Great Albums of the 00s

When I first wrote about my favorite music of the 00s ten years ago, I had determined that my three favorite albums of the decade were:

  • A Collision by David Crowder Band
  • No Line on the Horizon by U2
  • Emotionalism by The Avett Brothers

While my appreciation for No Line has waned somewhat, I still love the other two albums. But I’ve also developed an appreciation for a lot of the other sounds from this tumultuous decade in music. The early aughts began with The Strokes being hailed as the saviors of modern rock and ended with the realization that the entire genre seems irrevocably beyond salvation, surpassed in cultural relevancy by ubiquity of pop music and the seismic embrace of rap/R&B by the mainstream. For proof, you need look no further than the arc of Radiohead and Wilco, alternative darlings of the 90s who deconstructed the entire concept of rock with experimental albums such as Kid A and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

By the end of the decade, the very idea of mainstream rock had evolved to include the jangly, acoustic sounds of bands such as Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers, who were filling arenas with bearded, flannel-clad millennials jamming out to frenetic banjo solos. And although such “old-timey” sounds proved to be more fad than trend — evidenced by both bands distancing themselves (and alienating their fan bases) by moving further away from their original aesthetic — it sure was fun while it lasted. “Go To Sleep” still gets me every time.

In the 00s, we said goodbye to Johnny Cash, his final American Recordings releases providing a fitting denouement for the Man in Black. American IV: The Man Comes Around is simply apocalytptic. There’s scarcely a Sunday morning goes by that I’m not listening to My Mother’s Hymn Book as a prelude to my own time of worship. But the decade also brought great music from new acts like Josh Ritter, whose Animal Years was a Dylan-esque powerhouse from the jump, and that Strokes record, which still holds up after nearly 20 years.

If I had to select a favorite album from among these, I might go with In Rainbows; it’s just gorgeous music and I still give Radiohead cool points for bypassing the whole commercial enterprise (basically) with its pay-what-you-want release. Conceptually, I still love the interpretation I ascribed to A Collision — humanity seeks the divine in ways as diverse as these varied genres (bluegrass, rock, balladry) assembled here. And Emotionalism will always be one of my favorites, even as The Avett Brothers drift further away from its ragged sounds in favor of more commercially viable adult contemporary terrain. But I love all of these albums on this playlist.

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