Music in the 2000s is a static and distasteful decade in music. Just when you thought that boy bands couldn’t get any worse, here comes a decade of horrid pop music and mediocre rappers that’s all hype but in the later years they’ve ended up forgettable. It doesn’t even help that the old names of the music world makes an unwanted comeback and makes us wish even more about music about the old days. Because a lot of people realizes the awfulness of music in music industry, there’s no wonder why people became hipsters and supported so many indie bands that they weren’t getting in the 2000s. But before the post-9/11 era started this terrible trend of music, the year 2000 was a start of a new decade and century. The days of the 1990s were no more, so new faces came in and tried to redefine their talents in songwriting. So in the next series of Top 10’s, I’ll be ranking the Top 10 Albums of each year and sum them all up on what was the best albums of the decade. So start things off, here are the top 10 albums of the 2000s.
Number 10. – “Since I Left You” Avalanches
The painstaking hours of sampling by Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann resulted in one of the best albums of the 2000’s, if not of all time. This hour long journey consists of so much emotion and creativity that at times it is hard to wrap one’s head around all that’s presented. Because there’s so many layers of sound coinciding at any given time, you’ll notice something new with each listen. The feel of it is almost surreal. Each track flows seamlessly into the next, taking the listener along for the joyous ride. Since I Left You is truly spectacular. Sampling is an art, there’s no doubt about it – unless you’re a close minded idiot who has a bias against certain styles of music. My only real problem with Since I Left You is that Endtroducing did it better – the mesh of sampling I mean, aurally they’re completely different albums. Complete opposites. I always think of Endtroducing as Since I Left You‘s depressed older brother. It’s a much darker and moodier album, where as Since I Left You is upbeat and it feels more summery. But they’re both the absolute best at what they do. I can’t think of too many albums that are more fun to listen to, if Endtroducing was where the art of sampling became an art, this is where it became fun. This album is so colourful, vibrant and full of life. It’s just an absolute joy to listen to.
Number 9. – “Stankonia” Outkast
Taking a step back for a moment, it’s a small triumph that this album not only exists, but has a place in history as something an entire country got behind. In terms of music that challenges you mentally and physically, this album is up there. At times it will have way too much sound for you to handle, or sound ridiculous compared to their origins at the player’s ball. Sometimes it will sound excellent. Most of the time you might just be confused (“Snappin’ & Trappin'”). It’s not just the subject matter where there is a lot of gear switching. The production on Stankonia is a rollercoaster ride and I mean that in the most positive way possible. Normally a comment like that would be a negative, but somehow Outkast really made it work on this album. The tracks are produced by Earthone III (which is Outkast themselves) and Organized Noize. Not a beat sounds the same and each track has a different influence to it, which makes it unique on the album. I guess it’s very experimental in nature (I guess that why some people seem to pretty much hate Stankonia). However I personally like some of the more experimental joints. Personally I think the album closer, ‘Stankonia (Stanklove)’, is one of the greatest pieces I ever heard. I just like it slow nature and the way it just drags on. I suppose it’s almost on some chopped & screwed shit. Also…’We Luv Deez Hoez’…great fucking track. Anyways I think what makes this is a rather smooth ride is the skits. I think they are good little breaks for when the sounds is about to change drastically. They serve as a breather and set up for the next song. That’s how you should use a skit. Emcees take notice.Number 7. – “White Pony” Deftones
Number 8. – “De Stilj”
The White Stripes
Contrary to popular belief or the art movement alluded on the cover, the album is actually a lot more diverse than just straight blues rock and garage rock. There’s uncompromised electric blues played with a teriffic slide guitar („Death Letter“), there’s the acoustic country blues of Blind Willie McTell’s „Your Southern Can is Mine“, and there’s even some folk rock material in singer/songwriter style („I’m Bound to Pack It Up“, „Apple Blossom“). This makes the album’s scope much wider and much more influential when it comes to their audience’s taste than usually acknowledged. Do you know how many teenagers back then fell all over themselves because of this new cool garage rock band who weren’t aware they were listening to straight blues covers of Son House and Blind Willie McTell? I sure don’t. Quite a bit bluesier and much less polished than future efforts, De Stijl doesn’t really suffer from its garage rock feel. Most songs are driven by a somewhat bluesy but very raw sounding guitar, and the songs aren’t as intricate as future efforts, but it makes no difference because Jack White’s riffs, hooks, and solos, rock hard enough to make you get lost in the music for most of the record. The garage blues of “Hello Operator” works seamlessly next to the piano driven ballad “Apple Blossom,” which of course doesn’t fail to have a melodic solo, and the two styles are combined fantastically for the albums best song, “Truth Doesn’t Make A Noise.” De Stijl‘s best strength is its ability to use similar tones to maintain a garage feel for lots of different styles of music. Every track in the first half of the album has a very distinct style but it is without a doubt Jack White, with sparse use of great riffs and a bottomless supply of licks to throw in between bluesy lyrics. The songs have more diversity here than they do on White Blood Cells and Elephant, Jack White just isn’t as versatile a guitarist as he is on those albums, though his songwriting clearly has always been there.
