Hello. This is Mark. You might rememember me from a few years ago when I wrote some silly posts about terrible commercials and a guy who tried to jump over the St Lawrence river in a winged car. Some posts have been devoured into the mysterious nether-regions of wordpress, while some are still around for your perusal. I’ve also noticed that a lot of posts I didn’t write have been credited to me. Like this one about what it’s like to be Jaia’s dad. Peculiar. In any case, if Dan can keep getting me to drunkenly promise to write things on forgetful from time to time, I could be around a bit more.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, a number of us were sitting around my dining room table discussing music (I guess we had already finished talking about football, hockey and the Wire), when I off-the-cuff mentioned that Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was not only easily the best album of 2009 (due to a lack of much strong competition), but would also easily make my “top ten albums of the decade” list. This lead to a discussion of what else would be on the list. After much self-reflection and deliberation, I think I’m finally ready to delve into it.
A quick disclaimer: Gary and I have been having a silly argument recently with a certain someone (let’s call him “Jason W”. No, that’s too obvious… we’ll go with “J. Wiens”) about whether or not someone can say that an album is better than another. His argument is that music is art, all music reviews and rankings are just opinions, all opinions are equal, and music is “good” as long as someone likes it. Being snobs, Gary and I naturally disagree, but find it a difficult position to argue. In any event, we’ve reached an uneasy truce, but just to make it clear, this list is my favourite albums of the 2000s.
Because limiting a list like this to only 10 is friggin impossible, here’s 25-11 without any commentary whatsoever.
25. jay-z – the black album (2003)
24. godspeed you black emperor – lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven (2000)
23. band of horses – everything all the time (2006)
22. the postal service – give up (2005)
21. tv on the radio – dear science (2008)
20. radiohead – kid a (2000)
19. amon tobin – out from out where (2002)
18. the avalanches – since i left you (2000)
17. dismemberment plan – change (2001)
16. junior boys – so this is goodbye (2006)
15. mogwai – happy songs for happy people (2003)
14. phoenix – it’s never been like that (2006)
13. do make say think – winter hymn country hymn secret hymn (2003)
12. the wrens – the meadowlands (2003)
11. the national – alligator (2005)
Alright, here we go…
10. interpol – turn on the bright lights (2002)
Outstanding debut album from a great band. When people complained that they sounded “too much like Joy Division” (like it’s a bad thing that a band would want to sound like Joy Division), it got a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t know they ever existed to start listening to Joy Division, which I think is a good thing. Plus, this album introduced us all to Carlos D, probably the coolest live performer I’ve ever seen.
09. four tet – rounds (2003)
When I lived with my old roommate Paul and I’d play this album, he’d say something “hilarious” like “get out your glowsticks!”, or “yo, your album’s skipping, B”. Well screw him, this album is awesome.
08. daft punk – alive 2007 (2007, duh)
You might think it’s cheap to include a live album on a list like this since it contains all of the best songs from a favourite artist with no filler. Normally, I might agree with you, but I don’t even like Daft Punk. This album, though, is amazing and probably the best live album I’ve ever heard.
07. bloc party – silent alarm (2005)
Bloc Party’s rapid decent into embarassing awfulness is one of the saddest musical developments of the 2000s, but that doesn’t change how great Silent Alarm was/is. Outstanding debut that showed tons of potential. The two albums since have gotten progressively worse (“Mercury” remains one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard), but they’re still young, so maybe there’s still hope.
06. phoenix – wolfgang amadeus phoenix (2009)
And here it is, as promised. The best english-language indie rock album from France of the 2000s – a prestigious honour, to be sure. Since I got this album at the beginning of 2009, I think I’ve listened to it at least once every 2 days, and on the way to every soccer/hockey game I’ve played since. If I do this list again in a few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s #1.
05. arcade fire – funeral (2004)
One of my favourite memories of the 2000s is seeing Arcade Fire in Montreal at the Corona Theatre with Shannen and Dan a few months after Funeral had been released. The night before, we had all gone out to dinner in Montreal with friends at a bring-your-own wine restaurant where we plowed through 9 or 10 bottles of wine between 7 people. We then went back to a friend’s house for homemade mojitos, after which we split up for further shenanigans (I think Shan and Dan went for drunken karaoke and poutine, while Sonja and I went to a club to see one of the DJs from Jurassic 5). Needless to say, we all had horrible hangovers the next day. Homemade mojitos will do that, I suppose. I don’t think any of us really felt like being out in public, let alone standing in a packed theatre, but once the music started, the headaches cleared, we all rallied, and had an amazing time.
04. cannibal ox – the cold vein (2001)
My favourite hip hop album ever. I don’t really know what else there is to say about it.
03. broken social scene – you forgot it in people (2002)
This was my first introduction to the incestuous Broken Social Scene family of dirty hippy bands (Metric, Stars, Feist, DMST, Apostle of Hustle, etc, etc, etc). A perfect summer album, it sounds like a bunch of talented mid-20-somethings rented a house for a summer and randomly recorded new songs with whoever happened to be in the room at the time.
02. radiohead – in rainbows (2007 or 2008, depending on whether or not you have a computer)
I wrote too much about In Rainbows already, in my now-gone 4 part “best albums of 2007” mega post, but the whole revolutionary “internet release, no promotion, pay what you want” idea wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if this album wasn’t near-perfect.
01. sigur ros – takk (2005)
“A non-English post rock album from Iceland?! what a ripoff!” you might think (if you’re still reading). Let me explain… I think I discovered Sigur Ros at the beginning of 2000 after reading glowing reviews of their 1999 album Agaetis Byrjun. I fell in love with them immediately. In the 10 years since, they’ve released 3 more amazing albums, I saw them live twice (including the best concert I’ve ever seen in 2008 at the Greek Theatre in Berkley, CA), and “Hoppipolla” from Takk was Sonja’s and my wedding song – Sigur Ros (and this album in particular) have been the soundtrack to my decade.
So there you go – my favourite albums of the decade. Comment away, Gary…