During the polling for the Top 100 Albums of 2000-2009, 17 different Punknews staffers contributed, and we ended up with 17 different #1 picks for Best Album of the Decade. I engaged in "interviews" (more like conversations) with many of the poll's participants to talk about their #1 picks. These resulted in a discussions that are as varied and dynamic as the contributors themselves.
Over the course of the week Punknews will be presenting these interviews for your enjoyment.
Punknews writer Tom Crandle’s #1 pick:
Black President - Black President
JS: Hi Tom, how are you doing? For the Top 100 Albums of 2000-2009 poll of Punknews staff and reviewers, you chose as your #1 pick the 2008 self-titled release by supergroup Black President. Can you tell me a little bit about why that album is the top for you?
TC: I'm good, thanks. The Black President album, along with Gallows Orchestra of Wolves, really helped restore my faith in hardcore punk. Not the metallic stuff that's passed for hardxore in recent years, but hardcore PUNK. It was angry and political, and that voice… Like the Sex Pistols more than 30 years before them, their timing was perfect too. In what turned out to be a lucky gamble, Black President dropped on the day Obama was elected. Like so many great '80s punk bands, they made one amazing record and disappeared. I think I wanna listen to it right now.
JS: I'll give you a moment to take a listen and refresh your memory! So, yeah I'd never heard of Black President before this, so I gave them a listen. I can see where you're coming from. How did you hear of the band?
TC: I think maybe I heard "Last Fucking Hope" somewhere. Maybe on Marky Ramone's Punk Rock Blitzkrieg on satellite radio. The 2000s were a strange time for me. My oldest child was born in '99, so it's almost a lost decade for me. I mostly spent 10 years listening to old favorites.
I struggled to find 100 albums from that decade that I loved. Most of my very favorite records are from the late '80s, when I was a teenager!
JS: Haha! Are we like the old men of the crew, kind of thing? I guess that explains why you only made 50 picks out of 100.
But even within that fifty, you've got some pretty eclectic tastes, and some really good albums.
TC: How old are you Jeff?
JS: 44. I came into my teenage years towards the end of the 80s, and that's about the time I got into punk, too.
But yeah, I still find myself listening to the "oldies" more often than not. Haha!
TC: I didn't realize you're almost as old as me. I'm 45. I started out on hair metal and classic rock before I discovered punk in '87 or so.
JS: I started on Weird Al albums, but the first punk stuff I had was a cassette a friend made for me, one side was The Dead Milkmen Big Lizard in My Backyard and the other side was M.O.D. USA for M.O.D. I think those two wildly different albums kind of formed my disparate musical tastes for the rest of my life.
TC: I love both those albums too!
JS: Wow, we are WAAAY off topic! Haha! Maybe we should put together a Top 100 of '80-'89?
JS: That would be too hard!
TC: Maybe Top 1000.
JS: Getting back on course, not only is Black President's s/t album your number one pick, but it is also one of six albums which were chosen as a #1, but didn't receive ANY votes at all from any of the other contributors. What's your best guess as to why this album didn't rate at all amongst the other sixteen of us?
TC: It wasn't a big record. Although Greg Hetson was in an early version of the band, he was gone by the time they made the record. There was a dude from Goldfinger, but I don't think it would appeal to their fans. It wasn't on a big punk label either.
There is another less obvious factor too. Many of our writers are very young. They were listening to all kinds of crap, as is obvious by the list. I was listening to 99% punk. I didn't have time or interest in pop shit.
JS: Ouch. LOL!
TC: I listened to lots of different stuff when I was young too. I didn't mean that to sound excessively judgemental!
JS: No, no… I get it. "Get off my lawn!"
JS: If you had to pick one song off of the Black President album as your absolute favorite, which would it be, and why?
Give me a minute That's a tough one. I love each song in the record, but I'm gonna say "Who Do You Trust?" It sort of sums up the disillusionment of the era.
JS: OK, and now for the final question that I've been asking everyone: taking the decade out of the equation and looking at the breadth of all of the albums you've listened to, how would you rank this album?
Obviously it's just my opinion, but I think it holds up. I have no problem comparing it to some of my all time favorites. Of course, that's subject to change on any given day!
JS: It totally is! Well thanks for taking the time for a quick chat with me. I think I'm gonna go peruse my 80s library now and take a listen or two.
Punknews writer Sean Crawford’s #1 pick:
Bomb the Music Industry! - To Leave or Die in Long Island
JS: Good Morning, Sean! How's it going? For the Top 100 of '00-'09 poll, you put Bomb the Music Industry!'s 2005 LP To Leave or Die in Long Island. What is about this album that lead to your choice to put it at the pinnacle of your top albums of the decade?
