Okay, I was a little late to the music thing. The first album I ever bought, like an actual correlated group of songs on a shiny compact disc, was Moby’s licensed-for-everything Play, before he went back to the well to make boring downtempo for another decade. The next few years were a bit of a fluke because everything I bought was pretty awful radio rock – like Saliva’s first album or Ill Nino – and this was back when I regularly listened to radio rock (that’s how awful it was). But eventually I began to fall in love with music and began picking favorites and now that it’s been a decade, I can pick my ten favorite albums of the past ten years. Limp Bizkit’s pictured chocolate starfish and the hotdog flavored water couldn’t make the list because, sadly, it came out in 2000. Sigh.
2002: Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head
This British quartet was doomed to ‘elevator pop’ status from their first major release Parachutes, but that didn’t stop them from giving it their all here. This disc is a bit more adventurous, more meditative road trip than shy crooning, while that’s still in plenty of supply. “Amsterdam” steals the show here with the outro: ‘stood on the edge / tied to a noose / but you came along / and you cut me loose’. Elevator pop just doesn’t get any better than this, especially as they worked so hard to overproduce their next discs.
2003: Matthew Good – Avalanche
You’ve probably never heard of Matthew Good because he’s worked so incredibly hard to sabotage his American expansion. After Universal perverted his ‘Band’s Beautiful Midnight by including a bunch of hit singles their previous hit albums (in Canada) it’s hard to blame him. His first release since the Matthew Good Band dissipated, this story isn’t as weird as The Audio of Being, but it carries a lot of that album’s epic swings (‘When We Were Hunting Rabbits’) and pop culture proclamations (’21st Century Living’). This album regularly trades places with Audio as his best work, but this was before he volleyed down the soft-spoken route with a bunch of acoustic discs that painted him as an artist who had lost his ambition. I’d love to have another one of these from him.
2004: The Faint – Wet From Birth
The Faint had been described to me as a ‘metal band with a DJ instead of a bassist’, which ranks up there as one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard. But give this disc a listen and you’ll find their music is just as bizarre. I fell in love with their Danse Macabre and this Omaha-based synthrock band journeyed further into the fields of weird with off-time compositions and quasi-political commentary. With dance-y hooks against guitar riffs and a lo-fi sound, this album was the band at its pinnacle. The production apple didn’t fall far from the tree with the release of Fasciinatiion in 2008, which came off as a B-side to this disc after such a long wait.
2005: Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth
Honestly, this says more about 2005 than it does about Nine Inch Nails. This isn’t their best disc (that goes to Year Zero in 2007), but it had plenty of great songs to throw on repeat and jam out to for hours. ‘Only’ features a David Grohl (Foo Fighters) on drums, ‘Beside You In Time’ is a beautiful, mellow build-up, and ‘Everyday Is Exactly The Same’ is a great theme for the cubicle-y oppressed. This album probably won on playtime alone and let’s be fair, ‘The Hand That Feeds’ is an awesome Rock Band song. It is.