The First Decennial Viskterisk* 100 Favorite Albums of Years Starting with "200"! Numbers 20-11.

The top 20 is upon us. Let us not dilly dally.

20. Alligator - The National (2005)

Okay, I'm at least 2 years late on this comment, but the National threw their support behind Obama in the 2008 election.  To help support the campaign, they created merchandise with Obama's picture and the phrase "Mr. November", a track from this album.
Seems to make sense, right?  Elections are in November, they want Obama to win, and Obama is certainly a better choice than Derek Jeter.  The problem comes when we start thinking about the lyrics to 'Mr. November'.  The chorus is fine:

I won't f*** us over, I'm Mr. November
I'm Mr. November, I won't f*** us over.

Sounds like a good thing for a president, right?  However, the pre-chorus is where I get confused:

I'm the new blue blood
I'm the Great White Hope
I'm the new blue blood

There are two options here.  Option one is that we can treat this as irony, which kind of undercuts their support of Obama.   Option two is that Obama's campaign and subsequent election has truly ushered us into a post-racial age where no one sees any inherent contradiction here.  I'm voting option two.*

*Please note - this section was written with tongue firmly placed in cheek.  I actually think the shirt is awesome.

19. Electric Version - The New Pornographers (2003)

More goodness from Canada's premier indie-rock supergroup*.  This one is a little tighter than Mass Romantic and the listeners reap the benefits.

*I guess this would be an example of a retroactive supergroup.  Each of the members' main projects have grown in concert with the New Pornographers.

18. Chutes Too Narrow - The Shins (2003)

Fun Fact!  James Mercer bought Elliott Smith's house in Portland.  He should turn it into some sort of indie rock shrine.

17. The Moon and Antarctica - Modest Mouse (2000)

Isaac Brock is underrated as a lyricist, I believe.  He isn't a rich storyteller, but he does have a way of turning a phrase so that is just sticks in your head.  My favorite examples:
  • I wanna look out the window of my color TV - 'A Different City'
  • Our ideas held no water but we used them like a dam - 'Missed the Boat'
  • You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death? - 'Ocean Breathes Salty'
  • Other people's lives seem interesting 'cuz they ain't mine - 'Other People's Lives

16. Dear Catastrophe Waitress - Belle and Sebastian (2003)

Man, Stuart Murdoch can write an extended metaphor.  "Step Into My Office, Baby' uses the workplace as an extended metaphor for "relationships"*.  The video is quite a bit less subtle:

*Read "sex"

15. Apologies to the Queen Mary - Wolf Parade (2005)

I like to imagine that Wolf Parade is apologizing to this man:

Possibly for spelling his sign wrong:

14. Hometowns - The Rural Alberta Advantage (2009)

Yes, the vocals will draw comparisons to Jeff Magnum, but this album is a stunner all the way through. I especially love the hectic percussion.

13. For Emma, Long Ago - Bon Iver (2008)

This is the absolute best winter album I own.  The sparseness and the seclusion of the lyrics and sound always make me wish I was listening to this in the middle of winter in front of a fireplace. Also, bonus points for representing Wisconsin.

12. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire (2006)

 It is a little bit strange that this record is considered darker than their debut (which was titled Funeral), but so it is.  This one is stuffed full of stellar songs - 'No Cars Go', 'Neon Bible', Intervention', '(Antichrist Television Blues)' just to start - and it makes the best use of a full organ in rock music since maybe In a Gadda Da Vida.

11. Return to Cookie Mountain - TV on the Radio (2006)

I'm a little surprised this one didn't make the top 10. Its first 5 songs might be without compare.  'I Was a Lover', 'Hours', 'Province', 'Playhouses', and 'Wolf Like Me' will stand up to any first 5 songs.

1 comment:

  1. i don't know if i can get behind isaac brock's lyrics being underrated. he's probably my favorite lyricist of all time. so much wit.

    and here i will again chastise you for spelling an indie legend's name wrong :) mangum, not like the gun. haha

    weirdly, today a rural alberta advantage song came on the radio, and i thought it was some neutral milk hotel song i had never heard before. that means it's been too long since i've listened to rural alberta advantage!

    your list is keeps putting me in the mood to listen to tv on the radio.