It’s that time again, with nearly one month left until a new and exiting decade begins its time to take a look back at a decade that change music forever, again. The 00’s has seen perhaps the biggest transformation in music since Stereo. The internet has changed everything, reinventing and reigniting the music industry. Music is more available, more accessible, easier to share, and easier to by than ever before. Artists no longer need a big label to be discovered. Only talent and a website.
The mid to late 90’s saw a decline in real/decent music with only dreadful pop groups thriving. But the internet has changed the game, managing to both damage and save the music industry at the same time. So lets look back at perhaps the most important decade for music since the 60’s. Here is our pick of the best albums by year of this magnificent decade:
Best Album of 2000: Rated R – Queens of the Stone Age
The second album from the band formed from the ashes of stoner rock pioneers Kyuss, featuring Josh Homme on vocals and guitar and Nick Oliveri on bass. The follow up to their first Hard Rock self titled album, Rated R was anything but conventional. From the off with the track “Feel good hit of the summer” you know this is going to be something important, but also a bit funny. The first track, which lyrics’ consist of only drugs [Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol] sounds so addictive as the drugs themselves, leaving you craving the rest of the album. Each song takes you in a different direction, somewhere music has never been before and yet maintains the coherent sound of a concept album. Josh Homme always take making music seriously yet seems compelled to do it ironically threw out the album. Irony oozes from this record. Perhaps because you know it does not conform to popular music, yet it follows a basic and familiar song structure that people can understand. This is pop rock on crack. The Homme – Oliveri partnership thrives, with Homme’s almost angelic vocals and devilish guitar riffs and Oliveri’s simply evil and filthy bass lines, the two forces balance each other beautifully into a strangely beautiful album. Best Track: Better Living Threw Chemistry
2000 Runner Up: OutKast – Stankonia
A break-threw album for OutKast, with awesome hits such as “Ms Jackson” and “BOB (Bombs over Baghdad)”. These guys clearly had something to say and were one of a few stand out rap artists that we striving to be better than the status quo (not the rock band).
Best Album of 2001: Origin Of Symmetry – Muse
With their follow up to the groundbreaking debut album “Showbiz” Muse permanently stamped their mark on the British music scene. The album was a instant classic. The epic sounds of “Newborn” and “Plug In Baby” are unparalleled in British Rock in anything post 70’s. Front Man Matt Bellamy simply oozes talent, managing a unique and excellent guitar style, amazing vocal ability and he plays a mean piano. Muse essentially create their own genre with “Origin of Symmetry” that simply cannot be categorized only as rock. This is Unique, beautiful, heartbreaking, amazing and backed up with some of the best live performances of any British act ever. Best Track: Plug In Baby
2001 Runner Up: Toxicity – System of a Down
These 2 albums were a big part of the soundtrack of my youth. Music television had just started to really explode with the release of lots on new music channels, including rock and metal channel Kerrang, which can be partially blamed for the disgrace of the late 90′ early 00’s that was new metal. But it wasn’t all bad, I remember System of a Down must have been on at least once every 10 minutes after the release of Toxicity. It destroyed everything around at the time in the rock and metal scene, because it was actually good. Well it was in fact a lot better than good.
Best Album of 2002: A Rush of Blood to the Head – Coldplay
Coldplay pioneered a flood of soft rock bands with their first album at the start of the 00’s. But Their second album really blew all competition out of the water. The amount of feeling and passion in this album can be heard and felt threw-out and there is not a second of the album that does not sound powerful and amazing. This album is sure to have inspired many budding musicians already and will continue to do so for years to come. Best Track: Amsterdam
2002 Runners Up: Sigur Ros – () | Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf
Yes, that’s not a misprint, its really called “()”. You have probably heard of, or atleast heard songs by Sigur Ros at some point in your life. But you almost definitely don’t appreciate them as you should. They are guilty of some of the most passionate and beautiful music ever made and this, their second album is the pick of the bunch. So good they could not name the tracks or the album, perhaps because words cannot describe its beauty, the band even created their own language to sing in the album. If you want to feel something, this album will introduce you to feelings you never knew existed, if you let it. In contrast their soft musical style, Queens of the Stone Age’s third album “Songs For The Deaf” thumped it’s way into the mainstream with its first single “No One Knows” with pounding rock beats provided by none other than Dave Grohl who appeared on the album in the previously vacant drummer position, providing perhaps the best drumming performance on any record of the decade. It’s a heavy, heavy album that will go down in history as one of the very best hard rock albums ever. Grohl enjoyed playing with the band so much he proclaimed it the best band he had ever been, but other commitments with the Foo Fighters lead QOTSA to find a worthy replacement with Joey Castello.
