Articles

  • TOP 100 ALBUMS OF THE 2000s

    26 mai 2011, 3h40m

    I'm taking on the monumental task of ranking 100 of my favorite albums from the decade. We're a year and a half removed from the decade so I think it's a bit easier now to take a look back without getting caught up in the hype of 2009. I've got my entire list in order, but I'm still working on writeups. For now, here's 100-91.

    Yes, I know there are huge gaps. I'll fix them later.

    100) Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins (2005)

    This is the album when the darkness seep through the cracks in Of Montreal's sunny indie pop, and it makes for some enjoyable listening. The first half of this album is catchy and danceable, while the second half is dark and brooding, and while the album doesn't cover the full range of human emotion quite like later albums Hissing Fauna and Skeletal Lamping, it is clearly a step in that direction. It will make you want to move, and maybe later it will make you want to sit and reflect.

    Key Tracks: Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games, Forecast Fascist Future, Requiem for O.M.M.2


    99) The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)

    The whole concept album about a girl fighting robots is a nice gimmick, but that's not what draws me to this album. It's the SOUNDS, man. The cosmic, relaxing sounds. With all the talk of robot battles, it's actually the calmest album the Lips have ever made. Sure, it is host to three of their catchiest songs (see Key Tracks below), but the rest of the album is charming as well, full of slow-moving beautiful tracks with meditations of life. Even if you don't know what they're talking about (I'm think the pink robots are a metaphor for our inner demons or something) it is all very nice music to space out to.

    Key Tracks: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1, Fight Test, Do You Realize


    98) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Hearts of Oak (2003)

    There are plenty of people who do what Ted Leo does, so what makes him stand out? Probably the fact that he seems way more passionate about what he does. Of the 3 Ted Leo albums that make my list, this one is the lowest mostly due to recording quality, but it is a testament to Ted Leo's larger than life quality that it feels like the recording can't hold his personality. You get the feeling this is music that is meant to be seen live, personally experiencing Ted Leo's energy. But the songs on this album are SO GOOD. Hence it's placement on the list. "You didn't think they would hate you now, did you?" and "Where have all the rude boys gone?" might be the most memorable lines in all of his discography.

    Key Tracks: The High Party, The Ballad Of The Sin Eater, Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?


    97) Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People (2002)

    It's hard to describe this album because it sounds like everything. BSS might have been among the first to invert the "smallness" of 90s indie-rock with their massive orchestrations, paving the way for bands like Arcade Fire. But the smaller moments might be the best on this album: the slow shuffle of "Looks Just Like the Sun", Emily Haines' delicate sounding voice accompanied by what sounds like banjo on "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl". But as I said, there are louder sounding moments, particularly at the beginning. This is an album that tries lots of things and succeeds at all of them.

    Key Tracks: Cause=Time, Looks Just Like the Sun, Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl


    96) Wilco- Sky Blue Sky (2007)

    People say dad rock like it's a bad thing. Sure, they're jammy and complacent. But just because Wilco sound more like a veteran band comfortable with their sound on Sky Blue Sky does not mean they are getting worse. It's a good sound to be comfortable with! I can honestly say that Wilco are one of the best live bands I've ever seen, each member playing off each other perfectly, and it shows on this album as well. For a perfect example, listen to the second half of "Impossible Germany". That kind of jamming may bore some people, but to me it is orgasmic.

    Key Tracks: Impossible Germany, You Are My Face, Walken


    95) Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (2009)

    The album starts with some moody guitars and violin and Bill's deep mournful voice, like most of what his albums. But this one grabbed me like none of the others. It's a 48-minute ride of melancholy with no breaks, no moments of lightness. But It's a ride I'm willing to go on. It's not depressing, it's just honest. And by the end, when it's time to put God away, there's a feeling of catharsis.

    Key Tracks: Eid Ma Clack Shaw, The Wind and the Dove, My Friend


    94) Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
    (2005)
    I don't know much about the concept behind this album, so I'm just gonna talk about how Will Sheff might be one of my favorite singers in indie rock. I love ever mode his voice takes: the crackly falsetto (In A Radio Song), the yelling (For Real), and just straightforward singing (Black Sheep Boy) My first taste of this band was "For Real", which caught be off guard with its abrasiveness, but now I love it. The songs on the album are diverse, ranging from angry rockers to tender ballads, and even including some pop moments, and the band takes on each one excellently.

    Key Tracks: Black, For Real, Song of Our So-Called Friends


    93) Sleater-Kinney - One Beat (2002)

    I would argue that Sleater-Kinney are at their best when they are doing fun things, and there is plenty of that to be had on this album. There's a call and response vocal (O2), some underwater effects (The Remainder), and even a dancey song (Oh!). There's plenty of seriousness here too, talking about war and politics, but the message is never as important as how great the songs sound. And they sound so great. I don't know what else to say other than that every individual member of Sleater-Kinney is brilliant.

    Key Tracks: Far Away, Oh!, Light Rail Coyote


    92) Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene (2005)

    I'm gonna say that this is the defining BSS album. The one that delivered on the epicness promised by their excellent debut. They went bigger, doubled down, and it paid off. This epicness can best be heard in the closer, which is one of my favorite songs, and on Ibi Dreams of Pavement, a song that pays a clear homage to Pavement, but done in BSS's grand wall-of-sound style. Elsewhere on the album, they manage to incorporate still more genres! There's some trip-hop, a little bit of rapping, and a pop song featuring the woman who would later star in iPod commercials and Sesame Street, but it's in an unusual time signature, to prevent it from being too pop. This and their debut are both fantastic, but I have to give this one a slight edge for its clear evolution.

    Key Tracks: It's All Gonna Break, 5/4 (Shoreline), Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)


    91) Talib Kweli - Quality (2002)

    Talib Kweli is good intro-level thinking people's hip hop. He raps about things that matter, has lyrics that you need to listen to a few times to fully absorb, etc, but the music is so immediately catchy. Although previously overshadowed by Mos Def in Black Star, on Quality, he comes into his own. Every song on this album kills. It helps that the production is universally great, by J Dilla, DJ Quik, and best of all by pre-fame Kanye West on 3 of the best tracks. And Talib's flow and lyrics are the best it's ever been on this album, properly documenting how cats look more like dicks than the Washington Monument.

    Key Tracks: Get By, guerilla monsoon rap, Shock Body


    90) The National - Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (2003)

    The National's underrated second album has no lack of great moments: the violin breakdown in "Cardinal Song", the screams towards the end of "Slipping Husband" and "Available", the entirety of the too-short highlight "Fashion Coat". Although not as much of a masterpiece as Alligator and Boxer, all of the elements that make them great were already present.

    Key Tracks: 90-Mile Water Wall, Fashion Coat, Lucky You

    89) Dinosaur Jr - Beyond (2007)

    When the opening riff comes in "Almost Ready", the past 10 years of inactivity disappear in an instant. Maybe even the past 19 years since they released Bug, since this is their best album since that one. It almost sounds like it could have been the follow up to Bug, except that in those 19 years, J. Mascis has evolved a more confident vocal presence, and Lou Barlow has too.

    Key Tracks: We're Not Alone, Almost Ready, Crumble


    88) No Age - Nouns (2008)

    No Age combine experimental production, punk energy, and great songwriting, and all 3 are in full force on Nouns. But my favorite song on the album is atypical: the No Wave ballad "Things I Did When I was Dead"

    Key Tracks: Things I Did When I Was Dead, Here Should Be My Home, Teen Creeps


    87) Girl Talk - Feed the Animals (2008)

    More than perhaps any other Girl Talk album, Feed the Animals is designed for tickling pleasure centers. Every moment on the album could be the best moment, and Girl Talk has even managed to convince me that all of the songs he samples are great - even Soulja Boy. Now that's impressive.

    No key tracks, listen to the whole thing!


