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Everyone is making Best Of Decade Lists

They all suck and are boring

They contain all the same hit altindie records or whatever

If we instead made a list of the most under-rated and painfully overlooked albums of the decade, it would actually contain the best shit you’ve never heard

We gathered the most discerning music fans we’ve got and asked for their 5 favorite under-rated records of this decade

Nobody explained to them what ‘under-rated’ means

Nobody on earth knows what that means

Then we voted on which of these obscure records are the best

No, you don’t get to vote, be quiet

Are below, in order, with samples

It’s been a hard ten years, but once we danced on top of a car, and that other time this person said they loved our sense of humor. They were lying, but it still felt good

ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩbegin data transmission beep boop beep computer talkΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ
jf = john foster
ph = peter heyneman
sl = svetlana obviously
c = cale
w = winston of thecouchsessions.com

25. Amy Winehouse – Frank (2003)

Even though Amy gained international success from Back to Black, her debut album, Frank is still slept on and is simply a work of art. Amy puts her spin on Adult Contemporary jazz, with tracks like “Take The Box,” covers of “Moody’s Mood for Love,” and sampled Nas on “In My Bed.”(W)

24. Decomposure — At Home and Unaffected (2005)

Glitch emo makes perfect sense to me. Bonus: probably the first CD I downloaded from eMusic, and the only one from Canada. Anyway, um, Mouse on Mars meets Get Up Kids, so I guess this is right on Postal Service’s lawn. Now that Owl City is being played on Mix 107.3 it’s all the more criminal that these guys aren’t more recognized. (PH)

23. Sin Fang Bous — Clangour (2009)

Iceland’s favorite pop-folky collective Seabear frontman Sindri returns to his roots as a one-man band (not that you can hear it) with an amazingly sweet, strummy, glitchy, catchy, weird handful of pop. In an alternate universe this is the soundtrack to every VW commercial. (JF)

22. Dears – No Cities Left (2004)

Mainly because “The Second Part” is the #1 song for anyone to cry to ever and it is right in the middle of the record so the rest of the album just serves it up as a perfect climax. (SL)

21. My Teenage Stride — Ears Like Golden Bats (2007)

I don’t have anything to say about this record. I don’t know anything about them except that “To Live and Die In The Airport Lounge” rips a large portion from a Brian Eno song and that there was certain period in 2008 when I listened to the whole record every day and gasped and sighed like beached sperm whale until I fell asleep so I wish more people had heard it. (PH)

20. hollAnd — I Steal and Do Drugs (2004)

DC to NYC to DC’s Trevor Kampmann makes some of my favorite music by taking apart what is recorded and slashing it up and then putting it back together just a little off from where it began. All of it is good but on this record he truly concentrates on fucking things up but keeping them simple and poppy, especially in his early 80’s keyboard washes. All of those electro-moody bands wish they sounded like hollAnd did 10 years earlier. (JF)

19. Holopaw — S/T  (2003)

John Orth’s high pitched country twang cries out into the Florida night and it’s heavy air. Simple songs, filled with lyrical oddities, start to seep into your soul and won’t ever let go. The end result is something that seems timeless yet forever out of place. (JF)

18. Scene Creamers – I Suck On That Emotion (2003)

In 2003 I heard this playing over the stereo at some used CD store in Falls Church.  I fell in love with it before I really knew that much about Ian Svenonius/Make Up/Weird War, or that I was supposed to like it, or that it was local.  When I found out shortly after it all made sense and felt good throughout my entire body including my pee pee.  I said to my friend, I bet these guys are amazing live, and then I went and saw them and they were.  I then said I bet that guy Ian is the coolest, and then I met him and he was. (C)

Here is Better All The Time:

17. Music Go Music – Expressions (2009)

Because no one made better sing along pop in the last 5 years. (SL)

16. Devin Davis — Lonely People of the World Unite (2005)

This record should have made Davis as huge a star as Craig Finn among those who love Springsteen-hooks, folky laments, and Richard Hugo-ish sad poetry of small midwestern towns. But it didn’t. Shame on you, America. (PH)

15. Studio — West Coast (2007)

This is the record I play when I DJ  that everyone, no matter what kind of music they usually like, asks me about. An intoxicating mix of Durutti Column guitar lines drenched in Italian disco and moody New Order keyboard tangents that sounds like so many gorgeous touchstones, yet it is of it’s own in a magical sequence of tracks that seem to rush by even ranging  (JF)

14. AZ – A.W.O.L. (2005)

Nas protege AZ never got the fame that he should have, but his album A.W.O.L. is a wonderfully crafted album from beginning to end, highlighting his skills as an MC over some of the dopest East Coast beats this decade. (W)

13. Grandaddy — Sumday (2003)

Because “The Softvare SLump” is on Pitchfork’s “best of 2000s” list and it’s not fair that this record isn’t. “Now it’s on” is one of my favorite songs ever. (SL)

