15) You Forgot It In People - Broken Social Scene (2002)
We can agree that "indie" music dominated this decade. There were many different areas putting out great music in this genre (San Francisco, London, New York, LA) but the Montreal/Toronto tagteam in Canada gave us some of the best--Arcade Fire, Islands, Final Fantasy, Stars, Metric, and Feist, to name a few. Emerging from strong friendships between members of some of these acts, Broken Social Scene is the super-est of indie supergroups, currently comprised of 19 contributing members. Each member brings their own contribution to the BSS sound, resulting in an album like You Forgot It In People that is lyrically and musically diverse and never gets old. The album is clearly a collaberative work of some talented songwriters, with lyrics and orchestrations that are "artsy" but still accessible. One would guess that a band with this reputation would be disconnected from the world of us less "super" artists, but somehow You Forgot It In People invites you in on every song. Broken Social Scene is immense, yet surprisingly intimate, capturing the loud and soft, the pissed off and the romantic side of the human experience. And they love to share their thoughts with you in a way that is beautiful and humble. You Forgot It In People is an extraordinary achievement
14) And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out - Yo La Tengo (2003)
Before And Then Nothing... came out, Yo La Tengo had earned its rep by being a group that jumped from genre to genre writing some pretty loud and rocking songs about love. This album was radical in that, for the most part, it stuck to one genre: slow-paced love songs. The husband-and-wife duo really know how to pull at heartstrings, at with And Then Nothing... they write songs that alternate from joyful to heartbreaking. All the fast-paced energy from their previous albums is not lost here, but rather more focused on a simpler settling, really delving into what the process of love can be like. It is true that not every song hits on this album, but that isn't how And Then Nothing... operates. When it works, it REALLY works.
13) Bitte Orca- Dirty Projectors (2009)
You will notice that two pretty big names are missing from my list, Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. I do not mean to group the two in the same category--they are very different artists--but they were both hailed as champions of the experimental music genre. I will admit, I do not like Animal Collective. Yes, I said it. As for Grizzly Bear, I enjoy their music very much, but, in my mind, the experimental-indie album of the decade goes to the Dirty Projectors with Bitte Orca. The album is crafted masterfully and artistically, using the voice as an instrument and layering it in as part of a much grander sound. The album is sometimes an R&B record and sometimes an indie record, but it is recorded with technical precision and complicated rhythms that are uncharacteristic of both those genres. Lyrically it is also a success. Although some may count this against the Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca is an experimental album that can be enjoyed by more than just a small dedicated fan base.
12) Return To Cookie Mountain - TV on the Radio (2006)
Return To Cookie Mountain was a bit of a mind-blower. Crazy percussion, the mix of low, grumbling voices with high falsettos, whistling, and ocassional brass and saxophones combined to make one of the most interesting instrumentations on any rock/indie album of the decade. This great sound was combined with chilling songs written about being completely disenchanted with the Bush administration and the problems of our times. The rage behind "Wolf Like Me" and the anti-war message of "I Was A Lover" made for anthemic songs that were great to rock to as well. Works for me.
11) Manners - Passion Pit (2009)
The 2000s saw electronic music explode again--especially in the latter half of the decade--from Timbaland and Lady Gaga, to Justice and Daft Punk. (Even Beirut got in the mix!) With it being so popular, It got to a point where it seemed like anybody with a home synthesizer and a drum machine could get a single on the air. By 2009, however, Passion Pit had the time to take in all of the most fun elements of electronic pop, mix it with Michael Angelakos' screaming falsetto and well-composed songwriting, showing what electronic music can be at its very best. Manners is the summer album that you can dance your heart out to, but has the emotional depth to carry you through the dark winter as well. Everyone can agree that "Sleepyhead" and "The Reeling" were some epic singles, but tracks like "Eyes as Candles" and "Swimming In The Flood," are shockingly emotionally mature--while still being dance-able. I can't get enough of it.