90. Various Artists – Post Marked Stamps
Jade Tree Records, the quintessential emo record label in the late 90’s, had a great idea for a 7” record series – get the top names in the genre, match them up, and have them each split one side of the record with a song about long distance relationships. They called the series “Post Marked Stamps,” and everyone who was everyone wrote a song for it – Braid, The Get Up Kids, Rainer Maria, even The Promise Ring was represented (friend Tim Kinsella from Cap’n Jazz covered one of their songs.) It still has my favorite Get Up Kids song, and is where I discovered singer/songwriter Jen Wood.

Cause I can kiss you better/Than this letter could – “Forever Got Shorter” (Braid)

89. Jejune – This Afternoon’s Malady
Jejune was a cleaner version of Rainer Maria, meaning that it sounded crisper and nicer – less like a garage band and more like a lite-classic. A lot of their stuff hasn’t aged well in my mind, but This Afternoon’s Malady kept it’s optimism fresh even seven years later. And, for those who are curious, “jejune” means “lacking maturity; childish.”

Send me back to the board/Everything’s wrong with this mold – “Fixed on the One”

88. Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson – VH1 Storytellers
Outlaw country has become more and more accepted in my musical mind as of late, and the main reason for that was the release of this Cash/Nelson Storytellers CD. There’s nothing really more entertaining in life than listening to two old grizzled country legends banter on and on about what drove them to write the classics, and then to have them collaborate in recreating those classics.

I go out on a party/And look for a little fun/But I find a darkened corner/Because I still miss someone – “I Still Miss Someone”

87. Badly Drawn Boy – About A Boy Soundtrack
Nick Hornby’s film About A Boy, starring Hugh Grant, was nothing spectacular on a critical level (though I liked it a lot), but the soundtrack that went with it, by Badly Drawn Boy, who had become England’s answer for the “solo singer/songwriter with revolving band” craze in the United States, was a hit with all of the indie rock reviewers. I tend to agree – It’s British, but happy and bouncing throughout. Nick Hornby himself chose “A Minor Incident” as one of his favorite songs in his book Songbook.

To shrug off minor incidents/And make us both feel proud/I’d just wish I could be there to see you through – “A Minor Incident”

86. Death Cab For Cutie – We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes
Death Cab, and singer Ben Gibbard, first caught my ear during the Napster era of my college years. It’s the typical emo-drivel, but something about it – be it Gibbard’s vocals and clever wordplay, or the more Northwest sound of their music – made it more memorable to me than, say, Piebald or Casket Lottery, two of their contemporaries. Of course, now Gibbard’s other “band,” The Postal Service, is getting the rave reviews that Death Cab once got, but this CD still stands out as one of the better new finds of 2001.

I must admit I was charmed by your advances/Your advantage left me helplessly into you. – “Title Track”

85. Sense Field – Killed For Less
I was always confused about the intentions of Sense Field – some of their older stuff mentions various deitys more than one would imagine a post-punk Revelation Records band should – but, back in high school, these guys were as good as the emo genre brought. They’ve since become another casualty of growing up (I really can’t take much of their stuff seriously anymore, for some reason) but this album is still important in what it brought back then. Eric hates them, I now know, and if I hadn’t been a fan in years past, I would probably be annoyed by them as well.

He was drinking alcohol/Again with friends – “Futon”

84. Built to Spill – Keep It Like A Secret
With Modest Mouse, came Built to Spill – brothers due to geography, since both bands came from the Washington state area, and similar in approach. Keep It Like A Secret was the CD that CMJ would constantly hype up, but it was one of the last ones I ever came to liking, probably because it was one of the last ones I ever came to owning. Most of the great songs from this album are on Built to Spill Live, so I never really felt the need to buy it. I guess, truthfully, I never did, if you catch my drift

This history lesson doesn’t make any sense/In any less than ten thousand year increments/Of common sense – “The Plan”

83. NOFX – The Decline
I was out of my Epi-Fat punk era by the time this CD came out, but felt compelled to get it for a few reasons – First, I’m a sucker for any 20 minute long epic song, and The Decline is nothing but that… a 20 minute long epic song. Second, I still had a secret love for NOFX, and the CD was cheap. Third, it has everything that I loved about NOFX back when I listened to them a lot – snotty policital lyrics, dynamic changes, and numerous sing-a-long choruses. It’s the best of NOFX wrapped up in one nine dollar disc.

I’d like to introduce you to our host/He’s got his/And I’ve got mine/Meet the Decline – “The Decline”

82. Radiohead – Kid A
Kid A was the Radiohead album everyone was waiting for – naturally, since it was the follow up to OK Computer, heralded by anyone with a pen and a space to write as the “greatest album in the history of the known world, which can never be bested even if God himself put out an album.” Therefore, anything was going to be a disappointment, and to many, it was. I actually really liked Kid A when it came out, but after repeated listenings, it became just an average Radiohead selection. Of course, average Radiohead is still miles better than most bands.

I’ll laugh until my head comes off/I’ll swallow till I burst – “Idioteque

81. Hot Water Music – Caution
Hot Water Music had put out a few albums that, while good, didn’t appeal to me at all. Maybe it was just the time and place I was in, but everything sounded different – not like the band I had fell in love with on Forever and Counting. Then, Caution came out, and it blew my socks off. It was as if they had taken all the energy that had been missing from No Division and Flight and a Crash and threw it into this album. I loved it, and due to it, rised up to the type of Hot Water Music fan I had been four years prior.

And the pain this morning/It filled my head/It’s Jameson/It means that I’m not dead – “Trusty Chords”

This was lovingly handwritten on March 4th, 2005