1.) Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001 and 2002)

Well, the journey ends here and in a pretty predictable manner, unfortunately.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has been such a constant in my life since its release that, truthfully, this was one of the easiest decisions I've ever had to make. I've defended the record to detractors, listened with like-minded friends, pored over every single nuance for years and years - I have lived with this record as such an essential part of my fabric that I don't even know that I can be objective about it anymore.

I adore every fractured moment of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and though its mythology is far reaching and descriptive of its inaccessibility, I happen to think its way, way overstated. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is, at its core, a pretty damn fine pop record. "Heavy Metal Drummer", "I'm the Man That Loves You", "Reservations" - come on! These are not difficult songs to digest. Never were. That's the thing though, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is certainly a different side of Wilco, but the press would have had you believe the record they were making was unlistenable. Instead, it was just an alt country band making a pop record.

But enough about what the record sounds like. Much like Kid A before it, you already know. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was for me and for many others the unofficial soundtrack to our post 9/11 world. This would sound like a bad thing, but it wasn't. YHF was the record I was listening to that kind of helped deal with the whole thing. Music being the savior as it tends to be. The record was released after 9/11, but was completed before and in fact the band were streaming it on their website for free that September. Having said that songs like "Ashes of American Flags" and "Jesus Etc" weren't devised to mean what they would come to, if that makes sense.

9/11, as terrible as it still is to talk about, is still the event that will define this decade for America, especially for those of us who are from and were in New York while it happened. Wilco - an American band if ever there was one had this record - this record already steeped in controversy, that would come to sound like that sad time. I can see the rubbled streets of downtown in the spareness of "Jesus Etc" but there was also hope in Tweedy's voice in "Heavy Metal Drummer", you know? It sounded like we did when we rallied around each other and decided to move on. To never forget, but to celebrate the people and places damaged by the horror. That's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to me. Sad, weird and at times cryptic, but ultimately hopeful and downright pleasant. That a record can achieve each of those emotional touchstones makes it great, that it still sounds amazing all these years later makes it indelible. A one of a kind record from one of the great bands of this generation. And easily my favorite record of the decade.

Thanks for reading, I'm back over at PatDSez next week.

2.) Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

Oh my god! It's not number one! I can't believe it.

Okay, moving on - Kid A is a million things if its one, but most importantly it's art. It's a masterpiece. It's stirring and it's gorgeous and its scope is huge, it's both cold and amazingly soulful sometimes within the same moment. It was a new beginning sonically and the last of its kind in terms of how most people heard it. It's everything you've heard it was and more. Everything that has needed to be said about Kid A has been said and all the lauds are true. It is brilliant. But you don't need to hear this from me. If you're following this list you're infinitely aware of how good Kid A is. Of how important Kid A is in the scheme of rock music. So, I'm gonna shut up and just talk about fond memories I have of a record that is surely one of the best ever.

Kid A was released in 2000. I was a junior in college. I lived in Martyr's Court with six other dudes. I was really excited for Kid A. I mean really excited. People were still listening to music via CD then. Kid A was kind of the end of that era, actually. Some of us dinosaurs keep on keeping on, but most people have stopped caring about having the media. About holding it in their hands. It's just rubbish to them.

The release of Kid A was an exciting thing for me and for some of my friends who had heard so much about it and had spent so much time already loving Radiohead that we couldn't wait. I went and bought Kid A the day it came out. I went by myself. I loved record shopping by myself. Listening to music, for me, has always been an intensely personal experience. I bought Kid A at the big Tower records on 68th and Broadway. I only bought Kid A. It was tunnel vision. I didn't even browse. I walked in. I grabbed it. I paid for it and I left. I brought a discman with me to the store. I popped Kid A in and I walked around the city. I had no destination, I just knew I wanted to spend my day walking around and hearing this record. I listened three times and then one more on the train and then I don't know how many times after it.

I was never going to not like Kid A. I didn't have it in me. It was too important, too big and ultimately too good. As much as I love the record is also how much I loved that time in music. When you had to go and get something you wanted to hear. When it wasn't so easy. In a way, it makes me sad that kids won't have that connection to music, but I'm old maybe they'll have new connections that will be just as good. Hopefully they'll get records like Kid A to connect with because then, they're still lucky.

3.) The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)

It's virtually impossible to think that before 2001 and the release of the White Stripes third record, White Blood Cells, most of the world had not yet heard of Jack White. Now, he's perhaps the most ubiquitous man in rock 'n roll this side of Dave Grohl but back then he was just a scrawny blues man from Detroit who liked to tell people his ex-wife was his sister. However, after hearing this monumental record, it was pretty clear to see this was a band who had the potential to go far.

