How many of the top 20 albums of the 2000s were made by Animal Collective and Radiohead?
The backstory has been repeated so often with such insistence that three years later it’s become a mythic tall tale: Guy breaks up band in North Carolina, decamps to the wilds of Wisconsin, makes a record originally intended to be heard by almost nobody. But what happened next is much more interesting: After Justin Vernon made 500 copies and distributed them himself, the album is picked up by indie juggernaut Jagjaguwar, gets big props from Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, holds up to hundreds of repeat listens, and get thousands of festivalgoers singing along solemnly to “The Wolves”. Quiet and folkily ambient, For Emma, Forever Ago is an impassioned cry too compelling not to become heard. From those opening strums to the “Flume” to the closing hums of “Re: Stacks”, the album communicates acute loneliness and nurses a pain that has dulled but obviously not died– which is perhaps our own romantic view of ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up in the stories surrounding this out-of-nowhere album, but the music pulls you back to the real world. –Stephen M. Deusner
That’s Pitchfork‘s description of the 29th best album of the decade (part of the top 200), Bon Iver‘s For Emma, Forever Ago. They will announce the top 20 on Friday. What will they be? In Rainbows got #21. Vampire Weekend was #51. Outkast put out the best song.