Emo, screamo, hardcore... these names conjure trust fund babies in the East Bay of San Francisco or New Jersey trying to seem cool, but rest assured, the fountainhead of all of that: this furious, explosive opus from El Paso, Texas, circa 2000, is one of the last great rock and roll album. Huge afros in tow, Cedric and Omar (who went on to form the still-good-but-not-nearly-as-good followup project The Mars Volta) lead these boys on a roller coaster ride of virtuous punk/metal music and punishing vocals ranging from melodic sing song to rap to metal screaming that's not for everyone but for those people who can handle it, they already know this is the defining album of the decade for rock and possibly the last work by the last true rock stars on earth.
In 1999 I made my first trip to New York City by car. The day after driving in (I didn't even know Brooklyn was on a separate island from Manhattan) I found myself in an hourly studio in the lower east side blasting music with an echo pedal just purchased from Sam Ash. Little did i know, in those same studios, around the same time, the band that would become Interpol was experimenting with similar sounds. Fusing a brilliant combination of rare (at the time) influences such as the Chameleons and Joy Division, with themes urban isolation and lonliness, this record goes from start to finish and never misses a punishing beat. While their followups sadly fell very far from the tree, there is no doubt that Interpol created one of the very finest records of the 2000s with this one.
Queer cinema luminary Gregg Araki's adaptation of the novel Mysterious Skin, a beautiful, sad and powerfully uplifting film about two adults confronting their mutual childhood sexual abuse, is one of the greatest films of the decade. However, the soundtrack, composed by former Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie and dreampop/ambient pianist god Harold Budd, is one of the gratest film scores ever composed, perfectly complimenting Araki's dreamy and disturbing masterpiece. This record serves as a gateway album to the amazing body of work created by Harold Budd and, possibly, the cocteau twins, and most importantly, the film itself.
I was extremely lucky to have this band enter my life. Went to see a big touring band at Bottom of the Hill and was treated to this mind-blowing band, who was opening. Amusement Parks on Fire is the brainchild of at-the-time 19 year old Michael Feerick of the United Kingdom. He composed, performed, recorded and produced this album with very little help. Pure passion is the theme here, a thick drone of bold effects guitars and gazer vocals that only a young heart could fearlessly lay down onto a record, which is one of my very favorite albums of all time and one of the greatest of the decade.
Just squeaking in at the end of a decade ruled by rock comes the pop fashion goddess Lady Gaga, demolishing everything around her in a delightfully shallow and brilliant pop record that would make Michael Jackson proud. But don't judge too quickly: a musical and performing prodigy from a young age, Stefani Germanotta dropped out of the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts to pursue the life of a pop goddess and this record is the testament to and record of her success at that quest. Where will she go from here? Everybody is watching and in the meantime, they are being rocked to the core by this outstanding record perfectly fusing rock, dance, hip hop and R&B elements from start to finish.