70.) LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007)

About two weeks ago, I saw James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) on 13th street and 1st Avenue. It happened quickly and I had no time to prepare (we were crossing the avenue on opposite sides with a yellow light) and all I said was "James Murphy!" and he turned and smiled.

That was it. He was probably confused. He probably thought I was some weird dude he went to high school with rather than an ardent fan of his work as LCD Soundsystem, but that's his charm. James Murphy doesn't look like a rock star and he certainly doesn't look like a guy who would be one of the most important and interesting names in dance music period. In Murphy's world fashion and music do not go hand in hand. It doesn't matter. I think that's why he makes great music.

LCD Soundsystem is often called dance-punk and while I'm not usually one for broad labels, that one actually works. What I love about Sound of Silver is that it is, first and foremost, dance music, but when you think of dance music you think of singles and not fully realized records. That's where Sound of Silver confounds. It is a fully formed dance record and as such it is sequenced to perfection from the opening salvo "Get Innocuous!" through the sublime middle of "Someone Great" and "All My Friends" right until the closer - Murphy's subdued and beautiful tribute of sorts to his city - "New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down."

I was a fan of the early LCD singles and, consequently, of the first record, but I feel like even those didn't prepare me for how clear and concise a record Sound of Silver was going to be. I immersed myself in it, initially and it was incredibly easy to do so. Records came and went that year, and I like a lot of them, but I kept finding myself going back to Sound of Silver. I think I related to it a bit. Murphy stares getting older in the face and spits in it. You don't have to just pack it in because you're not supposed to have fun in your thirties. Fuck that.

Here's the thing about Sound of Silver, as I sit here listening to it while writing this it's clear to me it's not positioned right. This fucking thing is a stone cold classic. I'm gonna be listening to this thing for weeks now. It's even better than I remember it and I remember it really fucking fondly. Unfortunately reordering and shuffling things around on the list isn't really in the cards right now. But if you're reading this know that I've made a huge mistake. And obviously it's "Someone Great" blaring in these headphones that's making me realize it.

I literally chucked everything I was going to say about the record to say this - it's probably a top 20. I'm embarrassed by it's placement on this list now. Sound of Silver fucking rules.

71.) The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (2006)

In your life there are bands and there are BANDS! For me The Hold Steady is a BAND.

The Hold Steady are without question my favorite band of this decade. I love everything about them and I love them all-in. There's nothing they can do that will change the admiration and adoration I have for them.

By the time Boys and Girls in America was released, my relationship with The Hold Steady had been well established so I wasn't surprised when a wider audience followed suit and fell in love with this great, great band.

When you love a band as I do The Hold Steady you want to tell everyone about them. You want to shout their praise from rooftops, you want to grab people on the street and shake them and say "this is the stuff that you've been waiting for. It will make you happy." and I think I kind of did that and in some cases it worked.

The Hold Steady make music because it makes them happy to make music and further it makes them happy when other people are made happy by the music they make. This is why The Hold Steady are so hard not to fall for. If you haven't seen The Hold Steady live, it's unlike anything in the world. It's a community of like-minded grown ups congregated in one place to act like kids again - to clap along, to shout along, to dance along and to smile along. There are no airs. It doesn't matter what kind of clothes your wearing or how old you are, we're all friends at a Hold Steady show.

If this sounds like some sort of utopia, it kind of is and if you're not on board yet, don't worry there's always room.

Anyway, I realize I've said a whole lot, but I haven't said much about Boys and Girls in America. It's their third record. It's amazing. It was, probably, their big breakthrough album and it has some of their most popular songs. They play a lot of these songs if you should see them live. Learn the words, so you can sing along and learn the parts where you should clap and you'll be fine. It doesn't disappoint at all. It's completely unpretentious and melodic and there's big chorus' and E Street bravado and guitar solos and songs about horses and John Berryman and kids partying at the party pit on massive nights in the chillout tent.

It's all very great. It's all very Hold Steady.

72.) Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (2007)

Well what the hell were they gonna do?

All the accolades, press and buzz that came with the release of Arcade Fire's debut record Funeral made Neon Bible the most anticipated second record of the decade and as far as I'm concerned they did a pretty damn good job with it.

How does one criticize Neon Bible really? Arcade Fire were scrutinized to no end and turns out they made a fine, dare I say, a great record. The fact that it's not as good as Funeral is mostly irrelevant. There weren't many records released this year as good as Funeral so... who cares? They certainly fared better than co-blogosphere heroes Clap Your Hans Say Yeah when it came to that second record - shit, CYHSY didn't even survive it.

