This list of 200 great albums, my belated decade retrospective, is an attempt to capture the essence of the past decade in music, as I’ve experienced it. The years from 2000-2009 happened to coincide almost exactly with my own education in music, the time in my life, from college onward, when I became deeply invested in and immersed in music of all sorts. It was during this time that I began writing about music, that I explored previously unimagined styles and forms, that I started my own record label and began recording my own work. This list is a tribute to the artists and albums that opened my ears to the dizzying diversity of sonic possibilities that we so conveniently lump together as “music.” It is an attempt to corral the breadth of my listening, without subduing the catholicity, sprawl, noise and messiness that make music so exciting to me in the first place.
The fact that this list is composed of so much varied music made it difficult, if not impossible, to assemble in any coherent fashion. In some respects, it’s a pointless exercise to balance the relative merits of records so different from one another as to be from different universes—but nor did I want to separate out different musical areas into their respective ghettos. All rankings here are approximate, then, general markers of my appreciation for a particular album. In the interests of preserving the list’s variety, I’ve also limited each artist to a maximum of three separate entries. Scattered throughout the blurbs are quotes from reviews I wrote when these albums were new, to connect this list back to my last ten years of listening and writing about music. I hope this list does for perhaps a few people what the music I’m talking about here did for me: excited me, suggested new possibilities in sound, made me happy, moved me, shocked me, made me sit up and listen intently.