    86) Atlas Sound - Logos (2009)

    Logos is beautiful, a swirl of voices and sounds. And the highlights! Quick Canal is dreamlike, and at 8:38 not a second too long. Shelia is the most straightforward pop song you'll find in Atlas Sound, but it's got enough reverb to make it fit in. Walkabout is so sunny that he had to bring Panda Bear in to sing on it. And Attic Lights is one of the most magically beautiful songs of the decade.

    Key Tracks: Attic Lights, Walkabout, Quick Canal


    85) Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine


    84) Wilco - A Ghost Is Born


    83) Life Without Buildings - Any Other City


    82) Arcade Fire - Neon Bible


    81) The Decemberists - Castaways and Cutouts


    80) Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit (2006)

    This album is basically the definition of campy, with it's 60s pop sound. And yet, I can't help but fall for it, because it all sounds so genuine. Songs like "Another Sunny Day" and "Funny Little Frog" bring a big 'ol grin to my face. All this from the band that Jack Black famously called "Sad bastard music" in High Fidelity. I like their sunny side too.

    Key Tracks: Another Sunny Day, The Blues Are Still Blue, We Are Sleepyheads


    79) Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That (2006)

    Is it easy, Phoenix, making music like this? Because you sure make it seem that way. Thomas Mars could breathe and it would get stuck in my head. Fortunately he and his band do a lot more on this album: uptempo rockers, ballads, straight up pop, all done effortlessly and successfully.

    Key Tracks: Consolation Prizes, Long Distance Call, Sometimes In The Fall


    78) Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala (2007)

    Jens Lekman has the wit of Morrissey, but even more so, because he's just so damn self-deprecating. The ocean makes him feel stupid, his words all come out wrong, and he can't even manage to cry about it all. But you wouldn't know it from the lush string arrangements and incredibly hummable melodies. This is an album to listen to again and again and catch something new every time, either musically or lyrically.

    Key Tracks: Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo, Sipping On The Sweet Nectar, I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You


    77) Spoon - Gimme Fiction (2005)

    Although I often consider Gimme Fiction a slightly disappointing Spoon album (spoiler alert: lots more Spoon albums) I can't deny that it's the first time they sounded like they could be HUGE. "The Beast and Dragon Adored" and "My Mathematical Mind" thundered like no other songs they had done, "I Turn My Camera On" was sleek and sexy, "Sister Jack" blows up speakers. Only a few songs sound like the conventional Spoon sound they mastered on "Girls Can Tell" and "Kill the Moonlight", but every song has something interesting to offer. Except "Was It You?", which really gets on my nerves.

    Key Tracks: I Summon You, The Delicate Place, Two Sides / Monsieur Valentine


    76) Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon (2006)

    Forgot about these guys? Understandable. Don't let it happen again. Or maybe you remember them only as an undeserving target of hype, as portrayed in that hilarious video starring Aziz Ansari, where he plays an indie rock promoter... what was that video called again? Anyway, go back and listen to the music, because it is GREAT. There's nothing groundbreaking about it sure, but they sure craft some great tunes, and they do so with a great manic energy, combining elements of some of my favorite bands in short catchy bursts.

    Key Tracks: Cowbell, Insistor, In Houston


    75) Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)

    This album hits me like a ton of bricks every time I listen to it. Which is honestly not very often because, well, it's a lot to take in. There are heavier albums, sure, there are more depressing albums, but this one just feels packed with bleakness. But it's not just bleakness. It's also great melodies and great musicianship, and the Joy Division comparisons don't mean they were ripping them off, but that they were the first ones since to get the formula right.

    Key Tracks: Obstacle 1, PDA, Say Hello to the Angels


    74) Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (2009)

    Youtube celebrity Anthony Fantano probably put it best when reviewing this album: "What IS this?" The inability to place this album, this weird hybrid of pop and experimental music, is precisely what makes it worth listening to over and over again. It is, quite frankly, a mess. But it sure is a pretty one, and a fun one, and it's one that gradually reveals itself a little bit over time.

    Key Tracks: No Intention, Two Doves, Temecula Sunrise


    73) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (2007)

    Someone HAD to update Paul Simon's world music influenced pop for the 21st century, and they do it by stripping down their songs. Their background or image or whatever doesn't matter when you get a taste of these 11 ear nuggets. This is perfect carefree summertime music, and while I imagine it sounds the best while sipping on a piña colada on a beach, it sounds pretty good while driving aimlessly around the suburbs too.

    Key Tracks: Oxford Comma, M79, A-Punk


    72) Blitzen Trapper - Furr (2008)

    The cover of this album says it all. These guys really do, unironically, want to be the Iron Maiden of folk-rock. While that sounds terrible, the total earnestness and commitment to it is what makes it great. This album is song after song of folksy badassery, and it is a delight. And did I mention that Furr is one of the best songs of the decade? It is.

    Key Tracks: Furr, Gold for Bread, Sleepytime in the Western World


    71) Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (2007)

    Yeah, I know. In terms of depth, this album's got NOTHING on The Lonesome Crowded West, The Moon and Antarctica, or even Good News for People Who Love Bad News. But you know what? It's a lot of fun to listen to. Name me a better radio-friendly rock song than Dashboard. That song's got everything: a pulsing beat, horns, strings, the works. Elsewhere on the album, James Mercer adds some sweet harmonies, Issac Brock does his yell/growl thing and sounds like a demented circus announcer, and dance grooves are aplenty. Sometimes, all of these elements are present in the same song (Florida). It's still one of the weirdest Gold selling albums ever.

    Key Tracks: Dashboard, March Into the Sea, Missed the Boat


    70) My Morning Jacket - Z


    69) Swan Lake - Beast Moans


    68) Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass


    67) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The Tyranny of Distance


    66) M. Ward - The Transfiguration of Vincent


    65) Radiohead - Amnesiac


    64) Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix


    63) Dan Deacon - Bromst


    62) The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday


    61) Okkervil River - The Stage Names


    60) Sigur Rós - Ágætis byrjun (2000/1999)

    This album always puts me to sleep. Not because it's boring, not at all, but because it is so incredibly peaceful. As such, I've only actually listened to it the whole way through a handful of times, and even when I stay awake through the whole thing, I feel wonderfully calm. This just affirms my belief that Iceland is a magical place.

    Key Tracks: Starálfur, Svefn-g-englar, Ný batterí


    59) Cat Power - You Are Free (2003)

    Lots of people have made tortured sounding music, but few have done it like this. Rather than focus on one emotion, the album runs the gamut of negative emotions - anger, despair, fear - often on the same track. Like true sadness, it is not empowered, but rather frail and confused. It is a difficult album to understand, but it is unmistakably full of beauty.

    Key Tracks: He War, Good Woman, Maybe Not


    58) The Strokes - Is This It (2001)

    I still can't put my finger on what it is that keeps me (and everyone else) coming back to this album. Because it sounds like pretty much anybody can be The Strokes. But that's just it, maybe: they make music sound as easy as breathing. But the reality is that we can't be The Strokes. We can't write songs this good and pull them off effortlessly. The rest of us don't have that spark, that element that makes this music sound fresh every time you hear it.

    Key Tracks: Someday, Last Nite, The Modern Age


    57) The Black Keys - Rubber Factory (2004)

    If the White Stripes make bluesy rock music, the Black Keys make music that is equal parts rock and blues. The songs on this album are fantastic, great riffs, great vocals. But what makes The Black Keys stand out from other blues-rock bands for me is that up until a few years ago at least, they seemed influenced not only by the music of blues but the production of old blues music. I'm normally against lo-fi for the sake of art, but there is a great timeless quality in the way the recordings here can hardly contain the feedback, particularly on tracks like "Keep Me" and "Stack Shot Billy".

    Key Tracks: Till I Get My Way, 10 Am Automatic, The Lengths


    56) Justice - (2007)

    † is a party. It's that simple. Justice basically has one trick, the loud, stabbing synth sounds that come out of nowhere, but they work. And they even make Uffie sound awesome, which is an amazing accomplishment. Sometimes dance music should just be loud and relentless, like a Michael Bay movie.

