For our first installment, and after reading probably our most accurate installment of the Top 25 albums of the decade, Josh McDowell of The Dirty White weighs in on his top albums. With a new album and video in the works, we will be hearing a lot from the Florence natives in the coming months.
25. Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane
A moving songwriter with a mix of Neil Young and Thurston Moore.
Highlights: Poisonous Heads, Molten Light
24. Islands – Return to the Sea
I discovered many hidden gems while working at a record store. The striking cover peaked my interest and sunny island indie pop is what I found inside.
Highlights: Rough Gem, Don’t Call me Whitney, Bobby
23. Outkast – Stankonia
Soulful, Smooth, Aggressive, Fresh and Clean, just a terrific group at their creative peak.
Highlights: B.O.B., Ms. Jackson
22. The Thermals – The Body, The Blood & the Machine
Rocks a political message without getting preachy. Green Day should take note.
Highlights: Here’s Your Future, Pillar of Salt
21. The Format – Dog Problems
This is the happiest that breaking up has ever sounded. This also gets my vote for best production of the Aughts, because these guys kinda sucked up to this album.
Highlights: Time Bomb, She Doesn’t Get It
20. Wilco – Summerteeth
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot may be the better album, but this album doesn’t take itself so seriously. Also home to the most infectious Wilco tune ever: Shot in the Arm
19. At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command
Exploding out of nowhere, this album is visceral, melodic, pummeling and uncompromising. Some of these songs still make me want to lose my shit every time I hear them.
Highlights: One-Armed Scissor, Arcarsenal
18. Beulah – The Coast is Never Clear
The best Indie Pop record since their ’99 release When Your Heartstrings Break.
Beulah marry the Beatles, Beach Boys and Pavement. What more do you want?
Highlights: Popular Mechanics for Lovers, Silver Lining
17. Thursday – Full Collapse
Thursday helped changed the game back in 2001. This sound has been done to death over the years but give them credit for being early to the party.
Highlights: Cross Out the Eyes, Autobiography of a Nation
16. Flaming Lips – Embryonic
Wow, this was a tough one to slot. Having just come out last month it could still move up. This CD just blew me away at the right time. Embryonic is our generation’s Bitches Brew. It sounds like Joy Division covering Dark Side of the Moon, on the moon. It’s a very challenging record, but highly rewarding.
Highlights: Watching the Planets, The Sparrow Looks up at the Machine
15. No Age – Nouns
This record still feels new, being only a couple of years old. These fellow noise rockers will be a force for years to come and this album shows their potential. Great album that’s smart, high energy and noisy.
Highlights: Teen Creeps, Eraser
14. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
Bloc Party may have seemed like an emo Gang of Four at first, but this album set the arena rock bar pretty high. So high that Coldplay and U2 are still trying to figure it out.
Highlights: Banquet, This Modern Love
13. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now Youngster
If you could capture the exuberance of a child after a Jolt Cola, this is what it may sound like. A great fun record for you and your friends to sing along to. I can’t describe the giddiness I feel listening to the chorus of You! Me! Dancing!
Highlights: Death to Los Campesinos!, Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks
12. Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse
SY eased into their next era with Nurse. More complex and subdued than previous albums, some of the songs (Unmade Bed, Stones, I Love Golden Blue) almost sound…GASP…mature! SY has aged like a fine wine and truthfully, I could have justified several more albums on this list.
11. Madvillain – Madvillainy
Great Beats, Great Rhymes. When Madlib joined MF Doom they managed to capture something rare: a hip-hop album that I can listen to more than twice. Their collective use of non contemporary styles is eclectic without losing touch.
Highlights: Meat Grinder, Accordion
10. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
After hearing about how much I needed Animal Collective in my life, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to hearing a side project from them. Truth is, this album sounds like Brian Wilson if he grew up on NES and played with samples instead of guitars. A listen to Bros. Should tell you everything you need to know about this record.
9. Arcade Fire – Funeral
Possibly the most emotive record of the decade. Rather than hearing someone whine, we actually feel the sorrow. Enough has been written about this record so I’ll leave it at a powerful rush of loss.
Highlights: Neighborhood #1(Tunnels), Rebellion (Lies)
8. Shins – Chutes Too Narrow
I picked this up after only hearing Caring is Creepy from their first record. It seemed every time I listened to it I loved it more and more. There isn’t really a dull moment until the end. Great lyrics that go quite deep for those curious enough to wiki some references.
Highlights: Fighting in a Sack, Kissing the Lipless
7. Cursive – The Ugly Organ
The Ugly Organ was my first exposure to Cursive. The one two punch of Red Handed and Art is Hard completely made me reevaluate where I was musically. The cello and album concept are brilliant. The execution is flawless. Domestica is a great record as well, but The Ugly Organ will stand as Cursive’s masterpiece.
6. Stephen Malkmus – Face the Truth
Having to pick the best Stephen Malkmus album is like trying to pick the best Pavement record. So I picked my favorite Pavement album, Wowee Zowee, and this was SM’s solo equivalent. Sprawling, smart-assed and manic-depressive, Face the Truth is all of the quirks of SM rolled into one album. Freeze the Saints may be his most disarmingly honest track ever.
Highlights: Pencil Rot, Baby C’Mon
5. Liars – Liars
Brooding, cryptic and powerful. Liars make good on all of their previous albums an deliver a knockout. This album is the official pre-show hype record for The Dirty White. We ALWAYS listen to something off of this record before a show. We only wish we were this good.
Highlights: Plaster Casts of Everything, Clear Island
4. The Strokes – Is This It?
So yeah, maybe for a minute in early Aughts, I though The Strokes were gonna be the next Velvet Underground. I was wrong, but this album stands as one of the best rock records you’ll hear this side of the 70’s. Unfortunately, This Was It. (Side note: Also my first Napster record)
Highlights: Barely Legal, Modern Era (original version)
3. Sonic Youth – Murray Street
Murray Street was not only a great album, it was a watershed moment for the band. Read more about the studio, 9/11 and lyrics to Rain on Tin on allmusic or something. This was possibly the bands best effort since Daydream Nation as well. After a few shaky records, SY sounded like they were ready to lead the next generation.
Highlights: Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style, Sympathy for the Strawberry
2. Radiohead – Kid A
This may seem like a token pick, but it really deserves it. Kid A really freaked me out when I first got it. Oddly, I couldn’t stop listening to it. It hypnotized me for a day or so. I wondered if all music would sound like this from now on. To this day, I still hear something new every spin. Kid A will make you feel things you’d probably rather not, but the record is a triumph.
Highlights: How to Disappear Completely, Idioteque
1. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
As a young college freshman when this came out, this was a record that changed my outlook on everything. I found Brock’s multiple personalities very appealing as well. It seemed as if there was just about everything on this record. I still listen to this album regularly and I’m still not tired of it.
Highlights: Life Like Weeds, Gravity Rides Everything