Swear I'm not Paul: 06/12/2009

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 60-51

Part Six of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, 80-71 here, and 70-61 here. But for now, here's 60-51...

60. The Libertines - Up the Bracket (2002)
Up the Bracket was the record that launched Pete Doherty on the world, and especially on the Great British tabloids. It's a deep down and dirty rock album. The perfect antithesis to Britpop, heralding in a new direction for British music. Without this there would be no Franz Ferdinand, no Sun headlines, but no self-titled album. But what a dress rehearsal for the big event.

59. Paul Simon - Surprise (2006)
Next year sees the return of Peter Gabriel, but he'd be hard pressed to match this: the phenomenal return to form of Paul Simon. Forget about that closing track from the kids' film, this album was filled with surprises. (See what I did there?) Super-producer Brian Eno brought a whole new dimension to Paul Simon's music, infusing the ballads with a fantastic electro backing. One of the three songs the two penned together, 'Outrageous' is one of the best things Simon has ever done, and that includes his S&G years.

58. The Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (2008)
With an album cover featuring legendary French elephant Babar (at least it looks like him), this was Silver Jews most fun album. Absolutely fantastic lyrically as well as musically, Berman has never written (and sadly never will write in the future) better songs than 'San Francisco BC', 'Party Barge', and 'What Is Not But Could be If'. Stunning.

57. The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave (2008)
Kristian Matsson should be better known around the world than Bon Iver. He makes similar downtempo folk, but sadly he forgot the backstory. If he had a log cabin in the woods of Sweden then he may have got the attention he deserves. Each song on this is wonderful, with not a note wasted. He did get to tour with Bon Iver, so if you saw an opening act who outdid the headliner, the Tallest Man on Earth was probably that opener.

56. Neil Young - Greendale (2003)
One of the best concept albums of the decade, this album probably would have garnered more praise if it wasn't for the fact it's about a fictional family in a fictional town. There was also a tie-in movie which worked in conjunction but the lyrics, but forget all about that. The music itself was the selling point. Reunited with Crazy Horse, this is a fantastic Young album, filled with gorgeous stories and interesting characters.

55. Bell x1 - Neither Am I (2000)
The breakup of Juniper could well be the best thing to happen to Irish music this decade. Instead of one great artist, we got two. Damien Rice, and these boys from Celbridge. Bell x1's debut featured two of those Juniper songs: 'Volcano' and 'Face' ('Volcano' also appeared on Rice's own debut), but it was the rest of the album that was truly glorious. Not as radio-friendly as any of their other albums, this was a sombre break-up record of a different kind.

54. Jon Brion - Meaningless (2001)
Jon Brion is better known for his work on movie soundtracks and his production work, but this is solo debut is as good as any pop album released in the noughties. More in-depth and instrumental than most pop albums, Brion performed, arranged, and produced everything on here. A fantastic one-man work. His masterpiece.

53. Common - Be (2005)
Produced by Kanye West, this was Common's finest effort of the decade. More radio-friendly than Like Water for Chocolate and a million times better than the misunderstood Electric Circus, this was Common's breakout record. It featured excellent guests, such as John Mayer on 'Go' and John Legend on 'Faithful', but the choices of samples were even far more inspired: Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Sam Cooke. Amazing.

52. Kings of Leon - Youth and Young Manhood (2003)
Forget about those radio hits and those terrible second and third albums, there once was a time when Caleb Followill and family were so radio-unfriendly that they sported long grizzly beards and sang lyrics that required interpretation via the Rosetta Stone. It was filled with short bursts of hard rock such as the glowing 'Red Morning Light' and the brilliant 'Molly's Chambers'. It's still their best ever song.

51. Badly Drawn Boy - About a Boy (2002)
An album based on a film based on a book, well kinda. This is the soundtrack to the 2002 film adaptation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy. The entire soundtrack was written and performed by Damon Gough himself, including the short instrumental interludes and the longer songs with their enchanting lyrics. Regardless of its soundtrack status, this is a beautiful album in its own right.

The Countdown continues tomorrow...

Album Cover: Drive-By Truckers - The Big To Do

Could this be the album cover?

Friday, December 11, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 70-61

Part Five of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade, and we're not even half-way there. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, and 80-71 here. But for now, here's 70-61...

70. Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006)
Bruce Springsteen's most outlandish album of his career is also one of his best. A departure from everything else he's ever done, his tribute to legendary folk radical Pete Seeger showed that he could turn his hand to anything and be succesful. A compilation of ancient traditional songs, this was one of the best folk albums of the decade, and made us wonder how great Springsteen could have been had he been a folkie all along.

69. The White Stripes - Icky Thump (2007)
After the darker Get Behind Me Satan, The White Stripes returned to a more punky fuller sound on Icky Thump. It included songs that sounded like White Stripes classics such as 'You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)' and newer, edgier stuff like the excellent mariachi cover 'Conquest'. These were just some of many highlights, alongside a brilliant title track and the wonderful 'Rag and Bone'. It's the most recent White Stripes album, and bodes well for the next decade.

68. Sufjan Stevens - Michigan (2003)
The first of his now eternally delayed Fifty States project, Michigan was one of two fantatsic albums released by Sufjan Stevens in 2003/04. The other Seven Swans was a slower, more melodic album. This one paved the way for his masterpiece Illinois, it was a series of magnificent tales about his home state, and has more references than wikipedia.

67. Warren Zevon - The Wind (2003)
The legendary Zevon's last album, released just two short weeks before his death, was also his best in a long time. Featuring a splendid duet with Bruce Springsteen as well as a tremendous cover of Bob Dylan's 'Knocking on Heaven's Door', this album featured one of the best ensemble casts of musicians ever. The fact that Zevon was able to get such respected artists as Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, Ry Cooder, Don Henley, Dwight Yoakam, and Tom Petty just proves how respected he was, and how much he's missed by the musical community worldwide.

66. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)
Forget about the backstory with the break-ups and log cabins, the music on here would be damn good regardless of anything surrounding it. The story gets you into it, but it's the music itself that keeps you listening. Again and again. Only nine songs long, but every one of them is hauntingly beautiful and immediately enchanting. The only problem with this is that Justin Vernon will probably never make a record like this again.

65. TV on the Radio - Dear Science (2008)
Sadly dropped the comma from the official release, Dear Science, is TV on the Radio's masterpiece. It's an album that should be played in clubs. It's increidbly danceable, but sadly never hit the mainstream heights it deserved. It also showed that band member Dave Sitek was one of the finest producers around. Not a blip or beep is wasted.

64. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2005)
This was Arcade Fire's first introduction to most of the world. Their self-titled EP had got a lot of good press, but with the release of Funeral, those wacky Canadians went from relative unknowns to worldwide superstars. It has sold millions of copies worldwide, and probably is the only alternative album to ever do so. You'll probably see it high on many decade-end lists, higher than on here, but it sadly never reaches the peaks of its many singles. A great album, but they may have better in them. Wait and see.

63. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (2002)
The album that confirmed Josh Homme as a superstar, Songs for the Deaf is probably one of the finest concept albums of the decade. It's easy to forget that aside from the splendid hard-rock singles such as 'Go With the Flow' and 'No One Knows', the album underneath was a commentary on listening to various radio stations while driving across the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles. It was clever, and brilliant, but mostly it rocked. Hard.

62. The National - Boxer (2007)
The National's fourth album is their best work so far. Singer Matt Beringer never sounded as good as he did on the dark melodies of 'Fake Empire', 'Mistake for Strangers' and the other ten fantastic songs here. It's bleakly beautiful, but most importantly: damned addictive.

61. Muse - Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
.Muse's 2009 album was a major disappointment. It's the worst thing they've done to date. Luckily, the rest of their career is far better. This, their fourth album was a change in direction, much more spacey and out-there than their previous work. This however was no mad-scientist/UFO-sighting nonsense, but instead was a fine collection of songs (apart from the awful always-skipped 'Soldier's Poem'). Each of the singles is incredible, with the lead 'Suppermassive Black Hole' the best of them. It was totally different than anything they had done before, but also one of the most sonically pleasing, danceable tracks of the noughties.

