Monday, December 7The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade (30-11).
'Pardon the intrusion; could we leave before it gets bad?'
-Matt Pond PA, 'Halloween'
-Matt Pond PA, 'Halloween'
Welcome to Day Nine of The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade. Without exception*, I could listen to every album on today's list from beginning-to-end, and enjoy almost every second of it. It's relatively dominated by indie rock, with some hip-hop, electronic and instrumental albums thrown in for flavor. All amazing, though. Please enjoy.
The New Song
Mediocre At Best | MySpace Music Videos
30. Mediocre At Best – We’re Not Going To Make It
*Right off the bat, here's the exception. I don't know what you were going when you were 18 years old, but I was writing music, playing shows and touring the state with my three best friends. And yeah, the music was as middle-of-the-road as the name of our band would imply, but what's important is that is was probably the three best years of my life, and I'm really proud of that.
When We're Not Going To Make It was released at the beginning of 2001, I thought for sure that I would never create a better artistic achievement, and in some weird way, I think I was right so far. There's such a big difference between writing essays and publishing a book versus writing songs and releasing an album. The emotions, reactions, experiences and memories are polarizing; authors sit in quiet rooms, talk to nobody and read reviews and viewer mail in silence. Musicians experience everything immediately, on stage, with no backspace button. Now that I'm older, I favor the quiet over the terror or live performance, but not even selling a zillion books is a worthy substitute for one awesome show. Not even my favorite essays as an adult can match the feeling of being a kid, wrestling a song to the ground with your buddies and achieving that 'eureka!' moment where you all realize that you made it happen.
I recommend it to anyone reading that's under the age of 21; start a band, work your ass off, earn absolutely no money and make some memories that you'll cherish forever.
You Must Hear - 'The New Song'
29. Explosions In The Sky – The Earth Is Not A Cold, Dead Place
Listening to Explosions In The Sky can make eating a breakfast burrito or purchasing stamps feel like a life-changing act. How these four guys can make such beautiful, swelling, emotional soundtracks without a speck of lyrics is a feat in and of itself; allowing the listener to fill in the vocal gaps with whatever problems or situations they happen to be struggling with at any given time. Over the last few years, their music has been given new life by functioning as the unofficial house band for the brilliant TV show Friday Night Lights (while adding significant depth as well), and the fit is a match made in heart-on-your-sleeve Heaven.
You Must Hear - 'Your Hand In Mine'
28. Islands – Return To The Sea
Nick Diamonds cannot really sing, but hey, neither can Win Butler, and that gives each respective band their specific intangible. What Diamonds and his musically-trained buddies in Islands can do better than almost everyone though, is squeeze and stuff endless hooks, key changes and breakneck chord progressions into every single second of Return To The Sea. Just listening to 'Rough Gem,' probably their biggest single, boasts new layers and structuring to marvel after repeated listens, and it's probably their most straightforward and poppy song. Speaking of Arcade Fire, I'd say that Return To The Sea is like a more rambunctious Funeral; more humor, more chances to not take themselves so seriously. And ironically, this is what makes Islands succeed on such a smart level.
You Must Hear - 'Rough Gem'
27. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Professional basketball has the 1992 Dream Team. Professional football has the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Indie Rock has Broken Social Scene. Assembling some of the best Canadian artists (19 at last count; the band doesn't like the term 'supergroup') led by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning (the Jordan and Pippen, or if you prefer, Malone and Stockton), You Forgot It In People throws absolutely everything at the wall, creating a cacophony of sound, thanks to the mad genius production of David Newfeld. Winning the 2003 Juno Award (a Canadian Grammy), People has already received tons of accolades and topped plenty of year and decade-ending countdowns, cementing its legacy amongst a major group of indie fans.
You Must Hear - 'Cause = Time'
26. The Benjamins – The Art Of Disappointment
Oh, The Benjamins. Milwaukee's very own. The wall of fuzzy, Weezered-out guitars. The drunken romantic lyrics. The PBR-swaying anthems. The annual reunion shows. When they signed on to Drive-Thru Records and released The Art Of Disappointment, most of us thought that the rest of the nation was going to discover what us Midwesterners already knew; The Benjamins were a damn-near-perfect rock band. However, the stress of touring and...who knows what else, caused the band to eventually dissolve for good, leaving behind nothing but sweaty memories and this one stand-out album. It always takes me back.
