Friday, December 4, 2009

Top 41 Albums of the Decade (#10-#1)

Before I reveal my picks, I should explain a few things. This list covers the years 2000-2009. No compilations or reissues are allowed. Although no live albums made my list, they are acceptable. EPs are OK, too. My choices are based, partly, on past year-end lists, but I weighed the number of listens recorded on my iTunes too. There are only two choices from 2009 on my list. That's because I feel recent releases need more time to breathe. How will I feel about 2009 releases even a year from now? The 2009 picks that made the cut were a little easier to judge because they came out quite a while ago, and I had the records many months before the official releases. I chose these particular mp3s because the songs will not make my best tracks of the decade list. Let the grilling begin!

Top 41 Albums of the Decade (#41-#31)
Top 41 Albums of the Decade (#30-#21)
Top 41 Albums of the Decade (#20-#11)

10. The Strokes: 'Is This It?'
Perhaps the most hyped record of the decade has, surprisingly, held up very well... even if the band hasn't. Unfortunately, this really was it.

9. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: 'Once (Original Soundtrack)'
If I had never seen the film, would I feel the same about these songs? In other words, does the music stand up on its own? It's an intriguing question. Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! says this record reminds her of Coldplay, and I don't particularly like Chris Martin and Co. I don't really like this duo's new record very much either. Truth is, hearing these songs within the context of the film does make them better, but I enjoy playing the CD, too.

8. Neil Finn: 'One All'
Split Enz, Crowded House, The Finn Brothers, 7 Worlds Collide and his solo work... everything this guy touches has been gold. He is my generation's Paul McCartney. Somebody just forgot to tell the listening public.
Neil Finn - Driving Me Mad (mp3)

7. The New Pornographers: 'Electric Version'
The supergroup put out four excellent records this decade, and all of them could have made this list. By an eyelash, this is my fave.
The New Pornographers - The Laws Have Changed (mp3)

6. The Flaming Lips: 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots'
I never got into The Lips before this record's predecessor, 'The Soft Bulletin'. These two records are quite a bit different than their other ones. So, I have come to the conclusion I'm not so much a fan of the band as an admirer of one of their phases. This record also spawned one of my favorite tours of all time. The Flaming Lips opened the show and then acted as Beck's backing band. That's entertainment.

5. She & Him: 'Volume 1'
If I could get away with it, I would make this No. 1, but there is something about an actress turning to music that seems like a lark. It held me back just a little bit, but Zooey Deschanel's words, voice and persona are utterly charming. And let's remember that these are her songs. I really enjoyed M. Ward's 'Post-War' album (it almost made this list), and these two together have a chemistry sorely lacking in like-minded combinations that shall remain nameless. Of all the records announced for 2010, 'Volume 2' is the one I'm most looking forward to hearing.

4. Wilco: 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'
Jeff Tweedy gets too much credit and Jay Bennett doesn't get enough for this masterpiece. Fans seem to have a problem admitting it, but Bennett-less Wilco has never come close to equalling the success of 'Summerteeth' and 'Foxtrot'.

3. Phoenix: 'It's Never Been Like That'
The French band became a world-wide sensation this year with 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix', and that's an excellent record, but I prefer the LP that sounds more like The Strokes with production values than the electronic-based music of their past.

2. Brian Wilson: 'SMiLE'
As a Beach Boys fanatic and longtime owner of bootleg versions of his abandoned magnum opus, I still can't believe Wondermints frontman Darian Sahanaja and Wilson were able to pull this off. My favorite aspects of 'SMiLE' are the new musical interludes. Wilson's voice is not as good as it was in 1967 (and these aren't The Beach Boys), but it's still a brilliant symphony.
Brian Wilson - Cabin Essence (mp3)

1. Beck: 'Sea Change'
You know an artist has made a great record when you don't even consider yourself a fan and still, somehow, the artist produces your favorite record of the decade. The only other record by Beck I can appreciate is 'Mutations', and both of these LPs share a tone not found in the rest of his discography. The story goes that Beck wrote and recorded 'Sea Change' after a breakup, and this is as melancholy as it gets. You need to be in that kind of mood and play it in its entirety to truly appreciate 'Sea Change'. That's why it's the best record of the 2000s.
Beck - Sunday Sun (mp3)

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