FATAL EXCEPTION whoops, this should actually be higher in the list, I would have voted for it but I thought it was mine (we weren’t supposed to vote for our own) cause it was in my runner ups.  def a “go to” record forever. –cale END FLAGRANT SYSTEM ERROR

12. frYars – The Ides (2007)

Technically a single or EP but whatever, this guy is so weird and beautiful and everyone that hears him falls in love instantly.  Maybe Malcom Gladwell can figure out why he hasn’t tipped yet… probably not though. (C)

Here is Madeline:

11.Mr Lif — I Phantom (2002)

Lif gets lumped in a lot with those underground MCs who talk very portentously about end of the world shit and can’t rock a party but this record is proof he can do both. Highly rated when it came out, it’s been mostly ignored ever since, and tragically, as the storytelling power of songs like “Return of the B-boy” bring to mind Slick Rick and Welcome to the Terrordome. (PH)

10. 1990s – Cookies (2007)

Ex-Yummy Fur dudes make a simple scrappy indie rock album and play simple scrappy indie rock shows.  Yet they’re like the best simple scrappy indie rock band evaaaar.  Then they made a slightly more polished follow up and it’s just as good and I love them even more now.  You should too. (C)

Here is You Made Me Like It:

9. Alice Russell – Under The Munka Moon (2004)

One of the best R&B albums this decade. Hands down. Brighton UK’s Alice Russell, best known for her cover of The White Stripe’s Seven Nation Army has one of the best voices in the genre and this album highlights it well, with production that is vastly influenced by Northern Soul and American R&B. (W)

8. South – From Here On In (2001)
One of my favorite British rock albums of all time. South’s From Here On In fuses the low key vibes of Radiohead and Stereophonics and crafts an experimental, yet accessible ambient rock. (W)

7. Josephine Foster — All the Leaves Are Gone (2004)

The best, weirdest freak folk voice meets up with swirling guitars and live sounding rock production. What Newsum’s “Ys” should have been plus 4 Kate McGarrigles. Not just criminally under-exposed, but also my favorite angry break up music. (PH)

6. Piano Magic — Part-Monster (2007)

Glen Johnson has surrounded himself with quirky dark compatriots over the years and a large pile of music has been the result. Entering the new millennium those recordings kept getting more and more consistent and engaging finally climaxing in the cinematic stories that populate “Part-Monster.” Produced by Guy Fixsen, it is the ultimate showcase for his somber tales. (JF)

5. Ween – White Pepper (2000)

The White Album + Sgt Pepper.  Ok, maybe not that good, but way better than you might think.  They’ll always get knocked down a notch cause they infuse humor into their music, but if this was in another language I couldn’t understand it would still be brilliant. (C)

Here is Exactly Where I’m At:

4. Wan Light — Carmaline (2005)

Which is one of those records that I never know if everyone knows about or not but “Eskimo in me”, “Carmaline, This Summer will be fine”, “TV crews” are all songs that you know if people like Clientele or whoever else released everyone would be OBSESSED WITH. (SL)

3. Masta Ace – A Long Hot Summer (2004)
Thought of as the New York MC’s “concept album” this is one of the most slept on hip-hop albums of all time. The concept is a long hot summer in Brooklyn and the story is crafted using production from 9th Wonder, DJ Spinna, Marco Polo and Nostradamus. (W)

2. Supersystem – Always Never Again (2005)

Ok, obviously these guys and Scene Creamers (see above) get a little boost from me for local pride, but seriously how good was this band?  They never got the credit they deserved during that dance punk heyday, yet their live shows did whatever you say now that “killed it” has been declared passé by Peter.  There are some great El Guapo records in the 00s as well, plus the follow up to this one, which was sadly their last. (C)

Here is Miracle:

And the most under-rated album of the entire decade, according to our calculations:

1. Emiliana Torrini — Me and Armini (2008)
i like girl music and this is really good stuff even if you don’t like girl music (SL)


Extra Data Points

  • C:
    Grandaddy – Sumday
    They Might Be Giants – Mink Car
    Stereolab – Margerine Eclipse
    Why? – Elephant Eyelash
    Optimo – How To Kill The DJ Part II
    Fujiya & Miyagi – Transparent Things
    Komeda – Kokomemedada
    Mason Jennings – s/t
  • JF:
    Ugly Casanova — Sharpen Your Teeth
    Single: Jesse McCartney’s “Leavin” acoustic version
    Reissue: Slowdive “Catch the Breeze”
  • SL:
    Long Winters — When I Pretend to Fall
    Lake–The Places We’ll Go
    That Long Blondes Record
    And I also really like Friendly Fires
  • PH:
    Pigeon John — and the Summertime Pool Party
    1900s — Cold and Kind
    Long Blondes — Someone to Drive You Home
    Black Lipstick — Converted Thieves
    Call and Response– ST