This is one of my favourite albums of all time. Let’s face it, The Flaming Lips are the Pink Floyd of the 21st Century. Is that controversial? No, because I’m right. If you disagree you can start your own tedious music blog that no one reads.
2. Radiohead – Kid A (Parlophone, 2000)
OK Computer was recently named the greatest album of all time (by Channel 4 as opposed to anyone whose opinion is worth anything). Of course they were absolutely wrong. They were also wrong to include the U2′s Joshua Tree anywhere in the chart – let alone in the number 2 slot – for obvious reasons. I don’t want this to become a barrage of U2 insults (it’s too easy, we’ll be here all day) so I’ll move on. The fact is, this album marks the precise balance between pop melodies, technical prowess and raw passion.
3. The Avalanches – Since I Left You (XL, 2001)
What an absolute sonic masterpiece! I fear such experimentation is pretty much dead, save for a few dears like Four Tet. It’s avant-garde sans the snobbery and contains some of the most beautiful songs in existence, the title track being a prime example. Sadly, the original release as it was is no longer available. Since it’s release a lot of sniffy dickheads got offended that The Avalanches were giving them free publicity for their music which no one had heard of previously. As punishment for this heinous crime they decided to reprimand them by ordering the offending samples be removed, rendering it ridiculous sounding. If you have the original, you’re a lucky sod and possibly the proud owner of a bit of musical history before it was shat on by nobodies.
4. Eels – Souljacker (DreamWorks, 2001)
Mark Everett has a dark, dark past which always makes for the best music (his father died an alcoholic after a tumultuous relationship with his son and his cousin died in the plane that struck the Pentagon on 9/11). His father was physicist Hugh Everett III, originator of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory (something about parallel universes and dimensions). Evidently, his father’s brilliant mind has been inherited by Everett Jr. If you can imagine the best elements of The Butthole Surfers, Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd all mixed together you might have half an idea of just how brilliant Eels are/is.
5. Jurassic 5 – Quality Control (Interscope, 2000)
This is the kind of album that’s such an immediate classic, you don’t release how recent is. When I released it was released less than a decade ago, I was staggered. How could such an anodine, vacuous generation put out an album this good? Answer: fuck knows. J5, where are you now that we need you?
6. PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea (Island Records, 2000)
I know this only just qualifies, and perhaps shouldn’t, but ol’ Peej had to be in this list somewhere. Like a lot of music, I only found this about 5 years after it was actually released (I was 12 when it came out and had the music taste of a sulky retard). Anyway, this album earned its place on this list purely on the strength of that song, ‘This Is Love’.
7. Four Tet – Everything Ecstatic (Domino, 2005)
If you don’t like this album, you don’t like music. Or you’re a bit thick. Either way, you and I are no longer friends.
8. Skream – Skream! (Tempa, 2006)
Forget your prejudices about dubstep, the fact is this LP is pretty much responsible (along with Benga & Coki’s plague-like ‘Night’) for making dubstep massive. Whether you think that’s a good thing or not, it’s still quite an achievement to more or less single-handedly drag a genre from a local underground scene to a global phenomenon (albeit inasmuch as jungle/drum & bass was a global phenomenon in the early-to-mid 90′s). I know, I know, Rusko played a big part too, but dubstep was already pretty big before ‘Woo Boost’ or ‘Cockney Thug’ trickled onto the interwebs. I was going to put Benga’s ‘Newstep’ on here but that was nowhere near as strong an album as Skream’s debut, the basslines were repetitive and derivative.
9. Florence & The Machine – Lungs (Universal, 2009)
Apart from Bat For Lashes, this is the only “kooky” female (to use that horrible phrase) to warrant even proximity to this list. If you have to wonder why, imagine Kate Bush with good songs.
10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell (Interscope, 2003)
With three albums released this decade it was a little hard to choose, but this debut pulled through simply because there’s not a single weak song on it.
11. Jason Forrest – Shamelessly Exciting (Sonig, 2005)
Another fine record from Mr. Forrest, drawing together punk, prog-rock, post-punk, disco, jazz, funk, soul, folk and breakcore. Sounds like it shouldn’t work, but does like you wouldn’t believe.
12. Bong-Ra – Bikini Bandits, Kill! Kill! Kill! (Supertracks, 2003)
Again, another breakcore release but one that heralded the rise of what Mr. Kohnen referred to as “yardcore” (that’s jungle to you and I). Actually a solid release, without a single weak link, something very few artists have managed to achieve in the scene.
13. DJ Kentaro – Enter (MCA, 2002)
I had originally included DJ Shadow’s ‘The Private Press’ before I remembered how horribly downhill he went after his debut. Kentaro’s ‘Enter’, on the other hand, is a beautiful, thoughtfully crafted hip-hop LP that really holds its own against ‘Endtroducing…’ and anything by cLOUDDEAD.
14. Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel (EMI, 2008)
This was one of my favourite albums of last year, it’s camp and it’s funny. It’s also pretty dark in places and stands on the shoulder of giants such as Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk without sounding kitsch. Not only does it lack a single bad track, it doesn’t even have any average tracks. They’re all ACE.
15. Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow (MCA, 2002)
Blackalicious are poets, in every sense of the word. There are no gaps between the tracks so they flow into one another perfectly. I would even go so far as to say they were at least as good as Jurassic 5. If you like hip-hop on any level, you need this album like a junkie needs smack. Best taken intravenously.
16. DJ /rupture – Special Gunpowder (Tigerbea6, 2004)
One of the most thoughtfully made ragga/hip-hop releases of all time. The rejuvenation of his partnership with Matt Shadetek bodes well for 2010
17. cLOUDDEAD – Ten (Mush, 2004)
I’m sure to be lambasted for putting this release so low, but who cares? This LP boasts some impressive influences: JG Ballard and William S. Burroughs to name just two. It’s incredibly complex in a way that doesn’t alienate, rather it draws you in and forces you to listen in one of the most sensual full-nelsons OF ALL TIME.
18. Major Lazer – Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do (Mad Decent, 2009)
A bit of a double-edge sword, this release. It’s a great dancehall/jump up record, but it has ushered in piss-weak imitators and the abomination that is UK funky. Nice album, shame about the residue.
19. Arcade Fire – Funeral (Merge, 2004)
Magazines Uncut, Fact and Rolling Stone lauded this album as one of the greatest debuts of all time, putting it amongst releases such as Led Zeppelin I, The Stone Roses and The Smiths. Also, ‘Haiti’ has been wideley considered to be the best song of the decade.
20. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns (Parlophone, 2009)
Cruelly dubbed (by me) Florence-lite, Bat For Lashes made waves this year but were left in the shadow of Flossy, but don’t let that put you off. Soaring melodies and a complexity that’s lacking from ‘Lungs’. Not essential, but the best things in life aren’t.
If you disagree with this list, you’re wrong. You’re also a tool for bothering to get riled up about it. Either way, I win.