Friday, December 11

The CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade (10-1).

'This song will become the anthem of your underground.'
-Saves The Day, 'At Your Funeral'

Well, it's about time. As The CDP Decade In Review comes down to its final three posts of the year, we finally wrap up our three-week long countdown of the Top 250 Albums Of The Decade. Within these 10 albums, you'll see about five classics that should arguably be on every decade-ending list, and about five personal favorites that had a major effect on me over the last 10 long years. It should also be noted that my Top 3 shuffled back and forth until the last possible minute; they really could all be #1 in my book.

Enjoy; let's go.

10. Further Seems Forever – The Moon Is Down (2001)

“I’ll give you my life, if you give me yours, somehow.”

1. "The Moon Is Down"
2. "The Bradley"
3. "Snowbirds And Townies"
4. "Monachetti"
5. "Madison Prep"
6. "New Year's Project"
7. "Just Until Sundown"
8. "Pictures Of Shorelines"
9. "Wearing Thin"
10. "A New Desert Life"

When 2009 wraps up, I'll probably be sitting in the living room of my house, lip-locking the woman I love amongst a few close friends and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with surviving such an ebbing and flowing decade. However, on the last night of 1999, I was in quite a different place, literally and figuratively.

I was 17 years old, at a New Year's basement party with about two people I wanted to see, and about 20 others that I haven't seen since. I was miserable. I was alone. The girl that I had been setting myself up for, the girl that I had changed my plans for, and the girl that I had been setting a course for, was gone. Off my radar. A certain impossibility. Where I once saw a path to my future, I saw a solid block of brick and mortar, not unlike the basement walls I was slamming my head into that night.

So I drank. And drank. And drank. As the night went into slow-motion and the emotions began to run rampant, I had a sneaking suspicion that I might never leave that basement. Never see 2000. Against any sane man's better judgment, I begged to be arrested (or killed), and drove home, borderline-subconscious and woefully underage, at three in the morning.

When I got home, I threw up in the kitchen, stumbled downstairs to yet another unfinished basement (My mother and stepfather's new house wasn't quite equipped for me, as I later found out when I was asked to leave a few months later). As I laid in my freezing bed, watching the trusses and insulation spin over my head as the sun came up, I knew for sure that this was one of the most pathetic moments of my entire life.

No less than a week later, I met Celia and my life changed. Changed changed. Had I not experienced such heartbreak and disappointment over those few months in late 1999/early 2000, I'd probably be...well, who really knows where I'd be.

Some people hear a song and think it was written for them. In my 17-year-old and depressed-out-of-my-mind stupor, this is how I felt when I heard 'New Year's Project,' off of Further Seems Forever's masterpiece, The Moon Is Down. Originally recorded for a 1999 split EP, it essentially tells the story I just told you above. Due in part to this, along with nine other breathtaking tracks, The Moon Is Down tells the story of the fading of youth, the remembrance of raw emotion, and doing (and feeling) anything to get to those that you love. We all know what Emo has become, and The Moon Is Down captures the other side of the equation, the reminder of how much an album can function as a Time Machine.

Nowadays, when I hear 'New Year's Project,' I'm happy. Happy because I'm older. Happy because my wife is next to me. Happy because I survived adolescence. It's a beautiful song, The Moon Is Down is a beautiful album, and hey, life is beautiful sometimes, too.

You Must Hear - 'New Year's Project'

9. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Tyranny Of Distance (2001)

“You had me two times out on the ledge, but I still love you, you see.”

1. "Biomusicology"
2. "Parallel Or Together?"
3. "Under The Hedge"
4. "Dial Up"
5. "Timorous Me"
6. "Stove By A Whale"
7. "The Great Communicator"
8. "Squeaky Fingers"
9. "My Vien iLin"
10. "The Gold Finch And The Red Oak Tree"
11. "St. John The Divine"
12. "You Could Die (Or This Might End)"

(Review by The Missus:)

Is there any possible way to dislike Ted Leo? If there is, I have yet to find it. The Tyranny of Distance, released in 2001, was the first full-band album by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and immediately solidified them as a mainstay on the indie scene. An unusually prevalent attribute on this album is the Irish-folk inspired guitar styling, which melds seamlessly with Ted Leo’s pressured vocals and impossibly clever lyrics.

The Tyranny of Distance is one of those albums that will never leave your CD or iPod rotation once it’s there. Try as you might, it’s too monumental to put away for long.