White Blood Cells announced this band was a force. Just two people, but the sound they created was enveloping. The record is so wonderfully schizophrenic - like a rock 'n roll road map taking the listener on a journey from crunchy guitar riffs ("Now Mary") to stripped down non-songs ("Little Room") to acoustic nursery rhymes ("We're Gonna Be Friends") to straight punk rock ("I Think I Smell a Rat") to country stomp ("Hotel Yorba") to deliriously hokey references (the Citizen Kane breakdown in the middle of "The Union Forever"). All of these styles may make it seem like White Blood Cells is an unfocused mess, but quite the contrary - what the White Stripes do so well is take all these different styles, connect them and create something that feels analogous to them.

When you think about it, early on the White Stripes had a lot of gimmicks - the brother/sister myth, the red and white color color scheme. hell even the video for "Fell in Love With a Girl". Anything to get noticed, I guess and you can't really fault them for it. The probably needed these gimmicks on the outside because their music had none. No frills. No bullshit. No bass. Just two people intimately connected making personal, real music.

White Blood Cells is a record that has aged wonderfully. The White Stripes have made great records since and have only gotten more famous and popular (two different things, trust me) along the way. But there was something else present when White Blood Cells was dropped in our laps. Something effortless. Great songs, you know? Too often we, and certainly I, get bogged down in how good or bad a record is based on its scope or ambition or bells and whistles. It takes a record like White Blood Cells to remind you, nine years after its release, that it's the songs that are gonna make a record a timeless classic or a flash in the pan. White Blood Cells is a stone cold classic. Great songs. Really great songs. 16 of them to be exact. White Blood Cells is a record that will be shared forever, like Exile on Main Street or Rubber Soul. Yeah, it's that good.

Honorable Mention

Before the Top 3, I wanted to give an idea of the scope of this whole thing. I whittled my favorite records of the decade down to 100, but there were a whole lot more in the running. I like all of the following records very much and they were, initially, all in contention. I cut them down in "rounds" until I got down to 100. The ones "cut after round five" were the closest to getting on the list, but each of these records have merit. They're all good.

Out After Round 1

We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes - Death Cab
Veni Vidi Vicious - The Hives
All Hand on the Bad One - Sleater Kinney
Fold Your Hands Child... - Belle and Sebastian
De Stijl - The White Stripes
The Hour of Bewilderbeast - Badly Drawn Boy
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - s/t
Girls Can Tell - Spoon
From Here to Infirmary - Alkaline Trio
Green Album - Weezer
Amnesiac - Radiohead
Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP - Yeah Yeah Yeah
Essence - Lucinda WIlliams
Miss E...So Addictive - Missy Elliot
John Vanderslice - Time Travel is Lonely
The Ghost of Fashion - Clem Snide
When I Was Cruel - Elvis Costello and the Imposters
Castaways and Cutouts - The Decemberists
Yoshimi - The Flaming Lips
Lifted - Bright Eyes
Songs For the Deaf - QOTSA
Sleepless - Peter Wolf
American IV The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash
Phrenology - The Roots
Source Tags and Codes - Trail of Dead
The Fix - Scarface
Reinventing Axl Rose - Against Me!
Failer - Kathleen Edwards
Get Rich or Die Tryin' - 50
More Parts Per Million - The Thermals
Think Tank - Blur
Good Mourning - Alkaline Trio
Hail to the Thief - Radiohead
Welcome Interstate Managers - Fountains of Wayne
Dangerously in Love - Beyone
Youth and Young Manhood - Kings of Leon
Gallowsbird's Bark - Fiery Furnaces
Room on Fire - The Strokes
Under Construction - Missy Elliot
Boy in da Corner - Dizee Rascal
America's Sweetheart - Courtney Love
Franz Ferdinand - s/t
Pretty Toney - Ghostface
A Grand Don't Come For Free - The Streets
Long Gone Before Daylight - The Cardigans
Uh Huh Her - PJ Harvey
Louden Up Now - !!!
Sonic Nurse - Sonic Youth
Keep Your Wig On - Fastball
Hot Fuss- The Killers
Bubblegum - Mark Lannegan
Soviet Kitsch - Regina Spektor
Rubber Factory - The Black Keys
Figure 8 - Elliot Smith
Aha Shake Heartbreak - Kings of Leon
...Is A Real Boy - Say Anything
Black Mountain - s/t
Coild Roses - Ryan Adams
Demon Days - Gorillaz
Get Behind Me Satan - White Stripes
Tender Buttons - Broadcast
Broken Social Scene - s/t
Back To Me - Kathleen Edwards
Tanglewood Numbers - Silver Jews
First Impressions of Earth - The Strokes
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - s/t
The Life Pursuit - Belle
Ringleader of the Tormentors - Moz
Rather Ripped- Sonic Youth
Alight, Still - Lily Allen
The Trials of Van Occupanther - Midlake
Yellow House - Grizzly Bear
Blood mountain - Mastadon
FutureSex/LoveSounds - Justin Timberlake
Sam's Town - The Killers
The Black Parade - MCR
Gulag Orkestar - Beirut
Let's Get Out of this Country - Camera Obscura
Friend and Foe - Menomena
The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse - The Besnard Lakes
Armchair Apocrypha - Andrew Bird
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - Modest Mouse
Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
Spiderman of the Rings - Dan Deacon
+ - Justice
Icky Thump - The White Stripes
The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
Random Spirit Lover - Sunset Rubdown
We Belong to the Staggering Evening - The Ike Reilly Assassination
In Our Bedroom After the War - Stars
Someone to Drive You Home - The Long Blondes
Night Falls Over Kortadela - Jens Lekman
Jarvis - Jarvis Cocker
Devotion-Beach House
Lookout Mtn, Lookout Sea - Silver Jews
Feed The Animals - Girl Talk
Made in the Dark - Hot Chip
In Ghost Colours-Cut Copy
Torche - Meanderthal
Times New Viking - Rip It Off
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Sun Kil Moon - April
Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
Marnie Stern - This is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That is That
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
REM - Accelerate
The Dodos - Visiter
M83 - Saturdays = Youth
The Walkmen - You and Me
Blitzen Traper - Furr
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
Drive By Truckers - Brighter Than Creations Dark
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
TV on The Radio - Dear Science
It's Blitz - YYYs
Bromst - Dan Deacon
Fortress 'Round My Heart - Ida Maria
Romanian Names - John Vanderslice
A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night - Love is All
Wavering Radient - Isis
Cymabls Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains
The Ecstatic - Mos Def

