Radiohead - Kid A
Everyone seems to disagree on which Radiohead album is the best, but I reckon Kid A has to take that crown. Borrowing heavily from Brian Eno, Can and Aphex Twin, Thom Yorke, Johnny profuGreenwood and co crafted a concise and hugely enjoyable album of unsettled ambiance and electronic rock. Admittedly, I've come to realise that it's not quite the earth-shattering, 5-star masterwork that I once considered it, but it's still a damn fine album, easily one of 2000's best.
Jackie-O Motherfucker - The Majick Fire Music
(experimental-rock, improv, free-folk)
The Majick Fire Music is a more sparse and controlled, less jammy work for JOMF, although it still ranks amongst their very best work (I'd say it's second only to Fig 5). The opening trio of "Extension", "Bonesaw" and "The Cage" are great, moody, longform tracks which show plenty of discipline and patience in the manner in which they're played, while the closer "Black Squirrels" (one of the album's few looser tracks) is a genuine contender for the single best song in the band's catalogue.
The Mountain Goats - The Coroner's Gambit
One of John Darnielle's last true lo-fi recordings, The Coroner's Gambit tends to trade places with a couple of his other albums as my favourite Mountain Goats release. Prior to this, Darnielle had always been a very capable wordsmith, with a staggering volume and frequency of output, but his songwriting was simply sharper at this point than ever before. It's hard to miss that there's a real tension and urgency in his delivery, even moreso than usual, and when he bellows "You can arm me to the teeth - you can't make me go to war!" on "Family Happiness", it makes for one of the most intense moments in the entire (enormous) Mountain Goats discography. There's plenty of similar moments littered throughout the album, making this one of his most satisfying, emotionally-gripping releases.
Broadcast - The Noise Made by People
The Noise Made by People is a fantastic work of tranquilized clockwork electronics drifting through hazy production, which come together to create a sound that's consistently dreamy and vivid, kind of an alternate-future version of the Velvet Underground. This foundation is built upon by Trish Keenan's flattened vocals, which give the album a lovely "sleepwalker" vibe and place it as the perfect soundtrack to being lost in the city at 3am.
The White Stripes - De Stijl
This is definitely my favourite White Stripes album. It's catchier, more consistent, more economical and has more highlight moments than any of their other releases. While they'd venture into more ambitious and experimental grounds with their subsequent releases, De Stijl (along with their debut) proves for me that Jack and Meg are most in their element when they keep things simple and focus on writing kick-ass garage rockers.