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Nothing But Good Things 

(aka Pleasant Mutations)

 
Music Lists and Reviews for Eclectic Obscurophiles and Pop Culture Chronologists
 
I made a list of the best CDs every year from 1996 to 2008 (see further down), but I think 2008 will be the last year.  I still buy CDs; however, I also now download a lot of individual tracks.  More importantly, I never listen to CDs start to finish anymore.  The compact disc may stay alive for another decade or so as a commercial format, but as a listening format CDs were killed by the iPod.
 
I've started making lists on Amazon's listmania.  You can find my Top 300 songs of the 2000s there or in a simple list format here.  My top 300 songs of the 1990s can also be found on either listmania or as a simple list.  My latest project has been updating all of my iTunes metadata so that I could make a best songs of the 80s list.  Unlike the 1990s and 2000s, I couldn't stick to a top 300.  I came up with a top 500 plus an additional 100 that missed the cut.  Here's the 80s list.
 
That's it for the recent song lists.  The CD lists and other miscellaneous links that I haven't updated in quite a while are below.  For more recent thoughts on music lists as well as an interview about my listmaking, see my blog.

The Best CDs of 2008

Blue Giant – Target Heart (eMusic Selects)
Dengue Fever – Venus of Earth (M80)
Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP (Sub Pop) 
Giant Sand – proVISONS (Yep Roc) 
Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of Understatement (Domino)
Mighty Underdogs – Droppin’ Science Fiction (Definite Jux)
Santogold – Santogold (Downtown)
Sloan – Parallel Play (Yep Roc)
TV On The Radio – Dear Science (4AD)
Various – Calypsoul 70 (Strut) 

The Best CDs of 2007

The Bees – Octopus (Virgin/astralwerks)
Aliens – Astronomy for Dogs (astralwerks)
Bad Plus - Prog (Universal/Do the Math)
Dr. Dog – We All Belong (Park the Van)
The Good, The Bad and The Queen – The Good, The Bad and The Queen (Virgin)
Great Lakes Myth Society – Compass Rave Boquet (Quack! Media)
Gui Boratto – Chromophobia (Kompakt)
Josh Fix – Free at Last (1650 Entertainment)
Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly Angry Mob (B-Unique)
Kiosk – Amor De La Velocidad (Bamahang)
Maximo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures (Warp)
Menomena – Friend of Foe (Barsuk)
Mystery Jets - Zootime (Dim Mak)
Paul McCartney – Memory Almost Full (MPL Communications)
Oh No – Dr. No’s Oxperiment (Stones Throw)
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising Sand (Rounder)
Robert Wyatt – Comicopera (Domino)
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone)
St. Vincent – Marry Me (Beggars Banquet)
Tinariwen – Water is Life (World Village)
Vampire Weekend – Mansard Roof (XL)

 The Twenty-five Best CDs of 2006

Tuung – This is Tuung:  Mother’s Daughter and Other Songs (Ace Fu)
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino)
Essex Green – Cannibal Sea (Merge)
Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti)
The Coup – Pick a Bigger Weapon (Epitaph)
Elope – 3WD (Gravitation)
Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit (Matador)
Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of This Country (Merge)
TV On the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain (4AD)
Starlight Mints – Drowaton (Barsuk)
Phoenix – It’s Never Been Like That (astralwerks)
Peter, Bjorn, and John – Writer’s Block (V2)
Peggy Honeywell – Green Mountain (Ohio Star)
M. Ward – Post War (Merge)
Love Is All – Nine Times That Same Song (What’s Your Rupture)
Lindstrom – It’s a Feedelity Affair (Feedelity)
The Knife – Silent Shout (Rabid)
Various Artists – Death Before Distemper (DC Recordings)
Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant)
Gazetteers – Landlocked (Salt In Wound)
Concretes – In Colour (astralwerks)
Cold War Kids – Robbers and Cowards (Downtown)
Citay – Citay (Important)
Beirut – Gulag Orkestar (Ba Da Bing!)
The Format – Dog Problems (The Vanity Label) 

