Top 93 Music Albums of the 2000s by DriftingOrpheus
- Chart updated: 08/28/2023 23:45
- (Created: 04/03/2020 02:36).
- Chart size: 93 albums.
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It's true there are a startling lack of traditional instrumentation here, but the band has never upped the ante like this before or since. While the group had previously made stellar, conscious efforts to avoid being pigeonholed, Kid A marked the planting of a flag which flew colors of musical experimentation and encased Radiohead in the annals of music history as they stared down the barrel of studio pressures for a 'conventional' LP. What the band hand-delivered towards the end of 2000, as the shadow of an unfulfilled Y2K dissipated, was their vision of an approaching apocalypse that would be patient in temperament and self-inflicted.
A dystopian, shivering piece of art, depicting a future that has completely gone metallic, Kid A is the brain's answer to OK Computer's heart. It was here where the marriage of the band and synthesizer incorporation was fused as they devised chemical processes like crazed alchemists in order to weld tracks which could survive both boiling heat and glacial cold. The opening tones of Everything in its Right Place encapsulate a sound which would soon serve as an idiosyncratic anthem as Radiohead firmly shook the hand of the 21st century. The skittering, emergency siren of Idioteque snags a snapshot of a world on the brink of collapse, too preoccupied to sense impending armageddon. Finally, the faux comfort of better times evaporates during the final moments of Motion Picture Soundtrack, ending the album with metaphorical hands full of ash.
Radiohead didn't redefine the rock record with Kid A, for there is no all-encompassing definition. What the band truly managed, was the elusive task of redefining themselves, synchronously altering expectations for their subsequent work and thrusting headlong into an unbroken cycle of phoenix-like reincarnation and reinvention bedizened with staggering success.
"Who's in a bunker? Who's in a bunker? I have seen too much. I haven't seen enough."
2. How to Disappear Completely
3. Everything in its Right Place
106.7 [First added to this chart: 04/25/2020]
The band collectively "letting their hair down" has led to an undeniably earnest entry in the Radiohead canon. Emerging with the bouncy, yet refined 15 Step, it's easy to admire Phil Selway's percussion on the track. The 5/4 time signature creates the illusion of a mutated pop song, awash in sarcastic wit. Bodysnatchers seems to rekindle the band's love for guitar rock as Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien imprint their likenesses all over the thundering track. Nude, track three, could easily take the cake for Radiohead's pinnacle of aesthetic beauty, a song that unfurls slowly and fades into the ether ever so softly. Yorke's vocals on this cut are among the finest he's ever produced. It's very apropos that a song about physical vanity ends up being so tangibly gorgeous.
Late album entries such as Reckoner, Jigsaw Falling Into Place and the heartbreaking Videotape, bookend an album submerged in consistency. Still, there is no grand memorandum, no life-lesson other than what it means to be human, whether fallible, physically self-conscious or devoid of direction. Radiohead have made a name for themselves by zigging and subsequently zagging, but In Rainbows resides on the straightest of lines. A line that is neither accessible nor challenging, existential nor nihilistic. Ten tracks of simply being, at the heights of exuberance and the base of sorrow. A full spectrum of emotion, paralleled by the spectrum of light that dons the album cover.
"No matter what happens now
You shouldn't be afraid
Because I know today has been
The most perfect day I've ever seen."
3. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
99.8 [First added to this chart: 04/25/2020]
Lead singer Paul Banks pulls no punches on third track NYC, claiming, "The subway is a porno, The pavements they are a mess, I know you've supported me for a long time, Somehow I'm not impressed". Lead guitarist Daniel Kessler vigorously drives fifth track Say Hello to the Angels. The breakneck pace is notably apt when uncovering the song's inspiration, unfailing sexual yearning during a rocky relationship. Fan favorite Obstacle 1 is often noted as an anthem for the turn-of-the-century indie revival. It was seemingly influenced by the death of a model that willingly pierced her own throat. The relevance to the narrator is still up for interpretation but lines such as, "But it's different now that I'm poor and aging, I'll never see this face again, And you go stabbing yourself in the neck," imply a distant, one-sided affinity. The darkness only purveys further from there. Playfully titled track Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down describes another flesh-centric liaison gone awry due to the title bearer's personal instability. Sam Fogarino's burst-guided drumming creates the sensation that the song itself is slowly descending deeper and deeper into the Hudson. Banks croons, "Bottom of the ocean she dwells, bottom of the ocean she dwells", as he too drifts into the abyss.
