Top Albums of Decade (2000-2009): 31-40

best-of-2000s-31-40

These ten albums are tinged with covers, 9/11, and Radiohead. Obviously 9/11 left an indelible mark on the music of the decade.  The Dixies Chicks Taking the Long Way and Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief don’t exist without 9/11. Ryan Adams’ Gold becomes more noteworthy because he films a video for the first single across the river from the Twin Towers 4 days prior to the attacks. Radiohead is all through these 10 – with 2 of their albums, a Radiohead tribute, and one album that features a Radiohead  cover.  Enjoy and comment.

31. Version (2007)Mark Ronson -Ronson is more known for his work producing Lili Allen and Amy Winehouse, but I think he saved his best work for his own album. He produces other artists doing covers of famous songs. All of the covers are done way differently than the original – which should be the point of recording a cover. Check out Ol’ Dirty Bastard on the cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. Radiohead’s “Just” may be better than the original.
32. Taking the Long Way (2006) – Dixie Chicks – The outrage over the Dixie Chicks’ comments about George Bush lead them to make a less country album. It works on so many levels. They worked with songwriters such as Dan Wilson of Semisonic and Neil Finn.
33. Radiodread (2006) – Easy Star All-stars – Second cover album in this 10. It’s a tribute to how great the songs of Radiohead are that they work as reggae. Of course focusing on one of the greatest albums of all-time (OK Computer) helps.
34. Amnesiac (2001) – Radiohead – Hard to separate this from Kid A but over the years I’ve realized Kid A was the strongest of the two albums released within months of each other.
35. From a Basement on the Hill (2004) – Elliott Smith – It makes me sad that there is no more Elliott Smith. This is the album he was working on when he died. Unlike the album that was released after Jeff Buckley’s death – this works as a real album.
36. Stephen Malkmus (2001) – Stephen Malkmus – Malkmus is one of the best songwriters no one considers. This is a more accessible album than his work with Pavement.
37. The Hour of the Bewilderbeast (2000) – Badly Drawn Boy – Funky and folky at the same time.
38. For Emma, Forever Ago (2008) – Bon Iver – Somber and beautiful album. Owes as much to Radiohead as he does to Elliot Smith. “Flume” and “Skinny Love” are insanely gorgeous songs.
39. Gold (2001) – Ryan Adams – This album became a part of the immediate post 9/11 landscape partly due to his video for “New York, New York” filmed 4 days before the attacks across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center. No fluke though – this is a great album and cemented Ryan Adams as one of this generations great singer/songwriters.
40. Radiohead – Hail to the Thief (2003) – 2003 was safe enough a distance from 9/11 to start lobbing criticisms to the establishment. Radiohead will never be accused of being afraid to take risks. This is their first album post OK Computer that didn’t sound so experimental. Much more accessible than Kid A and Amnesiac.

The running list can be found here:  Top 100 Albums: 2000-2009

Grammy Vindication for the Dixie Chicks

It seems like such a short time ago when those of us who have been criticizing the Bush Administration were at best lonely, but at worse, branded as traitors in a time when our country needed everyone to blindly follow the President over the ledge. Last night at the Grammys I was reminded how much company we have these days.

It was March 10,2003 when Natalie Maines said: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” The resulting firestorm of criticism included the Chicks being branded traitors, for radio stations to ban their records, and for them to have a target branded to their collective forehead. Their CD sales plummeted. Concert appearances were postponed or canceled outright. And those that would choose to criticize a President, whether it was deserved or not, found out what could happen when zealots turn the tide against you.

What a difference a few years can make.

On May 23, 2006 the Dixie Chicks’ next CD Taking The Long Way was released to a drastically different situation than that of 2003. Because of the political deadly combo of scandal, corruption and Iraq the Republicans were well on their way to losing the Senate anddchicks.jpg the House. The search for the weapons of mass destruction, had long been abandoned under the acknowledgment that they would likely never be fan, and probably never even existed.

Now everyone is a Bush critic. Complaining, protesting and criticizing is only dangerous if you get trampled in the crowd of people that are rushing to do the same.

But those of us who have been complaining since the Shrub stole an election in November 2000, and have not let up since, had to smile Sunday night when Don Henley pumped his fist and then announced that the Dixie Chicks had won the Record of the Year. Yes it’s only the Grammys, but it wouldn’t have happened 3 years ago. To see these 3 women have their moment in the sun so publicly served as sweet, sweet vindication. A huge, flying “Fuck you” to those that abandoned them and criticized them just a short while ago.

People have forgotten they ever voted for Bush much less criticize his opponents. They were against the administration the entire time. But we know better. One would hope that this entire situation would serve as some sort of lesson. But it won’t. The next time will be just like this time, but vindication probably won’t come so quickly. It will probably be like it was for those blacklisted in the fifties – with vindication coming after they had passed.

But for this time, for all of us that were steadfast, I have this to say:

We told you so.