Top Ten Albums 2000-2009

January 11, 2010 at 9:00 am 7 comments

Like the recent best of 2009 list, this top ten does not claim to be definitive. It’s not just that the whole thing is highly subjective, it’s mainly that this list has been compiled by someone with a really, really terrible memory. Doubtless, something utterly indispensable has been wantonly omitted.

Once again, the desire to spuriously identify broad, overarching trends has been resisted, for the most part. But one trend does assert itself rather forcefully:  As many bloggers and crtitics have already noted, it seems clear that the first half of the decade produced much better music than the second.

Let’s get this over and done with then, shall we? Taking it from the top…

Fennesz - Endless Summer

Fennesz - Endless Summer

1. Fennesz – Endless Summer (2001)
Most of the very few truly new opportunities presented to musical artists in the noughties stemmed from the astonishing things that could suddenly be done with real-time digital signal processing. No album took advantage of these opportunities with more emotively musical aplomb than Endless Summer.

Fennesz – “Caecilia”

Antipop Consortium - Arrhythmia

Antipop Consortium - Arrhythmia

2. Antipop Consortium – Arrhythmia (2002)
It’s not a fashionable opinion but one could easily argue that indie rap produced a great deal of the decade’s most original music. Arrhythmia is the sound of a sub-genre at its delirious creative peak. Every single second of every single track is still breathtakingly exciting. Fashion be damned.

Antipop Consortium – “Human Shield”

Burial - Untrue

Burial - Untrue

3. Burial – Untrue (2007)
Nobody captured the decade’s anhedonic zeitgeist better than Burial. Untrue recycles elements of ’90s underground dance music and contemporary R&B into an immediately recognizable signature sound. Mournful, delicious and still definitively contemporary.

Burial – “Etched Headplate”

Tujiko Noriko - Make Me Hard

Tujiko Noriko - Make Me Hard

4. Tujiko Noriko Make Me Hard (2003)
Noriko was simultaneously one of the decade’s best digital electronica artists and one of its most intriguing songwriters. Her song’s aren’t particularly memorable though – they’re all texture and flux, drifting by like clouds. Make Me Hard is the most ambitious and well-realised of her many albums.

Tujiko Noriko – “Penguin”

Scott Walker - The Drift

Scott Walker - The Drift

5. Scott Walker – The Drift (2006)
With The Drift, Scott Walker finally managed to boil his music down to its core essence. The result was a stark, nightmarish collection of fractured narratives, with Scott intoning cryptic fragments of song over monumental, unforgiving blocks of sound. Totally compelling.

Scott Walker – “Cossacks Are”

Sonic Youth - Murray Street

Sonic Youth - Murray Street

6. Sonic Youth – Murray Street (2002)
Those of you who believe Sonic Youth haven’t produced anything worthwhile since Daydream Nation need to hear Murray Street and eat your words. Honestly, this album is something of a perfect storm – an ecstatic culmination of years of research into the power of rock noise.

Sonic Youth – “Karen Revisited”

Joanna Newsom - Ys

Joanna Newsom - Ys

7. Joanna Newsom – Ys (2006)
With the long, wordy songs all sung in Newsom’s impossibly kooky squeak and garnished with Van Dyke Parks‘ garish, relentlessly melodic string arrangements, Ys should be awful. But the sheer quality of this material and the conviction of its delivery win out. The results are utterly affecting.

Joanna Newsom – “Monkey & Bear”

Alva Noto - Prototypes

Alva Noto - Prototypes

8. Alva Noto – Prototypes (2000)
For some of us, the early noughties were all about the glitch – the disruption of precise digital sound into something gritty and abstract. On Prototypes, Carsten Nicolai – aka Alva Noto – refined the digital glitch, making it ornate and reintegrating it into a minimalist simulacrum of pop’s 4/4 rhythmic grid.

Alva Noto – “Prototypes Track 6”

The Fall - The Unutterable

The Fall - The Unutterable

9. The Fall – The Unutterable (2000)
It was either The Unutterable or Tromatic Relexxions, Mark E Smith’s tragically underrated collaboration with Mouse on Mars, under the guise of Von Sudenfed. Together, these albums represent the perfection of a dance-rock hybrid Smith developed in the 90s and mostly abandoned in the noughties.

The Fall – “Sons of Temperance”

Gas - Pop

Gas - Pop

10. Gas – Pop (2000)
If Prototypes took glitch into the white-walled spaces of contemporary art, Pop dragged it semi-conscious into the depths of the woods and buried it under a thick layer of moss and peat. Lush and sinister in equal measure, this is a magnificent testament to the meditative properties of hiss and static.

Gas – “Pop Track 2”

Entry filed under: albums of the year, MP3s. Tags: , .

Seefeel – “Sway” CSAF Records Website

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pi  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    “it seems clear that the first half of the decade produced much better music than the second.”

    You’ve been reading the Simon Reynold’s Guardian blog haven’t you??

    He’s been pissing me off lately but I think the reason why more albums are from the first half of the decade is that one needs to spend a lot more time with an album in order of it to qualify for such a reductive list. Nowadays, there is so much music out there for “consumption” as opposed to for “enjoyment”.

    You should try this as an experiment. In 2015, try making a list of 10 records from the year 2005-2015 and see if your list is front loaded or not.

    Nice list though. I am only familiar with Burial and Gas.

    Reply
  • 2. Biggie Samuels  |  January 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve certainly heard that argument. In fact, Reynolds himself suggested this might be the reason the first half of the decade seems to have produced a greater quantity of excellent music. I don’t agree though – I have palpable memories of being much more excited about new music in the first half of the decade than I was in the second. I am, however, getting old, so…

    Reply
  • 3. The Duke of Stratosphear  |  January 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Is this the end, when two worlds collide? It’s like this, right.

    I recently started a thread in the ‘off topic’ section of the Hereford United FC forum in which I listed my Top 10 LPs of the decade and invited others to do the same. Five pages on and a bloke from Ludlow put forward the Fennesz, Scott and Gas LPs (amongst others), at which point I mentioned that they were all in your list and took it upon myself to post the full 10.

    His response? “Your brother seems like a geezer with taste.”

    My response? “That might just be the first and last time anyone will describe Sam as a “geezer.””

    Reply
  • 4. Biggie Samuels  |  January 12, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Well, those three albums, in particular, have been showing up on a lot of lists but I still love this story. I think what this really shows us is the lingering effect that John Peel had on provincial Britain. Points off for the Inspiral Carpets reference, though.

    Reply
  • 5. Glenn  |  January 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    hey sam – nice one. enjoyed reading both the best of decade and best of ’09 lists.

    anyways, i’ve been following your blog for a while – well done. i’ve actually just taken the incredibly doomed step of launching my own blog. if you have some time to kill, take a look at http://www.pondablog.com and let me know what you think.

    hope you’re well

    cheers
    glenn

    Reply
  • 6. Top Ten Albums of All Time « Bubblegum Cage III  |  February 4, 2010 at 9:07 am

    […] 4, 2010 Well honestly, where do you go after compiling your top ten albums of 2009 and your top ten albums of the Noughties? Once again, the usual disclaimers and lame excuses apply. One additional thought: Maybe this list […]

    Reply
  • 7. senatorboss  |  August 1, 2010 at 2:00 am

    I would like to exchange links with your site bubblegumcage3.com
    Is this possible?

    Reply

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