My “Top Music of the Decade” List

(originally posted at Turn Off The Radio)

It’s really, really difficult to look back over the past 10 years and pick out a handful of albums that you would consider the “best”.  Picking out influential albums isn’t that hard, to be honest, but getting them into some sort of order is.  There’s also a tendency, perhaps, to give more weight to recent releases, since they’re more fresh in your memory.

Looking back over this past decade, I realized that this has been a very influential time for me, musically speaking.  It’s strange, because although I’ve been doing a lot less musically (personally) than the previous decade, my musical tastes have grown up in a number of ways – some of them quite surprising to me. 

The biggest change has definitely been my willingness to open up to new & different artists.  I owe much of this to “life’s crazy (and at times unfortunate) events”, as well as the guys in This Diminishing West, who stretched me musically.  More recently, my switch to subscription-based music (via Zune Pass) has blown my musical library wide open, which has really been a lot of fun.

All that said, I’ve attempted to list (with reasonable accuracy) my Top 15 Albums of the Decade.  A month earlier, this list may have looked a bit different.  A year earlier, it certainly would’ve, but what’re you gonna do.  It is what it is.

Hope you enjoy it.

My Top 15 Albums | 2000 – 2009


#15:  Muse, Absolution

I can thank the guys in This Diminishing West for showing me the door to Muse.  This is an absolutely awesome album, and I’m sincerely looking forward to seeing these guys (live!) in a few months.

#14:  16 Horsepower, Secret South

I’m guessing that this album didn’t make a lot of “top albums of the decade” lists, but it should have.  Moody.  Unique.  Lyrically incredible.  A band that deserved a lot more credit than it ever received.

#13: Editors, An End Has A Start

My good friend Ken helped me discover Editors a few years ago with their album The Back Room.  Their follow-up album (and subsequent) tour was even better!  Definitely a top album of the decade for me.

#12: Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown

Talk about an album (and band!) that I never expected or wanted to like, but here they are.  Previous to this album, I didn’t want to touch these guys with a 10-foot pole, but something changed – with both them and me.  First, this album is far more mature than their previous releases.  In fact, it’s an incredible album.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I allowed myself to “like an artist that I didn’t want to like”.  The title track remains one of my faves.

#11: The Fire Theft, The Fire Theft

Strangely enough, it was The Fire Theft that finally got me to appreciate Sunny Day Real Estate.  I wish they’d kept on as a band, though, ‘cause this album is awesome.

#10: Jimmy Eat World, Bleed American

It was somewhere around our recording sessions for The Waiting Room that I discovered Jimmy Eat World.  Late to the party, I know.  This album was, in my opinion, pulled off masterfully.  It’s rockin’, smart, and never cliche.

#9: Radiohead, In Rainbows

As I’ve mentioned before, I was really a late-comer to the Radiohead fan club.  Actually, I’m not sure I’m entirely a fan of theirs, but this album is incredible.  Yes, I’ve heard their previous albums.  Yes, those albums are good.  But, there is something about In Rainbows that captured my attenion.

#8: Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

It was actually a local radio station that introduced me to Spoon.  Their track, The Underdog, received some significant airplay, but what really caught my ear was how much it sounded like Billy Joel on the vocals.  Almost jokingly, I decided to listen to the rest of the album… and I’m sincerely glad that I did.

#7: Sunny Day Real Estate, The Rising Tide

Did I mention that I wasn’t really much of a Sunny Day fan?  In fact, to the hardcore & faithful fans, I’m still not.  In my opinion, though, this band got better with each album – culminating with the release of The Rising Tide.  Without a doubt, some of Jeremy’s best work.

#6: Neko Case, Middle Cyclone

Here’s a case in point where a recent addition to my musical catalog could possibly be unfairly high on my “best of the decade” list, but I don’t think so.  This was not only my 2nd favorite album of 2009, it’s an absolute and immediate classic to me.  Fox Confessor Brings The Flood and Blacklisted are both equally incredible albums.

#5: Silversun Pickups, Swoon

Also my pick for “favorite album of 2009”, Swoon is a truly wonderful album.  Is it better than Carnavas?  In my book, yes, but they’re both a triumph.  Looking forward to seeing these guys “live”!

#4: Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

Fiona’s previous release, When The Pawn…, was a tough act to follow, but I believe that Extraordinary Machine more than rose to the challenge – especially in regards to album continuity and “sonic wonderment”.  I just don’t seem to get tired of this album.

#3: Coldplay, X&Y

Here’s another band that I was late-to-the-game with:  Coldplay.  Although X&Y is panned as a “commercial sell-out” by some, I find this album to be incredible.  It’s not just the album, though, it was the motif around it – dark album artwork, mysterious, and slightly unapproachable.  It was the right album at the right time for these guys, and I find it truly enjoyable. 

#2: meWithoutYou, Brother, Sister (tie with Catch For Us The Foxes)

Not just one of my favorite albums of the decade, this is without a doubt one of my favorite bands of the past 10 years.  I found these guys right away, and fell in love with A>B Life, which failed to impress most people I showed it too.  I felt alone in my admiration, but I stuck to my guns.  Their follow-up release, Catch For Us The Foxes, was a smart departure from their first album, and a step in the right direction.  It challenged me, though, and I initially thought it was a bomb.  The same went for Brother, Sister, which took some listening to for me to thoroughly enjoy.  Finally, though, my love for this band won out.  These two albums are most definitely favorites of this decade.

#1: Over The Rhine, Ohio

My absolute favorite album of the decade… from Over The Rhine?  REALLY?  You know it.  Heck!  I’ve been listening to (and loving) Over The Rhine since 1993.  Although I know that Ohio was the album that nearly ripped them apart, the genius is unmistakable.  This is their very best work – heart & soul present in spades – with Drunkard’s Prayer a close second.  It’s beautiful, heart-wrenching, emotional, humorous, and entirely wonderful.  The fact that it’s a double-album only makes it that much better.  My personal favorite tracks are: Ohio, Suitcase, Show Me, and Changes Come.  So powerful…and my choice for the best album of the decade.


There you have it, folks.  Many thanks to Alan P. for the challenge to dream up this list.  If you have the time, check out his faves of the decade.  We’re like musical twins separated at birth… mostly 🙂

2009… signing off.


3 Responses to “My “Top Music of the Decade” List”

  1. 1 Marcus Taylor December 31, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Man, now I have to investigate these bands! Probably should slow my spending ever so slightly (still recovering from Christmas) though, I just bought Soul Coughing’s “Ruby Vroom” just because I can’t seem to rid my head of their songs otherwise, but that’s the most spending I’m gonna do for a while!

    I was very fortunate to have seen Sunny Day Real Estate live in Dallas last October, and they’ve been playing this new song that they wrote just before the tour. There’s a possibility of maybe a few more new songs, possibly even a new album. I’m sure nothing will be decided til they’re done playing those shows they’re going to play in Australia early 2010.

    By the way, speaking of albums released by friends of yours, Jesse Sprinkle (along with Derek Joseph) released that Three Worlds: Songs Inspired by Africa this year, and it’s really good! I was impressed with it.

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