Radiohead? Arcade Fire? Interpol? The Strokes? The White Stripes? Animal Collective? Yeah, we've heard of 'em. For us, though, there was a much more intriguing, compelling batch of bands that weren't -- for the most part, anyway -- overhyped and overexposed this decade. (Plus: As much as we love that first Arcade Fire album, we'd gladly go back and time and assassinate the whole vest-wearing, cello-wielding lot of them if it meant never having to hear hundreds of shitty Arcade Fire knockoffs. So in the spirit of sheer contrarianism, here's another list of top ten songs of the '00s, mostly sans indie-rock -- since we've already scaled that mountain. We're already mad at ourselves for leaving Godpseed You! Black Emperor of this list, but what can you do?
10. Jesu, "Weightless & Horizontal"
Clocking in at ten minutes, "Weightless" feels more like an eternity -- and that's just the first half of the song. As Justin Broadrick's narcoleptic melancholy and god-sized guitars spiral upward into some hitherto unimagined afterlife, his last four minutes of bludgeoning bliss render the listener appropriately comatose. And who didn't need a nice dose of oblivion this decade?
9. Nina Nastasia and Jim White, "In the Evening" 2007 saw Nina Nastasia -- who makes Cat Power look like Judy Collins -- collaborate with The Dirty Three's Jim White. Armed with just voice, acoustic guitar and White's confoundingly angular, avant-jazz timekeeping, Nastasia proceeded to make one stunning album -- and the best track, "In the Evening," fractures hearts in the most deep and secret ways.
8. Converge, "Phoenix in Flight"/"Phoenix in Flames" Taken as a whole, the two uninterrupted tracks that open Converge's 2001 masterpiece Jane Doe exemplify everything that rules about the band: First is the long, evil, pulsing drone; second is the 42-second salvo of sonic and psychic shrapnel. Neither metal nor hardcore would ever sound the same.
7. Midlake, "Roscoe" Sounding like Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac as filtered through the wreckage of indie-rock circa 2006, "Roscoe" unfolds like a poisonous flower--beguiling and subliminally sinister. Peek under the surface, though, and the song is even richer, shrouded in bucolic mystery and sheer, shadowy wonder. Even better: It breathes.
6. Sigur Rós, "Svefn-g-englar" Forget that this song has been regrettably overused in movies and TV shows (not to mention the fact that it technically came out as import in late 1999). Surging and celestial, it remains Sigur Rós' calling card -- not to mention a track that set the tone for the long, beautiful yet nightmarish decade to follow.
5. Drive-By Truckers, "Danko/Manuel" Drive-By Truckers' Jason Isbell confesses his reverence -- in a literate, roundabout kinda way -- for The Band's late, great Rick Danko and Richard Manuel. Slithering around muted chords and a mournful twang that shoots right up the spine, Isbell's smooth yet smoky voice renders "Danko/Manual" a scarred and skeletal mini-masterpiece.
4. Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?" Packing about a zillion musical references -- including the Clash, the Kinks, Slaughter & The Dogs and the Specials -- in five minutes, Ted Leo's "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?" is more than just one of the songs that put The Pharmacists on the map this decade. It's a catchy-as-hell ode to the punk smarts that Leo has almost singlehandedly kept alive in the '00s.
3. Sleep, "Dopesmoker" Granted, Sleep's hour-long "Dopesmoker" isn't just a song, it comprises the entire album of the same name -- and although it was released in 2003, it was recorded many years earlier, before its members went on to form Om and High on Fire. Those potential disqualifications aside, "Dopesmoker" is simply one of the heaviest, most heavenly slabs of guitar sludge ever committed to disc.
2. Botch, "Mondrian Was a Liar" Lobbed in the general direction of the future on the first day of 2000, Botch's We Are the Romans set the tone for the decade's mathcore and metalcore. At the same time, the band surpassed all that was to come: Romans's high point, "Mondrian Was a Liar," blends hardcore, metal and reckless deconstruction into a chugging maelstrom of belligerence.
1. The Thermals, "Brace and Break" "Take the controls/Grab hold/Get fucking ready," rants The Thermals' Hutch Harris on "Brace and Break." The rest of the band's 2003 debut, More Parts Per Million, is just as energizing and enervating. And while Harris' Buzzcocks-meets-Superchunk attack has mellowed and matured a bit since then, "Brace" still brings it all back home.
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