They Have My Attention: Ten Great Albums From the 2000’s

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We all have albums that have hit us in that musical and emotional sweet spot.

And like an addiction, we can’t stop listening, until we’ve practically beaten them into the ground.

There is nothing like the initial thrill of discovering such an album. We may not ever return to them with that same intensity again, but there is no denying that they have indelibly imprinted themselves on us. If we do revisit them in later years, more than likely a special feeling washes over us like no other

More so than any other decade, the 00’s were a time when I got hooked on albums that just floored me – from top to bottom.

It greatly helped that about halfway into the decade, I had logged on to streaming with Rhapsody. I was now availing myself to much more music than I ever had, though I hadn’t stopped buying CDs altogether.

Albums that were a core part of my musical formation in my younger years were likely to have quite a few songs that I would wait patiently to finish, so I could get to the three or four songs I really loved. I would have still probably called these albums “great.”

Conversely, by the 00s, my definition as an adult of what constituted a “great album” was:

It had songs that just really hit me hard, one after another, with no more than one or two skips. And it was more than just a collection of great songs.

Those songs conspired together to set a distinctive mood, and take me to a place where I would not want to leave anytime soon.


Here is my list of 10 Great Albums of the ‘00s, ranked in order.

This is not a “greatest albums of the decade” list. I have not listened to enough music to ever presume to be qualified to make such a list. And it would still be my opinion anyway.

No, these are simply albums that personally grabbed a hold of me and worked their magic, making me want to keep listening endlessly. In some cases, I was never the same after the experience.

Out of curiosity, I did look at Rolling Stone’s list of Best 100 Albums of the 2000s, and saw that four out of my ten were on the list, though none were in their top 20.

I also saw many albums, particularly higher up, by artists that try as I might, I most likely will never get. I’m at peace with that.

Perhaps: we share a love for one or more of the albums on my list.

It would be fun to hear about that.

If there is something here that you haven’t heard before or only know marginally, I invite you to listen to it and see if it does anything for you. And if you have any favorite albums of the ‘00s that you would like
to share with the class, please, by all means, have at it!


One:

Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand
(2004)
(#71 Rolling Stone)

It’s as if the band prepared for this moment by spending their entire lives listening to nothing but high-octane punk and disco records. (Is there any other kind?) Then they just got together and came up with banger upon banger, for a debut that explodes with a non-stop, uncontainable energy and oozes cool and sweat from every pore.

I’m still listening, and it knocks me to the ground to this day, unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure if anything will ever eject it out of the top spot. If something eventually does, I can’t wait to hear it.


Two:

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The Flaming Lips
(2002)
(#27 Rolling Stone)

Shook me to the core by altering the way I hear music and getting me to see life through a different lens. It showed me the great power in something that could be eccentric and unconventional, and at the same time, sincere, heartfelt, and vulnerable. It truly blew my mind and encouraged me to dig deeper to find my own voice.​


Three:

Three Flights From Alto Nido
Greg Laswell

(2008)

A wistful song cycle about relationships lost or hoped for, and about the songwriting process itself, wrapped in irresistible melodies and deft production that gives it an attractive sheen but keeps it earthy and raw. Laswell’s voice gently compels you to listen and is like a drug that doesn’t get you high, yet you still can’t get enough.


Four:

Triple Distilled
Graham Day and the Gaolers
(2008)

A snarling take on 60s rock with gobs of hooky melodies, harmonies and grooves. Day writes strictly about what he knows, like smoking, drinking, writing songs, playing gigs, and telling it like it is. So many killer songs. Barely anyone has heard it – and that is criminal.


Five:

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend
(2009)
(#56 Rolling Stone)

A crown jewel of its era, heavily influenced by Afropop, with touches of classical. There were many albums that were highly touted at the time, but personally didn’t do much for me. This one walked the walk with irresistible songs, exquisite arrangements, and an Ivy League vibe that makes upper- crust sound fun. Kind of like watching Rory Gilmore go off to Yale, before things got ugly.


Six:

Love, Save The Empty
Erin McCarley
(2009)

Love her voice, her songwriting, the arrangements and overall vibe of this thing. It’s somehow big and intimate, lush and raw, perky and sad, at the same time. Every song hits.


Seven:

Odyssey
Fischerspooner
(2005)


A collage of spacy electronic sounds and infectious beats with enough hooks and vague spiritual messaging that kept me coming back for more ad infinitum. Made me want to dance and contemplate at the same time.


Eight:

The Trials of Van Occupanther
Midlake
(2006)

Thematically rooted in the farmlands of the late 1800s, and musically rooted in laid back 70s California rock a-la Fleetwood Mac. It is both alluringly strange – and oddly familiar.


