01
Dec
09

My Ten Best of the 00s – Jenn Reid

It’s hard to believe (and scary to think) that this decade is almost over. Seems like just yesterday it was Y2K fever and N SYNC albums, but the times they have a-changed. Not going to lie, this hasn’t been the best decade for music. We’ve suffered at the hands of everyone from Nickelback to Good Charlotte to Evanescence, not to mention the dime a dozen one hit wonder pop groups. As a twenty something, I’m fully aware of the garbage from this decade – hell, I LISTENED to most of it.

But that doesn’t mean everything has been a write-off. I mean, the 2000’s also gave us Kanye, Jack White, The Arcade Fire and that pretty much cancels out the bad. Except Nickelback. I don’t anything will erase that blemish on history. But I digress! Here are my top ten albums of the double-zeros.

In order of release!

Is This It – The Strokes (2001)
Remember when the 2000’s kicked off, and there were about a million garage-rock revival bands? Well this is the reason behind it. This is not only one of the best records of the decade, both critically and according to me, but it’s also got a place in my heart nostalgically as it’s the first time I discovered I was cooler than my friends. (Joking – kind of). It was my early high school days, I had heard Last Nite on the radio, read about the group in Rolling Stone and hung up pictures of the drummer Fabrizio in my locker, only to have all my friends make fun of me for liking ‘stupid bands’ with ‘ugly guys named Febreeze’ instead of liking Limp Bizkit. Needless to say, I no longer speak with these people, and “who do you like better, The Strokes or Limp Bizkit” is a mandatory screening question on all new friendship endeavours.

Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil Keep Your Ear To The Ground – Bright Eyes (2002)
And you thought unnecessarily long titles were a Fall Out Boy invention. Anyway, whenever I want to feel bad about my life, I remember that Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes personified) was my age now (22) when this album came out. It’s not his debut album. By this point, he’d already released several EP’s, one full length and had music reviewers falling over each other to be the first to call him the “indie Bob Dylan”. 22. At 22, he could write songs like I Don’t Know When But A Day Is Gonna Come, or You Will. You?Will. You? Will?, or Nothing Gets Crossed Out, or Waste of Paint. These fucking songs that are light and dark all at once, with beauty and pain and love and heartache that you feel in your chest. At 22, he was a far better writer than many artists twice that age or more could ever hope to be. At 22, he wrote my favourite beautifully (and uncharacteristically) uplifting song, Bowl of Oranges.

“I came across a doctor/who appeared in quite poor health/I said there’s nothing I can do for you/you can’t do for yourself/He said why yes you can/just hold my hand/I think that would help/so I sat with him a while/then I asked him how he felt/He said I think I’m cured/in fact I’m sure of it/thank you stranger/for your therapeutic smile”.

At 22, I just watch a lot of movies and update my Facebook too much. Thanks for the shot to the self-esteem, Conor.

Elephant – The White Stripes (2003)
Although this was the band’s fourth album, it was their first major studio release and got the most attention (even Grammy wining!) And unlike most bands, this isn’t a case where you can scoff and go “I prefer their earlier work” or “they were better when they were on an indie label” because Elephant blows their old stuff out of the water. The songs alone are fantastic, but the music videos? Oh man the fucking videos!  Seemingly continuous mirrored shots, or stop motion animation like those old segments on Sesame Street (with a bonus Beck cameo!)? It’s just another way Jack White shows his creative brilliance (also see: The Dead Weather, and to a lesser extent, The Raconteurs).

FUN FACT! Critics fucking loved this album so hard the only negative review you will ever read just bashes Jack and Meg for their marriage/fake sibling weirdness. Seriously. The only bad thing that can be said about this record (and probably this band in general) is “hey wasn’t that brother/sister thing kind of messed up?”

Franz Ferdinand (2004)
Holy mother of fuck, Take Me Out has one of the best intros of all time. The rest of the song is spot on too, but that intro? Even after hearing it a million times and playing the hell out of it on Guitar Hero I still can’t help but rock out when I hear it. And that’s just one song. This whole album is incredible. It’s upbeat, fun and danceable, but still undeniablely Brit-rock cool. The biggest flaw with this album is the length – only 40 minutes long! It’s over quicker than it takes Alex Kapranos to practice looking effortlessly cool in the mirror! (That’s a lie, his cool really is effortless).

