Top 75 Albums of the 2000s

The Hold Steady, Wiltern, Los Angeles, Nov. 25, 2008It was a weird decade for the music industry. We watched the major labels implode right before our eyes, all the while protesting the future and trying to criminalize their user base. Would things have been different if the labels had put together a cheap, DRM-free solution in 2000? Maybe, maybe not, but there is no way it could have turned out worse.

It was a weird decade to be a music fan. For my entire life, the album had been the lingua franca of music: songs were the basic unit and singles were cool, but albums were a statement of purpose. But I started out the decade listening to albums from start to finish and ended it fragmenting them into my various mixes.

Now, I have a mix for the house, a mix for work, and a mix for my car: my own personalized “radio stations” that eternally combine older favorites and new songs. As someone who had been making mix tapes for himself since his early 20s, I’d only been waiting for this my entire life. But there was a consequence to the endless resequence: by 2006, most of my favorite albums revealed themselves to be collections of songs that stood out from the others.

Which isn’t to say that I didn’t listen to a lot of them from start to finish: all of the ones at the top of the list got old-school listens — some of them multiple times!! But the vast majority were just a bunch of great songs, and I have no idea what order those songs are in. That was one of the many many reasons that I pretty much stopped writing music criticism.

It was a weird decade for music, period. But that’s as it should be.

Finally, just to be obvious: I make no claim that these are the best albums of the 2000s, just my favorites. And I make no apologies for the fact that I basically love the same guitar-rock at 47 that I loved at 37 that I loved at 27 that I loved at 17. It is who I am. I assume that you know who you are, and quite possibly, how our tastes intersect.

That said, I sure as hell am glad that I’m able to discover new bands that I still love — hey there, Hold Steady and DBT! — and this list is pretty equally split between folks who weren’t even on my radar at the turn of the century and old favorites.

Questions? Comments? Have at it!