The Twenty Best CDs of 2005 

Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree (4AD)
Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger (Warp)
Dr. Dog – Easy Beat (National Parking)
Robbie Fulks – Georgia Hard (Yep Roc)
Nostalgia 77 – The Garden (Ubiquity)
Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah (self released)
Oranges Band – The World and Everything In It (Lookout)
Son Volt – Okemah and the Melody of Riot (Transmit Sounds)
Andy Votel – Vertigo Remixed (Family Recordings)
Sharon Jones – Naturally (Daptone)
Architechture in Helsinki – In Case We Die (Bar/None)
Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty)
Decemberists – Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars)
New Pornographers – Twin Cinema (Matador)
Field Music – Field Music (Memphis Industries)
Art But – Bang Bang Rock and Roll (Fierce Panda)
Babyshambles – Down in Albion (Rough Trade)
Kaiser Chiefs – Employment (Universal)
Wolf Parade – Apologies to Queen Mary (Sub Pop)
Silver Sun – Disappear Here (Invisible Hand) 

The Twenty Best CDs of 2004

(Top 10)
Elope – The No Name Album (Gravitation)
Zutons – Who Killed…. The Zutons (Deltasonic)
Go! Team – Thunder Lightening Strike (Memphis Industries)
Jens Lekman – Maple Leaves EP (Secretly Canadian)
Jens Lekman – You Are the Light EP (Secretly Canadian)
Savath and Savalas – Apropa't (Warp)
Libertines – The Libertines (Rough Trade)
Pinback – Summer in Abaddon (Touch and Go)
Hidden Cameras - Mississauga Goddam (Rough Trade)
Pink Martini – Hang On Little Tomato (Heinz)
 
(The rest of the Top 20, not in order)
Komeda – Kokomemedada (Sonet/Minty Fresh)
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (Domino)
Beta Band – Heroes to Zeros (Astralwerks)
Carolyn Mark – The Pros and Cons of Collaboration (Mint)
Wovenhand – Consider the Birds (Sounds Familyre)
Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters (Universal)
Luna – Rendezvous (Jetset)
Travis Morrison – Travistan (Barsuk)
Japancakes – Waking Hours (Warm)
Futureheads – The Futureheads (Sire)

The Fifteen Best CDs of 2003 

Ted Leo/Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak (Lookout)
Minus 5 – Down with Wilco (Yep Roc)
Stark Reality – Now (Stones Throw) [re-issue]
Broadcast – Ha Ha Sound (Warp)
TV On The Radio – Young Liars (Touch & Go)
Monolith – Here Comes the Monolith (Monolith)
Sleepy Jackson – Lovers (Astralwerks)
Starlight Mints – Built of Squares (Pias)
Sloan – Action Pact (Vik)
Sufjan Stevens – Greetings From Michigan (Asthmatic Kitty)
Blomkrag – Boere Country (Blomkrag)
A Hawk and a Hacksaw – A Hawk and a Hacksaw (Cloud)
Quasi – Hot Shit (Touch & Go)
Band of Blacky Ranchette – Still Lookin’ Good To Me (Thrill Jockey)
Belle and Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade) 

The Fifteen Best CDs of 2002

Neko Case – Blacklisted (Bloodshot)
Archer Prewitt – Three (Thrill Jockey)
Boggs – We Are the Boggs We Are (Arena Rock)
Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow (MCA/Quannum)
Tullycraft – Beat Surf Fun (Magic Marker)
Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas (Emperor Jones)
Gazetteers – Territory Songs (Magic Marker)
Delgados – Hate (Mantra)
Hot Hot Heat – Make Up The Breakdown (Sub Pop)
Pietasters – Turbo (Fueled By Ramen)
Sharon Jones – Dap-Dippin with… (Daptone)
Von Bondies – Lack of Communication (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
Hazeldine – Double Back (Okra-tone)
Asa Chang & Junray – Jun Ray Song Chang (Leaf)
Spoon – Kill the Moonlight (Merge)

The Fifteen Best CDs of 2001 

Bees – Sunshine Hit Me (We Love You)
Earl Zinger – Put Your Phazers on Stun Throw Your Healthfood Skyward (K7)
Spoon – Girls Can Tell (Merge)
Gotan Project – La Revancha Del Tango (Ya Basta)
Triangle – Triangle (File 13)
Ryan Adams – Gold (Lost Highway)
Barbara Manning – You Should Know By Now (Innerstate)
Bobby Conn – The Golden Age (Thrill Jockey)
Duotang – The Bright Side (Mint)
Old 97s – Satellite Rides (Elektra)
Built to Spill – Ancient Melodies of the Future (Warner Bros.)
Beulah – The Coast is Never Clear (Velocette)
Little Champions – Transactions + Replications (Barsuk)
Faint – Blank-wave Arcade (Saddle Creek)
Retsin – Cabin in the Woods (Carrot Top) 

