Swear I'm not Paul: List: Best Albums of the Decade 60-51

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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...

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