Number 7. – “Dopethrone”
Electric Wizard’s monumental classic of doom metal absolutely drowns the listener in some of the heaviest riffs ever recorded. Dopethrone is filthy, loud, heavily distorted and fuzzy sounding doom/stoner metal. The vocals, which are distorted, raw and low in the mix are of a quite aggressive nature, which along with the extremely heavy and slow, yet groove based riffing and rythms create the basis of the band´s music. This is ultimately the blues taken to it´s most heavy extreme. While this is at it´s core traditional doom metal greatly influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Pentragram and Saint Vitus, the music on “Dopethrone” is generally of a far more extreme nature than the music of the influences. The tracks are generally pretty long and feature few riffs that are repeated over and over again. While that description may not sound like the most interesting thing in the world, listening to the music will probably give you another perspective. Yes this is repetitive, but the repetition is a means to create a hypnotic vibe. It´s kind of like listening to a psychadelic trip that´s gone bad, ugly and evil. The occult themed and dark lyrics provide just the right words to describe that trip. In addition to that the album features several samples from horror, fantasy and witch movies which also help create the right atmosphere. Dopethrone is overall quite a monumental release and by now a doom/stoner metal classic. Because of it´s extreme nature it´s probably not a release that will please everyone, but to those who enjoy their doom/stoner metal raw, filthy, distorted and louder than loud “Dopethrone” is not only a recommended listen, it´s a mandatory one.
Number 6. – “Mer De Noms” –
A Perfect Circle
APC is also one of the most unique sounding bands out there, even though many would recognize Maynard James Keenan’s voice, from the universally beloved band Tool. Frankly speaking, APC does have a lot in common with the legendary band; Tool’s music core is a darker version of Alternative Metal, but is then covered and perfected with a huge, thick veil of experimentation that makes their sound distinguishable like no other band. APC go just a little further from Tool’s core, so basically they are a lot more accessible, but a lot less experimental. However, they are more original than many other bands of their same genre. What makes the band’s uniqueness are the guitars and Maynard’s voice. While the guitar work is very distinctive because of the wide amount of effects it can have, Maynard’s singing abilities are impressive not only for their excellence, but also because they have a very different delivery than the one they had with the other band; Tool’s vocals are creepy, warm, present, urgent and of course very haunting, and many times they are used as another instrument, something that only a few vocalists are able to do. But in APC, even though they are always haunting and beautiful, Maynard sounds more distant, almost like a melancholic, remote cry. This of course said in the most complimentary way possible. “Mer De Noms” means “Sea Of Names” in French, and it can almost be considered a concept album, where most of the songs are dedicated to people that had an impact on Maynard, who wrote all the lyrics. These songs, such as “Madgalena”, “Judith”, “Orestes”, “Thomas”, are full of that personality and darkness that the world fell in love with when Tool came on stage, even though the music is, like I said earlier in the review, a lot different and more straight forward than the Progressive band. Songs like “The Hollow”, “Madgalena”, and the single “Judith” are destined to make history, because of these characteristics that many have been so happy to hear, loving Maynard for his previous work, and listening to something equally as haunting as Tool. Indeed, “Mer De Noms” is one of the great Alt Metal albums, that will certainly go down in history because of it’s profoundness and it’s very fragile, human touch. If you’re one of those haters of the genre, please put aside your pride and prejudice, and listen to this gem: I’m sure you won’t regret it.
Number 5. – “Rated R”
Queens of the Stone Age
Bouncy, grungy, mezmorizing, fantastic. QOTSA were one of the first bands I ever got into and have been a favorite ever since. This is their shining album. Definitely my favorite strictly rock album ever. The instrumentation is so beautiful throughout, especially with the variety on this album. How do you go from Tension Head to Lightning Song? QOTSA know how to utilize and command the pace of their music. They can slow it down, almost to the point where it sounds lazy, but turns out to be hypnotizing. They can speed things up just when you start to get comfortable. The song-writing is great too. I know this is labeled stoner rock, but I’m not sure that is entirely fair. QOTSA make it easier for you to believe that with the obvious drug references, but this album enters another realm, it has some very psychedelic moments, very dream-like imagery. By far my favorite part of the album is that QOTSA has not one, but three very great singers that all have completely different styles. Oliveri is a mad-man, Homme does have that stoner personality, and Lanegan is a sobering wise-man on my favorite song on the album, In the Fade. Even though Homme can occasionally be a bit boring, especially paired with those slow and heavy songs that he does sometimes, but Homme is definitely helped by his Oliveri and Lanegan, and the excellent instrumentation. I’m not trying to discredit Homme, because he has many brilliant songs under QOTSA where he is in the lead, but damn, Oliveri and Lanegan really compliment Homme so well.
