Experimental Music Love

October 27, 2009

Top 100 Albums of the Decade: 100 – 51


50 – 26
25 – 11
10 – 1

So we’ve done singles, and we’re all perfectly happy and in agreement that ‘Hey Ya’ is the best song released this decade? Aren’t we now? Aren’t we? Good. Now for the even more exciting count down! In my head anyway. For in a decade where downloads and torrents and online radio stations such as Last FM, Pandora and Spotify devalued the art of collecting a few songs together, and making them mean something as a whole, we’ve had more than our share of classic records. Honest.

And never have we had such a varied, diverse bunch to pick from, due mainly to the internet and its ability to make music from all over the world as easy to access as clicking on a few buttons and ignoring porn for 15 minutes. Magic! Though this particular list has a wee bit of a focus on North American alt-rock, but that’s just me. And it is my list. So make your own if you don’t agree. Or do something worthwhile. Like start a family or storm a KFC.



100. John Cale – Hobosapiens (2003)
My favourite Welsh senior citizen – sorry Shirley, Tom and Anthony. A voice matured and a sound still relevant, taking in Eno electronica and Italian choirs, building ideas upon an eclectic mix of samples.
Listen to this: ‘Things

99. Belle and Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)
Their most pop album yet, and thus their most joyful and commercially successful. Brilliant drama in ‘Step Into My Office’, American melodrama in ‘Piazza, New York Catcher’ and the anthem for longing hearts that is ‘If You Find Yourself Caught In Love’ made this more than just some pop pleasantry though.
Listen to this: ‘If You Find Yourself Caught In Love

98. Joanna Newsom – YS (2006)
Moving on from her unique, if slightly annoying debut, Newsom put her sexy elven tones to story-telling, exploring the mythical and the spiritual over these five tracks that had more ambition that most records this century.
Listen to this: ‘Sawdust and Diamonds

97. Original Broadway Cast – Soundtrack to Wicked (2003)
Cos I’m a fag or something.
Listen to this: ‘Defying Gravity

96. Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway (2003)
Mark Kozelek’s post-Red House Painters effort, and one where his voice remains the perfect accompaniment to acoustic guitar. Guilt-free loveliness.
Listen to this: ‘Gentle Moon

95. Silver Mt Zion – Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upwards (2001)
More contained epic post-rock from the Godspeed boys, all vicious and ambitious yet smart and articulate, looking to the Old Testament for inspiration and delivering a mighty sermon.
Listen to this: ‘Built Then Burnt (Hurrah! Hurrah!)

94. PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea (2000)
I was once pissed off at this record, mainly because it beat the brilliant Asleep in the Back to the 2001 Mercury Prize. I am now over such feelings. The most ecstatic female voice the UK has.
Listen to this: ‘Good Fortune

93. Go! Team – Thunder Lightning Strike (2004)
An abundance of enthusiasm, this was a stupidly fun romp through old school samples and playground chants that proved how exciting modern music could be.
Listen to this: ‘Huddle Formation

92. Bright Eyes – Lifted (Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground) (2002)
Not my first, my most profund or my most lasting encounter with Conor, but one that still was able to show off the talent of a young singer/songwriter aptly staking his claim for voice of a generation. Modest and grandiose in equal measures, and a sign of where American folk was going.
Listen to this: ‘
You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will

91. The Decemberists – Her Majesty… (2003)
Combining song-writing ambitions with ideas of story-telling, letting full-fledged characters take over each song, this was equally valid under ‘audio-books’ in any record store.
Listen to this: ‘Red Right Ankle

90. Why? – Alopecia (2008)
It’s folk hip-hop and it’s not shit. For that alone it would merit a place. Not really. They make it marvellous though.
Listen to this: ‘Fatalist Palmistry

89. Okkervil River – Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See (2002)
Oh, just lovely. Really. Lines like ‘red is my favourite colour, red like your mother’s eyes after crying a while about how you don’t love her.’ Majestic Sheff. Emotion without sentimentality, and mandolins without public school tossers playing them.
Listen to this: ‘Red

88. Robert Forster – The Evangelist (2008)
The former Go-Between carries on after the death of his former bandmate, Grant McLennan creating a fitting tribute. Happy/sad. Celebratory/mourning. Great/brilliant.
Listen to this: ‘Let Your Light In Babe

87. Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury (2006)
With crisp Neptunes production, this was a sparse hip-hop record, free from decadence and unafraid to explore the murkier side of the rap scene.
Listen to this: ‘Mr. Me Too

86. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (2007)
The excitement of the guitarist from my favuurite band of all time joining my favourite band of the last 20 years was almost too much to cope with. As such, this album was never going to live up to the genre/era/religion/space/time defying result I was expecting. It was still pretty fucking sweet though.
Listen to this: ‘Missed the Boat

85. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
Yeah, it’s great. Okay? Got a problem with that? Good. The world’s biggest band at their most subtle, thought-provoking and interesting. They’ll never beat this.
Listen to this: ‘A Warning Sign

84. Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator) (2001)
In a fantastic decade for North American female folk (see newcomers Jenny Lewis, Whispertown 2000, Feist, Neko Case, Dixie Chicks, Alison Strauss and old hands still going strong – Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris etc) Time was one of the deeper moments this genre offered, fearful of the clock taking away friends, loves and heroes, but aware of what to make the most of.
Listen to this: ‘Elvis Presley Blues

83. MeWithoutYou – Catch For Us The Foxes (2004)
Classed as ‘punk’ but so much more than the pop hybrid this decade turned it into. Crazed dueling vocals, and something of a passion in the performance. Even if they are a bunch of Goddos. Jesus would be rocking out though.
Listen to this: ‘January 1979

82. Elbow – Seldom Seen Kid (2008)
The one that broke them, and their biggest, if not best, yet. Easy to love on first listen, but showing off a talent so much more than being the Snow Patrol types many dismiss them as. Many are idiots.
Listen to this: ‘Weather to Fly

81. Lucinda Williams – World Without Tears (2003)
Again, another whisky soaked example of great country feminity, blasting and blazing and ripping up every record Shania Twain ever made.
Listen to this: ‘Those Three Days

80. Radiohead – Amnesiac (2001)
Not quite Kid A but still containing the sincerity of a band keeping their credibility and quality, whilst simultaneously taking over the world. Dark, sensual and essential.
Listen to this: ‘Pyramid Song

79. Portishead – Third (2008)
Dummy is one of the ten best albums of all time. This isn’t. It’s still a bit good though. So give it a go.
Listen to this: ‘The Rip

78. Death Cab – Transatlanticism (2003)
The emo sorts it’s okay to think aren’t a bunch of stupid haired cocks. And the dude gets to have sex with Zooey Deschanel. Amazing.
Listen to this: ‘A Lack of Color

77. Dawn Chorus – Big Adventure (2008)
A British take on North American alt-folk, and it couldn’t have worked out better. Or it could have actually, as in them managing to sell a few records.It’s not too late though! Google it now and buy buy buy.
Listen to this: ‘The Hope Will Kill Us

76. Dresden Dolls – Dresden Dolls (2003)
My first introduction to the love of my life. Oh, Amanda. Beautiful goth sorts aside, this was an overdramatic delight, all punched piano and deafening drums, thrilling all the way.
Listen to this: ‘Gravity

75. The Dears – No Cities Left (2003)
Where on earth did they go? They were just behind Arcade Fire in over-indulgent orchestral rock to shatter minds and kill cynics dead? Oh well. Just enjoy this.
Listen to this: ‘Lost in the Plot

74. White Stripes – White Blood cells (2001)
They never did anything better than this. No, really. I defy Peel and I defy Uncut and I defy most thoughts. Elephant was a mess. And everything after was pointless. This was nice though.
Listen to this: ‘Fell In Love With A Girl

73. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes (2002)
The lighter side to shouty music. And the better side. Not gutteral wretching, but something resembling honest pain, and all with experimental, exploring music taking the same trip as Modest Mouse but going a little faster and with a few more tumbles on the way.
Listen to this: ‘Baudelaire

72. Vampire Weekend -Vampire Weekend (2008)
Jolly, jolly, jolly indie. Smart men trying to be Talking Heads and the Beach Boys at the same time, and not falling flat on their faces. Must be commended.
Listen to this: ‘Oxford Comma

71. My Vitriol – Finelines (2000)
Make one brilliant album. Disappear. Come back for a bit and bore some people. Make people wish this was only thing they ever made.
Listen to this: ‘Always Your Way

70. Mogwai – Happy Songs For Happy People (2003)
Their one really excellent mark on this decade after a 90s filled with infallible brilliance. Horrible and, well, happy.
Listen to this: ‘Hunted By A Freak

69. Jay Z – Black Album (2003)
I like this a lot. Autobiographical in many ways, and something of a lesson in hip-hop. Pimpin’, innit?
Listen to this: ‘December 4th

68. Danger Mouse – Grey Album (2004)
Mixing the above album with The Beatles classic monikered with the opposite end of the colour spectrum produced an album as good as its name.
Listen to this: ‘Encore

67. Pretty Girls Make Graves – Good Health (2004)
They’re shouty and female and hot and play guitar like an emo Prince – what more do you want?
Listen to this: ‘Speakers Push The Air

66. Ryan Adams – Gold (2001)
Before he went mad, Adams was on course for being the best songwriter of the decade. A glimpse of why.
Listen to this: ‘Harder Now It’s Over

