It is time to share my favorite albums of our century's first decade, now that we've entered its third decade. Of course, no one person can listen to every album that exists, so in the event there are any glaring omissions in your opinion please share them in the comments. I do not view music as a competition, even though the below list has kind of a competitive organization to it (winners, runners-up); and I have not used any objective measures to rank them, only the fact I have often listened to them repeatedly from start-to-finish [for me their appeal only increases with increased exposure and there are few if any weak tracks] and that they were released between 2000-01-01 and 2009-12-31 inclusive. *Links are to Wikipedia, Discogs, or band websites where possible.
Kid A - Radiohead
Lost Souls - Doves
Dusty Trails (self-titled)
Long Distance - Ivy
Although their fourth album, this is the Radiohead release that finally turned my head to them. I remember thinking that a couple of songs from OK Computer were good in the late 1990s, but when I heard Kid A I was stunned and had to own it. Since then I have gotten all of their albums and am definitely a fan.
Boards of Canada's EP In a Beautiful Place out in the Country should be a runner-up here as well.
Toxicity - System of a Down
Simple Things - Zero 7
Azure Ray (self-titled)
Melody A.M. - Röyksopp
Admittedly I did not listen to the SOAD at the time it came out, and I believe that part of the reason was the singles chosen for the album: viz. Chop Suey!, Toxicity, and Aerials. If you've heard the album you know that these three songs barely scratch the surface of what this band can do, and compared to the other tracks on the album they are actually tame. I guess what I love about SOAD the most is their wild unpredictability and sheer brutal heaviness [listen to the first three tracks to see what I mean (Deer Dance blows me away every time)].
Geogaddi - Boards of Canada
Daybreaker - Beth Orton
A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay
Steal this Album! - System of a Down
Yes the SOAD album is edged out here by two of the greatest albums of all time, but if it had been released in '01 or '04 it would have won those years no doubt. Do not believe the rumor that Steal this Album! is a collection of Toxicity outtakes or b-sides. In fact it is a more cohesive and consistent album than Toxicity. It contains probably their finest punk song (A.D.D.), and actually has a virtual "metal suite" in its second half: starting with I-E-A-I-A-I-O, continuing through the highly insightful and ever-inspiring F**k the System, and ending with the awesomely dramatic Streamline.
Imagine if Beethoven listened to nothing but Ride the Lightning for a month and then hit the piano; SOAD's 24 minute F**k the Suite might have resulted.
The Disconnection - Carina Round
Hail to the Thief - Radiohead
Mist King Urth - Lifeguards
Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? - Metric
Tour De France Soundtracks - Kraftwerk
This is by far my favorite Radiohead album. It is a perfect fusion of their newfound Kid Amnesiac electro-sound and their 1990s alternative sound, and it is probably their most energetic album (i.e. "Sit Down. Stand Up.", "Backdrifts").
Mist King Urth is the second installment in the Robert Pollard/Doug Gillard collaboration (Guided By Voices side project) known as Lifeguards, their first being 1999's Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department and latest being 2011's Waving at the Astronauts, all three of which are best-ofs in their respective years.
En Passant - Alphawezen
Street's Disciple - Nas
Bebel Gilberto (self-titled)
Alphawezen is one of my favorite bands to emerge in this century. Not sure how to classify them, maybe trip hop, electronic, indie pop, something like that; friggin' awesome that's for sure. Give anything in their discography a listen.
Nas' double album is a joy to listen to, loaded with some extremely infectious rhythms and melodies. Like SOAD, Nas has the ability to effortlessly straddle the boundary between the serious and the silly. You may be sad one minute and burst out laughing the next, but the sure thing is that you'll want to listen to it again and again. A few of my personal favorites are American Way, Virgo, and Suicide Bounce.
Speak for Yourself - Imogen Heap
The Campfire Headphase - Boards of Canada
Blink the Brightest - Tracy Bonham
The Forgotten Arm - Aimee Mann
This year both Bonham and Mann really outdid themselves in the songwriting department: Blink the Brightest equal in awesomeness to Burdens of Being Upright, and Forgotten Arm far surpassing any of Mann's previous releases. There is a maturity and refinedness to these two albums that is difficult to describe.
Imogen Heap outdid herself (and pretty much everyone else) as well, really coming into her own as multiinstrumental acoustic/electronic texturalist/songwriter extraordinare.
Hello Waveforms - William Orbit
Army of Anyone (self-titled)
Soundcastles - Pretz
Trans Canada Highway - Boards of Canada
Trans Canada Highway is an EP containing one of the best tracks from Campfire Headphase (Dayvan Cowboy) and four additional songs, and even though it is less than 20 minutes long the song quality - especially of the vignettes Heard from Telegraph Lines and Under the Coke Sign - is exceptionally high. Pretz' Soundcastles and William Orbit's Hello Waveforms are along similar ambient electronic lines; Pretz's being very organ-driven jazz-electronic and Orbit's being essentially the perfecting of his tasteful guitar-laden electronic reverie-inducing soundscapes.
Army of Anyone is a supergroup consisting of Filter's Richard Patrick on vocals, STP's DeLeo brothers on guitar and bass, and Ray Luzier on drums. Unlike you'd think, their sound ≠ STP+Filter. It is like all of the great singing, songwriting, and technicality of their origin bands but with a stylistic shift toward something more straightforward and immediate. It is very high-energy and awesome.
Grow Up and Blow Away - Metric
The Bird and The Bee (self-titled)
Marry Me - St. Vincent
Horrible Oracle Blessedness - am-boy
Although recorded in 2001 and intended as their debut, this album of Metric's was not released by their then-label, and what a mistake that was! Definitely my favorite Metric album (just edging out Fantasies). And this is the year of debuts apparently, as both The Bird and the Bee and St. Vincent released their firsts here.
Saturdays = Youth - M83
A Hundred Million Suns - Snow Patrol
Sirens of the Sea - Oceanlab
All is Well - Sam Amidon
M83's eightiesesque journey of nostalgic perfection, Oceanlab's one and only album showcasing the sirenlike voice of Justine Suissa, and Snow Patrol's masterpiece.
With every previous Snow Patrol album there is a track here or there that I skip (though there are so many great songs), and with the follow-up Fallen Empires the emotion and intensity seem too forced to be real. However, with A Hundred Million Suns they managed to get it just right.
Fantasies - Metric
Things You Should Know - Carina Round
Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future
- The Bird and the Bee
My Oracle Lives Uptown
- William Orbit
Things You Should Know is an EP that packs the punch of an entire album in just five songs. Seriously: tracks 1, 3, and 5 basically induce three separate religious experiences (and I'm not even a religious person). It is the perfect preamble to her Tigermending (2012), which will definitely be on the 2010s decade list.
I hope that this list helps you discover some album or band you've never heard before. It is always a blast to discover some musical gem of which one was previously unaware.
Lately I've been exploring the metal genre, hence the SOAD entries in 2001/2002. But I am pretty picky about metal because I do not really like the non-melodic growling that most metal singers stick to. One of my favorite metal albums is Fair to Midland's Arrows & Anchors (2011) because it incorporates multiple genres, complex melodies, and intricate songwriting.
Been checking out TesseracT a bit as well but don't know if I like them yet. If you know of any other good metal bands with actual melodic singing I would definitely appreciate any recommendations.
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