Best Albums of 2000-2009 (#100-#91)

With the decade now coming to a close, we take a look back at some of our favorite albums from 2000-2010 at DOA. A decade that spanned several musical changes, styles and moments, it will surely go down as one of the most memorable. There’s always the chance to find something new and perhaps, you will find it here in our list. In the meantime, sit back and relax and enjoy our choices for the best albums of the 2000s. – Bryan Sanchez

100. Blur – Think Tank
(Parlophone, 2003)

Word of tension within the band, ultimately leading to the departure of guitarist Graham Coxon and gossip about the band’s demise preceded the release of Think Tank which opened to mixed reviews in 2003. As rulers of the guitar-based Brit-pop scene for over a decade, the mixed reviews were mostly due to the band’s new direction and more diverse sound which was probably a let-down to those expecting more of the same effusive rock that made Blur so big in the first place. But great records never give you more of the same or what the general public expects. Instead, great records push the envelope and stretch the limits of the band’s previous accomplishments, both of which take place on Think Tank.

It’s true that frontman Damon Albarn was highly influenced by world music, hip-hop and West African pop, as evidenced by his high profile, and highly successful, side projects Mali Music and Gorillaz, and tried to sway Blur into a similar direction. Ultimately, he succeeded but Think Tank is by no means a world music album. It is a rock album that creatively weaves elements of world music with a layered and rich collection of eclectic musical tones spun into mesmerizing pop tunes played with a rock ‘n roll attitude. Blur’s signature smart and snappy guitar grooves remain, as does Albarn’s distinctive wail and wry wit. But the music is much more expansive while being focused on twisting, bending and shaping these new influences into a dynamic and offbeat mix that is both melodic and haywire and also, quite good. – Matt the Raven

99. William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops
(Musex, 2001)

Artists can’t just wait around for circumstance and coincidence to help them communicate what they’d like to say. Instead, they must intervene to bring their artistic ends to life. William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops unfolded much more unpredictably. Attempting to transform analog tapes with around five hours worth of pastoral ambient music he’d made in 1983 into digital files, he realized pieces of the tapes were flaking off in the playback heads. Without much other recourse, he finished the project and ended up with one of the most memorable and moving works of art the decade had to offer: music that lived and died.

Ignoring the disintegration, these simple looping melodies constructed of synth, strings, and brass are sweepingly beautiful, melancholic, and meditative. But it is the unplanned aspects which coalesce to give the music its undeniable power and foregone interpretation. Here, the death of beautiful things is actually witnessed from start to finish, not just alluded to symbolically. Something controlled becomes uncontrollable, and dies its unique death. The signifier and signified merge to become a pure expression of everything at once, freeing the listener from temporary concerns while condemning them to the one true fate. – Greg Argo

98. Pantha Du Prince – This Bliss
(Dial, 2007)

While discussing music with a fellow colleague, he mentioned that “if you don’t like music that goes ‘boom, boom, boom’ and never stops, then you will never like techno music.” And while there is some partial truth to that, what about Pantha Du Prince’s music that actually blends techno music with utterly spectacular melodies? Some bands will go decades without ever writing something as beautiful as the layering and melodies on “Steiner in Flug”; fortunately for us, This Bliss was filled with nine other songs of equal quality.

Take the spiraling strings and play them for anyone going into it blindly, before the tapping sticks they will think of Brahms, Mozart and Schubert before thinking it was the unbelievably gorgeous entrance to “Saturn Globe.” Music like this shouldn’t be ignored: it’s captivating without ever becoming redundant, it’s absolutely dazzling with every single note, instrument and treatment carefully thought out, and it’s immaculate in every sense of the word. It’s easily one of the best electronic albums we were gifted with during the past ten years and one that will continue to marvel with every passing listen. – Bryan Sanchez

97. Animal Collective – Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished
(Animal/Fat Cat, 2000)

Those who think Sung Tongs was Animal Collective’s entry into pop music haven’t heard 2000’s Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished. “April and the Phantom,” “Chocolate Girl,” and “Alvin Row” stand up to anything considered in Animal Collective’s pop canon, which is saying something. Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished is Avey Tare and Panda Bear plowing through acid-pop with Avey’s schizophrenic surges, and singular melodic hooks. The lesson as always: music this strange and exotic just shouldn’t be this catchy.