65. Magnetic Fields – I (2004)
I see 69 Love Songs as a 1999 album, thus its lacking from this list. This is still bloody lovely though. And your usual MF fare of startling imaginative US folk/electronic sounds.
Listen to this: ‘I Don’t Believe You

64. Justice – Cross (2007)
Mad French dance drunk mess fall over move about.
Listen to this: ‘Phantom

63. Ash – Free All Angels (2001)
I’ve mentioned before how they are now irrelevant. It’s as if they took the shitness that was ‘Candy’ in this otherwise punk joy, and made a braindead career on it. Dicks.
Listen to this: ‘Shining Light

62. Johnny Cash – American IV (2002)
One of his final hurrahs, and one of his most poignant touches. You’ll cry. Oh, you’ll cry. Like an X Factor contestant. Being kicked in the face. And realising they deserve it.
Listen to this: ‘In My Life’

61. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (2009)
I think this is how Pitchfork hear Animal Collective – all that noise and vibrance, though without the side effect of being unlistenable shit.
Listen to this: ‘Two Weeks

60. Dizzee Rascal – Boy In Da Corner (2003)
Funny on camera maybe, and probably a nice wee man, his music has turned a sour shade of complete fuck. Before Harris polluted his brain he was good though.
Listen to this: ‘Jus’ A Rascal’

59. Nick Cave And His Bad Seeds – Lyre of Orpheus/Abattoir Blues (2004)
A double album of heaven and hell, with both sounding just as great a place to hang out in. Still the coolest man in rock and roll.
Listen to this: ‘Breathless

58. Rufus – Want One (2003)
The best Wainwright of them all. And a cabaret pop star in full glam glory, all heartbreak and ecstacy. And fabulous. Natch.
Listen to this: ‘Oh What A World

57. Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
I bought this on cassette as I was weaning off 5ive and Boyzone and wondering where my music adventures should go. I’ve lost the cassette. I have not lost the love.
Listen to this: ‘The Way I Am

56. Wilco – A Ghost is Born (2004)
This was number three for Uncut. I can sort of see why – old school folk yet looking to a future, like CSNY or Dylan, and easy to drive a pick up to, or soundtrack a barbecue. That’s what Uncut readers want, isn’t it? And me too evidently to some extent. There’s a darker side though, offering something a little less plaid, but still nothing quite like Yankee… which will quite obviously be coming much later on.
Listen to this: ‘Hell is Chrome

55. Cat Power – The Greatest (2006)
My crush on Chan Marshall does not quite match my Jenny Lewis one. Still I’d back the Channers in a fight. Or a drink-off. Or a songwrite off. As she is great. And this is proof.
Listen to this: ‘The Moon

54. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000)
The one real Wu-Tang man to keep it up musically in the new millennium. And even if he’s not appearing in The Wire, he’s at least made a record as controlled and dedicated as this.
Listen to this: ‘Nutmeg

53. McLusky – McLusky Do Dallas (2002)
Ha ha ha ha! FUNNEH TITLE! They have sex like in that naughty film! Not really. It’d have an awesome soundtrack though. Sounds almost like a singles collection of 2 minute vitriol. Class.
Listen to this: ‘Alan Is A Cowboy Killer

52. The Delgados – Hate (2002)
My choice for best British act of the decade, and one of three superb albums released in that time (though only two make this list – apologies to Universal Audio) coming after the modern Scotch masterpiece The Great Eastern and almost living up too such heights. Not quite though. Still beautiful.
Listen to this: ‘Coming In From The Cold

51. MIA – Kala (2007)
Not managing to break the top 50, even if it did contain the fourth best song of the decade. Still a bright, dazzling mix of every genre going, bringing together Pixies, The Clash, bhangra, hip-hop and jungle and more in a fluorescent epic.
Listen to this: ‘20 Dollar


50 – 26
25 – 11
10 – 1


  1. […] 100 – 51 50 – 26 25 – 11 […]

    Pingback by Top 100 Albums of the Decade: 10 – 1 « Experimental Music Love — October 29, 2009 @ 2:53 am |Reply

  2. […] by Top 100 Albums of the Decade: 100 – 51 « Experimental Music Love — October 29, 2009 @ 2:58 am […]

    Pingback by Top 150 Albums of the Decade: 50 – 26 « Experimental Music Love — October 29, 2009 @ 3:00 am |Reply

  3. […] of the Decade: 25 – 11Tom Jones – 24 HoursPolly Scattergood – Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh 13/04/09Top 100 Albums of the Decade: 100 – 51Top 150 Songs of the Decade: 10 – 1Top 150 Songs of the Decade: 50 – […]

    Pingback by Top 100 Albums of the Decade: 25 – 11 « Experimental Music Love — October 29, 2009 @ 3:00 am |Reply

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