Neon Bible avoids all traces of a "sophomore slump" because It's an entirely different type of record than Funeral. First of all it's themes are wildly public and less personal, which explains why it feels, at times, a bit colder than Funeral. While Funeral (and I'll stop the comparisons after this I promise) sounded like nothing else, Neon Bible sounds like Bruce Springsteen, which at the time seemed crazy but as it turns out was actually a really great fit.

Springsteen -at his best- wrote about bleak topics but arranged the music in a way that clouded what was actually going on in the song. He was often boisterous - and Arcade Fire have done that in spades on Neon Bible. As a matter of fact if you burned someone, who has never heard it, a copy of Darkness on the Edge of Town and shoehorned "(Antichrist Television Blues)" in there somewhere that person wouldn't bat an eye. They'd think it was Bruce. And that song's about Joe Simpson, so it just goes to show how timeless Springsteen's sound is.

But let's talk about Arcade Fire. Again, they were given an impossible task the second pitchfork wrote that first sentence about Funeral (not to mention the night David Bowie started showing up at small NY clubs to see them) and if they managed to simply not embarrass themselves this second time out, it would have been a success. That they made a tough, insightful record about despair and corruption on a widescreen level that works and sounds great is a miracle.

Every record Arcade Fire make will be compared to Funeral. That's their cross to bare, but they're aware of it. After all, they named the record after John Kennedy Toole's less successful second novel. As long as they can keep figuring out new ways to sound this good, they're poised to be one of the great bands of this generation.

73.) The Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South (2004)

I've spent a lot of this list talking about great songwriters and even recently called John Darnielle the Albert Pujols of contemporary songwriting. And I certainly stand by that. He's an amazing songwriter. But he's just one guy.

By the time The Dirty South was released in 2004, The Drive-By Truckers boasted three superb songwriters in their line-up - Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and the since departed Jason Isbell - and though they were together for only a short while (three records) the legacy of that line-up lives on in their records.

I'm a guy from New York who loves country music. But, there's a caveat because I'm a real snob when it comes to the genre. I hate when pop singers try to pass themselves off as "country" so they can have a number one record and I hate slickly produced country music when it should be down and dirty and it should tell a story. The Drive-by Truckers have probably been more countryfied on previous records, but The Dirty South is still country music at it's best.

The Truckers tell fourteen stories on this record, some loosely tied together others bonded by a specific theme and characters. The themes are dense and heady, but the songs are played with an abandon that renders them accessible.

The Dirty South is a record fully and truly about the South. That's probably the most important thing about it. It's a record captures something because that is what it sets out to do. The designs were grand, but they were met full on.

In their lyrics the Truckers give voices to characters most artists wouldn't even attempt to write about. Whether writing about a man who has to turn to selling drugs after loosing his job at the Ford plant in the Reagan era (the classic "Puttin' People on the Moon") or turning the Buford Pusser saga on its head by telling the story from the gang that beat him's point of view (the three songs suite "The Boys From Alabama", "Cottonseed", and "The Buford Stick"), no one is left out in the Truckers universe and songwriting in this decade is richer for it.

I am a huge DBTs fan. Huge. They are one of my favorite bands and The Dirty South was not a surprise to me. I have come to expect to hear great things whenever the Truckers release a new record and that has consistently been the case since I started listening to them back in 2002.

Having said that, The Dirty South feels like a watershed moment for the band. The record stands alone in the canon as the time when this particular line-up jelled in a way they maybe hadn't before and wouldn't again. For a full seventy minutes (an eternity for a record these days) you're in and you're with them because they don't give you a choice. They wrote some of their finest songs for this record and presented them as a fully realized work about a place, but no specific time. It's an epic record that spans decades and looks at what is truth and what is fiction and how sometimes fictionalized truth is the truest truth of all (jeez - pretentiobot much!)

Also, The Dirty South has "Danko/Manuel" and "Goddamn Lonely Love" and if Jason Isbell ever writes a better song than either of them I won't know what to do.

74.) Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)

Well, would you look at that - two Neko Case-related entries in a row. Huh?

Neko Case is, without a doubt, one of the premier artists of this decade. As noted in just the last post, her work with The New Pronographers has been nothing short of sublime, but her solo output has been just as strong (As a matter of fact, when all is said and done I think Neko will be the most represented artist on this list). Prior to the release of Fox Confessor in 2006, Neko released, up to that point, her strongest solo studio effort with Blacklisted in 2002. A couple of Pornos records as well as a nice little live record in between and then this...which saw Neko take her game to the next level and she hasn't relinquished her spot at the top since.