SC: If I'm being completely honest: I don't know if I'd still stand by my choice to put To Leave or Die in Long Island at #1. Bomb the Music Industry! is still my favorite band but my favorite record of theirs is constantly changing. I'm glad that Scrambles and Get Warmer both made the main list instead since I've come to favor both of those records, but To Leave or Die in Long Island is still an impeccable collection of tracks. The sound and style of those first 3 BTMI! releases is still unmatched by anything I've heard up to this point and that particular release has great variety and pacing across its surprisingly short run time.
JS: Whoaaa… you're the first person to start backing off on their pick! I'm in uncharted waters here! Haha!
SC: Yeah we made those lists almost two years ago and my taste is constantly changing, so I didn't expect this to be a definitive ranking for myself, but I'm still pretty satisfied with my choices and stand by most of them.
One record I definitely would have put higher in retrospect was Osker's Idle Will Kill. I think I had listened to it a couple times when I first compiled my choices and I liked it, but that's a record I've come to enjoy more with time for sure.
JS: It has been a while, hasn't it. Oh, the speed of progress here at Punknews… haha! So, all things considering, it is interesting how those two other albums made the Top 100, but To Leave or Die… didn't. I’m not sure if you knew, but not only was it your #1 pick at the time, but you are also the ONLY person who put that album into their Top 100. What are your thoughts on that (or, at least, try to put yourself into your 2018 mindset)?
SC: I will say that, even though I don't think it's the best record of the decade anymore, I am still surprised that it wasn't included by anyone else. I've always thought, though a bit unorthodox to the sound that's come to be associated with it, Bomb the Music Industry! was a pretty big part of the whole "org-core" scene. Despite that, neither Album Minus Band nor Goodbye Cool World were included by anyone but me.
Then again, the band's output after those records incorporates more elements that were popular with the aforementioned "org-core" sound. There's a sort of rootsy feel to Get Warmer which aligns with the folk punk stylings popular on the site at the time, and Scrambles incorporates those strong Springsteen influences shared by bands like The Gaslight Anthem and Against Me! (both of which ranked very high on the final list).
JS: We'll come back to To Leave or Die… in a moment, especially since you've somewhat answered one of my final questions, but let me ask you this: with your ever-changing fave what, currently, would you put as the #1 album of the decade?
SC: That's a tough one. Maybe I'd stick with BTMI! and say Scrambles or possibly Idle Will Kill by Osker.
JS: Interesting. One of the commentators brought up Idle Will Kill in the announcement of the Top 100 poll. I'm not gonna lie, I've never heard of this album. But I'm also not going to lie, Epitaph put out a lot of shit in the late 90s-early 00s, and I kind of started ignoring the label. Maybe to my own detriment?
SC: Yeah I first found out about Osker through the Punk-O-Rama compilations so I first heard them surrounded by Epitaph's late 90s generic skate punk slog. The band's first record, Treatment 13 (while I do still love it) totally fits that generic skate punk sound but Idle Will Kill stuck out on those comps since it saw the band moving in a direction of their own.
Oh! And another record I wish I'd included would definitely be Motion City Soundtrack's Commit This To Memory. That record got voted pretty high by a couple of reviewers but failed to make the top 100. I included the band's debut, I Am the Movie on my list at a pretty respectable position, but that follow up has really grown to become one of my favorites of the decade despite not making my list at all the first time around.
JS: You're making this harder for me! Haha! So one of the final questions I ask is, if you take the '00-'09 limitation out of the picture, how your #1 stacks up against your favorite albums of all time. Now, I know you've wavered a bit since first putting your list together well over a year ago, but I guess the question is still valid: Where does To Leave or Die in Long Island fit in your pantheon of all-time favorite albums?
SC: To Leave or Die in Long Island was an easy choice for me at the time because it was my all-time favorite record. I'd still say a lot of my favorite records came out between '00-'09 or even later (I'm definitely excited to partake if we attempt to do this again for the current decade). There were some records from artists who were still yet to hit their primes and wouldn't do so until 2010 or later but showed a lot of promise on those really releases regardless. I previously discussed how Scrambles and Get Warmer had overtaken To Leave or Die in Long Island as my favorite from Bomb the Music Industry!, but, in reality, I'd say their best release is a toss up between Scrambles and Vacation, an album which came out after the timeframe in question. Overall, I still think To Leave or Die in Long Island is a really great release but it might not be the spotless masterpiece I once considered it to be, especially since most of the ideas Jeff (Rosenstock) introduced with those songs are better executed in his subsequent material.
