Chuck Klosterman, the cool-obsessed pop culture essayist who loves Kiss but believes “Coldplay is absolutely the shittiest fucking band I’ve ever heard in my entire life” (Pg. 3), has compiled a list of recent “high-quality” albums May Esquire readers can namecheck to score cool points. It’s intended for people who stopped listening to new music when they went to law school (e.g., all of my friends). He warns:

If you already consider yourself cool, don’t read this article. This article is for people who realize they’re no longer cool (and who sometimes worry about that realization, perhaps more than they are willing to admit).

I love Chuck’s articles; he knows almost as much as me about Billy Joel. And I look forward to reading Chuck’s next book even though he was rude when I ran into him on my block last month and attempted to introduce myself. That said, feel free to tear this list apart and suggest alternatives (like I have to ask)…

21st Century Rock
21 High-Quality Albums From The Past Three Years (In No Particular Order)
by Chuck Klosterman

1. The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me (2004):
You will like this album if you used to like AC/DC but now you just read a lot.

2. The Exploding Hearts Guitar Romantic (2003):
You will like this album if you are happy to be alive.

3. My Morning Jacket It Still Moves (2003):
You will like this album if you like flying-V guitars and grizzly bears.

4. Coachwhips Peanut Butter and Jelly Live at the Ginger Minge (2005):
You will like this album if your problems with the White Stripes are with Jack (as opposed to Meg).

5. The Black Keys The Big Come Up (2002):
You will like this album if you support the reintroduction of blue-eyed, Mayallesque blues structures filtered through the artifice of slacker sloppiness, or if you used to work at the Akron Beacon Journal with the drummer’s father, reporter Jim Carney.

6. Suffrajett Suffrajett (2003):
You will like this album if you tend to be frightened by the women you’re attracted to.

7. Secret Machines Now Here Is Nowhere (2004):
You will like this album if you still occasionally buy drugs.

8. Electric Six Fire (2003):
You will like this album if you like the notion of Van Halen more than you liked any of their actual albums.

9. The Hellacopters Cream of the Crap! Vol. 2 (2005):
You will like this album if you always think that music on classic-rock radio stations should be slightly faster and slightly louder.

10. The Thrills So Much for the City (2003):
You will like this album if your apartment is actually a bar.

11. Courtney Love America’s Sweetheart (2004):
You will like this album if you are writing a dissertation on metacommunicative discourse and/or crack whores.

12. Drive-By Truckers Southern Rock Opera (2002):
You will like this album if you like America.

13. The Fiery Furnaces Gallowsbird’s Bark (2003):
You will like this album if you enjoy the music on NPR’s Fresh Air more than anything else on the radio.

14. Gonga Gonga (2004):
You will like this album if you think Queens of the Stone Age kind of seem like pussies.

15. Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002):
You will like this album if you ever have to rake the lawn.

16. Weezer Maladroit (2002):
You will like this album if you immediately understand the difference between those two things.

17. Elliott Smith From a Basement on the Hill (2004):
You will like this album if you enjoy the hypothetical possibility of a really depressed Beatle.

18. Belle and Sebastian Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003):
You will like this album if you’re the kind of loyal companion who would be asked to take care of somebody’s hound.

19. The New Pornographers Electric Version (2003):
You will like this album if you generally like things that are good.

20. Evan Dando Baby I’m Bored (2003):
You will like this album if you are nostalgic for the very recent past.

21. TV on the Radio Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (2004):
You will like this album if you are trying to nail some superhot hipster chick in your office who only sleeps with cool guys.

Comments (60)
  1. You might be an Indie Yuppie if you were relieved to see Weezer on this list…

  2. Well, thank heavens I have a couple CDs on that list. Not that I really give a fuck about whether or not my musical preferences make me cool or not. I do like what he says about the New Pornographers album.

  3. Poo  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    courtney love = “high quality”? the fuck?

  4. so does that make suffrajett cool or uncool? it could go either way, really…

  5. m83  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    who the fuck is chuck Klosterman ??

    now .. should i leak the full oasis new album now ? * think *

  6. chuck  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    chuck klosterman is a total tool.

  7. Whether or not those cds are good is secondary to the fact that the descriptions were gold.

  8. He had me at hello until he mentioned Evan Dando… That album should have been called Baby I’m drunk, an asshole drunk rather than a funny drunk or a sleepy drunk or a mean drunk!

    I might not agree with all of Chuck Klosterman (I dig Coldplay), but like his enthusiasm.

  9. Dear m83 –

    Yes.

  10. yo  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    this guy’s list is the same watered-down crap as that of every other droll music critic. he lists the thrills and courtney love but calls coldplay bad? quit your day job, man.

  11. Justin  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    Kind of a weak list. If he’s listening to more than five of those albums in five year’s time, I’d be really surprised.

  12. Deez Nutz  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    Yay, another arbiter of cool. Fuck that guy.

  13. robb  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    Funny that the “Urban Hipster Handbook” and the “Field guide to Hipsters” appear as titles that people also looked at alongside Chuck K’s book. Please tell me that no one actually owns these.

  14. Robb: Those two books are parodies, and actually quite funny. They’re along the same line as the “Official Preppy Handbook” from the 80′s.

