By Andrew Perez
15. LCD Soundsystem-Sound of Silver
James Murphy issued in a type of music we now like to call dance-punk. The name is a bit misleading for Murphy sounds like anything but punk in songs like “Someone Great” or “All of My Friends” which are two of the most memorable songs of the decade if for nothing else but the lyrics alone. Aside from the words, Murphy’s slow progression of each song ensures a gentle ease into each track which works wonders for Sound of Silver as it provides for a full album of coherent grace.
14. White Stripes- Elephant
Oh, where would rock be without Jack White? The leader of the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, and his partner Meg, put out so many great albums this decade that if one were to randomly choose from any of them, it would not disappoint. Yet, it was this album which both stood as a classic while making Jack White a rock star in a decade pretty much absent of them. It is hard to deny to talent and tenacity of such an artist who has been the head of rock for every year of this decade and this is the album that started it all.13. Franz Ferdinand- S/T
Who knew crying over girls could be so much fun? While singing about boredom, heartbreak, and other such nonsense, Franz Ferdinand manages to make it all remarkably entertaining. “Take Me Out” is not only a rather complex song, it maintains some edginess to it that makes it as fresh today as when it came out 6 years ago. But, their hit only scratches the surface of what is a surprisingly full album which is a joy to listen to start to finish. Even if their appeal has been worn out in the decade, it is hard to deny the brilliance that the Scotland brought to the rock world with lyrics full of heartbreak and loss.
12. Cut Copy- In Ghoust Colours
When a band says that they haven’t reached their true sound it is usually a cliché statement or perhaps a euphemism for “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” But, the Australian duo did just that in their 2nd album which powered the group to stardom with stadium style tracks such as “Hearts on Fire” and “Lights and Music.” After this album, it is clear to see achieved sound is a treat to all those who have a listen.
11. Kanye West- College Dropout
While it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about Kanye West without mentioning his antics, it would downright sinful not to include at least one of his albums on the list of best albums of the decade. Kanye West showed the world that you could talk about loving your friends and Jesus while wearing pink and still be cool (that alone makes him worthy of being on some type of list.) And it all started with this album which propelled him from the timid new Roc-A-Fella member to the world-famous jackass we see today. Yet, despite taking pride in selfishly grabbing the spotlight and being childish on many occasions, it is easy to forget that he once represented hope for so many as he relayed powerful messages of social commentary in songs like “Fly Away” as well as deep, sentimental (yes, Kanye) in tracks such as “Family Business.” If you are sick of Kanye today, maybe another listen to his best album may remind you why everybody was so infatuated with him in the first place. Heck, even the Kanye of today will be humbled by this experience.
10. Radiohead-Kid A
Radiohead is great, we all know. This album is classic. What else can I say that already hasn’t been said?
9. TV on the Radio- Return to Cookie Mountain
The band’s subsequent album, Dear Science, got all the love, but by then TVOTR was already trying to do something different. With Return to Cookie Mountain, Tunde Adembimpe and the bunch are at their apex. Much slower and melodic than Dear Science, each song is very delicate while at the same time oscillating between up-tempo songs like the popular, “Wolf Like Me” to the dreamier “Wash the Day.” David Bowie even got into the mix as he contributed on the track, “Provinces.” The lush, full sounds of an exceptional album produced by David Andrew Sitek makes many music lovers want to frequent Cookie Mountain.
8. The Rapture-Echoes
With an endless amount of bands and music at one’s disposal, it is harder for a band to stay pertinent for longer than what seems like a millisecond. For the Rapture, that millisecond was 2003 and that pertinence was in the form of Echoes which has seemingly been forgotten in the mix of the decades greatest. This couldn’t be any more unfortunate. The loud yelps of lead singer Luke Jenner only provide for a unique contrast that blends an upbeat tempo to lyrics of grief and solitude. The album, one of the most enthralling, sophisticated albums seen in years, mixed a reflective vibe while begging you to forget it all and dance.