You Must Hear - 'Wonderful'
25. Communiqué – Poison Arrows
Rising up from the ashes of Lookout! Records veterans American Steel (before once again dissolving and re-forming as AmSteel), Communique rocked harder than any dance-rock band, and they made you dance harder than any rock band. Their songs catchy, dark and sexy; truly one of the best make-out albums of the last 10 years (do kids make out anymore, or do they just skip to getting pregnant behind the elementary school?). Lyrically, they found a way to break the norm of teenage angst with honest songs about longing and emotional distress, suicide and death. This is a synth-rock emo CD for adults who have perhaps grown out of the genre, or never even really liked it at all.
You Must Hear - 'Perfect Weapon'
24. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World
Screw Garden State; seriously. In a perfect world, James Mercer would be a billionaire, and Zach Goddamn Braff would be scrubbing his toilets with a toothbrush.
You Must Hear - 'Know Your Onion!'
23. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun
Do me a favor and not tell me that Agaetis Byrjun was technically released in 1999; I don't want to hear it. If it wasn't going to be this album, it would have been ( ); you just cannot discount the impact, acclaim and beauty that these Icelandic weirdos brought into our black, little hearts.
You Must Hear - 'Svefn-g-englar'
22. Q And Not U - No Kill No Beep Beep
Q And Not U were one of those bands that could be easily hated. Dischord Records post-punk, mixed with nearly incoherent, Beck-esque lyrics and angular, jangly beats and riffs. However, like most good bands of that genre, once the switch was flipped-- due to a particular song, verse or even a specific lyric that hit you the right way, you fell in love with them for the long term. You instantly saw their genius, heard every note differently and understood exactly where they were coming from (even if they were admittedly coming from nowhere at all). As the years move on and we begin to distance ourselves from decent post-punk more and more (and more), No Kill No Beep Beep seems to sound more and more like an artifact from the future, instead of a shining example of our past.
You Must Hear - 'And The Washington Monument (Blinks) Goodnight'
21. Ultimate Fakebook - This Will Be Laughing Week
One the most pitch-perfect pop-rock bands of the entire decade, Ultimate Fakebook was a three-piece that reveled in 80's nostalgia, forgotten youth (their liner notes are laid out like a high school yearbook; not in an emo way, but in a dive bar alcoholic sort of way), and the girls that got away. Blasting through guitar-drenched power-pop, or slowing things down for a piano-driven ballad (about rejection at Prom, no less), the hooks are everywhere, the intelligence and humor hanging from every word, the message loud and clear.
Songs about the Star Wars prequels being a metaphor for ailing a crumbling relationship, the teen excitement of 'Electric Kissing Parties,' and the nostalgic love of your first (metal) band, Ultimate Fakebook could have been the Hold Steady of the new millennium had it not been for their eventual breakup years ago.
You Must Hear - 'Tell Me What You Want'
20. Matt Pond PA – Several Arrows Later
(Review By The Missus:)
This was Matt Pond’s sixth full length album, and arguably the most accessible album to date. The opening track 'Halloween' sets the tone for what is basically a non-stop, chamber-pop (barf, I hate that term!!!) masterpiece. Mr. Pond’s musical maturation is incredibly evident in the track 'Spring Provides,' which could almost be mistaken for a Peter Gabriel composition. Several Arrows Later is the perfect starting-point and introduction for those new to the Matt pond PA catalog.
You Must Hear - 'Several Arrows Later' or 'Halloween'
19. The Format – Dog Problems
There are some vocalists out there that could sing me the appetizer section off of a Chinese menu, and I'd adore every second of it. Up until 2002, Saves The Day's Chris Conley was the only current guy that this for me. After Dog Problems, Nate Ruess has taken his place. Dog Problems is frantic, whimsical, brutally emotional, indulgent in almost every major genre and could probably serve as the soundtrack of almost any Disney Movie from the 40's (provided it was about infidelity and divorce).
With each second that passes on Dog Problems, the unpredictability is replaced with a sense of wonder and exhilaration, as Ruess (backed by almost every musical instrument ever created) goes from a overwhelmingly happy young man to a self-destructive alcoholic within the space of a measure. Didn't think I would like this album, and it turned out to be one of my favorites.
You Must Hear - 'Dog Problems'
18. The Thermals – The Body, The Blood, The Machine
Are The Thermals the best rock band in America right now? It's certainly arguable, considering the decade they've had. All four of their major releases since 2003 have been incredible, with each featuring Hutch siren-wailing his existential/biblical/motivational/hopeless scribes over the noisiest guitar ever, and Kathy holding down the rhythm like an adorable, bopping metronome.
