Lighting Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow

A bass with one guitar string. A bunch of shitty drums. Playing in someone's kitchen in Lubbock, TX. Two RISDy dudes named Brian. Wonderful Rainbow was Lightning Bolt's quinceañera. It didn't just change the band forever, but everything that punk rock stood for and the way underground music would sound in the new millennium. (HW)

Death From Above 1979--You're A Woman, I'm A Machine

Two guys. That’s all this is. “You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine” is still one of the hardest things I have “rocked out to” in years. Yet, it’s only two guys doing this. Whenever I find myself pissed off and in need of a musical release I will often turn here. Through eleven tracks DFA never lets up; the guitars grind and the drums pound until your ears scream and bleed. I still think one of the saddest days of recent memory in music was when Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger split. Yeah they both have come out with different side projects and what not but are they really as good as this album? Hell no. “You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine” is like a supernova on the music landscape. It exploded. It was bright and it was beautiful. Then it was gone. Even today, though, the effects are still there and every one still considers this a rock classic. Maybe in another universe or galaxy somewhere they never broke up… (BS)

Bright Eyes—Lifted Or the Story Is In the Soil, Keep Your Ear To the Ground

I think the love, the sadness, the pain, and the emotion that Conor Oberst expressed throughout this album is priceless. The fact that he pushed so much feeling out of a single album has never ceased to take my breath away. This album truly was one of my first forays into what I guess you could call “emo” music but more so “indie music”. I understand that Oberst has sort of been branded with a very sad white boy/emo vibe throughout his career as Bright Eyes but the fact remains is that there is truth in all of these songs and only people who haven’t been lucky/unlucky enough to experience all this will truly be the ones left in the dark by this gem. (BS)

Clues - Clues

While this album is fresh of the presses and ignored by many, year after year the dust will be blown off and fans will gather around to hear one of the best albums of the decade. I've never heard an album like this and its uniqueness is only surpassed by its brilliance. (ZH)

The Postal Service – Give Up

Industrial wastelands, nuclear fall out, incarceration, and bitter breakups never sounded quite so appealing. Somehow or another, Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard and electro enthusiast Jimmy Tamborello made it happen. The fusion between Gibbard's delicate vocals and the impenetrable trip hop landscape is like the eye of the storm, with a weird kind of near-apocalyptic calmness. If this is what the end of the world sounds like, I say bring it on. (LH)

Beruit – Gulag Orkestar

No one would know that Beruit's Zach Condon was just some boy from New Mexico, judging by the sound of Gulag Orkestar. Since when did ukulele, full-fledged brass sections, and rousing polka beats have anything to do with the American Southwest? Condon's merging of Eastern European folk music and Western pop seems authentic and effortless. Cuts like "Postcards From Italy" are radiant and carefree – a snapshot of a sunny afternoon over a rolling countryside. Is it possible for something to be a bit too idealistic? If so, this album is certainly Exhibit A. (LH)

Bloc Party—Silent Alarm

I enjoy “Silent Alarm” because of how pure of a rock album it is at times. “Like Eating Glass” is one of my favorite openers on any album and from there the album continues to take you in. The incredible thing is how you will go into the first few tracks of the album and be blown about by how badass the songs feel. Then all of a sudden “Blue Light” comes in and the dreamier aspects of Bloc Party come rolling in. Even when Bloc Party goes reaching for the starts with their sound they still maintain a gritty feel. Though the band hasn’t really been able to do anything with as much grandeur as their debut, it is still a blueprint for how to do an album right. (BS)

Joanna Newsom – Milk Eyed Mender

I listened to this album for the first time on a rainy day in Southern California. I still can't listen to Newsom's girly shreik of "I AM BLUUUE! AND UNWELL!" on "Peach, Plum, Pear" and not giggle. There' something so instinctively honest about putting those emotions together. It's why, for me, given the jeremiad of Ys, this album is infinitely more listenable: it's compact, imaginative, and puts things in ways that will forever change how you see them. (HW)

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Choosing between Yellow House and Veckatimest proved to be a tough choice. The fact remains, however, that the excellence of Yellow House made Veckatimest the most hyped album of the year, and it delivered ten-fold. ‘Southern Point’ cracks the tension with an intense introduction displaying the musicality we have come to expect from Grizzly Bear, complex and enticing. The simple guitar riff juxtaposes perfectly with the string arrangement in the final verse, and then explodes into a slow and tense explosion of guitars and drums. How else to follow up such an epic introduction than the highly addictive soundtrack to your Monday morning ‘Two Weeks’? Ed Droste’s drawn-out oration of everyday uneasiness made ‘Two Weeks’ everyone’s favorite song at some point or another. With Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear made fans of everyone. Jay-Z, the entire family of Beyonce Knowles, hey, even Michael McDonald, the guy your dad was listening to when he ever-so-gently placed you inside of your mom got on board the Grizzly Bear Express. This was the breakout album of the year, and a very deserving one. (CJ)