Nine:

Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes
(2008)
(#47 Rolling Stone)

Not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said about this mesmerizing, dreamy indie-folk masterpiece. The pure sonic beauty emanating from songs like “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” stopped me in my tracks and whisked me off to a place I couldn’t quite describe, but to where I knew I must return.


Ten:

Rockin’ the Suburbs
Ben Folds
(2001)

As a piano player, no one in the rock world has made me feel like quitting the instrument more than this guy has.

His chops are out of this world phenomenal, but more than that, he found a way to unleash raw power from the instrument unlike possibly any other rock piano player I’ve ever heard.
That said, his playing never overpowers, but works in tandem with enticing melodies and chord structures, crystalline vocals and engaging observations, both wry and earnest, to just crank out one great song after another like it’s nothing.

Is this his best? I have no idea.

But it’s sickeningly good enough to send me plummeting into a spiral of self-doubt. And it has never felt better


Honorable Mention:

Has Been
William Shatner

(2004)

No, it’s not a joke. This is truly and unironically a great album.


Here are all the albums on one playlist. Sorry, it’s not in the above order. I didn’t feel like fixing it. Lazy…

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rollerboogie

I'm obsessed with music. That's what brought me here. I do have other interests. I like ill-advised, low budget movies that shouldn't even be close to good, but are great, and cats too.

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ISurvivedPop
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ISurvivedPop
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November 27, 2023 4:39 am

Rhapsody was LEGENDARY back in the day.

I remember when they wrote articles tying each big new release of the week to a viral video or news story. So wonderfully inventive.

Then they gutted all of their writing staff around Xmas 2014.

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 27, 2023 7:28 am

Some great albums here, for sure. I’ll have to check out the ones listed that I don’t know.

The 00s had some phenomenal new music come out. As for solid albums, here are some that wowed me:

Antony & the Johnsons: I Am a Bird Now
Animal Collective: Sung Tongs (and also Feels)
Radiohead: Kid A (and also In Rainbows)
Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing in the Hands
Bjork: Vespertine (and also Medulla)
Xiu Xiu: Fabulous Muscles
M.I.A.: Kala

Plenty more that I could list, but I’ll leave it there. I’ve got some listening to do!

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 27, 2023 10:07 am
Reply to  rollerboogie

“How to Disappear Completely” remains one of the greatest things they’ve ever done.

JJ Live At Leeds
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November 27, 2023 12:27 pm

Between the two of you, you’ve nailed the two Kid A songs I’d pick out. How To Disappear Completely is stunning and Optimistic is unusually, well, sort of optimistic for Radiohead. Though in the most Radiohead way possible. I always loved the line; “You can try the best you can, the best you can is good enough”. That’s the British way, not too much pressure to be great but just to be good enough.

Virgindog
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November 27, 2023 9:55 am

Ditto on the William Shatner album, excellently produced by Ben Folds. For anyone who hasn’t heard it, it’s non-stop greatness.

Also ditto on Rockin’ The Suburbs and Phylum’s suggestion of Verspertine.

The two albums that came to mind first were Green Day’s American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. The little band who could, did.

I’ll also add Queens Of The Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf, Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, and possibly Nine Inch Nails’ [WITH_TEETH].

JJ Live At Leeds
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November 27, 2023 12:31 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

I’d never been a big Green Day fan until American Idiot came along. Interesting to see you bracket it together with 21st Century Breakdown. For me it felt like a not quite as good attempt at recreating American Idiot, which was in line with much of the critical opinion here as well. I still listen to AI but it’s been a long time since 21CB got a play. Maybe time for a re-evaluation.

Virgindog
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November 27, 2023 12:39 pm

I’m sure they were hoping for lightning to strike twice. It did, but the second flash wasn’t as brilliant. If they had come out in the opposite order, they’d both be revered.

LinkCrawford
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November 27, 2023 10:23 am

I can’t explain why new music doesn’t excite me. I have to force myself to be interested in it. Maybe it’s because my passion is always to learn more about music further back in time. Maybe it’s because there’s so much music already released that I still haven’t gotten to. Maybe it’s because it takes a lot of mental effort to appreciate a new album, and I lazily am not wanting to make the investment. Maybe it’s because new music is difficult to find anyone I know that can discuss it with me. Discussing music with someone else really helps me digest music that I’m just learning.

It reminds me of being an introverted kid and being encouraged to participate in new activities with the encouragement of “You can make new friends!” I would think to myself “Why would I want to do that? I’m cool with the friends that I have.”

