Monday, January 04, 2010

Favorite Music of the Aughts, Year By Year

This has been a great decade for music. The way I listen has been turned upside down. My tastes have shifted significantly over the years. As I look back on the decade, I find that my life has been enriched by these albums, and they have provided the soundtrack for some of the greatest moments in my life. The journey of discovering new music is in many ways a spiritual journey. These great artists put word and melody to the questions, aches, celebrations and absurdities of being human.

My relationship with these songs and albums and artists is always shifting, so this is only a snapshot. All of my year end lists from previous years have changed, and a year from now, they will likely change again. This ebb and flow is to me a beautiful thing.

These are the five albums from each year of this great decade (affectionately known as "the aughts") that resonate with me most (for now):


  1. Radiohead, Kid A
  2. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind
  3. Bill Mallonee, Audible Sigh
  4. Pedro the Lion, Winners Never Quit
  5. Coldplay, Parachutes

  1. Jimmy Eat World, Bleed American
  2. Radiohead, Amnesiac
  3. Bob Dylan, Love and Theft
  4. The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
  5. Explosions in the Sky, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever
  1. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  2. Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around
  3. Sigur Ros, ()
  4. The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
  5. Blindside, Silence
  1. The White Stripes, Elephant
  2. Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism
  3. Sufjan Stevens, Greetings from Michigan
  4. Radiohead, Hail to the Thief
  5. Over the Rhine, Ohio
  1. Arcade Fire, Funeral
  2. Wilco, A Ghost is Born
  3. mewithoutYou, Catch For Us the Foxes
  4. Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans
  5. Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose
  1. Sufjan Stevens, Come On, Feel the Illinoise!
  2. The White Stripes, Get Behind Me, Satan
  3. Bright Eyes, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
  4. David Crowder Band, A Collision (or 3 + 4 = 7)
  5. Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days
  1. Anathallo, Floating World
  2. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife
  3. Sleeping at Last, Keep No Score
  4. Josh Ritter, The Animal Years
  5. Over the Rhine, Snow Angel
  1. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
  2. Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
  3. Radiohead, In Rainbows
  4. Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha
  5. The National, Boxer
  1. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
  2. She & Him, Volume 1
  3. Anathallo, Canopy Glow
  4. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
  5. The Tallest Man on Earth, Shallow Grave
2009 (with microblog descriptions)
  1. The Low Anthem, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin - "Charlie Darwin" is bar none the most beautiful song I heard this year. Endlessly intriguing, gorgeous songs.
  2. The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You - Tempted to put this at number one. Maybe I didn't because it's too perfect. I'm a sucker for the Rick Rubin touch.
  3. The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love - Epic. Beautiful. Disturbing. Tragic. Hopeful. Words true of every Decemberists album, but especially this one.
  4. The Mountain Goats, The Life of the World to Come - Makes me wish I had gotten into The Mountain Goats earlier. John Darnielle is a brilliant lyricist.
  5. Wilco, Wilco (the album) - Another great album from one of our nation's greatest bands. Wilco will love you, baby.
  6. Sufjan Stevens, The BQE - I don't have much to compare this to, since I don't listen to many symphonies, but Sufjan's essay alone is worth the $15.
  7. David Bazan, Curse Your Branches - The former Pedro the Lion frontman has committed his deepest questions to song, and it feels tragically sacred.
  8. Andrew Bird, Noble Beast - Andrew, I could listen to you whistle all day...
  9. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Disappointed at first, but when I crank up the volume and dance, I realize this is great pop music.
  10. U2, No Line On the Horizon - "Moment of Surrender" saves this album for me. I sense that they need to pare back their sound on the next one.
  11. M. Ward, Hold Time - M. Ward is remarkably consistent as a songwriter, arranger and producer. His music seems to transcend time and space.
  12. The Swell Season, Strict Joy - "Man" and "woman" from the film Once fall in love (in real life), break up (also in real life), and write songs about it.
  13. Patrick Watson, Wooden Arms - Lush orchestration, inventive percussion, and a song about "Where the Wild Things Are." Need anything else?
  14. Sleeping at Last, Storyboards - Another solid album from one of my favorite bands, but I haven't connected with it like past albums.
  15. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion - I've tried to get into AnCo, but I just can't quite get there. This is the best AnCo I've heard, though.

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