Outkast - Stankonia

I shall let Outkast's words justify why this is on the list:
"Did you ever think a pimp rock a microphone? Like that there boi and will still stay street. Big things happen every time we meet. Like a track team, crack fiend, dyin to geek. Outkast bumpin' up and down the street." (ZH and Outkast)

Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise

The album is extremely visual, each song placing the listener into various parts of the state and at the same time, each track tells a fascinating story. "Illinoise" runs the gambit of emotions and moves swiftly from upbeat to downbeat with grace. In my mind, "Casimir Pulaski Day" might be the best song written this decade. (ZH)

Once (OST)

"A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year," said director Steven Spielberg in reference to the John Carney film about a busker looking to ‘make it’ in music and in love. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova put together a soundtrack to be used in the film comprised of original tunes and some songs by The Frames here and there, and what shines on the Once soundtrack is the fluidity of Hansard’s broken-down voice of experience mixed with Irglova’s optimistic soprano. The lyrical finality of nearly every song on Once is earth-shattering heartbreak, but when the voices come together the meaning changes completely into an exclamatory desire for hope. The optimism brought forth from both the movie and the record is enough to make you sick due to cute-overload for weeks, and everyone from me going to the local theater to see the film during a short weekend run to Hollywood big shots bought it. Everyone rooted for “Falling Slowly” to win the Best Original Song Oscar in 2008, and when it finally won (after a fantastic performance) the room erupted unlike anything I’ve seen on the Academy Awards before. Hansard humbly ended his portion of the acceptance speech with the simple yet unforgettable, “Make art… Make art.” The community aspect of Once, whether in music or in love, is something we all strive for in some way, and those bastards knew exactly what they were doing (tear). (CJ)

Franz Ferdinand--Franz Ferdinand

Scottish pop rockers, Franz Ferdinand, set out into the music world with one basic mission statement in mind: to make music girls can dance to. They reasoned good music shouldn't be complicated; it should bypass the brain and get you on your feet. Their self-entitled debut album featured chic, angular guitar and synth flavored undertones. These components were just the formula to successfully fulfill their goal. Alex Kapranos' sinister vocals and cheeky lyrics weave the tracks together into forty minutes of heartbreak, love, and of course, a whole lot of lust. "Micheal dancing like a beautiful dance whore"? Yeah, that says it all. (LH)

Animal Collective - Sung Tongs

It's magical, bizarre, and infectious. It's all of those words that are often used to illustrate the indescribable sound behind Animal Collective. In an attempt to be more concise, any synonym meaning "bewitching" comes close to defining what Sung Tongs is. There's an unrelenting fervor to this album and a childlike spirit that never seems to falter. If you want a reason to abandon social niceties, go wild, and run around barefoot, look no further. This vibrant ode to fun filled chaos will perfectly suit your needs. (LH)

The Mountain Goats—The Sunset Tree

When I think of “The Sunset Tree” I want to focus on a word like catharsis or sympathy or empathy or something. The thing is, I never had an abusive childhood yet somehow by listening to this album I connect to everything that John Darnielle is singing. Darnielle has been referred to as one of the best lyricists in music not because of the depth of his music catalogue but because of his ability to communicate the most basic and bizarre of human experiences and feelings into his songs. I recall a night last summer where I decided to play the album after having not listened to it in forever and realized how intense it was. Darnielle put his life out there for us to hear about as he has done many times before but here he writes with extra memory and extra ferocity—and that’s just the lyrics. I’m always impressed at how “big” Darnielle can sound with even just a guitar but when he stretches his music elsewhere the results are equally as enchanting. “The Sunset Tree” is a very bright spot on an already incredible. (BS)

NERD - In Search Of...

The best hip-hop album of the decade. It's that simple. It's sad because NERD has slowly deterred from this masterpiece by putting out horrible album after album after the release of "In Search Of...". Go back and check this out...and try to shake off those other releases. (ZH)

M83 - Saturdays = Youth

M83’s Anthony Gonzalez knows how to procure ideas for concept albums better than anyone in the indie rock world (sorry Sufjan, but America isn’t all that diverse). With Saturdays = Youth, Gonzalez set out to make a record championing the high school drama films (I’m looking at you, Molly Ringwald lookalike on the cover) that most of our generation ate for breakfast, while also retaining the hopeful imaginings of love and death executed on his past records. Maintaining the “we’re in love and the lights are stunning and lets die together because it will be beautiful” themes of his previous work clearly was not difficult with such an inspired subject matter with which to work. “Graveyard Girl” borrows heavily from formulaic songs such as 1982’s “More Than This” by Roxy Music, with the vocal sensibilities brought out by Kevin Shields and the My Bloody Valentine gang sprinkled throughout. If you haven’t heard the album, here’s a visual of what it sounds like… inspired by what we watched on TBS as youngsters.