Number 4. – “The Moon Antarctica”
While Modest Mouse somewhat sound more accessible and radio friendly here, it doesn’t mean that Issac Brock’s lyrics are any less clever or hard hitting. If anything, they’re the best they’ve ever been here, with so many great lines that it’s hard to pick highlights. “The Dark Side of The Universe” is probably the best song lyrically, with lines such as “Everyone’s life ends but no one ever completes it/Dry and wet ice, they both melt” (a pretty nihilistic way of looking at life) as well as the eminently quotable”Well it took a lot of work to be the ass that I am”. Elsewhere, Brock muses about what he always sings about; disaffection with urban life, disaffection with God and depression all feature. Brock also muses about death a lot, especially towards the beginning of the album. What really makes this album is an absolutely wonderful run of songs starting with “Dark Side of the Universe” and ending with “Alone Down There”. “Perfect Disguise” is probably the slowest song here driven by some delicate banjo picking, Brock lamenting someone that screwed him over. “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” is memorable because of its bass hook, making the song sound like someone driving through a dystopic city. “A Different City” is Issac Brock at his schizophrenic best, enhanced by the double tracking of his vocals. Brock sounds intense and panicky. The tension is built brilliantly throughout this sequence of songs, with “Alone Down There” being the release. Unfortunately, the only problem with this album is the sequencing of “The Stars Are Projectors”. While it is a good song and serves to break-up the album, it also kills the tension and atmosphere of the first half. The album becomes more light hearted after this in a way, but tries at some point around “I Came as a Rat” to recover the tension, and it just doesn’t quite work as well anymore in the second half of the album.
Number 3. – “Marshal Mathers LP” Eminem
In his debut, Eminem was looked as a comedic rapper that promotes violence and so many other material that gets the word against him. But right on his second album, not only did he released one of the best hip-hop albums ever, but he created a ingenious autobiographical poetry from two personalities (Eminem and Slim Shady). Damn it, I miss Slim Shady! Can a monster be a hero? How can these artists who encourage violence, sex, and drugs to the world and get away with it? Easy, just make the music sound good and your influence changes peoples’ reaction in accepting it. And for that same reason is why Eminem is the most popular and most successful rapper of all time and he couldn’t do it without his Slim Shady split-personality gimmick that I truly miss! Eminem/Slim Shady took the best of his talents of producing hip-hop and there was never an album that ever felt so complete and made Dr. Dre proud that he made Marshall Mathers popular. This is the very album that open doors to Eminem’s world since the release of his debut LP “Slim Shady LP” and simultaneously whenever Em brings up his Slim Shady gimmick he offered the insanity from his debut album. Eminem told every one of his listeners about his problems of being the most popular artist such as his ignorant, insane fans, family & marriage problems, people who didn’t think much of him but suddenly started accepting him, the law, media, drugs, loosing control with his music, censorship, gay people, and the pop stars that annoyed him and he completely dissed them acting as if he doesn’t have anything to loose. We Eminem fans adore the fact that he had the balls to express himself unlike other artists who hides their feelings to avoid controversy. He hoovers drugs and threatens date rape, bashes gays and encourages murders and the crazy thing is that no matter how controversial this album was, it was relatable to many of its listeners because secretly (well for some) we all feel the same as Eminem. I am sometime confused if all of them are true or half of them were him just playing around, but Eminem delivered such a tremendous piece of hip-hop in ways I think we’ll never see again, since all Em does nowadays wines that he has problems and makes excuses why he won’t bring back Slim Shady. So won’t the real Slim Shady, please stand up!
