So after a brief day off for New Year's Eve, we're back up and running with more Top 10 Albums from 2000-2009 lists as determined by Loud Loop Press editors and contributors. Today, contributor Britni Day cures our hangovers with her list for the Top 10 Albums from 2000 - 2009. Happy 2010!
10. Louis XIV – Best Little Secrets are Kept
With their fantastically oversexed, hedonistic lyrics, Louis XIV would send any halfway decent girl running in the other direction. But it’s the incredible amount of confidence they ooze both musically and lyrically that put The Best Little Secrets are Kept
in the top ten. A mix of 70’s Brit-rock with touches of both glam and punk playing on the edges make sleazy, growling phrases like “I’ll steal your soul, put you in a club in Cleveland” a little more attractive than it should be. Influences of The Rolling Stones can be found in most of their songs. The flat, simple drum beat, keeps the rowdy guitars and driving bass lines in check but not singers Jason Hill and Brian Karscig. The two brilliantly freewheel their chauvinism all over in more of a spoken word performance, making sure to do all the voices in the story.
It’s just too bad this album got them banned in Alabama. But, as Hill and Karscig say, “If you want clean fun, go fly a kite.”
9. The Beta Band – The Best of the Beta Band
In High Fidelity
, when John Cusack’s character said, “I will now sell five copies of The Three EP’s
by The Beta Band” he wasn’t being pretentious. They are that good. 2004 saw their grand exit as a band with the release of The Best of The Beta Band
, a compilation of their best creations, both studio recordings and live versions. Slightly trip-hop, slightly indie-rock, and mostly strange as it gets, The Beta Band’s overall sound is a little hard to define, with the unmistakable soft, high-tenor of Stephen Mason floating effortlessly over songs that are sometimes reminiscent of 90’s post-grunge with touches of ambient electronic trip-hop.
“Dry The Rain”, the song featured in High Fidelity,
is the best song on the album. An acoustic guitar layered with slide guitar, eloquent bass and a hip-hop beat and Mason’s soft yet intense vocals makes for a perfect dip into The Beta Band’s pure talent. “Squares” features the sampling abilities of John Maclean as he picks apart beats, synth and piano, and the plucking of guitar, making the song elegant, yet complex. Really, that’s how The Beta Band makes it work. They combine complex elegance with a catchy beat creating a ambient, light mood with all their music. I’ve had a hard time finding another band that matches their ability in that arena. I miss their quiet quirkiness.
8. Muse – Absolution
There’s only one way Matt Bellamy knows how to sing about anything: Epically. With a mix of pure grandiose arena art rock and baroque elements there is no stadium big enough to contain Muse. Absolution
is the epitome of life found, love lost, the apocalypse and Muse’s larger than life sound. Bellamy’s training in classical music comes through in every song on Absolution
. Endless arpeggios on his guitar match his operatic vocals, including his famous falsetto that would make Freddy Mercury quake in his disco boots. Known for donning a myriad of Frankenstein guitars that do everything from shoot lasers to remix riffs on the fly with a built in Kaoss pad, Bellamy knows exactly how to make his sound and his shows unforgettable. Later albums have only solidified their sound and turned them into rock gods of our time. But Absolution
is where it really began and we must pay respects to the roots of Muse.
7. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
That's right. I love Wilco. With all this fancy electronic business all over my list, sometimes it nice to be able to stop and think about an album. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
allows me to think by being the best alt-country rock/indie-pop album around.
You can read the history of the album from Andy Kahn's Top Ten List
, but however much anguish it took to make this album, Wilco got it down in spades. Jeff Tweedy has this way of slurring his down-trodden lyrics over songs that sound simple at first, but hold a great deal of complexity. Poor Wilco was labled as completely alt-country when they first arrived on the scene. Inspired by bands like Radiohead, they worked very hard to dump that genre and move on to others. Wilco continues to stretch the lengths of their sound, but Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
is the pinnacle that they need to come back to very soon.
6. Goldfrapp – Supernature
Allison Goldfrapp is hands down the Queen of Sass. No one else can be that tiny (a whole 5 feet 2 inches) and emit that much attitude, but I love it and continue to eat it all up. Supernature
is a gorgeous sampling of Goldfrapp’s musical sassiness. The super glammy, electro-pop diva brought it to a whole new level with Supernature
. She shows much more of a higher intelligence with this album by focusing and simplifying. “Oh La La” is a better version of what she was trying to create in the slightly chaotic “Strict Machine” from her previous album Black Cherry. Goldfrapp also tries new things, like the honky-tonk of “Satin Chic”, and the sensuality of “Number 1” and the airy melodies of “Fly Me Away”. She even throws in plenty of sarcasm with “Ride On A White Horse” which explodes into gorgeous melodic layers in the chorus. While her earlier albums were redundant and later albums explore her emotions via sound, I believe she reached a complete balance with Supernature
5. Kaki King – Dreaming of Revenge
Barely bigger than her guitar (I seem to have an affinity for the tiny musicians), Kaki King has outdone herself again with the power of her guitar tapping and song writing abilities in Dreaming of Revenge
. Mainly known making the faced paced indie-rock/alt-folk guitar tapping, King is a child of all instruments and she brings them out in full force in Dreaming of Revenge
. She again bangs on the drums, tickles the ivories, makes the lap steel sing and even pulls out the truly exotic Electronic Valve Instrument or EVI (Once again, raise your hand if you know what that is). Her truly incredible opening song, “Bone Chaos in the Castle”, sets the bar for the whole forward momentum of this progressive rock album. Here is where we first hear the EVI make its unearthly sounding debut that perfectly accents the ether for her non-stop, unholy-paced acoustic finger picking. From there, she does a slew of instrumentals and quite a few vocal songs. Although I believe King’s guitar speaks for her most of the time, “Pull Me Out Alive” is a catchy and indie-pop song where King’s voice is much needed. My personal favorite, “Montreal,” features a complex alt-country tune on the lap steel and King on drums. During her live performances of this song, she will set all layers of melodies and harmonies on the lap steel on repeat and get up to play the drums herself. She makes it all look easy.