Blacklisted is good, but Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is incredible. You can call Neko's solo work alt-country all you want and I don't frown on "alt-country" as a rule its just Fox Confessor is not alt-country. I don't know what it is really. It's a woman with a strong point of view and, what I assume to be, some serious creative control making records that sound (cliche alert-apologies) like a little bit of everything and then ultimately nothing else.

Someone, somewhere (I think AllMusic) said that Neko is part Patsy Cline, part David Lynch. I'm not going to try and describe her any better than that. There's an eerieness that runs through Fox Confessor and, for whatever reason, it's not off putting in the slightest - in fact it's intriguing. It feels like there's a mystery in there that needs to be unraveled and maybe that's why I keep going back to it. The joy, though, is in not uncovering the mystery because once you do there's no need to go back.

All told, Neko's got one of the strongest weapons in music and that is her voice. I love it so much because it's strong and still subtle. She never beats you over the head with unnecessary runs even though she could. I think she respects the music too much.

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is not a pop record (she leaves that to her work with the Pornos). I like to call it backwoods Americana. It's haunting, but it's sexy too. If that makes sense. It's the kind of record that would sound right at home playing while you sit in the dark fending off flies on a bayou somewhere while you sip moonshine. If that even exists. If it doesn't this record could sure as hell score a great fictional movie about it.

75.) The New Pornographers - Challengers (2007)

. Hmmm...

For the most part this list isn't adventurous. You can probably guess what's going to be on it and probably have a good idea as to what will show up in the top 10 or so. That's how it goes. There aren't many truly great records. There's a lot of good ones, but great ones are often hard to come by, especially in this digital age. So, with the exception of a few wild cards (most of which have already been played) the best records of the decade are the best records of the decade because, well because they're the best records of the decade. Does that make any sense? In a long winded way, I'm trying to say there won't be a whole lot of underrated records on this list. Most of them will be rated exactly right as being great four or more star records.

Challengers is underrated. Criminally underrated. It's a great record and for some reason it didn't get a lot of love. It's a difficult task to follow up a "breakthrough" record and though the New Pornographers had been making great records for a while, it was their third record, Twin Cinema, that really proved they were one of the best bands working. So, what to do with the fourth.

I call these records the come-down record. The record where you've got to reassess everything. You've got to come correct this time out, it's important, but it's equally important to try and do something different and The New Pronographers did just that on Challengers. Traditionally come-down records are just that - come-downs. They're usually a little slower in tempo and speed and have that feel of insecurity. Well, the Pornos certainly scaled it back a notch, but it's anything but insecure.

Challengers shows a band so assured of their own abilities and comfortable enough in their own skin that they don't feel the need to write "Twin Cinema 2". Challengers is certainly a more subdued affair, but it's an incredibly impressive one. To be fair it's certainly not dour - there are some barn burners here- but it definitely shines a new light on the band.

Challengers boasts the best Dan Bejar composition for the band to date in "Myriad Harbour", Neko's best NP vocal in "Challengers", Katherine Calder coming into her own as a band member with a bravura performance on "Adventures in Solitude" and for my money, the best run of three consecutive songs in pop music this decade - "Go Places", "Mutiny, I Promise You" and the aforementioned "Adventures..."

Ok, so there's nothing as immediate as "Bleeding Heart Show" on Challengers - good. We don't need one every time out and if there was one people would probably complain about that as well. Here's the deal - Challengers may feel like a let-down to start - it's not an immediate pop masterpiece - but it's their most complex record by a mile and I hope it wasn't people's short attention span that hindered them from realizing this.

76.) The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree (2005)

I should start this entry by saying John Darnielle, who essentially is The Mountain Goats, is the best songwriter of this decade. I have and will continue to reference a slew of great songwriters on this list, many of whom play in the same league as Darnielle but who are not, in fact John Darnielle. If songwriting were Major League Baseball, Darnielle would be Albert Pujols. He's got competition, but he's still the best.

Anyway, The Sunset Tree was a different type of Mountain Goats album in that it was really the first time Darnielle got personal. He spent a career crafting characters and setting the trials and tribulation to song and, more often then not, singing them into a boom box and spearheading a second coming of the lo-fi movement.