Best Album of 2003 : Veneer – José González
The Debut album from one of the best singer songwriters to emerge from the 00’s. Veneer has incredible depth for an album that is only vocals and guitar. José González almost reinvents how to play acoustic guitar, managing to create a sound that is almost orchestral. The First single “Heartbeats” was shot to fame in a memorable Sony Bravia advert which helped it become a household hit in the UK. Best Track: Heartbeats
2003 Runners Up: Hail to the Thief – Radiohead | Fever To Tell – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
2003 saw a real transformation in popular music, the boy-band era had ended and real bands had hit the mainstream thanks to the likes of Coldplay and Stereophonics. But few of this new wave of soft rock and indie bands made any classic records. Radiohead are worthy runners up for putting their past classic albums behind them and reinventing themselves to make a very modern sounding record that upheld their style and amazing songwriting. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs also deserve a mention for their instant classic album “Fever to tell”, that simply blew false saviors of rock like The Strokes and other indie bands out of the water. Lots of people praised the album but few really understood it at the time. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have continued threw-out the decade to make music of the tallest order, being only properly appreciated by a select few.
Best Album of 2004: Kasabain -Kasabain
An album full of anthems, this really felt like the start of something important. Hailed as the new Oasis, their egos quickly became too big for their own good, but make no mistake this album is a classic in the history of British music. From the off the album has something to say, a protest record that makes you want to join the resistance and punch someones lights out, which perhaps is why it became a popular hit with football fans. An Epic manly record. Best Track: Club Foot
2004 Runners Up: To the 5 Boroughs – Beastie Boys | Funeral – Arcade Fire
After 6 years out of the game, the Beastie Boys make one of the best comebacks of all time. After making rap records for nearly 20 years, to come out again and make an album ash fresh and relevant as the first, they sure cemented their appeal as one of the all time greatest hip-hop acts. Arcade Fire’s debut album “Funeral” is arguably the best of the year, with such a passionate and unique sound, they paved they way for future bands like Friendly Fires and Be Your Own Pet. They gave indie a rural country edge twist that made “Funeral” feel really special.
Best Album of 2005: Demon Days – Gorillaz
The second album from Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz dominated the pop charts in 2005. The band surely surpassed all expectations with this record that included chart toppers “Dare”, an amazing collaboration with Shaun Ryder, and “Feel Good Inc” with De la Soul. The record was produced by Danger Mouse, who is quite possibly the best in the business at the moment, which is sure to have played a part in its success. But characters in the band may be cartoon, but the talent behind this album was very real. The success of Demon Days called for the Identity of the real band members to come forward, but not before their first ever live performance, where they still masked their identities. Best Track: Kids With Guns
2005 Runner Up: Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
The Kaiser Chiefs continue a run of new British bands that carry a lot of social issues on their back and in their music. It was not long after people started hearing the likes of “I Predict a Riot” and “Oh My God” that it was clear they would be destined for the big time. Like Kasabian, they were a mans band, with rocky riffs and social shouts for the masses, and they came from Leeds.
