The Captains Top Albums Of The 00s

For my second week of the Friday 5 I’ve decided to keep with the decade theme.  With the film discussion over, it’s time to move on to my other favorite form of entertainment, music.

My first thought was to rank my Top 5 songs of the decade, but there are several good reasons to focus my attention elsewhere.  The obvious reason not to focus on my favorite songs is that I’ve already discussed them at length.  I created ten Modern Rock discs worth of my favorite songs of the decade.  Whittling down these 200 songs to the Top 5 seems difficult and unnecessary.  Besides that, I can’t hope to beat Shortcake’s convincing argument that Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake is the decade’s best song

So instead I’ve decided to rank my favorite albums of the decade.  This also was a difficult task for many reasons.  For starters, this 00s have been correctly labeled as the decade when the album died.  The decline of the record industry and the rise of iTunes created a strong disincentive for crafting entire albums1.

This move away from albums resulted in relatively few discs that were great from start to finish.  Many of my favorite artists from the previous decade were better at creating singles than entire albums.

Another problem is the same thing I faced when picking my Top 5 films, the idea of best v. favorite.  For example, I think Kid A by Radiohead was one of the 5 best albums of the decade, but I wouldn’t say it would be one of my favorites.  With that in mind I based my selections on two ideas:  Which album did I listen to most often from start to finish, and which albums would I be most likely to listen to start to finish in 2010.  That criteria made the selection process much easier.  So without further ado

Top 5 Albums Of The Past Decade

1.  Is This It – The Strokes

Number one was a true no brainer.  I can honestly say that this album changed my life.  Is This It is easily on my Top 5 all time albums.  I LOVE every song on this album; it encapsulates the 00s for me more than anything else that comes to mind.  It sounds exactly like I think a rock record should sound.  When it was released in 2001 I remember immediately thinking that The Strokes were the coolest guys on the planet.  They were five scruffy New Yorkers who were my age and it felt like they were making an album just for me.  Now that I’m at the ripe old age of 31 I can say that Is This It served as the unofficial soundtrack of my twenties.

2.  Elephant – The White Stripes

The number two spot was the toughest decision on the list.  I knew the artist would be The White Stripes, but I had a hard time choosing between White Blood Cells and Elephant.  Both are amazing albums and both present a compelling case.  In the end I chose Elephant for two reasons.

First, after careful examination I determined that it’s the better album from start to finish.  White Blood Cells has amazing songs like Hotel Yorba, but it also has some filler songs, like Aluminum.  Whereas Elephant starts out with the best intro of the decade, Seven Nation Army, and never really loses it’s momentum from there.

The second reason has more to do with what Elephant represented.  As demonstrated by many bands last decade, it’s very difficult to follow up initial success in music.  After the huge commercial and critical success of White Blood Cells, Jack White managed to make his band bigger and better with his next album.  Elephant was the sound of Jack conquering the world; from 2003 on he owned the decade.

3.  Our Endless Numbered Days – Iron and Wine

When I started making a list this did not immediately come to mind.  It was only after skimming through my iTunes that it occurred to me how much I love this album.  In fact this is the only album that was so good that I left it off of my Modern Rock discs; I couldn’t decide on a song because there are so many great tracks.  It’s the quintessential mellow mood album and it always manages to remind me of the lazy days of summer.  There is so much beauty and personal touches that I feel like I know Sam Beam personally.  I’ll never understand why this album never made it big, while Coldplay and Dave Matthews continue to go platinum.

4.  Funeral – Arcade Fire

This made a lot of Best of the Decades lists and for good reason.  It’s amazing that a nine member band with such grand ambitions managed to make such a succinct album. Even now it’s hard to believe how densely layered and complete it sounds considering it was the band’s first album.

5.  Suck My Mixx – D.J. P

Technology managed to decimate my musical attention span over the last ten years.  Digital music and the decline of the album made it difficult for me to listen to most artists for more than a few songs at a time.  Luckily The 00s were the decade of the mash-up, which are perfect for short attention spans.  And while I enjoy the mash-up stylings of Girl Talk, no one does mash-ups better than D.J. P in my book.  Suck My Mixx is like discovering an old friend that I’ve never met; the whole album is so familiar and so damn listenable. And to this day I think that mashing Tipsy by J-Kwon with Africa by Toto is the coolest idea ever.

Ciao,

The Captain

1. I fully admit I’m part of the problem.  The last time I purchased an actual cd in an actual record store was in 2005.

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