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My Top 20 Albums of 2000

Well, it's that time of the year again (actually, I'm running a bit late this year, but I've been damn busy) for my top releases of the year list. Like last year, I've bumped up my list to 20 releases that I thought kicked ass, as it was yet another really good year for music. As always, there are still a couple things I just didn't get around to hearing over the past 12 months, but will probably get to at some point in the near future, but these are my picks as of now. I'll update and revise this list over the course of the next year or so, but this is as things stand right now. As usual, they're listed in order of how much they move me and how much time they've spent in my CD player. As always, feel free to laugh at me, call me names, or simply suggest something that I should have heard via email.

1. Sigur Ros - Aegetis Byrjun (Fat Cat)
While this release technically came out in late 1999, it didn't see much of a release beyond the borders of Iceland until this past year. In terms of music that swept me up and created a whole new world for me, this is a release that does it for me with nearly every listen. It's absolutely stunning, and I cannot wait to hear more by the young group in the future. Goosebumps every time I hear it still. full review

2. Do Make Say Think - Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead (Constellation)
I've had people laugh at me before when I say that one of the most important things to me in music is "texture" and this release has some of the most amazing ones that I've heard in a long time. One of the most underrated releases this year in my mind, and another great offering by the duo. Instrumental sweetness, plain and simple. full review

3. Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antenna To Heaven (Kranky)
Call me biased, but I think that this 2CD release is just another great step for this large musical ensemble. Not only did I see them in concert this year (something I think that everyone should do at some point), but bought this release while at the show and listened as they fine tuned their cinematic soundscapes. Discover them now if you've somehow managed to avoid it thusfar. full review

4. Deltron 3030 - Self-Titled (Ark 75)
Have I lost my nuggets putting a hip-hop album in my top 10 releases when I review indie rock and electronic music? Although the answer to that question is maybe, I still think this album has provided more head-bobbing fun and smiles than nearly anything else I heard in 2000. I'm a white kid in the midwest and can't rap to save my life, but damned if the Automater, Del, and Kid Koala don't have me feeling like an intergalactic sidekick after listening to this release. full review

5. Radiohead - Kid A (Capitol)
I've read so many damn positive reviews and theories on this release that I'm surprised the backlash hasn't killed it completely for me, but I can't deny that this is yet another fine release by the group. It's a bit twitchy and certainly not as instantly likeable as their other stuff, but that doesn't reduce its impact one bit. full review

6. Spring Heel Jack - Disappeared (Thirsty Ear)
Huh? Drum and bass is dead? It's not really dead, just in sort of a slumber and going through a bit of metamorphasis and this UK duo has awakened the lumbering beast and given it a new coat. Adding lots of live sounding instrumentation and a more avant gard sensibility to things, Coxon and Wales created a brand new bag that conjured up images of steam coming off night streets and stanky back alleys. By the way, it kicks. full review

7. Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (Matador)
They've been around for over 10 years, but it took me until 2000 to discover them and fortunately it was just in time to hear one of the best releases of their career. Slow and meandering (for the most part), this is a subtle, beautiful album that will take awhile to digest, but will move you with its honesty and simplicity. full review

8. Dirty Three - Whatever You Love You Are (Touch N Go)
I can't believe that I didn't see this on more year-end lists, but maybe it's just because this group is more of an aquired taste than a lot of other things. Still, this is one of their most accessible and interesting albums to date, with nicely layered strings and even more great melodies performed by only a trio of musicians. Another group to discover finally if you haven't already. full review

9. Hungry Ghosts - Alone Alone (Smells Like Records)
This is yet another trio out of Australia, and like their fellow countrymen the Dirty Three, they play a melancholy batch of cinematic instrumental tracks that will tug at your insides and make you feel like the lonely life might be one that's a lot better. Although they're more sparse in their arrangements, they make every note count. full review

