Best of the Decade – Music Edition (61-70) December 8, 2009Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
Tags: 2000s, Andrew Bird, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Eddie Vedder, Jay-Z, josh ritter, Michael McDermott, music, Sinead O'Connor, The Avett Brothers, top 100, Vampire Weekend
70. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha (2007)
Armed with a college degree in violin performance and proficiencies in a number of instruments, Andrew Bird created this gem of an album from 2007. Bird has great pop sensibilities and an even more impressive vocabulary, one that will keep you searching through the nearest dictionary. The song, “Imitosis” has one of my favorite lines – “What was mistaken for closeness / Is just a case of mitosis.” In addition to that, check out the excellent song “Plasticities.”
69. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You (2009)
The Avetts made a name for themselves on the indie circuit with their energetic live shows and a unique neo-bluegrass-alt rock fusion sound. For their latest release, however, the brothers reign in the banjo a bit, opting instead to focus on piano-driven ballads. In so doing, they created one of the most beautifully crafted albums of the decade. Check out tunes like “January Wedding” and “Tin Man” to get a feel for the band’s sound and then grab the whole album. It is truly great.
68. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008)
The Ivy League-educated guys in VW must have been raised with a copy of Regatta De Blanc close at hand, for the influence of The Police permeates throughout this excellent debut album. Their sound is light and poppy, mixing Afro-beats and alternative rock in a altogether fun conglomeration. I greatly anticipate their sophomore release, scheduled to come out 2010. For now, though, check out “Mansard Roof” and “A-Punk” to get a feel for the band.
67. Sinead O’Connor – Theology (2007)
It is no secret that I heap tons of disdain upon the contemporary Christian music industry, but that does not equate to an outright abhorrence of all things both musical and Christian. This double album, one which you will probably never hear of on K-Love, is the perfect example of one that is definitely in that vein that I absolutely love. The release consists of two discs, both of which contain most of the same songs but with differing presentations. One of the discs employs a full band, but my personal favorite is the other one which, for the most part, consists of only her and an acoustic guitar. Songs like “Something Beautiful” and “Out of the Depths” are incredibly beautiful and heartfelt.
66. Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)
Bold, brash, and inventive, Jay-Z separated himself from most of the rap world over the course of the late 90’s-early 00’s as the best around. Utilizing samples from artists as diverse as Madonna, Mountain, and Run DMC, mixed with his own prodigious skills, this release is really a great work in a community not always known for producing good albums. “99 Problems” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” are killer, hard-hitting tunes.
65. Coldplay – Parachutes (2000)
Say what you want about Chris Martin’s ultra-popular band – that they are conventional or guilty of plagiarizing – but, regardless of that, they have had quite a run in the first decade of the new millennium. This, their debut album, vaulted them atop the music world back in 2000, largely on the back of “Yellow,” (which, in my opinion, is one of the least interesting cuts on the album) their lead single in America. Check out the songs “Don’t Panic” and “Spies” instead for better representations of the release.
64. Bruce Springsteen – The Rising (2002)
Written in response to the attacks of 9/11, the album is brimming with both sadness and hope in a way that only Springsteen, America’s everyman hero, could do. For this grand return The Boss reassembled the E Street Band for the first time in 18 years and was soon on top of the world again. This is probably my least favorite of his three E Street Band releases from the decade, but it is still very, very good and deserves a spot in the top 100. The release is full of great songs, but my favorites are probably “Lonesome Day,” “The Rising,” and the poignant “My City of Ruins.”
63. Michael McDermott – Noise From Words (2007)
My friend Scott introduced me to singer-songwriter Michael McDermott with the release of this album and I quickly became a fan. “Still Ain’t Over You Yet” is an excellent piece of sad, lovelorn Americana and “I Shall Be Healed” is a spiritual tour-de-force that should be heard by everybody.
62. Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (2007)
Over the course of the past decade, I’ve become more and more convinced that Josh Ritter is the best songwriter of my generation. In a truly just world he would be our Springsteen or Dylan, but, as things currently stand, he still resides just below the radar playing small venues like the one I caught him at last year in Little Rock. This release diverged a bit from his prior albums, which were mostly acoustic folk rock pieces, but it is no less interesting. I’ve listened to it over and over again and have yet to tire of the entire work, but my favorite songs are probably “The Temptation of Adam” and the Dylanesque “To the Dogs or Whoever.”
61. Eddie Vedder – Into the Wild (2007)
What do you get when you combine one my favorite writers (Jon Krakauer), a tragic story of self-discovery, and the vocalist for one of my favorite bands of all time? Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame lends his voice and a mountain of heartfelt understanding to this soundtrack to the tale of Chris McCandless. The music itself is stark and lonely, yet hopeful and idealistic, much like the protagonist of the book and film. I love the song “Guaranteed” and its message of avoiding a life of quiet desperation, something that I strive to do in my own existence. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see Eddie Vedder solo and found it to be quite touching when he talked of writing the song “No Ceiling” for his kids. You need this album.