A young nerdy man with big hair (played by Anthony Michael Hall) meets a despondent girl wearing black lipstick (fuck it… played by Ally Sheedy) at The Sizzler. She approaches his father’s car, curious as to why he’s rocking Tears for Fears’ “Songs from the Big Chair”. She gives him a big “come on” and hops in her car, WAY PAST CURFEW, ready to get schooled on what the hip original kids have in their cassette decks. They get back to her house, confident that her parents will be flying in from Martha’s Vineyard at 8 o’clock the next morning. She puts on My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” and you know what they did next? They looked at the stars and fell asleep on the fucking roof, like every kid dreamed of doing since the beginning of ever. A cherry ALMOST got popped, ALMOST. But they fell asleep, and dammit it was beautiful.

So thank you, Anthony Gonzalez. Thank you. You made a great record while also reminding us that cool shit like that never happened to a single one of us, just to those hot-ass diverse teens in John Hughes films. I hope your next album is equally fantastic but a bit more honest. Try a sequel, perhaps, where the teens wake up at 9 instead of 8 AM! Mom and Dad get home and send his ass packing immediately just before crushing her My Bloody Valentine tape into a million pieces because it was “The Devil’s music”. Your music is great because it is still fun to imagine that I can fall asleep on the roof next to the girl next door. That’s a fun thought, but I am slightly disappointed that Saturdays = Youth has only gotten me laid once. (CJ)

Bon Iver--For Emma, Forever Ago

The pain on this album is palpable. Justin Vernon's frayed, melancholic falsetto is thick with yearning and regret. It oozes from the impassioned guitar strumming as you're enveloped in the exquisite sadness of Vernon's most intimate memories. His talent lies in his ability to let us see – and feel – every moment through his own eyes. From the soothing rhythm of the lyrics to the delicate vocal harmonies, it's hard to distinguish a single flaw. For Emma, Forever Ago is just one of those sublime albums that's hard to forget. (LH)

Spoon --Kill the Moonlight

At times I am blown away by the simplistic brilliance that is contained in the 35 minutes of “Kill the Moonlight”. From the opening hook of “Small Stakes” to the somber and sweeping close of “Vittorio E” you might wonder how an album that didn’t really seem to do that much actually did a lot. The thing is, “Kill the Moonlight” is such an incredibly chill album. Even though you may find yourself rocking out to it often there are also just as many times where you might just put it on and sit back twiddling your thumbs. Even though the album doesn’t seem to reinvent the wheel or anything what it does do is strip everything down into a perfect two or three minute track where all the parts work. Often I will mean to only play a few songs but then find myself nearly halfway through the album. “Kill the Moonlight” is simply a great album and hooks you like a good album should. (BS)

Beck - Sea Change

Beck had a long history of diverse albums before Sea Change was released in 2002. The folk-hop outbreak of Mellow Gold lead directly into his most popular release, the break-beat ridden Odelay. Following very closely was his throwback to tropicalia, Mutations. His softer side was completely negated by the sexed-up Midnite Vultures, which made every effort to be awesomely irreverent. How appropriate that following Beck’s booty call record, his suicide note surfaces.

Sea Change has been the soundtrack to many empty bottles, lonesome evenings, long mornings. His beautiful ‘Round the Bend’ was directly influenced by Nick Drake, and the understated rhythm of heartbreak did right by the classic songwriter. ‘Paper Tiger’ borrows heavily from Serge Gainsbourg and acts as the only lightness on the album. Beck made a classic album by playing his old games, borrowing heavily from his influences as if to pay tribute to them, while also making an original composition about heartbreak. This is one of the most believable break-up records ever made, and the fact that he managed to make the perfect collection of heartbreaking tunes only solidifies that the man can make the most of any subject he takes on. (CJ)

Peter Bjorn and John--Writer’s Block

“Writer’s Block” is really just one of those perfect pop albums. Anyone who has listened to it at length or even heard any of its many standout singles knows how infectious this thing can get. People were (and still are) whistling to “Young Folks” which is one sign of the success of the album. Even through the layers of pop and cheer there is real warmth and meaning to the songs. It’s a cute album. It’s a rock album. It’s a great album. There are fast songs, slow songs, long songs, and about everything else you could want and need from such a stand out debut. (BS)

Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary

Forget the British invasion, this decade was all about the Canadian invasion. This album was the perfect gift for those craving smart synth rock with rough, but compelling vocals. This album was ripped off, recreated, and admired by a slew of musicians that occupied the end of the decade. That is the highest form of flattery right. No! Punch the rip off bands Spencer Krug...no really, do it. (ZH)

