Posts Tagged ‘Radiohead’

Favorite Albums of the 2000’s: 10 – 1

December 2, 2010

Albums 100 – 91

Albums 90 – 81

Albums 80 – 71

Albums 70 – 61

Albums 60 – 51

Albums 50 – 41

Albums 40 – 31

Albums 30 – 21

Albums 20 – 11

10.  Primal Scream – XTRMNTR (2000)

XTRMNTR is awesome for a bunch of reasons, the main reason being that it is fucking bad ass. Primal Scream aren’t inherently bad ass but they pulled it off here. If you didn’t know anything about their other work(which I did not at the time of release) you would have figured them to be screaming revolutionaries with a big plan to burn it all down and start anew. Actually, they’re hippies(self loathing hippies). ANYWAY, XTRMNTR is generally angry, loud, and funky. So many great bass lines, or the same bass line on a different song. I know Kevin Shields was involved in this record but all my props go to the guy who wrote the bass lines. They rule. Bobby Gillespie’s atonal singing sounds positively amoral. Has anyone referred to this album as a giant boot to the face?

9.    Ghostface Killah – The Pretty Toney Album (2004)

Dude is incredible. Ghostface Killah is one of the greatest rappers to ever do it and he has an amazing ear for beats. No one, NO ONE, has as many consistently great rap records as him. The Pretty Toney Album finds Ghostface more soulful than usual, of course more soulful for Ghostface still means more references to “pussy” than one might expect. “Run” is another in the long list of great Ghostface crime songs and “Beat The Clock” is Ghostface arguing with himself to rap as fast as he can about anything at all AND WINNING. Well, his mind promises vengeance one day.

8.    The Strokes – Is This It (2001)

My favorite song on Is This It is “Alone, Together”. It contains my favorite Strokes lyric coincidentally: “Life is unreal/can we go back to your place”. Is there a better representation of being a young shallow guy? Nope. There is a striking honesty in that line that I’m sure plenty of critics caught on to that caused them to christen The Strokes as rock’s saviors. Every stupid(also not stupid) rock song is about getting girls, but The Strokes had a sly sense of humor about it. If only they’d stayed funny forever. Is This It is a quintessential “first record”, showing off a band who have honed themselves to their peak abilities and can only be harmed by all the rewards their success will bring.


7.    Ghostface Killah – Fishscale (2006)

Ghostface hones his craft. So many classics it’s surreal: “Shakey Dog”, “The Champ”, “Be Easy”, “Whip You With Strap”, “Big Girl”, “Kilo”. Ghost does every kind of track on this record and it is murder.  Ghostface is an emotional rapper and performer and he never traffics in anything but the truth. When Ghost raps to the girls doing cocaine on “Big Girl”, he may have supplied them with the coke but he isn’t blind to their lost potential. Ghostface thrives on the details, be it the brief history of a tenement denizen he passes on the stairs on “Shakey Dog” or the explicit ways in which he has dissed you on “Be Easy”(fucked your sister and given you urine to drink). Fishscale may not have reignited his career but it is a star-affirming work all the same.

6.    Fall Out Boy – Infinity On High (2007)

Infinity On High is Fall Out Boy’s “we are not a fluke” album. “The Take over, The Breaks Over” is the kind of punchy pop rock that no one does better than FOB. And “I Have All This Ringing in my Ears and None on my Fingers” is, title aside, Fall Out Boy at their finest. This is also the record that everyone realized that Pete Wentz’s lyrics are actually funny, sorta witty and way more interesting than about 95% of the lyrics in rock music today. Listen, I know most people don’t get or understand my love of this band. It’s admittedly tough to explain, but let me try. Catchy songs, great singer, genuine emotion; these are all the things I hear when I listen to Fall Out Boy. Pete Wentz is someone who loves a turn of phrase and Patrick Stump is the only guy who can take these lyrics and make them anthems. (Seriously, no one else can deliver these lyrics). The rest of the band developed in one album from a shaggy group to a tight unit who couldn’t just play their instruments well, but with skill and style. Great band, great album.

