Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Best Of The Decade: Hops' Top 30 Albums of the 2000's

30) “The Moon & Antarctica” by Modest Mouse (2000)

29) “Turn On The Bright Lights” by Interpol (2001)

28) “Cassadaga” by Bright Eyes (2007)

27) “Builders & The Butchers” by The Builders & The Butchers (2007)

26) “@#%&*! Smilers” by Aimee Mann (2008)

25) “Concussion” by Matthew Ryan (2001)

24) “The Clarence Greenwood Recordings” by Citizen Cope (2004)

23) “Ghosts I-IV” by Nine Inch Nails (2008)

22) “At Dawn” by My Morning Jacket (2001)

21) “Veckatimist” by Gizzly Bear (2009): 2009’s best album is a fantastical journey. Lots of layers of sound, lots to hear. It’s not for everyone but it is a great album for those who like to really lose themselves in an album

20) “The Forgotten Arm” by Aimee Mann (2005): I love any music that tells stories and Aimee Mann is the master of that. A fully conceptual album “The Forgotten Arm” tells the story of a hard-on-his-luck Vietnam vet and boxer from Virginia and his dysfunctional relationship with the love of his life.

19) “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” by Bright Eyes (2005): Though I love Cassadega (2007) almost equally this album really shot Bright Eyes up to the top of the indie-folk ladder. Songs like “Lua”, “Road To Joy” and “Landlocked Blues” still sound poignant and important 5 years after its release.

18) “Sea Change” by Beck (2002): Beck took all his hipster moves and threw them away in this album. It’s a stripped down melancholy album dealing with a breakup. It made me realize how good of an artist he really is.

17) “From A Basement On A Hill” by Elliott Smith (2004): Released posthumously after his suicide this album can almost be difficult to listen to given his tragic death. The songs hit right to the bone and come from a man dealing with some serious demons. Still, I can’t ever stop listening to it. It’s the “Virgin Suicides” of music. Most will point to “Figure 8” as his best work of the decade, but this album has always hit me on a more emotional level

16) “It Still Moves” by My Morning Jacket (2003): While I have some issues with the sequencing on this album it really shows everything MMJ can be as a band. Soaring highs from “One Big Holiday” (one of the best songs of the decade) to brilliant moments of introspection “Golden”.

15) “The Mirror Conspiracy” by Thievery Corporation (2000): Taking elements from electronic, trip-hop and bassanova Thievery made an album that completely creates a fantastic mood. I can’t tell you how often I hear their music at restaurants, lounges and in movies. For me, they completely awoke my ears to entire genre of music I previously had ignored.

14) “Is This It?” by The Strokes (2001): Rock and Roll! Tracks like "Hard to Explain", "Last Nite", and "Someday" still sound good almost 10 years later.

13) “Year Zero” by Nine Inch Nails (2007): A conceptual album deal with the government and freedom. While Radiohead scored all their press for their business innovation they aren’t even in the same league as NIN who launched an entire alternative reality to promote the record. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in music.

12) “American IV: The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash (2002): This album introduced an entire generation of hipsters (and me) to the brilliance and honesty of Johnny Cash. Most famous for the cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” it also boast several other outstanding tracks. RIP Johnny.

11) “Heartbreaker” by Ryan Adams (2000): His first post-Whiskeytown album is still my favorite. Its filled with honesty and emotion and paints fantastic scnese of youth and lost love. "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" and "Come Pick Me Up" are epic tracks. Some will point to 2001’s follow up album (Gold) but for me this is tops.

10) “Give Up” by The Postal Service (2003): Side project from Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie) this album mixes new wave beats and Gibbard’s unique storytelling. Some may hate it, but I love it. It takes me to a wonderful time and place every time I listen to it…and I still do listen to it quite a bit.

9) “Return To Cookie Mountain” by TV On The Radio (2006): There are so many layers of rock, electronic, hip-hop and funk on this album its hard to know where to begin. It has tons of sonic depth but still makes you think. In the oddest of ways I can only compare them to Pink Floyd, despite the fact they have almost no musical overlap.

8) “Neon Bible” by Arcade Fire (2007): After such an amazing debut it was hard to really top themselves. They didn’t quite do that with this album but it was stunner. Eveyrthing from their debut was there: soaring harmonies, dark themes and amazing weirdness. Amazing stuff.

7) “In Rainbows” by Radiohead (2007): Too much attention was paid to the fact this album was digitally released and not enough was focused on the brilliance of the songs. When it came out I thought it might get better over time. Indeed it has. I still find pockets of eupohoria and pain in these songs I never heard. They’re the best band on the planet for a reason people.

6) “Alligator” (2005) by The National: This exploded onto my radar in 2005. It sounded immense. Not from a volume or wall of sound perspective, just from a thematic one. Songs talking about the boss stopping you in the hallway to tell you they’ve been hearing good things, standing tall with high beams shining on your back to the secret meeting in the basement of my brain. I have daydreams of writing a screenplay which would be completely sound tracked by this album.

5) “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco (2001): Ah where to begin. This album helped me a lot after 9/11. It introduced me to the concept of noise as a form of art. The pinnacle of everything that Wilco is and was as a band. Pretty close to perfection.

4) “Z” by My Morning Jacket (2005): This was the apex of a fantastic run of three straight dynamite albums (At Dawn and It Still Moves being the others). It saw MMJ take their sound to another level, add in a layer that was mysterious and dark without losing any of the things that made them so much fun to listen to in the first place. There are many layers to this album and all of them are wonderful.

3) “Boxer” (2007) by The National: I went back and forth and back and forth on this one. I had Alligator at 3 and boxer at 6. For me Alligator meant a bit more since it came out first. But after insistence by Mrs. Hops and my buddy Jordan “Hung Like A” Haas I realized that in fact Boxer is the better album. Both are amazing, but Boxer in particular speaks to my generation and my life more directly. I can only compare it to the way Bruce Springsteen (used to) speak to the working class. In addition to crafting a perfect album, they crafted the perfect song on that album. “Fake Empire”. Brilliant.

2) “Funeral” (2004) by Arcade Fire: I said on the very first Hopscast that one day I’d brag to my kids (or someone else’s) that I got to see this band when they were just coming out. The harmonies, wall of sound and general darkness of their music is both uplifting and sad at the same time. Emotional without any touch of sappiness or cheesiness. I don’t understand how anyone can listen to it an not be moved.

1) “Kid A” (2000) by Radiohead: Radiohead are creeping up to Beatles category for me as far as all-time bands are concerned. Yes, I understand the gravity of such a statement and feel absolutely no sense of shame saying it. They are simply amazing. True artists. Kid A was an album I didn’t immediately accept. It was difficult for me to understand what they were trying to achieve and how the music was meant to be digested. Then one day it clicked. The album whacked me on the upside of the head and reconfigured the way I hear music. No other album in my life, with the exceptions of “Sgt. Pepper’s” has ever really done that for me. I’ve loved others more perhaps and treasure them more, but Kid A had a lasting impact on me that still is there a decade later. It’s the standard by which all other albums in the last 10 years have to be judged, and that is why it’s an easy choice for #1.

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