The Body, The Blood, The Machine showcases the (perceived) hypocrisy of the Bible, and certain groups of faux-Christians in general, all while maintaining a certain amount of respect and knowledge about religion by and large. Most rock bands wouldn't try this hard, put their asses so far on the line and somehow emerge with a hard-rocking, fun-as-hell and instantly memorable set of anthems and shout-along choruses, but hey, that's what The Thermals do best.
You Must Hear - 'A Pillar Of Salt'
17. Of Montreal – The Sunlandic Twins
(Review By The Missus:)
I personally think that Satanic Panic In The Attic should be higher up on this list when it comes to Of Montreal, but since this isn’t my list…well, you know. 'Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)' is a great track, but I can probably never, ever listen to it again thanks to Outback Steakhouse re-penning the lyrics and using it in their incredibly obnoxious ad campaign. In fact, you can thank Outback Steakhouse for giving Kevin Barnes the funds needed to effectively become crazy and probably ruin his own career; but I digress!
The first half of The Sundlandic Twins features some of of Montreal’s best electronic-pop tunes to date. 'So Begins our Alabee' is a ridiculously danceable, singable feel-good track that is only made better in that it was written for Kevin Barnes’ baby daughter. The fun highs of the first half of the album are in stark contrast to the dark, experimental turn the second half takes. Even with its inherent drudgery, humorous ditties like 'Oslo in the Summertime' still manage to make it out alive.
You Must Hear - 'So Begins Our Alabee'
16. Mew - …And The Glass-Handed Kites
I really don't know how they do it. I've always been of the opinion that there are two types of people that decide to make music. The first type makes music because they know how to do it (or can sort of learn), they like music, and they like the subsequent fame, attention and fortune that comes with it. This type of person encompasses approximately 99% of all musicians on Earth.
The second type of person makes music because they are a genius, can create something never seen or heard before, and see it as a language they speak better than any other ventures in their life. John Lennon was this kind of person. David Bowie is this kind of person. Mew is this kind of band. They do what you'd never think to do; create something you never thought you wanted to hear. Hit you with a melody or progression that changes your mood. That's what real artists do, and Mew, with their shimmering, heavenly shoegaze landscapes, succeeded brilliantly with ...And The Glass-Handed Kites.
You Must Hear - 'The Zookeeper's Boy'
15. The Hold Steady – Boys And Girls In America
I grew up in an unincorporated town called Larsen, and went to school in an unincorporated village called Winneconne ('Winnie-Connie'). One stop light, one Post Office, a dozen bars; Main Street, USA, as it were. Kids drank behind the hardware store. Took their bikes into the woods to make out. Destroyed their parents cars by doing donuts in the school parking lot. Climbed up the water tower and graffiti'd the crap out of it. Why? Because we were bored. Drugs, music, shitty cars and women of loose morals were the only thing that you had in a place like this, so you had to stick together and stave off death by monotony one night at a time. And the grown-ups? They were even worse.
The Hold Steady knows this (so does Chuck Klosterman), and with Boys And Girls In America, they paint the landscape of every unincorporated town in America with a brushstroke that reminds me of a drunk, passive-aggressive and depressed Norman Rockwell. Where they succeed, however, is in mining some sort of nostalgic enjoyment out of these memories that usually seem tragic in the light of day. Craig Finn makes you feel like he was at every party you ever went to as a teen, and wrote a kickass song about it just for you.
You Must Hear - 'Chips Ahoy!'
14. P.O.S. – Audition
The best hip-hop album I've heard all decade, and one of my favorites of all-time, Minneapolis' P.O.S. blends a Punk Rock attitude (not 'rap-rock,' mind you), furious anger at...well, just about everything, and the intelligence of one of the smartest young men in the game. Taking on the 2004 Presidential Election, his frustration at the bleak landscape of mainstream Rap and damn near anything else unfortunate to pop up in his crosshairs, what I love most about P.O.S. is his truly funny sense of humor, and the face that he's one of the nicest dudes on the planet.
If you have given up on hip-hop, think that all rappers are idiots (hey, some people do) or think that the message wouldn't resonate with you, Audition will be an awakening.
You Must Hear - 'Half-Cocked Concepts'
13. The Velvet Teen – Cum Laude!
(Review By The Missus:)
Cum Laude! is one of those albums that leaves you a little confused the first go-round, but makes your jaw drop open just a little more with every subsequent listen. It is nothing short of the polar opposite to the Velvet Teen’s previous album Elysium. Where Elysium has quiet beauty and confidence completely lacking guitars and heavy with strings, Cum Laude! is a dizzying assault of distorted vocals, bizarre noises, and chaotic drumming. Drummer Casey Deitz puts on a clinic of musicianship that is without exaggeration positively mind-blowing.
