Swear I'm not Paul: List: Best Albums of the Decade 10-1

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 10-1

The final part of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. Do you agree with some of the choices? Or do you think they stink to the high heavens? Please let me know, one way or another. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, 80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, 50-41 here, 40-31 here, 30-21 here, and 20-11 here. Finally, here's the most important piece of the puzzle:

10. Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)
The first time I heard this album, I couldm't get enough. I thought it was the best thing ever. The most gorgeous album ever made. I've lessened the hyperbole a little since, but I still love it. A fantastic album, but not for everyone. Features excessive harp playing and shrill vocals. Be warned!

9. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (2007)
The best bar band in America hit the big time with this album. It's a record by guys nearing forty who act like they are eighteen. Thus it appeals to the kid inside all of us. But it's the lyrics that get you to stay around. Intelligent stories that are much more than mere tales about getting wasted and going to parties. They feature excellent characters who live vividly exciting lives. We're all jealous.

8. Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch (2007)
Jason Isbell's first solo album was recorded while he was still a Trucker, but it shone in so many ways. Who could argue with the blistering rock and the excellent lyrics? Take 'Dress Blues' for example. Has there been a better song written about the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq? Somehow I doubt it. Bitterly beautiful. It also helps that Jason himself is one of the best guitarists around.

7. The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
A lot was written about the Strokes when they first came on the scene. They've tried to repeat the success of this since, but neither their band albums or solo projects have matched the suckerpunch that was Is This It. Straight-up rock like this just can't be messed with.

6. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)
A concept album about the American state, this was so much bigger than Stevens' first attempt, Michigan. It features the slogan "Come on Feel the Illinoise" on the cover, which just lets you know what kind of album this is going to be. Fun and egotistical, it's Stevens' masterpiece.

5. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
Forget about the method of payment (you downloaded it illegally even though you could get it for free, didn't you?). This album was so much better than anyone could have expected. It's probably their most accessible album, and as a result it's their best work since OK Computer. Some of the songs are a little overblown, but who cares? That's the Radiohead style. We love them all the more for it.

4. Ryan Adams - Love is Hell (2003)
Ryan Adams has never got on well with labels. They didn't even want to release this album, so he gave them the decent Rock N Roll instead. But it was this combination of two EPs, the first which came out in 2003 that was the real success. His best work so far, it's a gorgeous album of mellow, poignant tunes. Some may not stand out on first listen (some not all), but when you let them seep in, you'll realise the glory. Phenomenal.

3. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)
No, it doesn't have a single like 'Seven Nation Army'. Few albums do. What this has is much better: Sixteen urgent quickfire songs, each one a standout on a marvelous album. It was hard to believe that only two people were involved in this record, and that there was no bass guitar in sight, but when you're as fine a guitar player as Jack White is, you need little else.

2. Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South (2004)
The best album to come out of the confederacy since... well, ever. It's a tribute to southern United States, and an absolutely magnificent one at that. It's full of marvellous stories and imagery, such as the splendid 'Carl Perkins Cadillac' and 'Danko/Manuel', which are touching songs about the legendary musicians. The album sealed the Drive-By Truckers status as modern American legends, and is a stunning collection of songs. Simply amazing.

1. Mic Christopher - Skylarkin' (2001)
My gorgeous other half, Gill, asked me why I love this album so much. I couldn't give her a decent answer. I don't think there are words strong enough to describe the connection I have to this album. I can't help but be captivated by its beauty every single time I put it on. Released after Mic's tragic death in 2001, this was the finest hour of one of Ireland's greatest ever songwriters. Together with his work with the Mary Janes, Mic was carving out a career up there with Van Morrison's. Sadly, following a show in Holland in 2001, Mic had an accident, falling down a flight of stairs and hitting his head. He never regained consciousness and died a few days later. It was the biggest loss to the music world since the death of Jeff Buckley four years earlier. Skylarkin is just as good as Grace, if not better. The best album of the decade.


Keaton said...

WOW - I love a little Drive By Truckers in my life, but I'm REALLY surprised to see them land #2. Way to not play it safe in your list! It also gave me a lot of great ideas on what to listen to! You should check out our comments on the "best of the decade" lists at AudioADD.net!

Anonymous said...

I hate that Radiohead feature so highly in your list. Particularly Kid A, that album made me stop listening to the band who were my favourites at the time. This list needed more Muse but fair-play for doing it.