CJ's Best Of The 00s Volume 4: A Parallel Universe, Perhaps, Could Be The Perfect Scene
31. Arriving Somewhere But Not Here-Porcupine Tree(2005)
Porcupine Tree is the closest thing we've got to a modern day King Crimson, and it seems like they'll only get better as time goes on. Similarly to Modest Mouse(and in truth the only similarity to Modest Mouse), Porcupine Tree had been making albums since the early '90s and languished in obscurity for much longer than should be considered decent, but were picked up in the middle '00s. "Lazarus" is the song from Deadwing that most people will recognize, but "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" is without question the centerpiece of the album. Connecting part one of the "it's-a-ghost-story-but-maybe-not" plot of Deadwing to part two, "Arriving" manages to be expansive and airy while still retaining a sense of urgency. The song is most likely about being killed(through car crash or suicide, in the context of the rest of the album-it isn't exactly clear which it is, though), the palapable relief in Steve Wilson's voice when he sings "All my designs, simplified/And all of my plans, compromised" only adds to the spooky tension of the song. Porcupine Tree proves that "good taste" and "progressive rock" are by no means antonyms, and that even a generally unpalatable twelve minute runtime flies by if you've got a good story to tell.
32. Hurt-Johnny Cash(2002)
I listen to this song once about every six months because I am not emotionally capable of doing so more frequently. I'm not analyzing this one. It's too special.
33. Two-The Antlers(2009)
Hospice qualifies as maybe the most depressing, emotionally crippling concept album since Lou Reed's Berlin-the story of a nurse who falls in love with an emotionally abusive patient and can't stop kicking himself in the teeth for failing to make her better and, eventually, failing to keep her alive. "Two" is the song where the main character learns that the woman he was treating has died. It represents the rest of the album nicely because it's a song about failure, a song about how there's no way to stop anything that happens to you or anyone, no real way to fight your environment or your body or your family or your thoughts. It's a throatpunch, and it builds magnificently. The vocals sound so present that you could touch them, but you wouldn't want to because they would shatter like glass and they mesh perfectly with the heart-stoppingly painful lyrics. It's the corpse of a dead bird presented in a precious, fragile vase. Indie music has a habit of trying to make nihilism sound gorgeous, but until "Two", the stakes were never quite high enough to really pull that off.
34. Strange Times-The Black Keys(2008)
The Black Keys, in general, are kind of dull and antiquated, but they can pull off a monster of a song when they feel up to it. "Strange Times" might be blatant classic rock worship, but you can't say it doesn't pull it off well. A simple, hard, catchy riff, thump-stomp-thump-stomp drumming, cool sounding but vaguely nonsensical lyrics...all that's kind of why you liked the '70s to begin with, right? So why not this?
35. D Is For Dangerous-Arctic Monkeys(2007)
Post-punk revival is a losing game even on a good day of the week, as the Arctic Monkeys found out with Everything People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. With Favourite Worst Nightmare, though, the Monkey's stepped up their game in a big way-catchy riffs, ridiculous drumming, dancability and charmingly bratty lyrics abound, and "D Is For Dangerous" condenses the entire Arctic Monkeys experience superbly. Clocking in at 2:17, the song does it's job efficiently-gets your mouth grinning and your ass shaking, then leaves you open for the next track to work its magic even more. Lyrics like "D is for Delightful, so try and keep your trousers on", along with the zippidy-doo cymbals and downright sexy bassline, prove that the Arctic Monkeys know what makes a good dance-rock song. The transition from their first album to their second was pretty big, so let's hope they don't change up their style too much in the future. (Note: Apparently they've already made a third album and it sort of blows. Lame.)
36. Angels Don't Kill-Children of Bodom(2003)[audio quality is horsecrap]
You don't exactly have to be a brain donor to write a power ballad, but it does take a certain level of creativity to be able to make one while still being totally metal. It's not a pioneering song in any real sense, but it's rare to see a band as lunkheaded as Children of Bodom try something different. The music is slowed down, the keyboard is almost soft in places, the lyrics are about a girl, but the vocals are as feral as any other CoB song. That's the important part-the vocalist is ripping it up like he normally does, almost as though he's in the wrong studio and the rest of the band is recording a completely different song. It's an interesting dichotomy. But the bottom line is:If you were a serial killer you could bone to this song. That's all the reason I need to give it two thumbs way up.
37. Dopethrone-Electric Wizard(2000)
Dope! Throne! In this land of sorcery!
Dope! Throne! Vi-si-on through T.H.C!
Dope! Throne! Holy Feedback it will free!
Dope! Throne! Threeee wizards crowned with weed, yeah!
DRUH NUH NUH, NA NUH NA NUH, NUH NA NUH, DRUH NUH NUH, NA NUH NA NUH, DRUH NA NUH,
DRUH NUH NUH, NA NUH NA NUH, NUH NA NUH,
DRUH NUH NUH, NA NUH NA NUH, DRUH NA NUH
38. Darts of Pleasure-Franz Ferdinand(2003)
"Darts of Pleasure" was Franz Ferdinand's debut single, and right out the gate they were already rolling up and smoking post-punk contemporaries like Interpol and Bloc Party. The line "You can feel my lips undress your eyes" is demonstrably meaningless and from any other singer would sound like a pretty fucked up thing to someone, but lead vocalist Alex Kapranos actually manages to make it sound pretty sexy. Where most other Live-105 mavens took a pretty serious stance on hooking up with girls back in the day, Franz Ferdinand remembered to have fun-the last minute of the song, shouted in German, literally translates to "I am known as Super-Fantastic!"Lightening up isn't a hard thing to do, and making that adjustment put Franz Ferdinand head and shoulders above their peers in a time when this kind of music would soon dominate everything from the radio airwaves to the hippest college freshman's dorm room.
39. Dateless Losers-Reel Big Fish(2002)
Whenever I hear "Dateless Losers" I think of my high school's anime club, and that's not nearly as mean of an association as you'd think. A lot of the shows that they would play in the club would be vulgar, over-the-top romantic comedies about guys who can't hook up with anyone for the life of them-think Judd Apatow with less pop culture references and more jokes about lonely masturbation. They were fun, they were funny, but there was a real sense of depression underneath each one, not so much because of their predicament, but mainly because whenever the camera was on one of these dateless losers for more than a couple of minutes, you would think to yourself "Huh, that guy actually has a pretty lame personality". Reel Big Fish sort of has the opposite problem, in general-they've got a big, friendly, wonderful personality, but musically they tend to be sort of lacking. "Dateless Losers" manages to get the whole shebang-the big personality, the fun and the sadness, plus a surprisingly intricate, totally ripping guitar solo. It's bright and dreary at the same time, and you'll wish you empathized less with the lyrics.
40. On March the Saints-Down(2007)
Down puts out an album roughly once between every major catastrophe that happens in this country, and the amount of fucked up things that happened to the members of this band between Over The Under and A Bustle In Your Hedgegrow is nearly unprecedented. This came out after Dimebag Darrell, friend and influence to many of the members of the supergroup, was killed, and after the band's hometown of New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. And while it may not be the angriest song on the album, the line "There's no such thing as a good time for bad luck" probably rings the truest. Guitarist Pepper Keenan and bassist Rex Brown prove why Down has earned their genre label of sludge metal, as the riffs in this song are so slow and so chunky that you almost have to wade through it.If they made an album more than once every presidential administration, Down would be one of the biggest names in doom. They aren't the heaviest band in the genre, but shit if they aren't one of the most powerful.