Frankly, I thought the ’00s were a low point in terms of music. It seems that there was so precious little of value. The big “hits” were records by the fucktards of “American Idol” — a show that may have singlehandedly destroyed music as we know it. Between that, the unfortunate overuse of Autotune and “crabcore,” I’ve essentially eschewed rock radio in favor of NPR.
However, there were a few bright points to be found in the aughts. Here are some of my favorite records in no particular order.
Picks after the jump…
Queens of the Stone Age, Rated R – 2000
Oh fuck yes! Easily the most sublime rock record of the decade. This album introduced the world to Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, two desert rats with a hankering for drug-induced riffage, amazing chord progressions, killer hooks and above all, solid songs to tie it all together. Their follow up, while amazing in its own right, still doesn’t come close to topping this stoner rock masterpiece.
Electric Six, Fire – 2003
E6 is easily one of my favorite bands these days. While I probably wind up playing their follow up, Senor Smoke, more often than Fire, this debut album from the Detroit band is a party looking for a place to happen. From the mysterious Jack White cameo that both he and the band vehemently denied to lyrics like “It would be awesome, if we could dance!” this record never fails to satisfy all of your guilty pleasures.
The Shins, Oh, Inverted World – 2001
I first heard “New Slang” in a fucking McDonalds commercial. The rest of the world took a while to catch on and it was ultimately an over-hyped Natalie Portman vehicle that brought ’em up to speed, but for that year before it was everywhere, Oh, Inverted World was a great way to unwind after a crappy day. Some writer summed it up far better than I ever could: “This album is like a dream viewed through glass.” Yep.
Ween, White Pepper – 2000
This album represents the zenith of Ween’s pop songwriting. It’s basically a middle finger to Elektra, who soundly rejected their initial offering, Craters of the Sac, and had them forcibly ejected from the building. While there is no “Put the Coke on My Dick” on this one, it does offer a majesty of songwriting and harmonies that makes you wonder if you’re actually listening to the same band who wrote “Touch My Tooter.”
MGMT, Oracular Spectacular – 2008
This came as a bit of a surprise to me. I don’t generally get attached to hipster bands, especially ones who favor laptops over guitars. I remember when I was giving Oracular Spectacular my first listen in my car, and I’d pulled into my parking spot just as “Kids” came on. For the first time in God knows how long, I was unable to tear myself away from the music and turn off the ignition. It’s that good.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Howl – 2005
This is just a fantastic record from start to finish. BRMC lost a member, got rid of the electrics in favor of “grandpas’ guitars” and the result is an amazing blend of Americana, blues and folk music that somehow maintains that rock ‘n’ roll stomp. It’s an amazing record and when I try to pick out a highlight, I realize the whole thing is the highlight.
Mark Lanegan, Bubblegum – 2004
This is easily one of my “desert island picks.” The former Screaming Trees frontman came into his own on this one. The range of styles Lanegan goes through on this record is mindblowing in its complexity. At first it might seem like he’s trying to be the new Tom Waits, but after a while, it becomes clear that Waits has nothin’ on this guy. From the weirdo beauty of “Wedding Dress” to the white trash stomp of “Methamphetamine Blues,” every song on this one is aces from start to finish.
Cold War Kids, Robbers & Cowards – 2006
I didn’t give this band a chance at first. I wrote them off on the basis of their name alone (I’m looking at you, Dr. Dog!) thinking them to be another godawful emo act. However, I caught their live set opening for Spoon and they completely blew that band off the stage. CWK are unlike anything else that’s around these days, with quirky songs and a kid with more soul than his peers belting out his tunes with passionate intensity. “Hospital Beds” winds up on every iPod playlist I make.
Probot, Probot – 2004
God Bless Dave Grohl. This is a great concept in itself. Dave, a huge fan of ’80s hardcore and metal, decided to do a tribute to all his favorite bands by writing songs like they would, playing all the instruments himself (with one awesome exception) and then tracking down the singers of those bands to do the vocals. It will melt your face. If you don’t have this, you need it. If you think you don’t need it, there is no hope for you. Maybe a Kelly Clarkson CD instead? [Editor’s note: not available to stream.]
Old 97’s, Satellite Rides – 2001
This disc is aces from start to finish. Rhett Miller managed to make alt-country cool for me. This band takes the best parts of country music and puts it across minus the douchebag twang that ruins that genre for me. I can come back to this one over and over again and never get sick of it. Miller is a master wordsmith and gives me lyric envy in practically every song. [Ed’s note: also not available to stream. Didn’t we have this problem before?]
The Lights Out, Color Machine – 2009
While this may seem to be blatant self-promotion (it actually is), when I set out to make this record, the only goal was to make that album that I wanted to buy, but couldn’t because it didn’t exist yet. I think I accomplished that goal and even if I wasn’t in this band, I would still want this record. You should get it too. Seriously. Available on iTunes and in hard copy.
Matthew F. King lives in Boston and tries really, really hard not to be angry all the time. When not shouting at the news, he plays bass in a rock band, The Lights Out, and works at one of the oldest alt-weekly publications in the nation, The Boston Phoenix. We’re told that he really likes pie.