Editor’s Picks: 30 Best Albums of the Decade
With the impending end of the first decade of the century looming in the distance, all one can do is take a look back at the last 10 years in music and create another list, this one ranking the best 30 albums of the last decade (With a sentence of explanation for each).
1. The Arcade Fire – Funeral
This album made baroque pop cool again, something that seemed unachievable after the Beach Boys fell apart.
2. Ryan Adams – Gold
Gold is alternative country at its very best, chocked full of sublime instrumentation and sentimental lyrics.
3. Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
The Boss sings Pete Seeger and brilliance results; there is something fantastic about the combination of Springsteen’s voice and Seeger’s lyrics.
4. Yeasayer – All Hours Cymbals
All Hours Cymbals is an album for the decade lyrically, thematically, and instrumentally.
5. Jonsi and Alex – Riceboy Sleeps
Jonsi and Alex’s post-rock/ambient masterpiece is an album to listen to all the way through (8+ times) to really catch it’s flavor.
6. Radiohead – In Rainbows
Radiohead offered this album to the public using a “Pay what you want” system; this album is by far the most cost-effective offering of the last decade.
7. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Indie pop with depth and from France? Sounds like a winner to me.
8. David Sanford & The Pittsburgh Collective – Live at the Knitting Factory, NYC
A Jazz album of famous classical songs, it is bizarre at first but develops into hands down the best live album I heard over the past 10 years.
9. Seabear – The Ghost that Carried Us Away
Simple melodies and thoughtful lyrics make this an album to listen to again and again and again.
10. DJ Danger Mouse – The Grey Album
The Grey Album brought the Mash-Up genre to forefront and paved the way for many other artists, such as Girl Talk and Super Mash Brothers, to craft what might amount to the music of the decade.
11. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III
Tha Carter III is a Hip Hop opus. It’s really everything I look for on a rap album.
12. Bjork – Vespertine
Since the breakup of the Sugarcubes, Bjork has morphed her music into a alt-dance-pop genre that is all her own, this album is a true testament to that.
13. Jens Lekman – Night Falls over Kortedala
Soft and low-fi, Jens Lekman’s awkward lyrics, high tenor vocals, and orchestral instrumentation are a beautiful combination on this album.
14. Sigur Ros – Takk….
The name of the album means “Thank You.” Indeed this album is worthy of thanks from all of mankind.
15. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
This is dream-Pop’s finest offering – ever.
16. Amadou & Mariam – Welcome to Mali
Afro-Pop, a product of the 1990s, was thriving this past decade and Amadou & Mariam’s Welcome to Mali is an excellent example of this genre’s potential to reach across cultural boundaries.
17. Gui Boratto – Chromophobia
This Brazilian electro album makes one both dance and contemplate.
18. Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise
Stevens covers a lot of ground in this album dedicated to the Land of Lincoln.
19. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Stay Positive takes elements of grunge, indie, and alternative to craft a sound that is all their own.
20. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
It’s surf rock with a modern sensibility, for fans of hi-fi rock, there is nothing better.
21. M83 – Saturdays = Youth
Anthony Gonzalez’s slow motion electro album is surprisingly capable as party music, it’s magic.
22. Brian Wilson – Smile
This actually happened.
23. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Low-fi, depressing, but filled with emotion that makes For Emma, Forever Ago a really special album.
24. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
An opus for everyone, you can dance, you can listen, you can feel the rhythm; it’s indie, but there is much more there.
25. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Austin’s music scene and SXSW are still a force to be reckoned with.
26. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Start to finish one of the most sublime albums of the decade.
27. Yelle – Pop Up
Feminist themed French pop with a universality that resonates from Reykjavik to Rennes.
28. Gregory and the Hawk – Moenie and Kitchi
An organic and pared down album full of emotion.
29. Sin Fang Bous – Clangour
This part folk, part electro, part alt rock, and part ambient album is all Icelandic.
30. Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring
The First Days of Spring is a concept album for a new generation.
Beach House – Devotion; Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism; Familjen – Det Snurrar I Min Skalle; Feist – The Reminder; Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – Once; Justice – Cross; Karen O and the Kids – Where the Wild Things Are; MGMT – Oracular Spectacular; Okkervil River – The Stand Ins; Ray LaMontagne – Gossip in the Grain; Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell; Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend; Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
Doug Ray is the co-host of Saltimbocca & Escargot, Sundays at 8-10 PM Eastern Time on WRBC.