The Fifteen Best CDs of 2000 

Jeff Wave – Sleeping Through the Millinium (Zen Pop)
Jett Brando – The Movement Towards You (Gern Blandsten)
White Stripes – De Stijl (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
Beachwood Sparks – Beachwood Sparks (Sub Pop)
Neko Case & Her Boyfriends – Furnace Room Lullaby (Bloodshot)
V/A – The New Testament of Funk (Unique)
Calexico – Hot Rail (Quarterstick)
Giant Sand – Chore of Enchantment (Thrill Jockey)
John Vanderslice – Mass Suicide Occult Figurines (Barsuk)
V/A – Bollywood Funk (Outcaste)
V/A – 400% Dynamite (Soul Jazz)
Waco Brothers – Electric Waco Chair (Bloodshot)
Landslide – Drum and Bossa (Hospital)
Aislers Set – The Last Match (Slumberland)
Red Snapper – Our Aim Is To Satisfy (Matador) 

The Fifteen Best CDs of 1999

Beta Band – The Three EPs (Astralwerks)
Vehicle Flips – For You I Pine (Magic Marker)
Dauerfisch – Crime of the Century (Bungalow)
Abigail Grush – The Phantom Beat (Barsuk)
Mark – Chocolate Covered Bad Things (Catsup Plate)
Peace Orchestra – Peace Orchestra (G-Stone)
Marine Research – Sounds From the Gulf Stream (K)
Beulah – When Your Heart Strings Break (Sugar Free)
Built to Spill – Keep It Like a Secret (Warner Bros.)
Adam Elk – Labello (Dept of Ways and Means)
Wilco – Summer Teeth (Reprise)
Olivia Tremor Control – Black Foliage (Flydaddy)
Sahara Hotnights – C’mon Let’s Pretend (Jetset)
Luna – The Days of Our Nights (Beggars Banquet)
Pavement – Terror Twilight (Matador)  

The Twenty-five Best CDs of 1998

(It was a good year – I couldn’t settle on 15) 

Sloan – Navy Blues (murderecords)
Komeda – What Makest It Go? (Minty Fresh)
Ozomatli – Ozomatli (Almo)
Calexico – The Black Light (Quarter Stick)
Dieselhed – Elephant Rest Home (Bong Load)
Push Kings – Far Places (Sealed Fate)
Various Artists – Bossa Brava 3 (Instinct)
Yo La Tengo – Little Honda (Matador)
Los Amigos Invisibles – The New Sound of The Venexualan Gozadera (Luaka Bop)
Tortoise – TNT (Thrill Jockey)
Various Artists – Object Lessons: Songs About Products (Inconspicuous)
Slapp Happy – Ca Va (V2)
Various Artists – Funny Rubber Hand (Vaccination)
Nothing Painted Blue – Monte Carlo Method (Scat)
Prolapse – The Italian Flag (Jetset)
Barbara Manning – In New Zealand (Communion)
Ray Campi Quartet – Train Rhythm Blues (Sci-Fi Western)
Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Merge)
Money Mark – Push the Button (Mo’ Wax)
Purple Penguin – Question (Cup of Tea)
Cat Power – Moon Pix (Matador)
00-Soul – The Solid Sounds of the 8-piece Brotherhood (Manteca)
Vehicle Flips – The Preimse Unraveled (Magic Marker)
Asian Dub Foundation – Rafi’s Revenge (London)
Pale Nudes – Soul Come Home (Rec Rec) 

The Fifteen Best CDs of 1997

Spaceways – Trad (Shadow)
Silver Sun – Silver Sun (Polydor)
Luna – Pup Tent (Elektra)
Barbara Manning – 1212 (Matador)
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Hert Beating as One (Matador)
Linda Smith – Preference (Harriet)
Sloan – One Chord to Another (Enclave)
Pavement – Brighten the Corners (Matador)
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments – Straight to Video (Anyway)
Damien Jurado – Watersaves (Sub Pop)
Apples in Stereo – Tone Soul Evolution (spinART)
Marbles – Pyramid Landing (spinART)
Various Artists – Land of the Rising Ska (Moon)
Junk – Continuation of the Madness (Faffco)
Delta 72 – The Soul of a New Machine (Touch & Go) 