    Key Tracks: D.A.N.C.E., Let There Be Light, New Jack


    55) Akron/Family - Akron/Family (2005)

    What is this album? Where did it come from? Why is it so good? Why have Akron/Family not made anything like it since? It seriously blows my mind. In 2005, freak-folk was nothing new, but Akron/Family made it something more. This album has electronic sounds, airy keyboards, and blasts of noise. It is refined yet messy. Sometimes I describe it as sounding like "freak-folk Radiohead", which no one seems to understand. It is unexpected shifts at every turn. It is a weird masterpiece.

    Key Tracks: Running, Returning, I'll Be on the Water, Shoes


    54) Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)

    Sufjan Stevens isn't just a musician, he's a composer. Sure, it's catchy enough to be perfect indie-movie soundtrack fodder, but everything he writes is a symphony, and Illinois was his best symphony of the decade. There are a lot of indulgences on this album - just look at the song titles - but when the music is this good, such indulgences are okay. Just think of it as anything but casual listening. Illinois commands your attention, time after time.

    Key Tracks: The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us, Come on! Feel the Illinois!, John Wayne Gacy, Jr.


    53) The Decemberists - The Crane Wife (2006)

    They've flirted with it before, but The Crane Wife is when The Decemberists went full out prog-rock. Not knowing much about the genre, I can't reference other bands, but I can say that this album has "major label debut" written all over it, and I actually mean that in a good way. Everything is bigger, more confident, and anthemic.

    Key Tracks: The Island, Come And See, The Landlord's Daughter, You'll Not Feel The Drowning, O Valencia!, Sons and Daughters


    52) Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha (2007)

    Armchair Apocrypha is unusually dark for Andrew Bird at times. Lots of slow songs, minor keys, and an overall somber tone. A few songs stand out, however: right in the middle, Darkmatter is loud, powerful, and serves as an outlet for the tension that exists on the rest of the album. Imitosis is simultaneously mysterious and dancey sounding. My favorite song on the album, Heretics, is itself filled with an album's worth of melodic ideas, and easily one of the best songs in Bird's entire career.

    Key Tracks: Heretics, Imitosis, Scythian Empires


    51) TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes
    (2004)
    How far they have come. These days, TV on the Radio are churning out fantastic electronic funk-rock-jams, but on their debut, their sound was much more bleak and minimal. I like both sides of the band. But it's interesting how the same tools used to create said funk today - falsetto, steady rhythms, horns- exist on this album too, but sound dark and almost creepy in this context. There are no party songs on this album, only an exciting dark world to get sucked into. And it's all done with the bare minimum of instrumentation necessary, or sometimes not at all.

    Key Tracks: Staring At The Sun, Dreams, Poppy


    50) The Shins - Oh, Inverted World (2001)

    This album will not change your life. But in 2001, it sounded like nothing else. While The Strokes and The White Stripes were making garage rock popular again, The Shins were going in a different direction, making melodic, gentle, reverb-filled, and beautiful music. It would take everyone else years to catch up.

    Key Tracks: Caring Is Creepy, Know Your Onion!, New Slang


    49) Grizzly Bear - Yellow House (2006)

    This album is an experience. It sucks you in, and you feel like you really are in this creepy yellow house. And of course "On A Neck, On A Spit" and "Knife" are probably the two best Grizzly Bear songs ever. The former with its manic circus breakdown, the latter with its heartfelt simplicity.

    Key Tracks: On a Neck, On a Spit, Knife, Easier


    48) The Decemberists - Her Majesty the Decemberists (2003)


    Key Tracks: The Soldiering Life, Los Angeles, I'm Yours, The Gymnast, High Above the Ground


    47) M. Ward - Post-War (2006)


    Key Tracks: Chinese Translation, Right in the Head. Eyes on the Prize


    46) Spoon - Girls Can Tell (2001)


    Key Tracks: Everything Hits at Once, Anything You Want, Me and the Bean


    45) Of Montreal - Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004)


    Key Tracks: Lysergic Bliss, Disconnect the Dots, Spike the Senses


    44) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake the Sheets (2004)


    Key Tracks: The One Who Got Us Out, Me and Mia, Counting Down the Hours


    43) Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming (2006)


    Key Tracks: Shut Up I Am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings, Stadiums And Shrines II, Us Ones In Between


    42) Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies (2006)


    Key Tracks: European Oils, Watercolours Into The Ocean, Your Blood


    41) The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)


    Key Tracks: The Union Forever, Hotel Yorba, Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground


    40) TV on the Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain (2006)


    39) Deerhunter - Microcastle (2008)


    38) Radiohead - Hail to the Thief (2003)


    37) The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? (2003)


    36) Mos Def - The Ecstatic (2009)


    35) The New Pornographers - Electric Version (2003)


    34) Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are you the destroyer (2007)


    33) Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News (2004)


    32) The Postal Service - Give Up (2003)


    31) Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako (2005)


    30) Animal Collective - Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished (2000)


    29) LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver (2007)


    28) Aesop Rock - Labor Days


    27) Andrew Bird - Noble Beast (2009)


    26) Outkast - Stankonia (2000)


    25) Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - We Brave Bee Stings and All (2008)


    24) Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)


    23) Jay-Z - The Black Album (2003)


    22) Belle and Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)


    21) The National - Boxer (2007)


    20) Animal Collective - Sung Tongs (2004)


    19) Daft Punk - Discovery (2001)


    18) Panda Bear - Person Pitch (2007)


    17) The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America (2006)


    16) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (2008)


    15) Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009)


    14) Andrew Bird - Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005)


    13) The Decemberists - Picaresque (2005)


    12) TV on the Radio - Dear Science (2008)


    11) Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion (2009)


    10) Animal Collective - Feels (2005)


    9) Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)


    8) Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)


    7) Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)


    6) Spoon - Kill the Moonlight (2002)


    5) Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)


    4) The National - Alligator (2005)


    3) Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (2007)


    2) Radiohead - Kid A (2000)


    1) Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica (2000)
  • TOP 10 OF 2010

    10 déc. 2010, 5h31m

    10) Here We Go Magic - Pigeons

    9) Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me

    8) Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

    7) Jonsi - Go

    6) Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

    5) Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid

    4) Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today

    3) The National - High Violet

    2) Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

    1) Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
  • Top 10 The National lyrics that would sound silly if sung by anyone else

    13 jui. 2010, 23h26m

    Look. I love The National. I love their lyrics. I love everything about them. But sometimes, because of Matt Berninger's deep bass voice, they make the mundane or downright ridiculous sound heavy. The following lyrics have made me chuckle:

    10. Sometimes you get up and bake a cake or something, sometimes you stay in bed (Racing Like a Pro)
    Commentary: This would make sense if there were sedatives baked into the cake, I guess, and you're eating it to go to sleep. But in that case, why go through all the trouble of baking? I also like that he knows the line is so ridiculous that he has to add an "or something".

    9. Bees flew out and up their skirts 'cause they wanted to travel the world (Blank Slate)
    Commentary: This sounds like a plot summary for the worst Pixar movie ever.

    8. I don't have a hawk in my heart, no dumbass dove in my brain (Thirsty)
    Commentary: Got it. There are no birds in any part of his body. Maybe a retarded sparrow in his kidney?

    7. It's a common fetish for a doting man to ballerina on the coffee table, cock in hand. (Karen)
    Commentary: Don't worry, it's totally common, I swear!

    6. We'll play nuns versus priests until somebody cries (Little Faith)
    Commentary: If only the kids on the playground were this imaginative when I was growing up.

    5. They're going to send us to prison for jerks (Guest Room)
    Commentary: I was really hoping they'd send us to the prison for misunderstood nice people.

    4. They're all gonna be cool happy genius heroes (Santa Clara)
    Commentary: I would be impressed with them just being heroes. But they're also cool, happy, and geniuses? Wow.

