50. My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004)
I’m pretty sure Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge will be the last time me and “the kids” see eye to eye on anything. My Chemical Romance tapped into the goth kids and the cool kids by having lyrics about death and teen angst while not forgetting the importance of riffs and hooks. Too many times I hear bands for the kids and think, “Imagine what they’d sound like with some hooks.” Three Cheers has hooks aplenty and a singer who can wail. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” is the kind of song that works on two levels: for the guy in his 20’s it is a hilarious parody of teen angst set to classic rock staples(the solo is divine). For the kid in their teens it is an accurate and honest representation of teen angst and experience as they know and live it everyday. Hell, my sister broke her foot jumping off the second story, so it’ll always be resonant. “The Ghost of You” is MCR’s serious song, slightly midtempo with a more histrionic vocal and it is about as perfect as My Chemical Romance will ever sound. The kids picked a good one here.
49. Rival Schools – United By Fate (2001)
Walter Schreifels has a voice that sounds like it belongs to some roughneck bruiser but actually comes out of this. The relationships detailed on United By Fate are ironically enough about to fall apart, strained by fights(“The Switch“) and distance (“My Echo”, “Travel by Telephone“). A song like “Good Things” shows that everything isn’t sadness and disappointment in Schreifels’ world but it is immediately followed by “Used For Glue“, and well, you get the idea. Ian Love’s guitar work is equal parts raw and shiny, a perfect compliment to Schreifels’ lyrics of pained disillusionment. Yet every song ends with Walter getting the upper hand, legitimately or otherwise, and moving on with his life. We should all have that kind of momentum.
48. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema (2005)
I feel a little jerky rating Twin Cinema higher than Mass Romantic on the basis of Maturity. But what is done is done and it’s not like Twin Cinema isn’t a great record, just maybe not as fun as MR. The New Pornographers don’t negate their jaunty rave ups on Twin Cinema(for that, see Challengers) but they shine brightest on slower tracks like “The Bones of an Idol“, which builds to a big close that sounds deeper and more resonant than it might actually be. I can’t say I’ve ever thought hard about what most of these songs are about, but they sure sound deep and touching.
47. LCD Soundsystem – Sounds of Silver (2007)
I love when I revisit an album and songs I’d previously dismissed I find myself suddenly in thrall to. That is what I found with “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down“, a song I would often skip over because it was too slow or damn it, it brought me down when I didn’t want to be brought down. Now, with three years to absorb and consider it, of course it is great and the perfect closing track for Sounds of Silver. For a record that acknowledges the loss of important people in our lives(“Someone Great“, duh) and that we’re going to keep losing people in our lives to death and distance, “New York I Love You…” acts, for me, as a wonderful explication to keep living and make your own happiness.
46. M.I.A. – Arular (2005)
I think this one is back loaded with bangers, not to say that the first half isn’t good. “Galang” and “10 Dollar” just kill, aight? I’ve never paid enough attention to M.I.A.’s politics to say how they impact my views on her music. Honestly and vacuously, I just dig the beats a whole lot. And the swagger too.
45. Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll (2005)
I think it was a Pitchfork review that said “Art Brut stay losing”. Perfect. Art Brut’s entire persona is a nerdy rock band who sing songs about failed dalliances, sexual inadequacy, and pipe dreams. It is what they do and they do it well. Art Brut staying losing is Art Brut winning. I would not want to hear an Art Brut album where everything is just coming up roses of Eddie Argos. I’d much rather he keep on keeping on about his limp dick(“Rusted Guns of Milan“) and his hopes to be reunited with a girl that doesn’t even remember him(“Emily Kane“). Argos is a prime example of a Rock God who is frighteningly human.
44. The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free (2004)
The Streets name is apt since you cannot get more street level and inclusive than on A Grand Don’t Come For Free. As Mike Skinner narrates his day of searching for money, getting high, breaking up with his girlfriend and finding money, you are there. The beats are ingenious and the observations always keen and off-kilter. Too bad he had to follow up with a mundane “Fame is killing me” album.
43. Boris – Pink (2006)
I like to think the titular pink is what your face looks like after Boris sears off the flesh with their riffs. Seriously, Pink will cut off your arms and sear your soul. One of the only albums I’ve ever heard that is loud no matter how you have your volume set on your stereo. Pink was recorded, mixed and mastered at 11 AFTER they made 10 louder. Boris once abruptly ending a show with the drummer leaving the stage yelling “More power! More Power!” He was probably right.
42. Sleater-Kinney – One Beat (2002)
As anti-Bush screeds go, One Beat is the one to beat. While plenty of songs against Bush have been written few are worth a damn or due repeat listens. You know, like American Idiot. Sleater-Kinney beat Green Day to it two years earlier and with more gut and ingenuity. Plus, One Beat rocks so hard. “Light Rail Coyote” and “Step Aside” have guitar heroics to spare.
41. Kanye West – Graduation (2007)
Kanye West is a loud mouthed braggart. He is also a great producer and a half decent rapper with a penchant for snappy punchlines. Graduation has been called one of Kanye’s less substantive releases, but since it is the album that features “Flashing Lights” and “Good Life” this kind of criticism doesn’t matter at all. Kanye West can actually use the “hits for days” line and not even be kidding. He does asshole moves all the time but if you’ve ever heard any of his songs you know that he knows this and yeah, who cares? As long as he keeps making songs like “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” I will allow him to continue taking awards away from Taylor Swift every year(Missed you at the Grammys, Kanye!).