The First Decennial Viskterisk* 100 Favorite Albums of Years Starting with "200"! Numbers 30-21

30. Stay Positive - The Hold Steady (2008)

America's Best Bar Band™* continues on with another excellent album. If there is one thing the Hold Steady does well, besides storytelling, killer riffs, and singalong choruses, it is writing bookends for their albums. The first and last song of every album is pretty much killer.
Consider the following:
  • Positive Jam - Almost Killed Me. Not their best, but still establishes the themes of the record.
  • Hornets! Hornets! - Separation Sunday. This is more like it! A driving start - 5 stars all the way.
  • Stuck Between Stations - Boys and Girls in America. Arguably their most popular and definitely one of their best. My second most played Hold Steady song.
  • Constructive Summer - Stay Positive. My most played Hold Steady song. Great shout out sections (Double whiskey coke no ice).
  • Killer Parties - Almost Killed Me. Still the go-to show closer.
  • How a Resurrection Really Feels - Separation Sunday. Sums up the Holly narrative, killer outro.
  • Southtown Girls - Boys and Girls in America. Probably the weakest closer of the group, but still has a killer Thin Lizzy-ish solo.
  • Slapped Actress - Stay Positive. Again, amazing closer.
6 of those 8 songs are rated 5 stars by me. That's a way to start and end an album.

*Though people like to call them this, I actually prefer their outdoor shows. Outside on a summer day with a beer in hand and the Hold Steady rockin' it - that's just about perfect.

29. The Body, The Blood, The Machine - The Thermals (2006)

Yup - more goodness from the Thermals.

28. Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes - TV on the Radio (2004)

Album #3 for TVotR on the countdown. I'd like to take a second and give a shout out to Kyp Malone. While I like many, many pieces of TV on the Radio, what pushes them into McDonald's territory* is Kyp's falsetto. The super high octaves he pulls on "Poppy" totally make that song. Plus, check out this beard! How can you not love a guy with a beard like this?

*I'm lovin' it. What's that? That didn't work for you? You don't like references to bad fast food marketing slogans? Me neither. If I had an editor, he would definitely make me remove it. Darn you, non-existent editor!

27. Figure 8 - Elliott Smith (2000)

This is the first Elliott Smith album I fell in love with. Elliott Smith also tops my list of artists I wish I was aware of while they were still making music*. I didn't really need to be listening to Creed and Staind in high school, did I? I think the answer to this is "You don't ever need to be listening to Creed and Staind." Well, thanks 2010 self - where were you 15 years ago?

*The rest of the list:
  1. Elliott Smith
  2. Neutral Milk Hotel
  3. The Pixies
  4. The Wrens (yes, I know they haven't broken up yet - Keeping People Waiting since 1989!).

26. The Rhumb Line - Ra Ra Riot (2008).

Ra Ra Riot is pretty much a perfectly-formed pop band. They have an excellent singer, fantastic drummer, solid guitarist and bassist, and they make excellent use of the cellist and violinist in the band. Plus they write great songs. That's about all you can ask for, right?

25. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon (2007)

This is Spoon's fourth entry, which pretty much puts them in the running for Artist of the Decade! Spoiler Alert: They finish 5th in my rankings. I'll display the final totals for the contenders (along with my not-so-scientific methodology) after I finish the top 100.

24. Armchair Apocrypha - Andrew Bird (2007).

One of the more accomplished musicians on my list (and the only professional whistler I know), Mr. Bird is quite the sight to see live. I was as intrigued by how he made music as I was by the actual sound. It is very impressive to watch him loop sample of himself playing (in real time) using various foot pedals and loop effects, all while playing the violin and singing. Very cool.

23. Black Sheep Boy + Appendix - Okkervil River (2005).

Again, this is technically cheating, but I did see that they are releasing these two albums together as a double album, so I'm counting it. It must be difficult when you write too many good songs to include on one album, so you have to release an Appendix to it that includes two more killer songs (No Key No Plan and Missing Children), among others. Then, as if that wasn't hard enough, the next time they recorded an album, they had enough for two albums, each of which made my top 35 (The Stand Ins and Stage Names)! That's rough.

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

This is the Hold Steady at the peak of their powers - not their best album (that's still upcoming), but when they were the biggest force. Tangent: how are singles actually chosen from albums? Sometimes it is obvious ("Wolf Like Me" is pretty obviously the best and most appealing song from Return to Cookie Mountain). However, while I love "Chips Ahoy", it has no business being the lead single from this record. "Stuck Between Stations" is easily the better song (both critically and among most THS fans, I believe).

21. Seven Swans - Sufjan Stevens (2004)

Maybe this isn't high praise, but Seven Swans is one of my favorite albums to listen to at night while falling asleep. I love to lay in bed and listen to each song, picking out each instrument as it is added in (guitar, banjo, piano, bass, vocals....) while the soothing sounds of the album lead me to sleep.

Now playing: 65daysofstatic - Retreat! Retreat!
via FoxyTunes


  1. totally agree on kyp malone's fashion (best ever? maybe). i had a hard time getting into bloodthirsty babes, though. maybe i'll give it yet another chance. kyp's solo album, however, is absurdly awful.

    ra ra riot's album also was a slight disappointment for me. i loved their first ep so much. i listened to ghost under rocks like 100 times that month, but even the production of that song wasn't quite as good on the album as the ep. RIP their drummer.

    elliott smith! another album i wish i liked more (every time i try to listen to figure 8 i just end up turning on his self-titled or either/or), especially since i lived near that wall. we did take pictures in front of it, though! here is a picture of my old roomate who was in cali visiting: www.dudical.net/etc/jen_elliott_smith.jpg

    ahhhhh spoon. how i love you.

  2. You mean Rain Machine? I agree, except for Give Blood. That songs rocks.

  3. haha, i don't even remember the name. i listened once, threw up, never listened again. relatedly, spencer krug's solo album is just as awful.

    also, re: neutral milk hotel reference; i assume you've read the 33 1/3 on in the aeroplane over the sea, but just in case you haven't, READ IT! it's fascinating.