5.    Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)

The greatest album by the world’s greatest rapper. Reasonable Doubt might be more consistent but The Black Album is Jay-Z at his career peak. “P.S.A.”, “99 Problems”, “What More Can I Say?”, hell, what more can I say? The Black Album is the ultimate Jay-Z primer for anyone who’s ever asked, “Hey, why is that Jay-Z guy so popular?” Because he spits insane fire all over this album, son! Jay-Z is at his best when he has something to prove, and with TBA he had to prove that there are none greater and that he cannot be topped. So he grabs up a murderer’s row of producers (Just Blaze, Kanye, Rick Rubin, Timbaland) and just kills it over their beats. Their best work produced Jay’s best work. The film Fade To Black is a nice addendum to The Black Album as it follows Jay-Z through the recording of the album and shows his process. His process: killing it. For a the best summation of my thoughts on The Black Album, see the the guy’s face at 2:33 in this clip.

4.    Radiohead – Kid A (2000)

Kid A is a bit of an obvious choice, but obvious because it is so obviously great. I’ve easily listened to it more times than any other Radiohead record. I recall at the time of it’s release people talking about Kid A in fearful, hushed tones. “Kid A is too quiet.” “The sound on it is so cold and distant.” “What happened to the guitars?” Then and now, I haven’t a clue what these people were talking about. Kid A is easily Radiohead’s best and warmest record because it was such a dynamic change for the band. Kid A is exciting precisely because Radiohead weren’t doing an easy record, they were experimenting and trying out new ideas and larks. I’ve heard a million songs and albums with guitars. There are so many other instruments in the world and Radiohead know how to play them! Let them.

3.    Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)

The joy inherent in the first 5 tracks on Discovery are the basis for Daft Punk’s career thus far. They were certainly genius’s on Homework but Discovery is the dance party that everyone truly rallied around. When people get excited about Daft Punk, it’s because of “One More Time”, or the guitar solo on “Digital Love”. Daft Punk seem on track to never top Discovery but asking them to do that is a pretty tall order. Like I said, have you heard this fucking thing? I’m surprised they can still get out of bed in the morning and consider putting out any other music.

2.    Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine (2004)

Sebastien Grainger goes through plenty of emotions(passionately) on You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. He vacillates between slick lover man and impassioned angry jerk from track to track, so one moment’s rough embrace is followed by a track of screamed recrimination. Which is all to say that Grainger is complicated guy with issues and Jesse Keeler wrote some fucking monster riffs. These guys were made for each other which is why they can’t stand each other anymore and dissolved the band. Reverse soulmates. I’ve actually met them both briefly, and from those encounters I found that Sebastien came across like someone with somewhere else to be and lacking in patience while Jesse was  thoughtful and genuine. Polar opposites really. That these guys were able to hash it out long enough to make this masterpiece is both a mystery and gift.

1.    Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R (2000)

Just one of the greatest albums of all time. This record came along in the summer of 2000 and changed my life. This was the album that explained to me that music is wide and varied, that the rules do not apply because there are no rules. Rated R is eleven tracks of “Fuck the rules. Who made the rules, anyway? Fuck them too.” Drug songs of course but also in-jokes, eight minutes of manic horns to close out the record, and RIFFS. The guitars crunch out every riff and they’re some of the greatest riffs ever too. Josh and Nick were just starting their too brief partnership of awesomeness and much like Jesse and Sebastien, they utilized their differences to great effect. This is why all great bands end. Too many great ideas and powerful egos in one room, eventually something has to give. But before the implosion, they gave us Rated R.

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Favorite Albums of the 2000’s: 70 – 61

March 28, 2010

Albums 100 – 91

Albums 90 – 81

Albums 80 – 71

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.

Favorite Albums of the 2000’s: 90 – 81

February 7, 2010

To prep for this list I re-re-re-listened to all of these albums, some all the way, some just skipping through to reacquaint myself with the music. I could have done this forever and reordered this list into oblivion. But you have to stop yourself at some point at admit when you’re beat. Plus, this list would look really stupid if I posted it in June.

Albums 100 – 91

90.  Slipknot – Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses (2004)

Slipknot by definition are dumb. Heavy metal guys in ridiculous horror show masks trying to scare your parents. This is not something I will fight or debate. But those first two albums showed hints of promise. A singer who could actually sing, a tendency to write hooks and hey, they kinda rocked in spite of all the theatrics. Rick Rubin turned out to be the guy who could rein these maniacs in and say “Let’s focus on good songs, you guys. You don’t need to get graphic, let’s focus on just rocking faces, let in a little subtlety, it might be fun.” I’m guessing that’s what Rubin said. Whatever that dude did, it worked. Clean, crisp production so you can hear every note and instrument, songs and subject matter that’s a touch more nuanced than “THE PAIN THE PAIN YOUR PAIN!”, and hey, still rocks faces. Good job, Rick Rubin. (This will be Rick Rubin’s last good work as of press time. Dude is responsible for this, this, and THIS.)