The lion's share of the band's attention appeared to revolve around their status as dead ringers for legendary post-punk foursome Joy Division. Interpol, while respecting Joy Division's legacy, dismissed the strategic intention of such comparisons, not content to live in another's shadow or (Shadowplay). While The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem concocted hits that were not out of place at Columbia University parties and the sprawling New York City club scene, Turn on the Bright Lights' target was an entirely different audience. A sector of listeners that felt petrified at the notion of being present at a social soiree or those who desired whole-hearted love in favor of booze-soaked escapades. It's a shame that these days Interpol are perceived to have lost their labels as critical darlings, lost to a new generation sporting deaf ears on which the band's music falls on. Shamefully, they often get lost in the shuffle when commenting about the impact of early 2000's indie rock, swiftly swept to the side by more thematically positive acts that potentially have less provocative things to say. How appropriate of the band to be caught up in such a woebegone story. Hindsight suggests that Interpol just may have been the finest act to grace that era. They certainly released its most polished, brilliantly arranged artifact. You can find it gracing the shelves of a Greenwich Village antique shop.
"I had seven faces
Thought I knew which one to wear
But I'm sick of spending these lonely nights
Training myself not to care"
1. Obstacle 1
2. Leif Erikson
3. Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down
97.8 [First added to this chart: 04/25/2020]
The first landmark on the album, comes in the form of track four, Intervention. The song stresses the dangers of over-dedication, whether it be towards patriotism while unaware of the prospect of incalculable casualties or towards religious zeal which renders an individual to turn a blind eye to familial strife. Frontman Win Butler declares, "Working for the church while your family dies, you take what they give you and you keep it inside, every spark of friendship and love will die without a home, hear the soldier groan, we'll go at it alone". This coincides with sublime organ pulses that engulf the track in a haze of heavenly aura. Eighth track, (Antichrist Television Blues), finds the band at their most 'Springsteenian' as they conjure a unflinching groove while Butler's lyrics call upon an escape from a dead-end American town and ponder what the future may bring. Penultimate cut No Cars Go is a drum-powered, french influenced rallying cry against the hustle and bustle of modern society. The track swelters to a boiling point of cathartic harmonization, perfectly leading into Butler's subdued first words of My Body is a Cage. The final track illustrates Butler's crippling anxiety until the song erupts in its final moments as he claims "his mind holds the key" to breaking the spell.
Arcade Fire's seminal second LP may not garner the same indie street cred as Funeral, however, it does contain a tighter, more cohesive collection of tracks that are effortlessly dynamic, both in musicality and thematic structure. The addition of a more heavily stocked musical arsenal provided the foundation for the band to push the boundaries of their sonic experimentation. The end result is an album that is less preachy and more introspective, attaching an alluring vulnerability to artists who were extremely conscious of their musical prowess. Plainly, this is not the millenially aware Arcade Fire found on Everything Now, nor is it the Arcade Fire who were undeniably ingenious but marginally conceited on Funeral. Neon Bible features the ensemble at the peak of their powers, embedded with confidence while tastefully unguarded. This is frankly mind-blowing considering that Arcade Fire at their worst is a force to be reckoned with.
"Into the light of a bridge that burns,
As I drive from the city with the money that I earned,
Into the dark of a starless sky,
I'm staring into nothing and I'm asking you why."