    3. I'm a birthday candle in a circle of black girls (All the Wine)
    Commentary: ...

    2. We'll run like we're awesome, totally genius (The Geese of Beverly Road)
    Commentary: When I'm running, I ask myself, "How would an AWESOME person run?" And then i run that way.

    1. I was afraid I'd eat your brains, 'cause I'm evil (Conversation 16)
    Commentary: Why are you eating my brains? 'Cause I'm EVIL.
  • Top 50 songs of 2009

    26 déc. 2009, 10h02m

    Alphabetical.

    Akron/Family - Everyone is Guilty
    Akron/Family - River
    Andrew Bird - Oh No
    Andrew Bird - Tenuousness
    Animal Collective - Brother Sport
    Animal Collective - Lion In A Coma
    Animal Collective - My Girls
    Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes
    Animal Collective - What Would I Want? Sky
    Antony & The Johnsons - Kiss My Name
    Atlas Sound featuring Noah Lennox - Walkabout
    Bill Callahan - Eid Ma Clack Shaw
    Dan Deacon - Paddling Ghost
    Dan Deacon - Snookered
    Dan Deacon - Surprise Stefani
    The Decemberists - The Wanting Comes In Waves / Repaid
    Devendra Banhart - Baby
    Dirty Projectors - No Intention
    Dirty Projectors - Stillness is the Move
    Dirty Projectors - Two Doves
    Dirty Projectors and David Byrne - Knotty Pine
    Florence + The Machine - Dog Days are Over
    Girls - Lust for Life
    Grizzly Bear - All We Ask
    Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
    Grizzly Bear - While You Wait for the Others
    Handsome Furs - Evangeline
    Here We Go Magic - Fangela
    Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire
    Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind
    M. Ward - To Save Me
    Mirah - The Forest
    Modest Mouse - Guilty Cocker Spaniels
    Morrissey - Something Is Squeezing My Skull
    The National - So Far Around The Bend
    Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve
    The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Young Adult Friction
    Phoenix - 1901
    Phoenix - Lisztomania
    The Rural Alberta Advantage - Don't Haunt This Place
    Sonic Youth - Anti-Orgasm
    St. Vincent - Marrow
    Sunset Rubdown - You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)
    Swan Lake - Paper Lace
    Swan Lake - Spanish Gold, 2011
    Thao - Cool Yourself
    The Very Best (featuring Ezra Koenig) - Warm Heart of Africa
    Wilco - Deeper Down
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll
    Yo La Tengo - All Your Secrets

    Singles released from 2010 albums don't count. Hence, no "Cousins", "Ambling Alp", "Boy Lillikoi", etc.
  • Top 20 Albums of the 2000s: 10-1 (a work in progress)

    21 déc. 2009, 5h16m

    10) Radiohead - In Rainbows

    This is Radiohead in top form. Years of experimentation, changing direction, all seemed to be leading up to this. While older albums "Ok Computer" and "Kid A" were part of a unified whole, In Rainbows presents 10 tracks that stand perfectly on their own, each demonstrating different things they do right: jazzy arrangements, unusual meters, big rock songs, floating balladry, shifting moods. It's a band that dedicated to great albums using all it's learned to make great individual songs and proving they'll never run out of ideas.

    Key Tracks: Bodysnatchers, Nude, Jigsaw Falling Into Place


    9) Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga


    Key Tracks: Don't Make Me a Target, The Underdog, Black Like Me


    8) Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot


    Key Tracks: Jesus, Etc., Heavy Metal Drummer, I'm the Man Who Loves You


    7) Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

    Animal Collective have been my favorite band for a while. But I never suspected that they were capable of something like this. Contrary to their previous recordings, which were either freewheeling or raucous, this one finds them controlled and harnessing their energy. And the sounds on this album! I've listened to it so many times, and every time, I still hear something new.

    Key Tracks: My Girls, Summertime Clothes, Lion in a Coma


    6) Spoon - Kill the Moonlight


    Key Tracks: The Way We Get By, Something to Look Forward To, Jonathon Fisk


    5) Arcade Fire - Funeral


    Key Tracks: Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), , [track artist=Arcade Fire]Wake Up, Rebellion (Lies)


    4) The National - Alligator


    Key Tracks: Karen, All the Wine, Mr. November


    3) Radiohead - Kid A


    Key Tracks: The National Anthem, , [track artist=Radiohead]Idioteque, Morning Bell


    2) Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica

    Modest Mouse are best when documenting journeys. The Lonesome Crowded West was the perfect roadtrip album. And this is the perfect headtrip album. Listening to it really feels like a journey through consciousness, exploring loneliness, despair, restlessness, and so on. That's to say nothing of the music, which shifts to fit its moods perfectly. It can be subdued and introspective one moment, angry and outward-looking another moment.

    Key Tracks: Gravity Rides Everything, Paper Thin Walls, Lives


    1) Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

    This is an odd choice for number one. It didn't change my life, like some albums did. It didn't really change music, like runners-up The Moon and Antartica, Kid A, Funeral, and even AC's own Merriweather Post Pavillion. But it's my number one because it contains everything I like about Animal Collective, nay, about music, and stretches it to the extreme. It is the most exciting album I have ever heard. It's jarring, with screaming and loud effects in songs like "Peacebone" and "For Reverend Green". It's poppy and anthemic at times, such as "Fireworks" and "Derek". It's creepy in places. For one band to do all these things over the course of an album is truly an accomplishment.

    Key Tracks: Peacebone, Chores, Fireworks
  • Top 20 Albums of the 2000s: 20-11

    20 déc. 2009, 5h35m

    20) Daft Punk - Discovery

    It's a testament to this album's greatness that, despite having been released 8 years ago, it still sounds like future music. And despite the band members' dressing up as robots, there's a lot of human emotion, sometimes longing, sometimes jubilation, and sometimes nostalgia, which comes from the album's samples: George Duke on "Digital Love", Barry Manilow on "Superheroes". The feelings they create out of technology are astounding. And on top of all that, a lot of it is really fun to dance to.

    Key Tracks: Aerodynamic, Digital Love, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger


    19) The National - Boxer

    The National have an underdog quality that make them impossible to not root for. None of that is lost on this, the first album after their breakthrough, and perhaps it's even strengthened. This is an album for the downtrodden, half awake in a fake empire, getting mistaken for strangers by their own friends. For the people who are craving meaning in an increasingly meaningless existence. The National are to depressed college graduates what Springsteen is to blue-collar workers - and in that sense, there's hope to be found among the bleakness.

    Key Tracks: Fake Empire, Brainy, Slow Show


    18) Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

    What is it about this album that has it drawing fans as diverse as Michael McDonald and Jay-Z, as well as the usual hipsters? It combines indie rock sounds with a classical work ethic. While you might suspect many of the sounds on an Animal Collective album were discovered by chance, everything on Veckatimest sounds perfectly calculated and intricately arranged. And in spite of this, it's still a highly unconventional and engrossing listen. Grizzly Bear have taken all that makes for great stoned listening, and applied a level of perfectionalism to it, resulting in one of the most beautiful albums of the decade, regardless of your background.

    Key Tracks: Two Weeks, All We Ask, While You Wait for the Others


    17) The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America

    The Hold Steady are often given (unfairly) the label of "the world's greatest bar band", for their classic-rock influenced sounds. While it's easy to hear the bar-band influence in their sound, they're so much more than that. As the title suggests, this album is a pastiche of young American lives, full of literary references and often direct lyrics that ring true. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine Boys and Girls in America as the soundtrack to a Broadway musical, if Broadway music was much better. But the idea is there - stories of ordinary people told with a grand theatricality.

