Styrofoam Boots' Decade List 2000-2009, Part 1

Yeah, I know, it's the end of August. And as the decade is rapidly beginning to seem so small and distant in the past it seems a weird time to revisit it, but in this nice little space between the point of time when your engrossed in it and the point of time when you're so removed that nostalgia starts to set in always seemed to be the perfect moment to see the past clearly. It was an amazing decade for music, and though it was a almost unanimously shitty decade for most everything else it is somewhat astounding to recall all the ebs and turns the landscape took. The world of popular music started getting extraordinary choppy and complex, it went from an easily calculated orbit to an electron cloud, with equally crazy results. This was the decade to us. -Stuart

100-91 (90-81) (80-71) (70-61) (60-51) (50-41) (40-31) (30-21) (20-11)

100. Coalesce - Ox

Relative old hands in a young man’s game, Coalesce were filling moshpits with their angular, vicious metalcore while the current crop of Gothenburg-biting pantywaists were still outgrowing Barney, and OX returns them to the scene after a ten year hiatus still destroying all competition. Not content to rest on their laurels as one of the most brutal bands ever, Coalesce have added a darkly theatrical Spaghetti Western feel to the proceedings, giving the flesh-stripping hardcore parts even more menace than before. Ten seconds into the honky-tonk twang and Sean Ingram’s bluesy holler on “Wild Ox Moan” should make it clear that this isn’t your usual skinny jeans ‘n’ eyeliner hardcore record. -Stephen

99. Jurassic 5 - Quality Control

Jurassic 5 has always struck me as a group that would’ve been much more at home in the early ‘90s than the ‘00s, and I mean that in no way as an insult. Quality Control keeps the spirit of bands like Digable Planets, A Tribe Called Quest and Black Star alive with its jazzy, soulful beats and pointed ponderings on the music industry and life on the streets of Los Angeles. While enjoyable throughout, the second half of the album becomes one of the defining segments in the last 10 years of rap, with hard-grooving gems like “Monkey Bars”, “Jurass Finish First”, “Contribution” and the incomparable “Swing Set”, an instrumental composed exclusively from old swing samples. Years later they would become a bit too obsessed with trying to emulate their heroes from the ‘80s, but at this exact moment, Quality Control turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. -CJ

98. Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

Nastasha Khan, like her forebears Bjork and Kate Bush, makes minimalist and dreamy pop music for grownups—pretty synths, tribal drums, whimsical lyricism and a stunning yet restrained voice taking center stage are Bat for Lashes’ forte. Two Suns takes the potential hinted at in her previous album Fur & Gold and runs with it—you’ve got the prog-pop escapades of “Glass” and “Pearl’s Dream” and ethereal balladry like “Good Love” and “Moon & Moon” sharing space with the tailormade single and ode to the Karate Kid “Daniel.” Yes even the resident metalhead (me) fucking loves this, stop laughing. -Stephen

97. Kunek - Flight Of The Flynns

Kunek is not a very well known band, and they don’t adhere to the current trends very well, so I assume this is the reason for their lack of success (they only released one LP until they changed their moniker to Other Lives, which is headed in a somewhat new direction). However, this doesn’t detract from their merit in anyway; Kunek is pretty damn special. They sound like what a folk band would sound like if they played post-rock— by combining both traditional songwriting and instrumentation with the signature melancholy and sweeping instrumental passages of post-rock, the final product is melodically and emotionally moving. -Adrian

96. The Knife - Deep Cuts

The Knife is nearly singular in its devotion to creating a conflicting listening experience. For every serene and comforting “Heartbeats”, there is a nervously exhilarating “Listen Now.” For every conventional dance track like “You Take My Breath Away”, there is an equally puzzling and disconcerted song like “You Make Me Like Charity”. Sometimes, The Knife will combine every psychotic trick in their repertoire and give you songs like “Is It Medicine?”, where one can scarcely decide between jumping on the dance floor and calling the police. Ultimately, Deep Cuts is an album that the listener must create for themselves, and for that it earns the distinction of being one of the most interesting and re-listenable dance albums of the decade. -CJ

