Almost forgot to post today...
11. Converge - Jane Doe (2001)
The inclusion of this album doesn't really need any justification; it's really become a classic of the metalcore genre. It's been imitated so much, though never replicated, not even by Converge themselves. How could anyone? It's a perfect album. It's not excessive nor lacking in ambition and creativity. It's furious and unrelenting, but never to its detriment. It finds the pefect balance between the genres it straddles and has a perfectly complimentary production aesthetic.
12. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (2008)
How is it possible that I really disliked Crystal Castles the first time I heard them? How did I not hear the genius of combining punk rock attitude and ruggedness with video game music style electronics? I guess I didn't really hear the punk part the first time I heard "Courtship Dating," which is admittedly a poppier song, a little less fierce and raw than "Alice Practice" and "Love And Caring." This is such a feel-good album, too. That's usually not I quality I associate with music I like, but this time I can't resist the fun. You can dance to practically every song on here and each one sounds totally different from the others. As an album, it may be a bit inconsistent, but it's such an energetic and just plain good collection of songs, that I don't really care (I still listen to it as an album most of the time). The only thing I dislike is the final track "Tell Me What To Swallow," which just goes too far, in that it is completely detached from the character of the rest of the album and just isn't very interesting anyway. Why close the album with the weakest tune, especially after such an excellent stretch of excellence? Either way, I'm still excited every time I listen to this album.
13. Desaparecidos - Read Music/Speak Spanish (2002)
I was briefly a fan of Conor Oberst's main gig, Bright Eyes, back in '03 with the release of the Lifted album, but then I discovered his lesser known rock and roll band, Desaparecidos. And their only album is a lot of drunken fun and railing against the establishment/corporate America/consumerism. The lyrical content is one of the principal reasons why I like this album, what with all the attacks on middle American values, but politics aside, it's such a fun rock n roll record with lots of loud, crunchy goodness. I guess any record in this style could have made my list and replaced this one (winkwink Titus Andronicus), but I think the brevity and catchiness help make this one really memorable and enjoyable.
14. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (2009)
Now, I do feel it is a bit early to determine a list such as the one I am currently writing, and even earlier to say what albums from 2009 ought to be a part of this list, BUT! that's not really stopping me from putting Bitte Orca on this list. And that's because it's just that good. The first few listens, I felt maybe this album was overrated, then I realized that it's not a Radiohead album. This is a subtle album, it seems so simple and offbeat at first, but the amount of detail on these songs is staggering. Even ignoring the catchiness, it survives as an interesting, artsy album. Every song seems like an experiment with form and sound, and they are all successful, though I'm a little less fond of "Remade Horizon" compared to the others. This album definitely takes time to actually understand and pick up on the details, but it's quite a satisfying listen.
15. Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless (2000)
What first caught my eye with this here band was the guitar work. Never had I heard grindcore music that had such serious riffage (see "Jigsaw"). Yet that's only one of the elements that makes Discordance Axis so incredible. The songs are chaotic, but the songwriting isn't: there's some good organization here, though it doesn't interfere with the awesome brutality. The drumming, courtesy of Dave Witte, is some of the best ever in extreme metal. I'm never bored or thinking "wow, this drummer needs to learn some new patterns/fills." Of course the vocals are pretty typical for the genre, but once again, so brutal. And nothing about this band feels or sounds hokey. It's serious and it's allowed to be since it's executed so perfectly. This particular album is easily the band's masterpiece. In addition to all the strictly musical elements, the production is spot on, the sequencing is highly effective (something so important with so many short songs), and the packaging is really cool. I think it wouldn't be an overstatement to call this one of the best grind albums ever. And there's no bass!