My friend Faith Swords is fun. And that’s her real name, too! She doesn’t take any guff, and knows how to host a shindig (although I rarely go to them because I am antisocial). She promised to scrawl her bio on a bar napkin, but apparently they were all out. I find this somewhat hard to believe, but you don’t argue with Faith. Got that?
Faith’s list follows the jump…
1. Blonde Redhead, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (2000)
The sum of the parts is good, and the parts themselves work all on their own. I would be remiss without mentioning the loosely associated EP, Melodie Citronique — especially the French version of “In Particular.” [Editor’s note: not available for streaming, but Misery is a Butterfly is pretty good, too.]
2. Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One (2000)
An extremely high energy album, even when the beats slow down.
3. The Coup, Party Music (2001)
My first experience with the Coup was them opening for Billy Bragg in Madison in 2003. Billy was brilliant, but Boots Riley stole the show, and all our hearts.
4. Old 97s, Satellite Rides (2001)
The very best of alt-country, in this or any other decade. (Note: this statement applies to any and all releases by this band.) [Ed’s note: again, not available for streaming. So here’s a best-of]
5. The Mountain Goats, Tallahassee (2002)
The story of a marriage going out with a bang instead of a whimper, sometimes in ways that make you feel almost happy about it.
6. Atmosphere, Seven’s Travels (2003)
Smart hip hop from the Midwest. There’s a track about it and everything.
7. Postal Service, Give Up (2003)
Wikipedia tells me that this was Sub Pop’s most successful release since Nirvana’s Bleach, which I don’t find at all hard to believe at all.
8. Badly Drawn Boy, One Plus One Is One (2004)
Like Elliot Smith moved to Manchester instead of dying in LA.
9. The Faint, Wet From Birth (2004)
Was not as well received as some of their other records, which I find ridiculous, as I think the continuity of theme and sound make for a tighter release in general.
10. Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004)
The mainstream success of several songs on this record were distasteful to me at the time, but looking back, it is still a fine album, start to finish.
11. Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous (2004)
Let’s be perfectly honest: we all have crushes on Jenny Lewis. All of us. The goal of this record was to be musically more adventurous, and the themes of the songs are about personally adventurous behaviors — both succeed.
12. Tilly and the Wall Wild Like Children (2004). They had me at “tap dancer instead of drummer.”
13. Death Cab for Cutie, Plans (2005)
I was loathe to put any Death Cab records on this list, out of sheer pique, but this one is just too good to leave off. I like it as much today as I did the day I heard it. Poppy, yes. Popular, yes. FOR A REASON.
14. Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy (2005)
One time in Berlin, my husband, a friend of ours and I spent an afternoon walking around and eating pizza with some of these guys. It was awesome. The record is more awesome.
15. Yann Tiersen, Les Retrouvailles (2005)
First learned of this guy through the Amélie soundtrack. His talent with piano and violin blew my mind, and we ended up using a lot of his music in our wedding.
16. Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
Just good British dance music. Makes me feel the need to wear shirts with stripes and bold colors and legwarmers.
17. The Blow, Paper Television (2006)
Two of my favorite things: robot music and strong female leads. Very hard to go wrong.
18. Islands, Return to the Sea (2006)
Music that should be played on a beach at the end of the world, or at the very least while drinking colorful drinks with umbrellas in them.
19. The Killers, Sam’s Town (2006)
For reasons that totally elude me, this did not get very good reviews. I thought it was a lot stronger than previous Killers albums. Gives off a feeling from start to finish that it should be set in the Wild West.
20. Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope (2006)
There are few things better than a quirky girl who is classically trained. The result is beautifully executed and stylishly delivered.
Faith Swords is a professional observer of humans in their natural environments, both urban and rural. She original hails from the Midwest, where she developed an affinity for tattoos and cowboy boots. In her spare time, she likes power tools, fine wine and trashy novels.