Here it is, folks. Sorry for all the delays, now that life is dull again and finals are over, consistent blogging should resume (I hope.) And now that the list is complete, I will start to cover current things that I'm digging, etc.
So let the debates about who I SHOULD have put on this list commence! (I look forward to it.)
5) The Moon and Antarctica - Modest Mouse (2000)
For 15 years now, Isaac Brock has been writing songs about his experiences--but mostly the pain that he has experienced. While often his lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and whimsical, there is true sadness underneath most of it, and a refreshing cynnicism that tells it like it is. The Moon & Antarctica is no exception. As the title suggests, the album has an ice cold feeling to it, coming from the sound of layered, echoing guitars over very hushed percussion. It is a beautifully minimal and emotional sound that chills the bones. The Moon & Antarctica is clearly Modest Mouse's masterpiece; its lyrics and music are some of the best recorded in this decade. But the album is not all slow-tempo, sad songs. When Modest Mouse gets loud and angry, what results are some really rockin' songs that are equally as powerful. I would love to say that The Moon and Antarctica is also important for its influence on other artists, but--to this day--not a single band has come close to replicating Modest Mouse's uniquely wonderful sound.
Modest Mouse - Gravity Rides Everything
4) Takk... - Sigur Rós (2005)
The most well-known, and, arguably, the best act to come out of the fantastic Iceland music scene, Sigur Rós has shown in this decade that the US and the Mainland of Europe are not the only places that can produce fantastic rock music. In fact, Sigur Rós blows all other bands out of the water when it comes to making beautiful songs, and even though very few people can understand the language that they sing in. However, the story of Sigur Rós this decade has been that music is a language that is universal. Jónsi Birgisson's strangely unique voice, blended with the amazing musical talent of the rest of his band makes a sound that is familiar, yet also foreign. However you describe it, it is beautiful enough to make you cry. By this point in the decade, their music has transcended to the level where anytime a movie-maker wants a beautiful song that is a bit alternative, Sigur Ros has often been the choice (ex: Vanilla sky, The Life Aquatic, and many movie trailers.) Between Takk..., their breakthrough LP Ágætis Byrjun, and the beautiful ( ) album, it is hard to choose their best release. However, as entire albums go, Takk... contains amazing singles, yet retains a wholistic album feel. Takk... also features more guitar than any of their previous albums, and to good results. I am not sure how they do it, but Sigur Rós creates music that is as beautiful as their Icelandic homeland, sharing it with the rest of the world--acheiving well-deserved success.
Sigur Rós - Sé Lest
3) Discovery - Daft Punk (2001)
To put Passion Pit and LCD Soundsystem on this list requires a nod to the godfathers of the now-popular electro-pop genre, Daft Punk. Daft Punk made hits in this decade that were accessible to and loved by everyone. And I mean everyone. Their music has amazing beats, perfectly captures the spirit of adolescence (ex: "Digital Love"), and it's sexy. On top of that, their mixing and production is rather incredible. But Daft Punk's Discovery was far more important to this decade than just being the album that had both "One More Time" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." The number of young, up-and-coming dance lovers whom Daft Punk influenced with their music is amazing. Without Daft Punk, the modern electro-dance scene would not be what it is today. That means artists like Justice, MSTRKRFT, and countless remix artists/DJs would not be where they are now. And that is why they finish at #3.
Daft Punk - Digital Love
2) Illinois - Sufjan Stevens (2005)
The best songwriter of this decade deserves this high-up spot on this list. Throughout his work in this decade, Stevens has shown his skills spanning across many diverse genres (folk, worldbeat, electro, classical composition, .... ) And while each of his 7 studio albums in this decade is incredibly unique--with the exception of the similar Illinois and Michigan albums--Stevens' most widely popular and most impressive acheivement this decade is Illinois. There is something remarkable to be said about a songwriter able to dedicate a perfect 24-track album entirely to a US state, only to later release a set of 21 amazing B-sides and outtakes that didn't make the cut on the last CD. Stevens is a songwriting machine, but no song ever suffers from this. Something about the way he writes--the subtlety and the vivid imagery that they contain--makes every song personal. His beautiful, soft voice just makes it even better. And one cannot leave out Stevens' amazing musical talent as a multi-instrumentalist. His use of horns, snares, and flutes on Illinois in addition to the usual guitars, etc. is a new take on folk that is different from all others. And whatever your preconceived notions are about the banjo are,
the way that he uses the instrument on songs like "Casimir Pulaski Day", and "Decatur" will make you fall in love with it. Illinois is Americana music for a new generation, and while it is hard to say at this moment whether or not it will stand the test of time--it sure deserves it.
Sufjan Stevens - The Predatory Wasp of the Pallisades Is Out To Get Us
1) Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene (2005)
The only band featured twice on this list, Broken Social Scene takes the title with their 2005 self-titled release. Everything said about You Forgot It In People rings true on this album, but to even greater magnitude. The quiet jam songs are even more intimate, contrasting with huge anthems that will wake you up and inspire you. With this release, Broken Social Scene writes about the problems of our decade, but leaves the anti-war songs for Neil Young and Green Day to write. Instead, Broken Social Scene identifies a more immediate problem with people in modern society--apathy and the lack of loving, personal connections. And wouldn't most of our problems in the world be solved if we all just cared a little more? As song titles like "Handjobs for the Holidays" and lyrics like "why are you always fucking ghosts?" suggest, people care more about pornography and other fantasies over real connections with people--an interesting thought. With this album, the Canadian indie collective tries to make sense of a world that is going crazier every second. As with most great pieces of art, the album gives no answers, but instead provides a catharsis of emotion and a chance to scream out all the frustrations that life throws at you. And it accomplishes that goal perfectly.
Broken Social Scene - Superconnected