(Note By The CDP: Considering Ted Leo's career, determining his 'best album ever' will surely lead you to some amazing music, and with The Tyranny Of Distance, we see him at his most inspired and amazing; no small feat.)

You Must Hear - 'Under The Hedge'

8. The Features – Exhibit A (2004)

“Hold on, ‘cause the end is coming soon; it won’t be long.”

1. "Exhibit A"
2. "The Way It's Meant To Be"
3. "Me & The Skirts"
4. "Blow It Out"
5. "There's A Million Ways To Sing The Blues"
6. "Leave It All Behind"
7. "Exorcising Demons"
8. "The Idea Of Growing Old"
9. "Some Way Some How"
10. "Situation Gone Bad"
11. "Harder To Ignore"
12. "Circus”

(Review by The Missus:)

Exhibit A is, well, Exhibit A of how major-label debuts can be grossly mishandled. While Kings Of Leon were starting to gain widespread popularity, The Features should have been eclipsing them by leaps and bounds…but they didn’t. Instead, their masterpiece Exhibit A is just another blip on the radar for 2004. With frantic, warbling vocals, blazing organ accompaniments, and sing-along melodies that stick in your head for days, The Features are impossible to dislike. Nearly all of Exhibit A is a lyrical ode to singer Matt Pelham’s young twin daughters. His love for them oozes adorably and evidently from every song.

Despite its total major-label failure, Exhibit A has remained a critical darling and garnered The Features a sizable and loyal following.

(Note By The CDP: What The Missus fails to mention is that, despite the overall feel-good tone and positive southern vibes emitting from Exhibit A, the music is downright psychotic at times. It's like drunkenly wandering into a swamp church in the middle of the bayou, meeting Satan and realizing he's not that bad of a guy. I love, love, LOVE this record.)

You Must Hear - 'Leave It All Behind'

7. Polysics – For Young Electric Pop (2002)

"Hey! Hey! Are you ready to go! Black out! Fall out!"

1. "For Young Electric Pop"
2. "Colon"
3. "It's Up To You"
4. "Wicked Lough"
5. "Black Out Fall Out"
6. "Let's Go"
7. "Mad Mac"
8. "Tv's High"
9. "Secret Candy"
10. "Weekenders"
11. "Get Back To 8-Bit"
12. "My Sharona"
13. "Code4"

For obvious reasons, Polysics could get by on their exotic charm and not-from-this-country aesthetic in America for the rest of their careers, without ever really having to evolve or possess any real talent. Fortunately for us, Polysics are insane geniuses, and have no intention of ceasing their hyper-evolution until they eventually take over the planet and enslave mankind.

Okay, so you have four Devo-obsessed Japanese folks (2 guys, 2 girls) who wear futuristic costumes and sing in 1/3 Japanese, 1/3 English and 1/3 gibberish. They started out writing screeching, noisy, lo-fi ear-splitters with rapid-fire start/stop/destroy rhythms, but eventually went a more pop route without sacrificing any of their punk brutality. Throughout all of their seemingly non-mainstream musical maturity, they actually became more accessible, their newer stuff acting as a gateway into their more hyperactive older stuff.

I had always loved Polysics, but even I thought they could take this shtick no further prior to the release of For Young Electric Pop. Then, they did what they've been doing for 10 years now; impress the hell out of me and introduce me to yet another new world of sounds. What they did so brilliantly on Pop that they didn't normally do on their older releases was run about 50 years of American Pop Music through their filter of spazzy, Japanese synth-punk. It's sort of like those 'American Pop' CD compilation infomercials that you see at 3am, only completely re-recorded by a J-Pop band.

And here's something else that most noisy, non-English-speaking bands can't do well; they actually can convey emotion at times. On the rare occasion that they slow things down for a few minutes (they alternate between their male and female vocalists), they make the ballad work (albeit their own special brand of ballad). For Young Electric Pop is unarguably an album that you have never heard before; they throw everything to the wall, and everything goddamn sticks.

You Must Hear - 'Code4'

6. The Impossibles - Return (2000)

"If we never say goodbye, there will be no end."

