This was the year of Lala. And thanks to the first reasonable approach to digital music, I listened to the most new albums I've ever listened to. By a lot. Definitely in the 100 range. Which is strange. What exactly was I doing in college besides listening to albums? I guess if I had spent more time listening to new albums and less time "listening" to Kula Shaker with Chris, I could have put out a sweet 2000 ranking (#1 - 10 all taken by Kid A, natch).
Anyway, ten years later, I'm still holding strong to the album format. I care about it now more than ever. Singles are great. But I want a sustained experience, a diversity of sameness, someone to carve out an hour of my life. I want an album. And here are the real ten best of the year. Yes, I am claiming that these are the real best: didn't I already tell you how many albums I listened to?
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "Song for No One"
I can't defend this choice. This is a shit-pop version of Neutral Milk Hotel. But if it wouldn't tear my shoulder out of its manmade anchor, you'd find me bopping up and down to this album all day.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "In the Summertime"
Here's my argument: "Sheeeeeeeeeliaaaa. Sheeee-eeee-eeeeliaaaaa. We'll die alone. Together. Die alone. Together. Sheeeeeeeeeliaaaa. Sheeee-eeee-eeeeliaaaaa."
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "Sheilia"
I want to dislike the slickness of this production, want to hate that "Skeletons" is really just a retuned "Maps," want to bemoan that Karen O's best singing of the year was her making animal noises on the Flaming Lips disc, but… the production is slick as hell, they can remake "Maps" forever, and Karen O's non-animal noises are pretty damn great too. Heads are gonna roll, fools.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "Skeletons"
Listen. There's precedent. Pitchfork? They gave the top spot to the Fleet Foxes' Sun Giant EP and the album. I'm not cheating. Shut up. I'm not. I don't care. This is my game. Yes, the album has a lot of weak spots. So what? Have you heard the EP? Have you really heard "What Would I Want? Sky"? They're masterfully sick. What? You're accusing me of putting the album on there even though I don't love it just so my vote counts? That's ridiculous. Whatever, Bon Iver fans, throw your vote away on a Green Party EP.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "My Girls" can keep their adobe slats, the correct answer is "What Do You Want? Sky."
I feel like this album is uncatchable: I love listening to it, but I can't remember a thing about it. Sand through the ears. Of all the albums that came out this year, this album has worn the worst for me as times gone on. I really do think it's the most overrated album of the year. And yet: I'm on board on the overrating.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "Two Weeks"
If you remove the most over-the-top Yale-y moments (cf. their "re-imagined" version of Black Flag's Damaged or their concept album about Don Henley) from this album and it's brilliant. Yes, "Stillness Is the Move" is the best, but so are "Two Doves" and a handful of other tracks.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "Two Doves" (to be contrary).
The most underrated album of the year. Furious songwriting making tender songs. And buried in the mix is some absolute killer playing. The only thing keeping this from my #1 is a lingering feeling that this album is a bit too long. And with that thought, I went through each song, and I couldn't imagine the album without a single one.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "The Executioner's Song"
I wrote off the Flaming Lips in 2006 with the At War with the Mystics debacle. I listened to it through once, heard the singles a few more times, and put them in the Weezer & Rolling Stones category of Bands Who Should No Longer Record Music. Nothing could have surprised me more than Embryonic. Beautiful in its terror, this album finds Wayne Coyne and the Lips coming through the rabbithole of krautrock purified, triumphant, and doomed.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "Silver Tremlbing Hands"
I don't know more than anybody else what makes an album good, much less the best of the year. I do know that this is the band and album I've been most excited about from the first listen. And each progressive listen has only increased my fervor. Queer-forward rawk with mesmerizing live loop-like guitar and singing that flips from sweet to hard, constantly whispering bitterness and beauty? Yes, please. This is a monster of an album. Come join me at Johnny Brenda's on February 25.
STANDOUT TRACK(S): "Hooting and Howling"
The xx: xx, Seeland: Tomorrow Today, Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse: Dark Night of the Soul, Various Artists: Dark Was the Night, Andrew Bird: Noble Beast, Clientele: Bonfires on the Heath, Islands: Vapours, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs, Phoneix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
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