  1. The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America (2006)
    Songs to die for: “You Can Make Him Like You”, “Chillout Tent”, “Southtown Girls”, “Stuck Between Stations”
  2. Bob Dylan – “Love and Theft” (2001)
    Songs to die for: “Mississippi”, “High Water (For Charley Patton)”, “Sugar Baby,” “Po’ Boy”
  3. Drive-by Truckers – Southern Rock Opera (2002)
    Songs to die for: “Life in the Factory”, “Angels and Fuselage”, “Let There Be Rock”, “Women Without Whiskey”
  4. Wrens – The Meadowlands (2003)
    Songs to die for: “This Boy is Exhausted,” “Thirteen Grand,” “Everyone Chooses Sides,” “Happy”
  5. The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday (2005)
    Songs to die for: “Stevie Nix”, “Hornets! Hornets!”, “Banging Camp”, “How a Resurrection Really Feels”
  6. The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Communion (2009)
    Songs to die for: “Fly,” “Flipside,” “The Ego Illusion,” “Los Prophets in Vain”
  7. U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
    Songs to die for: “Walk On,” “Beautiful Day,” “Elevation” “New York”
  8. Whiskeytown – Pneumonia (pre-release Napster version) (2000)
    Songs to die for: “All Choked Up,” “Bar Lights,” “Easy Hearts,” “Don’t Wanna Know Why”
  9. The Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Rebellion (Lies)”, “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out),” “Wake Up,” “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”
  10. Paul Westerberg – Stereo/Mono (2002)
    Songs to die for: “The Only Lie Worth Telling,” “AAA,” “Got You Down,” “High Time”
  11. Pete Yorn – musicforthemorningafter (2001)
    Songs to die for: “Closet,” “June,” “Murray,” “Black”
  12. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos (2002)
    Songs to die for: “Venus Stop The Train,” “Not For The Season,” “Kamera (alternate version)” “Will Not Let You Down”
  13. Fountains of Wayne – Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)
    Songs to die for: “Little Red Light”, “No Better Place”, “Bought for A Song,” “All Kinds of Time”
  14. Drive-by Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark (2008)
    Songs to die for: “The Righteous Path”, “That Man I Shot” “Self Destructive Zones,” “A Ghost to Most”
  15. Ambulance LTD –LP (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Stay Where You Are,” “Heavy Lifting,” “Young Urban,” “Yoga Means Union”
  16. The Long Winters – Putting The Days to Bed (2006)
    Songs to die for: “Ultimatum,” “Teaspoon,” “Sky is Open,” “It’s a Departure”
  17. Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
    Songs to die for: “Idioteque,” “Everything in its Right Place,” “Optimistic,” “Morning Bell”
  18. Guided by Voices – Isolation Drills (2001)
    Songs to die for: “Run Wild”, “How’s My Drinking?” “Glad Girls” “Fair Touching”
  19. The Long Winters – When I Pretend to Fall (2003)
    Songs to die for: “Stupid,” “New Girl,” “Cinnamon,” “The Sound of Coming Down”
  20. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
    Songs to die for: “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb,” “The Underdog,” “Don’t Make Me a Target,” “Don’t You Evah,”
  21. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now Youngster! (2008)
    Songs to die for: “Death to Los Campesinos,” “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks,” “You! Me! Dancing!,” “2007, The Year Punk Broke (My Heart)”
  22. The Baseball Project – Vol 1, Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails (2008)
    Songs to die for: “Harvey Haddix” “Jackie’s Lament,” “The Yankee Flipper,” “Ted Fucking Williams”
  23. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You (2009)
    Songs to die for: “I And Love and You,” “Ten Thousand Words” “Laundry Room,” “January Wedding”
  24. Ryan Adams – Gold (2001)
    Songs to die for: “Nobody Girl,” “The Rescue Blues,” “Enemy Fire,” “Firecracker”
  25. R.E.M. – Live at the Olympia (2009)
    Songs to die for: “Letter Never Sent,” “Driver 8,” “1,000,000,” “These Days”
  26. Rilo Kiley – More Adventurous (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Portions For Foxes,” “It’s a Hit,” “Accidentl Deth,” “Love and War (11/11/46)”
  27. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible (2007)
    Songs to die for: “No Cars Go”, “(Antichrist Televsion Blues),” “Windowsill,” “Keep The Car Running”
  28. Wilco – Kicking Television: Live in Chicago (2005)
    Songs to die for: “Handshake Drugs,” “Misunderstood,” “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”
  29. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001)
    Songs to die for: “Little Room,” “Fell in Love With a Girl,” “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” “We’re Going to Be Friends”
  30. Ryan Adams –Rock N Roll (2003)
    Songs to die for: “The Drugs Not Working,” “1974,” “Do Miss America,” “Luminol”
  31. Green Day – American Idiot (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Are We The Waiting”, “Jesus of Suburbia” “American Idiot,” “Wake Me When September Ends”
  32. Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound (2008)
    Songs to die for: “High Lonesome,” “Old White Lincoln,” “The ’59 Sound,” “The Backseat”
  33. The Old 97s – Satellite Rides (2001)
    Songs to die for: “Question,” “What I Wouldn’t Do,” “Buick City Complex,” “Designs on You”
  34. The Strokes – Is This It (2001)
    Songs to die for: “The Modern Age,” “New York City Cops,” “Hard to Explain,” “Take it or Leave it”
  35. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
    Songs to die for: “A Certain Romance,” “I’ll Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”, “When the Sun Goes Down,” “Still Take You Home”
  36. White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
    Songs to die for: “There’s No Home For You Here,” “The Hardest Button to Button,” “Seven Nation Army,” “The Hardest Button to Button,” “Well It’s True That We Love One Another”
  37. Wilco – A Ghost is Born (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Handshake Drugs,” “Spiders (Kidsmoke),” “The Late Greats,” “At Least That’s What You Said”
  38. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (2008)
    Songs to die for: “Magazines” “Constructive Summer” “Yeah Sapphire,” “Lord, I’m Discouraged”
  39. Gomez – In Our Gun (2002)
    Songs to die for: “Detroit Swing ’66”, “Drench,” “The Ballad of Nice and Easy,” “Shot Shot”
  40. Paul Westerberg – Come Feel Me Tremble (2003)
    Songs to die for: “Crackle and Drag” (Original Take),” “Daydream,” “Hillbilly Junk,” “Pine Box,”