1. "Enter/Return"
2. "(Never) Say Goodbye"
3. "Connecticut"
4. "Gone 4 Good"
5. "This Is F**king Tragic"
6. "Intermission"
7. "Oh, Angelina"
8. "Stand Up, Fall Down, Get Crushed"
9. "4gn 4ever"
10. "Hey,you Kids!"
11. "Decompression/Debilitation"
12. "Stopping Sound"

Here is a photograph of Gabe and Rory, the chief guitarists and songwriters for The Impossibles:

And here's a photograph of Gabe and Rory, my two male, Siamese cats:

Okay, so there's not much of a resemblance there, but the point is simple: I named my cats after these guys! For me, from 1998 to 2002, there was nothing, and I mean nothing, more influential to me than The Impossibles. They got me to start a band (who tried to rip them off at every corner). They got us to do an entire set of just Impossibles covers (a colossal failure). Their live shows amazing (still probably the best live band I'd ever want to see). We even include an 'Intermission' on our album, just as The Impossibles did on Return. Has it gotten annoying enough for you yet?

When Anthology came out, I spent several months dissecting every second of the album, speculating as to how these two kids (at the time) cracked the Weezer-ska code of structural musical brilliance. Their lyrics introspective, genuine and youthful. Their sound, guitar-driven, harmony-loaded and upbeat. Every song perfect. Every progression flawless. These guys shouldn't be this good! How did they do it? For awhile, I figured we'd never know, because they broke up for a couple of years, only to return and release...well, Return. The upstrokes were gone, replaced by more abrasive guitars, driving pop-rock hooks and those soaring choruses.

One of the things I really love about Return in retrospect is the opening introduction, which features the sound of a modem connecting to the Internet. If there's another sound that captures the beginning of the decade more perfectly, I haven't heard it.

And if Gabe and Rory (the musicians, not my cats) fade into obscurity or commit some atrocity against nature, they will always be immortalized for having written 'Never Say Goodbye,' the greatest and best rock song of the last ten years, bar none.

You Must Hear - 'Never Say Goodbye'

5. Ozma – Rock & Roll Part Three (2000)

“Chances last a finite time, and you’re running out of time.”

1. "Domino Effect"
2. "Apple Trees"
3. "Shooting Stars"
4. "Natalie Portman"
5. "The Ups And Downs"
6. "If I Only Had A Heart"
7. "Baseball"
8. "Rocks"
9. "Battlescars"
10. "In Search Of 1988"
11. "Last Dance"

Ozma was a relatively unknown band on a national scale up until around 2001, when a copy of Rock And Roll Part Three was handed to Weezer guitarist Brian Bell. Bell, who has probably been handed thousands of demos over the last 15 years, liked what he heard so much that Ozma was booked to open all shows on Weezer’s nationwide tour later that year. The rest is…sort of history. After Rock And Roll Part Three, they released a couple more albums over the next six years (with a breakup wedged between), only to break up once and for all in 2008.

The material on Rock And Roll Part Three is Ozma at their absolute best; a band that takes nerd-rock, Nintendo-core, guitar-noodling rock and roll, and turns each 4 minute track into a miniature pop opera. Dueling vocalists, shredding guitars and the kinds of melodies you only dream about are constantly on display, here. And the lyrics are as wry and clever as can be. Take ‘Apple Trees’ for example, a track about attempting to attract a girl in Math class (and hanging out in an apple orchard), using all sorts of puns, double entendres and Shakespearean nerd wordplay to do so:

“An apple pie, the number pi, I studied you in math class I did all my work but never got your digits Take a number like 5, times 10, times 10 again 500 miles of apple orchards to defend”

‘Domino Effect’ begins with a synth line that you’ll probably have playing in your head for the rest of your life, and ‘Natalie Portman’ is a song so emotional it borders on utter obsession (but considering the focus of the song, obsession is more than worthy). One of the album’s closers, ‘(In Search Of) 1988,’ with its Nintendo and Ouija Board references, take you right back to your room as a kid, and it’s beautiful without being patronizing or overly sappy. This is fun music about perpetual bummers.

There were a lot of bands this decade that attempted this sound, and only Ozma did it absolutely right. Rock And Roll Part Three can always be played in my car from beginning-to-end with no objections from anyone; in fact, I always get comments like, “Wow, this album is still awesome.”

Damn right.

You Must Hear - 'Natalie Portman'

4. The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site (2003)

“You said ‘hey, can you help me, I can’t reach it,’
and pointed at the camera in the ceiling.

I climbed up, blocked it so they couldn’t see,
turned to find you out of bed and kneeling.

Before the nurses came and took you away,

I stood there on that chair and watched you pray.”

