70. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
When I put this on in the car a month ago Rachel remarked, “Oh, this takes me back.” Indeed. It takes me back to a time before Coldplay was COLDPLAY and A Rush of Blood to the Head was merely the followup to Parachutes. To a time before Coldplay missed becoming the next Radiohead and became the new U2 instead. I’ve always liked Chris Martin’s voice and I quite simply find this album undeniable. “God Put a Smile On Your Face” and “Clocks” are still just as great as the first time I heard them and “Amsterdam” is as good a closing track as ever. Are Coldplay sentimental? Sure, but never insincere.
69. Be Your Own Pet – Be Your Own Pet (2006)
I joked the other day with a co-worker about a group of teenagers going into a store with no money, mocking the merchandise while making lame jokes and then leaving. To an adult with responsibilities and bills and car trouble this kind of behavior is either irritating or infuriating. But are we to ask the sun not to shine, the snow not to melt, and teenagers to not waste time and be idle nuisances? Be Your Own Pet is time wasting teenage behavior set to glorious thrashy punk rock. Topics include going on adventures(“Adventure“), riding bikes and hassling people(“Bicycle Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle“), and threats, idle and otherwise(every other song). Can I tell you my favorite moment? That would be when lead singer Jemina Pearl gets in an argument with her boyfriend and kills him in a bog(“Bog“).
68. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (2004)
Never confuse “effortless” with “lazy”. I never realized how effortless this album is until I heard Franz Ferdinand actually try really hard(You Could Have It So Much Better) and then phone it in (about half of Tonight). Every track of Franz Ferdinand is simply this band being this band. Endlessly catchy dance rock that twists and turns, smirks and flirts. I knew Franz Ferdinand were truly special when a jocky douche at a concert lost his shit to the opening lines of “Michael“.
67. The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2000)
Does it make me a dope for not really noticing the often sad lyrical content of these songs? I’m not sorry for missing those details as I was too busy rocking the fuck out. A.C. Newman is a hook writing machine and his powers are at full strength on Mass Romantic. While everyone calls Neko Case some sort of secret weapon in The New Pornographers, these songs would be knockouts if your mother sang them. Listen to the “The Body Says No” to hear musical perfection. When the band joins together on the “Anymore than/I needed her to” line I have to stop myself from calling Newman a songwriting genius. Oops, too late.
66. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner are the co-frontmen for Wolf Parade and together they make wonderful music. Apart, I can’t stand ’em. I’ve read plenty of rave reviews for their solo and side projects but every single one, EVERY SINGLE ONE, is shit. Sorry. But put these guys in a room together and it is goddamn magic. When I get asked what type of music I listen to, I can’t respond with a genre anymore because genres overall suck. If I just say “rock”, well that encompasses all the garbage under the “rock” umbrella. If I say “indie”, same problem. Wolf Parade are indie but with a taut sound and clear voice(s). Wolf Parade are what most indie bands try to sound like but fail.
65. Blur – Think Tank (2003)
“…an album so disjointed that it seems to artfully fall apart as it plays.”- Barry Walters for Rolling Stone
Hard to believe that Rolling Stone could be right about anything. Think Tank is the best Blur album and it is a mess and yes Graham Coxon’s guitar work is a huge part of Blur’s sound. Think Tank is that kind of contradictory album. Blur’s big hits in England are happy, upbeat songs about issues and stories and I cannot get into any of it. When Blur does sad, restless, yearning music it is essential and vital. “On My Way To The Club” and “Out of Time” are spare, midtempo songs about love lost, steeped in emotion that Damon Albarn can’t fake. If he is faking, he is the world’s greatest actor. The real reason Blur haven’t followed this up is that they can never top it.
64. Down – Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow (2002)
When I last listened to Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow I actually took notes and wrote down some of my favorite lyrics and adlibs.
“In this pool of piss I’m laying!”
“The power of the riff compels me”
“Fuck ’em up” (right before the solo in “The Man That Follows Hell“)
“New Orleans is a dying whore/naked she sleeps on my floor”
Not to be at all willfully contrarian, but Down II is the best Down album. It’s sloppy and angry and sad and hard and wistful and contemplative and delirious and it has SO. MANY. FUCKING. RIFFS. Great riffs. The story as I understand it is that the band spent a month in a barn in Louisiana writing riffs. And after that month was over, they picked the best riffs and made them songs and put them on this album. If Down II were a state, it would have the most riffs per square mile.
63. Sloan – Never Hear The End Of It (2006)
Hey, Sloan! The best band ever. I know, how does the best band ever only get up to #63? Well, they put out 5 classic records between 1992 and 1999 so the rest of their recorded output is gravy quite frankly. They could put out the absolute worst album tomorrow morning, but they’ll still be the guys who wrote Between The Bridges. Never Hear The End of It just happens to be their best album since Bridges, nearly eighty minutes and 30 songs of Sloan at their Sloaniest. The guys do some rockers, they do some funny songs about getting old, they do songs about neighbors chainsawing in the wee morning hours. If there is a drawback to this album, it is that after eighty minutes you might be a little overwhelmed and need a nap. Fair enough. We are all getting older.
62. Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
A few years ago, don’t ask me exactly when, Thom Yorke did a sit down interview with a bunch of contest winners who all professed to be Huge Radiohead Fans. The only memorable part of this event was one of the winners asking Thom Yorke, to his fucking face, why Radiohead has never recorded a proper followup to The Bends(or something along those lines. I am sorry, I cannot cite my sources). I do not know what Yorke’s response to this query was, but it should have been something like this: “Fuck you. Ok Computer. Kid A. Amnesiac. Hail to the Thief. We are dropping fucking gold in your lap, pushing ourselves creatively, trying out new sounds and ideas, and all you want is a retread of our second album of generally good but undeniably ungroundbreaking guitar alt-rock. You make me fucking sick. Well, tell you what. Me and the guys are going to record a new album, it’s going to be 80% midtempo and slow songs about loss and sadness. It is going to be heartbreakingly beautiful. I hope you choke on it.” Yeah, he should have said something like that.
61. Phoenix – It’s Never Been Like That (2006)
I have always assumed that that the “It’s” in the title refers to Phoenix’s sound and how they’d never rocked like this before. Because they hadn’t. Their previous record was nearly a Hall and Oates tribute album. It’s Never Been Like That has always sounded like the third Strokes album The Strokes forgot to make. It gallops right out the gate with “Napoleon Says” and never stops. What the songs are about is, as always, hard to parse since Thomas Mars will always sound like he translated his lyrics from French to English using Babelfish. Thankfully, it still rhymes.