Thursday, October 20, 2016

Best Of The 2000s-Part 4-The Best Albums From The Year 2003

1. Lightning Bolt-Wonderful Rainbow(Load)

This is noise rock at it's purest and loudest form. This is adrenaline in the form of music. Hold onto your butts!

Genre: Noise Rock, Math Rock, Experimental Rock

2. Mu-Afro Finger and Gel(Outpost)

One of the weirdest albums of all time. The veteran house producer Dr. Maurice Fulton and his wife Mu making some of the most absurd experimental electronic pop you will ever hear. This album is pure originality. Nothing sounds like it and I doubt much ever will(except for their second album).

Genre: Electro House, Electro Pop, Weird

3. The Unicorns-Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?(Alien8)

One of the most inventive indie rock albums of all time. It sucks this was a one-off. It sucks they probably will never make new music as this band. This band gave birth to Islands, Mister Heavenly and Nick Thorburn's soundtrack for the podcast "Serial". The influences are vast and frequent all while retaining their own sense of sound. This album sounded both tossed off and completely labored over.

Genre: Indie Pop, Indietronica, Twee Pop, LO-FI

4. Ex Models-Zoo Psychology(Frenchkiss)

What would happen if Devo embraced metal and abstract noise while still playing quirky rock. This album is extremely intense and full of inappropriate lyrics.

Genre: Noise Rock, No Wave

5. Frog Eyes-The Golden River(Global Symphonic/Animal World)

Extremely old timey in sound with a very heavy Tom Waits circa Rain Dogs sound. The vocals are completely unhinged and extremely literary. This album also has somewhat of a David Bowie vibe to it as well.

Genre: Indie Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Art Rock

6. The Fiery Furnaces-Gallowsbird's Bark(Rough Trade)

At first these two were compared to The White Stripes but I think the comparison is pretty much dead wrong. Sure this was a band made up of 2 siblings/2 people. Sure it used Blues and Garage Rock as a jumping off point, but that's where the comparisons stop, because this album takes those roots and flushes them right down the toilet. They throw every other style of music on top of the blues sound and then warp it even further. Though, this album is pretty conventional. It does have it's quirks but they would show us the very next year just exactly what kind of weirdness they were truly capable of.

Genre: Art Pop, Indie Rock, Blues Rock

7. Jim Guthrie-Now, More Than Ever(Three Gut)

Symphonic indie rock in the vein of what Sufjan Stevens was doing around the time. I prefer this to Stevens only because it sounds more grounded. It isn't as lofty. This guy could be your neighbor, just with an orchestra backing him. I know Owen Pallet did much of the arranging on this album and it shows.

Genre: Americana

8. Dizzee Rascal-Boy In Da Corner(XL)

What can I say about this album? Well it blew my mind when it came out. It was proceeded by the single "I Luv U" which is on the album and the excitement for the full length after hearing the single was crazy. Once the album hit though it fully lived up to the hype. I had never heard hip hop so indebted to electronic music before. I had no idea what Grime really was at the time. This was hard hitting shit with a trained ear for amazing production.

Genre: Grime

9. Deerhoof-Apple O(Kill Rock Stars/5RC)

A little more cleaned up than it's predecessor(Reville) but still noisy as all hell. They added way more pop to this one as well and came out with one of their best set of songs. The recording was perfect as well. It was a little less LO-FI than the one before it but definitely NOT polished. The drums cracked with intensity and the guitars could practically blow your ears off!

Genre: Noise Pop, Indie Rock, Twee Pop

10. Animal Collective-Here Comes the Indian(Paw Tracks)

This was the beginning for me for my interest in Animal Collective. Up until this point I had never heard music like this. Sure there had been plenty of bands in the past that sounded like this but at the time I hadn't heard a single note of THEIR stuff. What I had in front of me instead was this album. The closest thing I had as a reference point to this kind of thing at the time was Boredoms. Though this was quieter and a little more restrained on the whole. These guys were exploring new and unusual sounds for the independent underground and I was digging what they were selling.

Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, Experimental Rock, Psychedelic Folk, Noise, Electronic, Tribal, Ambient, Free Folk

11. Whirlwind Heat-Do Rabbits Wonder?(XL)

Total trash rock produced by Jack White for his label(this was the first release aside from White Stripes on the label). This was and still is the closest sound to the band Brainiac I have ever heard. People hated this when it came out and I have no idea why. Pitchfork famously gave it a "2.7" and bitched about how it was unfair that they got signed with Jack White and V2 records. This was spazzy funky rock with touches of Ween and Brainiac. Not a whole lot to hate yet a whole lot to love.

Genre: Noise Rock, Garage Punk

12. The Blood Brothers-Burn, Piano Island, Burn(Artist Direct)

This album is pure energy. Spastic, screaming energy. At one point one of the singers sounds like a god damn jaguar. None of it makes any sense and yet perfect sense at the same time. This is what At the Drive In wished their major label debut sounded like. This album is extremely intense. So intense that the very next album they made was extremely simple in comparison because, as rumor would have it, this album was just to insanely hard to pull of live and they needed something a little easier to contain.

Genre: Post-Hardcore, Noise Rock, Art Punk, Screamo

13. Clearlake-Cedars(Domino)

Extremely egocentric, narcissistic, mopey and down on it's luck in general. Yet there was always a gleam of optimism shining around the corner for this album. They got Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins fame to produce it and he did a fantastic job. The string parts are crucial as well as the atmosphere surrounding the main instruments. This was and still is probably the best brooding modern British Rock album.

Genre: Indie Rock

14. The Russian Futurists-Let's Get Ready To Crumble(Upper Class)

This album to me is the perfect definition of bedroom pop. The sampling is awesome. These are short little bursts of perfect pop music. This is the album Beck wishes he could go back to making. Every melody shimmers with catchiness.

