Here are my favorite albums released from 2000 to 2009. I tried to narrow this down to a top ten, but I just couldn’t make the final cuts, so it’s a baker’s dozen.
Who Needs Electricity? by Operation: Cliff Clavin  — Acoustic anarcho-primitivist folkpunk from Bloomington, Indiana. O:CC was one of my favorite punk bands of all time, and this is sort of an “unplugged” version of their own previously released originals — but framed as the future of rock after the collapse of civilization and attendant loss of ubiquitous electrical power. And in fact the sound of this album was indicative of the future direction Chris and Hannah would take with Ghost Mice. I think you can still get this for five bucks from Plan-It-X. Remember, if it ain’t cheap it ain’t punk.
Blazing Arrow by Blackalicious  — Just the coolest hip-hop album ever. I’m really not sure how I first heard this music, but as soon as I heard it, I had to buy the album. Pitchfork calls it “unstoppably joyous” and it truly is.
Black Earth by Bohren & der Club of Gore  — Mellow, instrumental, dark, dark, dark, depressive, almost ambient jazz. There’s a good review on PopMatters.
The Ghastly Grimey Orchestra of New Orleans by The Ghastly Grimey Orchestra of New Orleans  — A freaky folky experimental project from New Orleans, inspired by Edward Gorey. I had to special order this from Dublin, strangely enough. I discovered this one through random googling and became fascinated by the story behind the album. It seems a bunch of freaks hanging out in (pre-Katrina) New Orleans decided to record one song for each letter in the Gashlycrumb Tinies. They recorded each track with a different roster of musicians in different locations around town. One track was recorded in a moving elevator at Nowe Miasto, passing by musicians on different floors. Bizarre, obscure, dark, and awesome. Learn more, see a video, and get this album from Stitchy Press.
1 by Popchor Berlin  — Poppy cover songs done by a choir in Berlin. There are only five songs on this EP but they range from damn good to transcendentally brilliant. Thanks to Liza for turning me on to them.
IAO (Music in Sacred Light) by John Zorn  — Avant-garde ritualistic experimentalism that pushes all the right buttons for me. A more thoughtful review can be found on All About Jazz.
e.p. by Liquid Crystal Display  — Psychedelic pop/rock from Bloomington, Indiana. You can get all their albums free through archive.org.
Wölfl Piano Sonatas by Jon Nakamatsu  — What’s an album of classical piano pieces doing here? Thanks to Brian Denzer for turning me on to this. He played some of this on WTUL one morning many years ago. For what it’s worth, Fanfare gives this “absolutely the highest recommendation.”
Lords of the Green Grass by Xenis Emputae Travelling Band  — Mellow ambient experimental droning psychedelic British freefolk with a psychogeographical twist. This album has been re-released under a Creative Commons license, so you can download the entire album (in MP3 format) from Larkfall.
Here Comes the Troublemakers by The Troublemakers  — Superb, ska-inflected pop-rock that combines anarchy, romance and fun. Includes such fabulous anthems as “International Flag-Burning Day” and “Emma Goldman,” zany fun songs like “Opposite Machine,” and sweet ballads such as “Never Be Alone.” Buy this one from Louisiana Music Factory before they run out. Trust me on this one.
Super Heavy Organ by Robert Walter  — Funky jazzy instrumental organ recorded live in New Orleans. Walter was playing in Bloomington, Indiana, just days after Katrina. I’d evacuated there, so I talked my way into the concert, which is where I picked up this album.
Satanische Vrede by Silvester Anfang  — Dark droning experimental psychedelic Belgian free-folk. I find their sound absolutely mind-blowing in a subtle, insidious way. They self-describe as “post-satanic krautfolk,” and that seems pretty accurate. This album is out of print, but you can get a sample MP3 from Kraak.
Seraphim by Irfan  — Dark mystical Bulgarian neofolk. Ethereal female vocals over a male choir with that distinctive Balkan sound. I believe I stumbled onto this album via last.fm. Too beautiful. There’s a review on Heathen Harvest.
Finally, I should note this list was inspired by a post Jeb made at Musical Family Tree and also by J’s list. Thanks, guys, for suckering me in. This list took way longer to compile than I anticipated.
Now can we get on with this next decade please?