-(Antichrist Television Blues)
1. No Cars Go
3. Ocean of Noise
96.9 [First added to this chart: 04/25/2020]
The fantasy-tinged odyssey materializes with opening number, Emily. The song is inspired by Newsom's astrophysicist sister and the revered moments shared between them. As you'd imagine, Joanna's harp is the centerpiece of the sprawling, musing procession. The might of the string section smolders behind her handiwork creating a sensation of perpetual motion that never allows the 12 minute opener to stall but rather to wander with concentrated beauty. Newsom's ability to rhapsodize approaches mythic plateaus on the track as she requests, "Let us go though we know it's a hopeless endeavor; the ties that bind, they are barbed and spined and hold us close forever; though there is nothing would help me come to grips with a sky that is gaping and yawning; there is a song I woke with on my lips as you sailed your great ship towards the morning." It's just one stone that resides within the collection of embarrassing riches of this era's greatest lyricist. Second track, Monkey & Bear, expands the sonic repertoire slightly but the songstress' harp still chaperones. The song flaunts calculated orchestral flutters buoying Newsom's unabridged poetic amendments. The thematic roots of the sweeping nine minute piece are entrenched in the legend of Ursa Major, a constellation in the frame of a bear. Potentially more personally akin to Newsom's experience, the song echoes sentiment of the damning effects staying steadfast in romantic kinship at the cost of surrendering personal independence. "Until we reach the open country, a-steeped in milk and honey; will you keep your fancy clothes on, for me; can you bear a little longer to wear that leash," she details. Album epergne, Sawdust and Diamonds, bears the sweetest of fruits. The track is bolstered by Newsom's sublime harp arpeggio that acts as the engine for the song's excellence. It also ranks as one of the finest lyrical labyrinths of her career. It communicates a moment of adversity between two lovers and ponders if said love will persevere or subside. "And in a moment of almost-unbearable vision, doubled over with the hunger of lions; hold me close, cooed the dove, who was stuffed, now, with sawdust and diamonds," Newsom sings with fragility. It's a harrowing excursion that remains one of the artist's most ethereal yet lucid declarations. Its tendency to induce tears is formidable.
Only Skin, is a serpentine account of the events that befell Joanna during the year that inspired the album and the interrelation between those fragments. The track is Ys' most sonically voluptuous as it features backing vocals from Bill Callahan and burly cello contributions. The tuneful escalation does not supersede Newsom's poetry, however. She protests, "But always up the mountainside you’re clambering, groping blindly, hungry for anything; picking through your pocket linings, well, what is this; scrap of sassafras, eh Sisyphus," as she alludes to a partner's polygamous lust. Only Skin transmutes multiple times throughout its 17 minute runtime, punctuating Newsom's ability as a virtuoso spinner of feminine, fantasy sagas. The album comes to rest with Cosmia, where Joanna calls upon moths to lead her to the warming light of solace. Her vocal work is her mightiest here, as she calls for her "little darling" and how she misses a particular "precious heart". Additionally, the heavenly falsettos she unleashes joyously contrast backing accordion hums. She asks, "Can you hear me; Will you listen; don't come near me; don't go missing, and in the lissome light of evening, help me, Cosmia; I'm grieving."
It's important to step back slightly and gaze at the mountainous mosaic that Newsom has architected. It's tremendously difficult to synthesize one's intimate thoughts into such a boundless tapestry of wordplay and metaphor. On Ys, Joanna Newsom seems to operatively channel her convictions while remaining blissfully, beautifully unfazed by the rigors that would derail mortal songwriters. This is not Newsom's lyrical coming out party as she was profoundly bardic on 2004's The Milk-Eyed Mender, but the poeticism has ballooned into a hulking behemoth on Ys, all the while bending one of the world's most challenging instruments to her will. It's clearly difficult to be humble when describing the young woman's ever-blooming genius. I'll just leave the humility to her as it seems to come her naturally as all things inherently do. With a quartet of albums under her belt, she's likely to have more future triumphs and adornments affixed to her name. Still, she'd be hard-pressed to outdo her chamber folk paragon. It's a carefully constructed journey of enlightening pain and a promise of subsequent emotional provision. It is destined to harbor the necessary magic native to the fantasy settings that which galvanized its creation. Ys is simply a fossilized memento of a forgotten and forlorn age, washed up on a forbidden shore as considerate waves propel it lovingly toward you.
"From the top of the flight,
Of the wide, white stairs,
Through the rest of my life,
Do you wait for me there?"