Genre: Indie Pop, Indietronica

15. Melt Banana-Cell Scape(A-Zap)

This is overproduction done right. Is it "overproduction" if it sounds great? Does it just become "Production"? At any rate, this album is super intense. This, to me, is Melt-Banana at their most intense and best. They truly benefit from a larger less LO-FI sound. They needed this open expansive sound to let their loud speed punk meets metal sound really blossom.

Genre: Noise Rock, Experimental Rock, Hardcore Punk, Art Punk

16. Broadcast-HAHA Sound(Warp)

Great homage to damaged 60s exotica. This sounds like if Nancy and Lee got in a time machine and landed in 2003 to make a great electronic influenced 60s psyche pop album. It's noisy and pretty in equal measure. Her voice is perfect in this environment. It's sad to think this was the last truly great thing she did before she died of Pneumonia.

Genre: Dream Pop, Indietronica, Psychedelic Pop

17. Need New Body-UFO(File 13)

This album is completely absurd. 23 songs of pure insanity. Some of it is borderline unlistenable other parts are extremely easy on the ears. They basically try their hands at every single genre you could think of and come out on top.

Genre: Experimental Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Cabaret, Folk Rock

18. Exploding Hearts-Guitar Romantic(Dirtnap)

The best approximation of Buzzcocks style punk for the modern era you could ever hope for. It's sad this is the only true album of this band we will ever get.

Genre: Power Pop, Pop Punk, Garage Punk

19. The Darkness-Permission To Land(Atlantic)

Imagine if you will, if Freddie Mercury fronted the greatest 80s sunset strip hair metal band and you have a pretty good idea of what this sounds like.

Genre: Hard Rock, Glam Rock

20. Ricardo Villalobos-Alcachofa(Playhouse)

Wonderfully inventive microhouse album. The samples are interesting and the song concepts hold your attention very well. One of the best examples of someone making something truly interesting and inspiring within a genre mired by sameness and bland choices.

Genre: Microhouse, Minimal Techno

21. Coachwhips-Bangers Vs. Fuckers(Narnack)

This is the true punk rock of the 2000s. Dirty, nasty, shrill, mean, funny and loud as hell. I saw a reunited show of these guys at the smell a couple of years back and for however much this album screeches like noise the rhythms are undeniable and without a doubt I have never moved as much at a concert as I had with these guys.

Genre: Garage Punk, Noise Rock

22. The Rapture-Echoes(DFA)

The second best album put out by DFA. This was a classic in the dance-punk genre even though I would say they shed a lot of what made them "typical" in the genre and wrote some truly great ballads and non punk dance numbers. This had way more in common with a T.Rex or Bowie record than it did the current dance punk trends at the time. That's why this one stands out!

Genre: Dance Punk, Post-Punk

23. Matmos-The Civil War(Matador)

Great use of melding the old with the new. This album had all the touchpoints of a 2000s era electronic album but they made it really interesting by throwing in bagpipes, acoustic guitar, old madrigal folk melodies and an amazing cover of "Stars and Stripes Forever" by Sousa on it.

Genre: Folktronica, Glitch, Electronic, IDM

24. Black Eyes-Self Titled(Dischord)

Great spazzy punk album filled with all sorts of noises. Dual singers and dual drummers really help this album standout. Not to mention one of their vocalists had one of the most unique voices in rock music.

Genre: Post-Hardcore, Art Punk, Post-Punk, Noise Rock

25. LFO-Sheath(Warp)

Great swan song of a legendary electronic outfit. This is the album with the song that plays over the opening credits of "Enter the Void" which is a classic track.

Genre: IDM, Acid Techno, Downtempo

26. Young People-War Prayers(Dim Mak)

Weird little album from a few nerds from LA. It's kind of got a country vibe to it but I would never call it country. It also has an old timey "spiritual" thing going on as well. The vocals are killer and the playing is loose and fun.

Genre: Indie Pop, Experimental Rock

27. Excepter-KA(Fusetron)

Upon first listen, this album caused me to burst out laughing. I didnt stop until the first song was finished with it's almost 10 minute running time. I was blown away at what I was hearing. It was truly experimental music that didn't take itself seriously. This sounded truly goofy and it sounded incredibly alien. It had a sense of humor. Some of it sounded like farts, some of it sounded like what you would think music from another planet would sound like. This is highly recommended if you are up for the weird ass trip!

Genre: Experimental Rock, Noise, Electronic, Drone

28. Ellen Allien-Berlinette(Bpitch Control)

Excellent vocal techno, one of the best electronic albums to utilize vocals. This kind of takes Electro and spins it on it's head. This was the start of all the Holly Herndonesque musicians out there. To be honest it still puts what came after it to shame. This was cold and calculated pop with one ear to the past(Kraftwerk) and an ear towards the future accidentally predicting trends that would exist in the latter part of the 2000s.

Genre: Glitch Pop, Minimal Techno

29. Camera Obscura-Underachievers Please Try Harder(Merge)

Wonderfully twee, wonderfully saccharine. Very much in the vein of Belle and Sebastian but with a lot of "Girl Group" sounds thrown in. These songs were meticulously crafted and the melodies sharpened to a razor point.

Genre: Indie Pop, Twee Pop, Chamber Pop

30. Sufjan Stevens-Michigan(Asthmatic Kitty)

The first of his proposed state series(which stopped after the next one, so we have 2 out of 50). This music was orchestral indie pop perfection. A lot of it sounded like Disney soundtracks(this is a good thing). It's a neat little snapshot of one's own home state and trying to convey some kind of emotion out of showing a stranger your home state through music and somehow having it work perfectly.

Genre: Chamber Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, Chamber Pop, Americana, Folk Pop

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