That being said, I’m happy when I do find new music. And I hope that I can find the time to skim through some of your suggestions, rollerboogie, because I’ll bet that even I could find some music there that I love. Thanks for the list!

JJ Live At Leeds
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November 27, 2023 10:53 am

Fully with you on Franz Ferdinand, Flaming Lips, Fleet Foxes, Ben Folds and Vampire Weekend. Fischerspooner passed me by and Erin McCarley, Greg Laswell and Graham Day I haven’t heard before – which gives me some to dig into.

Midlake are a blind spot for me. They’ve always seemed a band that should be right up my street but for whatever reason they don’t elicit anything more than a response of ‘it’s OK I guess’.

As for Has Been; the album doesn’t quite hold me in its grip the whole way through but his version of Common People is a thing of wonder. Back when I had my ipod and could see number of plays it was way ahead of anything else.

A few of my favourite things from the 00s (which over here is generally known as the noughties rather than the aughts):

2 Many DJs – As Heard On Radio Soulwax, Pt 2
British Sea Power – The Decline Of British Sea Power
Robyn – Robyn
The Delgados – The Great Eastern
PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight
Beck – Sea Change
Super Furry Animals – Rings Around The World
Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
Brakes – Give Blood
King Creosote – KC Rules OK
Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
The Hold Steady – Boys And Girls In America
Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger
Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News
Neon Neon – Stainless Style
Madness – The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
Johnny Flynn – A Larum

JJ Live At Leeds
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November 27, 2023 2:27 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

The one I played til the CD wore down is 2 Many DJs. It’s a Belgian band Soulwax who as their day job started off in alternative rock and have moved into electronic music. On the side they were doing a lot of remixes, some official and some unofficial. They did live shows in their remix / DJ guise and the album came as a result of them. Across 65 minutes it mixes and mashes up 45 tracks. There’s everything from the Peter Gun Theme to Velvet Underground, Dolly Parton, Royksopp, Peaches, The Breeders, The Cramps, 10CC, Destiny’s Child, Nena and a whole lot of more obscure tracks.

It’s not available on streaming and on YouTube there’s a number of versions of varying lengths so I can’t tell if any are the full version or what bits are missing. Well worth seeking out though if you can find the complete version.

Full trackless here; https://www.discogs.com/master/11811-2-Many-DJs-As-Heard-On-Radio-Soulwax-Pt-2

thegue
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November 28, 2023 10:02 am

I can vouch for a number of these bands, but only Camera Obscura’s album would make my top albums list.

mjevon6296
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November 27, 2023 3:24 pm

Thanks Roller!

We must have the same sweet spot as Franz, Flaming, Fleet, and Vampire are four of my favorite bands and those are four of my favorite albums!

Since I am only kinda (or not at all) familiar with the others, thank you for the great suggestions – they will be new music for me to try out. (Let’s start with Graham Day as that sounds right up one of my musical alleys.)

thegue
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November 28, 2023 10:02 am

Roller,

Man, this got me thinking…I’ll have to come up with a list of 10 myself, but first:

  1. Fleet Foxes are a band I’m supposed to like but simply can not. (See: Rush, Young the Giant, UB40, among others)
  2. Most of your albums I’ve never listened to all the way through (I’ve always been the one to hunt singles), but Vampire Weekend’s and Fischerspooner are great. I saw Vampire Weekend in the basement of a church right after this album dropped. Place was sold out; it was a fantastic show where the audience could see this band was going somewhere.
  3. I haven’t even heard a number of these artists, looks like I need to get on it!
thegue
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November 28, 2023 10:07 am

I spent the last hour going thru my playlists since 2003; these are the albums for which I’ve included every song of the album (that’s a big deal for me). Asterisks are the ones that are just a bit ahead of the others.

Strokes: The Modern Age*
Broken Social Scene: Broken Social Scene
The Stills: Logic Will Break Your Heart*
The National: Boxer*
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black*
Tennis: Cape Dory
Tokyo Police Club: Elephant Shell*
Pete Yorn: Musicforthemorningafter*
Linkin Park: Hybrid Theory*
Editors: The Back Room
Death Cab: Narrow Stairs
Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights*
Interpol: Antics*
LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening*
Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not
Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career*
Cold War Kids: Robbers & Cowards
Travis: The Invisible Band
Freelance Whales: Weathervanes
Yuck: Yuck*
Rifles: No Love Lost
Vaccines: What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?*
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs*
Pains of Being Pure at Heart: self-titled
Grimes: Art Angels
Cloud Nothings: Attack on Memory*
Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes

thegue
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November 28, 2023 12:55 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Oof!

