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Feature: Albums Of The Decade

As the premier decade of the new Millennium comes to a close, music fans worldwide are trying to figure what is album of the decade. I am one of those music fans and over the next few weeks I will be presenting my 30 favourite albums of “noughties”.

It has been a decade that saw changes in the way we purchased, discovered and heard new music, the word 'emo' being stereotyped with dark, depressing music for upset, angry teenagers, the rise of online social networking, bands breaking up and than reuniting, vinyl records becoming cool again and much, much more.

30. Angels and Airwaves – We Don’t Need To Whisper

Despite front man Tom Delonge ridiculously over-hyping and claiming this record would change the world of music; AVA’s 2006 debut was expansive, uplifting record of cinematic proportion. Delonge and co’s was an exit from individual band members’ past bands as the band went down a spacey, alternative rock dominated by layers guitars combined with inspirational songs about love and war.

Listen on Spotify

29. Crime In Stereo - Crime In Stereo Is Dead

The Long Island-based 2007 album took the melodic hardcore elements of the bands previous efforts and used them to their best ability, as tracks such as ‘Nixon’ and ‘Small Skeletal’ especially showed a more layered and accessible side. It is also worth noting that the production work of Mike Sapone, as his contribution elevated the bands better characteristics to another level.

Listen on Spotify.

28. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

The as-ever-controversial Detroit rapper’s 2000 album was a personal tale of coping with new found fame, mocking the celebrity media circus and troubles in his private life, delivered in a style that certified hip-hop’s place in the mainstream as Eminem’s rhyming skill blended with pop-friendly hooks, led to tracks like ‘Stan’ and ‘The Real Slim Shady’ broke new ground and sparked much conversation.

Listen on Spotify.

27. The Ataris – So Long, Astoria

The Ataris’ major label debut was a cleaner produced record that complimented and ideal to post-millennium pop-punk bands that were ruling the airwaves back in 2003. Although the bands punk rock roots were still intact, they were joined by more radio-friendly hooks, as heard on ‘In This Diary’ and ‘Looking Back On Today’. Whilst lyrical it was more intimate and personal, as Kris Roe provided us with a soundtrack for broken teenage hearts and long-forgotten summers.

Listen on Spotify.

26. Billy Talent – Billy Talent

The Canadian punk quartet self-titled 2003 debut was a rawkus punk rock record with occasional melodic parts blended with intense energy and massive chorus that soar above and beyond. Add to this a subtle hardcore, underground sound and you are left with a foundation that took the Ontario all over the world.

Listen on Spotify.

25. Against Me! – New Wave

After several independent releases, the Gainesville, Florida’s 2007 release was a socially and politically aware record, which took the bands punk rock roots and combined them with radio-friendly overtone that gained the band new fans. Tracks like ‘Stop!’ and ‘Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart’ represented the latter, whilst ‘New Wave’ and ‘Piss and Vinegar’ was fierce with plenty of attitude and bite.

Listen on Spotify.

24. Fall Out Boy – Take This To Your Grave

Once upon a time there was an unknown 4-piece Illinois band, who went on to dominate the pop-punk world for 2nd half of the decade. ‘Take This To Your Grave’ was the first stepping stone towards world domination. It introduced us to Pete Wentz’s lyrical wit and the R n B-esque vocal styling of Patrick Stump. Tracks like ‘Dead On Arrival’, ‘Saturday’ and ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy’ set the blueprint for what was to become a pop-punk powerhouse, with their bouncy, hook-filled structure and punk rock undertone.

Listen on Spotify.

23. Snow Patrol – Final Straw

Snow Patrol’s 2003 breakthrough album was a mixed of radio hits such as ‘Run’ and ‘Chocolate’ with strong and passionate indie pop songs, like ‘Grazed Knees’ and ‘Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking’, that were delicately delivered vocally by Gary Lightbody and musically drew the listener more with each listen.

Listen on Spotify.

22. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

The New York 4-piece brand of stripped indie rock mixed with African music and reggae vibes resulted in a charming 11 track journey, as Ezra Koenig sang about being late for class (‘Campus’) and wondered if anyone gave a fuck about an Oxford Comma. Add to this occasional, simple hook (‘A-Punk’) and an overall tight, clean sound that was refreshing in a genre filled with scrappy-looking, tight-jean wearing indie rock n roll bands at the time.

Listen on Spotify.

21. Lydia – Illuminate

Mix passionate, emotional ballads with a hint of American indie rock and you are left with a record that flows beautifully, as Lydia’s vocalist’s Leighton Antelman and Mindy White cleverly blended sweet vocal harmonies that pulled at the heart strings and leave you hook wanting more. Musically its layered style, complimented the bands strong song writing and sensible, mature pop piano-based sound.

20. Bright Eyes - Fevers and Mirrors

At the start of decade, Conor Obert and company released this delicate yet quirky American indie-folk record with subtle pop moments, that added a touch of charm to Obert's mature, emotional words. Tracks like 'A Scale, A Mirror, And Those Indifferent Clocks' and 'The Movement Of A Hand' are musically stripped but still have plenty of depth, whereas 'The Calendar Hung Itself...' and 'An Attempt To Tip The Scales' are somewhat catchy and motivating, although the latter goes off into a peculiar and lengthly faux radio interview, that hints at Obert's unbalanced approach.

19. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

For most 18 - 25 males in modern day Britain, the Arctic Monkeys' tales of alcohol-influenced nights out, failed love and more, was something many could relate and sounded all too familiar. Although this lyrical theme had been attempted by others, Alex Turner's sensible words backed by power chord-driven indie guitars made for a strong combination, as 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' and 'Fake Tales of San Francisco' became the soundtrack for many student nights up and down the country. Whilst 'Riot Van' and 'When The Sun Goes Down' quickly became festival anthems for a band. who are considered by some as one of the most important British band in recent years.

18. blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants and Jacket

After breaking through to the main stream with a few radio- hits from 1999's 'Enema of The State', the band's 2001 effort saw the pop-punk trio at their peak, with a record that was more consistent then its predecessor. On top of this, 'Take Off Your Pants and Jacket' sounds somewhat bigger and cleaner, as 'The Rock Show' and 'First Date' provided the band with a few more hits under their belt. Whilst 'Story of a Lonely Guy' and the anthemic 'Stay Together For The Kids' showed signs of maturity but kept the bands catchy, accessible side.

Listen to on Spotify.

17. Death Cab For Cutie - Plans

Bellibgham, Washington's 2005 major label debut saw Death Cab For Cutie establish themselves as American indie-rock powerhouse, as Ben Gibbard's emotional lyrics comfortably complimented the bands warm, melodic tone. 'Soul Meets Body' and 'Crooked Teeth' showed off the bands jangly, indie-pop side, whereas the bands slightly more experimental side is show on 'Different Names for the Same Thing'; haunting piano keys lead up to a electronic synths and layered vocals. 'I Will Follow You into the Dark' is also worth mentioning for its simple, delicate and intimate tone, that draws the listener in closely and tight.

Listen to on Spotify.

16. Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree

With 'From Under The Cork Tree', Fall Out Boy took all that was good with 'Take This To Your Grave' and took it up a notch; more cleaner, catchy and more addictive. The long, tongue in cheek song titles were still there, along with Patrick Stump's strong vocals and Pete Wentz lyrical wit. Tracks like 'Sugar, We're Going Down' and 'Dance Dance' became mainstays on daytime radio and the band on numerous magazine covers worldwide. Musically the band kept their pop-punk sound, except this time it sounds more broad and cleaner, that ideally fit the bands soon-to-be arena-playing status.

Listen to on Spotify.

15. The Get Up Kids - Guilt Show

After the split opinion of 2002's 'On A Wire', the Kansas five-piece last album before their brief 2005 hiatus, could be considered a 'return to form'. 'Guilt Show' proves to more poppy and upbeat then the bands previous releases, as shown by 'The One You Want’ and ‘How Long Is Too Long’. Although towards the end of the record, the bands more wider, layered sound is displayed (see 'The Dark Night of the Soul') and 'Is There A Way Out' is perhaps the bands most experimental attempt to date.

