Great Albums, Bad Bands and Even Numbers

I’d like to start this week’s column reminding readers that opinion-based pieces appearing in buzz do not reflect the thoughts and feelings of the staff as a whole. My column is a perfect example of that and so is … let’s just say, last week’s piece entitled “The Four.” A new weekly feature where a staffer will talk about four albums that fit a theme or idea, last week’s edition features one writer’s “best albums of the century so far.” Just to reiterate, opinions expressed in buzz do not necessarily reflect the magazine’s views.

Moving on, I happened to be thinking about how bad of an album Plans by Death Cab for Cutie was. I mean, it was pretty much a bad imitation of the same type of songs the band was making for years. That reminds me, Plans was one of the four best albums since 2000 on that kid’s list. I thought that was interesting, considering We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes and The Photo Album, widely known as the band’s best work, were released in 2000 and 2001 respectively. I like those albums because there was something so immediate and so real, as opposed to the generic sap pop of Plans.

But anyways, back to the column. Oh, you know what, wasn’t Cassadaga by Bright Eyes also on that list? That’s kind of like the Death Cab thing – playing that album is literally listening to poop compared to other Bright Eyes material. I cleaned my ears out after I listened to it, and there were feces in my ears. I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning or Lifted, or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground would be Bright Eyes’ best, I’d think.

The thing is, those bands aren’t really “best of a century” caliber. Even though I’d be more inclined to listen to Bright Eyes than a lot of things, wouldn’t something like Stankonia by Outkast be perfect for a list like that? It had big hits and had moments of pure brilliance. Even Speakerboxxx/The Love Below could qualify; it’s hard to ignore their innovation and overall appeal.

Radiohead’s Kid A and Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot didn’t appear in The Four either. I know it’s only a list of four, but I think either one of these albums would beat out Coldplay’s sophomore slump A Rush of Blood to the Head (also appearing on the list).

Besides big acts like Outkast and Radiohead, there are dozens of lower tier musicians that have put out brilliant material these past seven years. Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Okkervil River, The Hold Steady, Spoon, TV on the Radio, and Animal Collective all come to mind. Commercially successful acts like The Strokes, Nelly Furtado, Kanye West and The White Stripes also pushed genre boundaries and public expectations.

Everything written here is solely my opinion, but I think a lot of people would agree with me. Sometimes an argument may be made that music hasn’t been good since rock was fresh or punk was real or country was genuine, but there’s always great art around us. Music is always changing and there’s always something that will change the way its listeners hear and see the world around them. There’s not just four, but countless albums that deserve some accolades … just not Plans, Cassadaga, or anything by Coldplay.

Brian is opinionated and can be reached at

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