1. "(Manifest)"
2. "The Reasons"
3. "Reconstruction Site"
4. "Psalm For The Elks Lodge Last Call"
5. "Plea From A Cat Named Virtue"
6. "Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault In Paris, 1961)"
7. "Time's Arrow"
8. "(Hospital Vespers)"
9. "Uncorrected Proofs"
10. "A New Name For Everything"
11. "One Great City!"
12. "Benediction"
13. "The Prescience Of Dawn"
14. "(Past-Due)"

John K. Samson, The Weakerthans frontman, has stated that their albums take so long to make because it takes him a long time to write the music and the lyrics. “I don’t know how some people do it so fast,” he’s admitted. Considering Samson’s output, I think the only problem is why everyone else isn’t following his lead and taking their time. For my money, he’s our greatest working lyricist (‘our’ meaning Canada, I guess).

Fallow and Left And Leaving, the two previous Weakerthans works, were nearly flawless examples of their brilliance. Still holding on to punk roots, the uptempo drums and fuzzy guitars scattered about each album, but it always seemed like Samson was struggling to keep up; wanting more time to explain his thoughts to you (this was the main reason Samson left Propaghandi and started his own band). With Reconstruction Site he gets that chance, stringing his lonely, bitterly uplifting, and sometimes hilarious thoughts over more drawn out acoustic and twanging numbers. Sure, some tracks like the timeless ‘Our Retired Explorer’ kick an ass or two, but this album is about reflection, not rebellion.

And it is certainly an album; one track on its own is good, but require the bookending tracks to put it more into perspective and overall thought process. The walking through the hospital corridors, feeling death at every turn. The confession to the significant other, “I’m so glad that you exist.” Even a track sung from the perspective of Samson’s cat, giving him an ultimatum to cheer up before she decides to stray for greener pastures.

You can’t dislike The Weakerthans. You can say that Samson’s voice leaves a lot to be desired, but there’s always going to be something that keeps you coming back. Reconstruction Site is a modern masterpiece of rock, folk, alt-country and musicianship, and an album that I see myself coming back to forever.

You Must Hear - 'Our Retired Explorer'

3. Saves The Day – Stay What You Are (2001)

“Despair can ravage you, if you turn your head around and look down the path that’s led you here, but what can you change? You’re a vessel now, floating down the waterways."

1. "At Your Funeral"
2. "See You"
3. "Cars & Calories"
4. "Certain Tragedy"
5. "Jukebox Breakdown"
6. "Freakish"
7. "As Your Ghost Takes Flight"
8. "Nightingale"
9. "All I'm Losing Is Me"
10. "This Is Not An Exit"
11. "Firefly"

Saves The Day is one of my favorite bands of all-time. Following Chris Conley and company through their evolution has been amazing; their rise from Lifetime-influenced hardcore, to Jawbreaker-influenced emo, to becoming the standard-bearers of their own genre, is a success story all its own. I had already worn my copies of Can’t Slow Down and Through Being Cool completely out; would it be possible that they could once again show exponential growth and out-do themselves yet again?

What we got was Stay What You Are, an album that means so many things to so many people, and essentially defined a genre for the last eight years. Considering that Conley was about 20 years old when he did this, is mind-blowing. When I was 20, I was cracking jokes in an Electricity class, trying to put together a broken Atari 2600.

To really grasp how important Stay What You Are was, you need to grasp how important Saves The Day is to their audience. I remember my band playing a show on the night that the album was released. During a break between sets, one of the audience members stormed the stage and started singing the opening lines of ‘At Your Funeral’ into the mic (‘This song will be come, the anthem of, your underground…’). Within seconds, the entire hall had erupted into an impromptu sing-along; everyone knew the words, and the album had been on the streets for ten hours! I found this beautiful.

Most moments on Stay What You Are last the test of time (the anthemic ‘At Your Funeral,’ the gruesome ‘As Your Ghost Takes Flight,’ the endless-night storytelling of ‘Firefly’), especially the feel-good-existentialist lighter-waver, ‘This Is Not An Exit.’ I’ve ran into many people with tattoos commemorating sort aspect of Stay What You Are (be it the title itself, or usually a favorite lyric), that it makes me feel good that this album hit others as hard as it hit me (a certain age, mindset and mood is paramount). If you notice, the font on the album cover is the same as the one I currently use for all of my CDP logos.

