Monday, December 14, 2009

Top Albums of the Decade (And Some Other Things)

Earlier this year, Jim Powers and I each posted what we thought were the best and most definitive songs over the past ten years. Here, Jim makes his case for the top albums of the decade along with some superlatives. My response will be posted later this week, and the best of 2009 in songs and albums will also be coming soon. But until then, read what Jim has posted below and see what you think. I hear he likes Radiohead.

Albums of the Decade

1. Radiohead - Kid A
As easy a choice this decade as OK Computer was last decade.

2. The Futureheads - The Futureheads
This is an intensely personal choice. Sometimes I think this album was made just for me.

3. Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica
Amazing, beautiful, and haunting fully-realized album from easily the best songwriter of my generation (and his excellent band).

4. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
Every time Animal Collective puts out a new album, I think it will be their masterpiece. But every time I listen to that new album, I realize that they already created their masterpiece, and it is Sung Tongs.

5. Clinic - Internal Wrangler
As fresh-sounding today as when it came out.

6. The Libertines - Up the Bracket
Even without the tragic death-of-the-band story as context, this is a great collection of songs.

7. The Knife - Silent Shout
I still get cold chills when I put on this album and hear those first thee notes.

8. The Strokes - Is This It?
I think I might actually like Room on Fire better, but this one was the breakthrough.

9. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
The high point of bands trying to ape Joy Division and the only really worthy imitator.

10. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
The keystone of late-decade Spencer Krug dominance. Props to Boeckner too, who I think is yet to fully realize his substantial potential.

11. Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock and Roll
I usually run when an album is described as "fun," but when I call this album fun, it's high praise.

12. The Shins - Chutes too Narrow
There's no way anyone could have expected this watershed after the cute Oh Inverted World.

13. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Kill the Moonlight or Gimme Fiction could be here too. Somehow, on year-end lists, Spoon will be penalized for putting out so much good shit - kind of like when two guys from the same region split the Heisman vote.

14. The Walkmen - You and Me
Keeps getting better and better.

15. Love is All - Nine Times that Same Song
One of the best break up albums ever, but uplifting rather than depressing (looking at you, Bon Iver).

16. Mclusky - Do Dallas
I can't put into words how much I love Mclusky. If I could put greatest hits albums on here, Mcluskyism would be top 5.

17. The Arcade Fire - Funeral
Deserves all the praise it gets.

18. Outkast - Stankonia
Looks like it will be the last great Outkast album, sadly.

19. The Hives - Veni Vidi Vicious
Heavily influenced by Fetus Toast, these Swedes' studio output is excellent, but their live show is a can't-miss spectacle.

20. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
I don't think Jack White has come close to topping this one.

21. Liars - They Threw Us In a Trench...
Drum's Not Dead is probably "better," but, unlike that album, I still listen to this at least once a month.

22. Sleater Kinney - One Beat
The only 9/11 album worth a shit. A very good, satisfying shit.

23. Radiohead - In Rainbows
Their most intimate album, and a nice little comeback after the slightly disappointing (yet still good) Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief.

24. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (and EP)
Too bad they kind of fell off a cliff, because this is pretty much a perfect debut.

25. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
One of the best singer/songwriter albums I've ever heard.

Decade Superlatives

Best compilation: Guided by Voices - Human Amusements at Hourly Rates. The best distillation of Pollard's substantial genius.

Best song: Outkast - Hey Ya!

Best concert that I saw: Modest Mouse (the Shins opening) - Black Cat, Washington DC, September 28, 2001. This is one of those "I cant believe I saw X and Y play at Z shows."

Best trend: The influence of the good stuff from the '80s.

Worst trend: The lo-fi movement. Just because something sounds like shit on purpose doesn't mean it doesn't sound like shit.

Best use of music in a movie: "Just Like Honey" at the end of Lost in Translation.

Best band (taking industry stuff into account): Radiohead. Two classic albums, two pretty good albums, and the In Rainbows release strategy.

Best band (based on quality alone): Spoon. Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight, Gimme Fiction, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga all in a row in one decade? Wow.

Best video: Real World / Road Rules Challenge

Most disappointing band break-up: Blur

Most welcome reunion: (tie) Blur, Pink Floyd

Best album cover: Andrew W.K. - I Get Wet

--Jim Powers

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