Best Albums of the Oughties?
I can't believe it, but we're about to put a bow on the 2000's. And when a decade ends, it's time to make up silly lists. Like this one.
My Fave Albums of the 00's (all of which, by the way, are represented in the media player above):
PRML SCRM Xtrmntr (2000)
A searing, exhilarating blast of white-hot electronic noise and seething lyrical venom from the reinvented Scream. Still inspiring today.
NELLIE McKAY Get Away From Me (2004)
Stunning tour-de-force (a double CD debut album, no less) from the frighteningly talented McKay, who shows prodigious musical chops and fantastic wit.
HOT HOT HEAT Make Up the Breakdown (2003)
File this under "perfect albums". Fresh, inspired songwriting, flawless execution, brisk pacing. Not a dull moment to be found.
EMINEM The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Eminem explodes on his second album. The genius is positively blinding.
JUSTICE Cross (2007)
French duo inherit Daft Punk's mantle, thanks to a head-spinning debut album filled with innovation, style, and F-U-N.
MOKE Carnival (2001)
Speaking of justice, if there were a shred of it in the world, you would know this English quartet who, in 2001, quietly put out a masterpiece -- and nobody even showed up for the event. Impossible to categorize, Moke's gut-level rock riffs and muscular grooves punch your speaker cones out while immaculately textured soundscapes provide a magic carpet for singer John Hogg's honeyed, world-weary blues. You can find this album for pocket change -- go get a copy.
KRISTEENYOUNG Orphans (2006)
If David Bowie guests on your album, you're probably good. And KY is way better than good -- she's kinda scary good, brandishing her piano like a hot guitar and conjuring Kate Bush with bracing vocal dramatics.
DRESDEN DOLLS Yes, Virginia... (2006)
One of the best and most original bands of the 00's. Amanda Palmer's got it all -- smarts, attitude, skills and style.
M.I.A. Kala (2007)
In an age of sound-alike celebu-tarts, M.I.A. comes along and puts the Ga Gas, the Perrys and the Lavignes into perspective. Full of personality, verve and charisma, MIA is a pop star for the ages.
GRAND NATIONAL Kicking the National Habit (2006)
I could easily put GN's second album in here, too -- both of this English duo's full-length platters are jam-packed with world-class English pop songwriting and constitute my favorite musical discovery of the last year or two.
ANNIE Anniemal (2004)
Bubblegum dance pop at its most transcendent. Please make another album, Annie.
RICHARD X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1 (2003)
Mr. X would factor heavily in the brilliance of the above-mentioned Anniemal record, as well as Roisin Murphy's superb Overpowered (more on her later). On this, his "solo" record, he flexes his formidable production muscles with a host of guest vocalists like Kelis, Jarvis Cocker and Annie herself. Completely irresistible.
TV ON THE RADIO Return to Cookie Mountain (2005)
If there's any common thread to all these artists, it's individuality, of which Brooklynites TVOTR have in spades. Know how I know? It's almost impossible to describe their sound, which reaches terrifying heights of sonic menace and beauty on this, their second LP. Again, if Bowie sings on your record, you ain't no slouch...
KUDU Death of the Party (2006)
Darkly alluring electronic dance-pop ("tropical goth" is one clever description I've heard) from a Brooklyn-based chanteuse and her wildly talented drummer. I love love LOVE this record.
LADYTRON Witching Hour (2005)
Their first two albums were ace, but the third one was really the charm. Haunting and dark, with unforgettable highlights like "Destroy Everything You Touch" and "Last One Standing". The whole album shows what distinctive stylists these Liverpudlians have become.
THE KNIFE Silent Shout (2006)
Creepy, atmospheric, uncompromising electronic masterpiece by strange Scandanavian duo who usually appear in masks.
ELEVEN Howling Book (2003)
One of the best bands you've never heard (although you've probably heard their work -- with Chris Cornell, Queens of the Stone Age, Dug Pinnick). Check out the self-titled album and all subsequent releases by this uncommonly gifted trio who sadly lost their irreplaceable vocalist and keyboard virtuoso Natasha Schneider to cancer last year. R.I.P.
