CJ's Best Of The 00s Volume 6: Nobody Knows You and Nobody Gives a Damn Anyway
51. Suite 1: Storm-Godspeed You! Black Emperor(2000)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a group that's nearly as self-evident as the Beatles at this point, in that opening your mouth in an attempt to find something new or profound to say about them is a fool's errand. They're a critic's worst nightmare, as they're impossible to analyze without sounding like a pretentious fruitcake and the long and short of the analysis would be "OMG THEY'RE SO GOOD IT MAKES ME FEEL FEELINGS" anyway. That said, I think that "Suite 1: Storm" is the best song they put out this year because it has the widest range of emotions-starting at quietly preparing for something great to happen, then sweepingly epic, then somberly epic, then suddenly dissonant, and then nearly post-apocalyptic in their dreariness. The God-Kings of post-rock have done a lot of things before, but they've never been quite this versatile in the span of a single song.
52. Time To Pretend-MGMT(2008)
"Time To Pretend" had the misfortune of not only being an amazing single on a comparatively weaker album, it was also overplayed and overexposed to a hideous degree. That doesn't make the line "The models will have children, we'll get a divorce/Then find some more models, everything must run it's course" less funny, or the final, tragic "We'll choke on our vomit, and that will be the end/We were fated to pretend" any less powerful. That didn't make the synthline less catchy, and none of the hype and fawning attention and sneering dismissals that this song got later made you like this song less the first time you heard it. It was smart, it was pointed, it was a searing portrayal of how our generation thought the older generation did things. It was the final nail in the coffin of the idea of the rock star, and it was the best single of the decade.
53. The Space For This-Cynic(2008)
Traced In Air was so fucking amazing from beginning to end that it was hard to pick just one song that represented the best of them this decade. "The Space For This" probably comes the closest, though. Cynic gets it-they know how to do equal parts epic, cosmic and psychedelic without coming off like a bunch of dorks. They're possibly the most lyrical metal band working today, showing off their abilities to stretch the imagination with lines like "A bundle of thoughts on a lonely ghost pursuit/Lost inside the space for this". Their technical abilities, of course, are absolutely outrageous-some people think that compositionally, they're actually closer to jazz then they are metal. A lot of progressive metal bands come off as Rush worship, robbing each other's ideas at every possible turn, but no other band on earth sounds like Cynic, and no other song covers their many different facets on such a brain-turning roller coaster ride like "The Space For This". While man-children of the world bond over The Flower Kings and Symphony X, Cynic is going to be in the "real music" conversation for a long time to come, because they're one of the few bands saddled with the "progressive" label that's actually progressing the genre.
54. Stream of Consciousness-Dream Theater(2003)
What's the biggest problem with Dream Theater? That they're retarded, right? And what's the most retarded thing about them? The very first thing that pops to mind? The guitar wanking, yeah, but even more so, the vocals. The lyrics. If James LaBrie had been the first American to sing the Gospels we would be living in a majority Hindu country right now. "Stream of Consciousness" does the smartest thing possible and kicks that shit right out(James LaBrie, not the Hindus-let me make a stand right now: I like Hindus). And you know what? As an instrumental band, Dream Theater is not fucking bad at all. My algebra tutor once said that his band tried playing "Tom Sawyer" without any vocals and it actually sounded pretty amazing. Do you hear that, 95% of prog bands? Play your instruments and shut the fuck up!
55. Battery Acid-Queens of the Stone Age(2007)
Sounding closer to industrial than alternative rock, "Battery Acid" is a monster of a song. Blasting out with one of the most panic-inducing guitar lines in memory, the song beats along at a tremendously consistent pace and doesn't let you catch your breath for even a second. It's got sort of an uber-mensch vibe to it, like a marching song they might play in a coal mine run by cyborgs. "Robots! Robots! Brainwashed babies!/ Blood from a leech, spoken rabies!/Spastic, plastic, Battery Acid!", announces Josh Homme like a senator on the podium, and then you crap your pants. The hammer-on-metal sound effects used as a rhythm section definitely don't help, making you feel like the song has you trapped in a very cruel but very exciting sonic cage. Very few songs get under your skin like this one does, and no other song can make you as excited about it as "Battery Acid". "Every masochist gets a turn." No shit, guys.