I could really go on forever about Stay What You Are, but we’ve reached a point where trying to properly convey the sort of emotion that is awakened by your favorite albums becomes an impossibility. In fact, Stay What You Are was supposed to be the #1 Album on this list, until I thought about it some more and dropped it to #3 (I may regret this later). Check it out; maybe you’ll like it, maybe you’ll wonder what the big deal is. All I know is that I feel very fortunate that it hit me (and all those kids in that hall) when it did, because Stay What You Are has brought me a lot of company and happiness over the last decade.

You Must Hear - 'At Your Funeral'

2. At The Drive –In – Relationship Of Command (2000)

We sample from the shelves
Tore a page out from this chapter

Deface the essays in the book that you're reading

We are the leeches that stop the bleeding

Deficit attention program

By any means necessary

Blare sirens to the library

Whisper instructions to the book-wormed glossary

Is it heavier than air...tell us, am I supposed to die alone?

1. "Arcarsenal"
2. "Pattern Against User"
3. "One Armed Scissor"
4. "Sleepwalk Capsules"
5. "Invalid Litter Dept."
6. "Mannequin Republic"
7. "Enfilade"
8. "Rolodex Propaganda"
9. "Quarantined"
10. "Cosmonaut"
11. "Non-Zero Possibility"

We lost a lot of good bands this decade, none better than At The Drive-In. No band was more passionate. More energetic. Their lyrics and music just as powerful as their following. Fortunately for us, they decided to break up on their highest note, following the release of Relationship Of Command, a sublime masterpiece of hardcore from the El Paso quintet.

I never got the chance to see them live; they were all but wrapped up by the time that I got around to appreciating them. That being said, I implore you to hit YouTube (or just watch the linked clip), and witness the slithering, manic madness that ensued. No live band put more into a set, and not many bands put more into their music. Their messages were brutal, political, spiritual and revolutionary. Their tales sordid and beautiful. Their instrumentation, light as a feather in one moment, atomically destructive the next. Cedric Bixler, the skinny, afro'd frontman, could whisper something in your ear so beautifully, microseconds before yelling it off with gusto.

Relationship Of Command is open to interpretation; critics range their lyrics from deep and meaningful to borderline unintelligible, five-syllable soliloquies. What's not open to interpretation is the energy, emotion and raw power possesed from start to finish. 'Punk' means nothing. 'Emo' is worthless. Even 'Hardcore' leaves so much to be desired. At The Drive-In incorporated so much into their wall of sound, that Relationship Of Command stands alone on top of a massive pyramid of those either trying to find their identity, or wholly and admittedly influenced by ATDI.

At first, I felt that I was giving Relationship Of Command the crown as some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award for At The Drive-In. Some sort of recognition for a career done well. However, Command stands alone; arguably their best album (structure-wise, production-wise, lyric-wise and tone-wise, without a doubt), and also a blazing metaphor for how the decade was about to play out. The anger, uncertainty and rebellion of 2000 is just as raw, just as relevant and just as real in 2009, and that's a true testament to an Album Of The Decade.

When we're through with alt-Country, when we're tired of attaching our egos to the latest Indie band, when we're too old to care about what's on the radio, we'll still want to scream. Still want to raise our fists and damn the Man. Still want to remember what it's like to be whipped into a rage, to feel like a revolution is just around the corner. With Relationship Of Command, that awakening is always just a few seconds away.

You Must Hear - 'Arcarsenal'

1. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

“I guess we’ll just have to adjust.”

1. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)"
2. "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)"
3. "Une annee sans lumiere"
4. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"
5. "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)"
6. "Crown Of Love"
7. "Wake Up"
8. "Haiti"
9. "Rebellion (Lies)"
10. "In The Backseat"

When I look back on this decade, it was easily the most important of my life. And how could it not? The years from 2000-2009 took me from age 17 to 27; from High School, to music, to employment, to moving out, to College, to more employment, to marriage, to home/cat ownership, and finally, my quest for Internet Immortality as an author. This has really been the only decade that ever mattered to me as an adult, because it’s the only decade I’ve ever experienced as an adult. For some of you, that decade was the 80’s or 90’s. For a few of you, it will be the 10’s.

The greatest moment of the decade for me was my wedding day. The culmination of a dream courtship that ended (or began) on a day so unbelievably perfect that I thought I was going to have a piano dropped onto my head at any second. I’ve never deserved anything so wonderful, and every Winter I’m reminded of how me and Celia met and turned a terrible Midwestern season into our own personal paradise. How we jumped into my 1986 Buick and braved the cold every night, just so we could hold each other for a couple of hours. The spark of new love that keeps me warm to this very day. Every snowfall reminds me of her. Every icy windshield makes me happy, because I know I’m coming home to her. This would sound unnecessarily sappy and trite if I wasn’t being completely genuine with you.