89.  Eagles of Death Metal – Peace Love and Death Metal (2004)

Funny story: While re-listening to this album for this list, Rachel deemed herself OVER Eagles of Death Metal and she never wanted to hear them ever again. She got over it, but it still cracked me up. Peace Love and Death Metal is riff city, population sleazy come-on’s. Jesse Hughes was just figuring out how to do this rock n roll thing on this one, but he was a quick learner. The production is a bit thin at times but the tunes are never less than solid and honest to the rock ethos of ladies, ladies, ladies.

88.  The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)

My old roommate McCarty played “Seven Nation Army” for me the first time, screaming “Bass! This song has bass!”, the whole time. He played it on a loop right up until the release of Elephant, which didn’t change the world with additional “Bass!” but had more great songs from The White Stripes. I can’t emphasize how important this record seemed at the time of its release. I feel like it means less than a lot of people wanted it to mean. I just hear a great rock record, which I guess is all someone should hope for from these guys.

87.  The Rapture – Echoes (2003)

I wrote a review of Echoes for my college newspaper upon its time of release. I gave it 3 stars(out of 4) saying that I wished that it had more songs like “House of Jealous Lovers“. I mean, it has other great songs on it, but can you blame me? I was so young. In my old age I’ve come to appreciate “Olio” and “I Need Your Love” for the classics they are. But “House of Jealous Lovers” is still the shit.

86.  Lillix – Inside The Hollow (2006)

If you head to my Last.Fm page, you’ll see that Lillix is my sixth most listened to band. This is because of this album, which I could not stop listening to. I listened to it when I would work out, I listened to it before I went to bed, I listened to it so much yet I never got sick of it. Clearly. Inside The Hollow is a pop rock record, a little angsty and hung up on girl issues like bad boyfriends and that is fine. The songs are irresistible. It sounds like the kind of pop rock that Max Martin is going for when he crafts a “Since You’ve Been Gone”, but for a whole album. Shockingly, this never received an American release. Our loss(well not mine, I’ve heard it. Obviously).

85.  Passion Pit – Manners (2009)

Happy songs about sad things. That is Manners in a nutshell. Sometimes I can’t tell if Passion Pit are being optimistic or just putting on a brave face, but the enthusiasm is contagious. Also, they’ve clearly taken Justice’s lead on the whole child choir thing. Never thought that would be a source of quality music, but what do I know?

84.  Radiohead – Amnesiac (2001)

Remember when people dismissed this album as Kid A b-sides? Silly people. Get this: Amnesiac is awesome. “Pyramid Song“, “Knives Out“, “I Might Be Wrong“; this a Radiohead Hit Parade, people! What is also crazy is how listenable all those “experimental” tracks sound these days, turns out they are great too. Don’t sleep on Amnesiac.

83.  The Icarus Line – Penance Soiree (2004)

Listening to Penance Soiree, I cannot tell if these slithery bass-lines and screaming guitars are come-on’s or threats. On the one hand, when Joe Cardamone is asking you to “take off all your clothes”, that appears to be self-explanatory. And song titles like “Virgin Velcro” carry their sordid message right out the gate. But you consider opener “Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers“, which stutters awake like some long slumbering creature hungry for your soul, fear appears to be the logical option. So, let’s agree be frightened but a little aroused at the same time.

82.  Ben Folds – Rockin’ The Suburbs (2001)

Rockin’ The Suburbs is enjoyable simply because when you cut through his bullshit, Ben Folds can write some doozys. Rockin’ has more than its share; “Annie Waits“, “Zak and Sara“, “Fired“, “Not The Same“; classics all. He should make another album like this. One that is short on the bitterness and long on the fun.

81.  Mastodon – Leviathan (2004)

Mastodon crush. They craft these technical, intricate songs that are just metal massacres. Y’know when someone says, “These guys are the real deal”? Mastodon are the guys, and Leviathan is the real deal. Not to mention it is inspired by Moby Dick. Looks like we got ourselves some readers.