56. The Wedding Dress-2 Cents(2006)[song does not exist on the internet; ask Jack Betterly-Kohn if you wish to hear]
Metalcore is not the most celebrated of genres-one might say it is one of the least celebrated genres in the entire musical world-but you can do good things with it if you're clever enough. Take "The Wedding Dress" as an example. A song about a widow attending the funeral of her husband while wearing her wedding dress because "The dead don't rest for the beautiful", it's surprisingly literate. The singer's voice gets a little yowly and annoying, as per the metalcore tradition, but beyond that it's good stuff-the guitar work is incredibly solid and catchy and the song carries a gravity with it that's rare for songs in this genre. Metalcore is never going to be anything more than a passable genre on a good day, but if songs like "The Wedding Dress" are any indication, it doesn't have to embarrass itself completely, either.
57. Blues From Down Here-TV On The Radio(2006)
I think the reason I like this TV On The Radio song more than others is that is has more presence than the other songs on Return To Cookie Mountain. It marches along, it sounds dramatic. "Carry me through these dark, infested waters" sounds more serious than you'd think it would when you have what sounds like a chorus of ghosts backing you up. It sounds like a really eerie-yet-dancable church hymn that they would play at the First National Congregation of the Disaffected. Maybe the most important part is that the song is called "Blues From Down Here" and he actually sounds like he's singing from below you. There's a weird kind of happy desolation to this song. It is a song that Stuart might call "uniquely enjoyable".
58. We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed-Los Campesinos!(2008)
I don't think another song this decade had a higher amazing lyric/minute ratio. "I'm trying to be sexy, biting at the air that falls in front of me." "Absence makes the heart grow fonder, fondness makes the absence longer." "Oh, we kid ourselves there's future in the fucking, but there is no fucking future." "I taught myself the only way to get along in love is to like the other slightly less than you get in return/I keep feeling like I'm being undercut." This sounds dumb, but the energy combined with the bratty nihilism? This shit is the theme song to my generation. To say nothing about how this song is going to be stuck in your head for days or how smart the string arrangements are or just how important this song sounds, and also, just how can a person make a "go get 'em tiger" song that has by it's own admission nothing to go get? I don't know, they did it, it's here, listen to it, it's true.
59. I'll Believe In Anything-Wolf Parade(2005)
"I'll Believe In Anything" is an incredible last ditch effort of a love song, as the title implies. "I'll do whatever you want, I can be the guy for you, I'll believe anything you say". That kind of love song. The kind that makes you ache for the person singing it, 'cause he's just not going to get it and he's not going to let this thing stop hurting him. The vocals on Apologies To The Queen Mary don't always work, but here they sound so desperate and crazed that you can't help but be moved by the poor sap that the song is about. It also doesn't hurt that it sounds like the world is falling down all around the two of them-crashing symbols, an organ that sounds like it's exploding from the inside. For all intents and purposes, this song is the singer's apocalypse, and the desperation, heartbreak and fear that goes along with emotional Armageddon is captured magnificently.
60. Kid On My Shoulders-White Rabbits(2007)
Before White Rabbits learned that there was more money to be made in sounding like everybody else and put out It's Frightening, they debuted with Fort Nightly, a dark, quirky little gem of an album that should have made a much bigger splash than it did. "Kid On My Shoulders" signaled what you were in for when you turned the album on-it's got that kind of "classic evil" vibe to it, like Neil Gaiman's interpretaion of Lucifer in The Sandman. It's very classy and very seductive with the way it lures you in. It's hard to decipher exactly what the song is about from the lyrics-it seems like it's about trying to find the witness to a murder in order to shut him up, which adds to the suave/spooky vibe that the song has going on. A very simple but very elegant bassline drives the song and the guitar makes this song sound vital, like something very secretive and dangerous is happening. The piano goes that extra mile by practically painting the song in '30s cinema black and white. By the time the refrain "We held our tongues about it/Someday we'll laugh about it" rolls in you're already completely trapped by the song's dark enchantments. They may have already gotten rote since this song was released, but while "Kid On My Shoulders" was shining there was no indie band that was more exciting and had more potential.