The Persistence of Memorable Albums

The underrated Russian Futurists

Every year there are Top Ten lists and, recently, a smattering of Best of the Decade lists. I always feel like these are woefully artificial means of recording time. The most “important” records rarely align with the calendar year, nor should they.

So I thought I’d present a list of albums that fought their way to the top of my playlists year after year. The true favorites. They’re by no means the “best,” according to most criteria, but these records each soundtracked the aught years.

Destroyer – Destroyer’s Rubies
My friend Westin played Destroyer for me in 2004, and it took me a good year to get around to liking Daniel Bejar’s music. While Streethawk: A Seduction and Trouble in Dreams have their moments, I never tire of Rubies and its thrilling songwriting. How many artists do you know quote Otis Redding and Ezra Pound?

The Stills – Logic Will Break Your Heart
Some bands are just right place, right time. This was one of those. Seeing “Yesterday Never Tomorrows” in concert was a top-five live music moment.

Interpol – Antics
Sure, this will be the music on all the “classic rock” radio stations in fifteen years. That’s partially because it’s so accessible, but more because it’s so enduring.

The Strokes – Is This It
Obviously.

Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of This Country
Man I love oldies music. I also love bands that love oldies music.

Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love
This record may as well have been lab-tested for my tastes: former DJ starts rock band, can’t quite shake off his dancefloor roots. They make it look easy, belying the songs’ ingenious atypical structure. See “Zap Zap”: a wave carrying you out to sea, lulling you until the final moments when you realize you’re in dangerous territory.

Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
Again with the literary rock bands. I’m a sucker for guys who read Gertrude Stein and hail from England. Alas, they never recaptured the manic energy of this LP.

Morrissey – Vauxhall & I
Blame record store serendipity. This was the first post-Smiths Morrissey disc I checked out, and so it took up residence over others. I know it has a few flaws (he actually starts “Speedway” with a chainsaw revving, for Christ’s sake), but when I was 20 years old I didn’t care. Still don’t.

The Russian Futurists – Our Thickness
I still have no idea how this guy flies so under the radar. He’s one of the most talented bedroom-pop producers alive, essential music for any Magnetic Fields or Washed Out fan. Maybe he’s really racist or hates his fans or something; there’s got to be a reason he never became more well known.

Snowden – Anti-Anti
Cynics might say I already have Interpol on this list. I admit, there’s a strong correlation. I also admit that I don’t care. This record is perfect.

Mclusky – Mclusky Do Dallas
Would you make fun of me if I said Mclusky had the best songwriting of the past ten years? (“Pull up my pants/ Now the camera crew is gone/ In your statement to the police/ Tell them how you turned me on”) Granted, people tend to reward political or breakup lyrics. I think attention must be paid regarding Mclusky’s dry wit. Not to mention the best song about STDs ever (“The World Loves Us And Is Our Bitch”).

The National – Alligator
If you disagree, it’s not worth discussing. If you agree, then there’s nothing to say, is there?

Superdrag – Regretfully Yours
Suburban Minneapolis, MediaPlay, 1996. I bought it with a gift card. The album’s worst song,  “Sucked Out,” had become a MTV staple. Lucky for me the rest of the songs were among the 90s best. I know this came out forever ago. I still listen to it all the time. It’s weird.

The Wrens – The Meadowlands
Another album with a cult following. “Ex-Girl Collection” still stands as incredible lyrically, though I always wonder where the narrator works. I mean, he must be in an office if he’s got two phone lines, right?

Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills
Those Swedes, they must have pop music in their genes.


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