Styrofoam Boots' Decade List 2000-2009, Part 6

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

50. Baroness- Blue Album

While often overshadowed by that other art/prog/sludge metal band from Georgia, Baroness have carved their own distinct niche by taking one of Mastodon’s downplayed elements—guitarwork—and going full bore with it. There are enough brilliantly played twin six-string passages on here to make the combined members of Thin Lizzy, Allman Brothers and Iron Maiden sprout a collective boner, all without a single tacky neo-classical arpeggio. Songs like “The Sweetest Curse” and “A Horse Named Golgatha” effortlessly cram in tons of melodic hooks while not sacrificing an ounce of craft or complexity, making Blue Record a Garden of Eden for all lovers of the anthem and beard-stroking critic types alike. -Stephen

49. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

This is Animal Collective’s most straight forward album ever: Basic chord structures and verse chorus verse progressions, with catchy melodies and harmonies. The distinction that is made from AC and just any other pop band is how they utilize these structures to make something totally distinct. Heavy electronic bass heavy percussion, 3-dimensional reverb sounds, samples that sound like birds and blips, a whole bunch of other strange sounds, and odd tones and tonal repetition under a very distinct but reverb saturated mix constitute the most polished rendition of AC so far.

48. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

The Hold Steady has always had an air of wistful melancholy around even their most rollicking party songs, and on Stay Positive they more or less give up on trying to party. It’s a wise move: Stay Positive is their most consistent, and thoughtful, album, focusing mainly on the futility of trying to grow in an environment that keeps pushing you down. There’s nothing quite like looking in front of you and realizing you can’t move forward, and Craig Finn captures that sentiment with wit and wry bitterness on nearly every song. Displacement and disaffection are some of the hardest emotions to understand, and while Stay Positive doesn’t offer any solutions, you’ll know at least somebody gets it. -CJ

47. Portishead – Third

Somewhere just under a decade after the genre and era defining group broke up they reunited and reliesed thier best album. No joke. Rediculous? Perhaps. And about the only think you can usualy count against when reunions occur, but it happened none the less. Portishead started with cool and infinete indie-kid (the dress-only-in-black self-serious 90's kind) detachment on Dummy, moved through the harsher anger and egotism of the self titled effort and now, imporbably, took another right turn and landed on directness and honesty. Its hard to not get caught up in Beth Gibbsons as she desprately aserts "did you know when you lost?" or confidantly, harshly questeions herself over the glitchy, woozy electronics. Add in the hardcore churn of Machine Gun and the minimalistic Uke ballad of Deep Water and you've got an album that blends incense intelligence and intense enjoyment more than anything that has come before. -Stuart

46. El-P- I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

A big step up from the already solid Fantastic Damage, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead sees hip-hop producer par excellence (and greatly improved MC) El-P unleashing his expanded paranoid visions of a dark post-Patriot Act future on a staid, materialistic and brick-stupid mainstream rap scene. Having the good sense to spike the usual roster of Def Jux cameos with oddball picks like Cat Power and Trent Reznor without watering down his unique sonic signature (bangin’ ear candy beats that walk a line between Bomb Squad, old industrial and Aphex Twin) doesn’t hurt. And “Up All Night” and “Habeas Corpses” just to name two are thick with some of the most razor-edged sarcasm and political statements since Immortal Technique’s Volume 2. -Stephen

45. Boris – Akuma No Uta

Arriving a couple of years before Boris’ mainstream (or at least, american indie) breakthrough and fellow Best of the 2000s peer Pink, Akuma no Uta slams headfirst through the wall dividing drone doom and hard rock and creates a masterpiece amid the destruction. That isn’t to say Boris has lost their experimental edge-the first 10 minutes(about a quarter of the entire album) is taken up by a wave of fuzzy guitar feedback. But then it moves into “Ibitsu” and “Furi”, two songs that fuse Melvins-esque grunginess with the rhythm and speed of early hardcore punk. And while the album does slow down eventually, that volcanic energy doesn’t relent for a minute as Boris packs in sludgy hook after booming drumline and proves that the spirit of rock and roll is alive and well, even at its most avant-garde. -CJ

44. Coldplay – Parachutes

Parachutes has the distinctive Coldplay sound everybody is familiar with, with the exception of a few fundamental differences: the songs are structurally dynamic, the vocals are honest and expressive, and the production literally sounds golden. Although the album has an atmospheric quality about it, it stays very firmly rooted to the ground emotionally, which when juxtaposed, creates a very cathartic and powerful sound. I don’t experience synesthesia, but Parachutes has brought me as close as I’ve ever been. Parachutes is Coldplay’s Pinkerton. -Adrian

43. The Sword – Gods of the Earth

“Hipster metal” became the bullshit-du-jour of genre labels during the mid and late ‘00s, an odious phrase designed to abase metal bands who appealed to people not interested in surfing through endless black metal demo tapes in order to find a decent guitar riff. Well, if this stuff is for hipsters, than buy me a scarf and toss me a PBR, because Gods of the Earth was bar none one of the best metal albums of the ‘00s. Featuring head-pounding riffs and a propulsive energy that could drag even the sternest concertgoer into a mosh pit, The Sword created an album that was as an appropriate soundtrack for a swashbuckling adventure, as much as it was for a bong party. From slow, doomy battle anthems like “How Heavy This Axe” and “The Black River” to the stampeding “Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians”, Gods of the Earth is packed with enough stoney, sword-swinging goodness to last you a full warrior’s quest through Hyboria…or at least to satisfy your primal man urges for the 48 minute runtime. -CJ

42. McLusky- Do Dallas

Picking up right where Jesus Lizard and The Pixies left off and injecting a welcome dose of Bon Scott-esque irreverence, this Welsh trio easily rocked harder than any stale Epitaph punk band, and with ten times the wit. It’s impossible not to love a band that titles its frenetic lead-off song “Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues,” or comes up with lyrics like “Our band is bigger than your band/ we take more drugs than a touring funk band.” Albini’s raw hawburger production does nothing to dilute the inherent hitmaking capacity of “To Hell with Good Intentions” and “Whoyouknow,” and “Fuck This Band” is a perfectly placed and hilarious breather in the midst of the redlining sonics and unrelenting attitude. In a world of bleary-eyed whingy indie, it’s a crying shame a band this badass split up. -Stephen

41. Agalloch- The Mantle

When descriptions for Agalloch are offered by people generally in the know, I’ve heard this Northwest Pacific band referred to several times as black metal with the edges sanded off. But that does absolutely no justice to what these guys actually do, which is to make music for vast wintry panoramas underneath foggy, steel-gray skies. Haughm’s rasping voice flows within a tapestry of chiming and silvery (that’s a word isn’t it?) guitars coated in delay and reverb, martial drumming, bowed upright bass and Native American percussion. Song lengths stretch for over nine minutes yet never overstay their welcome, and while the mood is downcast and weary it never gets oppressive. Think Opeth without the quiet/loud switch and a great deal more finesse and patience. Few metal albums deserve the sobriquet “beautiful.” This is one of them. -Stephen

1 comment:

  1. i personally prefer the red album. not to detract from the blue album. i just prefer the more experimental aspect of the red album. i see the blue album as a lean towards more conventional metal for baroness. but if you count the release of their first 2 ep's together as an album then that would probably be my favorite. All that said, the Blue album was one of the better albums of last year