Best of the Decade – Music Edition (11-20) January 26, 2010Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
Tags: 2000s, Amy Winehouse, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, drive-by truckers, music, My Morning Jacket, neko case, The Flaming Lips, The Hold Steady, The Strokes, The White Stripes, Top 100 of the Decade
We’ve almost completed are look back at the top 100 music releases of the past decade and today we will pick up with those ranked 11-20, leaving only the top ten for later.. In case you missed the previous entries, you can access them through the following links:
20. My Morning Jacket – Z (2005)
With Z, Jim James’ band reached a pinnacle of artistry to which many aspire, but few succeed. This time MMJ uses plentiful synthesizers and their normal southern fried brand of trippy rock, to create a bona fide masterpiece. The band channels the spirit of Neil Young in a haze of smoke and bourbon (I mean, they are from Kentucky) to near perfection. Check out songs like “Gideon” and “Lay Low” for just a taste and then listen to the whole thing.
19. Bob Dylan – Modern Times (2006)
Dylan’s remarkable career renaissance over the past decade probably reached its pinnacle with this great work (though a case could certainly be made for Love & Theft as well). Well into his 60’s, Dylan came out firing on this album and no doubt taught some of those young people dominating the charts a thing or two about respecting their elders. He rocks on songs like “Thunder on the Mountain,” croons on “Spirit on the Water,” and makes a timely political statement with “Workingman’s Blues #2,” all the while channeling his inner bluesman, jazzman and folk-rock star. It’s truly an amazing piece of work.
18. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (2008)
The “best bar band in America” may have first hit their stride with 2006’s “Boys and Girls in America,” but this is the release that propelled them to the forefront for me. I ranked this as the top album of 2008 for a reason – it is great. The line, “Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer. / I think he might have been our only decent teacher,” is perhaps the most descriptive way to describe their work, which, in my mind, sound like a young Springsteen fronting the Clash. Process that for a moment and you’ll realize just how awesome they are. Listen to “Constructive Summer,” “Sequestered in Memphis,” and the beautiful downer, “Lord, I’m Discouraged.” You won’t be disappointed.
17. The Strokes – Is This It (2001)
Is This It set the world on fire back in 2001, bringing about a sort of garage rock revival that helped form the state of music for the rest of the decade. It’s groovy and danceable and as much fun as your going to have with any release on this list. They have earned their place in the modern canon of greats. Just listen to “Soma,” “Barely Legal,” and “Someday,” and you’ll agree.
16. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
A lush and strange album revolving around a nebulous and no doubt metaphorical story of a young girl named Yoshimi, who happens to be a black belt in karate, that fights off an invasion of pink robots. This is proof positive that hallucinogens can make for some great music. Yoshimi is a mind-blowing work that must be listened to carefully and probably at high volumes to truly grasp and let it carry you away. Check out “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1” and “Do You Realize??.”
15. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (2006)
Amy Winehouse is the neighborhood bad girl, the one that every guy wants to take out, but none of them want to take home to meet their mother. She’s brash and vulgar and soulful like no white girl from Britain should be. In case you ever wonder what the big deal is about her, just put on this album and you will understand. I sometimes think of her as the anti-Norah Jones, the kind of artist you will never hear on an elevator. From the somewhat prophetic, “Rehab,” to “You Know that I’m No Good,” to “Back to Black,” this release shines and stands apart from all others.
14. Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream (2009)
Let us all hope that The Boss never slows down. The guy is 60 years old and still on top of the world as one of the most beloved artists to ever grace the stage. I saw him earlier this year while on tour for this album and let me tell you, the guy still brings it like no other. The album is superb and, along with the preceding release Magic, the best works he’s done since Born in the USA. This optimistic album kicks off with the incredible 8 minute epic “Outlaw Pete” and never lets up. The songs, “Queen of the Supermarket” and “Kingdom of Days” are also must-haves, but truly there is not one bad song on the whole album.
13. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)
This album marks the moment that I first fell in love Neko Case’s soaring, beautiful voice and when I first downloaded this back in 2006 I rarely went a day without listening to it. I tend to think of her work as having a southern gothic sort of sound, as if there is always something dark and sinister lurking beneath the surface of her powerful and aching vocals. Among my favorite tracks on the album are “Star Witness,” “Hold On, Hold On,” and “That Teenage Feeling,” but the entire thing is excellent.
12. Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera (2001)
Nobody probes the dark side of Southern life like DBT and nowhere do they do it better than on this sprawling double album. Though it may be true that there is some filler contained in its 94 minutes, when the Truckers are on, they are among the best. This throwback to decades before is not only a double album, but also a concept album that tells parallel stories of the rise and demise of Lynyrd Sknynyrd and of growing up in the 1970’s South. Frontman Patterson Hood sings of “the duality of the Southern Thing,” both rejoicing in his love for the land below the Mason Dixon and recognizing its many faults and the evils perpetuated there. You need really need to hear “Zip City,” “The Southern Thing,” and “Let There be Rock,” then grab the entire work.
11. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001)
Jack and Meg White constitute what may be the greatest music act of the entire decade, something that is certainly apparent on this 2001 release. This amalgamation of blues, country, and a do-it-yourself punk-garage rock attitude blasted the duo into the stratosphere and put Jack on a well-deserved guitar god pedestal. Check out “Fell in Love with a Girl,” “Hotel Yorba,” and “Offend in Every Way,” and turn it up to an ear-splitting volume.