The Countdown continues tomorrow... If I can pull myself away from X Factor, of course!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Album News: Drive-By Truckers - The Big To Do

Drive-By Truckers have signed to ATO Records for the release of their new album The Big To Do on March 16th 2010. The press release for it came today and included the exact line Patterson Hood used in my recent interview with him: “It’s very much a rock album...Very melodic and more rocking than anything we’ve done since disc 2 of Southern Rock Opera.” Have a read of the full interview here.

The inspiration for The Big To-Do came to the band during their time on the road. “We’ve often set our songs and albums in different periods of time, but this one finds us directly in our present. Riding all through the highways of America (and Europe) trying to make sense of a very different world than the one we grew up in,” says Hood. “I don’t write a lot of songs on the road, but I did more than usual on this album and many more were inspired by or set there, either in a literal sense or something I witnessed or heard about while I was out there.”

Bassist Shonna Tucker has written two of the thirteen songs, but the rest are Hood and Mike Cooley jams.

1. Daddy Learned to Fly
2. The Fourth Night of My Drinking
3. Birthday Boy
4. Drag the Lake Charlie
5. The Wig He Made Her Wear
6. You Got Another
7. This Fucking Job
8. Get Downtown
9. After the Scene Dies
10. (It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So
11. Santa Fe
12. The Flying Wallendas
13. Eyes Like Glue
14. Girls Who Smoke (Bonus track – vinyl only)

List: Best Albums of the Decade 80-71

Part Four of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, and 90-81 here. But for now, here's 80-71...

80. Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
'Hurt' had that video, one of the best music videos ever. But Johnny Cash's fourth Rick Rubin production contained a hell of a lot more than that Nine Inch Nails cover. His covers again were inspired, from the Eagles' 'Desperado' to the Beatles' 'In My Life', but it was the title track that reminded us of what Cash could really do. 'The Man Comes Around' was the best thing the man in black had written in decades.

79. Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (2002)
This may well be the best response to the horrors of 9/11. That was the defining moment of this decade, setting everything else in motion. It also gave Bruce Springsteen the inspiration for his best album since Born in the USA, almost twenty years earlier. But The Rising wasn't a bleak, downtrodden record. Instead it was a celebration of what we still had, a message in how we could conquer our fears, how the whole world could be reborn.

78. Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - Raising Sand (2007)
There would be no proper Led Zeppelin reunion this decade, when they did get back together it was for a one-off show at London's O2. Even if they wanted to play more gigs, they couldn't, as Robert Plant was touring this excellent album with the bluegrass sensation Allison Krauss. It provided some incredible harmonies, and was the best duets record of the decade. As good as anything Gaye and Tyrell ever did.

77. Lily Allen - Alright, Still (2006)
MySpace didn't quite change music the way many had hoped. It had far more failures than successes. There were also a lot of people who had one-off singles such as the horrible Sandi Thom. But then there was Lily Allen. She had the ability. Regardless of how she got to the top, she was always going to get there eventually. With songs as good as 'LDN', 'Smile', and 'Everything's Just Wonderful', her acerbic wit shone through and worked wonderfully with the brass and ska music, which hadn't been heard on radio in a long, long time.

76. Kanye West - Late Registration (2005)
Before Late Registration, Kanye West was just another hip-hop producer. After it, he became one of the biggest egos in the world. He may be an asshole, but he sure does make great music, than can be liked by anyone. Even people who never ever listen to hip-hop or R&B. A massive crossover success on both sides of the Atlantic, this, his second album showed that his debut was no fluke. Co-produced by Jon Brion, it features the best ever sample of a song by a Welsh Dame.

75. Nickel Creek - Nickel Creek (2000)
Nickel Creek had been on the go for many a year before this album, but whereas their previous two albums were made by wide-eyed youngsters, this was their first proper adult record. Featuring a wonderful mix of new and traditional tunes, this is where Chris Thile first really shone. One of the best musicians of the decade in any genre, he showed that he could also be a fantastic songwriter as well as mandolin player. Their covers of our own Sinead Lohan's 'Out of the Woods' and Scottish poet Robert Burn's 'Sweet Afton' are glorious, but the highlight is the incredibly catchy folk song 'The Fox'.

74. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
An album so good that their label refused to publish it, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of those records which could have been lost due to legal wrangling. Thankfully they were picked up by Nonesuch after the album's success via online streaming. It is still Tweedy's best work, with fantastic songs like the engrossing 'I Am Trying To Break Your Heart' and 'War on War'. It's Tweedy and Jay Bennett's fourth Wilco album, but on it, Tweedy outdid even his finest hours with Uncle Tupelo. Bennett left the band after this album, losing the fabulous interplay the two had developed. Sadly, Bennett died in May of this year but released a number of solo albums this decade. None matched this highpoint though.

73. Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine (2003 version)
Similarly to Wilco's fourth, Fiona Apple's third album could easily have been lost due to record company incompetence. Jon Brion had produced the album and provided a bleak instrumental platform for Apple. Epic Records, her label was not at all happy with this, and the album's release was cancelled. It was leaked to the internet and a "Free Fiona" campaign was started, which sent fruit to the label's offices. This version was never officially released, instead the songs were re-recorded with producer Mike Elizondo. The second, re-recorded version is a good album itself, but the original leaked copy is the one to own. Brion is a genius, and he really highlights the finest parts of Apple's enchanting voice.

72. Brendan Benson - Lapalco (2002)
Better known now for his work with Jack White and the Raconteurs, Benson's solo career stands on its own merits. His 1999 debut One Mississippi is a beautiful album filled with fun lyrics, such as the splendid 'Tea'. Like the debut, each of the songs here is a lesson in powerpop. Just check our single 'Metarie'. Another of the album's many hits, 'Good to Me', was covered by Jack White's main band (as the B-Side to the massive-selling 'Seven Nation Army'), but the original is the best version. Forget the Raconteurs, it's by himself that Benson does his best work.

71. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
Face it, Radiohead are never going to make The Bends or OK Computer again. Instead, they change direction with each and every album. Their first album of this decade, and the follow-up to their masterpiece, this divided the opinions of listeners and critics. I know many people who disregard this album totally from the Radiohead canon, but instead of merely rejecting it, it should be listened to. Intently. Again and again. It's one of those albums that is filled with beautiful intricacies and fantastic musicianship, it defies you at every opportunity, but you can't stop yourself listening. Gorgeously addictive but damned unsettling at the same time. You'll never see Coldplay making an album like this.

The Countdown continues tomorrow...

Vote for the Irish albums and songs of 2009

Once again Nialler9 is running his readers' vote for the best Irish Albums and Irish Songs of the year. Super Extra Bonus Party won in 2007 and Jape in 2008 for their albums, but what will top the list this year? You can help decide!

All you need to do is leave a comment on his blog listing your top 3 or more albums and top 3 or more songs released by Irish artists this year. Easy peasy!

Here’s how the poll works:
1. You can pick up to 10 Irish albums and songs released in 2009.
2. At least three Irish albums and songs are required in your vote to count to stop people from asking their mates to vote for them.
3. Poll closes on Wednesday 16th of December at noon.
4. 3 ways to vote
A. Leave your votes in the comments in public for all to see.
B. Use the Google form here.
C. Send an email to vote@nialler9.com with your choices.

Find out more, or vote here:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 90-81

Part Three of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here, and 100-91 here. But for now, here's 90-81...

90. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones (2006)
Karen O and her band of merry men are definitely one of the most consistent acts of the decade. Show Your Bones was confirmation of the sheer magnificence the YYYs showed on their first album. It was less angsty but still caused ructions in the band. Luckily they didn't break up and instead released this glorious second album.

89. Death Cab for Cutie - The Photo Album (2001)
Some may argue for the inclusion of Transatlanticism or We Have the Facts, or maybe even Plans, but for me, this is the essential Death Cab for Cutie album. It hinted at what was later to come on the Postal Service record, with Ben Gibbard's vocals blending fantastically with Chris Walla's fantastic productionship and guitarmanship. 'A Movie Script Ending' may well be their finest four minutes.

88. Killing Heidi - Reflector (2000)
Don't be put off by the cutesy album cover, Killing Heidi's Reflector is the best pop album to come out of Australia this decade. It's the perfect antithesis to Nick Cave's bleak ballads. These are bouncy uptempo pop numbers, and the brash in your face cheer of the album won four ARIA Awards, as well as becoming the fastest selling album in Australian history.