-Sawdust and Diamonds
1. Sawdust and Diamonds
3. Monkey & Bear
94.9 [First added to this chart: 04/27/2020]
There's a raw, unpolished disregard that permeates through the veins of 'Battle Hymns II'. The devil-may-care production only enhances the material and the legacy it leaves behind, like a piece of cursed media or an unreleased 911 call. While rhapsodizing about 'little angels who want to be sex crime victims' and 'lasting a single minute more with pagan whores', the band leaves in spits, slip-ups and guitar feedback that bookends tracks like recording session timestamps. Lead singer Alex Story's howl corrals the sonic storms of crashing cymbal hits blended with scraping guitar strings and gives them direction. It's no secret that the band tends to re-record tracks from their past and reimagine them in different colors. Interestingly, the re-touching of traversed lands worked for the group as each entry brought a different energy that rarely disappointed in the early days of Cancerslug. There's a thickness to the production here; a heavy, corrosive presence that aids in the culmination of something wholly unholy. Still, melody isn't compromised, truthfully, it's just the opposite. To dissect it further in a musical sense would be an injustice to the very essence of what the album offers. It's devoid of form by intention, ancient in its nature and the equivalent of unearthing a malevolent curse from centuries ago and having it embody a 22-track album. A more appropriate way to observe 'Battle Hymns II' is through its prose. Deeply abrasive, satanic and nihilistic, Alex Story's lyricism is the perfect accompaniment to the already haunting sonic disposition. Some selections include, 'Sex Crime Victim', 'Demon in My Pants', 'Blood on Satan's Claw' and 'Creation Teardrops'. On 'Cycle of the Wolf' Story details, "The hunger burning in these veins to feed, to fuck, to live unchained, to bend the back and walk the earth on all fours." Despite its rather obvious connections to the commonly known werewolf myth, there's a frightening reality to the delivery, as if Story and company mean it in a literal sense, possibly alluding to the animalistic nature of society's most depraved. Creative subtlety is rife on the record (something that modern Cancerslug sorely lacks), but Story makes room for a healthy dose of skin-crawling bluntness. He writes on 'The Raven', "Taking baby out for a treat tonight, fuck her up the ass with a switchblade knife; I don't know if it's love but it's alright." The track has little in common with Poe's tale (other than the call and response of Nevermore), but Story's version remains on of the album's most visceral accounts.
Other parables of woe include 'So Many Dead', where Story screeches, "I put on the mask, I take up the knife I put on the gloves, I'll take your life; I am a fucking force of nature". The band effortlessly typifies the uncomfortable reality that percolates throughout 'BH II'. That's precisely why they occupied such a unique space amongst the Horror rock landscape. Their approach (in their prime), complete with a bedeviling delivery, convey the image of an act that may not know where the performance ends and the actuality begins. In other instances, Story honors his idols such as Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci on 'Cat in the Brain', a song inspired by the 1990 horror film of the same name. The band even employs a softer touch on the record (by their standards) with 'In Dreams', a (dare I say) touching story of longing and repudiation. Story croons, "I can feel the fear inside of you; I'm amazed by your strength and pride and you will be forever by my side; No, there'll be no more pain so dry your lovely eyes." The album's magnum opus is 'Death's Call', a track so audibly haunting that Story's ghostly bellows seem to emanate from the attic above, through waterlogged plaster at 3AM. Nihilistic fervor takes hold with Story's declarations, "Everywhere I go, death comes calling to take me home; I will die alone and death comes calling to take me home." The nauseously named 'Fetus Milkshake' is a molten, sluggish account of a self-performed clothes hanger abortion told with unnerving explicitness. "When you are safe in mommy's womb, don't let the clothes hanger bother you; When you feel your limbs being torn away, don't feel bad you'll find them down the drain." Despite its unabashed ugliness, the hypnotic sway of 'Fetus Milkshake' give it the qualities of a diabolic lullaby. Story takes no position on the issue. He merely remains an observer. He's happy to just report upon horrors rather than analyze them.
Soon, the edge faded, the anger dwindled and the ferocity that separated Cancerslug from droves of gimmick bands that tried to reinvigorate horror-inspired rock and roll died off. It was replaced with vulgarity for vulgarity's sake. Shock value songs instead of the hair-raising mystery and mythology that encased the group in its heyday and all that remained was a pale reflection. There's blame to be shared in both camps, the band's and the blame of our expectations. People change, and ambition quells but few can deny the horrifying enigma Cancerslug once was. A beast that stalked the nights on internet forums and in the basements of horror aficionados everywhere. It's unlikely that Cancerslug will make much of an impression on music platforms or that it will even resonate with anyone reading this. Still it must be documented that their brilliance and bottled hate once inspired joy and dread in those who faced their music. Even the most docile and non-confrontational of individuals would know the face of true rage which the band communicated seemlessly during the early oughts. That's the kind of ruthless insight Cancerslug would spew when its revelry knew no bounds and its carnage took no prisoners. 'Battle Hymns II' is one of the most striking, deftly-aimed, sensational albums of the 21st century and so very few know of its power. It's meant to be listened to through the most imperfect of equipment and in the most hostile of environments. Be careful and tread lightly when you speak its name, for you must be prepared for the sinister, soul-blackening contents held within.