The Sunset Tree was a huge risk. Darnielle stepped out of his comfort zone and began singing songs about himself -more specifically about his abusive childhood at the hand of his stepfather. Tough topics, but Darnielle approached these songs the way he did his character studies and created a record so vivid you felt like you were there. You could smell the liquor on a young Darnielle's breath in "This Year" (Darnielle's greatest song and a Top 5 song of the decade) and you feel his fear when he wakes his stepfather up in "Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod."

The record plays like a novel, sad and emotional but hopeful. It's about the importance of music in all of our lives. Darnielle uses music to escape the screams of his stepfather and the abuse (in "Tetrapod" while his stepfather hits him his only hope is that he doesn't break his stereo). And I understand that. Not the "getting beat up by someone you should trust" part, but the "music can heal most anything" part. Most of us can, I'd imagine. Music is a retreat for so many of us. It's gotten us through hardship and been there during times of happiness and ultimately that's why it's so important. It's why I make these lists. I want to celebrate it. It's my constant.

It's interesting to think of some kid listening to The Sunset Tree while going through something similar to Darnielle, but it's probably happened and I'm sure that kid finds hope in the record. That's pretty great. It's a really beautiful record and Darnielle is really a fantastic artist who has managed to make consistent great records for a long time. He's an artist who I look forward to hearing every single time out. The Sunset Tree is not the exception as much as it's the rule.

(NOTE: While I am not an advocate for listening to songs vs. records, I'll say this - if you've never heard a Mountain Goats song listen to "This Year" - it's about as perfect a song that has ever been written and then just think about how good all the rest of them must be.)

77.) Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (2005)

There are about a half dozen bands that I've discovered this decade that have managed to make the leap into the "some of my favorite bands" conversation. Okkervil River are one such band.

Black Sheep Boy was my first Okkervil River and therefore it's a record I have a strong attachment to. I bought Black Sheep Boy on a whim. It had sort of been on my radar for a while before I actually bought it, but for one reason or another I just kept forgetting about it. It wasn't that it didn't sound interesting or sound like something I wouldn't immediately fall in love with, but I guess there were just other things.

But then there are times when you can vividly remember getting something and how that something remained a part of your life for a long, long time. I used to be able to buy records at a greater pace than I am now and would love to go to the record store and just browse and this is how I came to own Black Sheep Boy.

I didn't even remember what it was exactly, but I knew I had heard of it and had meant to get it that someone somewhere talked about it being pretty great. So on a high of that wonderful lost thing called disposable income, Black Sheep Boy made its way into my collection. And then I heard WIll Sheff's voice tear through "For Real" (which is still my go to Okkervil song) and I was under the spell of Black Sheep Boy.

Black Sheep Boy is one of those records I'm thankful I got to hear and even though I would go on to like subsequent Okkervil River records better, none of them can match the feeling of discovery I had with Black Sheep Boy. That moment where I looked around my room and thought "Holy Shit, I'm sad no one else is here to hear this. Why doesn't everyone know this exists? Why did it take me this long to find this?" It was not unlike the first time I heard In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, another one of my favorite records which I sadly came to very late.

Will Sheff sings with a lot of heartache - words drip out, even in the uptempo songs - and I can understand how that can be a bit much for people. Some of Okkervil River's critics have mislabled them as being a bit emo, which is quite absurd as they are one of those bands that you can't easily fit into a category. Will Sheff writes literate songs that, at their best, resemble great short fiction and a lot of the best fiction is devastating. Okkervil River are no different.

Black Sheep Boy certainly provided the doorway for me but my relationship with the band would progress a great deal from there as I would move backward through the discography and forward as new records were released and it's turned out to be one of the most fulfilling relationships I've had all decade long.

NOTE: An EP was released following Black Sheep Boy called Black Sheep Boy Appendix and the record itself was reissued with said EP called Black Sheep Boy:Definitive Edition. I prefer the record without the appendix, though said appendix is a nice companion piece it's the record itself that I fell in love with.

78.) Panda Bear - Person Pitch (2007)

The thing about Person Pitch is that it's really, really lovely. I'm sure I'm not the first person to say this, but the record reminds me of what it's like to look through a kaleidoscope. It's weird and a bit trippy, but also really beautiful in it's own singular way and Person Pitch is a very singular work. Yes, there are influences (you can't write about it without obligatorily mentioning The Beach Boys, so done) but it's the type of record that couldn't come from any other artist and on top of that it's the kind of record that you can tell almost immediately was being made and crafted by that artist alone, singularly and probably in his bedroom. Which is actually pretty amazing.

