This was hard. Really hard. The criteria I used was sort of an average of how often I hit the repeat button on my iPod or Diamond Rio or discman at the time it first came out and how often I listen to it now. For example, I listened to the first Killers album multiple times a day when it first came out and then never listened to it again. As a matter of fact, I almost forgot it when considering this list because it’s not even on my computer. Wow, who’d have seen that coming? But these all have stood the test of time and are still regulars on my playlist.
(Songs are either my favorite on the record or the one referenced in the description; songs don’t appear in RSS, sorry)
10. Radiohead/In Rainbows (2007)
There’s a mini-stereo system in my bathroom where I mostly listen to WRXP, sometimes the news in the morning, occasionally I attach my iPod but it’s awkward. There’s been one CD in the player for the last two years, I kid you not. It is this one.
9. Deftones/White Pony (2000)
Once, I stood outside the Roseland Ballroom without a ticket to the Deftones show on the White Pony tour. The scalpers were charging $75 and I just couldn’t see paying it. So I headed home, switched on my discman, and as the opening bars of Feiticeira played, some power turned my legs around and made me go back to bargain with the scalper. I knew I could not spend another evening of my life not seeing this album performed live (I paid $60 in the end).
8. Keane/Hopes and Fears (2004)
A very emotional album for me, big in my life at the time my mother was ill. Still hard to listen to without crying (it’s a pretty emotional record even when not associated with the death of a loved one) but I try because it’s that good.
7. Muse/Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only music that can make my legs keep going when all the run has gone out of them. Big, beautiful, vast, emotional.
6. Interpol/Antics (2004)
At a certain moment of my life, I could have done with a 64MB mp3 player because really, this was the only thing I was listening to for months and months and months. This was the other side of Keane for me: the album that made everything OK when it really wasn’t.
5. Animal Collective/Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
Too soon? This is really the only time I’ve agreed with all the critics. I waited and waited for this album to come out and it was just as amazing as I’d expected. But even now the utter joy and jubilation of this record can still make my heart burst and my body sing. How could you not be happy when this song is playing?
4. Editors/An End Has A Start (2007)
An album in the old-fashioned sense of the word, I never listen to this record unless I can commit to the whole thing. It has no part in any kind of shuffle, let me tell you. The hardest on this list from which to choose just one song. Dark, beautiful, perfect.
3. Deftones/Saturday Night Wrist (2006)
So personal that it’s hard to write something here. If I had to in a few words I think it would be, “the sound of pain.” I would still be listening to this non-stop… if I could.
2. Neil Finn/One All (2002)
Could this be the perfect album? Exquisite pop sensibility, intelligent lyrics, soaringly happy and poignantly sad? I think so! It might just be the greatest pop record since Jellyfish’s Bellybutton. Every year since 2002, when I walk down the boardwalk entrance to the US Open into the bright sunshine, this is the song that is on my iPod. (Also contains one of the saddest and truest songs I’ve ever known… all on the same record).
1. Interpol/Turn On the Bright Lights (2002)
If all the music in the world was gone and this was the only album in the universe left to listen to, I think I would be OK with it. It still feels exactly as magical when I hear it now as when I did for the very first time. I knew pretty much from the opening notes that this was going to be one of my favorite bands ever.
Honorable mentions go to (going in order by year):
Radiohead/Kid A (2000), New Order/Get Ready (2001), Tool/Lateralus (2001), Spoon/Girls Can Tell (2001), The Vines/Highly Evolved (2002), Radiohead/Hail to the Thief (2003), The Rapture/Echoes (2003), Franz Ferdinand/Franz Ferdinand (2004), Depeche Mode/Playing the Angel (2005), Nine Inch Nails/Year Zero (2007).