Rilo Kiley – More Adventurous (2004)
If you know me, you know that my love of Jenny Lewis is an intense one. This band has been a favourite of mine for years, and this album is hands down their best. I love it from start to finish. I love Portions For Foxes for being upbeat and sassy and sexual, I love Love & War for being more rock and having great guitar, I love A Man/Me/Then Jim for breaking my damn heart and I love the title track for being beautiful and honest. This is, in my less than humble opinion, a perfect album. I have listened to it in heavy rotation since its release and not once have I gotten sick of it.

FUN FACT! Jenny Lewis reportedly recorded I Never naked and alone in the studio with Blake Sennet. Well then.

Plans – Death Cab For Cutie (2005)
Ben Gibbard is a musical genius. Fact. Everything he does solo, within Death Cab or with The Postal Service is just amazing. His lyrics can be uplifting, cutting, whimsical, romantic and broken all within the span of three songs. When it comes to music, I’m a lyrics girl first and foremost (it comes from being a writer). I can appreciate guitar solos, I can tell when a song is rocking or not, but I can’t truly love something unless the words impress me, and lyrically, Plans is fucking impressive.
I Will Follow You Into The Dark is beautiful and romantic. Brothers on a Hotel Bed is beautiful and depressing. Someday You Will Be Loved is beautiful and… do you get the picture? This is a gorgeous album. If you listen to it and don’t feel something stir in your heart at least once, well, you’re clearly some kind of sea-dwelling beast incapable of human emotion or something. And in that case, why are you reading a blog Cloverfield monster, aren’t there some people that need eating?

FUN FACT! Crooked Teeth is my jam. You know how people will hear like, pumping club anthems and be like “oooooohhh yeahhhh that’s my song!” That’s me and Crooked Teeth.

Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens (2005)
For those of you that don’t know, Sufjan Stevens is brilliant. Illinoise, or Illinois, whatever you want to call it, is his second album in what is supposed to be a series of 50 with songs that references people and places within a state. (The first was Michigan, but this one’s better).  Everyone from John Wayne Gacy to Helen Keller to even Superman somehow get a shout out, in songs with titles like “They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbours!! They Have Come back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!” and “A Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, but for Very Good Reasons”.
Some of the songs are elaborate, orchestral pieces, others are stripped down and bare, but no matter what Stevens does, it seems to illuminate the story behind the song perfectly. And that’s what this record is, a collection of weird and real stories, from serial killers to bone cancer to Bible camp. I’m still waiting for the next state-themed album. Come on Sufjan, what are you waiting for! New Jersey: The Record or An Ode To Rhode Island are sure to be instant successes!

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me – Brand New (2006)
It took me about half an hour to pick what Brand New album I wanted to put on this list. Your Favourite Weapon is everything that pop-punk/emo should be. Deja Entendu was a mind-blowing leap forward for the band. And their newest release Daisy (although I haven’t listened to it much yet) is probably going to be in my favourites of the year. If only this was a list of the top bands, and I could just sing praises to every Brand New album out there! But alas, instead of telling you that they are one of the best bands making music today, I guess I’ll just tell you that TDAGARIM is a masterpiece. Every online review compares it to Radiohead, and I’m pretty sure there’s no better compliment for an alternative rock band. Every song on the album is great, but You Won’t Know is incredible. I could listen to this song all day every day (and I’m pretty sure I have).  Do yourself a favour and listen to it ASAP.

Alright, Still – Lily Allen (2006)
It’s time for me to take a small intermission from taking myself to seriously to write about pop music. That’s right, pop music. It exists. It is often all over the radio and the TV, taking attention away from our precious indie bands like Fleet Foxes and Girl Talk. But you know what? Sometimes, just sometimes, pop music is awesome. And deserves just as much airplay and recognition as Pitchfork’s top five. Lily Allen is just one example. Alright, Still is upbeat and catchy and tongue in cheek and bitchy all rolled into one – and is still somehow well written and more clever than most give it credit for. Sure she got famous through Myspace and sings about ex-boyfriend’s tiny dicks, but wouldn’t you if you had the chance?

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Phoenix (2009)
You’ll notice that the majority of this list comes from the first half of the decade, and with good reason. Although amazing albums have come out more recently, it’s always hard to tell so soon how much of a lasting impact they’ll have. I mean, the test of time is what separates the men from the boys, so to speak. So I’ve opted to not embarrass myself by listing something as the best of the decade, when by this time next year it’ll have been a flash in the pan and I’ll be groaning “ughhhh why do I have such bad taste?” Except for this album, of course. I don’t know if Phoenix will go completely downhill from here, or if this album will have any kind of lasting impact at all. But I do know that it is fun, upbeat indie-pop-rock, and my favourite album of the year. I think that’s good enough to get it on the list.

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