Top Ten of The 2000s: Michael Lopez

For this list, I have compiled my favorite albums of the past decade -- the oft-terrible Aughts. While the decade itself might have sucked a big one, the music that was produced was incredible -- perhaps the only upside to an otherwise disheartening 10 years. In my top ten you will notice that no one year has more than one album. This is to keep things fair and to also present a challenge in looking back in the past decade in music. Some years had more noteworthy albums than some, but it would be unfair to flood the list with, say, picks from the years 2004-2006. Those albums that did not make the top ten will be represented in the honorable mentions list. Enjoy.

10. Daft Punk -- Discovery (2001)
This album was an absolute eye-opener when I first heard it. We all know Daft Punk from their Homework days, with songs like "Around The World," "Da Funk" and "Revolution 909." Discovery came along, however, and blew that album out of the water. We have Kanye West to thank for keeping alive "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," as much as it pains me to admit that. It is a testament, however, to the strength of the album, to still be celebrating a single song some 7-8 years later. Discovery is a simple formula -- the fellas of Daft Punk dusted off some of their favorite funk records, sampled the hell out of them, and produced one of the finest electronic/dance music albums of the decade.

9. The Stills -- Logic Will Break Your Heart (2003)

Has there been a finer debut album in indie rock since Montreal rockers The Stills burst onto the scene in 2003? I don't know just this yet, but I do know that the band's full-length debut Logic Will Break Your Heart knocked me on my ass when I first heard it. 2003 was ripe for the taking as far as that popular 80's influenced, new-wave sound was concerned. The Stills made it their own with Logic, proving just how polished a band can sound. "Lola Stars and Stripes" kicks things off with an absolutely charming bass-line, rollicking guitars and Tim Fletcher's yearning vocals. The tone is therefore set for songs like "Changes Are No Good" with its cascading guitars and feel-good guitar riff -- it still gives me goosebumps to listen to it to this day. When Fletcher pines on "Yesterday Never Tomorrows:" "Some things last forever, why can't this last forever?" I simply shake my head and ponder that possibility with him.

6. Lightspeed Champion -- Falling Off The Lavender Bridge (2008)
Devonté Hynes, at one point in his musical career, was toiling away as the bassist for British indie punk outfit Test Icicles. While the band's actual impact is less than amazing, I worship the very ground Test Icicles ever walked on because they let Hynes break into the music scene. Four years after the dissolution of that band, Hynes released his debut album under the name Lightspeed Champion, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge. The country-infused, acoustic/indie romp was by far the best album I heard in 2008. Hynes' earnest singing style, matched with his brutally honest lyrics, endeared the album so intensely to me. "Galaxy of the Lost" tells such a painful struggle with failed expectations, "Dry Lips" describes the last time Hynes had a hangover, his drinking curbed by painful stomach ulcers. Even the "Wendela" mentioned in "No Surprise (for Wendela) Midnight Suprise" is Hynes' own mother. The aforementioned track still gets me to this day -- it is one of my favorite songs from the past 5 years, and I have no problem admitting that I still get emotional when I hear, or even talk about, the song. Just ask my girlfriend -- she's seen me lose my shit merely describing it. 

1. Death From Above 1979 -- You're a Woman, I'm a Machine (2004)
Writing about this album will be quite a task. I have never heard a more influential band for my own personal taste in music than Death From Above 1979. Their only full-length album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine, will forever remain my favorite album of the 2000s, if not all time. Considering the band is merely two dudes -- drummer/vocalist Sebastian Grainger and bassist Jesse F. Keeler -- Machine's sound is absolutely unparalleled by any album in the entire decade. Machine was released in late 2004, when dance-punk was at the height of popularity, yet Death From Above 1979 created a sound that was wholly unique to the dance-punk movement. They had, with their two instruments, created a sound so complex and enjoyable that it makes it difficult for me to even convey in writing. Their music had an edge to it -- it was loud and brash, fast and corrosive -- yet Grainger's lyrics had substance and vengeance. The album was instantly danceable -- yet it carried a harsh message, epitomized when Grainger screams on "Romantic Rights," "I don't need you, to want you." It's piss and vitriol, and yet it's sometimes unclassifiable. This album quickly became the only thing I listened to in late 2004. I would drive around my sleepy college town blaring "Blood On Our Hands" and "Turn It Out" and see if I could elicit any reactions from passer-bys. I felt good when I listened to Machine -- and I still do to this day. A band like Death From Above 1979 comes along once in a lifetime, and I am blessed to have ever listened to a single song they released. They created a sound that, for many -- including myself -- was the perfect mixture of hard-edged, lightning quick punk rock and melodic, funky indie rock. There's was a music that defied categorization, and -- like At The Drive-In before them -- I instantly adopted it as my own, branding it as my favorite album in a decade full of top-notch efforts.

Honorable Mentions:
Elliott Smith -- Figure 8 (2000)
Late of the Pier -- Fantasy Black Channel (2008)
Godspeed You Black Emperor! -- Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)
!!! -- Myth Takes (2006)
Of Montreal -- The Sunlandic Twins (2006)
Kings of Leon -- Because of the Times (2007) 
The Dears -- End of A Hollywood Bedtime Story (2000)
Animal Collective -- Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
The Mars Volta -- De-Loused In The Comatorium (2003)
The Hives -- Veni Vedi Vicious (2000)
Franz Ferdinand -- Franz Ferdinand (2004)
Grizzly Bear -- Veckatimest (2009)
The Strokes -- Is This It? (2001)
Klaxons -- Myths of the Near Future (2007)
Phoenix -- It's Never Been Like That (2006)
Elliott Smith -- From A Basement On The Hill (2004)
The Roots -- Phrenology (2002)
Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead -- Source Tags & Codes (2002)
St. Vincent -- Marry Me (2007)

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Michael Lopez