Posted on May 19th, 2010 in Music

100 best albums of the aughts, part 4 (#70-61)

On to part 4 of my 100 best albums of the aughts list.

You can find part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – And This Is Our Music (2003)
Tee Pee Records
Anton reached his zenith a few years before this release, but his remarkable ability to channel his heroes (the Stones, et al.) is still readily apparent here. In addition to typically brilliant BJM tunes (‘When Jokers Attack’), Newcombe delves into a druggy instrumental world, which he further explores on subsequent material.
PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her (2004)
PJ Harvey brings back the sexy, grungy danger of her early albums, but with it comes a more sophisticated—and daring—sense of songwriting. Uh Huh Her runs the gamut of her strengths, from the Harvey-shrill of ‘Who the Fuck?‘ to the Sade-like quasi-R&B of ‘Shame‘; and of course, that Rodleen-Getsic moan that Harvey is known for. (Also one of my favorite album covers.)
Silversun Pickups – Carnavas (2006)
From the big-muffed guitar fuzz to the Celtic-inspired typeface, Carnavas is a no-holds-barred celebration of [The] Smashing Pumpkins. However, the songwriting has enough originality to leave it at that. A celebration. This record is unquestionably modern; it may wear its inspiration on its sleeve, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Pinback – Blue Screen Life (2001)
Ace Fu Records
I generally prefer the simplistic production of Pinback’s earlier records to the dense, orchestral feel of their recent material, because it gives Rob Crow’s signature guitar lines room to breathe. Crow’s distinct melodic flavor is impossible not to recognize at this point in his career, and Blue Screen Life is an unrivaled showcase of his ability to craft gorgeous vocal harmonies backed by rapid-fire guitar melodies.
Mazarin – We’re Already There (2005)
I and Ear Records
Quentin Stoltzfus’s nasally delivery will remind you of The Walkmen or The Wrens, but Stoltzfus’s music is slightly more charming, if more sad. The entire record contains an almost innate hopelessness. ‘Louise‘, in particular, is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard. That’s not to say the album is riddled in despair, though, because it isn’t; Stoltzfus’s voice gives it a lovely, even endearing quality.
The Magnetic Fields – Distortion (2008)
Nonesuch Records
Stephen Merritt gives his sarcastic (‘Too Drunk to Dream‘), sexualized (‘Three-way‘) songs the Psychocandy treatment; the result is an oddly sunny-sounding record…hollow and distortion-drenched, made whole by Merritt’s distinct baritone. Merritt’s genius is hard to overstate, and Distortion is genius more often than not. (The album cover is regrettable, though, to say the least.)
Band of Horses – Cease to Begin (2007)
Sub Pop
I think this is what I always wished My Morning Jacket sounded like. If such a quality as an Americana Anthem exists, Cease to Begin has it. Ben Bridwell has a gift for writing monster choruses (‘Is There a Ghost‘, ‘Ode to LRC‘, ‘Cigarettes, Wedding Bands‘) that could burn the roof off of any arena. (Bonus points for naming a song after former NBA cult-hero Detlef Schrempf.)

Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
Sub Pop
Isaac Brock’s darlings did not disappoint on their highly-anticipated debut. [Dan] Boeckner and Spencer Krug share the same frantic, ambiguous frog-warble (sort of a Canadian-sounding version of Brock), giving standouts like ‘You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son‘ and ‘Grounds For Divorce‘ a punch-packed frenzy that also seems tidily subdued.

Japandroids – Post-Nothing (2009)
Unfamiliar Records
Japandroids (one of my all-time favorite band names) mix Beach-Boy harmonies with lo-fi production and a healthy dose of punk energy to create something…exciting. This lo-fi pop-punk sound is the current vogue in indie rock, and Japandroids are head and shoulders above the rest, thanks to superior songwriting that doesn’t need the lo-fi production to make the songs listenable. More bonus points for one of my favorite album covers.
The Notwist – Neon Golden (2002)
In 20 years, The Notwist have evolved from heavy metal to gloomy indie pop to ego-stroking electronica. Neon Golden marks the period just before the latter. Genre-bending stunners like ‘Pilot‘ and the title track will stick with you for weeks. Stay away from the U.S. release, though, which tacks on three boring and completely forgettable tracks.

4 Responses to '100 best albums of the aughts, part 4 (#70-61)'

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    on May 23rd, 2010 at 8:21 pm

  1. visker said,

    I see your like your Pinback like you like your Iron and Wine. I must disagree. I’m not huge on Blue Screen LIfe, but Summer in Abaddon will make an appearance on my list (spoilers!).

    Also “frog-warble”. Great word – sums up the vocals perfectly!

  2. on May 25th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

  3. Sebastian said,

    I’m with you 100% on the Pinback tip. “Grey – Machine” from the Offcell EP is fantastic, but nothing else since then matches Blue Screen Life.

  4. on June 6th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

  5. […] You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here and part 4 here. […]

  6. on June 13th, 2010 at 12:15 am

  7. […] can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here and part 5 […]

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