The Fifteen Best CDs of 1996

Guv’ner – The Hunt (Merge)
Virgin-Whore Complex – Stay Away From My Mother (Emperor Norton)
Sebadoh – Harmacy (Sub Pop)
Wilco – Being There (Reprise)
Let’s Go Bowling – Mr Twist (Moon)
Incredible Force of Junior – Let the World Fall Apart (Up)
Those Bastard Souls – 21st Century Chemical (Darla)
Pharaohs – Awakening (Ubiquity)
Capsule Giants – Starship Troopers In The Dark (Cardinal)
Peter Blegvad – Just Woke Up (ESD)
Uncle Wiggly – Jump Back Baby (Teenbeat)
Beatles – Anthology 2 (Capitol)
Cake – Fashion Nugget (Capricorn)
Various Artists – This Is Acid Jazz: Original Raw Soul (Instinct)
Amy Rigby – Diary of a Mod Housewife (Koch) 

The Twenty Best Quirky Indie-Pop Songs of the 90s

Jody Grind – One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure (db)
Love Camp 7 – Janet In a Green Light (Bowlmor)
Very Pleasant Neighbor – Boyfriend In France (Fang)
Squirrels - Vincent Van Gogh (Popllama)
Farmers – Mars (Flying Fish)
Happy Family – Big Ass on Fire (LSR)
Nothing Painted Blue – Swivel Chair (Kokopop)
Cannanes – Last 3 Weeks (Feel Good All Over)
Heavenly – C is the Heavenly Option (K)
Wanton Love Boy – Wiggle (Cubist)
J Church – My Favorite Places (Broken Rekids)
Dogbowl – Concrete Table of Love (Shimmy Disc)
Billy Nayer Show – Bouncy Bouncy (Big Sam’s Giant Records)
Mommyheads – Annabelle Anne (Dromedary)
Bogues – Mahalia Jackson (Casino)
Vehicle Flips – Diplomacy, Home & Abroad (Harriet)
Damien Jurado – Trampoline (Sub Pop)
Neutral Milk Hotel – King of Carrot Flowers (Merge)
Mountain Goats – Golden Boy Peanuts (Inconspicuous)
Olivia Tremor Control – A Peculiar Noise Called Train Director (Flydaddy) 
 
My Amazon Listmania Lists
 

Best music websites for general information:

All Music Guide -  Impressively complete resource for CDs, but not very complete for vinyl and you can’t trust the ratings.  Also, the recent “upgrade” of the site made it a lot clunkier to use.

Trouser Press -  Good reviews for new wave and indie rock late 70s to early 90s – sadly the site hasn’t been kept up very well.

Pitchfork -  They tend to get over-excited about every new band that fits the latest music trends, but somebody ought to be excited about new trends to keep us all from being stuck in the mud.

iPod tips – This site gives helpful hints for managing playlists on the iPOD and using iTunes.  Unfortunately, there’s some good shareware that’s only available if you have a Mac, but there’s some good info generally about what you can and cannot do with the standard software.  I love my iPOD, but it was definitely a big disappointment when I realized that random play is not as fully featured as one might imagine.

Best record shopping:

Amoeba – Not as useless a website as it used to be.  More importantly, they have the address and directions to get to the best record store in the US.  The SF location is best even though the Berkeley location was the original.

Aquarius – Great website and great reviews.  Also a great place to shop with a much higher ratio of great/mediocre music than any other record store.

Jerry’s Records – Haven’t been there in ages, but their selection of vinyl is unmatched, and the prices are very reasonable.  Bring an extra suitcase if you’re visiting Pittsburgh, because there’s that much great stuff.

Reckless Records – A great record store, still need to explore the website to see how worthwhile it is.  Last time I looked at it, it was overly hi-tech, and I couldn’t figure out if there was much there.  Now it’s maybe a bit too low-tech.

EMusic – Cheaper than iTunes with a pretty good catalogue of independent music mp3s

Miscellaneous:

Hawaiian War Chant – An oft recorded song that I have happily found on innumerable LPs from Salvation Army record shopping trips.

 
 

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