87. The Eels - Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
Another wonderful pop album, this one is full of the usual sardonic Mark Oliver Everett (Mr. E) wit. They may never make another Beautiful Freak, but this one came damn close. Check out 'Mr. E's Beautiful Blues' and 'Flyswatter'. And if you do listen to 'I Like Birds', you'll have it stuck in your head, and coming back at random intervals for the rest of your life.

86. Drive-By Truckers - A Blessing and a Curse (2006)
The last Drive-By Truckers album to include Jason Isbell was also their shortest. It wasn't as dirty as their previous albums and split opinions in both fans and critics. Looking back on it now allows you to see the album for what it is: the DBTs are their tightest and most close knit. Each song is a gem, and the album never outstays its welcome. It's just a major pity Isbell doesn't play 'Daylight' live any more.

85. Seth Lakeman - Freedom Fields (2006)
A British folk album filled with fantastic myths and stories, this is one of the finest storytelling records of the decade. It was so succesful on first release, Lakeman was signed to a bigger label and the album was partly remixed, re-ordered, and re-released. However, the original version, complete with bonus disc, is the one to own. Miles better.

84. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (2005)
On paper, a concept album about Holly, Gideon, and Charlemagne who go from party to party in different cities. However, the album is much more than this. The music of Tad Kubler and Franz Nicolay is goregous, and mixes perfectly with Craig Finn's narrative voice (he doesn't sing, rather speaks the lyrics). It's like a brand-new classic rock album. A modern classic that everyone should own.

83. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedela (2007)
I saw Jens live in Whelan's not long after this album came out, and it was perhaps the most disappointing gig I have ever attended. On his own he's just an average guitar player and average singer, but on record, he makes the most beautiful music complete with a full band and a handful of inspired samples. His second album is a melancholic masterpiece. Have a listen to the highly amusing story in 'Postcard to Nina'. Has unrequited love ever sounded so sweet?

82. Ryan Adams - Jacksonville City Nights (2005)
The second of Ryan Adam's 2005 releases is also the second best. On first listen I absolutely hated it. It seemed like it was trying too hard to be a country record. But on further listens it showed itself to be much more. It was an unpolished, fun album. It featured fine duets with Norah Jones and former Whiskeytowner Caitlin Cary, and the bonus cut included Adams' best ever cover (not the Oasis one), a heartbreaking 'Always on My Mind'. Jon Graboff's pedal steel has never sounded so good

81. Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008)
Alas, I Cannot Swim is the album Lisa Hannigan wished she had made when recording Sea Sew. Hannigan's own is a decent album, but Marling's is superior in every way. 'Ghost', 'My Manic and I', 'Night Terror' and even the short interlude 'Crawled Out of the Sea' are among the best songs to come out of the new folk revival in the UK. And all of them are here on this album.

The Countdown continues tomorrow...

Setlist: Lily Allen, O2 Dublin, 8 December 2009

I kind of pity anyone who has gone to see Lily Allen more than once this year. She's played the exact same songs in the same order throughout her It's Not Me, It's You tour. Even if she mixed them up, or put in a different song from a list of five or so, it'd be so much better. Instead it feels like she's going through the motions. It feels like a show designed just to make money, no longer to entertain.

1. Everyone's at It
2. I Could Say
3. Never Gonna Happen
4. Oh My God / Everything's Just Wonderful
5. 22
6. Knock Em Out
7. Who'd Have Known
8. LDN
9. Back to the Start
10. He Wasn't There
11. Littlest Things
12. Naive
13. Smile
14. Kabul Shit
15. The Fear
16. Womanizer (Britney Spears cover)
17. Fuck You
18. Not Fair
19. Just Good to Be Green

Short clip of 'Who'd Have Known' from last night:

Setlist: Modest Mouse, The Academy, 7 December 2009

Modest Mouse played another sell-out Irish show (damn those dudes are popular). This time they played in the Academy in Dublin. They also played a new improvised song. Which may or may not be a cover of Prince's 'Little Red Corvette'. Sadly there's no videos of it floating around. Yet.