The worst moment of the decade for me (and, so far, the worst moment of my life) was losing my Grandfather to cancer in January of 2005. You couldn’t have asked for a smarter, funnier, charismatic and influential man in your life; he functioned as my father more times than I care to even discuss. His death was inevitable, yet unfathomably tragic. Like my 2000 Winter with Celia, this all took place during the most bitter part of January, and the feeling of loss amongst the desolation of a Wisconsin Winter was almost too much to bear. To this day, every drive back home in the Winter reminds me of the night we lost him. Every time I enter my Grandparent’s house (where I lived for several years, and where he died), I feel a tremendous sense of pain where there was once overwhelming joy and timeless memories. I’m over it on a functional level, but we never fully recover from the loss of a loved one.

It’s these conflicting Winter memories, the best of times…the worst of times, that bring me to Funeral. The debut full-length by Arcade Fire, and probably the most regarded Indie album of all-time (only behind In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, perhaps). It’s these memories of blissful love and heartbreaking loss that created the gateway and opened the door for Funeral to completely overwhelm me in every possible way, because in many ways, the album was entirely about what I was going through.

At first, I ignored the hype machine like a lot of you probably did, only to break down and grab the album about a week after we put Grandpa into the ground. The rest was unstoppable. Immune to hipster criticism. Impervious to the cries of ‘overrated!’ None of what anyone was saying about Funeral, good or bad, penetrated my wall of emotion. This was my album. My solitary experience. My therapy.

From the opening, tinkling piano of ‘Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels),’ we hear the story of a young couple in love, surviving the Winter, growing their hair long and disappearing into their own world for so long that they could no longer remember the names of those they once knew. This was a feeling I knew well. ‘Neighborhood #1’ is also one of about maybe three songs I’ve ever heard that I would deem ‘perfect.’

The recurring theme of family and coping with change comes back up in ‘Neighborhood #2 (Laika),’ and ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out),’ the latter being a rousing, drum-looped number that recalls a week-long power outage in Montreal. The lyrics are mostly a call to arms for the hurting, announcing that what’s in your heart should be put in your hands (be it a sword, a pen or what have you). This was the motivation I needed to pursue writing as a career, as my fragile state of mind at the time was a constant reminder that we’re all on borrowed time and need to act quickly.

Which leads me to ‘Wake Up.’ For some, this has become a bombastic, bloated anthem that you’d probably expect hear at a hockey game. For someone fresh off a profoundly painful loss, however, it was permission to cry, put my first through a wall, dig the grave and pummel forth. ‘Wake Up’ was my grieving process.

Something filled up
My heart with nothing.

Someone told me not to cry.

But now that I'm older,

My heart's colder,

And I can see that it's a lie.

Children, wake up!

Hold your mistake up,

Before they turn the summer into dust.

If the children don't grow up,

Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.

We're just a million little gods causing rain storms,

Turning every good thing to rust.

I guess we'll just have to adjust.

I missed the old guy more than anything, but it was time to adjust. Time to live. Time to do all the things I knew I was capable of doing. I’m a bitter, jaded, atheist husk of a man right now, but I can honestly say that I’m stronger and more motivated than I’ve ever been, or thought I'd be.

The penultimate track of the album, ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ is a reminder that not only can age and experience not be trusted, but that maybe, maybe we’re all going to be okay. A lyric as simple as “Here’s the sun, it’s alright…here’s the moon, it’s alright” can seem life-affirming when you need it more than anything else. Another call for motivation comes in the opening lines, "Sleeping in is giving in, no matter what the time is." This is a mantra I follow to this day; I always feel a certain amount of pain when I see the Missus sleeping until noon, because I know that there will come a day when she wishes for those hours back.

Finally, we end with ‘In The Backseat,’ where Regine tells us that she’s “been learning to drive my whole life,” another reminder that despite the horrific trials and tribulations we face, we’re more ready for it than we give ourselves credit for. The loss. The love. The new beginnings. The tragic endings.

Funeral could not have shown up at a more perfect time in my life had I written it myself, and I know this. I won the lottery when it came to personal albums, and hey, the imagery is vague enough for all of us to find something in there that we can relate to (good musicians do that). The production is shitty. Win Butler couldn’t sing. The multi-instrumentation would be more impressive if they could play their instruments better. Doesn’t bother me none. Funeral got me through the roughest patch yet, introduced me to some amazing music and changed my life for the better.