That’s a glowing quality that Animal Collective has retained throughout the decade, and it’s this focus that makes Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished their forgotten gem. Guitar and drums are loosely defined here, but the album sparkles with piano shambles, haunting white-noise and shrieking bell-like sounds. The duo lets the music venture on to its eccentric dreamland, while Avey gleefully bangs out saturated, hook-laden melodies in a way that only he can do. Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished stands as the passed over, but brilliant debut by a consistently remarkable band. – Bradley Hartsell

96. Lady & Bird – Lady & Bird
(Rebel Group, 2006)

French folk vocalist Keren Ann Zeidel is ‘Lady’ and Bardi Johannsson of Icelandic band Bang Gang is ‘Bird’ on their collaborative project Lady & Bird which took flight in the form of a melodic, delicate, yet stunning self-titled debut album in the mid-2000s. The album goes on a subtly thematic journey (about the freedom and fall of two children trapped in the bodies of adults) that is delightful and dreamy, as well as melancholic and possibly tragic. Lady and Bird calmly and engagingly sing and talk in sweetly airy and softly wistful tones amid gentle to trippy instrumentation that belies the seriousness of some of the disquieting lyrics that delve into themes of death, the possible meaningless of, and fleeting nature of, life, and the disconnect between fantasy and reality.

Lady & Bird can be enjoyed on different levels, where each song stands on its own, or as a concept album open to interpretation about the cycle of life and death and coming of age of children into adulthood. Or perhaps, as winsomely spoken on “La Ballade of Lady and Bird,” “It’s all in your mind.” – Jen Stratosphere Fanzine

95. Portishead – Third
(Mercury, 2008)

Taking ten years off before writing a new album often signals the worst: disaster, chaos and ultimately, the end but when you’re the kind of skillful musicians Portishead is, you’ve established yourself as the kind of band capable of magnificent works. Third silenced all of the doubters in a way no other album could have; it’s not the kind of album you can put on and play in the background, no, it demands attention and care: it’s menacing, musical, tenacious and downright startling. And it will go down as one of the band’s absolute best, if not the best one.

Washing over you like a sweeping rush of blood to the head, the band’s music is dark and ominous without ever giving away its ability and technique. There’s a lot to fall in love with and it’s all done with the attention and care of an enriched band ready to prove its worth once again. Whether it’s the eerie, almost Radiohead-like guitar at the end of the “Hunter” or on the opposite side, the syncopated drum hit and stunning chord progression of the piano on “Magic Doors,” Portishead knew that what they had made with Third was sure to be exceptional. – Bryan Sanchez

94. QueenAdreena – Djin
(Self-released, 2008/2009)

Multi-talented Katie Jane Garside is no stranger to the music world, having fronted Daisy Chainsaw in the 1990s and subsequently creating QueenAdreena, accompanied by razor-sharp guitarist Crispin Gray for both bands – rocking out with catchy, concise songs that alternate between provocatively-charged fireworks and a more contemplative, intimate innocence. The stunning Djin is QueenAdreena’s fifth and latest studio album and it captures the band’s compelling, raw vitality.