Out After Round 2

Return of Saturn - No Doubt
Bleed American - Jimmy Eat World
Home - The Dixie Chicks
Dear Catastrophe Waitress - Belle and SEbastian
World Without Tears - Lucinda Williams
The Execution of All Things - Rilo Kiley
Boy in da Corner - Dizee Rascal
Almost Killed Me - the Hold Steady
Set Yourself on Fire - Stars
American Gangster - Jay-Z
Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Farm - Dinosaur Jr.
The Eternal - Sonic Youth
Two Suns - Bat For Lashes
Oh you're So Silent, Jens - Jens Lekman

Out After Round 3
Transatlanticism - Death Cab
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
Mastadon - Crack the Skye
No Age - Nouns
Art Brut- Bang Bang Rock 'n Roll
Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone - The Walkmen
Arular - MIA
Smile - Brian Wilson

Out After Round 4

Morrissey - Years of Refusal
Drive By Truckers - Decoration Day
Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride
Will Oldham and Matt Sweeney - Superwolf
Silent Shout - The Knife
St. Vincent - Marry Me
Antony and the Johnstons - I am a bird now
Oh! Inverted World - The Shins
Rated R - Queens of the Stone Age
Girl Talk - Night Ripper
And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out - Yo La Tengo

Out After Round 5

Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now Youngster
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon
Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury
Daft Punk - Discovery
One Beat - Sleater Kinney
Taylor Swift - Fearless

4.) The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (2005)

This is a conversation that happened just two weeks ago between myself and two of my friends, Jess and Billy, regarding The Hold Steady.

Jess: Pat, what's that band you and Sarah like that I don't really like that much?

Pat: The Hold Steady.

Jess: Yeah, the Hold Steady. I don't love them. You really do though.

Billy: Yeah, but Pat likes The Hold Steady pretty much more than anybody.

-end scene.

This is true. Thank you, Bill.

As if there were ever a cat in the bag. I adore the Hold Steady. Over this decade The Hold Steady have skyrocketed toward the top of my list of favorite bands. They make me happier than any band and no band puts on a better live show than THS. It's hard for me to write about Separation Sunday because it has become such an integral part of my existence since its release. I can't really put my love for it into words. I've listened to it a million times, poured over every second, mapped out exactly how I would write it as a movie.

This is the opening scene.

Int. Church. Day

A PRIEST is giving his homily in a huge packed church. The congregates are enraptured. The door of the church quietly opens and a young woman, HOLLY, quietly enters. She is disheveled as if she has been out for days and hasn't slept. She's "limping left on broken heels" and walks slowly down the center of the church. No one pays her any mind until.


Everyone stops and looks at this woman. She looks around. Pleased. Smirking

Can I tell your congregation how
a resurrection really feels?

Cut to black as the opening riff of "Stevie Nix" blares.

