Trevor’s Corner 4: Top Ten Favorite Albums That Didn’t Make the 00-09 List

10. Cake – Comfort Eagle, 2001

It isn’t Cake’s best album, but it is their best from last decade (not that Pressure Chief was much competition). Their most commercial album to date, Comfort Eagle is also their most straight-forward, with much of the folk, country, and hip-hop influences being cut in favor of new wave jams, electronic-heavy alternative, and some slight exotic influences (the vibraslap has never heard more action). While “Meanwhile, Rick James”, “Symphony in C”, and “Long Line of Cars” are the easy highlights, but the album is full of non-chalantly great material, like opener “Opera Singer” and closer “World of Two”. The lyrics are cryptic as always, with the title track being a particular parable of pop-culture madhattery, but the biblical ideas that were often abandoned on Prolonging the Magic are present, but down-played, with “Opera Singer” perhaps being about the red one himself. No matter though, because ultimately, I’ll be alone on this one, but Comfort Eagle is easily a highlight of my decade.

9. Boris – Pink, 2005

Production-wise, this album is garbage. The bass is overdriven and causes static against the entire grain, the guitars are fuzzy and unwieldy, and the drums are either too low or too high in the mix. However, its Boris we’re talking about here, so if you weren’t on board with their other countless albums before this, you’re out-of-luck. However, it’s the attitude that makes Pink such a rarity for Boris; an album that cuts the foreplay of releases like Akuma no Uta or Feedbacker, Pink excises the grandeur and immense intros and outros in favor of a no-filler album of heavy metal. Highlights like “Fake Food” relies on an analogous mix of catchy backing vocal “ooh oohs” and a heavy, energetic bass line that shines during the chorus. While Boris may be known for their experimental tendencies, Pink is the album that showed sometimes even the most long-winded of groups can sometimes shut the fuck up and rock.

8. Mastodon – Remission, 2002

The intensity shown by Remission, Mastodon’s debut album, was not unheard of; after all, metal is often almost comically angry. However, from the very first moments of the album, we hear a clip of the T-rex roar from Jurassic Park. Obvious cultural association aside, its quite an auspicious start to a spectacular album; the screech is a primordial shout of unbridled rage, and soon after, guitars fling and flail, bass pounds, and Brann Dailor showcases his now idiosyncratic dizzying fills and rolls. “Crusher Destroyer”, “March of the Fire Ants”, and “Mother Puncher” are all highlights of the ferocious side of Remission, with some songs such as “Trampled Under Hoof” and “Ol’e Nessie” slowing it down to reveal a southern rock influence that adds some flavor to an album that otherwise is simply burnt to a crisp.

7. Kanye West – Graduation, 2007

Graduation is the album where Kanye just said “fuck it” and decided no more skits, no more interludes, and no more bullshit. While Dropout and Registration may be superior albums, Graduation is easily his most consistent, a proverbial holding of the throne and an advancement of West as a supremely talented rapper in addition to a keen production sense. Speaking of which, his head is washed in European influences, most obvious in the House electronic on “Stronger” and “Flashing Lights”. However, its tracks like “The Good Life” or “Barry Bonds” where he truly shines, on the later actually furiously out-rapping an uncharacteristically lackadaisical Lil Wayne. Graduation may not be his grandest of albums, but as far as pure, unadulterated hip-hop goes, this album is Kanye’s best.

6. Boards of Canada – Geogaddi, 2002

Much like their debut, Geogaddi relies on Boards of Canada’s inherent understanding of memory and the subconscious; just listen to Music Has the Rights to Children and ask yourself “why does this sound so familiar?” The samples and synths are straight out of high school science video serials, the percussion is technologically-dated (sounding much more like pre-RDJ Aphex Twin), and the vocal samples are all child-like subjects or actual children. The difference between their debut and this album however is that while Music certainly has a creep factor, Geogaddi is just plain morose. The atmosphere is much tenser, with synths sound like their melting in the warmth of the album. It’s tough to explain the effect of this album, but to sum it up in one word: evocative.

5. Portishead – Third, 2008

This album defines my expectations of a “comeback”. Portishead may not have broke up between Portishead and Third, but to most people, they might as well have. Third came out of no where, and much to everyone’s surprise, not only was it better than their sophomore album from more than a decade ago, but it may have been better than their debut, the defining album of British trip-hop. The industrial approach on the album opened the floodgates for the band to explore not only their more aggressive side (“Machine Gun”), but also their weirder (“Deep Waters”) and even their more intimate sides (“The Rip”). Besides all that, the selection of songs was never better, with the aforementioned “The Rip” and “Machine Gun” becoming the cream of Portishead’s long, celebrated crop.

4. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam, 2007

This, I can honestly say, is my favorite AnCo release. It’s not their best, it’s not their most popular, but I’ve listened to it more than any other one of their albums, including Merriweather. Maybe it’s because it’s the last album they’ve done to feature the primal spouts of vocal joy that they perfected on Sung Tongs or maybe it’s the lingering effects of “Reverend Green” and “Fireworks”, but Strawberry Jam is the album that I revisit when I need my usual Animal Collective fix. I still don’t think they’ll ever top the heart-warming intimacy and nostalgia or “Fireworks” and the reverent reminders of old-school AnCo make Strawberry Jam not only a defining album of their career, but also make it an album that will be remembered as the last of it’s kind, because those crazy kids from Brooklyn are now forever changed.

3. King Geedorah – Take Me to Your Leader/Viktor Vaughn – Vaudeville Villain, 2003

It doesn’t seem right to separate these two: they’re two sides to the same coin, that coin being MF Doom. Take Me To Your Leader is an exercise by Metal Fingers to explore his dynamic range and massage his often unused penchant for Kanye-style soul sampling; it’s also an excellent celebration of underground hip-hop, with beleaguered heavyweights like Lil’ Sci and Hassan Chop finally being paid respect. Vaudeville Villain is a kind of proto-Madvillainy, a perfect foreshadowing of Doom’s most climatic album. If King Geedorah highlights Doom as a producer, the Viktor Vaughn pseudonym is all about his vocal skills, with Fist of the North Start references being found in the same album as two open-mic skits as well as an argument with a Chinese man. As if you didn’t already know, Doom likes it weird, and so do I, which is why these two Siamese twins will never be separated in my mind.

2. Burial – Untrue, 2007

Dubstep is a genre invites equal parts love and hate. However, Burial is an artist everyone can agree on; he’s incredible. Untrue, his second album, is a fantastic album because not only does it avoid the trappings of the genre, but it reinvigorates the parts that make dubstep unique from other bass-centric electronic sub-categories. The bass isn’t heavy as it is thick and atmosphere is a constant fog of destitute agoraphobia. Voice samples only go to further alienate users, shutting them out instead of inviting them in, and the spastic drums juxtapose against the gradual grain drone in tracks like “Archangel” to create not only a unique sound, but one that is consuming in it’s terrifying ability to drag us back in without out ever penetrate it’s dilapidated urban sprawl.

1. Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, 2004

This isn’t the best dance-punk album around, but DFA1979 probably don’t give a fuck. In the vein of albums like They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top by Liars, the album roared with anger and ferocity. Keeler’s bass was constantly overdriven and his dexterity was intense. Grainger on the other hand sings in an almost constant falsetto, stretching his dejected voice far beyond where human’s should be capable, going high and loud enough to bring static to the modest production. Sure, it isn’t the most emotionally or instrumentally-varied album you’ll ever hear, but You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine is the perfect capstone to an angry, horny, jaded adolescence that we all remember.

by Trevor “Nostalgic for just 10 months ago” Johnson


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