With the turn of the calendar to 2011 the time has come for a retrospective of the decade which has just ended, the first decade of the new millennium. To that end I offer this list of the best albums to be released between the years 2001 and 2010. I make no pretension that the scope of this endeavor will be exhaustive of the pop music world more generally. If, however, you are conversant in the indie pop/power pop vernacular there should be much to agree or argue with, which is always the point of these types of lists.
That being said, let's get to work!
#40 Michael Carpenter - Rolling Ball (Not Lame Records, 2004)
The vibe is a little less frenetic than on some of Carpenter's other work, which works well on this collection of tunes. The feel is more 70's AM radio than the 60's California sound prevalent on albums like Baby. The title track, "Everyday," "You & Me," and "On My Mind" stand out here.
#39 The Holloways - So This Is Great Britain (TVT Records, 2007)
Upon hearing "Generator" from The Holloways a buddy of mine commented, "Oh, ska. I like a little ska sometimes." To my ears this was a completely inadequate response to one of the truly great tracks of the last ten years. Sure, the comparison to groups like Madness are easily made, but The Holloways offer so much more. In spirit the title track has more in common with the Pistols' "God Save The Queen" than it does with "Our House." Other standouts include "Two Left Feet," "Fit for a Fortnight," "F**k Ups," and, especially, the wonderfully quirky "Malcontented One."
#38 The Wellingtons - Heading North for the Winter (Lojinx, 2008)
This records flirts with being too precious for its own good. For me, however, it always remains on the correct side of the line. "Come Undone" and "I Get my Heart Broken Everyday" offer as formidable a one two punch as you are likely to find on a power pop record and, in another era, would have made a killer double A-sided single. "For Friends in Far Away Places," "Song for Kim," and "On & Off" keep things moving, but it is a vastly superior bonus acoustic version of their 2005 song "Help Me Fall" which really elevates this fine album.
#37 Paul Collins - King of Power Pop (Alive Records, 2010)
This is the type of album that offers the listener a choice; love it or hate it. The spirit of the album tries to channel what would happen if a 20-something wannabe popster where given the keys to a recording studio in 1979 and told, "It's yours until 9AM tomorrow, kid. Make the most of it." At times clean and polished, at times raw and rough, the energy rarely lags. "Do You Wanna Love Me?," "Doin' it for the Ladies," "Losing Your Cool" and the stylish "Hurtin's on my Side" stand out here. Cool covers of "The Letter" (surprisingly effective) and "You Tore Me Down" (miscast as the album ender) add to the proceedings.
#36 Webb Wilder - About Time (Landslide, 2005)
Webb Wilder has forgotten more about rock n' roll than most artists will ever know. This album finds him mastering an absolutely vast expanse of popular American music. Everything from the jokey ("Down on the Farm"), to the slick ("I Just Had to Laugh") to the sublime ("The Only One") is handled with deceptive ease. Hell, if you ever longed for something new and Johnny Horton-esque, Webb's got that covered as well ("Scattergun").