Swear I'm not Paul: List: Best Albums of the Decade 90-81

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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...

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