Isn’t that exactly what music is supposed to do?

You Must Hear - 'Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)'

And with that, we're finished with the CDP's Top 250 Albums Of The Decade. Try as I may (and I tried), I couldn't deny Funeral the top spot. Sound off in the comments section, share with us your choice for Album Of The Decade and enjoy your weekend.

We return next week with the CDP YEAR IN REVIEW. See you then.

I should also mention that At The Drive-In-influenced CDP merch is available at the CDP Webstore:*
There's only one album on this list that I'm familiar with.
You must remember that the best album title of the aughts was "I Am Not Afraid Of You & I Will Beat Your Ass" by Yo La Tengo. And the opening cut rocks, a ten minute opus called "Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind". Anyway, I digress...

I don't know what my best album of the aughts is. I may know next year (!)
Arcade Fire opening for The Unicorns at Mad Planet in June of 2004 was definitely one of the most memorable shows for me in the 2000s, if not the most important show for me to have been at this decade. I wrote about it and am happy my instincts were right!
This is a great top 10, babe. And I just admit--after a few years "Funeral" has begun to grow on me a bit. I can't dislike them completely when my hedgehog is named after one of their songs :)

Oh, and our Rory & Gabe are much cuter than the Rory & Gabe from the Impossibles. Although human Rory is significantly pudgier and more squeezable.
Well done, Ryan. It was a treat to see the list and read your personal reasons for many of the choices. This also reminds me that I'm history's greatest monster because I still haven't picked up a copy of or listened to "Funeral." I promise to rectify that before the decade is out.

And for what it's worth, you writing about "Funeral" as a personal album reminded me of the record that was and continues to be that for me. I came across Sarah McLachlan's "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" at exactly the right time in my life, and beyond it being a great album, it was elevated to perfect by the personal associations I had/have with it. I love that that can happen. It's like a little flicker of fate when everything else feels pretty random.

I've had albums like that. "Girlfriend" for one. "Double Nickles On The Time" another. Then there's the ultimate album "Pet Sounds" and one that's close "Forever Changes".

"Candy-O" was a big one in high school and at various points in my life. See "You Can't Hold On Too Long" as a prime song example from that album. (Because I ALWAYS, ALWAYS hold on too long.)

I can't put yout your fire, I know it's too late
I can't be up for hire, it's not my best trait
The gallow glass is cracking, it's starting to smash
How can you cry without blinking a lash

You're feeling cross and wavy on the edge of the cuff
You're pushing and popping, you don't get enough
You wish that it was over, you never slow down
You're looking for kicks, there's nothing around
SMED - Right on; I remember chuckling when that Yo La Tengo album came out.

COMET STAR MOON - Yeah, absolutely! I can't believe I missed that show, I never got to see The Unicorns! Glad that you agreed with my #1 choice.

EMILY - Thanks kindly, dear. And yeah, we all have those albums that just show up right when we need them. That's really what music is all about; being there for us at just the right moment, saying the things we want to say. It's always hard to explain the merits of these albums to those that just see it as another CD, so you eventually give up and realize that you have a unique relationship with the music, and that's enough.
I was talking to Bill Barbot (of Jawbox fame, now of Threespot Media fame) at a conference (the conference was about exciting stuff like non-profit email platforms, whooo!). We agreed that with the ability to shuffle the art of album pacing and sequencing is gone, so things seem a less coherent whole than they once did. Though it is a return to the 45-heavy days of the 60's, Bill and I grew up in an era where you listened to an album, and if it was on vinyl or cassette you listened to a side, then another side, and you physically had to touch the medium to continue the experience.

And the goofiest (well, maybe not that goofy) is you sort of memorized the sequence. Now, when I hear "I'm So Tired" by the Beatles, I immediately think that "Blackbird" is next. Or when I hear "Mission (A World Record)" by ELO, I think I need to turn the album over so I can hear "So Fine".

But today's generation has so much more music that's available to them. Jealous? Yeah, I am. They just don't get to turn it over and turn it back on.
There are certain albums I listen to now that I used to have on cassette, and I sometimes still have the ingrained feeling that I have to flip the invisible tape over to hear the second half.
Oh, and Jawbox's For Your Own Special Sweetheart is a KILLER album.

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