Person Pitch is hippie music updated for the 2000's. It has the familiarity of its melodies sitting side by side with more experimental soundscapes created by samples and the thing that holds it all together - Noah Lennox's (Panda Bear) lush, warm and inviting vocals. It's interesting that a record so insular in the way it was crafted could be, in its finished product, such a populace experience. I like to listen to Person Pitch on headphones and I think in some ways it's meant to be listened to that way - on account of the nuances and the thousand different things going on that you won't pick up when listening from speakers - but it oftentimes feels more like a record you should play for your friends...at a picnic...on a hill...made of grass...and probably while your high.

There's a loose feel to Person Pitch even though it's not loose at all. It's a very structured affair, but it couldn't feel any less so. This a testament to Lennox and Lennox only. The cover of the record, as well as some photos inside are very telling of Panda Bear's process. They're images cut and pasted where children are flying flowers and humans sit in an inflatable pool with bears and lions. These images reflect the theme of the record - "Well why the hell not?" It's Panda's style - whose to say disparate things don't belong together? - and he uses both the aural as well as the visual to convey his bright themes.

Buy records, people. The actual media. You can't get this shit from a computer.

Anyway, there's no discussing Person Pitch without discussing it's centerpiece - the beautiful "Bros". If Person Pitch was released and "Bros" was the only track on it, it would still be here on this list - the fact that there are other almost equally stunning songs on it is just gravy. "Bros" is the song of the decade - a kitchen sink look inside the brain of one of the most interesting artists making music today. It sounds like what crazy must sound like, but good crazy - the kind that's free and unencumbered by what's supposed to be. The kind of crazy that every now and again we all wish we were.

I'm closing this with an itunes user review of "Bros" that really sums it up best...

"If you've been good in life this is probably the song you will hear when you die."

79.) Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances (2009)

Titus Andronicus' debut album, The Airing of Grievances, is pretty close to exactly what rock 'n roll should sound like - young, vital, rollicking, imperfect, pretentious and sometimes reckless. The Airing of Grievances is not a masterpiece. In fact, it's kind of a mess. But it's one of the few records released this decade that feels alive. That's not to say it's a tossed off affair, it's not, but it is first and foremost a punk rock record for the kids...the smart kids, but the kids all the same.

Titus Andronicus have been compared favorably to bands like The Clash and Bright Eyes, but it's no secret that they owe the greatest amount of debt to a man who shares their home state - Mr. Bruce Springsteen. A lot of the better rock 'n roll released in the latter part of this decade has been dipped in E-Street sauce. This is great as Springsteen is a stellar artist and his band one of the best in rock 'n roll for sure, but it's interesting that a genre like indie rock - which was once so fond of irony and keeping fans at arms length - would embrace someone so devoid of those thing. It was a nice turn for the indie rock world as bands learned how to actually rock and, more importantly, smile.

When I first heard the Titus Andronicus record I loved it. I loved it for it's immediacy and, for better or worse, it's familiarity. Titus Andronicus aren't re-inventing the wheel here, but you get the feeling they just might be cocky enough not to realize that.

The kids in the world desperately need Titus Andronicus. They sound like you felt when you were sixteen - when you were smarter than anyone would give you credit for, but you were also drunk singing along to these choruses at a basement show. The Airing of Grievances has no airs (despite the innate pretention in the bands name) and it aims to kick your ass in the way Nirvana did in 1991 or the Libertines in 2002. This record should (and hopefully has) change(d) lives. We're probably too old for that, but if there's a fourteen year old in your life and you care about that person buy him or her this record. It'll make them start a band or at least start loving bands and their music and their tangible recorded output.

And that's what is really important.

80.) Kanye West - The College Dropout (2004)

I think hip hop has suffered in the 2000's. As a genre it has gone away from being about records and has become more about the single. Whereas in the 90's you had Pac, Nas, Big, Jay, PE, Tribe, De La, Dre, Snoop,Wu Tang, Black Star, Lauryn Hill, Cube and a host of others making statements with full lengths, the 2000's have brought only a handful of artists willing to go at it for the long haul.

