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Well, we’ve already done best songs of the decade (Stendhal list here, Linus list here).

Let’s try best albums.

Top ten, no order:

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Sometimes a band’s conflicts lead to trauma and the end of creativity. Every so often, they lead to acts of genius. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the latter. Haunting, with the right amount of Jim O’Rourke production foolery to bring alt-folk back to the future. Along with Kid A, this stands as the entryway into the fragmented, technological and alien world of the 21st century.

Track:  “Jesus, Etc.”

Radiohead – Kid A

Speaking of which, it’s practically cliche to say that this is one of the greatest albums of all time, but why the hell not? I would point out, though, that the 00s have led to a decline in melody and a rise in the focus on rhythm — whether in hip hop, pop or rock. In this case, the layered polyrhythms and hidden downbeats frame a world out of sync, out of balance. Yorke’s vocals never sounded better, and although OK Computer opened the door, this is the album that separated Radiohead from the league of ordinary bands.

Track: “Everything in its Right Place”

Bruce Springsteen – The Rising

When an American icon is destroyed, it takes an American icon to speak back. Harold Bloom suggested that no work has yet stepped into the void to respond to 9/11, but I think Springsteen does the job as he does any job — workman-like, plaintive, heartfelt. These are the songs of a man punched in the heart, who doesn’t know what to do. If I think back to the helplessness of the first days of the post-9/11 world, I cannot help but think of this album’s conflicted moans. Sure there’s too many toe-tappers, but Springsteen could only do what he knew how to do.

Track: “My City of Ruins (live)

The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic

I fell in love with Neko Case when I heard Mass Romantic. “Indie rock” was just another confusing genre with no borders and no standard-bearer. I still said the word “pop” with a disdainful sneer. That changed with the New Pornographers. They were strange, harmonically complex, and unapologetic pop, of a strain that I had never heard. Yet even years later, hearing “Letter from an Occupant” brings the feeling of toe-tapping, sing-along despite its relative age. All the power pop to follow is still playing catch-up to this album.

Track: “My Slow Descent into Alcoholism”

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