95. The Strokes - Is This It

The decade in rock and indie music has in many ways been defined by the New York buzz band, for better or for worse, the first and perhaps the definitive example of this being The Strokes. And despite the obnoxious over-coolness of this album as well as its generic radio music leanings, it manages to find an intense youthful passion. Maybe its how the voice just slightly distorts around the edges when he screams “I want you here right now, now let me go!” or the wandering disenchantment on the title track, but there’s something that gets to you, more than I even think it rightfully should. If only they could have kept it up. -Stuart


Imagine some really good post hardcore, combine it with some traditional Japanese folk melodies, and add the snarling, growling, rapping and singing of an insane man on top of that and you have Num-Heavymetallic. It’s hard to contextualize these elements together, but just think of it as a really experimental, heavy post-hardcore album. Like every great band that consists of collaborative members (i.e. not The Shins), each instrumentalist has a very distinct style which comes through to create a cohesive sound*. Although I don’t understand Japanese, the pure visceral impact of the album paints a strong image in my mind**, with it’s extremely gritty and, as the title rightfully implies, metallic sounding qualities. Despite the overall aggressiveness of the album, it’s still incredibly appealing to listen to because Mukai Shutoku knows how to hold this shit together by combining both the abrasive elements with accessible melodies, sort of in the same vein of Isaac Brock (which is a huge compliment within itself). This album fucking rocks. -Adrian

*It’s understandable as to why they dissolved after one member decided to leave.
**with the insight of a few translations, I know that the lyrical content is not something that anybody takes lightly.

93. The Mars Volta – The Bedlam in Goliath

The Bedlam in Goliath is the work of a madman, an Alan Moore-meets-Alejandro Jordowsky explosion of spirituality and pure, unrestricted violence. Gone are the emotional tribulations of Deloused in the Comatorium and the objectiveless wandering of Francis the Mute and in their place is a mix of heavy metal, psychedelic soul and noise rock, converging with all the force and drive of a bullet from a Smith & Wesson. No wonder The Bedlam in Goliath is the Mars Volta’s most reviled work: It’s loud, frightening, intelligent and bold. In other words, a progressive rock triumph. Read along with the liner notes to complete the experience. -CJ

92. Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport

These days, people love calling shit ‘hipster garabe’. Fuck Buttons is unsurprisingly victimized by this new phenomenon. Like a lot of electronic music, they build their songs using long repetitive structures, which to some listeners may make it difficult to distinguish Fuck Buttons from any other ambient-electronic or post-rock influenced groups. At first, I couldn’t distinguish them either, and even now, I recognize that a lot of the sounds they use aren’t particularly unique. However, what I could tell after several listens was how honest the record was. In every genre, there are bands that try to sound more emotive than they are, not necessarily to lie, but to evoke a response that is beyond their capacity. In this day and age, we have assumed that most things that sound as epic as Fuck Buttons are overreaching their boundaries, which is why Fuck Buttons is so swiftly labeled ‘hipster garabe’. The problem with these quick assumptions is due to the fact that Fuck Buttons sound so epic because they are actually are that epic. Listen the shit out of this album. -Adrian

91. High on Fire- Blessed Black Wings

The dissolution of mighty stoner rock icons Sleep resulted in the birth of two bands each embodying a different side of their Black Sabbath 2.0 sound. Om is the droney psychedelic half fit for ripping bongs full of sweet leaf in lysergic ecstasy, while guitarist Matt Pike’s High on Fire jars those addled stoners awake with riffs heavier than boulders. Blessed Black Wings adds some serious Motorhead worship in the process with a blitzkrieg assault on your speakers, bringing the black-tar sludge of their earlier efforts to a roiling boil. Guided by the atomic bass presence of one Joe Preston and sonic wizard Steve Albini, this is hairy-chested retro metal that will leave you exhaling smoke and brimstone. Resistance is futile—headbanging is nigh. -Stephen

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting how many "rock guys" are fans of Jurassic 5. well said.