I was fortunate enough to see the Velvet Teen live a few years back when they were touring on Cum Laude!, and I can honestly say I have never seen something so phenomenal in my life. Casey Deitz was banging out rhythms that completely defy logic, Judah Nagler was screaming the vocals through a megaphone, and bassist Josh Staples somehow held the whole thing together. Seeing The Velvet Teen live made me realize that these guys don’t play music because they want to…they play because they HAVE to. It simply seeps out of them, and thank God they don’t try to stop it.
You Must Hear - 'Gyzmkid'
12. The Postal Service – Give Up
I've been making an argument for five years now, stating that Give Up was the single most influential indie album of the decade, in that it single-handedly changed the sound, mood, fashion and experimental nature of that particular genre. I defy you to find anything before 2001 that sounded like The Postal Service (new wave influences notwithstanding), and nowadays, you can't swing a dead cat without hearing some sort of minimalist electronic influence on some of your favorite modern emo and indie groups.
Now, I didn't put it at #12 because of my delusion that it was more important than Kid A. I put it here because it's incredible. Ben Gibbard has never sounded better. His lyrics have never been more pure. Death Cab never succeeded on this type of level. And what's funny is that The Postal Service didn't expect Give Up to take off like it did; they viewed it as a side project with no intentions of a tour or follow-up. However, the album hung around...and hung around...and built up steam on the magnitude of 'Such Great Heights,' probably one of the best and most beloved tracks of the entire decade. Give Up went on to become the sleeper hit of sleeper hits, selling over 900,000 copies and becoming Sub Pop's second-best selling record ever (only behind Nirvana's Bleach).
When I first got Give Up, I put it in my car stereo and proclaimed it to be 'good.' I listened and appreciated the tracks, which made way to an unhealthy infatuation with every bleep and bloop. It became my go-to album for drives to and from school. Eventually, I realized that I had been listening to it for pretty much a year straight, something I hadn't done since I snagged Saves The Day's Through Being Cool and made my friends listen to it eight thousand goddamn times.
Not too shabby for a side project.
You Must Hear - 'Such Great Heights'
11. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
The best-reviewed album of 2005. Pitchfork, Amazon, L.A. Weekly and Entertainment Weekly's 2005 Album of The Year. A critical, musical and artistic triumph.
Sufjan Stevens was sort of kidding when he said he was going to release 50 different albums for each of the 50 states, but after Michican and Illinois, we all really hoped he was serious (and not just because Wisconsin seemed like the only logical third record). It is what it is, a musical guided tour of Illinois, spotlighting such things as John Wayne Gacy and Frank Lloyd Wright, complete with any and every orchestral means necessary to get his point across.
Also, in a decade that may have seen the death of the 'album,' Illnois is an album. You need every scrap of footage in this collection in order to get the full spectrum, or you'd just be cheating yourself out of one of the most beautiful albums of the last ten years.
You Must Hear - 'Come On! Feel The Illinoise!'
Thanks so much for reading. The CDP Decade In Review continues Friday, as we finally dig into my selections for The Top 10 Albums Of The Decade. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.
Wednesday, December 2The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade (50-31).
'This is the new science.'
Welcome back to The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade, brought to you by Jameson whiskey, Honey-Nut Cheerio's and Nutella. Please enjoy as we break into the Top 50.
50. Nightmare Of You – Nightmare Of You
Well-crafted as any indie rock album this decade, the debut from Nightmare Of You showcases razor-sharp lyricism with underplayed (yet beautiful) musicianship. Not necessarily a sleeper album by any regards, but certainly an effort that should have been taken in by a much wider audience. Why these guys didn't end up on the radio alongside of Death Cab and The Shins is still beyond me.
You Must Hear - 'My Name Is Trouble'
49. The Velvet Teen – Elysium
Judah Nagler is a genius. Not 'genius' in that I dig the man's music and think he's a neat guy (I do), but 'genius' in that I still cannot fathom how such ideas could have been concocted inside his brainball. Written, recorded and produced in the dude's bedroom with no guitars whatsoever, he manages to pull off something beautiful, foreign, swelling and magnificent. Again, this is another situation where Nagler deserves to take his seat right next to indie royalty, but for whatever reason, continues to hole himself up somewhere alone, creating new and wonderful masterpieces every few years. And hey, whatever keeps the guy busy.