    Key Tracks: Stuck Between Stations, Hot Soft Light, Massive Nights


    16) Animal Collective - Sung Tongs

    A while ago, I saw a Crayola commercial that used "Sweet Road". It surprised me at first, but it shouldn't have. Sung Tongs is the perfect soundtrack for childhood. It's often difficult to understand, but so is the world of a child. There's so much perceptual information to decipher, and sometimes it's easier to pretend. "We Tigers" sounds like children engaged in wild play, "The Softest Voice" sounds like a child falling asleep, and "Kids on Holiday" is pretty self-explanatory. Before they started facing their responsibilities, the Collective dealt with trying to hold on to childhood and reminding us to do the same. Sometimes they even tell us directly not to grow up: "You don't have to go to college."

    Key Tracks: Leaf House, Winters Love, We Tigers


    15) Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs

    Andrew Bird is a classically trained violinist, and he is probably much cleverer than you. And though those two facts factor heavily into his music, these songs are so damn catchy that you're likely to forget that. When he sings about laws of physics or substances colliding, or plays with words in an impenetrable way, it's best to just sing along. Or to sit back, and enjoy the sound of his voice and his violin as they transport you to the beautiful world contained within his brilliant mind.

    Key Tracks: Fake Palindromes, Skin Is, My, Tables and Chairs



    14) The Decemberists - Picaresque


    This is The Decemberists at their peak, combining the excellent songwriting of their earlier albums with the epic sensibilities of their later albums. The balance varies from song to song, with tender, touching ballads like "Eli the Barrow Boy" and "The Engine Driver" to songs with a grander feel, like the rollicking protest anthem "16 Military Wives" and epic sea shanty "The Mariner's Revenge Song". Others, like "The Bagman's Gambit", fall somewhere in the middle. Each Decemberists album has been great in different ways, but Picaresque is the only one that seemed, to me, great in every way.

    Key Tracks: The Sporting Life, 16 Military Wives, The Mariner's Revenge Song


    13) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

    On My Morning Jacket's "Wordless Chorus", Jim James sings, "We are the innovators, they are the imitators." A few years later, Fleet Foxes comes along and borrows heavily from MMJ's brand of folk-rock, but perfects the formula in a way they were never able to. The gorgeous soaring vocals by James-soundalike Robin Pecknold are complimented with perfect harmonies, woodwinds, piano, and intricate arrangements, and some of the best songwriting in recent memory, and the band comes out sounding like a chorus of angels.

    Key Tracks: White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood, He Doesn't Know Why


    12) Animal Collective - Feels

    Feels is one of those albums that "got me through high school". If ever I was feeling down, or just kind of bored, I'd put on some headphones and listen to Feels from start to finish, and it captivated me because I was never quite sure what I was listening to. Voices would drift in and out, glistening sounds from unidentifiable instruments would mix with strange noises, and occasionally there would be shouting. Fast, tribal sounding tracks would be followed by long atmospheric pieces. I didn't do drugs, but I didn't have to. Feels brought my ears to places it had never been before.

    Key Tracks: Did You See the Words, Grass, The Purple Bottle


    11) TV on the Radio - Dear Science


    Key Tracks: Crying, Golden Age, Shout Me Out
  • 50 greatest songs of the 2000s: 25-1

    20 août 2009, 3h38m

    I've got another one for 50-26 in which I spend all of my hard energy describing exactly why I love each and every song on it. This will be the same kind of thing when I have time to write blurbs! But for now, I'll let you see what songs made it.

    25) Feist - Mushaboom
    Feist's voice was made for simple, jazzy numbers like this. It's got such an old-fashioned, timeless quality to it, which is why she sounds best singing about a simple life, settling down with a family, and takes us back to a time when such a thing was all one could worry about. Compare this to "My Girls" in which Panda Bear sings about just wanting four walls and adobe slats for his girls, and it sounds desperate and out of reach, slipping away from us, a modern sentiment. When Feist sings about it, however, we don't worry about our lives getting more complex, but fondly think of a time when they weren't.

    24) Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
    Hard as it is to pick a standout track from Funeral, I'm going to have to go with this one. The band launches into it full force, with pounding drums, a powerful bassline, and those repetitive piano notes. You may notice there's not much variation in this song, because it's not needed. It stays on a high point and just builds, and the drum beat becomes bigger, violins are added, backup vocals come in, and Win's voice becomes louder and more forceful, and if there's any song on which the band goes all-out more than others, it's this one.

    23) Animal Collective - We Tigers
    Animal Collective are the most exciting band of the decade. I don't often make definitive statements like that, but in this case it's undeniable. Songs like this one, from their first "accessible" album, prove that. It sounds like utter chaos at first, but grows on you. What other band could build such a memorable song out of tribal drumming and chanting? The secrets? Unexpected twists and turns, panda Bear's pleasant vocal Brian Wilson-isms accompanying the chaos, the way they squeeze every last drop of energy out of the performance, and among it all, a fantastic melody.

    22) Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings
    This song is the apex of Spencer Krug's brilliance, which was merely hinted at on the first Wolf Parade album and the first 9 songs on this album. It's epic and unhinged, reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Oh Comely" but harder rocking, or maybe a quirky "Stairway to Heaven". The end of this song is just a massive jam, and a perfect way to end the most epic song on a very epic album, wiping all the tension that may earlier have been caused by the twists and turns, the snakes, little lords, stadiums and shrines and all that in one giant burst of rock energy.

    20) Of Montreal - Gronlandic Edit
    This song straddles the line between old indie-pop Of Montreal and new soul-diva Of Montreal, and ends up being far more awesome than either of those incarnations. It's got the catchiness and um, actual melody-ness of their old stuff coupled with the unpredictability of their new stuff. Like that high note that still catches me off guard every time I hear it. And the choir breakdown, smack in the middle of a disco groove. This song represents the clear highlight of the brief period after Kevin Barnes found his groove, but before he lost his mind.

    20) Modest Mouse - Float On
    How strange. This guy who, up to this point, spent 3 full albums and a bunch of EPs, singles, and whatnot pondering the meaning of life and generally being pretty bummed out about it all is basically telling us all to chill the fuck out because everything will be alright. And in doing so, brought his band to stardom. Surprising, yes, given his vocal quirks which are just as evident here as always, but not so surprising given the simplicity of the song. It's catchy, and it's a perfect summer sentiment: we'll all float on, alright? If someone as tortured as Isaac Brock can float on, certainly the rest of us can.

    19) Spoon - Don't Make Me a Target
    From the moment that dark, bluesy progresssion of guitar chords comes in, it's clear that this song has the potential to be one of Spoon's greatest songs, and it truly lives up to that potential, and then some. When he yells "Don't Make Me A Target" in the chorus, it's his strongest statement since "That's The Way We Get By", but sounds even more impassioned. And while most of Spoon's songs are about personal things, this song turns its attention to the world at large, with the scale of the music expanded appropriately while maintaining the trademark Spoon angst.

    18) Blitzen Trapper - Furr
    This song feels like I'm sitting around a campfire somewhere in the Southwest and this old, slightly senile cowboy is telling me this story about being raised by wolves and turning into one. But he does it so convincingly, I believe him. The way he's telling it, he had to have been there. So it is with Blitzen Trapper's sound. It sounds so natural you believe that they really are a folk rock band from the 70s. Or that "Furr" is actually a lost great Dylan song. It's easier to believe than a Brooklyn band merely imitating their favorite era in music, because if that's the case, how the hell are they so great?

    17) Jay-Z 99 Problems
    This is, regrettably, the lone hip-hop track on my list. There would be a lot more if this were a list of songs from, say, the 90s. So what happened? Commercial rap got too big and became uncreative, and underground rap got too self-referential. That leaves the offbeat types like Aesop Rock, MF Doom, and Busdriver, who separate themselves by doing something totally different, and Jay-Z, who seems to be one of the few left stil making hip-hop classics. He acknowledges his success but still remains very clever, and just about every line in this song is memorable. "Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hat's real low? Do I look like a mind reader sir? I don't know." "You know the type, loud as a motorbike, but wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight." Classic.