THE FAINT Danse Macabre (2001)
This album proved why The Faint would become standard bearers in the darkwave sweepstakes of the new millenium; the band's edgy agenda is irresistible. Synths, bracing beats, sex and paranoia, all in an ultra dancefloor-friendly package.
YOHIMBE BROTHERS The Tao of Yo (2004)
The musical partnership of Vernon Reid and DJ Logic yeilds colorful and vastly entertaining results on the duo's second album. Hip hop, cut 'n' paste electronica, hard rock, spaghetti western drum n' bass, weird metallic jazz, reggae and plenty of other stuff gets thrown into the blender, while guests like Traz, Latasha Nevada Diggs, Taylor McFerrin add Bush-era political raps and cultural observations to the mix.
THE FUTUREHEADS News and Tributes (2006)
The ambitious Brits come roaring out of the gate with much to prove on their second album, and by the time it's over, you know they've beaten the pants off of Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and the rest of the guitar-weilding headline gobblers from the UK. Musicality, velocity, intelligence and pathos.
CHAD VANGAALEN Skelliconnection (2006)
One of the most inscrutable artists I've heard in a long while, this Canadian one-man band exploits indie electronica, creepy folk and barn-burning rock and ends up with something utterly unique.
MUSE Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
Muse's Wagnerian fusion of Depeche Mode and Queen is really quite unlike anything else I've heard. Epic, multi-textured and extremely well-played. I am a fan.
!!! Louden Up Now (2004)
Wanna know what "dance-punk" is? Listen to this, the ferocious Brooklyn collective's second album -- hard-edged, incredibly funky, uncompromising and whip-smart. Fantastic live band, too.
MADONNA Confessions on a Dancefloor (2005)
You know Madonna was confident about this release -- she played the whole thing on her subsequent tour. Some of the lyrics are cringe-worthy but the production is top-notch and Madonna sounds inspired. Play the whole thing in one piece, like she wants you to.
SELF Gizmodgery (2000)
Don't buy this just because it was made entirely with toy instruments -- buy it because it is the best assemblage of virtuoso quirk-pop gems Matt Mahaffey's ever committed to disc. Don't miss the brilliant cover of "What a Fool Believes".
DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 You're a Woman, I'm a Machine (2004)
How do two guys make such a huge, wonderful racket? It's a wonder to behold. And a rare example of "punk rock" going somewhere new -- let the spirit continue, even as DFA79 themselves have broken up.
SIOUXSIE Mantaray (2007)
One of the most exciting and unexpected comebacks in recent memory, Mantaray finds the ice goddess of punk more inspired and committed than she'd been on the last umpteen Banshees records. And she looks unbelievable at 50. All hail.
IMA ROBOT self-titled (2003)
Canny LA-based group channels Bowie, punk, glam pop and new wave with charm and skill. What a fun record. Just stay away from the crass follow-up.
KING'S X Ogre Tones (2005)
The tireless Texas hard rock trio have never made a bad album (in 20 years!!) but this is the liveliest thing they'd done in a decade, easily. Their fortitude and stamina humble me.
CURSIVE Happy Hollow (2006)
Saddle Creek indie champs craft a brilliant concept album with loud guitars, erudite lyrics and a horn section. Grabs you by the lapels and doesn't let go.
BASEMENT JAXX Rooty (2001)
Virtuosic dance music producers break down the door with guns blazing on their second album, a kaleidescopic platter of brightly-colored pop music that is nothing less than a musical box of chocolates.
THE SHINS Wincing the Night Away (2007)
Brilliant pop songwriting, packed with memorable melodies and musical twists, and impeccably recorded. Absolutely gorgeous.
ROISIN MURPHY Overpowered (2007)
The Moloko mouthpiece crafts a sublime dance-pop record imbued with taste, sharp personality and top-notch producers. Untouchable.
KYLIE MINOGUE X (2007)
Perfectly honed pop music from an impossible-to-hate artist who always delivers the goods. "Speakerphone" is my fave, but the whole album is delectable.
THE RAPTURE Pieces of the People We Love (2006)
Brooklyn dance-punkers expand their palette and the results are winning. The giant cowbell is still there, but now we also get Queen-sized harmonies and some sublime pop warmth. Bravo!