7. Hold Steady- Boys and Girls in America
If you think stories of kids drinking, partying, and having a good time have no tragedies or consequences, a listen to this album may change all of that. Nestled between wisdom and nostalgia, lead vocalist Craig Finn tells tales of love and confusion in adolescence: a time when nobody is really sure of anything. The sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing stories shed light on what it means to be young in a land that is unforgiving. Accounts of kids having nothing to do except party are personified on tracks such as “First Night” and “Stuck Between Stations” which retain ounces of youth to songs on an album that are told from the perspective of someone who has seen these tales all too often. Yet, the mix of joyful exuberance of youth and the knowledge only acquired through age allows this album to be nostalgic but at the same time real.
6. Daft Punk- Discovery
Calling this album the Sgt. Pepper of electronic music is pointless and insulting to groups like Kraftwerk. Yet, this doesn’t matter at all because this album doesn’t need to have a comparison, it is Discovery. It is one of the albums that marked a generation. Whether you want to believe it or not, these songs couldn’t escape you. Whether it was the thematic “One More Time” or the out of this world ecstasy of “Digital Love”, these songs created a world full of exuberance that invited you to join and dance. From the opening track to the end, Daft Punk reached the top of the proverbial electronic music mountain. And with a couple of exceptions, it is quite lonely up there.
5. Strokes- Is This It?
OK, leave all of your prejudices here. Who cares if everyone wore their shirt and who cares whether or not they received too much press? Julian Casablancas and company earned every bit of it and with this album started a trend of countless knock-off bands that still appear today. And it is hard to find another band that sparked such a widespread response in such a short span. As scattered as it is truthful, Is This It? gave a glimpse to what having fun meant to a couple of kids in pre 9/11 New York.
4. Arcade Fire-Funeral
The hype was real. This band is a mash of stadium pounding jams that are as breathtaking as they are moving. Very few albums have the power to make people across many genres stand in awe and this is
exactly what Funeral accomplished. With a heavy emphasis on the power of dreams and the youth that they spawn from, the Canadian rockers performed with such emotion on every track that one doesn’t
know whether to know whether to start a youth revolution or to listen to it again.
3. Beck- Sea Change
Break up albums are the most gut-wrenching ones. No Beck album, or any album this decade for thatmatter, was as moving as this 2002 classic. Just weeks after Beck’s break up with his long time girlfriend, he went to the studio and poured out his heart to create the best album of his career. With a clear influence from famous French singer Serge Gainsbourg, the L.A rocker reached deep into his soul and produced a gem for the world to see. If you have never felt the pain of someone ripping your heart out, you can surely imagine it here with songs like “Lost Cause” and “Lonesome Tears” that pry out the most anguishing emotions one can ever find. Beck creates an aura of emotion that sounds just as painful as if the breakup happened yesterday.
2. Queens of the Stone Age- Songs For the Deaf
One of the hardest rock albums of the decade is also one of the best as well. The Palm Desert rockers created their chief work with their 3rd album while remaining true to what made them famous in the first place: sometimes silly, tenacious sounds that provoke you get a little wild. This album, which chronicles a fictional journey from Chino, CA to Palm Springs, is loaded with powerful jams like the title track and “First It Giveth“. Not too many skits, not too much craziness, and lyrics that anyone could relate to: “I just need something good to die for/to make it beautiful to live.” Poignant words such as these add a meaningful tone to an album that is as in your face as it is fun.
1. Interpol-Turn on the Bright Lights
When an album combines so many elements about the struggle of living in the world, it is hard not to listen. Released in 2002, Turn on the Bright Lightscaptures the themes of loneliness, pain, and heartbreak with shades of Joy Division all in the backdrop of a New York that was still reeling from the biggest catastrophes it had ever seen. Recorded just a month after 9/11, the new York band went to the studio and churned out a classic inTurn on the Bright Lights. While the album can be seen in its historic contexts, the real aspects are ones of inner struggles.
Compliating his personal anguish, singer Paul Banks expresses the many voids life can have as he cries out to the world. At times, he seems to be self-destructive “I’ll stand by all this drinking if it helps me through these days” yet still he has enough faith to empower him through “I think love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye/I think he’s making something special and I’m smart enough to try.” The mood of the album carries one into depths that touch upon every emotion all within a 65 minute time frame. With this album, Interpol was not only thrust into stardom, it also seized the opportunity to let the world know about the perils of loneliness and how with just a little hope, one can get through anything. For this, it is an album that will enjoyed for decades to come.