Best Album of 2006: Who Needs Actions When You Got Words – Plan B
I’m going to make a controversial decision here and go for Plan B over the Arctic Monkeys. Both are perhaps the social commentary albums of the decade, but I’m choosing Plan B because I believe it is more relevant, more honest and more important. At a time when mainstream Rap and Hip-Hop had become soulless, commercial and generic, Plan B came along and made it honest again at least in Britain. Just one guy and a guitar rapping about being brought up in East London. It’s very dark, which perhaps has warded off more people than it attracted, but this guy had a real message for the British people and we’d be a damn sight better off if we listened to him. He wins for rapping with relentless passion in his voice which you can hear him pouring into the record. If it scares you, then good, at least it made you feel something. Best Track: No More Eatin’
2006 Runners Up: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys | The Warning – Hot Chip
Arctic Monkeys mark a milestone in the history of music. A band discovered by millions threw word of mouth, well not word of mouth exactly. This was the dawn of the internet age for music. Over the space of 6 months, the Arctic Monkeys went from playing in small pubs around the UK, to being one of the most talked about bands in the country, headlining massive shows. The internet had now become fast enough and social enough to share music and videos instantly with your entire network of friends. Myspace gave anyone the chance to upload their own music onto a website for free and share it with the world. The Arctic Monkeys represent this new generation, signing about having nothing better to do than cause trouble and get pissed. But their simply epic rise to fame was not only down to the Internet, it was also down to “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance floor”. This is a huge tune, so good I can even specifically remember where I was the first time I heard it, just instantly acknowledging with myself that it was going to be a massive hit. A classic so timeless, I had to check to see if it was actually new because it felt like it could have fitted in at any point over the last 30 years. The Album, perhaps one of the most anticipated of the 00’s, was used as a launching point for online music stores like iTunes, which now meant people could download tracks and albums straight to their computers. It smashed the record book, becoming the fastest selling album of all time. As for Hot Chip, they rightfully deserve a mention for bringing Electro Pop back into the mainstream with their fantastic second album, setting a trend for the years to come.
Best Album of 2007: In Rainbows – Radiohead
What a year for music! The success of the Arctic Monkeys provided the new hope for the music industry that everyone thought was dying. 2007 saw some simply awesome music. I could give 3 or 4 albums that would top most mentioned on this list. In Rainbows was not a mainstream hit, but it hit the mainstream smack in the face. Digital downloads were thriving. Radiohead could see the industry had changed, and not satisfied with making one of the greatest concept albums of all time, again, they made the headlines by releasing the album only as a download from their website. But the twist was you, the buyer, could choose how much you wanted to pay for it. Some said it was the future, others said it was a joke, but it was never the less a shock to the system. Reports say they pocketed far more than they would have got if they had signed up to release on a Major label. The way it was sold unfortunately overshadowed the sheer awesomeness of the album, which is certainly in my top 3 of all time. It’s so very raw and edgy, yet beautiful and smooth. At a time where new technology is transforming everything, production of albums had become way over the top. All signs of emotion and raw feeling were compressed out and smoothed over to be easily listening for the masses. In Rainbows was totally different from everything else at the time. The production was clearly minimalistic, so it really captures everything the band were feeling. The first time I heard it, it sounded so unfamiliar, it felt like I was hearing music for the first time. That is the biggest compliment I can pay to it. Despite critical acclaim, I still feel its one of the most under rated albums of the decade. Best Track: Videotape
2007 Runners Up: Sound of Silver – LCD Soundsystem | Memory Almost Full – Paul McCartney
Sound of Silver is the best electronic album of the decade. Electro was becoming more and more mainstream and more and more relevant. Their first album was fantastic and this was miles better. It’s simply an exquisite piece of work. “Get Innocuous” is an engrossing opener that sets the tone of a progressive and engaging experience. “All My Friends” is a stand out anthem for anyone who is considering whether to stay in, or party with friends. Listen to it and you realize its a no brainer. It’s beggars belief how Paul McCartney can still produce an album of excellent original tracks after having already writing so many over his 40 years in popular music, that have become part of the furniture of British music. It’s a really amazing album, it’s not going to change the world hey, I think he has already done that enough times.
Best Album of 2008: Seldom Seen Kid – Elbow
Elbow are band that have been around threw out the entire decade, consistently creating good albums. This was the exception. Seldom Seen Kid is an outstanding album, which met much critical acclaim including winning the Mercury Prize, a just reward for a band that have always made good honest music. Many acts at the time we re-branding themselves to try to appear to the new internet age of music and loosing all sense of who they really are and what the were about. Elbow on the other hand carried on regardless and made a fantastic honest record. Best Track: Grounds For Divorce
2008 Runners Up: Third – Portishead | Made in the Dark – Hot Chip | Random Album Title – Dead Mau5
The long craved comeback of Portishead was not a disappointment. There had always been a void in the Trip Hop scene since their last album over 10 years previous. Third proved they were very much still the kings of the Genre even after so long away from the music scene. Check out the intense “Machine Gun“. Hot Chip continued to get better and better with their third album “Made in the Dark”. Dance newcomer Dead Mau5 (pronounced ‘dead mouse’) became one of the hottest new producers in the music scene with his first album. An Electronica & Dance album that is perfectly progressive and the production is fantastic.