    16) The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
    Part of me wants to hate this song, because it was "the song" of my high school relationship. That same part of me can't help but love it for that reason. So let's take a look at how such a song can have such a hold over my adolescent self. The lyrics are full of the kind of sappy romantic poetry that the older, more cynical me can't stand, but really hit home when I was an idealistic 16 year old. Still, when I listen now, the infectious, popping electronic backdrop takes me back to a time when the words rang true, and for the brief minutes of this song, I believe them. Ah, to be 16 and in love again.

    15) Justice - D.A.N.C.E.
    Justice make music to dance to, plain and simple. This song is not about subtlety, it's about making an awesome dance song, using any and all tricks at their disposal. Explosive synth hits, a funky bassline, a pounding rhythm, and simple lyrics shouted with utmost enthusiasm. Whatever happened to good times?

    14) Radiohead - Nude
    This song doesn't immediately stand out on In Rainbows. Like Kid A before it, the album merely flows from beginning to end, hitting all the right points. Upon repeated listens, however, "Nude" was the clear highlight. The song floats on air, like listening to someone's brain waves. It's one of those songs that I have to remind myself was written by mortal humans. It's that good.

    13) M. Ward - Chinese Translation
    M. Ward has an otherwordly quality to his voice, but it's never sounded quite so breathtaking as it does on "Chinese Translation". It makes you think about how to find all the answers and provides ample meditative instrumentation for which to do so, complete with some great guitar playing. It's captivating.

    12) The National - All the Wine
    The lyrics at the beginning suggest happiness, but the way they're sung is dripping with irony, and the music suggests something much sadder, and the tone only goes downhill from there. Finally, when we hear the words, "I'm in a state, nothing can touch us my love", it's clear that it's not one of triumph, but one of extreme denial. Which is really what this song is about. Using alcohol to escape reality. And it's done very convincingly and poignantly.

    11) Wilco - Jesus, ETC
    I have a shameful confession to make. I didn't know until a few months ago that the fiddle and the violin were the same instrument. How you play it makes that much of a difference. A violin adds dramatic effect, a fiddle adds another voice. In this case, we hear a fiddle crying, making it all the effective when we hear Jeff telling someone not to cry. It's a plea to a loved one, bittersweet and humane, a conversation between Jeff and the fiddle, as he tries to calm it down. It touches the heart, in ways that I never thought a simple violin could. I guess I was wrong.

    10) Animal Collective - My Girls
    It would seem, from this song, that Animal Collective have made a 180 in their career, from neo-primitivism to electronica, from shouting to clean singing, from abstract lyrics to ones about a simple domestic life. Whereas they previously saturated their music with distinctive quirks and unexpected moments, here their greatest triumph is infectious simplicity. It was a weird moment when I saw them live this summer, and the entire crowd sang along to the chorus. What surprises me is not even that they've made a song that's great to dance and sing along to, but how well it suits them, because their music always sounds like truth.

    9) Modest Mouse - Paper Thin Walls
    What's remarkable about The Moon and Antarctica is how the songs can be so varied and yet the album can still sound cohesive, because it's tied together by the theme of reflections on life. But it's got some hard rocking numbers, folk songs, atmospheric pieces, and everything in between. Still, among it all, this one stands out by having a poppy melody, almost a foreshadowing of the band Modest Mouse would become, while reflecting what kind of band they were at the time: one that constantly sounded fresh and original.

    8) The Decemberists - 16 Military Wives
    Ah, this song. In which Colin Meloy puts down his thesaurus, takes of his 19th century attire, and writes a relevent, rocking protest song, and it turns out he might be an even better rock star than a storyteller. He gets plenty of help from the rest of his band, too: trumpets, drums, organs, all calling for freedom. It's triumphant, and so unlike anything else they've done.

    7) Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
    My God, their voices are so good I could listen to this song a capella and it would still be one of my favorites. But it also helps that the folksy instrumentation fits perfectly with the heavenly, soaring vocals. It's beautiful, but unfortunately, it's over almost as soon as it begins, a mere glimpse of something divine. On the album sequencing, "Ragged Wood" is an excellent follow up track, but i always end up missing those two and a half minutes of perfection that were White Winter Hymnal.

    6) Andrew Bird - Fake Palindromes
    In under 3 minutes, this song hits all of Andrew Bird's strengths. Unusual violin use? Yes, in this case he rocks the fuck out on it. Wordplay? Oh yes. Lines like "my dewey-eyed Disney bride what has tried" and "certain fads, stripes and plaids, singles ads" work because of how much fun they are to say. Then there are the abundant quirks: the way he says "monsters?", "rheostat, i mean a thermostat". It's those little things in a seemingly simple song that make me want to play it again and again, until it's permanently etched in my brain.

    5) Animal Collective - Fireworks
    On Strawberry Jam, Animal Collective sound for the first time that could capture the hearts of the world, not just people like me, and Fireworks is its highlight. By that, I mean they seem to be filtering pop music through their distinct Animal Collectiveisms. Yes, there's some shouting here, some warbly background voices, but there's also melody, structure, a piano, and consistent percussion, evoking the song's title. And the whole time, they sound far more ambitious than they ever have before It's the sound of my favorite band growing up and getting even better, and now this is the song I use to get people into Animal Collective. They may or may not make it all the way to their back catalogue with me, but if they don't like "Fireworks", it's hopeless.

    4) Radiohead - Idioteque
    This song creeps me out. Especially 9 years later. In this age, we really do have everything all the time, swallowing information until we burst. And Radiohead choose to warn us about this with a chopped up dance beat, and it realy sounds like so much is coming in that Thom can't process it, and his signature wail sounds especially ominous. This is not just a song, it's a warning against oversaturation which happens to be perfectly and brilliantly composed. And now we know, they weren't scaremongering. This is really happening.

    3) Spoon - The Way We Get By
    The way Britt shouts "that's the way we get by" on this, it's a powerful statement. And the piano follows the melody like it's backing him up on it. And so it is that the song's narrator defends his lifestyle of living life for the next high, all the while listening to Stooges songs. But in any other context, it could mean anything else. In the title sequence to Stranger Than Fiction, counting things obessively and having little contact with people is "the way he gets by". There are only a few people who live a life that's close to perfect. The rest of us have to find ways to get through our less than glamorous lives. And so this song is an anthem for anyone not living life, not necessarily to the fullest, but just getting by.

    2) Arcade Fire - No Cars Go (Neon Bible version)
    Funeral was a great album, but it only suggested the epic heights Arcade Fire could soar to. And so, amidst the unevenness of Neon Bible, they find perfection in taking an old song and expanding the fuck out of it's sound. Right from the beginning, when we hear the instruments briefly tuning up, we know we are in for a mini symphony. And so it is, with violins, cellos, accordions and a choir, suggesting the most epic piece of music to come out of the decade, and it only gets bigger from there.

    1) Animal Collective - Grass
    Okay, so maybe I'm biased. But it's hard for me to remove myself from the emotional attachments I have to this song. Animal Collective are my favorite band, and this was the first song I heard by them. I was at the point of still getting into indie music where I still thought Modest Mouse were really weird. Then this song shook my world. What was I hearing? Demons? Aliens? What was up with the shouting? And so it was that I listened to this song about 30 times in a row. Now that I "get it", I can probably articulate more clearly why this is my favorite song of the decade. It's bursting with ideas, struggling to contain all the emotions it holds. It's an emotional rollercoaster in 3 minutes, with climaxes and resolutions, twists and turns. After a careful analysis of the lyrics, I conclude that it's Animal Collective's take on sex, possibly for the first time. But the beauty of it is, other people could have interpretations that are totally different from mine, and still make sense. And so, the song that captivated me right from the start, made me wonder for years about its meaning, and totally changed the way I think about music is the greatest song of the 2000s.
  • 50 greatest songs of the 2000s: 50-26

    19 août 2009, 4h14m

    Well, the decade's just about over, and unless something amazing comes out in the last few months (NEW THAO), I do believe it's time to make a list. Pitchfork's doing it! So I have to! Right?!?