"I've got my innocence.
I'm gonna fuck you with it and I won't stop until I am through."
- If I Should Die Tonight
1. Death's Call
2. Fetus Milkshake
3. The Raven
94.3 [First added to this chart: 07/16/2021]
* Not the correct version of the album, but BEA prohibits the 2009 release, which is vastly superior. [First added to this chart: 03/13/2022]
Antics begins by lighting a slow-burning fuse titled Next Exit. A somber, hypnotic opener introducing the listener, reluctantly, to the forthcoming tale of social turbulence. Vocalist Paul Banks remarks, "You've been building up steam, ignited by this fight, so do this thing with me instead of tying on a tight one tonight", calling for bravery in the face of a discouraging, drug-infused descent. The fuse then greets the explosive with second track, Evil. The track is powered by Dengler's intoxicating bassline that cradles the song throughout its duration. The jovial tinge of the track is diversified by Banks' lyrics that conjure the personas of infamous British serial killers Fred and Rosemary West. Spoken from the perspective of the former, Banks chants, "Rosemary, heaven restores you in life, you're coming with me, through the aging, the fearing, the strife." Fourth track, Take You on a Cruise, serves as the centerpiece, fading in slowly like a ship through a dense fog bank. Banks himself has described this as a slight departure from the pathos of the album. He claims, "It has a different tone to the rest of the record for that reason. It’s a tacky seduction story: this guy who may be worldly and well-educated but he’s trying to get laid with a cocktail waitress." The coalescence of the rhythm section in the second half of the track is as majestic as the maritime imagery Banks' poetry frames. This conglomerate plays wonderfully aside Banks chanting, "White Goddess, red Goddess, black Temptress of the sea, you treat me right," calling upon Greek mythology. The finale serves as one of the band's most overlooked cuts. A Time to Be So Small has sonic textures that fashion an appropriate ending for the album with Banks' baritone bathed in reverb as the track floats away. Fogarino's drum hits here have such a fascinating sense of weight that they can be felt within your chest cavity. The song itself is said to be written from the point of view of a crustacean watching a family squabble between a father and son. Go figure. However, aquatic anomaly aside, the lyrics convey a more sinister coloring. The LP ends with Banks proclaiming, "When the cadaverous mob saves its doors for the dead men, you cannot leave," sharpening the threat of death at sea.
Unfortunately for the immensely gifted ensemble, Antics would serve as the band's final full-length classic. Here, the synthesis of emotional tonnage into harmonious elixir is strikingly effortless. Interpol would go on to produce four more above-average, but never legendary albums. As conversed earlier, a portion of it spawned from the crater left by their skillful bass player, but this came long after they'd pumped out their fourth outing. Others would potentially point out that the fracture left behind from the infighting did more damage to the psyche of the band rather than the group's sonic capabilities. Whatever it was, Interpol would never reach these heights again but with that said, not many artists have. A very small sector of the music-making landscape could brandish not one, but two classics to start a recording career. Interpol swam in the deepest of waters with the most fearsome of fauna and emerged remarkably relevant and intact. They've climbed back into their luxury liner with two first-class albums shoveling coal into their furnaces. Interpol has earned the right to go at their own pace now and anything they serve us in the future is a much obliged bonus. The timid, sharply dressed boys from the big city have nothing more to prove.
"If time is my vessel, then learning to love
Might be my way back to sea
The flying, the metal, the turning above
These are just ways to be seen"
1. Take You on a Cruise
2. A Time to Be So Small
93.7 [First added to this chart: 04/25/2020]
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Top 93 Music Albums of the 2000s composition
Top 93 Music Albums of the 2000s chart changes
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by Aphex Twin
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Is This It
by The Strokes
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