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.

60. The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

Of all the Beach Boys-influenced albums to come out this decade, this one wears it most proudly.  For all the shoegazing melodies, though, it feels pretty dark in places, a sprawling epic that crawls over just eight tracks that manage to feel like a 45-minute double-album, and I mean that in the best possible way.

59. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

It usually takes me a long time to warm up to a band’s followup to a great record.  This didn’t happen with Veckatimest.  Having heard “Southern Point,” “Two Weeks,” and “Cheerleader” played live, I knew this one would be good.  What impresses me most is how much Grizzly Bear manage to pull off for a band that doesn’t stray much from their formula.  When the formula’s this good, I can’t complain.

58. Tapes ‘n  Tapes – The Loon

I was lucky enough to be there when Tapes took off, one of the first “music-blog bands” to go big.  They were perfectly built for the taste of online music geeks who worship bands like Pavement and The Pixies, which isn’t to say that the band wasn’t pretty talented in their own right.  The Loon isn’t a perfect album, but it’s thrown together in a way that makes it a much more captivating whole than any of its pieces suggest.

57. TV on the Radio – Dear Science

I’d like to call myself someone who prefers the old TVOTR, but I get the feeling that every TVOTR release will feel old by the time the band polishes off the new one.  Given their origins and the fact that they have a producer who’s supposed to have a “signature sound,” it’s really quite impressive that the band can shift so fluidly album-to-album.  Dear Science sounded so refreshing that I almost included it on my favorite albums of 2009 before remembering that it came out in 2008; TVOTR will do that to you.

56. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Gimme Fiction didn’t make them stars, so Spoon decided to talk silly, play with the studio, and shoot for the moon.  In typical Spoon fashion, the album opens and closes splendidly (“Don’t Make Me A Target” and “Black Like Me,” respectively), has a couple of amazingly-fun sing-alongs (“You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “The Underdog”), and one piece that makes you wish for an entire album of B-sides (“The Ghost of You Lingers”).

55. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash

I’m convinced that one of the reasons Malkmus finally conceded to a Pavement reunion was the amount of fun he had making this record, which recalls some of the looser mid-career stuff of his old band.  The title track is a flat-out jam, and “Gardenia” is the catchiest tune he’s written since “Major Leagues.”

54. Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News

I’ll shamefully admit that I wasn’t a Modest Mouse fan before I heard this record, but it’s probably for the best: I think my world might have gotten turned upside down if I had been a fan up through Moon & Antarctica, and then, all of a sudden, these Northwest weirdoes were being played on Top 40 Radio.  It’s truly hard to imagine kids convincing their parents to buy them a record that contains a song arguing that poet Charles Bukowski is an asshole.  But it happened, and it’s just another sequence in the strange, strange trajectory of indie rock’s favorite “gas-station idiot savant” and friends.

53. Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond

Even in their forties, Dinosaur Jr. can outplay just about anyone else.  Beyond is the ultimate reunion record: one that sounds like the band spent their time apart simply preparing the best possible followup for their fans.  The fact that I actually debate between this and You’re Living All Over Me says that this band hasn’t lost a step in the twenty years between those releases.

52. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

Wolf Parade has made it perfectly clear that they’re barely a band anyway, so to expect anything out of them just because they made one record everyone loves is a sucker’s bet.  Call me a sucker, because At Mount Zoomer proves that these guys can play the hell out of half-ideas and finished songs alike, and I’ll never tire of the back-and-forth between the proggy Spencer Krug and the punky Dan Boeckner.

51. Girl Talk – Night Ripper

Night Ripper was the third Girl Talk record, but it was the first one that saw Gregg Gillis really embrace the mashup side of his persona, upping the amount of samples and composing the album like it was just his DJ set for the best dance party ever.  You could never pick a favorite Girl Talk song, because it’s all one big song, and it sounds like your radio on cocaine.

50. M.I.A. – Arular

Almost as weird as Modest Mouse getting mainstream attention?  M.I.A. performing on MTV.  Still, it was always apparent that she was a star, a voice bigger than the underground hip-hop scene she came up in.  Her international appeal as a performer was always obvious, but her music was less so.  I spent a solid two months deciding whether I loved or hated ”Bucky Done Gun.”  At some point it stopped sounding annoying and started sounding compelling, and Arular now profiles as one of the more original hip-hop albums made this decade.

49. Animal Collective – Feels

When their peers were making sweeping anthems, AC decided to play with the idea of repeating; when everyone else over-sentimentalized, they had fun with small ideas; and when everyone else was adding strings to their songs, AC turned up the drums.  They may not always be perfect, but they’re always interesting.

48. Bonnie “Prince” Billy – The Letting Go

Recorded in Iceland with Björk-producer Valgeir Sigurðsson, The Letting Go feels like a big artistic statement until you consider its maker, a simple Southern man whose music sounds lush and beautiful even in the demo stages.  Will Oldham has a way with melody, and these arrangements provide an ethereal setting in which to appreciate his songs.

47. Destroyer – Trouble In Dreams

I’ve written at length about this record elsewhere, so I’ll just say this: Trouble In Dreams is a remarkably good collection from an artist who seems to exist in a world entirely separate from that of his peers.

46. Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I Am Dreaming

I’m glad that the band went in a different direction for Random Spirit Lover, because they had pushed their small sound to the biggest possible conclusion on Shut Up.  It became apparent on this record that the time Spencer Krug spent living with Carey Mercer had influenced the former’s songwriting style, as there are a few songs here that owe a debt to the latter’s Frog Eyes.  There are lots of choice tracks, but if you ever want to explain Sunset Rubdown to someone, I recommend playing “Shut Up I Am Dreaming of Places Where Lovers Have Wings.”

45. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

Most everyone can agree on a record like Twin Cinema: it’s fun, catchy, and really well put together.  Though Dan Bejar and Neko Case’s contributions have been stronger on other NP albums, A.C. Newman’s writing was never more consistent—witness “Use It,” “The Bleeding Heart Show,” and “Sing Me Spanish Techno.”

44. My Morning Jacket – Z

Z wasn’t what anyone was expecting out of MMJ in 2005, but it was a welcome change of pace for a band that was veering heavily into “jam” territory.  There are lots of tight little numbers here, but most impressive feat is that the album itself is so short, yet manages to cover so many styles, ideas, and whims.

43. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem

Though nothing on it lived up to the promise of “Losing My Edge,” the first LCD full-length did one better: it proved that hipsters will buy into electronic music if the songwriting and production are good enough.  James Murphy has both in spades, evidenced on “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,” and the sneaky-good “Disco Infiltrator.”

42. Frog Eyes – Tears of the Valedictorian

This isn’t a record for everyone.  That said, those who appreciate the grueling pace and kooky vocals of Frog Eyes absolutely adore this weirdo masterpiece.  It was the first album on which Carey Mercer and pals were able to successfully pull off both the short bursts (“Idle Songs”) and the epic dredges (“Bushels”) while retaining everything they stand for musically.

41. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really believe Wayne Coyne when he compared this album to Miles Davis and Joy Division.  But it has the sonic qualities of the first and the darkness of the second.  Anyone looking for another “Do You Realize??” will be sorely disappointed unless they take the time to let this record breathe a bit, allowing the beauty to arise from the empty space these songs create.

Advertisements