The snarling, excoriating guitar riffs come courtesy of Gray who leaves his mark on the rockin’ rough cuts “Killer (Tits),” “Angel” and “Year of You,” while Garside’s lithe, alluring, fiercely powerful vocals are starkly etched with emotion as she mercurially sweeps from sweet thistledown airiness to unbridled vocal squalls. The shocking “Crow” features uninhibited screams from a freaked-out Garside along with Gray’s serrated guitar lacerations. “Lick the Itch” is a deliciously dirty come on with grimy guitar grind and “Life (Support)” is achieved via Garside’s swooping wails amid dynamic drums and intermittent slashes of jagged guitar. Disillusioned downer “You (Don’t Love Me)” slows the pace with Garside’s delicate, aching delivery and a simmering fire of distorted guitars, while the subtle acoustic guitar strum of “Heaven (No More) (Don’t Looke Down)” recalls Garside’s concurrent collaboration with Chris Whittingham as Ruby Throat. – Jen Stratosphere Fanzine

93. Opeth – Damnation
(Koch, 2003)

Throughout their career, Opeth have set themselves apart from similar acts by flawlessly integrating a wonderful duality. They intertwine head banging death metal with bittersweet, stunning melodies and soft acoustic passages, creating works of art with each album. They wrap this all in a multifaceted package of metal, jazz, prog, and folk influences, while also focusing on first class songwriting. Many listeners couldn’t bare the heavier side and wished that Opeth would release a record of just clean vocals and music. They obliged in 2002 with Damnation.

Damnation contains eight stunning, heart wrenching observations of sorrow, and they flow together seamlessly, forming an approx. forty minutes of perfection. Highlights include the extremely catchy “Windowpane,” the sorrowful “Hope Leaves,” and the instrumental “Ending Credits” (which is heavily influenced by 70s Canterbury prog band Camel). “Weakness” is a haunting closer as well. Damnation maintains the highest caliber of melody, production (courtesy of Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson) and performance, including some wonderfully subtle and affective guitar solos. Every second of Damnation is tasteful and superb, and you’ll be amazed that music this serene comes from a death metal band. Very few artists ever made music this beautiful, and Damnation maintains it throughout. – Jordan Blum

92. Moneen – The Red Tree
(Vagrant Records, 2006)

They made a splash with Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? but it wasn’t until 2006 did Moneen reach their promised land somewhere in the emo galaxy. The Red Tree dramatically celebrates life with a shotgun start on “If Tragedy’s Appealing…,” gently fades away on “The Song I Swore to Never Sing,” and pinches every nerve in between the two. Thoughtful pacing will keep you a passenger for the entire ride if you have the time. Moneen pulls over for a delicate piano interlude on “There Are a Million Reasons…” that not only repeats one of the most memorable hooks, but adds to the sentimental overkill of the choir that precedes it. The dreamy introspective filling plays dual roles of accelerating energetic storms and taking a break from them.

Moneen surges back into a rousing faux-metal intro in “The Frightening Reality…” and confrontational death talk of “The Politics of Living…” Kenny Bridges’ perpetually harmonized voice cracks when he declares “I no longer wanna die!” Everything bleeds into one intoxicating wall during “The Day No One Needed To Know[‘s]” epiphanic outbursts. The intricate studio assembly of layers is what defines the album as an organic, living piece of art. There’s a certainty to their songwriting on The Red Tree, their take on conformity just refuses to go stale. – Brian Kraus

91. James – Pleased to Meet You
(Mercury Records, 2001)

Through the years the creative, alternative, Brit-rock band James were able to re-invent themselves and their sound, through multiple personnel lineups, various record companies and the fickle musical market forces, while exploring different musical genres and textures, and maintaining their own style and artistic integrity. And they seemed to have peaked with their 10th studio album, Pleased to Meet You, which contains some of their best stuff ever, both musically and lyrically. Mixing clever lyrics and humming guitar textures over rich, layered melodies, underscored by Brian Eno’s luminous production, the songs play out like a perfect blending of James’ unique experimental art-rock and sublime alternative pop.

Enigmatic frontman Tim Booth’s precious lyrical skill and booming voice, capable of expressing a heart full of despair and a mind filled with hope, compliment the U2-like arena rock whose pulsating grunge-style guitars are tempered with swirls of radiant ambient textures and ethereal moods. James crafted an album that contains a distinctive brand of creative rock music that ultimately defies categorization. It’s daring, bold and extremely catchy. – Matt the Raven

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