December 31, 2009, 3:59 pm

This was torture, I swear. Only one album per-band (so that it wasn’t just a list of Xiu Xiu/Elverum albums. That rule occasionally stretched a little (hence no TITSJ or cLOUDDEAD etc). I’d written some stuff but Rob blew that out of the water yesterday, so here we go. Expect adjustments to be made in the comments section, as and when I realise I made horrific mistakes. A Top 20:

20. Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia – Indian Ink
“Drunken strangers trying to lock their eyes onto a body that’s slowly disappearing”

19. Electrelane – The Power Out
“I loved you in the morning before the sun would come / you were the dawn to me”

18. Des Ark – Loose Lips Sink Ships
“You think I don’t know that my lover’s got a sickness that I can’t fuck him out of”

17. Les Mouches – You’re Worth More To Me Than 1,000 Christians
“Can’t find a noose, can’t find a razor, too good a swimmer”

16. Ten Grand – This Is The Way To Rule
“Don’t let them get to you first”

15. Help She Can’t Swim – Fashionista Super Dance Troupe
“Not everyone looks down on you, not half as much as I fucking do”

14. The Notwist – Neon Golden
“Leave me paralysed love, leave me hypnotised, love”

13. Mull Historical Society – Loss
“I tried to be afraid, I think that’s what you do”

12. Desaparecidos – Read Music/Speak Spanish
“Swing low satellite, hot white chariot!”

11. Tim Hecker – Harmony In Ultra Violet

10. Hymie’s Basement – Hymie’s Basement
“when you’re gone I nibble at your lip space”

9. The Aislers Set – How I Learned To Write Backwards
“If I’d never learned to love I would never have been hit by the train”

8. Gowns – Red State
“You’ve gotta look it in the eyes and say that I don’t believe, you gotta hold it under water so you see where it bleeds”

7. Black Eyes – Black Eyes
“The second you touched it it started to die inside, when you said “show me your tits” we were wishing you died”

6. Hood – Cold House
“We spit in the pond to give the fish something to pray to”

5. the Organ – Grab That Gun
“My neck hurts / ’cause I’ve been cutting moons”

4. Former Ghosts – Fleurs
“Who is going to love you like I do?”

3. The Microphones – The Glow pt. II
“And, like the moon, my chest was full because we both knew we’re just floating in space over molten rock, and we felt safe and we discovered that our skin is soft”

2. Parenthetical Girls – Safe As Houses
“Our hands, our glands are both on the rampage”

1. Xiu Xiu –Knife Play
“This is the worst vacation ever. I am going to cut open your forehead with a roofing shingle”


46 Comments so far
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Les Mouches!!
This makes me want to listen to all the other ones I haven’t heard on the list.

Comment by Lee

i see i have alot of listening to catch up on.

and so glad to see meanwhile, back in communist russia get some decent recognition

Comment by Liam

Great list, loved seeing MBICR in there… I just bought all the ones I didn’t have (9!!!) from itunes… feeling poor but musically fulfilled now.

Comment by Adge

Thanks to this list, I finally listened to the Former Ghosts record, after being bugged to by lots of people.

It’s amazing.

Comment by J

Elite as fuck. You’re now the only person with whom I’ve had an in-person interaction who has heard of half of these records. Big ups on the Hecker, but where the shit is Xiu Xiu’s A PROMISE?

Comment by Blackbeard

I’ve loved all these lists, made me discover some great music. Spent too much ordering so many CDs though

Comment by Charles

What makes me buy the other albums in the list is the half I own are cherished masterpieces that no-one I know has ever heard of.

Based upon that the ones I was missing must be treasures waiting to be uncovered.

That doesn’t make much sense, it’s worrying that I write for a living. I’ll blame the gin.

Comment by Adge

Guys, lemme know what you think of the stuff you listen to off the back of this please. I’m really curious to hear.

Blackbeard – hey man. No ‘A Promise’ due to my one album per artist, rule. Would have been top 5 or 10 otherwise, for sure. Knife Play’s probably my favourite album of all time though, so it was never gonna topple that.

