Best of the Decade – Music Edition (81-90) November 23, 2009Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
Tags: 2000s, Belle and Sebastian, decade, Gizzly Bear, Gnarls Barkley, Matisyahu, Modest Mouse, Okkervil River, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, the new pornographers, top 100, U2
Last week we began an ambitious expedition through the best music of the past decade and I posted the albums ranked 91-100. Today we will tackle the next ten, numbers 81-90. Let me know what you think.
90. U2 – No Line on the Horizon (2009)
I’ve long been a fan of U2, but have rarely found their complete albums to be great. Even their magnum opus, The Joshua Tree, is terribly front-loaded. No Line continues their tradition of good recordings, proving to be one of their better collections overall and definitely their best since 1991’s The Joshua Tree. Some of the songs, like “Magnificent” and “Moment of Surrender,” can stand up to anything in their legendary catalog.
89. Matisyahu – Youth (2006)
An orthodox Hasidic Jew doing reggae music? Why not, this is the 2000’s. Matisyahu mixes socially conscious lyrics with danceable rhythms to produce one of the more unusual and surprising releases of the decade. The title track, “Youth,” and “King Without a Crown” are two tunes that particularly show that he could be in for a long and fruitful career.
88. Pearl Jam – Riot Act (2002)
As I’ve mentioned on many occasions in the past, I’ve long been a rabid fan of Pearl Jam and this is probably my favorite of theirs from the intervening years between No Code and Backspacer. It has a varied sound that is more akin to Vitalogy than to any of their other works, while showing the maturity of a group of men closing in on 40. The album contains jabs at corporate America and President Bush, but I think my favorite tunes are probably “I am Mine,” “Thumbing my Way,” and “Love Boat Captain.” It’s definitely a must-have for PJ fans.
87. The New Pornographers – Challengers (2007)
TNG is an indie rock supergroup of sorts made up of AC Newman, Dan Bejar (aka Destoryer), and one of my personal favorites, Neko Case. The band makes interesting music together, but I personally wish they would utilize Case more often than they do. Regardless, this album has some great songs, including “Myriad Harbor” and the title track, “Challengers.”
86. Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit (2006)
Scottish band Belle & Sebastian have been carrying the indie pop banner for several years now and The Life Pursuit continues their streak of interesting and catchy music. Their sound is similar to the alternative bands of the 1980’s, such as The Smiths, just with a bit more sunshine from earlier mainstream pop. Check out songs like “The Blues Are Still Blue” and “Funny Little Frog” to get a better idea of what they are about.
85. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere (2006)
The combination of producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse and rapper Cee-Lo Green quickly proved itself to be a formidable one with their debut release, St. Elsewhere. Funky and soulful, with inescapably catchy songs like “Crazy,” the duo blew up in 2006 with this multi-platinum released and have continued to prove themselves with an innovative style that appeals to both critics and regular listeners.
84. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (2009)
Interesting and intelligent, the band Grizzly Bear is a critical darling of the decade for a reason. The have a real knack for bending genres, mixing electronic sounds with vocal harmonies a la Fleet Foxes and some very nice alterna-pop melodies. Catchy songs like “Two Weeks” and “While You Wait for the Others” will be stuck in your head for days. Though I had heard some of their last release, Yellow House, this was the first album of the band’s that I’ve listened to very often, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Grizzly Bear has in store for us in the future.
83. Radiohead – Hail to the Thief (2003)
Would it be considered a heresy for me to call Radiohead the Beatles of generation X? There is probably no other group who have changed music, who have camped out at the cutting edge and set themselves up as the standard-bearers of a generation, to the same extent as Thom Yorke’s band. While this politically charged album may not be among their best, it is still quite good and proves that even when not on top of their game, Radiohead is on another level than everyone else. Songs like “2+2=5” and “There There” are nearly on par with anything in their career.
82. Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004)
I had listened to some Modest Mouse prior to the release of this album, but for whatever reason, they never truly grabbed hold of me. It was not until the catchy and anthemic song “Float On” hit the airwaves that I went back, listened, and became a fan. This breakout album for the longtime indie stalwarts is definitely a must-own for someone interested in the music of the early 2000’s.
81. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins (2008)
This hyper-literate Austin band hit paydirt with this 2008 release and its ultra-catchy “Lost Coastlines.” Though this set of recordings is supposed to be a companion piece to their 2007 release, The Stage Names, I think I actually enjoy it more. Frontman Will Sheff likes to make strange and sometimes obscure references to everything from French playwright Antonin Artaud to a 1920’s German silent film to the Gospel of Thomas, and that’s only in one song (“Singer Songwriter”). How cool is that? Seriously, check this album out if you haven’t already.