By Ryan

This is my list of my personal favorite albums, which means that these aren’t necessarily what I think the 100 “best” albums of the decade were, though there’s obviously some overlap, because I have great taste.

80. Man Man – Six Demon Bag

Six Demon Bag wasn’t the first Man Man record, just the first one most people heard.  The Philadelphia circus-rockers absolutely pounded the door down for waves of more experimental bands with questionable talent, though the latter criticism cannot fairly be leveled at this one.  Oddly, it was the most straightforward track—“Van Helsing Boombox”—that proved most transcendent.

79. Handsome Furs – Face Control

I was a pretty big Plague Park fan, but there’s no denying that Handsome Furs become something more than a Wolf Parade side-project on Face Control.  Demonstrating a punk ethos lost in most modern “punk,” Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry make guitar and synth sounds feel almost thrown together, except for the fact that the album is far too strong to be the result of sloppiness.

78. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha

This is where Bird really became the stalwart he is today.  If Malcom Gladwell ever decides to revisit the “Stickiness Factor” he talks about in The Tipping Point, he’d do well to consider this collection of songs; they were stuck in my head after one listen, nearly memorized after two, and new favorites after three.

77. Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene

Following up a classic album like You Forgot It in People would be a momentous task for a normal band, but for a loose collection of musicians that sometimes tips twenty contributors?  This one seemed doomed from the start, and the critical cries of “self-indulgent” and “sloppy” seemed obvious until one sits down and really takes the time to feel this one out.  “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day),” “7/4 (Shoreline),” and “It’s All Gonna Break” are on par with anything the group has ever done, and I’ll take BSS “filler” over most other band’s best efforts.

76. Tegan and Sara – So Jealous

Who knew a pair of Canadian post-punk twins could be so polarizing?  So Jealous is a “take it or leave it” record that finds the sisters Quin at their best or worst, depending upon whom who ask.  And I think any album that can fuel such intense emotion either way is probably actually really good.

75. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell

Either you feel that “Maps” was the most overplayed indie song of the decade, or you still tear up when you hear it.  I’ve always been in the latter group, which is why the YYYs will be hard-pressed to ever improve upon their debut.  “Date With The Night” and “Modern Romance” are pretty great, too.

74. Spoon – Gimme Fiction

As one of this decade’s most consistently good bands, Spoon proved with Gimme Fiction that even an “accessible” album can be damn fun to listen to.  “I Summon You” is one of my favorite tracks of the decade, and I don’t think I’m even capable of listening to “I Turn My Camera On” without smiling.

73. The Strokes – Room on Fire

The Strokes were right to part ways with producer Nigel Godrich—I can’t imagine this album sounding any different and it being as good.  When you make something as perfect as Is This It, more of the same is a good thing.

72. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife

Considering it contains two tracks that crack the eleven-minute mark, it almost seems silly to say that The Crane Wife showcased a more-constrained Collin Meloy.  The Decemberists always felt to me like a band best served in small doses, but the focus on the songwriting, storytelling, and musical movements is outstanding on this, the band’s best effort to date.

71. Brand New – Deja Entendu

Before Deja, BN was just another decent emo band in a crowded scene.  But there’s something genuinely striking about this collection: the lyrics are sharp, witty, and focused, the music recalls The Smiths, and the sentiments, though obvious, don’t overbear.  This just may be the best “emo” album ever made.

70. Cloud Cult – The Meaning of 8

Can you imagine what a disaster it would have been if Cloud Cult had accepted a reported major-label deal for this record?  “Chain Reaction,” “Chemicals Collide,” and “Dance For the Dead” may sound Starbucks-approved, but it’s the in-betweeners where the band asserts its independence and proves that just because you’re experimenting doesn’t mean you can’t be technically proficient.

69. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

You either love Girl Talk or you haven’t heard Girl Talk.

68. Romantica – America

It’s rare that a small-label band with little distribution makes an album that compares so favorably to their heroes—in this case, Ryan Adams, Wilco, and Gram Parsons.  Of course, if they keep making records like this, Romantica won’t be on a small label for long.

67. Swan Lake – Enemy Mine

On Enemy Mine, Swan Lake still sounds like three separate voices, but at least it’s not as disparate as their first attempt at indie-rock supergroupness.  Plus they upped the production values so much that it’s safe to say that this is the most-listenable thing Carey Mercer’s ever worked on.

66. Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals

Listening to Yeasayer’s debut now, it sounds so familiar, like you’ve heard a thousand songs like these.  And you probably have, because Yeasayer influenced a bevy of bands to indulge their weird side while still staying true to melody and structure.

65. Johnny and the Moon – Johnny and the Moon

Dante DeCaro left Hot Hot Heat during the recording of Elevator due to creative differences and an overall sickness at the band’s “corporate” status.  He’d better hope that no one in marketing gets a hold of his debut with Johnny and the Moon, an instantly catchy eminently listenable effort from the talented guitarist and friends.

64. The Jealous Sound – Kill Them With Kindness

Around the time the Foo Fighters were becoming boring and Queens of the Stone Age were becoming predictable, The Jealous Sound released this album to little fanfare.  The rare hard-edged rock album that can be listened to all the way through, Kill Them remains the band’s only full-length.

63. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Bitte Orca is probably my favorite collection of songs from 2009, it just doesn’t hold together particularly well as an album; there’s almost too many good ideas left unexplored, and you get the feeling that this band could build pretty good albums around just about every track on here.  If “Stillness is the Move” doesn’t break through to the mainstream, I think it’s safe to say that any relevance still held by music radio can be considered gone.

62. Ambulance LTD – Ambulance LTD

You know how rock critics love to say that Bob Pollard (Guided by Voices) would have been a huge star had he been making music in the 60s and 70s?  The premise disregards how big of an influence The Who are on GbV, but I suppose you could make the likewise statement about Ambulance LTD, a band clearly influenced by The Beatles (and probably by way of Elliot Smith).  The band broke up shortly after their debut, but, for a little while, it felt like dream-pop-jangle-rock was coming back, and this was going to be the act to carry it.

61. Cloud Cult – Advice From the Happy Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus is where Cloud Cult aimed for the moon (or The Moon and Antarctica), and I think there’s a host of tracks here that Modest Mouse, Radiohead, or the Arcade Fire would be glad to call their own.  Is it really that good?  As frontman Craig Minowa says, “There’s a fine line between falling and flying,” and Cloud Cult absolutely soared on this one.