  41. Secret Machines – Now Here is Nowhere (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Nowhere Again,” “First Wave Intact,” “Light’s On,” Now Here is Nowhere”
  42. Lloyd Cole – The Negatives (2000)
    Songs to die for: “Vin Ordinaire,” “Past Imperfect,” “Impossible Girl,” “Negative Attitude”
  43. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise (2005)
    Songs to die for: “Chicago,” “Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Step-Mother!,” “Casimir Pulaski Day,” “Jacksonville”
  44. Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (2007)
    Songs to die for: “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind,” “I Feel Like Going Home,” “The Story of Yo La Tango,” “The Race is On Again”
  45. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (2005)
    Songs to die for: “So Here We Are” , “This Modern Love,” “Like Eating Glass,” “Helicopter”
  46. Joe Strummer – Streetcore (2006)
    Songs to die for: “Burning Streets (London is Burning)” “Arms Aloft in Aberdeen,” “Coma Girl,” “Ramshackle Day Parade”
  47. Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
    Songs to die for: “Reckoner,” “Bodysnatchers,” “House of Cards,” “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”
  48. Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2009)
    Songs to die for: “Come Saturday,” “This Love is Fucking Right!,” “Stay Alive,” “Young Adult Friction”
  49. Neil Young –Prairie Wind (2005)
    Songs to die for: “No Wonder,” “It’s A Dream,” “He Was The King” “Prairie Wind”
  50. Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 – Ole Tarantula (2006)
    Songs to die for: “(A Man’s Gotta Know His Limitations) Briggs,” “Belltown Ramble,” “Adventure Rocket Ship,” “N.Y. Doll”
  51. Bob Dylan – Tell-Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol 8 (2008)
    Songs to die for: “Cold Irons Bound (Live)”, “Mississippi (Unreleased #2)” “God Knows,” “Most of the Time”
  52. TV on the Radio – Dear Science (2008)
    Songs to die for: “Golden Age,” “Dancing Choose,” “DLZ,” “Lovers Day”
  53. Todd Snider – East Nashville Skyline (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Enjoy Yourself,” “Play a Train Song,” “Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males,”Nashville”
  54. brakesbrakesbrakes – Touchdown (2009)
    Songs to die for: “Don’t Take Me to Space (Man),” “Do You Feel The Same,” “Ancient Mysteries,” “Why Tell The Truth (When It’s Easier to Lie”)
  55. Beulah – Yoko (2003)
    Songs to die for: “Wipe Those Prints and Run,” “You’re Only King Once,” “My Side of the City,” “Me and Jesus Don’t Talk Anymore”
  56. OutKast – Stankonia (2000)
    Songs to die for: “B.O.B,” “Ms. Jackson,” “Gasoline Dreams,” “So Fresh, So Clean”
  57. The Hold Steady – Almost Killed Me (2004)
    Songs to die for: “The Swish” “Barfruit Blues”, “Positive Jam,” “Killer Parties”
  58. … and you will know us by the Trail of Dead –Source Tags and Codes (2002)
    Songs to die for: “Relative Ways”, “Source Tags and Codes,” “Baudelaire,” “Another Morning Stoner”
  59. The White Stripes – Get Behind Me, Satan (2005)
    Songs to die for: “My Doorbell,” “The Denial Twist,” “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet),” “As Ugly as I Seem”
  60. Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar (2009)
    Songs to die for: “Pollyanna,” “Pride of the Yankees,” “Grandaddy,” “Foolish Young Bastard”
  61. Bob Dylan – Modern Times (2005)
    Songs to die for: “Workingman’s Blues #2,” “The Levee’s Gonna Break,” “Ain’t Talkin’,” “Thunder on the Mountain”
  62. Drive-by Truckers – Decoration Day (2003)
    Songs to die for: “Outfit”, “My Sweet Annette” “Marry Me,” “Heathens”
  63. Preston School of Industry – All This Sounds Gas (2001)
    Songs to die for: “Enclyclopedic Knowledge Of,” “Monkey Heart and The Horses Leg,” “Falling Away,” “Doping For Gold”
  64. Low – The Great Destroyer (2005)
    Songs to die for: “When I Go Deaf,” “Broadway (So Many People)” “Just Stand Back,” “California
  65. The Concretes – In Colour (2006)
    Songs to die for: “Fiction” “Ooh La La,” “On The Radio,” “Change in the Weather”
  66. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (2009)
    Songs to die for: “Middle Cyclone,” “People Gotta Lotta Nerve,” “This Tornado Loves You,” “I’m An Animal,”
  67. OutKast – Speakerboxx / The Love Below (2003)
    Songs to die for: “Hey Ya!,” “Roses,” “Bowtie,” “Pink & Blue”
  68. Paul Westerberg – 49:00 (2008)
    Songs to die for: “Tell Me Who You Gonna Marry,” “With Or Without Her (Kentucky Risin’),” “Devil Raised a Good Boy,” “Visitors Day”
  69. Drive by-Truckers – The Dirty South (2004)
    Songs to die for: “Goddamn Lonely Love” “The Day John Henry Died” “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” “Danko/Manuel”
  70. The Jayhawks – Smile (2000)
    Songs to die for: “Life Floats By,” “Somewhere in Ohio,” “Baby Baby Baby,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”
  71. Girls – Album (2009)
    Songs to die for: “Lust For Life” “Summertime,” “Hellhole Ratrace,” “Morning Light”
  72. Dinosaur Jr – Farm (2009)
    Songs to die for: “I Don’t Wanna Go There” “Pieces,” “I Want You To Know,” “Over It”
  73. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
    Songs to die for: “The Scientist” “Clocks,” “Daylight,” “Warning Sign”
  74. Sonic Youth – “Rather Ripped” (2006)
    Songs to die for: “Pink Steam,” “Do You Believe in Rapture?” “Incinerate,” “Jams Run Free”
  75. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)
    Songs to die for: “1901,” “Litzomania,” “Lasso,” “Fences”
  76. Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
    Songs to die for: “Deathly,” “Calling it Quits,” “How Am I Different?” “Ghost World”
  77. PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea (2000)
    Songs to die for: “Big Exit,” “This is Love,” “The Whores Hustle and The Hustlers Whore” “We Float”

Here are some related posts for you:

And some of my original album reviews on Neumu:

6 Responses to “Top 75 Albums of the 2000s”

  1. Tim says:

    I would include most with some things being replaced by: Grandaddy – Sumday (probably in my top 5), Jay-Z – The Blueprint…Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP…Flaming Lips – Yoshimi…The Good the Bad, the Queen…Monsters of Folk…My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade (No. 1?)…Pet Shop Boys – Yes…Santogold…T.I. – Paper Trail…Vampire Weekend…Weezer (Green album)…Pearl Jam – Backspacer…


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