Albums of the Decade Pt. II

Welcome back to my eventual countdown of the best albums of the decade. This week, the year 2001:

10. Toxicity – System of a Down
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How about a bit of American-Armenian freak metal? Sounds like a stupid concept in theory, but SOAD actually made it stick on their second album which has sold well over 10 million copies. The crushingly heavy and insane songs (Bounce, Jet Pilot) were complimented by huge pop-metal anthems (Chop Suey!, Aerials, Toxicity), most of which have since become staples of the alternative scene. Plus they have epic beards, which is why they make the top 10.
Key track: Chop Suey!

9. Is This It – The Strokes
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For me the Strokes’ debut was all about those choppy rhythms and drawling vocals underlining some great pop songs. For a band that seemed so bored with what they were playing, this was borderline frenetic stuff on its release and people went absolutely mental for them, even though I never totally understood the hype. Unfortunately it already sounds dated, which leaves it nowhere near being the best album of the decade, but is still an important and highly popular release.
Key track: Hard to Explain

8. The Argument – Fugazi
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The Sonic Youth of punk bowed out with arguably their best album to date (perhaps that’s what they were on about with the title…). At first it seems as thought they’re merely stumbling their way through jangly alt. rock songs, but pick it apart and there’s a huge testament to the noise rock scene here. As half of it drones and burrows its way into your head, the rest smacks you over the head repeatedly. Once you’re done you simply want more; the fact that their last release was their finest work was perhaps the most punk thing they ever did.
Key track: Full Disclosure

7. White Blood Cells – White Stripes
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Were they brother and sister? Were they married? Well in the end who cares, because they brought the blues, but also brought the tunes. White Blood Cells was a typically low-key yet noisy affair which brought country/bluesy/punky/rocky/rolly/poly together in various measures, but it manages to be charming without being false; its essence of realism and independence made it what it is. While it was Elephant that truly made them what they are today, this is the album which set Jack White up to dominate rock music for much of the decade.
Key track: The Union Forever

6. Gorillaz – Gorillaz
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Damon Albarn’s groundbreaking cartoon band’s debut album is oft overlooked in lieu of its massive follow up Demon Days. But far from sounding like Blur with a few synths and a click track, this was already annoyingly good stuff. Break it down to an individual entity and you’ll find an album packed with insane yet brilliant pop songs that you simply won’t be able to get out of your head.
Key track: 5/4

5. Amnesiac – Radiohead
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Radiohead had so many songs left over from the Kid A sessions that they ended up sticking them on their own release 8 months later. And thank goodness they did. Amnesiac offers up delights such as the skittery electronica of Packt Like Sardines In a Crushd Tin Box and Like Spinning Plates, the huge soaring Pyramid Song and even eerie blues and disturbed jazz on I Might Be Wrong and Life In a Glasshouse. Only one song of the 11 is weak (the irrelevant funeral march version of Morning Bell), which means it could well have stood up on its own without its older sister showing it the way.
Key track: Pyramid Song

4. Weezer (The Green Album) – Weezer
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After emerging as the next-big-things back in the early 90s, then successfully destroying it all with the less-than-impressive Pinkerton, it was time for Rivers Cuomo and co. to go back to basics. Which they did marvellously by creating a second self titled album packed with summery, grunge-lite pop songs. Anyone who listens to the Green Album and isn’t immediately won over by its wonderful, smiley simplicity just isn’t human.
Key track: Island In the Sun

3. Lateralus – Tool
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Progressive rock often gets slated for being pretentious and dull, but Tool set about dismantling such accusations on their third LP, Lateralus. Clocking in at just under 80 minutes, it is an absolute beast of an album, swirling through time signatures in the blink of an eye with enough stoner-metal riffs and pummelling rhythms to send you into a trance. You could listen to it for the rest of time and still not unlock all of its secrets. Lateralus was simply an incredibly audacious, artsy release from a band deemed way too cool and fucked up to be logged alongside ELP and Yes.
Key track: Schism

2. Origin of Symmetry – Muse
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Having been slated for being a bunch of weirdo Radiohead rip-offs after their low-key debut Showbiz, Matt Bellamy decided to go all out on this, their second release. From huge, towering riffs (Plug In Baby) through to classically influenced lilts (Space Dementia), or just smashing everything together in one glorious go (New Born, Citizen Erased), this is one insanely great rock album. Since then they’ve got bigger, bolder and more extravagant, but they’re yet to truly top the album which made them one of the big hitters.
Key track: New Born

1. Jane Doe – Converge
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Converge had already been making a racket for most of the nineties, but come the turn of the century they at long last got the desired focus and released their magnus opus. Jane Doe is like an ear-splitting alarm call, packed with brain-crushingly heavy songs and the aural essence of a riot. From the moment Concubine kicks off with its discordant rhythms and Jacob Bannon’s destructive, throaty scream, this album simply does not let up. A dangerous journey into the human mind, filled with enough brute and raw beauty to make it a landmark release.
Key track: Homewrecker
Posted on November 17th, 2009 at 08:30am

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