Starting today, I am writing a new segment called My Year In Lists (Yes, I got the idea from the Los Campesinos! song of the same name). It will include several different lists, each with their own theme, culminating in my Best Albums of 2009 list that will be released within the next week.

Today, I kick off My Year In Lists with the “Best Debut Albums of the 2000’s That Don’t Appear on Many (If Any) Other Decade Lists.” These are the albums that made a statement from the get go that these bands held enormous amounts of potential. Some bands bettered their debuts by growing over time, while other bands have struggled since then to top their introductions to the world. The only caveat is that these albums be on very few end of decade lists by other publications. As with all my lists, these are not in numerical order. Without further ado, here we go:

Los Campesinos!: Hold On Now, Youngster/We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (2008): Making two high quality albums in the same year is no small feat. The Welsh septet Los Campesinos! sprang out of the gates, making two of the best records of 2008 with their intense amount of energy, their dedication to musicianship, and their witty, though oftentimes pessimistic tales of heartbreak and indie fandom. Despite a lot of positive feedback from critics, both of these albums were left off of many end of decade lists. It’s a damn shame really, as these albums were two of the most confident statements by a group of twenty-somethings that came almost out of nowhere. The band has a new album coming out early in 2010, so watch out for it!

Maximo Park: A Certain Trigger (2005): Maximo Park came hot on the heels of a new wave of British groups that had invaded the indie scene in 2004. However, what set the band apart from their contemporaries was the sheer quality of  “A Certain Trigger.” Lead singer Paul Smith was a live-wire of a vocalist, while the band would often play at breakneck speed behind him, only slowing down for a couple tracks. The guitars were wiry, the synth lines memorable, and even the bass playing was top-notch. Songs like “Graffiti,” “Apply Some Pressure,” and “The Coast Is Always Changing” are bold testaments to these claims. After the almost as stellar follow-up “Our Earthly Pleasures,” the band had a minor misstep with this year’s “Quicken the Heart.” However, “A Certain Trigger” will always withstand the test of time what it was, an album that showcased a band who was comfortable in their own skin, and were having a blast while doing it.

Hot Hot Heat: Make Up the Breakdown (2002): Before danceable indie music was about as common as crackers at an oyster bar, there was Hot Hot Heat. The Canadian group’s debut was full of songs that had a great amount of bounce to them, were catchy as hell, and were legitimately good. Particularly on singles “Bandages” and “Talk to Me, Dance With Me,” the band made you want to get out of your chair and dance to your heart’s content. The band graduated to a major label for 2005’s “Elevator” and 2007’s “Happiness, Ltd.,” and while the band got their fifteen minutes of fame, they lost many supporters, as these albums were not even in the same league as “Make Up the Breakdown.” That does not dilute the importance of this album, though, and it deserves its place among the decade’s best debut albums.

The Long Blondes: Someone To Drive You Home (2006): To me, one of the great mysteries of the 2000’s is why The Long Blondes never broke out. Their tales of youth, lust, and everything in between were instantly relatable, they had an excellent vocalist in the form of Kate Jackson, and they played with a sense of energy and attention to pop craftsmanship that screamed mass appeal. “Someone To Drive You Home” was filled with songs that were free of gimmicks or pretense, managing to make their impact felt based on the quality of the tracks themselves. A few years on, songs such as “Lust In The Movies” and “Separated By Motorways” still sound as raw and urgent as they did when they were first released. Although the band broke up in 2008, they left behind a stunner of a debut, along with the underrated follow-up “Couples,” as evidence that given the right opportunity The Long Blondes could have given the general populace a strong women-centric rock band to call their own, something that is still missing even today.

