Originally, I set out to compile my list of the Top 20 Albums of the Decade. The 2000’s. Or the Aughts. Yea, I guess we never got around to naming this decade and now it’s already ending. I thought I was realistic by not even attempting a Top 10 Best Albums of the 2000’s, but it turns out even 20 proved difficult. And once I passed 20, the albums just kept flowing and then I thought “okay, Top 40 would be good, since “Top 40” is sort of a tried and true phrase in popular music. Then I hit 50. OK, I’ll do a Top 50, why not! Then I got to 52 and beyond and finally just gave up and let myself list all the great albums I loved this decade and not worry about cutting any out just to keep the list at 20, 40 or 50. So I ended up with 65. Seems a bit excessive, sure. But it’s still only about 6 or 7 per year. And I easily could have added a few more. Actually, I could just call this a Top 50 Best Albums of the Decade list because they’re not numbered, and if you actually read through it and count the exact number of albums, I’m just glad you’re on my blog.
Please add your Top 5, 10, or 65 favorite albums of the decade (or point out my glaring omissions) in the comments section. Now, on with the list…
Mos Def – Black on Both Sides (1999)
First album on the list and I’m already cheating. This one came out just a couple months before 2000, and is such a great album. One of the best hip-hop albums of all time, even if you don’t see it on such lists in the mainstream media. So why not kick off this list with the last great album of the previous century?
Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R
OutKast – Stankonia
Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2, or the last remains of the dodo
Talib Kweli & Hi Tek – Reflection Eternal
Radiohead – Kid A
U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
It’s pretty easy to hate on these grandiose mega-stars, but this was and is a truly great U2 album made several years after most of us figured they’d never do it again.
D’Angelo – Voodoo
Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
Bob Dylan – Love and Theft
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
This one would probably make the list even there were only 5 albums on it. Songwriting, atmosphere, and using the studio as an instrument without getting too cute or overdoing it. It’s all here, a classic peak from a great band.
Tool – Lateralus
Jay Z – The Blueprint
Whiskeytown – Pneumonia
Sonic Youth – Murray Street
This is how I love my Sonic Youth. This album and the three that have followed are all really good. I actually like this (and those other recent ones) more than their old classics. Blasphemy for hardcore SY fans and a nation of hipsters, I know.
Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel
Bright Eyes – Lifted, Or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
The Roots – Phrenology
A bit all over the place stylistically and a bit long, but still mostly brilliant. It’s like their White Album.
Drive-By Truckers – Decoration Day
The underrated gem in their stellar catalogue. I shoulda/coulda put all of their albums from this decade on the list.
Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium
Crazy intense mindfuck jams mixed with tribal rhythms and pure relentless rock fury.
The White Stripes – Elephant
The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music
OutKast – Speakerbox/The Love Below
Split into two mostly solo discs, illustrating the two sides of the OutKast coin and allowing BigBoi and Dre to let each of their distinct musical personalities shine while still feeling like a(nother) brilliant OutKast record.
Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co.
Masta Killa – No Said Date
A lost gem from an underrated member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Wu family has put out so many albums over the years (and a few duds after the initial string of classic solo joints) that it was easy for this one to get lost in the shuffle. Do yourself a favor and track this one down, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell
PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her
Jello Biafra & the Melvins – Don’t Breathe What You Can’t See
Legends team up for some post-9/11 punk fury and rockin’ jams.
Green Day – American Idiot
Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose
Danger Mouse – The Grey Album
A classic mashup of The Beatles White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album. Somehow it works beyond just the novelty and is a truly great listen.
DJ Muggs/GZA the Genius – Grandmasters
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl
Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
Damian “Jr Gong” Marley – Welcome to Jamrock
Title song is one of the hottest tracks of all time. The rest of the album is also very solid.
My Morning Jacket – Z
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – Cold Roses
Common – Be
The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
Tom Petty – Highway Companion
A vastly underrated album from TP. Is it possible that this is his best album, so late in his career? It’s certainly great enough to be in that discussion. Check out this hidden gem if you missed it or ignored it a few years ago.
The Roots – Game Theory
Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped
Built to Spill – You in Reverse
Bob Dylan – Modern Times
Terence Blanchard – A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina)
Haunting, moving, and uplifting sounds from one of the true jazz greats of this generation.
Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
Stephen Marley – Mind Control
Public Enemy – How You Sell Soul To a Soulless People Who Lost Their Soul?
Another one that slipped under the radar. It’s really hard to make a great hip-hop album these days (or maybe it’s just too easy to make bad ones that still sell a lot), and I think it’s really hard for a legendary group to do it almost 20 years after they made a couple of the best hip-hop albums of all time. Sure they’ve had a few duds in between, but this one hits the mark.
Robert Plant/Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Real Emotional Trash
The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
Beck – Modern Guilt
Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Two Men with the Blues
Odd pairing, but terrific results. Really fun album… while the two main men don’t disappoint, Wynton’s solid backing band keeps it moving.
One Day as a Lion – One Day as a Lion
John Wesley Harding – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead
Polvo – In Prism
The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
Black Crowes – Before the Frost/Until the Freeze
Ryan Bingham – Roadhouse Sun
Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx 2