Friday, December 25, 2009

The 100 Albums Of The Decade: 80-71

80. Porcupine Tree

[Lava/Atlantic, 2005]

The best prog band of the decade rock like a snarlier King Crimson and unwind like primo Floyd, but it’s in the brilliant juxtaposition of the two where mastermind Steven Wilson really delivers on his ambition. One of the highlights in a remarkably long, consistent, and underappreciated catalog.

79. Death Cab For Cutie
The Photo Album

[Barsuk, 2001]

One could make a case for either the indie We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes or the major-label Plans, but I’ve always been partial to DCFC’s most transitional album, where the brilliance of Transatlanticism first finds footing in some of the band’s strongest material to date. Bonus points, too, for the amazing Bjork cover released on The Stability EP months later.

78. The Killers
Hot Fuss

[Island, 2004]

Pure pop in garage-era trappings, unapologetically dumb and gloriously addictive, with the first half especially segueing from one spot-on single into the next. Future efforts would confuse excess with excellence; here, the Killers operate without pretension and wind up delivering the undisputed highlight of their career.

77. Dixie Chicks

[Columbia, 2002]

Rarely has such a traditional album—no synths, no distorted guitars, definitely no AutoTune—garnered widespread commercial success in modern-day Nashville, but this was a time when the Chicks were firing on all cylinders. Listening to it now, one forgets the Bush controversy and only hears the group’s immeasurable talent and impeccable taste in songwriters: Darrell Scott, Bruce Robison… plus the rare Patty Griffin covers that actually do her songs justice.

76. Muse
Black Holes And Revelations

[Warner Bros., 2006]

Muse is a trio with a need to be huge; they thrive in gargantuan spaces, which explains why their breakthrough album finds the songs (and production) swelling to fill every available crevice. The end result roars out of the gate like the mutant offspring of Queen and Carmina Burana, resigning world conquest to a mere inevitability.

75. Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová
Music From The Motion Picture Once

[Sony Music Soundtrax, 2007]

Like its cinematic counterpart, the Once soundtrack finds power in the smallest moments; this is an album organic and open, made for—and by—people truly in love with the act of creating music.

74. Josh Rouse
Under Cold Blue Stars

[Slow River/Rykodisc, 2002]

One of the most underrated artists of the decade, Josh Rouse is a writer of pop songs—not the kind sung by overly-manicured AutoBots, but the kind that unfold in unassuming fashion yet stick in your brain like they’ve always existed. Always emotional without ever dipping into sentimentality, Stars is a low-key triumph still waiting to be stumbled upon like buried treasure.

73. Neko Case

[Bloodshot, 2002]

With her siren call of a voice (and siren-red locks to match), Case could probably sing the phone book and get four-star reviews from the alt-country magazines. Blacklisted is the one album with the heft to match her extraordinary pipes, and its best moments exude a Southern Gothic pull nearly impossible to shake.

72. Bob Dylan
Love And Theft

[Columbia, 2001]

Carrying through on the remarkable resurgence of Time Out Of Mind, the always-cryptic Bobby Z delves into blues, country, even Tin Pan Alley throwbacks… each one delivered with single-minded purpose, sly wit, and (naturally) genius lyricism.

71. The National

[Beggars Banquet, 2005]

The hypnotic pull of The National—equal parts moody and menancing—locks into place on this, their breakthrough third album. Matt Berninger’s dark baritone hides more than it reveals, perfect for a band whose many-faceted layers deserve multiple listens.

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