Listen to on Spotify.

14. Kanye West - The College Dropout

Before he discovered auto-tune and disappeared up his own backside, Kanye West's 2004 debut launched the Chicago into super stardom. West's tales of family, religion, and materialism structured well alongside his own beats proved to be favourable and proved hip-hop is more than sex and violence. Although there are numerous guest parts, West manages to put more emphasis on his mic-work and lyrics.

Listen to on Spotify.

13. blink-182 - blink-182

With their self-titled album, blink-182 proved they were more than a pop-punk powerhouse, as tracks like 'I Miss You' and 'All of This' showed they were capable of writing ballad-like pop songs. Although the bands punk side could still be heard ('Feeling This' and 'Easy Target'). On top of this a more edgier, rockier side was shown like 'Violence'; a cold, eerie number. Whereas 'Always' and 'I'm Lost Without You' saw the band adding more depth with layered guitars and keyboards being included.

Listen to on Spotify.

12. Sigur Rós. - Takk...

Iceland's Sigur Rós managed to establish themselves as an acceptable, non-English speaking group with 'Takk..', something that is a rarity. For those who were familiar with the bands previous work, it was more of the same uplifting, beautiful post-rock. For others it was a record that inspired with its swirling vocals and strings and took the listener on a journey, as one track seemed to flow into next helplessly. Of course for many 'Hoppípolla' proved to be the highlight with its delicate piano leading up to its bright and glorious conclusion, with horns and thumping drums. Although tracks like 'Sæglópur' and 'Mílanó' are worth mentioning, as the former somewhat wakes the album up, whilst the latter swerves charmingly into the bands comfort zone, one which is completely beautiful and inspiring.

Listen to on Spotify.

11. Manchester Orchestra - I'm Like A Virgin Losing The Child

Atlanta, Georgia's Manchester Orchestra underground hit, 'I'm Like A Virgin Losing The Child' took elements of Neutral Milk Hotel, Modest Mouse, Built To Spill and more, and put a fresh and modern approach to the indie rock genre. The five-piece's mature sound and style, showed a band beyond its years, as the records structure makes good use of the bands soft-loud approach throughout, with the rocky 'Wolves at Night' and 'The Neighborhood is Bleeding' settling the listener down to a point where frontman, Andy Hull is able to calmly and openly speak about his troubles ('Can I Feel Your Pain' and 'I Can Barely Breath'). The bands ability to pull in the listener closely is brilliantly done on 'Where Have You Been'?'; haunting keys mixed with thumping drums and Hull's passionate vocals proved to be one of many highlights.

Listen to on Spotify.

10. Green Day - American Idiot

After the mixed reaction of 2000's 'Warning', Green Day returned with 'American Idiot' in 2004. A grand and socially-aware record that took Green Day from playing arenas to stadiums worldwide, the icing on the cake being 2 sold out nights at the Milton Keynes National Bowl in June 2005.

Musically the record combined the bands punk rock angst with elements of stadium rock and opera; guitar solos, piano ballads and 2 nine minute songs, which when all tied together to create a concept album, that including various characters; 'Jesus of Suburbia', 'Rebel Girl', 'St. Jimmy' and 'Whatsername'.

9. Alkaline Trio - From Here To Infirmary

'From Here To Infirmary' could be considered by some as Alkaline Trio's "breakthrough" album, as it resulted in the band gaining more attention and fans. All the usual Trio characteristics are here; dark lyrics mixed with punk rock guitars. Although this record saw a slightly lighter, more pop-punk like sound being showcased. From start to finish Matt Skiba and co lyrical wit and tight punk rock, made an interesting and enjoyable listen with 'Stupid Kid' and 'Private Eye' being the albums hits, and 'Mr Chainsaw', 'Take Lots of Alcohol' and 'Crawl' being just some of the many highlights.