Comment by Gareth

You’ve probably read this, but just in case…

The article has its rhetorical issues and at times actually doesn’t take itself seriously/respectfully enough, but it’s by and large beautiful. I’ve got my own story about how Xiu Xiu accidentally saved my life, but it’s more tangential–after that show, Jamie actually blew me off and was kinda disagreeable. Another attendee wound up being my saving grace. Anyway. You can’t win them all, I guess. Just read it, if you haven’t.

Comment by Blackbeard

I’m still working though your albums of 2009 Gareth.. thanks for all of the hints.. But the Nosferatu D2 record is amazing, that’s getting a lot of play (for what I thought of it I covered it in a review here – ).

I’ll let you know what I think of these too. I just need more hours in the day!!

Comment by Adge

great call on grab that gun. i really miss the organ.

Comment by kaley

“meanwhile back at home back in communist russia, but only in my head phones” I’m assuming this is a reference to the Indian Ink album? 🙂 I’m glad you threw The Notwist in there, theyre awesome

Comment by Allison

Great suggestions there mate. Daisy looking forward to seeing you in the Thekla – her first ‘proper’ gig, how cool is that?

Comment by Stew Black

I have hurt my vocal chords screaming along to Desaparicidos. By the time I finally saw Conor Oberst, however, he was full on into his folk-rock phase. Which I kinda like as well… But it’s not the same. Great band. Great list!

Comment by Simon

Good thing Desaparecidos only released one album…otherwise I’m sure it would have been a tough choice.

I see I have some homework to do!


okay. so i’m gonna go over to emusic right *now* (well, when my new credits kick in a few days actually) and buy that xiu xiu album. anything that’s on a list with the microphones, the organ and hymie’s basement must be great (i thought i was the only one in the world who knew/liked/discovered/listened to that hymie’s basement record)

Comment by jg

Good to see Help She Cant Swim get a couple of mentions… Bloody miss him so I do.

Comment by Jay

I’ve discovered about four bands I really love thanks to this list. Cheers Gareth!

Comment by Joseph

No worries Joseph. That’s made me dead pleased.
Which bands have you checked out?

Comment by Gareth

My top two (although a different Xiu Xiu record) are also Xiu Xiu and Parenthetical Girls, and Owen Pallett from Les Mouches is my number 3. Thus, I decided to check the rest of this list I haven’t heard.

Loving Black Eyes and Hymie’s Basement.

Comment by Joel

What’s yr preferred Xiu Xiu album, Joel?

Comment by Gareth

Fabulous Muscles, closely followed by Knife Play, then A Promise, and I’m very partial to parts of Fag Patrol.

Comment by Joel

Hymie’s and Les Mouches! of course! need to emusic a whole load of that, particularly tim hecker.

Comment by Sigur Ross Gellar from Friends

Had never heard of Electrelane a week ago, but fantastically stunning from what I’ve heard so far. Thanks so much for providing me a playlist for 2010.

Also, One With The Freaks by The Notwist was the soundtrack to my GCSE revision. This is brilliant, Big Love x

Comment by Paul Parker's Moustache Comb

I just ordered Red State, based on how much I love Cherylee.

Comment by Lois

Funny story: The cover of Safe As Houses is what led to my coming out to my parents when I was in high school.

But where is Twinkle Echo??

Comment by Joey

Will be sure to check out some of these. Here’s my top 10 of the decade.
Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
Arcade Fire – Funeral
My Morning Jacket – At Dawn
New Pornographers – Electric Version
Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
Apples In Stereo – The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone
Paul Westerberg – Stereo/Mono
Los Campesinos! – Sticking Fingers Into Sockets
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Bettie Serveert – Private Suit

Comment by Dave

This is my top 10 albums from the noughites –

And top 250 (I need to get out more) tracks from the noughties –

I love lists me!!!

Comment by Adge

Just wanted to get it out there that a couple of my favorite bands were ones you’ve recommended. So I am excited for this.

Comment by michael

Seeing this list finally made a friend download knife play. Now he won’t shut up about it.

