Sunday, December 27, 2009
The 100 Albums Of The Decade: 60-51
60. Drive-By Truckers
The Dirty South
[New West, 2004]
The standout of a remarkably consistent—and prolific—career, South found the Truckers at the height of their three-headed powers, with Patterson Hood, Jason Isbell, and Mike Cooley all bringing top-notch material to the table. Nearly every Truckers disc has the potential to knock you sideways; this one is liable to do so on every single track.
59. Bruce Springsteen
Despite near-universal praise, The Rising never really gelled together like a true E Street Band album. Not so with its follow-up, a terrific rock powerhouse that catered to the true diehards… and now sounds more and more like the best Bruce album since Born In The U.S.A.
[Fueled By Ramen, 2007]
Pure pop pleasure dressed in punk threads, Riot! exploded out of the gates like few records of recent memory, with Hayley Williams’ firecracker of a voice lighting up every song like a Gen Y version of Pat Benatar. Forget guilty pleasure; when the hooks are as invigorating as the ones driving “That’s What You Get” and “Hallelujah,” only a fool would feel any guilt whatsoever.
57. PJ Harvey
Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
For a woman with an entire career based on making people uneasy, Stories might’ve been Polly Jean’s most radical move yet: a straightforward collection of twelve songs, exceptionally crafted and beautifully conveyed. The nine years since have only found Harvey resolutely fleeing from that same level of emotional directness, as if some part of her recognizes the impossibility of capturing lighting twice.
The Sophtware Slump
For a brief moment, Grandaddy were poised to be the backwoods answer to Radiohead, and even though Jason Lytle’s brainchild fell apart midway through the decade, The Sophtware Slump still resonates; ironically or not, the album’s odes to lonely computers and failed technology are some of the most heartfelt music of the decade, with warmth emitting from every warbling sequence and faulty connection.
55. Johnny Cash
American IV: The Man Comes Around
As the last album released by the Man In Black before his passing, American IV was bound to carry additional emotional weight. Still, few could’ve predicted the levels of gravitas and humanity present throughout, whether on the inspired cover choices (Sting’s “I Hung My Head,” Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” and of course “Hurt”) or Cash’s own title track, his strongest self-penned composition in years. One could hardly ask for a more fitting—or worthy—epitaph.
Lazily lumped into the bankrupt genre of nü metal, Deftones shared much more in common with brooding art-rockers like Bauhaus, My Bloody Valentine, and Tool; you can hear all those influences—and countless others—in their impeccable third album, a brooding gem that still exerts a creepy, hypnotic pull… and has since gone on to spawn its own legion of imitators.
53. My Morning Jacket
It Still Moves
The pinnacle of MMJ’s early years, It Still Moves found Jim James and company just on the cusp of Bonnaroo nation stardom, delivering now-classic guitar workouts—“One Big Holiday,” “Run Thru”—with the fire and conviction of the Allmans in their prime. In hindsight, the stylistic changes to come were inevitable; how else could one better this particular formula?
[Lost Highway, 2001]
In hindsight, the best thing to come from Ryan Adams’ Gold-era flirtation with the mainstream was a proper release for Whiskeytown’s heavily bootlegged swan song. Now more than ever, it feels like nothing else in Adams’ (very) extensive back catalog, a chamber-pop classic as oddball, inspired, and gut-wrenchingly beautiful as Surf’s Up or Summerteeth.
Turn On The Bright Lights
One of the more audacious debut albums in a decade thick with ‘em, Bright Lights was Joy Division’s Closer filtered through NYC downtown life, Mission Of Burma with extra ice. Interpol exploded on the scene so perfectly formed, it’s little wonder they inspired a rash of copycats—or that the band itself was never able to top this singularly great first effort.