, but I was like 11). This excitement was amplified by its strange release and instant availability. I remember playing Timesplitters with Jake while giving it my first listen. I didn't really know what to make of it. However, after a few listens, In Rainbows really reveals itself as one of Radiohead's best. There's a lot of different stuff going on, but somehow it all fits together in the end.

Fav. Tracks: Jigsaw Falling Into Place, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, All I Need

4. The Arcade Fire - Funeral

This album packs more emotion than any other one on this list. The climaxes of Neighborhood #3, and Rebellion (Lies) are so powerful, that they almost never fail to bring tears to my eyes. It's rare to find an album with that kind of raw emotion. One reason the film adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are looks so good is because it's interspersed with Wake Up. That's the kind of effect these songs have: they enhance.

Fav. Tracks: Neighborhood #3, Wake Up, Rebellion (Lies)

3. Mastodon - Leviathan

Jake is going to hate this, probably almost as much as he hates metal. For me, however, nothing makes more sense than this album being in the top 3. It has so much raw force that it feels like you might die from shock listening to parts of it. The intro riff to Aqua Dementia is so cool and powerful, that I actually did a double take the first time I heard it. Leviathan packs more: "WTF, THAT WAS AWESOME," moments in it than probably any other album I own, and it only improves the more listens you give it. Oh, and did I mention that the album is based off of Moby Dick? That's pretty cool, especially because it kicks Melville's ass all over the place. Hearts Alive, the culminating song on Leviathan, is a 10+ minute, water-logged epic that absolutely destroys any other metal song I've ever heard. I love this album. It is awesome. Also, it is intensely nerdy and metal. Hate me for it if you want.

Fav. Tracks: Hearts Alive, Iron Tusk, Blood And Thunder

2. My Morning Jacket - Z:

Jeneen, our first writing addition, is going to love this. This album has the best artwork of the past decade. The music is pretty much just as good. I'm not even sure how to describe this album appropriately. It's just good.

Fav. Tracks: Lay Low, Gideon, Anytime

1. Radiohead - Hail To The Thief

That's right, no Kid A on this list. Hail To The Thief is unequivically my favorite album of the past decade, and is in fact my favorite Radiohead album (yes, moreso than OK Computer). It's amazing how well this album's songs fit together, and how good each song is. They all seem like highlights. I feel like Hail To The Thief was where Radiohead finally found the perfect middleground they were looking for between Kid A's vast artiness, and OK Computer's genre-dissolving rock. I know I'm going to get some shit for this (from all 4 of our readers), but I don't really care. Hail To The Thief is Radiohead's finest work. Deal with it.

Fav. Tracks: A Wolf At the Door, Myxamatosis, 2 + 2 = 5

That's it. I liked doing this so much that I'm developing a list of my 100 favorite songs of the past decade. That should be coming down the pipe in a couple of days. Until then...

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