You Must Hear - 'Poor Celine'
48. Polysics – Hey! Bob! My Friend!
Hey! Bob! My Friend! was my first official experience with Polysics, a band that I've proclaimed as 'Best In The World' for at least six years now. While this album is mixed with so much high end that your ears begin to spurt blood merely seconds after hitting the 'Play' button, it's by far their most spastic, distorted, wild and 'punk-sounding' album. More recent efforts have seen our favorite J-Pop quartet find a more polished and...dare I say 'mainstream' sound...but this is not necessarily a bad thing. When I want a screeching, disjointed, catchy and uniquely Japanese assault on my temporal lobe, however, I always turn to this album.
You Must Hear - 'Hot Stuff'
47. The Decemberists – Picaresque
I'm a guy that usually finds himself boiling bands down to various sub-genres and parallel influences in an attempt to describe them to others, and I almost always hate myself for doing so. I feel it's a disservice to the originality of each band, yet it seems to be a nearly universal way of letting someone else know what you're into. That being said, I never quite understood what 'Chamber Pop' meant, but I know for certain that The Decemberists embody it. Songwriter extraordinaire Colin Meloy puts on his Captain's hat, sets sail for 300 years ago, and is nice enough to take us with, provided we're wearing our best suit or frilliest dress.
You Must Hear - 'We Both Go Down Together'
46. Mando Diao – Hurricane Bar
I don't know what the Swedish rock bands are listening to over there, but they always seem to produce either the catchiest rock & roll around, or the blackest metal on Earth. In Mando Diao's case, they put together a beginning-to-end hookfest with Hurricane Bar, boasting enough earworms and sing-alongs to keep you happy for months. I always get really excited when I dig into a new album and start realizing that there will be no skipping over tracks necessary; every track is awesome. With Hurricane Bar, this is a guarantee.
You Must Hear - 'You Can't Steal My Love'
45. Cursive – The Ugly Organ
Back to that whole 'Chamber Pop' thing. Tim Kasher (the guy that, for better or for worse, taught Conor Oberst how to play guitar) has always been a hit-or-miss guy with me, but hit everything perfectly with The Ugly Organ, easily Cursive's best total work. With seething anger, bi-polar orchestral arrangements (those cellos kick ass) and the sound of a man on the verge of a complete psychological breakdown, The Ugly Organ is vibrant, breathtaking and mad as hell.
You Must Hear - 'Art Is Hard'
44. Yesterday’s Kids – Can’t Hear Nothin’
McCartney & Lennon. Plant & Page. Hall & Oates. Perkins & Schweiger? After the local and national success of the Fox Valley's very own Yesterday's Kids' debut album, we were all more than ready for these guys to hit the ground running with Album #2, take the world by storm and make us all proud. What we got was Can't Hear Nothin', and it kicked ass. Lookout! Records-influenced rock with touches of Springsteen and the Beach Boys, it showed us exactly what we could expect out of these guys in the future (they eventually went on to lead their own separate groups, in what I can only surmise was an amicable separation). Last I saw, Justin Perkins was playing bass for Screeching Weasel, which is about the coolest thing I can possibly think of right now. Full disclosure, Mr. Perkins also produced my band's debut album, which means that if he shot my mom in the face, I'd still cry at his execution.
You Must Hear - '(Ode To) Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet'
43. IfIHadAHiFi – Ones And Zeros
So yeah, I was in a little ska/punk band from 2000-2002 up in the Fox Valley, and at that time, the best (and pretty much only) place to cut your teeth on stage (and face asinine hipster criticisms) was Green Bay's Concert Cafe (later re-named Rock & Roll High School). Most of the bands that played the Cafe sounded identical (and considering that most bands were merely a revolving door of the same 10 musicians, this made perfect sense); Ramones-influenced stuff, straight-up punk rock and some occasional blues-influenced rock.
However, the first night I saw IfIHadAHifi, I knew that the paradigm was about to shift. Wearing their Devo/Polysics/Brainiac influences on their sleeves, the HiFi were unapologetically nerdy (songs are normally about astronomy, robots or other post-apocalyptic characters), unapologetically fringe (initially, it seemed as if the only goal was to make as much noise and ruckus as possible, eventually grooving into an ass-shaking juggernaut with slightly less anarchic tendencies), and unapologetically insane (every HiFi live show was memorable for some borderline-dangerous reason). Amongst a sea of bullshit egos, attitudes and a fear of venturing outside of only a few core influences, IfIHadAHiFi, even in their controlled frenzy, looked like they were actually trying, and this has to be the reason they're pretty much the only Cafe-era band that's still tearing up stages to this day.