Modest Mouse – Moon & Antarctica

This album isn't an easy sell. And, with Brock & the boys pseudo-sell out of the past couple years, it's almost totally forgotten. But, in the early part of the millennium, Moon & Antarctica stood for everything that literatti-rock (see The Decemberists & Sufjan Stevens) was going to become. Too smart for it's own good, too hooky, too jittery, Moon & Antarctica was the kind of thing you could imagine your English professors listening to after too much coffee -- anxiously bobbing their heads as Brock intones: "My mom's god is a woman and my mom she is a witch." (HW)

Bitte Orca – Dirty Projectors

Like most of the Dirty Projector's work, it seems a bit too nonsensical to work at first. But when Dave Longstreth and his trio of music theory angels get their voices popping around the akimbo post-punk afropop beats, there's something beyond the rational that seems, well, right at home. After divulging over $5 at a bar to play the entire album for a friend, they replied: "Yeah. It feels like kids should be making this these days." I'll be damned if I didn't totally agree. Which isn't to say that this album isn't unlike ANYTHING you've heard before, but instead that it shows you how great this past decade has been...and promises more great shit to come. (HW)

TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
For some nonsensical reason, Return to Cookie Mountain was the last TV on the Radio record I gave a listen. I decided I need to round out my collection at the local record store around this time last year, and wow. What was I listening to over the last few years other than this? Something marginally important compared to this for sure. There is no bad song on the whole record. We’re introduced to Cookie Mountain with ‘I was a Lover’, a highly thematic track spit-all-over by producer/band member David Andrew Sitek, who from this track alone became one of my favorite modern producers. ‘I was a Lover’ is also one of the many incredibly track that Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone sing on together, latter providing a gritty counterpoint to the former’s articulation. “Running on empty, bourbon and God” not only sets the tone for Cookie Mountain, but also doubles as We Listen For You’s way of living.

The record is perfect, glowing with introspective and beautiful songs like ‘Province’ and ‘Tonight’ to the balls-out ‘Wolf Like Me’ and ‘Let the Devil In’. We’ve all been there with this record, and if you shamefully have not, you are missing out. The day I bought Return to Cookie Mountain I noticed a handwritten sticker placed on the back of the case in red ink from the record store clerk. CLASSIC (5 stars), it said. The lyrical intelligence that TV on the Radio place over bells, whistles, or just fat-ass beats provide the best example of a modern classic I can fathom. (CJ)

Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.

Does this album have the standing to enter the cannon of indie rock alongside classics like "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" or "The Soft Bulletin"? I don't know. But, of all the albums on my list I would give Deerhunter the best chance. After the sonic whirlwind that was "Cryptograms," Deerhunter went back to basics and proved just how solid of a group they can be. The songwriting is trippy and methodical. The guitar solo on "Nothing Ever Happened" is right up there with Radiohead's "Paranoid Android." This album is damn fine work. Paranoid and transcendental. (ZH via previous HW post)

Tom Waits - Real Gone

My introduction to Real Gone was during Jon Stewart’s personal “Moment of Zen” when Tom Waits performed the record’s final track ‘Day After Tomorrow’ on The Daily Show. Anyone who has ever seen Waits perform live, in person or on screen, could already guess that it was hilariously awesome. I immediately walked to the student radio station on a campus, that for the purpose of protecting my identity I’ll refer to as “Louisville University”, and swiped the album from the shelves. While ripping the album I got more and more enthralled. ‘Hoist That Rag’ is more of Waits just going balls-out with his megaphone, being awesome and committing crimes and drinking whisky… all the aspects of Waits we all love. ‘How’s It Going to End’ goes on with his dirge-ridden, shanty-loving style, a common theme among Waits’ works. Sorely missing were his strange and heartfelt songs, you know, those songs you’d like to believe are being written inside of your Grandfather’s head while he stares at a blank television screen remembering that he’s a widower. And then… holy shit.

Here’s the song I just saw on TV… and got a good laugh from… and I honestly force myself from tearing up. ‘Day After Tomorrow’ is written in the same vein as ‘Soldier’s Things’ from Frank’s Wild Years. This time, Waits is singing about the war… right now. He’s a conflicted and introspective soldier, just on the brink of age 21, who is “not fighting for justice, not fighting for freedom…” but he’s “fighting for his life and another day in the world”. This song was the first evidence of my adult life of a tragic song written about a fucking debacle. My Dad has fed me Creedence’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” and told me war stories. ‘Day After Tomorrow’ is much more poignant to me, asking me “how does God choose? Whose prayers does he refuse?”