One of those artists is Kanye West whose recorded output in the 2000's I'll put up against virtually any other artists. Kanye, love him or hate him, is probably the most vital artist of this decade period. The College Dropout, which could have simply been a top producer's vanity project, is a classic from start to finish. Kanye would go on to release better records, but The College Dropout still feels like a statement. Sure, Kanye isn't a great rapper, but he's a great crafter of beats, melodies and songs and The College Dropout has some of his best. The singles "All Falls Down" and "Jesus Walks" are, obviously, brilliant but the record is stacked from top to bottom. There's almost no filler here (unfortunately Kanye does find himself indulging in one of the worst traits in hip hop records - the infamous "skit" and "The New Workout Plan" is as sexist and boring a track as Kanye has ever released).

Those missteps aside, The College Dropout has always reminded me of one of my favorite records of all time, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Like that record The College Dropout is a fully realized snapshot of a life. The record always struck me because Kanye, at the time, wasn't afraid to be insecure (especially in "All Falls Down" and more subtly in "Spaceship") and in an age where hip hop became all about the boast that was refreshing. Kanye would of course go on to become one of the cockiest artists working, but I always think that the Kanye we hear from on The College Dropout is the real guy.

I still like Kanye. He gets a pass from me, probably forever. He's such a passionate artist and it never feels as though he's half assing it. He certainly believes his own hype, but when a popular artist is as interesting as Kanye whose to say he shouldn't. There's a reason why he's emerged as the definitive artist of this decade - everyone from hip hop purists to jaded rock critics to indie kids and old school rock guys like his music. He's universal. Your mom probably even knows the refrain to "Gold Digger."

In a decade where it seemed early on that Eminem would be the big hip-hop star, Kanye pulled the rug out from under him by being adventurous and challenging and, unlike Em, he never rested on his laurels. And The College Dropout was just the beginning.

81.) David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2009)

Well, this record was certainly a surprise.

Eno and Byrne hadn't worked together since 1981 when they collaborated to record My Life In the Bush of Ghosts, a sonically adventurous, but not necessarily appealing amalgam of found sounds, ambient noise, world rhythms, and various levels of electronic elements...all in all not my thing.

And then twenty seven years later, they make this. A pop masterpiece. A record on par with the best of their Talking Heads collaborations for sure. Though Everything That Happens is certainly a collaboration between these two men, they weren't together through much of the process. Eno took care of the music and Byrne the lyrics and melody and wow, does it work.

Everything That Happens is unpretentiously uplifting. It's Byrne and Eno settling in and not concerning themselves with anything but making good, pleasant music. But here pleasant does not mean innocuous by any stretch. Everything That Happens isn't exactly bubblegum. Eno and Byrne found a very nice in-between here. The music is adventurous, the production stellar and it is one of Byrne's best vocal performances ever. It's a warm and hopeful record without ever being cheesy.

Byrne and Eno are famous for pushing the envelope a bit and it's no different here. Except this time they're pushing it by not pushing it too much. Everything That Happens is a record that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes music... basically. And that's a huge left turn. Other artists have out-bush-of-ghosts'd Bush of Ghosts by this point, so why do that again? Instead they opted to write a better pop record than virtually anyone else. A record that has provided a lot of enjoyment for me and certainly one of my most listened to records of the last few years.

I spent a good few months being addicted to Everything That Happens and found myself needing to hear certain songs (I'm feeling that way about The Antlers record right now). I don't want to say I've cooled on it because that's not the case, but I haven't been as obsessed as I was initially. But every time I play it or hear one of the songs, it brings me back to that place where last year I was scrolling through my ipod and almost always landing on Everything That Happens and almost always playing "I Fell My Stuff" over and over...and then "Home"...and then "Poor Boy" and on and on.

That's the mark of something truly great.

82.) Beck - Sea Change (2002)

Beck has always been an interesting artist and one worth following, even if his tastes and constantly fluctuating styles can produce hit or miss results. But, it's hard to knock an artist so willing to take risks with his work.

It's silly to even discuss the influence Beck had over both popular and indie music by the time he released Sea Change in 2002. It was huge. He was responsible for Odelay, a record so good and important it should have it's own wing in the Hall of Fame reserved for game changers. He was massive and deservedly so.

In between Odelay and Sea Change he released Midnite Vultures which was a record best enjoyed at a party. Sea Change on the other hand is probably best enjoyed in the dark.

I remember listening to Sea Change the first time and being floored. I didn't know he had it him. This is the same guy who made "Sexx Laws?" I know it's overstated now, but Sea Change was a daring record for Beck to release at that specific time. Turned out, it was the only record he could have released at that time.

