And on we go.
15. Transatlanticism – Death Cab For Cutie (2003) – link only for song ‘Transatlanticism’, Spotify needs to sort its life out sometimes
Death Cab have been a band for upwards of 10 years, and have a discography full of great records and brilliant songs. However, it was with their 5th album, 2003’s Transatlanticism, that they really hit their peak. Opening track ‘The New Year’ is arguably the band’s best, and kicks the record off with a heavier style than previous albums produced. With bangers like the title track ‘Transatlanticism’, ‘The Sound of Settling’ and ‘Expo ’86’, Ben Gibbard’s band show a willingness to, and an adeptness at, playing with a more rock-y tone. However, DCFC also display their more familiar chops with the quieter, contemplative ‘Passenger Seat’ and harmoniously glorious ‘Death of an Interior Decorator’. One of the best bands going at the moment, DCFC have repeatedly shown gifts that elevate them above contemporaries, and on Transatlanticism we see the Washington state four-piece at their absolute peak.
Sickest tracks: ‘Transatlanticism’, ‘The New Year’, ‘The Sound of Settling’, ‘Death of an Interior Decorator’.
14. The Blueprint – Jay-Z (2001)
Jay-Z is one of the founding fathers of modern rap music, that is not in question. Since his emergence from New York in the ’90s, he’s churned out countless hits and guided many more artists like Kanye West, as well as featuring on dozens of singles by artists from now-wife Beyoncé to Rihanna. The impact Shawn Carter has had on hip-hop is immeasurable, and his skills with a mic have never been more evident than on his seminal 2001 record. Not only does the album contain bangers like ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’, maybe his best-loved track, and ‘Heart of the City’, but it flows start-to-finish like very few rap albums can or do. Whilst paying homage to his hard graft in reaching the heights of stardom in ‘Never Change’, he loves to play with elements of comedy in ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and emotion in ‘Song Cry’. Managing to encompass a multitude of feelings in a single album, and mastering them all, the man known as Hova delivered a cut which still sets a benchmark for rap records.
Sickest tracks: ‘Never Change’, ‘Heart of the City’, ‘Izzo’, ‘Hola Hovito’.
13. Give Up – The Postal Service (2003)
Another criminally non-Spotified record, The Postal Service’s first and thus far only album is a gem of an electro-indie record. Death Cab For Cutie’s lead singer Ben Gibbard and electro artist Dntel (real name Jimmy Tamborello) combined to form the band in 2001, and in 2003 the fruits of their labour came into being. The record, which conflates Gibbard’s lyrical gifts with Tamborello’s ambient electronica, contains the rapidly-becoming-a-club-standard ‘Such Great Heights’, the melodic ‘Recycled Air’ and the driving ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’. This last song, the album’s best, features some of the most bittersweet lyrics Gibbard has yet conjured, along with witticisms and a clear portrayal of a dormant metropolis. Although not usually held up alongside DCFC’s work, Give Up should be given more respect, because it’s the best album Gibbard has been involved with. So dear Postal Service, reform? Please?
Sickest tracks: ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’, ‘Such Great Heights’, ‘Sleeping In’, ‘We Will Become Silhouettes’.
12. The Trials of Van Occupanther – Midlake (2006)
Yet another criminally underrated band, Texans Midlake yearn for a simpler time. Singing songs about rural living in the late 19th Century with an enthusiastic abandon, the band might not initially seem like a group destined for success, and they have yet to break into mainstream consciousness. However, this is not because they’re lacking in talent. With their second album the band really found stride (their follow-up The Courage of Others released this year is also excellent), with a great mix of piano-driven quasi-pop with ‘Roscoe’ and ‘It Covers the Hillsides’ and more acoustic tracks like ‘Bandits’ and ‘Chasing After Deer’. The five-piece from Texas may wish they lived in a time of log cabins and no electricity, but we are glad they don’t otherwise we might never have heard their brilliant record.
Sickest tracks: ‘Roscoe’, ‘Van Occupanther’, ‘Head Home’, ‘Branches’.
11. Limbeck – Limbeck (2007)
What better way to end this first 10 albums than with an utterly joyous album by the Southern California four-piece who simply seem to be loving their life in music. Very few bands sound like they’re enjoying themselves on record, but Limbeck are one of this select number. Limbeck’s fourth and most recent studio album is their best, full of great tracks like the bouncy ‘Big Drag’ and beautiful ‘Sunset Limited’. A band after my own heart (and inspiration for this blog), Limbeck might be the happiest band currently working, and as long as they keep making albums as good as this one, their fans are sure to be as happy as the men themselves.
Sickest tracks: ‘Sunset Limited’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Big Drag, ‘Wake Up’.