You Must Hear - '(This Is) The New Science'
42. Modest Mouse – The Moon And Antarctica
I'm going to let the professional critics sway you on this one:
"Pitchfork Media ranked the album as the third best album of 2000, trailing Kid A by Radiohead and Agaetis Byrjun by Sigur Ros. In February 2005, Pitchfork named it the seventh best album of the years 2000 through 2004. The Moon & Antarctica was voted the sixth best album of the decade by Pitchfork in October 2009. In 2008, betterPropaganda ranked the album number 23 in their Top 100 Albums of the 2000s. The album ranked number 37 in Entertainment Weekly's "The New Classics," a list of the hundred best albums from 1983-2008. In March 2009, the album was certified gold by the RIAA in the United States."
And leave you with this:
Well, God sayin' somethin', but he didn't mean it
Everyone's life ends, but no one ever completes it
Dry or wet ice, they both melt and you're equally cheated
Well, it took a lot of work to be the ass that I am
And I'm really damn sure that anyone can, equally easily f**k you over
I'm sure you'll tell me you got nothin' to say
But our voices shook hands the other day
If you can't see the thin air then what the hells in your way?
You Must Hear - '3rd Planet'
41. The Good Life – Album Of The Year
Tim Kasher's solo project (and calendar-themed concept album), Album Of The Year covers the spark and bloom of new love, followed by the courtship, pain and inevitable heartbreak. Less Chamber-Poppy and more Bright Eyes-songwritery (in a good way), Album Of The Year showcases Kasher's booze-soaked lyrics, smoke-filled barrooms and revolving door of failed relationships. This is an album I seem to come back to every year, and each time, I'm hooked.
You Must Hear - 'Album Of The Year'
40. Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s – The Dust Of Retreat
I'm going to let Cargirl handle this one:
"This album is not the most transforming for me, it did not save my life, it did not help me through any sad times or see me through any happy ones. But the first time I heard it, this album engraved in my brain a photograph of where I was, who I was and what was happening to me. Every time since has been exactly the same: after the opening chords I am inescapably pulled into the magnificent world which this album so delicately weaves. Aided by Richard Edwards’ apathetic vocals and the chilling feeling of being deep inside the world of a Wes Anderson film, the first track has the unrelenting ability to sink me from absolutely any mood down into the vulnerable, cold feeling of nihilism and heartbreak. After the opening credits comes the proverbial overture to the journey of the next 40 minutes. And then comes the story. The Dust of Retreat is a story of love, self-destruction, apathy, of pain and numbness and of moving on—and it’s told over trippy keyboards, blaring trumpets and an ever-refreshing assortment of percussion. The album closes and the story ends with an eerily uplifting song that instills in you a feeling which can only be compared to watching snow fall untouched in the dead of night."
You Must Hear - 'Skeleton Key'
39. The Weakerthans – Left And Leaving
It's no secret that The Weakerthans are on a very short list of my favorite bands of the last 10 years. The lyrics, music, message, tone, emotion and overall mood of John K. Samson's art are second-to-none in many regards. The dark humor. The anxiety and illness. The depression of watching the last few leaves of Summer falling off of every tree in the city; it's all there. But it's not necessarily sad. In fact, The Weakerthans are one of the most uplifting and overall positive bands I've ever heard. Flat out, I think that listening to The Weakerthans would give you more insight as to how I operate as a person. Jury's still out if you care; just throwing it out there.
You Must Hear - 'Aside'
38. Girl Talk – Feed The Animals
Mash-up album of the decade. Redefined a genre. Solidified the art form. Took every hook, line, beat and riff from every decent (and terrible) track over the last 30 years, and created the jam album of 2008. Any student of pop music (and despite these rushed reviews, I really am) will probably listen to Feed The Animals with wide-eyed wonder, beaming with respect and recognition at each new twist and turn that Greg Gillis whips up.
You Must Hear - 'Here's The Thing'
37. Less Than Jake – Anthem
If this were a list of my 250 favorite albums of the 90's, I'd put Less Than Jake's Hello Rockview in the Top 5, without a doubt. Less Than Jake has just always been one of those bands that I followed, supported, defended and attached a big part of my personality to. The follow-up to Hello Rockview, Borders & Boundaries, was overall good but tepid when it came to fan response. Anthem, however, was a return to form for the Gainesville ska-punk masters. Hard where it needed to be, nostalgic where it needed to be, and mainstream where it needed to be, Anthem was easily the best LTJ album of the decade (they released four in the 00's), and on par with their earlier classics when it comes to some of their best tracks.
