death cab for cutie

Best Albums Of The 2000s

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

A list of my favorite albums to come out in the 2000s (2000-2009).

Decade Rank Album Artist Year Stars Rating
1 Kid A Radiohead 2000 ✮✮✮✮✮ 99
2 In Rainbows Radiohead 2007 ✮✮✮✮✮ 98
3 Transatlanticism Death Cab For Cutie 2003 ✮✮✮✮✮ 95
4 Funeral Arcade Fire 2004 ✮✮✮✮✮ 94
5 Hybrid Theory Linkin Park 2000 ✮✮✮✮✮ 93
6 Is This It? The Strokes 2001 ✮✮✮✮✮ 92
7 Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool Lupe Fiasco 2007 ✮✮✮✮✮ 92
8 Discovery Daft Punk 2001 ✮✮✮✮✮ 90
9 All That You Can’t Leave Behind U2 2000 ✮✮✮✮✰ 89
10 Graduation Kanye West 2007 ✮✮✮✮✰ 89
11 Morning View Incubus 2001 ✮✮✮✮✰ 88
12 Merriweather Post Pavilion Animal Collective 2009 ✮✮✮✮✰ 87
13 Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace Foo Fighters 2007 ✮✮✮✮✰ 86
14 Antidotes Foals 2008 ✮✮✮✮✰ 85
15 Parachutes Coldplay 2000 ✮✮✮✮✰ 85
16 Room On Fire The Strokes 2003 ✮✮✮✮✰ 84
17 Be Common 2005 ✮✮✮✮✰ 84
18 Meteora Linkin Park 2003 ✮✮✮✮✰ 83
19 Chuck Sum 41 2004 ✮✮✮✮✰ 81
20 The Carter III Lil Wayne 2008 ✮✮✮✮✰ 80
21 The Black Parade My Chemical Romance 2006 ✮✮✮✮ 79
22 Origin of Symmetry Muse 2001 ✮✮✮✮ 79
23 By The Way Red Hot Chilli Peppers 2002 ✮✮✮✮ 79
24 Hypnotize System Of A Down 2005 ✮✮✮✮ 79
25 Sing The Sorrow AFI 2003 ✮✮✮✮ 78
26 How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb U2 2004 ✮✮✮✮ 76
27 Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Phoenix 2009 ✮✮✮✮ 76
28 It’s Blitz! Yeah Yeah Yeahs 2009 ✮✮✮✮ 76
29 Late Registration Kanye West 2005 ✮✮✮✮ 76
30 Good News For People Love Bad News Modest Mouse 2004 ✮✮✮✮ 76
31 A Beautiful Lie 30 Seconds To Mars 2005 ✮✮✮✮ 75
32 Boxer The National 2007 ✮✮✮✮ 75
33 Sigh No More Mumford & Sons 2009 ✮✮✮✮ 75
34 Hot Fuss The Killers 2004 ✮✮✮✮ 74
35 Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor Lupe Fiasco 2006 ✮✮✮✮ 73
36 Demon Days Gorillaz 2005 ✮✮✮✮ 73
37 A Rush Of Blood To The Head Coldplay 2002 ✮✮✮✮ 72
38 The College Dropout Kanye West 2004 ✮✮✮✮ 72
39 Wincing The Night Away The Shins 2007 ✮✮✮✮ 71
40 Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge My Chemical Romance 2004 ✮✮✮✮ 70
41 Afterwords Collective Soul 2007 ✮✮✮✮ 70
42 Louder Now Taking Back Sunday 2006 ✮✮✮✰ 68
43 Neon Bible Arcade Fire 2007 ✮✮✮✰ 68
44 Plans Death Cab For Cutie 2005 ✮✮✮✰ 68
44 Revolutionary, Vol. 2 Immortal Technique 2003 ✮✮✮✰ 67
45 Mezmerize System Of A Down 2005 ✮✮✮✰ 68
45 Black Holes & Revolations Muse 2006 ✮✮✮✰ 67
46 Hail To The Theif Radiohead 2003 ✮✮✮✰ 66
47 Toxicity System Of A Down 2001 ✮✮✮✰ 66
47 Silent Alarm Bloc Party 2005 ✮✮✮✰ 65
48 The Eraser Thom Yorke 2006 ✮✮✮✰ 65