Best Album of 2009: Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
I know I’m a little quick to make this call seeing as the album came out today, but hear me out. In a decade of disappointing rock comebacks and distinctly average rock albums, where rock-stars like Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper have resorted to appearing in TV ads selling insurance or televisions and Coldplay became the biggest “Rock” band in the world, you would be forgiven for thinking that Rock ‘n’ Roll was dead. But there was still some soon to be (or perhaps already) rock legends keeping the fire burning: Dave Grohl [Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Probot, Queens of the Stone Age] and Josh Homme [Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Desert Sessions, Eagles of Death Metal]. Both residing in the Los Angeles music scene it was inevitable for these two to bump into each other. They first worked together when Homme invited Grohl to return to the drums for the first time since the end of Nirvana to play with his band Queens of the Stone Age on their third album “Songs for the Deaf” (See 2002 runners up). It was one of the best rock collaborations of the decade and produced a hard rock album of simply epic proportions. The pair continued separately to make some great rock music threw out the following years. Grohl’s band “Foo Fighters” played some amazing live shows, including surprise performances with former rock legends “Queen” in Hyde Park and rock pioneers “Led Zeppelin” in Wembley Stadium. Then in 2009 a monster was formed. Grohl and Home decided to make a new record under their own terms and tempted none other than John Paul Jones [Led Zeppelin] to join them in making a record, making one of the most exciting super-group line ups of all time. After months of secret recordings in Homme’s studio, the band was announced as “Them Crooked Vultures” and they hit the road revealing very little about their forthcoming album. Dave Grohl recently called it the best band he has ever been in, which is a mighty big claim. People feared they would go the way of most modern super-groups and fall short of expectations and just plain suck, but this band broke the trend.
But that’s enough back story, why is this album the best of the year? Because it is one of the only Rock albums of the last twenty years that upholds the original point of Rock ‘N’ Roll. This is just three guys fooling around, having fun and making a record. They ain’t trying to be cool, they ain’t trying to make money, they ain’t trying to be popular, they ain’t trying to have sex with you, they ain’t trying to tell you how to live your life, they ain’t trying to change the world, they ain’t trying to be Bono, they ain’t trying to start a new fashion trend, they ain’t trying to tell you about climate change, they ain’t trying to make you think they are the best guitarist/drummer/bassist in the world and most importantly of all, they ain’t trying to be something they are not. That is what makes this album and this band so different to everything else around at the moment. Music doesn’t always have to have a point. Sometimes it’s just about having a good fucking time! I think that’s exactly what we all need right about now. There are no hidden homages to former bands like Led Zep or The Doors or even QOTSA, if you think there is you are looking too much into it and missing the point entirely. This is a funny, hard, invigorating, in your face, devilish and downright dirty record. Now pick up the bottle of bourbon and lets have a fucking party! Best Track: Nobody loves me, and neither do I (On the record, stick it out to 2.44 and it will blow your tits off!)
2009 Runners Up: West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum – Kasabian | Common Dreads – Enter Shikari
I thought all hope was lost for Kasabian after their second album “Empire”, which they grossly and egotistically claimed was better than Oasis’ “Definitely Maybe”, was awful bar a few tracks. But their third album “West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum” is amazing. An album so complete and fresh at times it felt like a Led Zeppelin record. Their Egos seem to at least for the moment, be put to rest, although they can be very very proud of this piece of musical mastery. Common Dreads is the closes thing there has been to a protest record for years. I mean a real protest record, not something like Muse’s latest album titled “The Resistance” which you would expect to say something about the dysfunctional mess society has become over the past decade. Instead it largely conforms so blatantly to a commercial audience, loosing all of the fight and edge they had with albums like “Origin of Symmetry” listed above. Enter Shikari have enthralled the not so mainstream fun loving hardcore scene over the past 2 years, providing an old school style rock and roll haven for the underground, occasionally making it into the spotlight with big performances such as Reading festival. “Common Dreads” is fun and fierce and a bloody good album.
So there you have it. Those are my opinions and I expect most of you to disagree with me. Feel free to give your views/choices in the comments below.