You Must Hear - 'Look What Happened'
36. Streetlight Manifesto – Everything Goes Numb
Ska's Third Wave died out several years ago, but the sound and the bands (for the most part) haven't gone anywhere. Arguably, we saw the uprising of the best 'third-wave' band of all-time when Streetlight Manifesto formed from the (proverbial) ashes of Catch-22 in 2002. The horns are brick-solid, the rhythm section tighter and more musically inclined than just about any other, in any genre. The choruses anthemic each and every time. And the rapid-fire lyrics of Thomas Kalnoky driving us through Hemmingway-esque six-minute tracks like they were 45 seconds. Hey, ska isn't for everyone, but good bands are good bands, and Everything Goes Numb is an absolutely killer album that just might turn you onto a sub-genre you never thought you'd dig.
You Must Hear - 'A Better Place, A Better Time'
35. Nada Surf – Let Go
What a difference a decade makes. In the mid-90's, Nada Surf was relegated to 'Buzz Clip' status on MTV's Alternative Nation (I miss you, Kennedy!), on the strength of their (at that time) one-hit-wonder, 'Popular.' A few years later, they re-focused, re-ignited their sound and re-invented their following around some truly beautiful indie songwriting. In 2009, almost nobody remembers 'Popular,' which is something to be said, as most bands never get the chance to start over again. Releasing three great albums this decade (with Let Go being the best of the bunch) is amazing enough, but the up-down-up tale of Nada Surf is worth noting as well.
You Must Hear - 'Killian's Red'
34. Travis – The Invisible Band
If the Missus created her own 'Best Of The Decade' list, I'd bet that The Invisible Band would make the Top 3 or 5. Since this is my list, however, it's at #34, but I'll also take this moment to publicly chastise each and every American that decided to make Coldplay a more popular band than Travis. You screwed up; plain and simple. Across the board, at every turn and at every stoplight, Travis is a superior freaking band. You really disappoint me sometimes, kids.
You Must Hear - 'Side'
33. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Ten years from now, I may decide that Neon Bible was a better Arcade Fire album than Funeral. From a production standpoint? Absolutely. From a focused musical sense? Perhaps. From an overall mood and feel? It's debatable. Quite frankly, the fact that their post-Funeral effort turned out this wonderfully is a triumph in and of itself. When I first heard 'Intervention' a few months before the album was released, my jaw hit the ground. "Holy shit; they're going to do it again!" Well...maybe they did and maybe they didn't (Neon Bible was my 2007 Album Of The Year, after all), but it's an undeniably good album that I probably would have ranked even higher if I didn't think that people would be such dicks about it.
You Must Hear - 'Intervention'
32. Green Day – Warning
Contrary to popular belief, Green Day did release a good album this decade! Their post-Nimrod effort was mellower, more acoustically-minded and featured a lot of elements we would come to know as the Second Stage of their career began. At first, I hated it. This was my favorite band, after all; how dare they mess with success, and at the same time, strip me of the identity I had so carefully crafted around their snotty angst and fury?
What we got was (I guess) a more 'mature-sounding' band with significantly much less to bitch about (I sometimes wish that Billie Jo Armstrong would have never gotten married, so he would write songs about unrequited love forever), and even though it didn't go platinum for several years after its release, it's one of those Green Day albums you can rediscover and fall in love with.
You Must Hear - 'Church On Sunday'
31. Big, Big Furnace - Soundtrack To A Midwestern Winter
I think these guys were from the Milwaukee area; an emo quartet with equal parts humor, self-deprecation, emotion, longing and truly beautiful songwriting. They broke up before I ever had the chance to see them live, but I had gotten my hands on Soundtrack To A Midwestern Winter shortly after it was released in 2001, and it absolutely became my own. Literally nobody else that I knew owned this album, so I was responsible for turning people on to it and converting friends on every long Winter drive around my small, unincorporated town (when you live in the middle of nowhere, those drives are always long).
It was not groundbreaking. Had it been released a week ago, I would have ignored it completely. But it was my own. The album sounded like Winter, too. The typical tracks about unrequited love, passing glances to attractive strangers and late-night conversations were all set to a Wintery backdrop (there's even a song about sledding!). To this day (and probably forever), I always bust out Soundtrack To A Midwestern Winter on the night of the first snowfall, take a drive around and play this baby from beginning to end, remembering what the world was like in Winter of 2001 (for me, it was Heaven). And if I can get one other person to do the same, that would pretty much make this entire list worth it.