Comment by Careface

I love Knife Play! My brother introduced me to Xiu Xiu like 4 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have to say Knife Play is one of my favorite albums by them, hell it’s one of my favorite albums of all time. Great list by the way, I picked up a few of the suggested albums and love them!

Comment by Dakota

Thanks so much for the list Gareth (and the rest of LC! for theirs).. I only have the Hymie’s record (yoni wolf’s my man of the decade!) oh and the Mull one too.. but am already checking out these. Lovin’ the Mircophones especially so far… best new decade to you all!

Comment by danglingman

Great list. Probably most of my favourites are in this one. Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia are worth the £30 i spent on both their albums a while back. I’ve just got into Xiu Xiu but I haven’t listened to Knife Play so that is definitely going to be my next purchase.

Comment by James

Black Eyes is fucking awesome, I didn’t expect them to be on your list. Also, thank you for introducing me to Help She Can’t Swim.

Comment by philip

That Desaparicidos album is stunning, I had no idea they existed until I read that list. Conor’s vocals and lyrics throughout are ridiculous. Help She Can’t Swim’s Fashionista Dance Troupe is great too, it just makes me annoyed I missed them when they played Bath the other year. Grab That Gun by The Organ is nicely melancholy too. I also really like Cold House by Hood the few songs I’ve heard off The Microphones album. Knife Play is also sounding good, but I have to listen to it in little chunks otherwise I feel the need to lock myself up in a dark room for a while.
I’ve gone into rambling mode….

Comment by Joseph

This list finally inspired me to stop putting it off, and go and pick up some Xiu Xiu.
And look out my copy of Cold House to take back across to uni with me. Gareth, i could hug you.

Comment by Mark

Great list, glad to see gowns getting a mention and meanwhile back in communist russia. emusiced TIm Hecker a few days ago thanks to this list and liking that a lot too. Also only just made the connection between fog and hymies basement, always thought it was just the name of a why? album so i’m getting that soon. Thanks for the list.

Comment by metamagical

I’ve got all of your top 5 but only 3 outside that (9,19 & 20) and I only recently discovered MBICR. So lots to look into for me.
I saw Mull play with The Strokes and The Moldy Peaches in a tiny church many years ago but they never really made an impact on me. Perhaps it’s time to give them another chance.

Comment by Jamie

Just bought my first piece of phsyical Xiu Xiu! Thanks for the heads up, Gareth. I’ve really been missing out. Cheers.


Really enjoying your picks Gareth, nice to see some love for MBICR and the late, great Help! She Can’t Swim… Is Leesey in a new band now is that just a rumour?

What do you think of Tim Hecker’s other records? I liked Ultra Violet a lot but definitely prefer his earlier stuff, especially Haunt Me Do It Again. Happy New Year! x

Comment by Adam

i made a list but then i thoroughly regretted it a couple weeks later, so i shan’t be sharing it 🙂

this has so far rekindled my love for mcibr, motivated me to check out every band on here. i can’t believe i had not even heard xiu xiu, so that was the first i checked out. knife play turned out to be a wonderful album and I’m definitely going to check out more. guess i will work my way down the list in descending order 🙂

Comment by Liam

mbicr* wow what a dreadful typo

Comment by Liam

I love lists like this! Hadn’t heard of 19/20 of these bands and I’m liking the lot now!

Great meeting you after your Denver, Colorado show last year- I look forward to getting the new album 🙂

Comment by Rick

totally late to the comment game, but I just had to say that Black Eyes and Desaparecidos are being rediscovered tonight, thanks to this post. I haven’t listened to them in years.

Comment by Miss M

I love this list. I had never heard of Xiu Xiu and Parenthetical Girls before… I really like them. I’ve been missing so much. Thanks and all x

Comment by Alice

I listened to all of the albums on this list, as I owned none, and have since been methodically buying/downloading them all! I can’t believe I have been missing out on Xiu Xiu and Hymie’s Basement in particular. Though MBICR and Fleurs are also amazing. Thanks so much Gareth, one of the best lists I’ve ever come across!

Comment by Peter

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