4. School of Seven Bells – Alpinisms
I first discovered the School of Seven Bells on Adult Swim’s Ghostly Swim album and fell immediately in love with the eccentric trio. Made up of Ben Curtis and Colombian twins Claudia and Alejandria Deheza, the School of Seven Bells have made Alpinisms
an incredible combination of many unexpected elements including extra dreamy dream pop and Afro-beat. Claudia and Alejandria’s voices work so perfectly together, creating melodies that touch the edges of psychedelic 80’s pop that harkens back to Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and Siouxsie and the Banshees. But the twins almost seem fearless in delving into and twisting up other genres to create their own unique sound. The first song on the album and my favorite, “Iamundernodisguise”, is a mix of shoe gaze and electric dream pop, with drone tones, and tribal elements that hammer through out. The breathing technique used is just as mystical as the lyrics that claim, “I am neither breather or speaker. I am neither walker or sleeper. I am neither sister, brother, son or daughter.” Grounding themselves with a good solid drum beat, the Deheza twins allow their vocals, breathing and synths float wistfully around sometimes creating a whole other beat and endless amounts of perfect harmonies. The entire theme of dreams and sleeping through out lyrics in this album fits very well with the sweet lush sounds they create. I continue to be floored by this whole album, always finding new little twists that I haven’t heard before. Everyone should hear this album at least one. Seriously, why are you still sitting there?
3. Nada Surf – Let Go
It sure says something when a band makes a massive hit like “Popular” in 1996, gets dropped by their record label for refusing to conform, then makes a quiet, yet huge come back. Yes, Nada Surf is absolutely still around and a completely different band. Almost a one hit wonder, Nada Surf showed true fans exactly what the power-pop trio is made of with Let Go
. Peeling back layer upon layer of radio hit pretense that Nada Surf was previously known for, Let Go
is a truer form of the band was supposed to sound like. Upbeat songs like “Hi-Speed Soul”, “Happy Kid”, and “The Way You Wear Your Head” are reminiscent of the energy and addictive melodies of bands like the Foo Fighters. Yet lead singer Matthew Caws threads these through with troubled and heartbreaking lyrics about darker times. Quiet and haunting songs like “Kilian’s Red” and “Paper Boats” slow us down a little, making us pay attention to his story. Let Go
is genius in its simplicity. Completely void of gimmicks, Caws tells the story of the band within this album as kind of a way for him to let go. Let Go
is perfect and it’s what Nada Surf needed to get up and keep going after being dealt a crap hand early on in their career.
2. Danger Mouse – The Grey Album
What do you get when you mix The Beatles The White Album and Jay-Z’s The Black Album? Sued for everything you are worth if you are still lucky to be alive. But you also have one of the greatest albums of the past ten years, Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album
Long before he helped perfect “Demon Days” for The Gorillaz or made up the skinnier half of Gnarls Barkley, Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) was causing a major ruckus for Jay-Z and the remaining Beatles with The Grey Album
. Taking the vocals of Jay-Z and the music of the Beatles, Danger Mouse ingeniously deconstructed each album and recreated a brilliant mash-up. I say deconstructed because Danger Mouse didn’t just throw lyrics over music and call it a day. He carefully picked what would go where for the entire album. For example, “Encore” by Jay Z samples both “Glass Onion” and “Savory Truffle” by The Beatles to create the background. “99 Problems” by Jay Z uses “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles and “Change Clothes” by Jay Z featuring Pharrell uses “Dear Prudence” and “Piggies” by The Beatles. His method is fascinating and musically it’s incredible to experience.
1. Mediaeval Baebes – Mirabilis
How can you not love a troupe of attractive women who sensually sing exquisitely in perfectly pronounced exotic, dead languages to Renaissance sounding music from strange instruments? Using the tradition of tales told by song, the Mediaeval Baebes bring us back to basics with complete focus on the beauty of the most natural instrument we have: the human voice. Mirabilis
shows off the full abundance of their assets. The use of acoustic instruments, if any use at all, is meant entirely as a compliment to the swelling 3-4 part harmonies. Ancient, forgotten languages like Middle English, archaic Latin or Italian, Cornish or even Manx (a little known Gaelic dialect spoken on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea) effortlessly roll off their tongues as if they have spoken them all of their lives. The Mediaeval Baebes are much more than just a Ren-faire nerd’s dream of flouncing, buxom beauties. They are incredibly intelligent about the poetry they choose to turn into song, delicately creating the musical accompaniment and the emotions they use to tell the original story. Using instruments like the recorder, finger cymbals, glockenspiel and mandolins, the Mediaeval Baebes use more accents to their voices than writing actual full blown songs.
holds some of their finest work. “Trovommi Amor”, written in 13th century Italian, is a song about love lost featuring a swaying vocal melody that aches with the longing the author intended. “Märk Hur Vår Skugga” opens with a glorious three part harmony in ancient Swedish that ends with a staccato zither and yearning violin. And “Tamlin” tells the haunting tale of the Queen of Faye who threatens to pull out both of Tam Lin’s eyes and give him eyes of stone. It may be because I like obscure fairy tales or that I love reading in Middle English, but either way, the Mediaeval Baebes are fantastic in so many ways. By Britni Day \ 1 comment