You Must Hear - 'A Midwestern Winter'
Thanks so much for reading. The CDP Decade In Review takes the rest of the week off, as we begin to dig into the Top 30 Albums Of The Decade on Monday. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend.
Tuesday, December 1The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade (75-51).
'I'm not sorry I met you, I'm not sorry it's over, I'm not sorry there's nothing to say.'
-Stars, 'Your Ex-Lover Is Dead'
-Stars, 'Your Ex-Lover Is Dead'
Welcome back to Day Six of The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade. Things are starting to get real, yo, and I'm doing the whole thing in haiku! Please enjoy.
75. Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare
There's no 'Sophomore Slump'
When you can write a rock song
Like Arctic Monkeys.
You Must Hear - 'Brianstorm'
74. Scott Reynolds – Adventure Boy
ALL. Bonesaw Romance.
The Pavers. Goodbye Harry.
Scott Reynolds = The Man.
You Must Hear - 'The Boy Who Stole Your Heart'
73. Weezer – Weezer (Green Album)
Weezer left introspection
For Pop royalty.
You Must Hear - 'Island In The Sun'
72. Passion Pit – Manners
Passion Pit's Manners:
Hands down the best dance album
(ONE OF MY TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2009!)
You Must Hear - 'Sleepyhead'
71. The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
Nick Diamonds? Genuis!
The hooks? Fast and furious!
I don't wanna die!
You Must Hear - 'I Was Born (A Unicorn)'
70. The Beans – Young Love Gone Terribly Wrong
Out of print and hard to find.
Sort of changed my life.
You Must Hear - 'One More Summer'
69. Asobi Seksu – Citrus
Loud, fuzzy shoegaze
Like My Bloody Valentine
You Must Hear - 'Thursday'
68. Fairweather – If They Move…Kill Them
Hard, catchy emo.
Saves The Day influences.
Broke up way too soon.
You Must Hear - 'If They Move...Kill Them'
67. The Rapture – Echoes
Hey, hey, DFA!
Carry that Dance-Punk banner
Into a New Wave!
You Must Hear - 'House Of Jealous Lovers'
66. Sufjan Stevens – Greetings From Michigan
50 States Project,
Kicking off on a high note.
Best is yet to come.
You Must Hear - 'All Good Naysayers. Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!'
65. P.O.S. – Never Better
Hip-Hop and Punk Rock =
Shark riding an elephant.
(ONE OF MY TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2009!)
You Must Hear - 'Drumroll'
64. Feist – Let It Die
And...one, two, three, four
Overrated? That's okay.
Like her anyway!
You Must Hear - 'Mushaboom'
63. Stars – Set Yourself On Fire
What are they feeding
Indie bands in Canada?
They're all amazing!
You Must Hear - 'Your Ex-Lover Is Dead'
62. The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning Strike
Funk, punk, soul and rap
Mashed together with static
An instant party.
You Must Hear - 'Ladyflash'
61. Army Navy – Army Navy
Came out of nowhere
To create perfect Pop Rock
Like Teenage Fanclub.
You Must Hear - 'Dark As Days'
60. The Thermals – F**kin’ A
Open your eyes and
Stare into mine. A stare like
Yours is hard to find.
You Must Hear - 'A Stare Like Yours'
59. Mew – Frengers
Three geniuses from Denmark
Your new favorite band?
You Must Hear - 'Snow Brigade'
58. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
James Murphy might be
The coolest guy in the world
So dance your ass off.
You Must Hear - 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House'
57. Ash – Free All Angels
Kick your ass with the power
Of well-crafted rock.
You Must Hear - 'Burn, Baby, Burn'
56. Interpol – Antics
They did it again.
One fantastic, dark album
You Must Hear - 'Evil'
55. Of Montreal – Satanic Panic In The Attic
This is the album
That shunned Elephant 6 roots
For afro-punk beats.
You Must Hear - 'Vegan In Furs'
54. Antony And The Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
The first time I heard
Antony's 'Hope There's Someone'
I cried like a fool.
You MUST Hear - 'Hope There's Someone'
53. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
Take Arcade Fire
Add a great voice and great hooks
You'd get The Rhumb Line
You Must Hear - 'Ghost Under Rocks'
52. The Avalanches – Since I Left You
Samples in Aussie mash-up
You Must Hear - 'Frontier Psychiatrist'
51. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Your small town and mine
I always feel back at home
With The Hold Steady.
(ONE OF MY TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2009!)
You Must Hear - 'Constructive Summer'
Thanks much for reading. The CDP Decade In Review continues tomorrow, as we dig in to #50-31 of The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.