Gravity Rides Everything
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
Fire It Up
Satin In A Coffin
Bury Me With It
Baby Blue Sedan
Float On
Corvette (Improv)
The View
Here It Comes
3rd Planet
The Whale Song
Paper Thin Walls
King Rat
Dance Hall

Live: Rihanna at the O2

Good girl gone bad? Yeah, it seems that way. Rihanna's career has gone downhill recently. Her highpoint was 'Umbrella', and she hasn't been great since. Or maybe you disagree with me?

If you do disagree, then you'll be excited to hear that she's playing Dublin's O2 on Saturday the 22nd of May 2010.

Tickets from €44.20 inclusive of booking fee are on sale this Monday (14th of December) at 9.00am.

Remember this?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 100-91

Part Two of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here. But for now, here's 100-91...

100. Pete Yorn - musicforthemorningafter (2001)
Sometimes you make something so good with your first attempt that you can never hit those high standards ever again. Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly knows what this is all about. As does Pete Yorn. These days he's duetting with Scarlett Johansson and making so-so records. His debut, on the other hand, was a fantastic radio rock album, which leant many of its singles to soundtracks. It's not just a soundtrack album though, like Moby's Play, it has so much more to offer.

99. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (2007)
Wilco are never going to make another Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. But the offspring of Uncle Tupelo came damn close with Sky Blue Sky. A much more rounded and polished album, it was their highest ever charting record. It's a much simpler album, much more direct, but is not worse off in any way; 'Impossible Germany' may well be Jeff Tweedy's finest hour.

98. Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008)
Sigur Rós are another of these acts that'll never match their early work (Ágætis byrjun is a masterpiece, but technically a 1999 release), however they will not cease in trying to be better. Thus their fifth album was yet another change in direction, this one even had a song in English. It charted in the top 5 in both Ireland and the UK, and was much more pop than any of their past efforts. In fact, this was the first fun album Sigur Rós recorded. Yes. It's fun.

97. Okkervil River - The Stage Names (2007)
Will Sheff was always clever. WIth Shearwater he lets his aggression out, but Okkervil River is his best project. The lyrics are intelligent and also funny, but the melodies are what makes the album really shine. No album this decade ends on a higher note, 'John Allyn Smith Sails' is a reworking of the traditional 'Sloop John B' made famous by the Beach Boys, and is every bit as good as Brian Wilson's own.

96. Bruce Springsteen - Magic (2007)
Bruce Springsteen really regained form in the 00s. His 80s output was fantastic, but his 90s work left a lot to be desired. But out of his five albums released this decade, four of them are among his best (the newest,Working on a Dream, is awful). Magic was one of the two upbeat pop ones, less dark than The Rising, and perfect for radio.

95. Ryan Adams - 29 (2005)
The third of Ryan Adams' 2005 trilogy, and his grittiest ever work. It had nine long songs which seeped into your consciousness. A real grower of an album, it's beautiful. There was an article in the Guardian last week saying that a director's minor work - the film that's most different than the rest of their output - is their real best. Many people think this may be the case with Adams. They may well be right.

94. The National - Alligator (2005)
Alligator was the National's third album, but was the one on which they really shone. Filled with bleakly beautiful songs, it was an album which showed its beauty on first listen, but got even better on repeated spins. Interestingly, PopMatters gave it two reviews on its release - the total of which added up to give it 9 (2/10 and 7/10). Bet they're kicking themselves now.

93. Glen Phillips - Abulum (2001)
Toad the Wet Sprocket were much bigger on the other side of the Atlantic than over here. But anyone who doesn't know of them should take notice of their frontman, Glen Phillips's debut solo album. Abulum is like that old warm family friend, filled with curious observations, and a great deal of wit. It's also damn addictive.

92. U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
U2 came out of the blocks this decade with the splendid single 'Beautiful Day', which has soundtracked many a highlight reel since. Every song was a possible single, but it was the slower numbers like 'Walk On' and Bono's tribute to his late friend Michael Hutchence, 'Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of'. 'Peace on Earth' was the only weak point on what is otherwise a marvellous Irish album.

91. Richard Hawley - Coles Corner (2005)
Coles Corner was Hawley's fourth solo album and is named after one of Sheffield's hotspots. It was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2006 which gained Hawley a much wider fanbase. It contained many gorgeous songs, for example 'The Ocean', 'Hotel Room', and the tremendous title track.

The Countdown continues tomorrow...