Listen to the damn song and try to smile about life, THEN try to tell me that Alice was a better choice for this decade. (CJ)

Cat Power – You Are Free

Should Cat Power have pulled an Elliott Smith and killed herself after this one? There's all the tell tale signs of a pre-suicide album: taking yourself way too seriously, singing about bad things done to kids, guest spots by Edie Vedder and Dave Grohl. Just kidding. Kinda. You can argue all you want to about Chan, but this is the moment when she got it all right. There's not a spare note on this record. Not a moment of excess. And every step closer is a step into a further mystery. (HW)

The Killers – Hot Fuss

The Las Vegas quartet, the Killers, made quite the impression with their debut album, Hot Fuss. The album's glittery synth, raw bass lines, and infectious disco beats spawned four hit singles, including Somebody Told Me (yeah, that boyfriend-who-looks-like-a-girlfriend song) and Mr. Brightside. Vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Flowers' fascination with all things Anglophilic came off strong, from his accented vocals to the obvious influences from British synth legends like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. That obsession earned the Killers the title "Best British band from America". Nevertheless, their success and appeal was worldwide. Hot Fuss was a multiplatinum affair, selling over five million copies to date and winning over one of the most devoted fan bases in modern rock. (LH)

Joanna Newsom - Ys

There are a ton of albums on my top 25 and I already see some of you raising eyebrows about this pick. No Beatles and you put this album on here? This album and a few others on the list hit me so hard emotionally that I have to put it on the list. With full orchestra arrangements from the great Van Dyke Parks and Steve Albini behind the recoding, how can you go wrong? While the melodies are simply amazing, it’s Newsom’s voice and creative lyrics that boost Ys into the best of the best for me. Don’t agree? Grab the lyric insert that comes with the album and read along to the songs…it’s breathtaking how perfectly placed every word seems to be. (ZH)

Elliott Smith – Figure 8

It's odd that the final (proper) Elliott Smith album was the most un-Elliott Smith of his catalog. This record was supposed to do a lot of things. It marked Elliott's move to Los Angeles. His purchase of a car. But the reason it stays with us is his untimely passing. Is Figure 8 a great album? Probably not. Is it a really good album? Definitely. But, if for nothing else it's a reminder that decade in music isn't as much as what we have as what we lost. (HW)

Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People

I implore you, take a good, good listen to You Forgot It In People. Run the gamut of your emotional core. Remember yourself in 6th grade, then senior year of high school, those alcohol-flooded years after high school, then wherever you are at this moment. Put on ‘Almost Crimes’. Emily Haines will take you back so hard you’ll be flailing around like a Miley Cyrus fan to the lyrics “Children sleep with dicks”. What? It’s true. Listen to it. Kevin Drew said that.

Now put on ‘Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl’ and be slightly annoyed at first. Just give it a minute. You remember that crazy string orchestration that hijacks the end of the song? It’s still coming. “Park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me.” There it is! And now you’re back to those times you spent alone pining for the one out of your league and hoping the one out of your league was pining right back.

Finish with a full shot of ‘Lover’s Spit’ and remember why you love Broken Social Scene in the first place. You can remember every time, every situation you felt this album was applicable. “You know it’s time that we grow old and do some shit.” That’s what you love about Broken Social Scene. They make the most beautiful music in the world while children go from “sleeping with dicks” to when that fateful time comes to “grow old and do some shit”. That is exactly what makes this album remarkable. I haven’t listened to this album in over 2 years (honest truth), and I can never forget it. (CJ)

The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat

Mozart and his buddies would be extremely proud of the lush electronic orchestral arrangements created by Matthew Friedberger on this album. It's a very hard first listen, but give it a couple spins and then a light turns on...the crazy turns into majestic beauty. (ZH)

The National—Boxer

The guitar is a tenor instrument. Maybe that's why Boxer is the most keyboard/piano driven of The National's albums, so Matt Berninger's vocals shine. The unofficial album of going to a droll party and waking up hungover the next day, Boxer seems to dwell in that dim light when you can't tell if it's morning or night. Sometimes obtuse, other times overwrought, there isn't a dull track on the record. The last half of the decade's answer to Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights. (HW)

Andrew Bird - Mysterious Production of Eggs
Your friends won't admit it, but they're secretly disappointed with Andrew Bird. Your friends won't admit it, but they think he's had his moment. Your friends won't admit it, but they know this is the greatest album he ever made. Your friends are only right sometimes. (HW)

Animal Collective - Feels

You can have your precious Panda Bear album and hug Post Pavilion...but for my money, "Feels" is the best thing this group of guys ever put out. The most amazing thought is that AnCo calls this a "love record" and that every song is about love. Listen to "Grass"...that's a new and beautiful take on love. (ZH)

Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights

I fake ID’d myself into a local show in the city of Louisville, Kentucky at the tender age of 15. I could offer no details on the show itself, who it was, who is was with, nothing. Except, the album playing over the PA between sets was Turn on The Bright Lights. Uncle Pleasants, a seedy little bar in the center of the city has a very dark atmosphere and brings out a lot of characters. Hipsters, cool kids, jocks, creepy teacher types, sluts, minorities… it’s a real mixed bag in that place, which provides the perfect visual for Interpol’s best record. First ‘Untitled’, then ‘Obstacle 1’, I was intrigued. “This guy sounds just like Ian Curtis”, I thought. “I love anyone who sounds like Ian Curtis”, I thought again.