I think about this record all the damn time. It's so good. It's nostalgic without being trite. It's pure rock 'n roll and it never gets old. As a matter of fact I'm going to stop writing about it so I can listen to it instead. Bye now.

5.) OutKast - Stankonia (2000)

The two very distinct personalities in OutKast where what made them great. For me, Andre 3000 and Big Boi's split is one of the most disappointing occurrences in music this decade. They just don't sound right alone, you know? It's why I hate Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. In each of those records there is something indelible missing and every single time, it's the other guy.

Having said that, Andre and Big Boi were never better than in the year 2000 when they released the decade's best hip hop record - Stankonia. There was not a weirder record released this decade that would be as big a hit as Stankonia. It almost became a hit in spite of itself. It's fucking avant garde. I mean when was the last time a song as a chaotic (and chaotically brilliant) as "B.O.B" charted? It's a crazy ass freak show of a song that starts at a breakneck pace and never lets up. You can listen to "B.O.B." a thousand times and still hear something new.

Alas, Stankonia isn't only "B.O.B" and thank goodness because there are about a million other wonderful things about this record. That OutKast never had to sacrifice one ounce of weirdness or shed any of their quirks to become superstars is a marvel and Stankonia is Kast at their idiosyncratic best. Stankonia was released at the beginning of the decade and seemed to be the sound of the future. The sound of this new millennium. No stone unturned and no idea suppressed for popular success. It's all the opening "Intro" - one of the few times an intro on a hip hop record actually sets the tone for what's about to happen - "Live from the center of the earth...Welcome to Stankonia, the place from which all funky things come...Would you like to come?" Yes, Big Boi, yes I would. And what follows is insanity. Pure and simple. Chaos.

Take "Ms. Jackson" probably the most popular song on Stankonia and coincidentally still a much better single than the hokeier than hokey "Hey Ya". "Ms. Jackson" follows no clear path. It takes you down a number of roads. First, there's the horror movie-like sample, then there are the video game bleeps, that deep bass, the staccato scratching, the weirdly timed piano, and of course, the perfect melding of the talents of Big Boi and Dre. And it's still catchy. And it's like the fifth best song on the record (behind "B.O.B", "So Fresh and So Clean", "Red Velvet" and "Gasoline Dreams")

The fact that Stankonia works, what with their being so many conflicting ideas to be found all over the damn place, is a testament to the genius (yep, I'm saying it here and I mean it - genius) of Dre and Big Boi. It seems as though these two butted heads during the making of Stankonia - too many ideas, I guess. It's a true shame. Here's to hoping they can figure it out again, because it would be really nice to get another OutKast record as brilliant as Stankonia in this next decade.

6.) The Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

What the Strokes were to the early portion of this decade, Arcade Fire were to the its middle period. Translation - the biggest indie rock band around.
Funeral is a record. This we know. But, culturally Funeral became so much more. Funeral marked the moment that the much hyped blogosphere proved it could actually rally around one specific thing and create a phenomenon. It helped, however that the record in question was as good as Funeral.

A whole lot of people heard of Funeral before they heard Funeral. To say there was hype is putting it pretty mildly. There was hype. Tons of it. But, Funeral managed to do what so many other records have failed to do (I'm looking at you Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) - not only deliver on the hype but actually make the hype seem subtle. The record is so sweeping, so grand, so inspired, so ambitious, so wonderfully earnest and sincere. It's just a great piece of art.

The first time I listened to Funeral I was reminded of Neutral Milk Hotel's fantastic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I'm sure I'm not the first person to compare the records and I certainly won't be the last, but the orchestral sweep of the them and the storytelling prowess of both Win Butler and Jeff Mangum make them kindred spirits in the best way possible. This is not to say Funeral is anything but a wholly original work (much like Aeroplane) it is, but the records are linked in my mind and in a very good way.

Back when I worked at NBC there was a show about to premiere called The Black Donnellys and I was able to see a rough cut of the pilot before the show was aired. It was a mob show and the climax of the pilot was a shootout that was scored by Funeral's "Rebellion (Lies)". The show was pretty by the numbers, but that last five minutes was a thing of beauty and I remember thinking "this show will be a huge hit because people will never forget that sequence". Ultimately, Arcade Fire would not license the song for the show and when the pilot finally aired it was replaced by a Snow Patrol song. The show was canceled after a few episodes. I still contend that had they been able to use the Arcade Fire song, that show would have been the next Sopranos and probably still on television. Arcade Fire do that. They're unforgettable. They make things better. Their music makes you feel. I mean did anybody see that Where the Wild Things Are trailer and not tear up? I still can't hear "Wake Up" without getting chills. This is a band that will mean something to everyone who hears them and Funeral is nothing short of a perfect record.