Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sunless Shortlist: Best of 2000's (recap)

25. Guided By Voices - Isolation Drills (2001)
24. White Stripes - Elephant (2003)
23. Strokes - Is This It (2001)
22. Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism (2003)
21. Decemberists - The Crane Wife (2006)
20. Beulah - Yoko (2003)
19. James - Pleased to Meet You (2001)
18. The National - Boxer (2007)
17. Bright Eyes - Lifted... (2002)
16. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer (2008)
15. Broken Social Scene - s/t (2005)
14. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008)
13. Superchunk - Here's to Shutting Up (2001)
12. Spoon - Kill the Moonlight (2002)
11. Wilco - A Ghost is Born (2004)
10. Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
09. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha (2007)
08. Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)
07. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (2007)
06. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
05. Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree (2005)
04. Destroyer - Rubies (2006)
03. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)
02. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
01. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

2000: 1
2001: 4
2002: 4
2003: 3
2004: 2
2005: 3
2006: 2
2007: 3
2008: 2
2009: 0

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sunless Shortlist: Best of 2000's (5-1)

5. Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree (2005)

The Mountain Goats' fifth release (of nine) of the decade is surely their most anthem-worthy. "This Year" is the anthem for naive party-child. "Up the Wolves" is for the punched-in-the-gut. "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod" is for the lost child. "Pale Green Things" is for the redeemed. If none of these songs speak to you, then you have not experienced life.

4. Destroyer - Rubies (2006)

This is one very effortless album. At least that's how it sounds. However, the more you listen to these songs, the more complex it becomes. This is one of the wordiest albums I have ever heard. Years after first listen I still find myself surprised every time I hear it. Because of this, Rubies is probably the most rewarding album of the decade. I don't know how many times I have listened to Rubies, but I never get bored with it. It is an absolutely perfect album

3. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)

At first glance, this is one of the most daunting albums I have in my collection. 74 minutes of state history? However, I am actually sad when this album ends. It's not nearly long enough. Extremely complex and infinitely rewarding, this album is just as good now as it was when it was first released. I hadn't listened to this album in quite a while before this week, and I think I like it even better now. Now Sufjan, please release another!

2. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

Endlessly bizarre. Just as meek as it is huge. This follow-up to OK Computer could very easily fail, but this may be Radiohead's greatest album. It is for me. It's like Radiohead's Sgt. Pepper. A band at the peak of their popularity releases a massively weird album, and knocks it out of the park. Nearly a decade later, it still holds up as a weird album, but also a masterpiece. I have always been disturbed by the content of this album, and it seriously impacted me at its release. Listening to it now, I find it just as impactful. The timeline I live in often seems slightly skewed from the modern world. I often feel out of touch with the speed of technology and the speed life in this world. That disjointed way of living is what I hear in Kid A. How do you live a life filled with ever-changing advancements and not feel disconnected? Life is non-linear now. Even modern social networking is life in a virtual world. It's disorienting. It's disconnected in a connected world. That is what Kid A is.

1. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

So how could this not be my favorite album of the decade? I mean, Wilco is my favorite band. They were my favorite band for half of the previous decade too. I like for music to challenge me as a listener. I don’t like predictable things. I like music as art. All of this is displayed perfectly on this album. And the songs are just wonderfully constructed. And chaotic. The recording of this music is a landmark in studio usage. And beyond simply how strong the music is, this album is the most important album of the decade. It has shown how important the album as a package is, even if it did help usher in the music-as-download era. Albums still work. The album is not dead. Artists will not starve, even as their music is stolen. Everything will be just fine. It’s a defiant moment in music history. Any album that can define a generation of art, and still just be good to hear, will live on forever. This album is this decade. That’s all.


Well that's all I got. As I have been working on this for the past month+, I have been re-listening to many of these albums. I also noticed that not all that were on my original list held up over time, so I have listened to a lot of music lately with a purpose. When I finished listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot today, I felt a little lost. It was weird to just find something random that sounded good and not focus on it like a project. (I ended up listening to Destroyer's Your Blues and am now listening to The Most Serene Republic's And the Ever Expanding Universe).

This decade saw me at my musical highest... at least listening to music. Now that the decade is almost over, I'm just buying music to buy it. It's my goal right now to slow down and just focus on music that I know I love. This project has helped me focus my attention inward. There's something far more satisfying to re-discover music I already own, rather than discover something I don't own. It's cheaper too, and that's nice.

That said, I'm very proud of my collection. And I'm very happy to have such a vast collection of music that allows me to rediscover stuff for a very long time. So while I close this project out, I want to throw out some of the albums I considered and for this list. So my apologies to Love Songs for Patriots, Noble Beast, Merriweather Post Pavillion, Person Pitch, I Am a Bird Now, National Anthem of Nowhere, You Forgot it in People, Let it Die, The Reminder, New Magnetic Wonder, Neon Bible, Sea Change, The Life Pursuit, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, The Letting Go, I'm Wide Awake It's Morning, Fevers & Mirrors, Smile, A Rush of Blood to the Head, Heartbreaker, Gold, Your Blues, Electric Version, Twin Cinema, Bitte Orca, Gorillaz, The Good The Bad & The Queen, Black Sheep Boy, The Stage Names, Return to the Sea, Night Falls Over Kortedala, the last Songs: Ohia (or is it the first Magnolia Electric Co.?), Dragonslayer, Apologies to the Queen Mary, Cellar Door, American III-V, Sound of Silver, Loose Fur, i, The Moon & Antarctica, Good News for People That Love Bad News, Population, Tallahassee, Alligator, Abatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, Hissing Fauna, Give Up, Amnesiac, In Rainbows, Wincing the Night Away, A River Ain't Much to Love, Dear Science, Our Endless Numbered Days, Michigan, Seven Swans, You & Me, any Spoon album not called Kill the Moonlight, and of course I Am Not Afraid of You and Will Beat Your Ass. I love you all and thanks for helping through my third decade.