2004: Arcade Fire Funeral (Merge)
Who could forget this Montreal-based collective’s hauntingly uplifting debut, which ranks among the most impressive debut albums of all time? Funeral, inspired somewhat by the passing of several band members’ relatives, is both solemn elegy and an heartrending celebration. Famously veered towards stardom by perhaps the most positive Pitchfork review ever written, Arcade Fire’s youthful army of multi-talented musicians came storming out of the gate with Funeral’s thoughtfully anthemic choruses, which frequently transitioned from lines about the death of childhood to stunning wordless chants. NME made Funeral their #2 album of the 2000’s, but it’s my #1. And seeing Arcade Fire at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley in June of 2007 was, for me, like witnessing the reincarnation of the Clash. Spirit, energy…whatever you want to call it…Arcade Fire plays, on album and in concert, as if their lives depend on it.
Honorable mentions: Danger Mouse The Grey Album; Joanna Newsom Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City)