Another 2000s music retrospective, this time focusing on some of my favorite albums. Not meant to be comprehensive, it’s more an accounting of albums I both enjoyed this decade and which have stood the (brief) test of time. There are plenty of other worthy albums from the decade that probably should be included, but these are my favorites.
While there is a clear winner, and probably a clear #2, these are presented in no particular order.
All That You Can’t Leave Behind – U2, 2000. One last great album from the Dublin lads before they slipped down the cliff to mediocrity.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco, 2001. Perhaps the most written-about album of the decade, and one that deserves credit for kick starting the mainstream acceptance of indie rock. Oh, and it established Wilco as America’s answer to Radiohead: a band that refused to allow themselves, or their fans, to get comfortable and consistently challenged expectations and boundaries.
The Rising – Bruce Springsteen, 2002. The most eloquent, thoughtful, and powerful summation of the defining event of the decade.
Boys and Girls in America – The Hold Steady, 2006. Every decade needs an album that kids – from angsty teens to 20-somethings struggling to find their place in the world – can identify with. In the 90s, it was Nevermind and Ten. I suggested that every American under 25 be issued a copy of this album, as it seemed perfect to fill that need for the 00s. Yet it’s an album for all ages, an updated take on the early Springsteen sound, bar bandy yet wonderfully literate. Also features the most quotable song of the decade, “Stuck Between Stations.”
The Midnight Organ Fight – Frightened Rabbit, 2008. My favorite album of the decade, and the only one that cracks my all-time top 10. A devastating and honest account of the emotions that overwhelm us when a relationship ends.
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood – Neko Case, 2006. Not quite country, not quite indie, Neko’s magnificent voice and story telling made this a genre-crossing classic.
Elephant – The White Stripes, 2003. Artist of the decade Jack White’s finest effort in the guise through which we first met him: with ex-wife Meg as the most powerful two-piece ever. Loud, dangerous, and fun.
Confessors of the Lonely – The Raconteurs, 2008. After much promise, this super-group delivered on their second album. Jack White’s rootsy blues layered perfectly with Brendan Benson’s power pop.
7 Worlds Collide – Neil Finn and Friends, 2002. Neil invited some of his favorite artists to New Zealand, where they rehearsed for a week, performed for a week, and then broke up their impromptu supergroup. A perfect coming-together of artists that have influenced the music I listen to.
Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam, 2006. The cliched “return to form” album. Shame it took W. and an unnecessary war to get the band so focused.
The Last Broadcast – Doves, 2002. These Mancunians had a fine decade, releasing four fantastic albums. This was their strongest, most complete work.
In Rainbows – Radiohead, 2007. Their Kid A is popping up in the top five on many Best Of lists. While I admired the direction they took with Kid, I appreciated In Rainbows much more. It felt like the perfect synthesis of their Bends-era rock with the experimental and electronic sounds they had been working with since 2000. Its pay what you want digital model also serves as yet another turning point in how bands distribute and fans collect music.
Funeral – The Arcade Fire, 2004. Perhaps the most-hyped band of the decade, they redefined epic, anthem rock.
Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie, 2004. A seminal indie rock album, it is gorgeous and perfect. From the sweeping ballads to the power pop tracks, everything works.