60. Rhett Miller – The Instigator (2002)
Rachel says that when you read a bad review for a Rhett Miller album it might not mean the songs are bad but that the reviewer finds the idea of Rhett Miller singing songs like “Come Around” insulting. Rhett Miller will certainly not be “…lonely for the rest of (his) life”; he’s a handsome rock star with deep baby blues. That said, I’ve loved The Instigator from the very first moment I heard it. Crisp, spare Jon Brion production of great songs about love lost. I’d be foolish not to mention my favorite song on the album, “The EL“, where a self-absorbed guy and a self-absorbed girl meet and fall in love only to end “breaking up all over the EL”. Miller is never less than charming and open and if it feels like a pose, well, that’s your problem.
59. Pete Yorn – musicforthemorningafter (2001)
14 songs. Some are upbeat, some are slow. I really liked this in 2001 when I wasn’t getting laid and I still like it now. Subsequent albums have experienced diminished returns. Pete Yorn is a bit like a grittier John Mayer, and by gritty I mean he could use a shave and shower.
58. Clipse – Lord Willin’ (2002)
Lord Willin’ is simply badass. Neptunes deliver career best beats, Clipse deliver career best rhymes, and then the second track starts. Rinse, repeat. Pusha T and Malice take time to make a song for the ladies and still end up talking about guns. IMPORTANT: “Gangsta Lean” is one of the greatest songs in the history of songs. Front to back, this album is unfuckwithable. The only thing you’ll get tired of is tipping your head back and exclaiming “Haha! Goddamn!” during every song.
57. N.E.R.D. – In Search Of… (2002)
Hey, it’s the Neptunes again! Man, these guys were great for a while. This first N.E.R.D. album is a fluky bit of genius. The lyrics are bad/funny and smart/dumb, and it rocks. Actually truthfully rocks. Having an actual band play on the record was a very smart move. When it isn’t rocking In Search Of… has stupid swagger, which is pulls off(even now when Pharrell has considerably less cultural cache). Just forget about everything else with the N.E.R.D. name attached to it. Beware, actually.
56. Garbage – Beautifulgarbage (2001)
When Garbage finally makes a record where they truly jump skillfully from style to style and finally living up to their namesake of mashing up different styles of music all at once, their fanbase moves on. I blame Shirley Manson’s unfortunate hair designs during this album cycle. Beautifulgarbage is Garbage’s masterwork, making good on all the promises of their first two albums. Everything was a tease before Beautifulgarbage. “Can’t Cry These Tears” is a great 60’s throwback while “Breaking Up The Girl” and “Parade” glow and vamp in ways that the band merely hinted at before(IMPORTANT NOTE: “Parade” is the best song Garbage has ever recorded). It would be a shame to overlook the guitar hook in “Androgyny“, because it is fucking awesome.
55. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000)
“Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious, Dociousaliexpifragalisticcalisuper, Cancun, catch me in the room, eatin grouper..” – Ghostface Killah
I’m frequently shocked by any so-called listing of the greatest rappers of all time that doesn’t feature Ghostface prominently. The man spits hot fire every time he gets on the mic. EVERY. TIME. Supreme Clientele was Ghost’s entrance as a true solo artist and force to be reckoned with. Front to back great beats, insane(really. Insane.) rhymes, a couple great RZA verses; Supreme Clientele set the stage for all the even greater Ghostface albums to come.(Also Bulletproof Wallets, which is better than you’ve heard.) But on the topic of beats, the beats on Supreme Clientele are great. Of course they are, it’s a Ghostface Killah album. “Mighty Healthy“, “Apollo Kids“; there is a reason Ghost can say he has hits for days. One of those days could be spent just playing Supreme Clientele. We must not forget the classic skit “Who Would You Fuck?“, wherein Ghostface and his colleagues discuss which famous women they would like to engage in sexual intercourse. After much debate and disagreement the group concludes that they would all equally like to fuck Halle Berry. Congrats, Halle!
54. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)
Great indie rock songs sung by a guy who can’t sing but either didn’t know or didn’t care. About his singing ability. I’m certain he knew the songs were great. I always feel underserved by the majority of “indie” bands with reedy voices and three guitar players. On Clap Your Hands Say Yeah just about every track has that special moment that hooks into your brain, like the repeated “Gimme some salt” in “Gimme Some Salt” or when the guitar comes in at the beginning of “The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth“. Alec Ounsworth’s vocals go from abrasive to welcome in about two seconds flat and by the time you reach the end you can’t imagine a “better” singer improving these songs an iota.
53. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001)
White Blood Cells is that record. The one everybody had, the one even people who didn’t know shit about shit had in their cars, in their dorm rooms. And why not? It is as straight forward as The White Stripes had ever been and will (probably) ever be. “Fell In Love With A Girl” is so obvious and wonderful only a hateful, terrible person could deny it, and “Little Room” is about as profound a 50 seconds as any on this whole list. This album is so good that Jack White gets people to buy other albums of other bands he is in that aren’t even any good. Because you never know.
52. Groove Armada – Lovebox (2002)
The key sounds on Lovebox are the piano stabs during “Easy“. So simple, so fantastic. They elevate a pretty good song into greatness. They even repeat this trick on their new album and of course it works. While not as much of a dance record as I remember, Lovebox is still a party that occasionally raves out of control. “Madder” was the track that McCarty and I used to crank in student housing before a night out. Because we were so fucking cool. Interesting tidbit: McCarty bought me this album for my 21st birthday and presented it to me with an accompanying card that inquired whether he could keep the album if I died that night. What a great friend.
51. Doves – The Last Broadcast (2002)
McCarty and I got our first taste of The Last Broadcast in the spring of 2002 with the arrival of an mp3 of “There Goes The Fear” recorded off British radio. The DJ gushed about the great minds and ideas going on that would make such a great song and man was that guy ever right. For awhile I was strange to listen to the album and not hear that DJ’s voice at the end of the track. The Last Broadcast is stacked solid with “…Fear”, “Pounding“, and “Caught By The River“. Doves traffic in the melancholy of their other island contemporaries but tend to rock harder (“Words“, “N.Y.“) and lend a tone of hopefulness that is welcome and unexpected. I still like Doves quite a bit, but they’ve never been more exciting or vibrant.