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Gonzo’s Top 10 of the Decade

Hello Ickies! I know I’ve been absent from posting for far too long. I shall try harder in 2010 (though I think I said the same thing last year).

The first decade of the new millennium produced some great music, from established artists and from new folks. Keeping with the format set forth by Mark and Pete, I offer my top 10 of the decade. Narrowing it to ten was a near impossible task. I adopted Pete’s “one album per artist rule,” which helped. Also know that these are in no order whatsoever. I simply can’t rank them. We’ll go chronologically. That seems fair.

First, I’ll briefly plug my two-disc Aughts (oughts?) mix that Pete mentioned. Check it out and enjoy!

Outkast – Stankonia (2000)
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Still my favorite Outkast record. I am certainly not one to knock Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. But for me, Stankonia has held up better as the new decade dawns. That might just be a product of having played the hell out of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. But personally, I feel like when Outkast hit, they made us realize that hey, you can actually have really good hip hop in the top 40.

Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)
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Speaking of albums that I overplayed in the earlier part of the decade, Daft Punk’s sophomore effort is certainly another example. There were so many big songs off this – whether their bigness was represented in college airplay or appropriation by television commercials. “One More Time,” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” “Digital Love,” “Something About Us,” “Face to Face” … Lord. This was essential weekend grooving for a good 2 years of my college life.

Sigur Ros – ( ) (2002)
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This album blew me away. At the time, a friend described Sigur Ros as music to watch glaciers move by (or something along those lines). I was impressed first with the laboriously slow tempo of the tracks. More than that though, was the emotional depth in an album of songs who had no true lyrics to speak of. You may recall that the songs are sung in “Hopelandic,” wherein the idea was to go for the phonetic sounds that seemed most effective rather than a language proper (though structurally Hopelandic is based on the band’s native tongue of Icelandic).

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
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This album cemented the Flaming Lips in music history. They’d had some success with “She Don’t Use Jelly” and more recently, The Soft Bulletin. But Yoshimi took them to the next level. Although their follow up (2006’s At War with the Mystics) was great and their current release (Embryonic) is also quite good, it all goes back to Yoshimi. It’s their masterpiece.

Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)
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“S’ya boy!” Speaking of canonic, career-defining albums, there is little doubt in my mind that Jay-Z’s Black Album is his magnum opus. It almost makes me think that maybe he was serious about retiring, and put everything into what was to be his swan song. Of course that isn’t the way things panned out. Nonetheless, the album is a hip hop classic, track after track.

White Stripes-Get Behind Me Satan (2005)
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I love the White Stripes. No, really. And I’ve gone on record as naming Jack White the artist of the decade. The Stripes have yet to disappoint me. Sure, 2007’s Icky Thump didn’t live up to its predecessors, but even their worst album is still pretty damn good. I didn’t think they could top Elephant, but 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan did just that. I love that they aren’t afraid to experiment – they relish the chance to step outside of their blues-rock/garage comfort zone. Satan was all over the place stylistically, and each fore was a success. The summer that this came out, I seriously listened to it at least twice a day for a month.

MIA-Arular (2005)
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Pete might be onto something in saying that MIA is a love her or hate her type of artist. I love her, though I’ve played her for others that remain unimpressed. I was floored upon hearing Arular – it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. It sounds cliche to say, but MIA is truly a hybrid artist, meshing so many genres and cultural flavors into one. 2007’s Kala is also amazing, but not quite the sonic dance floor assault that Arular is. She’s allegedly at work on the third album, so here’s hoping.

Chromeo – Fancy Footwork (2007)
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Quite possibly my pick for best party album of the decade. They’re cheeky, funky and they’ve mastered the Minneapolis sound. Fancy Footwork just makes me want to dance, from start to finish. There is not a bad track on the album. They’re also a good time live, and they’ve slated a new disc for a summer 2010 release. I can’t wait.

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (2008)
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More dancing. Aussie electropop outfit Cut Copy harken back to the 1980s synth dance of groups like New Order, but manage to do so in a way that takes them beyond being a mere retro or ripoff act. In essence, Cut Copy effectively takes emotive 1980s dance music and updates it for the new millennium. (Can I still refer to this as the new millennium ten years on?)

Santogold – Santogold (2008)
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A year ago, I claimed Santogold’s self-titled debut as my favorite disc from 2008, and my feelings have not changed. The Brooklynite alternately incorporates hip hop, new wave and ska influences among others, all adding up to one of the most refreshing albums of the decade. And she keeps good company – Diplo, Switch, Spank Rock, Amanda Blank…I very much look forward to what Santogold/Santigold offers up in the new decade.

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