Please make another album. I don’t care if it isn’t based on any of the 50 states. If it wasn’t about Christmas, that would be nice too.
Important note: This is by no means a top-ten of the decade based on album quality, but rather a top ten based on autobiographical significance. If you want a top ten of the decade, ask the internet, it’s full of them. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.
In reflecting on the music of the 00s (or what I’ve been affectionately referring to as the ‘oughts’) I spent a lot of time listening to albums that I hadn’t listened to in awhile. You’ll notice, for example, that number 10 is one that I hadn’t listened to since I was 14 or so — if you’re going to tell a story about yourself, you have to dig deep and get honest, which is what I’ve tried to do here.
So, I’ve compiled the following list of the ten most important albums to my past ten years. Some experiences of mine I’m going to note exactly as they happened, some I’ll make vague reference to, and some I’m just going to leave out so that you can fill in the blanks (provided you were there.) Also, note that I’m going to be as honest as I can. You’ll probably note that I spend a lot of time thinking about music, and a lot of time thinking about thinking about music — some would say to a degree of obsession. I don’t relate to music like a musician commonly would, so as a result, my language is probably a bit more colorful than my other friends. Its just how I communicate ideas, so if quasi-poetic references to how something feels turns you off, I suggest you not bother. My mind really wanders when I talk about this stuff.
Also, please don’t think that I regard myself and my own story as any more important than anyone else’s, but know that I could talk for hours about this stuff, hence the really long entries. Hopefully someone, somewhere, gets something out of it. And now that I’m finally submitting my Top 10 of the 00s, weeks after it was originally due (thanks for being patient, folks) you can all see the finished product. Enjoy!
Released May 9, 2000 on Roadrunner
At 14, more than anything, I needed a heavy dose of comfortable independence. I was an angry kid, and I needed an outlet. The countless Adidas-rock CDs lining my backpack just began to feel like a load of falsehoods. I wasn’t quite the hard-partying Fred Durst type, it turns out, and the trash that KoRn was turning out never quite stuck with me.
Then, this album came along. Daryl Palumbo, lead singer of the band, was the character I felt like when I turned 15: skinny, angry, a bit effeminate, and as different from my Metal friends as this album is from the rest of the Roadrunner Records products (the band would later sign with Warner Brothers). Without exhagerration, I became this album.
From track one to twelve, its an absolute typhoon of sounds, exploring the gamut from fierce, pounding hardcore-inspired madness of “Siberian Kiss” and “Babe”, to bouncy post-punk riffing on “Ry Ry’s Song”, to the thumping daydreaming of “Piano”. I wanted to be this band, every member. The drumming and guitar work are consistently changing, and Palumbo’s voice seems to stretch the meaning of dynamic vocals, consistently growing, shrinking, and twisting itself. The lyrics, while generally musing about lost love (girls) and bad decisions (girls), are somehow a mark more honest and poetic than most other songs I’d heard about the same subjects. Toss in a number of gutsy songs about the pains of having Crohn’s disease, and you’ve got yourself a pretty heartfelt, if angry, album.
High school was four years of ‘I’ statements, and this album stuck with me through all of them. From the comfort of my hometown bed, I listened to this album on repeat over, and over, and over. When I got a driver’s license, I blasted it and sang along word-for-word at any chance I got, including the 5 minute drive from home to my grocery-store job. It lasted through my punk rock phase, through my youth-crew-hardcore phase, through my Postal Service phase (yeah, me too), and finally went to rest a year into college. Listening to it again, now, it all comes back. While it doesn’t quite strike me the same as it did in my early teens, there’s something undeniably ‘there’ in this record.
I will not rant here. Perhaps that should be a rule on Plaid Forever: thou shalt not rant about stupid shit. But I want to share a concern.
I am worried that I am getting dumber.
I want you all to know that I have never been so honest as I have been while writing this list. It will be pretty uncomfortable if I see you on the street, now, because you are looking deep into my soul on this one. Before there is any serious judging going on here, I would like to note that I didn’t really get into music until I moved to Boston last year. Surprised? I certainly was. These albums comprise my memories of the last decade, sappy and shallow as some of them might be, they’re all that come to mind when I think about these last ten years. It is the first long-ish period of time in which I am able to remember a whole lot more vividly, rather than memories being confused with a dream I had last night. A part of me feels like the next decade should be me listening to “good” music, but… I have a feeling in 2020 the list will look only slightly different. There will be flying cars, though.
10. Plans by Death Cab for Cutie
Released August 2005 on Atlantic
I like Death Cab for Cutie. There. I said it. I’m emo-y and wear black eyeliner and hate my suburban background (semi-true). I’m (maybe) striking a balance between indie music and once-upon-a-time indie music. This album is associated with my lengthy career as a Parking Enforcement Officer in college. I listened to this album while giving people parking tickets. It was an interesting to sort of hear people yelling at me and listen to “Summer Skin.” It made me feel better about getting called names, but I didn’t feel guilty about giving the ticket. I feel the same about this album.
The 2000s encompass a particularly formative period of my life. After emerging from my Y2K-proof bunker, I completed my last semester of high school, moved from Miami to Maine to attend college, graduated, moved to Boston, and did too much theater and not enough job, all while listening to an incredible decade-long soundtrack. The top ten albums from that soundtrack are listed below in order of bestness, autobiographically.
10. Dear Science by TV on the Radio
Released September 22, 2008 on Interscope
This album holds the dubious position of being most likely to not really have earned its spot on the list. Its inclusion is me accounting for some time adjustment as all of the other albums on this list are from 2005 or earlier. This spot could easily be owned by The Arcade Fire’s Funeral but I currently feel like TV on the Radio might have more staying power.
Dear Science stands out amongst TVOTR’s discography as their most consistent effort, relying less on musical gimmicks and more on solid songwriting still filtered through their off-kilter sensibility. Every time I listen to it I want to either be in their band or form one like them. I saw them live at Boston’s newly opened House of Blues and my girlfriend and her brother had to stop me from climbing on stage during the encore. Alright, that’s not true, but only because I was afraid that the jumper-clad girls from the opening band (Dirty Projectors) would trample me with their hipster galloping.