I’ll give you a Top 10, and try to put them in some type of order:

  1. Linkin Park: Hybrid Theory. I know Tom (and others) kill nu-metal, but Linkin Park’s first album just sounded like they held nothing back. I love feeling energy like that from a band (see: Japandroid’s “House That Heaven Built” for the same chills down the spine, or from the list above, Cloud Nothings’ “Wasted Days”. In a sidenote, Stereogum’s Chris Deville wrote up Attack on Memory, and for anyone who owned this album, it says everything.
  2. The Still: Logic Will Break Your Heart. Owning this album is like having a little secret that no one knows about. There was one bar which had the CD in its jukebox; I played it in its entirety most nights I hung out there. (Sidenote: I haven’t been there, but I’m going to see Royel Otis at that same bar on May 2). I wish this band had gone onto greater things, but their lead singer went back to school and the tour supporting the album was met with all sorts of bad luck. It will continue to be my secret. (FINAL SIDENOTE: the feeling I have for this album is the same feeling I had for Philadelphia before 2000 – the RNC was hosting its convention there, and ESPN selected Philly for its X-Games, and many of us in town were disappointed because we thought the rest of the U.S. would realize what a great city we lived in. We didn’t want the adoration…and now look – all the athletes want to play here, every team is successful…geez.)
  3. The Strokes: Is This It. I’d moved away from the U.S. in 1995, and though I’d been back for a few years, I wasn’t in touch with the alt rock scene at this point. I ran into my ex that I’d pined for since we broke up, and we started going out again, and during that time she introduced me to this album, and it opened the door for all the music I’d listen over the next decade.
  4. Pete Yorn: musicforthemorningafter. Singer-songwriter who is one of the most shy, quiet individuals I’ve ever met (sure, it was an autograph session, but still). His first effort was his best, and although there are a TON of tracks here, I can’t skip over any of them, and depending on the day a different one is my favorite.
  5. Interpol: Turn On the Bright Lights. The Strokes led me to Interpol, which then led to Editors and the landfill indie rock of England. So cool, so NYC, and it harkens back to Joy Division and the New Wave I thought was too weird back in high school. I’ve come around to it, mainly because of this album.
  6. The National: Boxer. I’m sure it has everything to do with how I discovered the band, when they opened for Arcade Fire on their Neon Bible tour, it’s their one album I love front to back.
  7. The Vaccines – band whose songs best match my personal tastes.
  8. Tokyo Police Club: best post-punk album I’ve heard this century.
  9. Cloud Nothings. See above
  10. Yuck. I had to include an album from my favorite style of female-led alt rockers with lots of feedback and lo-fi sounds (See: Momma, Black Honey). Twelve years on this album still hits hard.

I have to get back to class!

thegue
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November 28, 2023 2:22 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I’m fairly certain 30% of those listens are me.

thegue
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November 28, 2023 3:14 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

roller, are you Facebook? If so, look me up using my last name.

Virgindog
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November 28, 2023 10:35 am
Reply to  thegue

This reminds me. Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns sounds unlike most of their stuff and I think it’s their best. Truly a great album.

Virgindog
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November 28, 2023 3:22 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

And it works as a concept album, too. Good stuff.

cappiethedog
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December 1, 2023 2:24 pm

Three Flights From Alto Nido is an inspired choice. I have that CD. “How the Day Sounds” rules. Greg Laswell is the other guy who covered Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work”. Arguably, it’s the better version. I also bought The Trials of Van Occupanther. The band chose the right song as the lead track. It really draws you in. I got lost in “Roscoe”.

ThinkMusicPhilly
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December 9, 2023 11:48 pm

I’m late to this post, but oh man is this my decade. Started college in 1999. Worked in a record store 2002 to 2005. Owned a store 2006 to 2008. When that “top 42” albums thing went around on Facebook, my list only had 6 albums that weren’t from the aughts. I’ll give you five.

The Notwist – Neon Golden (2002)
Sublime glitch-pop (that’s a genre, right?) from some former German metallers.

Placebo – Meds (2006)
Their best album, in my opinion. Great energy in a dynamic group of songs.

Frank Turner – Love, Ire & Song (2008)
Former-punk-turned-troubadour is a crowded field, but this one trumps them all. Something just really works for me here.

Cursive – Domestica (2000)
Perfect. Whatever genre you might call it. When I first got this, I just let it play on repeat. Perfect then. Still perfect now.

The Postman Syndrome – Terraforming (2002)
This is a little more out there. Heavy music is entirely dependent on the vocals for me, and there is plenty I just can’t get into. This is my sweet spot though. I always have trouble explaining why I like things, so just check it out if you enjoy stuff on the heavier side.

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