10. Arab Strap - Elephant Shoe (Jetset)
Just in case you hadn't gotten enough of their mope rock, this Scottish duo was back with their 3rd full length. With even more brutal songs about relationships and life in general, they can tend to suck the life out of a listener pretty quickly, but they managed to offset this release with a few songs that show a faint glimmer of hope. That, my friends, is a very good thing. full review

11. Modest Mouse - The Moon And Antarctica (Epic)
The first time I heard this album, it didn't really do a whole lot for me, but that was based on crappy computer speakers at work. True, this is on a big label, but this is the Modest Mouse and they've created another excellent album. It's a little more layered than before, but the trio does the most with their new production and simply adds to what is great about them. full review

12. Pole - 3 (Matador)
Like a lot of the other releases in this list, this release is definitely an aquired taste. Although I really did think that the charm of Stefan Betke's 'glitch dub' would wear thin after two releases, he somehow managed to squeeze out another interesting batch of swimmingly good tracks that tug at you with throbs with serious low-end while keeping you just slightly off-balance with their somewhat haywire melodies composed by an out-of-wack filter. full review

13. Frankie Sparo - My Red Scare (Constellation)
Although I'm going to be accused of bias again, I can't help but include this release, as it keeps finding it's way back into my CD player months and months after I first got it. With spare, angular arrangements and wounded vocals that seem like the cool words you wished you'd written, Sparo writes post-folk tracks that have a vitality and freshness that I haven't heard in quite awhile. full review

14. A Silver Mt. Zion - He Has Left Us Alone... (Constellation)
Three releases from one small label in my top 20? You goddamn bet. This offshoot of GYBE! is sort of like a toned-down version of that group, but they also take off in some different directions and do their own thing quite beautifully as well. 8 interestingly named tracks of experimental chamber music. full review

15. The Doves - Lost Souls (Astralwerks)
On first listen, this album didn't do a whole lot for me, but upon subsequent spins it grew and grew. Lots of swirling guitars and just a touch of an electronic edge breathes just a touch of life into British rock. It feels overwrought at times and underdeveloped at others, but it all adds up to something quite nice. full review

16. Shalabai Effect - Self-Titled (Alien8Recordings)
When people think of trance music, they tend to think of squelched-out 303 lines and thumping beats, but this is my favorite 'trance' release of the year and it doesn't have either of those things. What this 2CD release does have is some amazing instrumentation with lots of little ethnic influences popping up and enough repetition and amazing sound textures to keep your ears occupied for quite some time. Put it on while you're in the bathtub and find yourself getting out with wrinkled skin. full review

17. Third Eye Foundation - Little Lost Soul (Merge)
On this, the fourth full-length album by Matt Elliot, he turned down the abrasive-ness just a bit, but still managed to keep the same amount of otherworldy sounds and spooky soundscapes he's known for. Much more accesible than past releases, this is the place to start if you've ever wondered about whether you should check this group out. The stuff of nightmares. In a good way. full review

18. Elysian Fields - Queen Of The Meadow (Jetset)
There's usually one album a year that I aquire that sort of inherits the title "sexiest album of the year" in my mind and this one is it. Breathy vocals that will send chills down your spine coupled with very nice arrangements that want to creep into goth territory (but stay clear of the traditional stereotypes), this is the perfect soundtrack to lighting a room full of candles, drizzling honey all over someone, and then slowly proceeding to clean up the sticky mess with your tongue (not that I would do such a thing). full review

19. King Biscuit Time - No Style EP (Astralwerks)
It's just an 8 song EP, but this 30 minute trip from Beta Band member Steve Mason is quite a trip. With some songs that sound like the Beta Band themselves and some songs that are just plain hopped up on goofballs, this release is very listenable and highly recommended for singing along with at high volumes. full review

20. VNV Nation - Empires (Metropolis)
I've already listed a hip-hop album in the top 20, so I might as well have this synthcore release in here as well. Like a slightly more gentle KMFDM or Depeche Mode gone aggro, this group throws down some wicked slammin beats, as well as actually singing their lyrics instead of growling them. They've still got some things to say about the world and where it's going, but the spoonful of synths helps the message go down. full review