Posted on November 6th, 2010 in Music

100 best albums of the aughts, part 8 (#30-21)

On to part 8 of my 100 best albums of the aughts list.

You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 here, part 6 here and part 7 here.

Islands – Arm’s Way (2008)
Former Unicorn Nick Diamonds gets more poppy and less weird on Arm’s Way, but that’s not a bad thing. Diamonds’ hooks are everywhere: the lyrics tend toward macabre; (“Creeper in my home crawled in through the window/I grabbed the kitchen knife couldn’t stick it in no/Creeper had his own shining in the moonlight“), and best of all, that beloved Unicorn eccentricity is still there.
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
Warner Bros.
The Flaming Lips’ catalogue includes Zaireeka—a 4-disc album intended to be played on four different stereos simultaneously; a front-to-back remake of Dark Side of the Moon; production work for Steve Burns (of Blues Clues fame); years of bizarre costumes and an obsession with robots and UFOs. With the Lips’ love of all-things-weird as context, Yoshimi doesn’t come across as weird for weirdness sake (these songs are seriously good); but Wayne Coyne’s absurdism—as should be expected—is all over it.
Santogold – Santogold (2008)
Downtown Records
Santogold (now Santigold)’s debut is a ridiculously catchy, genre-bending mashup of indie-disco, dub and hip-hop (a less in-your-face M.I.A.). Production help includes M.I.A.’s own Diplo and Switch, and Spank Rock makes a guest-appearance on the dub-stepping reggae update, ‘Shove It‘. This record has attitude, but more importantly, it’s a four-on-the-floor dancefloor destroyer.
Minus The Bear – Menos El Oso (2005)
Suicide Squeeze Records
Menos El Oso showcases Minus The Bear at their absolute best. Waves of whammy-bar reverb turn every one of these songs into a sun-drenched, boozy jam. Jake Snider’s lyrics are typically day-in-the-life (“A swimming pool with no bodies/Is a problem that we can fix/Dropped his clothes on the chase lounge and asked/’Are you gonna come in?’“), which just adds to Menos El Oso‘s perpetually wasted vibe. The band released an outstanding remix album—titled Interpretaciones Del Oso—as well.
Witch Hats – Cellulite Soul (2008)
Grungy, debauched, and sloppy as hell; this is Witch Hats. Cellulite Soul—the band’s debut—is a lurching bonfire of post-punk and sneer. Album opener ‘Before I Weigh‘ has the pace of sludge and the sweet, sweet nectar of gloom. The rest of the album is similarly vagrant: ‘Hellhole‘ would make a great backdrop for a prison beating; ‘Doors Film‘ is eight minutes of bad acid.
New Order – Get Ready (2001)
Eight years after Republic and over 20 years after Ian Curtis’s suicide, New Order finally broke completely free from Joy Division. Get Ready RIPs the band’s post-Joy Division synth-pop palate in favor of crawling, shoegazy distortion. Sumner’s vocals are detached, hypnotic; ‘Crystal‘—New Order’s career apex—is a mind-melting anthem of fragility. Sumner’s lyrics have never been his strongpoint—and they certainly aren’t here either—but that simply doesn’t matter.
At The Drive-In – Relationship of Command (2000)
Grand Royal Records
Relationship of Command (At The Drive-In’s final record before splitting into Sparta and The Mars Volta) featured breakneck tempos; split-second time changes; intense, poetry-slam lyrics; and the spastic insanity of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López. As PCP-insane as this record is, though, it’s still poppy as fuck. You’d be singing along to mosh-pit anthems like ‘One Armed Scissor‘ and ‘Sleepwalk Capsules‘ even if you were on fire.
Pidgeon – Might As Well Go Eat Worms (2008)
Cloud Recordings
A schizophrenic post-Pixies drug den, Might As Well Eat Worms—Pidgeon’s second criminally underrated album—is a brilliant postmodern adaptation of Black Francis/Kim Deal-ish back-and-forth. Its songs constantly evolve and devolve into strange comedowns and out-of-nowhere harmonies; bits and pieces that coil and weave from shrieks to lullabies and back again.
Blonde Redhead – 23 (2007)
Blonde Redhead’s followup to the startling pop sensibilities of Misery is a Butterfly23 expands Misery’s Murakami-dreamworld with more death, more gloom and more shoegaze. Makino’s voice is angelic and delicate; and often simply bone-chilling. The highlight of the record, ‘Spring and By Summer Fall‘, is an icy shoegaze anthem that thunders melody and mood; grabs your soul and doesn’t let go.
The Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2 (2001)
K Records
As much as I appreciate the prolificacy of Phil Elvrum—one of the more genuine artists you’ll find today—he will probably never come close to matching The Glow Pt. 2. That’s not necessarily a putdown, it’s just that this album is so…perfect. This is a record dripping with raw emotion, gorgeous melodies, haunting themes; and Elvrum is behind every stunning second of it. The Glow Pt. 2 is as close as lo-fi indie rock will ever come to its own SMiLE.

3 Responses to '100 best albums of the aughts, part 8 (#30-21)'

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    on November 6th, 2010 at 6:15 am

  1. visker said,

    Annnnnnnnnd you’re back! You’re comments in The Glow pt. 2 are exactly how I feel about In the Aeroplane over the Sea and the Meadowlands. Sorry dudes, you’re not going to top that.

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