Styrofoam Boots' Decade List 2000-2009, Part 4

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

70. Khanate- Things Viral

It's a rare circumstance when wild hyperbole is even remotely sufficient to really capture an album's sound or its effect on a listener, and I don't want to cheapen the, uh, "experience" of Things Viral too much by indulging in a full paragraph of it. But I will say this: If Cthulu picked up a electric guitar and started playing, the Great Old One would sound EXACTLY like Khanate. 'Nuff fucking said. -Stephen

69. Beck - Modern Guilt

Paranoia is the theme of Beck's latest triumph. Crafted at a point in time when he found himself quietly slipping out of relevance, in fact most people mildly assumed he had already fallen, this album was largely ignored. And yet in its walking down the street smoothly in sunglasses while chain-smoking but scared out of your mind aesthetic, he captured something perfect. Something vital. Certainly calmer than he's ever been, he sounds phased and removed as he sings unbalanced catchy tunes about conspiracy theories and radiation poisoning. About empty souls and empty prayers. About what are you going to do when these walls come falling down backed by the smooth pearl colored synths and paper crinkling beats supplied by Danger Mouse. And almost no one cared. -Stuart

68. Bang on a Can and Steven Reich – New York Counterpoint, Eight Lines, Four Organs

I’m a humongous neophyte to the genre of contemporary classical, so it’s completely possible that a better album in the genre came out this decade and I simply didn’t hear it. That said: I heard this one, and this one is pure, minimalist beauty. Flutes, violins and pianos pulse in and out, upward and down like waves against a beach, leaving the sounds to construct themselves in your ears, not unlike Brian Eno’s ambient work from the ‘80s. The difference, however, is scale-this music grows from the tiniest seed into gargantuan oak trees, then recede back into the soil and grow again, creating the sensation that the music is very much alive. All the pieces form one greater whole in an effort that is not entirely unlike magic. -CJ

67. The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree

The Sunset Tree is a cheesy hollywood movie. The Sunset Tree is about a child being beaten. You know the scene, lying on his floor, ear pressed to the left speaker of a boombox. You hear the car pull up outside and he doesn't. Door slams open, loud thunk, slow motion, mother screams in kitchen, feet walking down the hallway, string quartet playing battle music, turns the corner and we finally see his face - and so does the kid, who is grabbed by the collar and pulled out of frame. Kid getting wasted on video games and equally fucked up girlfriend - and scotch - and driving home in the California morning, dazed, daydreaming of the year he graduates and gets to leave home as if it were his entrance into heaven, gleeful, drunk, and doomed. The yelling and the screaming and the bitterness, death, and sorrow, the cheesy ending that you still can't help but cry at. This album is the opposite of aloof. This album shy's away from nothing. This album will fuck you up. -Stuart

66. Rage Against the Machine – Renegades

Rage Against the Machine has always been a confederacy of influences, and on Renegades they pay proud tribute to those anthems of anger that would birth some of their greatest songs. From Ian Mackaye to Afrika Bambaataa to Bruce Springsteen, all with a message are welcome, and all listeners who would hear their gospel are treated such as kings. The rhythm section is the best it’s ever been, with Tim Commerford playing some of his most vicious, thundering basslines and Brad Wilk beating the drums like an adulterant lover. Rocha sounds as committed to the cause as ever, one-upping Mackaye himself on a throat ripping rendition of “In My Eyes” and delivering Cyprus Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill a Man” with a swaggering, almost cruelly indifferent bravado. Throw in radio anthem “Renegades of Funk” and reimaginings of folk classics “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Maggie’s Farm” that have to be heard to be believed, and you have a record that proves that even if they weren’t performing their own material, Rage had no shortage of ideas. -CJ

65. Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies

Despite how much “real” Celtic music aficionados may rage against the idea, here’s the scoop: Flogging Molly is probably the most logical extension of the Pogues to have existed, and Drunken Lullabies is a crowning combination of all the things they do best. The title track is without question one of the best anthems of the last decade(if not one of the best anthems, period) and a blizzard of exciting punk songs like “What’s Left of the Flag”, “The Kilburn High Road”, “Rebels of the Sacred Heart” and “Swagger” keep the momentum going from the first song onward. Add in some willowy, nostalgic ballads like “Death Valley Queen”, “The Sun Never Shines(On Closed Doors)” and the absolutely heart wrenching “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”, and you have an album that represents folk-punk at its very finest(even if you do die a little inside every time you’re forced to put a prefix in front of the word “punk”). -CJ

64. John Wiese - Soft Punk

This is probably the point where noise music shows us what it's worth. Where it transcends the little box it's immense freedom has shoved it into. Glitchy, sharp, intelligent, this thing plays you, it pushes you around. This album has complete control. Still more violent than the harshest death metal, more painful than the full force of a sonic boom on your ear drums. Still far far too violent - and experimental and abstract - for me to play for anyone ever. It proves not all noise music sounds the same. It proves everything for noise. It is a wonder of emotion and composition and straight up badassery. -Stuart

63. Meshuggah- Catch 33

Writing in long form is not new to Meshuggah—they had dropped the EP-length track “I” before this, and guitarist Fredrik Thordendal’s solo album was also one 40-minute song. Outside of that however, Catch 33 is easily the most ambitious thing these nutty Swedes have ever done, a discordant and circular maze of utterly baffling odd meters and jagged, unforgivingly austere eight-string riffing. Despite Jens Kidman roaring existentialist concepts over the mechanistic din, they’ve taken cyborg metal to its ultimate conclusion here, even replacing octopus-like skinsman Tomas Haake with a drum machine (don’t worry, he’s duplicated this album live). And even with a slightly tamer follow-up in the form of the more song-oriented ObZen, the rest of the metal world still struggles to keep up. -Stephen

62. Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain

Any experimental music that's worth a damn has a reason to be experimental. A young musician looks at pop music and says shit I could make this twice as sad if I got rid of the convention. If I broke it down. Or, hell I could create something angrier than has ever been done if I made something that made less sense. Or, well, your music is fine and all and makes people get out of their heads a little bit but if I just repeat this piano line over ad infinium I can work them into a full on trance. That being said, I don't know of anyone previous to Lightning Bolt who said, wait a minute, if we break down convention we can make something way more fun than this. And so fuck songs, and fuck thought, and fuck anything, and shut up and let this blow you away. Let the power roll. Let the fun begin. -Stuart

61. M83 – Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts

The first time I listened to M83 I had stumbled upon a park I hadn't known was there previously. In a bit of awe at this flowering oasis in the middle of the city, I staggered to the ground, looked up at the trees and heared from my headphones the robotic chant of "Sun is shining. Birds are singing. Flowers are blooming. Clouds are looming, and I am flying." repeated, cleanly and then harshly distorting, fading into an explosion of soaring synths. And the weird thing is, even though at the time the concept of a fully electronic album seemed cold and soulless and wrong to me, it didn't feel out of place. It felt as natural as the trees that I had unexpectedly fallen into. It felt calm and serene, or warm and chaotic, each part moving separately from each other in harmony, like I always wanted classical to sound like, but never quite did. Awash in natural air and digital beauty. -Stuart


  1. It's nice to see some early M83. Not that I didn't love Saturdays=Youth, but you don't hear as much about their earlier stuff since Saturdays

  2. I whole-heartedly agree with the Flogging Molly deal. It's a shame they're not more culturally relevant (on a mass scale) but that's probably a good thing. I don't think this globe could handle a massive swing in conciousness.