Our man is an artist, first and foremost and that's always come through in his work. As an artist, he makes music that he feels at the time and it's been widely noted that Sea Change came on the heels of a pretty tough break up for Beck. What could have been a self indulgent mess turns out to be just the opposite. It's affecting and poignant and sad and it never lets up. It doesn't give you a break. There's no samples or dance grooves to be found anywhere. It's a simple, acoustic record from a man who never suggested he could, or would even want to, make this kind of music. As sad as Sea Change can be it's never depressing, which is difficult for a project like this. It never made me want to cry. I actually enjoy listening to Sea Change.

Sea Change was Beck allowing his audience in, an audience he always kept at arms length. Prior to, and to a great extent since, Sea Change Beck's music, though great, could be construed as a bit cold. We didn't really know who Beck was. A white boy with soul and boogie who loved a good party, but that was it. Because of that Sea Change was a very brave record.

After Sea Change, which aside from Odelay is my favorite Beck record of all time, I decided he could do no wrong. Even if his records weren't going to be perfect from here on out he's earned the right to do whatever he wants and I will be there. I have and will continue to purchase every Beck record until he stops making them and if they continue to be as good as the last one, Modern Guilt, well then I've made the right decision.

83.) Spoon - Gimmie Fiction (2005)

I am of the opinion that we indie rock fans tend to take Spoon for granted. For the better part of this decade, Spoon have been reliably releasing great record after great record and sure said records have been consistently selling better, they've been on Veronica Mars and SNL, but still you don't often hear people saying their favorite band is Spoon. People fawn over bands like TV on the Radio and (yikes) Radiohead and as much as I like both of those bands (they will each have records that rate higher than any Spoon record on this list) as far as 2000's output goes, I'd say Spoon bests both of them (and tons of others as well).

Having said all that, I think Gimmie Fiction is Spoon's last five star effort (which isn't saying too much since the only subsequent release has been Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga which rates a solid four stars). Gimmie Fiction, like all Spoon, is instantly likable - sing along choruses abound and the guitar is front and center. But, Gimmie Fiction finds Spoon exploring some new territory.

My favorite song is the opener, "The Beat and Dragon Adored", a relatively subdued track announcing the bands intentions for this record - "Will you believe they call it rock 'n roll?" Gimmie Fiction is a rock record, but not in the traditional sense. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Prince inspired "I Turn My Camera On." Yeah it's a rock song, but shit it's got soul with a Britt Daniel falsetto that borders on monumental. Gimmie Fiction feels timeless. This thing could have been made in the 70's and no one would have batted an eye.

But for some reason the record is severely underrated, even by me. In the initial stages of this listing (which topped out at somewhere between 250 and 300 records) I pulled each of the four Spoon records released this decade and then quickly eliminated all but one (and yes that includes Gimmie Fiction). As I started building the list, Gimmie Fiction's absence nagged at me. Why isn't it on this list? I loved that record. I know every word to every song on that record.

I really spent time cultivating this list and Gimmie Fiction isn't the only cast-off that found it's way back on, but now when I think about this list and I look at it, I can't believe it almost didn't make it. I look now and I think it probably should be in a better ranking than it is. But, that's the charm of Spoon I guess. They're not in your face about anything. They exist to make near flawless records. Records that challenge and reward repeated listens while still being immediate and poppy.

But it still feels as though Spoon are destined to be taken for granted. Maybe it's because they're not loudly laying stake to any claim. They're not pretentious. They're just solid. They're making visionary records without feeling the need to beat you over the head with how visionary they are. I think our kids will love Spoon (and even our moms - mine was all about "The Underdog" when they performed it on SNL last year). I think that's their legacy. Undervalued in their prime, but destined to be listened to forever.

Or maybe I'm totally wrong. After all Spoon are one of the more talked about indie bands. One of the more popular indie bands, right?

I just feel as though people like Spoon but they don't love them (which they should), they're not passionate about them and though they've found some mainstream success, they're not Kings of Leon (and they should be).

84.) Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

Animal Collective had become one of those bands that I'd resigned myself to being in the "I just don't get it" camp. They first caught my attention because of some great notices for their 2004 record Sung Tongs, which I bought and quickly filed away.

It wasn't my thing. I was fine with that. I don't have to love everything, you know? But then Panda Bear (one of AC's founding members) released Person Pitch in 2007 and I was enamored. Maybe it was time I gave Animal Collective a fair shake. I knew enough not to delve too much deeper into the catalog and stayed with what was new which, at the time was just Feels. Again, eh. I loved "Grass" and The Purple Bottle", but it didn't possess that intangible that Person Pitch had.