JS: I can believe that answer. So… without question, and you can only pick one, what is your favorite song on To Leave or Die in Long Island?
SC: “Syke! Life is Awesome!” for sure. That's still one of my favorite songs of all time and it pretty effectively encapsulates most of the elements I love from a band that has so many different points of appeal for me.
JS: Good choice! Well, Sean, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about what was your #1 pick for 2000-2009! We'll defo do this again when we do the 2010-2019 poll!
Punknews writer Johnathon Gallienne’s #1 pick:
At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command
JS: Hey Johnathon (or John? which do you want me to call you?)! For the Top 100 of 2000-2009 poll of Punknews staff and reviewers, you picked At The Drive-In's 2000 LP Relationship of Command as your favorite release of the decade. What draws you to that album as the #1 pick?
JG: I woke up one morning, back when MTV still played videos, and saw the video for "One Armed Scissor" on TV. It was something unlike anything else I'd seen at that point, on MTV at least. And there was an honesty to it you rarely found in mainstream music at that point.
JS: I can imagine. Even when MTV was actively at its "punkest," you still didn't see a lot of the post-hardcore acts with any semblance of significant air-time. Was this your first introduction to At The Drive-In? Had you heard, or even heard of, them prior to that?
JG: I hadn't, when my friends got into punk … I was into Rage Against the Machine and other aggressive bands. So, when I went to the local music store to buy my first punk album I saw the cover to the first Bad Brains album and thought the cover was cool. That lead me to getting into DC hardcore and other 80's punk bands while my peers were getting into Blink 182, New Found Glory, Sum 41, and the like.
JS: I can totally see why ATDI would appeal to you, then. As the DC scene from the mid-late 80s had a bunch of great post-hardcore acts. Since you got into the band at, what one can argue, was the tail-end of the first part of their career, does Relationship… hold any special sway over you compared to their earlier albums?
JG: I think it's always going to feel like coming home again, with that band. I think In Casino Out is the better album, musically speaking. But, I discovered it after Relationship… so it wasn't this new and exciting thing. It was just a continuation of what I already knew.
JS: That makes a lot of sense (and it seems to be a running theme). If you had to pick one song from the album as your favorite, which would it be?
JG: Invalid Litter Dept. it was such a departure, musically, from everything else on the album. And the lyrics were delivered in a manner more reminiscent of slam poetry than a standard singing style.
JS: Especially how it juxtaposes with the very gentle sounding "Dancing on the corpses ashes," right?
JG: That and, once the internet made such information easily available, I found out that the song dealt with the Juarez Murders. Which, being able to read about real world events that inspire lyrics, has always been a passion of mine.
JS: There are worse passions to have but, yeah, the vastness of the internet has made it so much easier to learn the deeper meaning of our favorite songs. I guess that can be both a blessing and a curse in some ways. It's a blessing in the sense that I can learn anything I want to know about music, it's a curse in the sense I may have not had a social life at the tailend of high school because I was always doing this.
JG: Haha! Yeah. I think the curse part comes from thinking a song has deep meaning, and finding out it really doesn’t. I’ve been burned by that before.
JS: “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam is a classic example of that. I can’t think of that song anymore without thinking of that old misheard lyrics version that went around the internet back when: “Can you see Dems?” Haha. I know Pearl Jam tries to justify that song, but I think their being a bit revisionist about it’s history.
JG: If anyone thinks that song was anything but a guitar jam they're already lying to themselves LOL!
JS: Here's a last question: Taking this album out of the '00-'09 limitation how, in general, would it stack up against your favorite albums of all-time?
JG: It's still Top 50, but with another decade of new music discovered and a decade of discovering oldee music I haven't heard has pushed it out of the Top 10. I've found as I've gotten older, I still love powerful, inspired, and intelligent music. But, I find those elements present in Fela Kuti, The Coup, Peter Tosh, Steve Earle, and various other bands. Those we're all groups I didn't even know existed as a teenager.
JS: I can see that happening. I still find music from past decades that I love now. I often find myself wondering if I would've felt as strongly about some of it if I had listened to it at the time, you know?
JG: I think that's hard to say, especially for rock fans, especially with genres of music that don't draw from traditional rock or blues as much as they draw from genres that weren't initially based on blues progression and Bo Diddley beats.
JS: Yeah, I can see that. Johnathon, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to talk about your #1 pick with me. It's been great!