Number 2. – “Kid A” Radiohead
Something happened in the three years following OK Computer. The endless touring, the relentless media coverage, the invasive life of celebrity struck a nerve somewhere in the heart of the band. They went home to work in studio again but were stuck. Thom Yorke was hit with writer’s block, often unable to conjure more than a simple drum-machine beat and some spoken-word dada poems made from newspaper clippings drawn from a hat. On top of that, he had developed an immense distaste for rock, or any guitar-based music for that matter. He bought the Warp Records back catalogue and listened pretty much exclusively to electronica. Kid A is an album of remarkable beauty. Its haunting soundscapes are built on a foundation of ambient electronica, and it eschews typical chorus-based song structures and rock-and-roll dynamics in favour of compositions which build and evolve through waves of textures. There is a disturbing, dark quality to this album that underlies every track. The opener, “Everything In Its Right Place”, is a simple song featuring only keyboard, vocals, and some background noise. But the oppressive atmosphere lends a feeling of despair to the song, making it seem as though perhaps not everything is in its right place. To ears that’d had the second half the 1990s to ingest the rapid developments in electronic music, ears weary of the bankruptcy of post-Nirvana alternative rock, Kid Asounded like a next development in rock music that was both logical and surprising. Thoughts about millennial techno-dread; fragmentation, broken transmissions, garbled communication; the feeling of helplessness that comes from having access to so much information about the world while not having the power to change any of it; the subtle and dramatic ways that electronics are altering our landscape and our consciousness. And there’s still something there, though in some ways it’s all now more intense. Part of our brains moved online in the last 10 years, and this will continue; it’s not a good or bad thing; it’s just the way it is. Refracting these developments through the prism of Kid A, it still resonates, even if so much has changed since. Radiohead were not only among the first bands to figure out how to use the Internet, but to make their music sound like it, and they kicked off this ridiculously retro decade with the rare album that didn’t seem retro. Kid A— with its gorgeously crafted electronics, sparkling production, and uneasy stance toward the technology it embraces completely– feels like the Big Album of the online age. This album is closest a band can get to perfection. Abstract yet poignant, Kid A is an album filled with contradiction fusing elements of acid, rock, folk, trance and house together to create a truly experimental and epic album. The album at times goes from being simple to theatrical. Kid A is amongst the greatest of the greatest and will influence music for years to come. It is the absolute grandeur of the Kid A that makes it very intimidating to listen to, which is something that hard to find in music. In addition, the fact that Radiohead took the risk of committing commercial suicide just not to compromise their musical integrity makes this album a thing of legends. If there is one album that deserves to be heard repeatedly, Kid A is that album.
Number 1. – Relationship of Command – At The Drive-In
At the Drive-In spent the majority of the ‘90s honing their skills as young, mostly untrained musicians and wowing people with their unbridled passion during live performances, but reportedly, they had a difficult time capturing that same passion on studio albums. For their third (and final) album, Relationship of Command remains one of the most intense recording sessions ever pressed. Cedric Bixler’s slightly strained, extremely expressive and emotive vocals—a just-right mixture of nasality and shouting—not only leave a lasting impression, but they also spawned an entire generation of imitators who got close, but could never capture the rawness of Bixler’s delivery. The vocals weren’t the only source of intensity—we can also credit the dueling, interlocking guitars of Omar Rodriguez and Jim Ward, doubled on top of each other to either deliver beautifully melodic atmospherics (later Rodriguez’s trademark as a leading member of the Mars Volta) and crunchy, punkish aggression. Relationship of Command does sound like a band being pulled in two different directions—you can hear the mature, Latin-influenced passages and the moments of dub experimentalism. You can also hear the boyish skater punks come through with the pop punk on songs like “One-Armed Scissor” and “Pattern Against User.” Of course, nearly everyone knows the story behind this album—the band broke up shortly after Relationship of Command saw an enormous amount of mainstream recognition and success, leading Bixler and Rodriguez to form the spacey, progressive rock-influenced Mars Volta, while Tony Hajjar, Paul Hinojos, and Jim Ward continued on with their preferred indie rock and punk sound in Sparta. While that sounds like the perfect storm to make an album sound messy, the marriage of styles worked to great effect. Relationship of Command set At the Drive-In apart from mainstream ‘90s pop punk acts like Blink-182. They took their deviate-from-three-chord-rock cues from Fugazi, Public Image Limited, and (perhaps more directly) Refused. At the Drive-In had just the right amount of appeal and mainstream success to be The Chosen Ones to inspire the countless third-wave emo bands of the 2000s. Let’s not undermine the unbelievable talent and power Relationship of Command unleashes—the album was recognized for a reason. Musically, it’s stunning—every single track is just as intense, relentless, and creative as the one before it. Lyrically, the songs are obtuse, but during this era, when you only had Blink-182 writing lyrics about toilet humor, Bixler’s Lynchian, stream-of-consciousness writing was amazingly refreshing. Thematically, the album deals with darker subjects—from kidnappings (“Enfilade”), to disappearances of countless women in Mexico (the highly-emotional “Invalid Litter Dept.”), to hypocrisy in government (“Sleepwalk Capsules”), to Jeffrey Dahmer (“Arcarsenal”). The lyrics and passionate screams fill you with such an inexplicable fire that you don’t know what to do with yourself. You want to scream, you want to tear out your hair—you end up questioning your very existence.