10. the walkmen - bows + arrows
Much was made of You & Me last year, but it is on Bows + Arrows that The Walkmen really shine. The slow, brooding drone of songs like "No Christmas While I'm Talking" and "Hang on, Siobhan" are enjoyed and then torn to shreds by "The Rat" and "Little House of Savages".
9. arcade fire - neon bible
Is it strange that I hated Funeral with a passion yet love Neon Bible? I feel that their second album is when Arcade Fire really tightened up their arrangements and put together a comprehensive compilation of unsettling melodies.
8. spiritualized - let it come down
Spiritualized has never been a very complex or subtle band but Let It Come Down eschews every notion of subtlety in favor of huge arrangements, epic scope, and soaring melodies. Each song has probably between 20-40 words on it but this album isn't about what Jason Pierce is saying so much as how he is saying it.
7. the white stripes - get behind me satan
I really agonized over which of my 3 favorite White Stripes albums to put on this list but in the end the restrained limitations and creepy motif of Get Behind Me Satan won out of White Blood Cells.
6. bloc party - silent alarm
Bloc Party's debut album Silent Alarm listens like a Greatest Hits compilation - each song is seperate from the previous one but it's nearly impossible to pick a favorite. It's a shame that each subsequent album has seen them moving further away from the immediacy that is so winning on their debut...
5. wilco - yankee hotel foxtrot
If you would have asked me to make this list 5 years ago I think Yankee Hotel Foxtrot would have been at the top of the list. I'm surprised to say that it sounds dated to me in 2009 for some reason - still a fantastic record though.
4. my morning jacket - z
My Morning Jacket somehow managed to make a Classic Rock record about 30 years too late. Their movement away from some of their more indulgent, jammy tendencies worked out fantastically on this album and their unique sound is unmistakable.
3. the strokes - is this it
Like the White Stripes, this nomination is split with Room on Fire which features arguably better singles but falls off near the end of the album. Is This It might be the best summation of the last decade in sentiment and in music.
2. stephen malkmus & the jicks - pig lib
Is it contradictory that I praise My Morning Jacket for NOT making a jam album but then turn around and love Pig Lib? SM & the jicks manage to wander with a purpose on this album and even the songs that last over 8 minutes (see: 1% of one) seem to have a pre-determined path.
1. band of horses - cease to begin
For further contradiction, I awarded this album second place in my "Best of 2007" list. Does that make any sense? I can't quite explain my attraction towards Cease to Begin - Band of Horses seem to make slightly otherworldly music that seems like it could have come from anywhere in the United States (southern rock? midwestern folk? northeast is the answer, if you were wondering). No matter how many times I listen to this album it always remains fresh and engaging.