The rock album theme of the 00s? Consistency. There were unquestionably less amazing records this decade than any other decade in rock. I probably listened to 3-4000 or so discs that came out in the "oughts" and gave just 3 *perfect* scores. But that doesn't mean everything sucked. Good, even great, albums came out in droves. By the same artists. Year after year.
Maybe it's just the way I listen to music (I'm pretty loyal to artists I like) but it was fascinating going through this exercise and seeing the consistency - for example, finding that all of the last 3 Mars Volta records were clustered together, along with the last 3 or 4 MMJ albums, TV On The Radio, Doves, Kings of Leon, the first few Iron and Wine records, etc. It's pretty much the case down the line, from the few credible superstar bands like Green Day, U2, Radiohead, to the old warhorses like Dylan and Springsteen on down to the many excellent bands that never get airplay in these fractured times. And those bands are really the heart of the great rock of the decade - the mid-level Bonnaroo/Coachella/Lollapalooza draws. Highly credible bands that play theatres and put out a bunch of records that aren't quite "10s".
At some point I'll be ranking my whole record collection. With far fewer "10s" in this decade, will I find that the overall number of great records (9+ ratings) are also lower this decade than in the 70's, 90's, 60's and even 80's? I can't wait to find out. I'm pretty damn sure the 70's and the 90's will blow this decade away, but not sure if the breadth of great albums was quite as consistent in the 80's or the 60's (I don't count jazz on this list - hard to compare apples to apples - so the 60's are hampered in my book by getting a pretty late start).
It's also fun to revisit records that - great as they may be - just don't seem a part of this last decade at all. Fatboy Slim? The last studio record from Rage Against The Machine? It also underscores how 2000-2001 frankly just had some more interesting stuff going on. Strange that 2001 feels like sooo long ago. A very fun exercise, this.
Wish I had time to write little blurbs about each record, but at the time of posting I just have too much going on. Blurbs/reviews will be trickling in.
The rankings took a lot of time, even with the ultimate listmaking tool at my disposal. To clarify for you readers who have gotten this far- I listened to (and am pretty likely to own) the entire decade's output by all but about 2% of the bands on this list, so (if you care) you can safely assume that, for example, having Motorhead's "Inferno" on this list does not mean I'm just I am just some dude who scored the odd Motorheaad album, but rather that Inferno was a surprisingly high-quality album by a band that hadn't put out anything consistently memorable in a long time. And so on.
I was originally planning a 200 or 250 item list, but some quality records would have gotten cut. So it's 300 - but in fairness, quality does start to drop around #275 or so.
Live albums and compilations of all sorts excluded. Had I included live albums, certainly Wilco, Warren Haynes, and many "official bootlegs" would have made the list. Other thoughts - Pearl Jam barely on the list, tho an absolute fave live band. Ditto for Phil and Friends, and Gov't Mule as well. Live versions are just better for these guys. When you make a list, you gotta have some rules (tho, when I do my 70's albums list, I don't see how I'll be able to exclude live albums - we humans are maddeningly inconsistent creatures).And when I find myself deep in the weeds of trying to slice whether, say, the Starsailor debut beats Gillian Welch's "Time", I ask "if i had to live without ever hearing one of these which would it be?". Such is Ranking.