Some of the best lists are idiosyncratic, as is this one. My two pieces of criteria were: 1. Are most, if not all, of the songs on the album very good (non-skippable); and 2. how often I went back to listen to the album, months or years after I first heard it. In all of these cases, these albums met those criteria. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
25. Blind Pilot, 3 Rounds and a Sound
24. The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing (2008)
23. Shout Out Louds, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (2005)
22. Bishop Allen, Charm School (2003)
21. Ben Folds, Rockin’ the Suburbs (2001)
20. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (2008)
19. Moby, 18 (2002)
18. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
17. Sea Wolf, Leaves in the River (2007)
16. Mates of State, Re-Arrange Us (2008)
15. Ryan Adams, Rock N Roll (2003)
14. The Weakerthans, Left and Leaving (2000)
13. U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
12. Josh Ritter, Animal Years (2006)
11. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Rising (2002)
10. Liz Phair, Liz Phair
(2003). Hipsters hated this album, but its really a pop gem, filled with some seriously catchy songs.
9. Beck, Sea Change
(2002). Beck at his warmest, saddest, most human and without flash.
8. Cat Power, The Greatest
(2007). Achingly beautiful.
7. Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
(2005). This album should be a gimmick, but it isn’t. A real song cycle, and by god, a song that makes you empathize with serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
6. The Thermals, Now We Can See
(2009). The most recent album on the list. This album rocks. With heart.
5. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
(2002). Yes, I know, Coldplay sucks. Now. This album is now weirdly underrated, but it’s gorgeous, powerful, and insanely influential.
4. Eels, Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
(2005). Really a masterpiece. Free ranging in its ruminations, but personal. Atmospheric, but not in a grandiose way.
3. PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
2. Arcade Fire, Funeral
1. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Brendan Benson, Lapalco (2002); Carla Bruni, Quelqu’un M’a Dit (2003); Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers (2003); Frightened Rabbit, The Midnight Organ Fight (2008); Green Day, American Idiot (2004); Jack’s Mannequin, Everything in Transit (2005); The Submarines, Declare a New State! (2006); XX, XX (2009).