The Pipettes: We Are the Pipettes (2006): Who knew that a few British gals who had an affinity for  early 60’s girl groups like the Supremes could come out with something as good as “We Are the Pipettes” in 2006? With their vocal harmonies, lush arrangements from a dynamic backing band, and songs that stay with you whether you want them to or not, the Pipettes did just that. Almost every song on the album is a gem, and when the chorus comes in on “Pull Shapes,” you feel like you are back in a time when it was all about peace and love, and massive amounts of color were spread everywhere including the dance floor. The group has taken their time in coming out with a follow up, as there have been several lineup changes since the album’s release. But, the fact that their debut still shines so brightly three and a half years later means that their next album can’t come soon enough.

Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s: The Dust of Retreat (2006): With a sense of maturity that bands still have trouble finding after several albums, Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s (almost) broke through with their debut. The Indianapolis octet made something truly special with “The Dust of Retreat,” fusing together the sounds of acoustic textures, loud driving guitar rock, electronics, strings and a trumpet into chamber pop gold. I will confess that I still get chills every time I hear the trumpet solo in “Quiet As a Mouse.” It’s anyone’s guess as to why this band is not enjoying an ungodly amount of praise. It may be because the follow up, the oddly similar dual releases of “Animal/Not Animal,” was a little too overly ambitious for a major label debut.  But with their third album due out sometime next year, the band has another chance at capturing the magic that it achieved on “The Dust of Retreat.”

Cadence Weapon: Braking Kayfabe (2005): If Canada had a hip-hop scene as big as the United States, Edminton’s Cadence Weapon would be selling out arenas instead of Lil’ Wayne. Rollie Pemberton, a former writer for Pitchfork, released what was easily one of the best rap albums of the 2000’s to very little reception. With beats as hard hitting and original as they come and verses that would leave even the most skilled MC’s floored, “Breaking Kayfabe” is the epitome of what hip-hop should look like in the 21st century. Cadence Weapon’s flow can only be described as awe-inspiring. The way he commands the listener as he rhymes is something that very few rappers are capable of doing. The album was vital, visceral, and disputably one of the most underappreciated albums of the decade, hip-hop or otherwise.

The Futureheads: The Futureheads (2004): It seems that straightforward, honest to goodness rock was hard to come by in the early 2000’s. There was always some sort of gimmick behind a group, or they belonged some sub-genre of rock. Sunderland, England’s The Futureheads provided the perfect antidote with their self-titled debut. The band played fast, and had a sort of energy to them that was lacking among their peers. In addition to their excellent cover of Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love,” they gave us an album full of short, to the point rock songs without any pretension or irony. After two subsequent albums, “The Futureheads” still sounds like a breath of fessh air.

Titus Andronicus: The Airing of Grievances (2008): Pain and existential suffering is a common theme underlying many bands nowadays. However, few were able to channel it with such skill into full on catharsis as Titus Andronicus did with “The Airing of Grievances.” Patrick Stickles’ lyrics can best best described as the musings of an overly educated, distraught individual if he read nothing but Albert Camus (this is actually a title to one of the songs on the album) and Frederich Nietzsche. However, the way that he delivers these lyrics and the sound of the band’s music is what keeps “The Airing of Grievances” from becoming washed out in it’s own misery. The group plays with reckless abandon, but with a sense of melody and skill that most other bands stumble over. It all makes for an album filled with moments that make you want  to scream along with them. Rarely has anger sounded this inviting, or this good.

The Last Shadow Puppets: The Age of the Understatement (2008): There is no denying the fact that Alex Turner is one of the great lyricists of this generation. The Arctic Monkeys frontman has a way with words that make them leap off of the lyric sheet, and paints pictures that few others can. For the Last Shadow Puppets, Turner joined forces with The Rascals’ Miles Kane to bring to life the sound of Scott Walker movies. This task required the London Metropolitan Orchestra, and a short break from touring for both musicians. The end product, however, is a sight to behold. You actually feel like you are listening to a soundtrack to a black and white art film in 1964. The lyrics are top-quality, the strings are chill inducing, and Turner and Kane have a great sense of harmonization. All of it makes for a debut that will hopefully be more than just a side project.

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