Then ‘NYC’ got me hooked. Here is this heartfelt, hooky track about a loner, subway pornos, and then New York City itself, which provides all the support the narrator of this story needs. Musically, Interpol executes fantastic riffy tunes on Turn on the Bright Lights that prove equally as memorable as line such as “the subway… is a porno”.

This album succeeds because it’s timeless. It could have come out in 1977, and my 15-year-old would have been none the wiser. Interpol proved that you could have an original sound without sacrificing the gift of interesting songwriting, and the product of their best work is Turn on the Bright Lights. (CJ)

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

While this album is not my favorite Of Montreal album of all time...nor for that matter of the decade (See Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse). It is, however, the most accesiable and focused work from Of Montreal and that in my opinion is why it made almost every WLFY writer's list and earned such a high ranking. If you can't move and shake to this album...look in the mirror, maybe you hate dancing. (ZH)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

About two weeks after this album blew up, and if you'll remember, it did -- self-release and all -- David Bowie and David Byrne showed up at the same Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! show. David turned to David and said: "Say, they sound like me." David turned to the other David and responded: "Did they just reference me?" Neither could tell what Alec Ounsworth was saying. It sounded like he just had dental work done. The guitars were impeccably played. Both Davids had their jaws on the floor. (HW)

Daft Punk - Discovery

"One More Time", "Digital Love", "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", etc. The album is a hit machine reminicent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller". Put the album on at any party and the dance floor heats up. I can't speak for everyone, but the album just makes me a happier person. You can't ask for much more than happiness from music. (ZH)

The Strokes - Is This It
I never quote Rolling Stone but I like their take on The Strokes: "This is the stuff of which legends are made. Recorded in a sub-basement studio off Avenue A in Manhattan, where the air was blue with cigarette smoke and three pictures from a Victoria's Secret catalog were taped to a cabinet for something like inspiration, the Strokes' debut album is pure New York rock & roll: all gray-pavement aggression wrapped in black-leather cool. " The album is the essence of cool and is one of the most accessable album we have on this list. (ZH)

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Electronic canyons. Non-sequitor seas. YHF was Wilco's defining record. As revolutionary in every way as Kid A was, only for a different audience. Flannel-wearing alt-rockers listen to ambient music, too. Ever since Ryan Adams has become a douche, I think we tend to forget the immense output of great records that alt-country was pushing in the late 90s and early aughts. This record changed all of that. Not only did it keep the methed up energy, it transformed it into something that no one had ever heard before. Jeff Tweedy's ramble-jamble poetry wasn't bed partners with Bob Dylan anymore, it was from somewhere in outer space. YHF is the Pet Sounds of the new millennium -- born out of heart ache and disease, but more beautiful than anything else out there. What's more, every serious record that comes out has to live up to this one. (HW)

LCD Soundsystem — LCD Soundsystem
I think as a people we are sometimes scared of electronic music. Maybe it is hard for us to wrap our heads around music that is primarily constructed by machines. We might take on the attitude of an old person and with puckered lips cringe and say, “What is that malarkey?” The beats can be too frantic or maybe it is all a bunch of scattered noise put in some semblance of order that some people might refer to as music.

Regardless there have been a decent number of breakthroughs in the genre. LCD Soundsystem, I feel, is one of the golden standards. With his debut James Murphy put together two discs of amazing material ranging from house, trance, even some nice funk and jazz. You will also get some of the delicate beauty that packed the emotional punch of LCD Soundystem’s “Sound of Silver”. Regardless of how you feel about the genre, Murphy made what is more or less a guide of how to do things right. Though the album hits all the bullet points of what people should look for in electronic music it also bends and stretches all these points into something that is uniquely familiar. (BS)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs debut has to be one of the strongest and most solid introductions to a band in recent history. Here we have Karen O, a scrawny and spastic young lady who would throw her bottle of whisky on the ground just to beat your ass with her bare hands. Nick Zinner is her partner in scrawny, using his guitar to scream back at whatever Karen O can dish out. Brian Chase sits behind the kit, timing the epic barfight between Karen and some hot licks, ending each spat just before someone gets hurt/a baby is made.

When I picked up Fever to Tell years ago I was most impressed with the timeless meets tongue-in-cheek vibe the Yeah Yeah Yeahs possess. You could have walked into a dive in Brooklyn and heard this ass-kicking music in the early part of the decade OR your subversive pot-smoking uncle could have wandered into CBGBs in ’77 and seen them open up for the New York Dolls. It’s all open-ended on Fever to Tell, and it’s damn good.

‘Rich’ sets the tone for the album with Karen O grabbing her balls and proclaiming, “I took him standing up”. Whoa… like sex? I’m listening. I haven’t heard this form of debaucherous honesty since ever. The fun doesn’t stop there. Karen O screeches through ‘Date with the Night’ and ‘Tick’, and it’s clear that these are ultra-sexy love songs about New York and the people she knows.