    I made a rule of 1 song per album, just to make things easier for myself. And because there's so much great music to choose from, it doesn't even make that much of a difference.

    Your comments are appreciated!

    50) Handsome Furs - Evangeline
    This is hard rock for the future. Heavy riffing over a driving electronic pulse. The perfect fusion of technology and primal rock energy. And it is badass.

    49) The Strokes - Reptilia
    "I said please don't slow me down, if I'm going too fast." That line sums up this song perfectly, and is not something you would find on the first Strokes album. While Is This It is probably a better album than Room on Fire, this one particular song has all the energy that the debut album was slightly lacking. And it's a damn good song to drive on the highway to at high speeds.

    48) Amadou & Mariam - Sabali
    We've heard lots of Western music with strong African influences. Paul Simon, Vampire Weekend, etc. I guess this is the reverse. The musicians are from Mali, and singing in their native tongue, but the album is produced by Damon Albarn, and this song in particular is made up mostly of that dancy synth part. The African influences are still there, but it still sounds like Amadou and Mariam trying to make a European style dance song. And they succeed admirably.

    47) Panda Bear - Bros
    Beautiful swirling perfection.

    46) TV on the Radio - Crying
    Who would have known, from the minimalism of Young Liars or Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, that TVOTR were capable of such funk? This song takes the talents that were evident from the beginning of their career (Kip's sweet falsetto, for example), and combines them with a new, looser sensibility, and come off sounding like a bizzare combination of Radiohead and P-Funk.

    45) The New Pornographers - Jackie
    Dan Bejar sounded much more optimistic in his younger days, and he puts plenty of that energy into this song. It's catchy, meaningful, and the harmonies on "are you going to start the sunshine?" are beautiful. Though Bejar's bleak worldview is certainly present, there are also clear moments of hope.

    44) M. Ward - Vincent O'Brien
    There are so many things I love about this song. M. Ward's voice is a given. The contrast of the somwhat negative lyrics with upbeat music. The humor in said lyrics. The piano. And the fact that it makes me want to go out and do something memorable.

    43) The Decemberists - The Soldiering Life
    Colin Meloy, known for portraying lowlifes, castaways, and cutouts, turns his attentions to someone more noble: a soldier. He's thinking not about the death and destruction all around him, but rather his feelings for his fellow soldier. It's purposely ambiguous whether these feelings are brotherly or romantic. I'm inclined to think the latter, but it really doesn't matter, because either way, it shows the humanity of a person in war.

    42) Dirty Projectors - Two Doves
    I never expected a song like this from Dirty Projectors. Even on their most accessible album. Whereas their music was once impenetrable and awkward, this song is simple, elegant, and melodic. And the singer has that otherwordly quality I've heard in few other voices, Vashti Bunyan and Nico immediately coming to mind. In an album with so many quirky tricks up its sleeve, it's refreshing to hear a song where the voice is front and center, and carries the song.

    41) The Shins - Caring Is Creepy
    This song has a lot going for it. Poetically abstract lyrics. A complex but very catchy melody. Winding keyboards, floating in and out. And an aura of something near, but just out of reach. And even with all these peculiarities, it's incredibly endearing. Not life-changing, but just magical enough to brighten one's day.

    40) The National - Slow Show
    Picking a song to represent Boxer on this list was nearly impossible, but I settled on Slow Show, because I guess I love those mandolin-like guitar chords strummed on the high frets on the beginning. And the accordion. And the piano. I guess it's got a little bit of an exotic feel to it, suggesting that there's somewhere happier in the world. But unfortunately for the narrator, it's somewhere out of reach. Perhaps the mandolins and accordions suggest something happy from the past, something that's faded away. Which I think perfectly sums up the tone of the album. One of faded glory.

    39) TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
    The precise moment I fell in love with this song is when I saw it performed on Letterman. Tunde flails around the stage and yells into the mic like a man possessed, and it's one of the most captivating performances I've ever seen. Then it hits me. TVOTR's debut, which I loved, was lacking energy. This song brings all that energy and more. This song runs along at breakneck speed, stopping every once in a while for a few seconds to catch its breath, before propelling us into the next round of mania.

    38) The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1
    Life was pretty bleak for a lot of Americans back in 2002. We needed something to distract us. Something like, a song about a Japanese girl who fights flamboyantly colored robots. The pink robots could stand for any of our fears at the time, but the concept is just weird enough to seem like fantasy, and distract us, while comforting us, while entertaining us a lot, and giving us a chorus that's fun and memorable in its strangeness.

    37) Interpol - Obstacle 1
    Dark, moody rock music is easy to make. A song that pounds you over the head with its misery and still makes you love it is rare. Interpol accomplish that here. There's something so irresistible about the flat vocals, sporadic guitar chords, and awkward lyrics. The often criticized "her stories are boring and stuff" like is powerful, I think, because it's like he's gotten to a point where he can't even articulate his thoughts anymore.

    36) The White Stripes - Hotel Yorba
    If country music sounded like this, I would listen to a lot more of it. Jack White plays naive joy very well, and this song brings a gigantic grin to my face.

    35) The New Pornographers - The End of Medicine
    The keyboard riff at the beginning of this doesn't go where you think it will for a few turns. But this confusing keyboard part repeats, and eventually gets into a groove. Just to be abandoned completely. And the song turns out to be really really catchy, and triumphant sounding. Oh, and then the keyboard part that I love so much comes back at the end. And yeah, I got nothing. I just loves it.

    34) Belle and Sebastian - I'm a Cuckoo
    This is the same Belle and Sebastian responsible for songs like, "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying" and "The Boy Done Wrong Again"? Impossible. They sound like the happiest band in the world. When did that transformation happen? And when did they suddenly become obsessed with 60s pop? This song is super cheery, but falls just short of being too saccharine, and for that, it is perfection.

    33) Swan Lake - Paper Lace
    This song comes in two versions, both fantastic. I prefer the Swan Lake one for several reasons. Maybe it's because i was used to it by the time the Sunset Rubdown one rolled around, but the Sunset Rubdown one seems too overstated, and doesn't stand out from the rest of their catalogue of epic melodrama, other than being the best song on the album. The Swan Lake version, on the other hand, is more subtle, and when Spencer's not yelping every word of a song, I'm more inclined to listen to him. And so this song builds slowly, until the second verse, when it crescendos on "But for now, until you're home...", and I particularly like the Dan and Carey joining in on "Oh Sanctuary". And just when you think the song is soaring to epic heights... it goes back to how it was. Because it's not that kind of song. It's more.

    32) Grizzly Bear - On a Neck, On a Spit
    I will never get sick of songs that shift tone midway. And this song does so remarkably, with a great buildup, a fall, and then some really great guitar playing, just to build up again into Part 2, which gets bigger and bigger, and finally explodes in what sounds like a manic circus jam. There's so much musical expertise at work here, it's mindblowing.

    31) Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
    Everyone loves this song. How can you not? Yeah, it's slow to start. Robotic chanting over a repetitive groove. But then the whole thing breaks down in a million different ways, each better than the last, all adding up to make it the jam.

    30) Andrew Bird - Oh No
    What I like about Andrew Bird's songs are that they never soar any higher than they need to, and so they reward on multiple listens because of how nuanced they are. This song being a perfect example. It's got its highs (ooh, we're deep in a mine), its lows (the faint "oh no"s towards the end) and everything in between. And after several dozen listens, it keeps getting better each time I hear it.

    29) Thao - Bag Of Hammers
    Damn it, why isn't Thao super famous? She makes pretty much the catchiest, cutely quirky music ever, the kind that advertisers and indie film soundtrackers would kill for. This song is adorable right from the beginning, with its beatboxed percussion, and Thao's voice, of course. And it's got a great shoutable chorus: SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE the frame of this house. And she rhymes "sting" with "sing"! Wake up, everyone else. This is the next big thing.