8. The Libertines - Up The Bracket

The Libertines' 2002 debut saw Pete Dotherty and Carl Barât's saw a modern, fresh approach to British indie rock with its rough, scrappy sound being combined with subtle punk rock attitude and raw energy. With 'Time For Heroes' showing both Dotherty's and Barât's ability to write a strong melody, that was memorable and catchty. Although lyrically it brings the bands London-based stories up to date, there is still a hint of classic British bands of the past; The Clash, The Kinks and The Jam especially come to mind.

7. Coldplay - Parachutes

Coldplay's 2000 record 'Parachutes' set the benchmark for many light commercial-friendly guitar-based British bands for the rest of the decade, with its musically depth and lyrically uplifting sound. On top of this, the bands youthful tone shines through to create an airy, dreamy soundscape, that complimented Chris Martin's superb songwriting. Add to that a few radio hits in 'Yellow' and 'Trouble', and you're left with a band that were well on there way to selling out arenas for the next decade.

6. Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends

Out of Long Island, New York came Taking Back Sunday's full-length debut, a record that combined the areas post-hardcore sound with a slight pop-rock tone, that kept its independence. On top of this, strong vocal melodies by Adam Lazarra and John Nolan were brilliantly combined to create a highly enjoyable 10-track album, with lyrical bite and catchy hooks from start to finish.

5. The Killers - Hot Fuss

Indie rock guitars blended with subtle electronics was the the combination used by Las Vegas' The Killers for their first record 'Hot Fuss'. At a time where every band seemed to begin with 'the' were playing garage indie rock, The Killers sprinkled it with a touch of 80's pop and plenty of catchy lyrical hooks throughout (see 'Mr Brightside'). Elsewhere 'All These Things That I've Done' showed the bands ambitious side and 'Smile Like You Mean It' is reminiscent of New Order brought up to date for the new millennium.

4. The Strokes - Is This it

New York's The Strokes stripped-bare, charismatic 2001 effort saw the band receive much hype and praise. Thankfully 'Is This It' lives up to expectation, with Julian Casablancas' somewhat mumbled voices complimenting the bands hip indie rock sound, one that inspired and influenced countless others afterwards. From start to finish the band subtly swagger over 3-minute rock wonders such as 'Hard To Explain' and 'The Modern Age'. On top of this, the albums stripped, basic production gave the bands sound and songs the space it deserved.

3. Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American

From the thumping drums of the title track, Jimmy Eat World's 'emo' rock sound is delivered in an easily accessible manner, that leaves you hooked until the very end ('My Sundown'). Jim Atkins and co perfected their songwriting on this record, as they showed they were able to write radio hits ('The Middle'), as well as heart-melting ballads ('Hear You Me'). On the whole it is a record that is lyrically bittersweet but musically positive, as they took the best parts of 'Clarity' and polished them off, but kept their independent rock roots subtly hidden underneath.

2. Brand New - Deja Entendu

With their 2nd record, Brand New showed their most emotional and lyrically mature side to date. From start to finish Jesse Lacey takes you on a journey of various emotions. From frustration ('Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades') to passion ('The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows')and tragedy ('Play Crack The Sky'). All of this delivered throughout by the bands textured and cleverly structure sound and Lacey's poetic words, that pulls you in and has hooked immediately, as 'Deja Entendu' lived up to its lyrical and musical ambition.

1. Arcade Fire - Funeral

Arcade Fire's 'Funeral' took elements of pop, post-punk and indie and blended into a melodic, beautiful record that at times it seems to feel over the top, whilst at other times it feels perfect. The Canadian six-piece manage to craft a record, that was captivating and consistent.

At times it is delicate ('Haïti' and 'In The Backseat'), where at others it is fierce ('Power Out' and 'Rebellion (Lies)'). The bands somewhat anti-rock and multi-instrumental approach resulted in a record, which was both bizarre yet sincere. Overall it showed a band that were original, fresh and made music lovers everywhere turn away from whatever current trends were happening at the time, and appreciate a record that deserved all the attention and praise it got.

Sean Reid (Alter The Press! Co-Editor)

Alter The Press!