(updated Jan 1, 2016)

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BEST SONGS OF 2015

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

The lists are a bit longer than usual because I liked a lot that came out this year, but here are my favorite Alternative, Hip-hop, and Pop songs from 2015. (more…)

BEST ALBUMS OF 2015

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

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Carrie & Lowell is the year’s most personal album, and probably the darkest. Driven entirely by a folk guitar, a muted piano and Steven’s vocals, each track creates a portrait of the past, as he intimately whispers stories, his deepest thoughts and his fears. Obviously, many of the songs sound the same because they come from the same place, but there isn’t a weak song of the bunch and it’s rare to find an album that flows so seamlessly, and knows exactly what is it. Not one song is out of place, too long or too short. It just feels like one, complete story.

I’m more partial to the piano tracks, and the best is “Fourth of July,” a subtle and sipping piano backed by echoes and ambient harmonics and the album’s best moment is the outro to the title track, which sounds like a striped down version of the Inception soundtrack. But whether the song uses piano or is almost entirely an acoustic guitar, the complexity of sounds he’s able to create with the same instruments (and a handful of effects pedals) over and over again is impressive.

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To Pimp A Butterfly isn’t perfect by any means, and ultimately doesn’t reach the same heights as Good Kid, M.A.D.D. City, but these isn’t an artist out there as confident in their own product as Kendrick Lamar, who recreated his sound without sacrificing really anything that made us like him to begin with. Each song on the album is heavily detailed, layered in production and lyrically on point and culturally relevant.

You know you’re in for something new right away when you’re hit with a Flying Lotus jazz track with a funky Thundercat bassline. He follows that up with by spitting hot fire over a furious drum track on what, for all intents and purposes, should have been a throwaway interlude. Then we get into “King Kunta,” a throwback track that sounds like early Eminem and references the likes of James Brown. Throughout the album, you never know what’s coming next, as songs shift suddenly in mood and in style.

The album’s best tracks are “Alright” and “The Blacker The Berry,” but my favorite moment of the album might be the opening two minutes of “u.” There’s raw emotion, an unorthodox, ever changing flow, and unbelievable production. The screaming, the slow build of the virtuosic saxophone and piano, the female vocals echoing him in the background. It creates so much in such a short amount of time. Another strong moment is “Mortal Man”, which in an album littered with great production, might be the strongest and musically sounds like a part two to “Sing About Me”.

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Where Lonerism had vintage 60s charm, with garage-rocking single “Elephant” and tracks with psychedelic rock long form bridges reminiscent of The Doors, Currents is a new direction for Kevin Parker’s act, with dance synthesizers and computerized harpsichords replacing most of the guitar work and standard rock and roll sounds. The album is more polished, more upbeat and more modern.

The album is sandwiched by two epics that are over six minutes in length. The opener, “Let It Happen,” is a driving and ever evolving symphony made entirely of synthetic sounds, from the looping drum track to the vocodered vocals. The closing track, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” is similarly intricate, but much more plodding and baroque. There are also three simple interludes each under two minutes, two being electronic samples and a third short rock song, “Disciples,” which gives the album a nice variety of song lengths.

The only problem I have with Currents (which is the same problem I had with Lonerism) is many of the songs fill the same role on the album. While the lyrics might be a little different between them, “Love/Paranoia,” “Past Life,” “Yes I’m Changing,” and “Cause I’m A Man” are instrumentally all slow synth ballads. “Eventually” seems  similar on it’s surface, but stands out because it shifts time signatures, changes pace and transforms from beginning to end, making it one of the album’s best.

The other prominent song archetype is the upbeat synthpop tracks, like “The Moment,” and “The Less I Know The Better.”  “Disciples” also fits this mold, but is more guitar driven and helps transition into the next upbeat tune, “Reality In Motion,” the one song tied this album with their last. While completely fitting in with the modern, electronic theme of Currents, “Reality In Motion” carries drums and guitar reminiscent of “Endors Toi” and “Nothing That Has Happened…” (more…)