This violent and super fun love turns introspective and melancholy towards the end of the album, but no less harsh. Obviously ‘Maps’ is one of the best songs of the decade with Karen O’s expression of real love over top Zinner’s anthemic guitar. ‘Y Control’ states Karen’s disdain, not only for her old man as a woman scorned, but for all men who entrap women in a chauvinistic manner. Give or take the album’s hidden track, the official final track ‘Modern Romance’ is the real message here. After all the booze and sex a certain locality has to offer, at the end of the day there will always be the notion that it’s never enough. “I was wrong. It never lasts. And there is no modern romance,” Karen O tells us after a long night out. I’m inclined to listen to her after the voice of experience she so clearly defines throughout the record.

Fever to Tell as an album came together with every factor in place. A band who is ready to be known, a singer with a story to tell, a producer (David Andrew Sitek) who’s a motherfucking badass, and pure talent from all parties present make this one of the ballsiest, fun, interesting and ultimately touching albums of the decade. (CJ)

The White Stripes - Elephant
I remember thinking when this album came out in 2003 that it will be one of the few from this decade that will be considered a classic down the road. It’s flawless from start to finish and unlike The White Stripe’s newer albums; there was something in Jack White’s guitar playing that just paralyzed the listener. You can bash Meg White’s drumming all you want, but it works. Sometimes complexity and simplicity coming together can be a beautiful thing. (ZH)

The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
I will argue until the day I die that this album is the greatest indie rock album ever made. It’s a shame that they disbanded shortly after this masterpiece, but what remains is a beautifully conceived electro indie rock album. I can’t convince you to love this album with words…it’s all there in the music, and if you haven’t heard it I plead with you to go out and buy a copy. It defines a decade of music that was fun without neglecting musical intelligence. (ZH)

Arcade Fire - Funeral
For me "Funeral" was an album that I started college with. It came out the same month I started college and though it took about a month after it was released for me to hear I still loved it. I pestered friends about it asking them, "Have you listened to Arcade Fire yet?" almost every other day (one person in particular actually got annoyed with it but later thanked me).

In the years since the release of “Funeral” one might be hard pressed to think of an album that is as genre-bending, as grand sounding, and as frighteningly unique. After all this time the opening track “Tunnels” causes my ears to hold their breath. I know that doesn’t make any sense but with a first impression like that it is hard for your ears not to be taken aback by what they are hearing. From the promise of that first song “Funeral” pieces together a work of art track by track.

I think the true strength with this album is just the difficulty to actually describe it and categorize it. Even trying to type out a summary of praise is something I have a little trouble with. I would need pages upon pages of pure stream of conscious to fully encapsulate what at least I personally think about this album. With many “best of” lists that are sure to come out in the following months there will be people writing about some obvious and some not so obvious choices. “Funeral” deserves nothing less than to receive high honors yet I feel that no matter how many people actually attempt to define why it is a masterstroke, no one will actually truly accomplish the task. It is not enough to say that the opening chant of “Wake Up” sends chills through your body. Can you really say how badly you wish you knew French so you could translate “Haiti”? How do you explain that no matter what you are doing or where you are, after that third time Win Butler sings “scare your sons, scare your daughters” in “Rebellion (Lies)” you clap just like they do in the album? Because I know I do that. And I’m sure that many of the emotions that swell up in your ears as you listen are many of the ones that I myself have probably felt. However, it still seems as wonderfully grandiose in a different way to each person. Therein lies the true appeal and the true power of this album. (BS)

Sufjan Stevens - Michigan
The guy who sold me this record thought it was a joke. "I was going to send it to my sister. She lives in Michigan. I thought it was one of those tourist gimmicks, ya know, a joke record," he admitted. "I never sent it. I kept it for myself." Michigan is Sufjan at his purest. He plays practically everything, produced the damn thing, hell, he was probably his own tour manager at this point. Whatever it is, it sure pays off. Not as glossy as Illinois or as religious as Seven Swans or as orchestral as The BQE, Michigan seemed to be the perfect primer for the (supposed) 50 States project. Unflinchingly personal, haunting, revelatory, Stevens seemed to wear so many hats and juggle so many balls at the same time. Not only that, but this album signaled a huge turn in indie rock -- away from the irony on guitar and toward a more sincere (almost) sentimental genre. Stevens didn't want to play your heart strings like pianos, but bring you slowly toward pain in the most gorgeous way possible. (HW)

Radiohead - Kid A
Word is Radiohead read Naomi Klein's book No Logo and decided that they didn't need any of the stuff they had done before. For a band that put out OK Computer, you wouldn't imagine that they needed to reinvent themselves. Klein's book, which is about the unconscious branding and certain folks un-branding themselves, advocated a strong anti-capitalist, anti-establishment stance -- doing things that weren't owned by anyone else. Maybe it was the book. Maybe it was the huge media storm after OK Computer. Either way Kid A was the culmination of something special. Even listening to it today -- some 10 years after it came out -- the music seems to seep out of your speakers. There's not a single. There's not an anthem (tho there is a track called "National Anthem"). All there is is one seamless stretch of music that seems to reach forward, encompassing all that Radiohead was and everything that they have become. Theyr'e not tapped out by any means. But, like a piece of DNA, Kid A captures its heritage and potential in one place. And, like everything Radiohead does. It's a place of incredible sound and unbelievable possibility. (HW)

Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

The greatest concept album of all time. Ostensibly about a Japanese girl fighting pink robots, The Flaming Lips managed to turn this record into a metaphysical dialogue about death. This album is so good that the state of Oklahoma christened "Do You Realize??" as its official rock song. But why does it grace the top of our list? Quite simply the record is flawless. Every inch of sound that Coyne and the boys found on The Soft Bulletin is stretched and taken to a whole new level -- electronics hum and buzz around layers upon layers of beats and guitars that shine in the prairie sun. Coyne's playful lyrics dip into a deeper significance presenting the listener with questions about where we are, and, more importantly, where we are going. But, as the state of Oklahoma recognized, "Do You Realize??" is the centerpiece: at once a love song and an existential sounding bell. In the jangle of this track, the whole album gains a gravitas that few LPs have in the new millennium. Scarcely 10 months before the release, the United States had been rocked by the greatest terrorist act that the country had ever seen. In the wake, many were wondering about the death of irony, the ability of our country to mourn, and the horrific calamity that had somehow united even the most disparate among us. Radiohead's Kid A was the climax of the last music. Yoshimi was the call to a new form. Without straying away from the wonderful tongue-in-cheek that had defined The Flaming Lips ("Oh Yoshimi they don't believe me / But you won't let those robots eat me"), this album made death not a political act, but reminded us that it is something that unites as well as it unties. Yoshimi reminds us of something that we all already know, but puts it in a better way than we could have ever imagined. And that, my friends, is the mark of a perfect record. (HW)


  1. solid list. Nice to see Hot Fuss on here.

    I'm a bit taken aback that the Vampire Weekend boys didn't clinch number 1 though. Really guys? Flaming Lips over the fantastic bounce of Oxford Comma? :P

  2. Wonderful list... excellent #1 choice!!! <3 as always, <3

  3. who will cut our hair when were gone should be #1

    where is in an aeroplane over the sea and a lesson on crime?

    the clues album should be higher

    otherwise good job

  4. @Anonymous:
    On my personal list, I had The Unicorns at #1. This is a combined list from all our writers.

    Aeroplane is a fantastic album, one of my favorites, but it came out in 1998.

    I had Clues number 11, so I'm with you.

    Yeah, Vampire Weekend is too good for lists.

    Looking forward to your list.

    Thank you!

  5. excellent list. good call with "who will cut our hair". probably the most under-appreciated album of the decade. pure genius.

  6. what i like about your list the best is unexpected #1

    8/10 lists so far ended with Kid A and i was pretty sure you won't be different.

    i love radiohead and i could spend ages praising kid a, but your choice made me a.smile b. listen to yoshimi battles the pink robots again

  7. Come on! This is 50 top albums of the decade!

    2 albums from Animal Collective?!? Only the 1st one is worth talking about!

    2 albums from Joanna Newson?! A "Best Of" from these 2 albums posted here would be better!

    And Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah?!?! Seriously?! That band?! On the top of the decade?!? You gotta be kidding!

    The list is saved by names like Wilco and Flaming lips!

  8. Ever since Ryan Adams has become a douche

    That would imply there was a time before Ryan Adams was a complete ass...

    Also, glad to see Radiohead not top the list, even if it is at the second spot.

  9. Holy mother of god I love this list! The Unicorns? Beirut? BSS? Kid A where it rightly should be? Absolutely giving you a high five on this one. Barely any slips :-D (see Stevie's comment)

  10. Jason...we love your wonderful taste in music. Continue to treat your ears well.

  11. I just randomly found this website today, but I have to point out two things on this list that really excited me:

    1.) Your point about the Unicorns album is something I've been thinking for a long, long time, but have never heard anyone else mention. It truly defines the entire decade of music. The sound, the style, the energy, the recording, all of it perfects things that hundreds of other bands were trying (but failing) to do in the 2000s. Good call.

    2.) Thank you for putting "Feels" above the other Animal Collective records (specifically Merriweather and Strawberry Jam). I think they peaked with that record, and it's been driving me CRAZY that no one else seems to think so.

    Anyhow, I'm not going to sit and argue about your placement of things, but I just really liked those two points you made, and had to give you props.

  12. I'm so delighted to see such an electro-pop masterpiece as your album of the decade. It was in everyone's favorites list but somehow in the end everyone decided to give it up to Kid A or Funeral. My favorite of the decade was Grandaddy's Sophtware Slump. Enjoyed reading the list.