Undeterred, I bought Strawberry Jam and again, mixed results. A strong first half, but a dwindling second (though "Peacebone" and "Fireworks" are pretty close to perfect). I had decided that was it for me and Animal Collective. I didn't dislike them, I just didn't like them enough to justify buying more of their records.

But then I did anyway. Call me a sucker, but sometimes hype just gets me and the early press on Merriweather Post Pavilion was that this was the one. This was the masterpiece people like me have been waiting for Animal Collective to make...and they were right.

They finally got the formula right, a little less weird and a little more melody and Beach Boys inspired harmonies (courtesy of Panda Bear I'm sure). MPP is a record of classic upon classic. from the sublime "My Girls" (perfect amount of "freak folk" thank you very much) through "Summer Clothes" "Bluish" and "Taste" - just not a dud on this record. It was the perfect summer record even though it weirdly came out in January. It just felt right. Like it all came together. The soundscapes created on MPP were staggeringly beautiful and never pretentious.

It's tough to think of Merriweather Post Pavilion without comparing it to Veckatimest (#88 on this list). They're forever linked - two Pet Sounds channeling "freak folk" buzz bands with varying levels of roots in Brooklyn releasing their strongest achievements in the same year with wall to wall glowing notices. I actually toyed with the idea of including these two records on this list as a tie because choosing one over the other didn't seem fair.

But in the end, I chose one over the other and while both records are stunning achievements I've found myself going back to the Animal Collective record more often. I mentioned this in the Veckatimest post as well, MPP gets the nod because it feels looser, like it was more fun to record and, in the end, a tiny bit more fun to listen to. But just a bit. Plus there's the whole "I just want four walls and adobe slats for my girls."

There were four records released in 2009 that I've dubbed the Holy Quadrinity of Indie Rock this year. Four records that came in with a shit ton of buzz and though The Holy Quadrinity was meant to take the piss out of these records, all four achieved stellar heights. They lived up to the hype. Merriweather Post Pavilion and Veckatimest are two of those records. The other two are still to come.

85.) Wilco - A Ghost Is Born (2004)

Being a devout Wilco fan - and admitted Wilco apologist - I have always managed to find something to love about each and every one of their records, but I don't understand the hindsight scorn leveled at A Ghost is Born.

Released after their ridiculously brilliant Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born had a lot to prove and that it's a bit of a comedown from that record is not necessarily a bad thing. Having said that I'm not sure A Ghost is Born is a worse record, it's just different. Whereas Yankee certainly had an express theme and was sequenced to play as a single entity, Ghost is a bit all over the map. People have called it uneven, I'd say unfocused, but even so all the songs are great.

A Ghost Is Born was something of a middle ground between the classic rock of Summerteeth and the experimentation of Yankee. Sure there are a lot of guitar solos, but they're fucking great. They don't feel forced - they're integral to the success of early tracks like "At Least That's What She Said" and "Muzzle of Bees."

A Ghost Is Born also has some of the bands most accessible (in a good way) moments. I'm thinking specifically about "Hummingbird", "Handshake Drugs" and "Company In My Back."

And then there's the wild cards. "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" and "Less Than You Think."

I wholly support the former and tolerate the latter.

I think "Spiders" is a really great song. For a band who did a lot of unexpected things on Yankee, "Spiders" was a left turn no one saw coming - a ten minute krautrock jam with a circuitous hook that goes on, seemingly, forever. On the A Ghost Is Born tour, "Spiders" was a highlight of the shows and I will always remember it fondly.

As for "Less Than You Think" which concluded with nearly twelve minutes of noise...what can you do? I remember when the record came out I said I thought it was Jeff Tweedy railing against the death of the mixtape. Had you wanted "Less Than You Think" on your mix, you could do it easily with a cassette - just hack of that last twelve minutes, but you couldn't do that on a mix CD or ipod playlist. As someone who still laments the loss of the mixtape, I still like to think that's the truth (even though it's more than likely not - Tweedy's stated it was supposed to be the aural equivalent of the migraines that forced him to abuse pharmaceutical drugs).

I happen to love the way A Ghost Is Born ends, not with twelve minutes of noise but with a nice inoffensive two and half minutes of pure pop bliss (and a song lamenting the record industry and the radio, a hint that maybe my mix tape theory holds some water) "The Late Greats." That's Wilco for you. And I will more than likely love them forever. No matter what they do.