    28) The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations
    I always forget how great this band is when I'm not listening to them. On paper, the idea of an E-Street band with a more nasal Springsteen doesn't sound all that appealing, but they are so much more than that. Just look at all the great moments in this song. The verses and choruses in the beginning are fantastic. Then there's the piano solo. And the "we drink and we dry up..." breakdown, and the riffs that get bigger and bigger, and the multiple literary references in the lyrics.

    27) Outkast - Hey Ya!
    Remember when this was THE song of the summer? I do. I was 13, and I freaking loved it. I, the nu-metal-listening adolescent, loved this song, and so did my mother, and my grandmother, and people who listen to nothing but the radio, and even indie snobs. It's the kind of song that's so much fun that you can't help but get sucked into it. If you don't love this song, well then, you've probably heard it too many thousands of times like I have. But if you didn't love it back when it came out, you're probably not human.

    26) Sigur Rós - Hoppípolla
    The piano notes soar into the clouds, and the song never changes that much, because it doesn't need to. Because it has found musical perfection. I can't understand the lyrics, so I'll assume they're about how wonderful life is, and the biggest problem anyone could ever have to deal with is how beautiful life is and how impossible it is to take everything in. Much like this song, which is almost too powerful to absorb.
  • SONG A DAY: March 2009

    4 mars 2009, 23h56m

    March 1, 2009: Pavement- Here- There's something bleak here, obviously, but there's also something strangely comforting.

    March 2, 2009: Morrissey- Something Is Squeezing My Skull- Morrissey is back, and rocking the fuck out.

    March 3, 2009: The Smiths- Panic- I've been on a bit of a Smiths kick lately. This is one of the first Smiths songs I liked, because it's so damn catchy.

    March 4, 2009: Ben E. King- Stand by Me- I have no shame in singing this loudly in public.

    March 5, 2009: Polaris- Hey Sandy- This brings back memories.

    March 6, 2009: Bon Iver- Skinny Love- I get Bon Iver now. I just need to be in the right mood. And when I'm in a Bon Iver mood, I can tell.

    March 7, 2009: Andrew Bird- Oh No- A highlight of a great album.

    March 8, 2009: The Cramps- Human Fly

    March 9, 2009: Animal Collective- Leaf House- There's so much going on in this song that it takes a while to take it all in.
  • SONG A DAY: February 2009

    2 fév. 2009, 1h33m

    February 1, 2009- The Hold Steady- Hot Soft Light- In an age where minimalism is in, The Hold Steady are the antithesis: loud, crunchy, arena-worthy rock, and I can imagine they would be incredible live.

    February 2, 2009- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy- Another Day Full of Dread- I can't believe I haven't heard this album until today. The songwriting is incredible, and it's supplanted by Will Oldham's beautiful, soft, distant vocals.

    February 3, 2009- Animal Collective- Cuckoo Cuckoo- A creepy, emotive masterpiece.

    February 4, 2009- Bruce Springsteen- Spirit in the Night- Classic Springsteen dramatic flair mixed with some smooth jazz-ish saxophone for perfection.

    February 5, 2009- Animal Collective- Lion in a Coma- One of the few songs that jumped out at me the first time I heard Merriweather, along with My Girls and Summertime Clothes. It's just digeridoo fun, with rapid-fire vocals that remind me of Water Curses and The Purple Bottle. BUT IT HAS A DIGERIDOO.

    February 6, 2009- Andrew Bird- Fitz & Dizzyspells- Bird at his catchiest.

    February 7, 2009- Andrew Bird- Fake Palindromes- There's so much tension in this song, driving it forward, even though the melody and instrumentation for the verse is fairly simple.

    February 8, 2009- Modest Mouse- Other People's Lives- Classic MM tune. Issac Brock speaks one of his most truthful lines with, "Other peoples' lives seem more interesting 'cause they ain't mine."

    February 9, 2009- M83- Kim & Jessie- This song just ATTACKS you from the beginning, starting with loud drums and a soaring synth sound. The first 5 seconds are among the best first 5 seconds of a song I've heard. The song has nowhere to go from there, so it just stays on that high note, adding some sweet melody to the mix. 5 minutes and 25 seconds in heaven.

    February 10, 2009- The Hold Steady- Citrus- A tender, quiet moment on an otherwise loud, celebratory album. Amidst The Hold Steady's stadium-worthy anthems of a wild life, there's always a strong hint of regret, which appears in its purest form in "Citrus".

    February 11, 2009- Bruce Springsteen- Tenth Avenue Freeze Out- Bruce Springsteen has a remarkable amount of soul on this one.

    February 12, 2009- XTC- Love At First Sight- This songs like one of XTC's many (failed) attempts to write a pop song. Hella catchy and danceable.

    February 13, 2009- TV on the Radio- Lover's Day- A fittingly epic end to a great album.

    February 14, 2009- José González- Heartbeats- Better than the original? To me, certainly. Though I'm generally not okay with acoustic covers of electronic songs, José makes it all his own, and his voice is much better to listen to than The Knife's

    February 15, 2009- M. Ward- Never Had Nobody Like You- M. Ward's new album is a lot of fun. His songwriting transfers surprisingly well to uptempo songs like this one.

    February 16, 2009- The Velvet Underground- Who Loves The Sun- Very light fare by Velvet Underground standards. But it sounds great.

    February 17, 2009- Antony & the Johnsons- Kiss My Name- I wish I could sing like Antony. His music is still a bit too emotive for me to stomach most of the time, but in short, poppy songs like this one, it's perfect. I could get into this album after enough listens, I think.

    February 18, 2009- The Crystals- Da Doo Ron Ron- Perfect example of Phil Spector's wall of sound. I didn't realize until now how innovative pop music was in the 60s, long before today's bands were adding lavish orchestrations to music (i.e. in that Antony & the Johnsons song), producers like Phil Spector were doing it with girl groups.

    February 19, 2009- David Byrne & Dirty Projectors - [track artist = David Byrne & Dirty Projectors]Knotty Pines[/track]- I am not a fan of The Dirty Projectors. I'm all for quirkiness, but not directionless quirkiness. David Byrne, however, the master of channeling quirkiness, seems to influence the Projectors to do the same, and it results in a very fun song.

    February 20, 2009- Thao - Feet Asleep- Thao is simply an amazingly talented individual.

    February 21, 2009- DOOM- [track arist=DOOM]That's That[/track]- Doom is back! And he still flows better than anyone else.

    February 22, 2009- The Lonely Island- I'm On A Boat- I have no idea why I'm so obsessed with this song. "Lazy Sunday", "Dick in a Box", and "Jizz in My Pants" have more funny lines. This one though, has a stronger basis in reality. Rap songs actually sound like this, and the themes are just as ridiculously simple. This is a perfect parody in that it almost doesn't sound like parody.

    February 23, 2009- M. Ward- Rave On- Hold Time, probably my second favorite album of the year so far, is a little different from previous M. Ward songs in that the songs are all so very singable and have hooks that get stuck in my head, like this one.

    February 24, 2009- Fleet Foxes- Mykonos- Every time I hear this song, regardless of how loud the volume already is, I have to turn it way up at 2:14, when the a capella breakdown comes in. It's such an epic moment in music.

    February 25, 2009- The Hold Steady- Atlantic City- What if the songs Springsteen wrote for Nebraska were performed by the entire E Street Band? Well, Atlantic City would probably sound a lot like this cover.

    February 26, 2009- Simon & Garfunkel- Keep the Customer Satisfied- It's difficult to hear this song and not want to move around in some way.

    February 27, 2009- The White Stripes- We Are Going to Be Friends- Every time I hear this song, I wish I was 6 again.

    February 28, 2009- The Replacements- Androgynous- A beautiful ballad from one of the best punk(ish) bands of the 80s.