40. SONIC YOUTH- THE ETERNAL
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Sonic Youth’s fourth very good album in a row caps off an excellent decade for the band. They are the longest running band on this whole list- first album 1983. With “The Eternal”, their first official indie album since before a twenty year stint on Geffen Records, the Youth provide a more straight ahead rock album. Though this being the Youth some experimental and jammy elements still remain as well as the massive, atonal guitar riffs, pounding drums and Kim Gordon’s frenetic bass lines that make up their signature sound. Kim, her husband guitarist Thurston Moore and second guitarist Lee Ranaldo all contribute multiple songs worthy of Sonic Youth’s mighty canon.
Buy “Walkin’ Blue”
39. WILCO- WILCO (THE ALBUM)
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This is a lighter album, both musically and lyrically, than any other Wilco full length of the oughts. It’s sunnier than “Sky Blue Sky” and less experimental than both “A Ghost is Born” and “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. Wilco (The Album) distills all of their musical elements down into a more coherent and concise whole. Therefore the album is more consistently good than any since “Yankee Hotel” but it does get a bit staid despite the nice, guitar workout (Bull Black Nova) which provide some much-needed diversity. Nels Cline we want more of ya!
Buy “You Never Know”
Buy “Bull Black Nova”
38. ROYCE DA 5’ 9”- STREET HOP
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A slept on album from this very slept on Detroit rapper who has been in the rap game since the beginning of the 2000’s but is really only known in underground circles. Royce moves effortlessly from radio-made R&B rap to the most hard-core of gansta rap. The album runs over seventy minutes so it runs a bit long in the tooth but Royce keeps it interesting with his ridiculous flow and stylistic switch-ups. The album’s beats are courtesy of DJ Premier- one of the best and classiest producers in hop-hop. Hopefully this album will get its just due in time.
Buy “Shake This”
Buy “Count for Nothing”
37. YO LA TENGO- POPULAR SONGS
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Thirteenth long player from Hoboken, NJ band Yo La Tengo. The title is a lark as YLT has never come close to having a hit song in their entire career and this album is no exception. Except for the first (and best!) track “Here to Fall” the first nine tracks run under five minutes- touching on sixties pop, kraut-rock, psychedelia, garage rock & soul music- more or less a tour through the band’s own past. The last three tracks are as long as the first nine- ranging from 9 ½ minutes to almost 16 minutes. All three of the lengthy tracks have their merits but may be a bit too much in one sitting.
The album would likely be more effective is at least two of the most lengthy tracks were cut.
Buy “Here to Fall”
Buy “Nothing to Hide”
36. BUILT TO SPILL- THERE IS NO ENEMY
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“Enemy” is the seventh proper album from Boise, Idaho’s finest indie-rockers lifers. With Built to Spill you know what you’re getting- witty lyrics sung in Doug Martsch’s distinct high pitched voice, dizzying tempo changes and extended Neil Young and Crazy Horse influenced guitar work outs. Martsch is flat out one of the best lead guitarists in indie-rock. This one gets better with every listen and may be their most consistent release since “Keep It Like a Secret”.
Buy “Planting Seeds”
35. ATLAS SOUND- LOGOS
Atlas Sound is the solo project (and second album release) of the prolific Atlanta-based artist Bradford Cox, also of the more well-known indie-rock act Deerhunter. Though much of the album (like Deerhunter releases) is made up of experimental, drone-like tracks drenched in feedback, Cox does come up with three or four absolute standouts. “Walkabout” is a collaboration with Noah Lennox of Animal Collective and perhaps Cox’s sunniest and most-pop moment on record. “Shelia” is another wonderful, concise indie-pop song and “Quick Canal” a nine plus minute track featuring Laetitia Sadler of Stereolab which could fit right in on a Stereolab anthology. “Washington St.” is another very strong track. Still early in his music career, Cox has already built quite an anthology of songs between his two bands.
Buy “Walkabout (Feat. Noah Lennox)”
34. BILL CALLAHAN- SOMETIMES I WISH I WERE AN EAGLE
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The former Smog frontman’s third “solo” album and return to the darker themes of Smog after his two more lighthearted solo efforts. Callahan’s rich baritone is as distinct in its own way as the vocals of Johnny Cash or Tom Waits though he is a far lesser known artist than either. The album is a statement and an examination of Callahan’s values and beliefs- not necessarily recommended for the sunny optimistic type. The musical arrangements are beautiful- full string arrangements on several tracks and a meditative Krautrock-like sound on others. It’s perfect accompaniment to the subject matter at hand.
Buy “My Friend”
33. THE-DREAM- LOVE VS. MONEY
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Love vs. Money is Atlanta-based singer/songwriter/producer The-Dream’s second solo release and one of the more unique R&B full length offerings in a long while. The-Dream is currently one of the hottest producers in music. Along with “Tricky” Stewart his credits include huge and musically influential hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”. Dream takes many of his lyrical ideas from freaky loverman R. Kelly brings the same musical elements of the tracks mentioned above-swooshing drums and percussion, buzzing and burpring synth noises, stuttering vocals and unexpected song structure.
Buy “Put It Down”
Buy “Rockin’ That Sh**”
32. THE BIG PINK- A BRIEF HISTORY OF LOVE
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The Big Pink are a London duo who combine elements of nineties shoegaze at its most anthemic with modern techno. Though some of their tracks come uncomfortably close to aping the sounds of past groups (see “Counting Backwards from Ten” = The Verve) there is no denying the greatness of these hooky songs with HUGE single-along choruses.
31. THE DECEMBERISTS- THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
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In a series of extremely weird albums, “Hazards of Love” the Portland, Ore. Based Decemberists fifth full length album, is their weirdest. It’s a 17 song suite about the trials and tribulations of a girl named Margaret who lives in an unidentified time and place (perhaps Europe in the middle ages?) filled with mythological creatures. The purpose and storyline remains mostly unclear to me though I am still new to this album so its clarity may present itself over time. If you are already a fan of The Decemberists impressive musical output you should also dig this album. It is musically heavier than their their past efforts though certainly maintains their thespian bent. Like a high school drama club forming a metal band- in the best way possible.
Buy “The Rake’s Song”
Buy “The Hazards of Love 1″