Radiohead and Michael Penn would have found their way onto my top albums of the 90′s, but the rest of this list is brand new to me this decade; a good sign.
21. Late Registration (2005) – Kanye West – People are going to forget Kanye due to his tabloid craziness and his VMA “Ima let you finish” rant – but no one produced as consistently great music as Kanye did. I don’t generally like entire rap albums – a lot of them tend to be 2 or 3 good songs and a lot of filler. Even the skits on this album work for me.
22. Picaresque (2005) – The Decemberists – Following in the footsteps of Neutral Milk Hotel, this is a geek band with lush production, varied instrumentation, and great lyrics.
23. Kid A (2000) – Radiohead â€“ After O.K. Computer, Radiohead went in a totally different direction. This is what great bands do. More electronic in sound, it almost eschews guitars. As great as O.K. Computer is (my all-time favorite album), Kid A and Amnesiac are the two albums that cement Radiohead as a great concert act.
24. Post-War (2006) – M. Ward – Who knew? Quietly M. Ward has become a songwriter’s songwriter. His songs seem older than they are – almost whimsical. Not country; not folk; not pop – a little bit of everything.
25. 12 Memories (2003) – Travis – This is Travis’ response to 9/11 and near personal tragedy. It works in a different way than their other albums. It’s still poppy – but it just seems better than Coldplay generally is.
26. Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 (2007) – Michael Penn – There’s never any wasted space in a Michael Penn album. Power-pop brilliance from one of the masters of the form.
27. Asking for Flowers (2008) – Kathleen Edwards – I’ll say more about Edwards when we get to the top 10 (that would be foreshadowing). She is simply one of the best singers songwriters around.
28. Illinoise (2005) – Sufjan Stevens – This is an epic album with brilliant songs. Nothing else sounds like it – except for another Sufjan Stevens album.
29. Sam’s Town (2006) – The Killers – This album keeps moving up the list. Not their most popular – likely because it’s a concept album that rejected the overtly pop sound of their debut album. Rewards repeat listening, seriously – this album started in 60′s on this list. I’m not sure it shouldn’t be higher.
30. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) – Spoon – They never set the world on fire for me, but they are the most consistently very good band out there. Very catchy songs that doesn’t sound like everyone else.
71. Fantasies (2009) – Metric
72. Vampire Weekend (2008) – Vampire Weekend
73. The Boy With No Name (2007) – Travis
74. The Ecstatic (2009) – Mos Def
75. Show Your Bones (2006) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
76. Come to Where I’m From (2000) – Joseph Arthur
77. Accelerate (2008) – R.E.M.
78. 19 (2008) – Adele
79. Writer’s Block (2007) – Peter Bjorn and John
80. Learn to Sing Like a Star (2007) – Kristin Hersh
comments: The first two of any 2009 albums appear here. It’s hard to judge whether or not Fantasies or The Estatic have staying power, but I can’t stop playing either and both will be at the top of my year end list. Accelerate was a return to form for R.E.M. And 19 was worthy of Adele’s Grammy
Here’s my top 18 albums from 2007. Why 18? Well I keep listing albums until I feel there are no more that deserve to be mentioned. I’d love to hear your comments – and if you have your own list, put it in the comments section and I’ll keep a running list of best of 2007 around the blogosphere. For the most part links will link you to iTunes (except for Jay-z and Radiohead).
Spoon – Ga ga ga ga ga – For some reason this album got middling reviews. For me every time I heard a song from it I couldn’t believe how good it was. Easily the most accessible of their releases.
My Favorites: Don’t Make Me a Target, The Underdog
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha- This album is truly amazing. I’ve described it as a more tuneful Sufjan Stevens album. And it holds together better than a Stevens piece.
My Favorites: Fiery Crash, Darkmatter
Radiohead – In Rainbows – This album will be remembered for the unique, name your own price, distribution method. It should be remembered as classic Radiohead.
My Favorites: Bodysnatchers, Falling into Place
Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block – I couldn’t get the whistling song (Young Folks) out of my head all summer – which was like torture since I can’t whistle. Get past that and this some kick ass jangle rock.
My Favorites: Objects of My Affection, Young Folks
The Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder – I waited to get this because it’s a double album and took a lot of my eMusic downloads. Stupid. Some people won’t like it because of it’s experimental takes, but it includes a ton of great songs.
Mark Ronson – Version- All I have to say is Ol’ Dirty Bastard redoing Britney Spears’ Toxic. Just one of an album full of great covers – done so differently you forget the original.
My Favorites: Toxic, Oh My God
Feist – The Reminder – Thanks to Apple’s ubiquitous nano ad I bought this album. 1234 is the catchiest song of the year – but the rest of the album holds its own.
My favorites: 1234, I Feel it All
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black – Listening to this album, you should have been able to see the train wreck coming. That doesn’t make this into a novelty act – Winehouse (and producer Mark Ronson) update the 60′s girl sound – without making it trivial.
My favorites: Back to Black, Love is a Losing game
My favorites: Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe, John Allyn Smith Sails
John Doe – A Year In the Wilderness – John Doe does what I would want to as a singer/songwriter – work with unique voices such as Kristen Hersh or Kathleen Edwards. His song The Golden State (with Edwards) is one of the best examples of songwriting I’ve heard this year.
Crowded House – Time on Earth – I didn’t expect to like this album as much as I did. It’s been 14 years since their last release and this sounds like an older Crowded House – but I’m an older me, so it works.
Trances Arc – XOXOX – I have a sneaking suspicion this album will keep rising and rising the more I listen to it. I didn’t get it until recently and it’s already made an impression as one of the best pop rock releases this year.
My favorites: Peace of Mind, New Style
Mark Olson – The Salvation Blues- The former Jayhawks lead singer sounds like he hasn’t skipped a beat. This could have followed up Tomorrow the Green Grass. Some might call that nostalgic; I’ll call it timeless.
My favorites: Clifton Bridge, Tears from Above
Here’s an iTunes iMix of My Favorites songs from the albums above