  15. matthew  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    chunk klosterman had something going for him when he didn’t have to be read every month in a column in spin magazine. when he put out his first book fargo rock city, he was interesting. he wanted you to believe in something so terrible, hair metal, that he spent a chapter on how much you would have to pay him to stop listening to his favorite crummy bands. he even put his address or phone number in the book, so as to facilitate the exchange of nearly five grand to make him stop listening to guns and roses.

    but now, with monthly columns and self important reviews to write, he is sort of like a balloon, all stretchy and full of stale mouth air.

  16. paul  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    how did weezer maladroit make the list? and why am i the only one to notice that?

  17. i second the posting of the full oasis record.

  18. Chuck Klosterman was okay when he was writing for the G. W. Carver Middle School Gazette, but that was back before his writing was cluttered up by complex concepts like “sarcasm” and “lawn care.” I wish he’d stayed true to his byline-free 7th grade roots, the sellout. God. Things are so much better when they never change, are unsuccessful, and no one knows about them. Plus, everyone knows Joanne Newsom should be number 1 on that list. Somebody told me I like her, but I don’t remember who.

  19. COLDPLAY IS BORING. THE NEW SONG SOUNDS JUST LIKE CLOCKS, AND YOU ALL KNOW IT. STOP SUCKING THEM OFF.

  20. marcus  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    DBT: Think he means the 70′s band or our fair country?

    Don’t feel bad, I ran into Cooley in New Orleans and he was also a complete jerk to me. That’s what I get for helping those fuckers? Ah well.

  21. bons  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    the comment he made about the exploding hearts is not nice,

    and I would like to put forward the motion of asking if somebody can leak the new new pornos full album, please.

  22. jane goodall  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    this guy seems totally insecure. maybe that’s why he writes for Esquire: The Magazine for Insecure Men

  23. dave  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    The descriptions aren’t funny. Most of them don’t even make any sense. What a tool.

  24. loveanddeath  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    Come now people, there is just no hating on the Klosterman, he is the only SPIN mag. writer other than Dave Eggers I can stand, and he isn’t half as bad [read: he doesn't have the same hipster stick up his ass] as Pitchfork Media.

    I don’t agree with all those records, but a few are definitely worth mentioning.

    Sidenote: if you don’t dig Maladroit, you are a tool who just doesn’t understand Rivers Cuomo’s genius. Everyone I’ve ever had this conversation with denies enjoying the record…but can’t really give me any good reason as to why. And do you know why that is? Because they are sheep. They are just following whatever seems to be cool, and if disliking new weezer music is ‘cool’ then they’re trying to sound cool for the sake of being cool and really they are the lamest people of all time.

  25. The whole idea behind the list is tragic. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t completely unfunny as well.

  26. Nelson  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the leaked Oasis (at least not the version I’ve seen). Less than half the songs are complete and the others are ~1 minute collages of the song. So, yeah, you do get a pretty good idea of what all the songs sound like, but it’s definitely not a replacement for the final version.

  27. madskrillz  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    Hey, I’ve got an idea. I’ll make a list of albums and then write something about their most obvious qualities. Hmmmm…..Weezer is for people with vocabularies! Elliot Smith is sad music! Courtney Love is unstable! DBT is southern rock! TV on the Radio is generally inaccessible! I’m a genius!!!
    Why must I keep losing respect for Klosterman?

    Also, I’m all for Oasis leaks.

  28. ishtar gonzalez  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    evan dando? apart from his name, what does he have going for him? there are maybe 7 good albums on that list.

  29. Roderick Clinkscales  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    I have warts all over my ass and genitalia. I would always rub them and they would never fall off. And they’re silly lookin’.

  30. Brian  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    oh man, i have the thrills album and the weezer album on this list. and, i like them both.

    it looks like i’m a geek.

  31. Eric  |   Posted on May 2nd, 2005 0

    I think Rivers Cuomo is in fact a genius but I still couldn’t get into Maladroit. You can hear the genius at work in there but it doesn’t come out in the form of compelling songs, at least not consistently so. Get an editor, for chrisesakes – weed out half of those stinkers. Evan Dando’s was disappointing. All that time he put into it. Ah well. Coldplay always sounds to me like the guy has a cold, all stuffy head and stopped up nose. You can picture him smearing the vap-o-rub on his chest as he sighs into the mic from his bed, eyes puffy, nose all red and raw from too much tissue rubbing, unshaven, gummy, matted hair, wearing dad’s old stretched out v-neck tee, empty packet of citrus flavored Thera-Flu crumpled up in a mug on the bedside table.

  32. Veg  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    You might be a wanker if . . . damn, Chuck and I thought 75 words or less was overstating the obvious and now you come along with your list. Nobody can accuse your of belabouring a point. But you are a wanker anyway. Agree, someone pls post the new New Pornographers CD, which is how do you say ” good if you generally like things that are good.” asswipe.

  33. I just gotta say this whole obsession about indie-yuppie-ism is pretty retarded (literally) itself. The statement is by Adam Shore from Vice Magazine. Is there anyone out there that’s 28 years old and lives life by the guidings of Vice Magazine. I mean the guys trying to sell you his bands by telling you the bands you listen to aren’t cool enough. Yeah, I liked the Dead Kennedys when I was a teenager but my tastes fucking grew like everyone else. Yes, you can like Death From Above and Death Cab. Why the facism, Adam? And why does everyone feel the need to agree with this guy who’s just trying to sell some albums? I’ll make a bold statement and say that not even half the regulars herre own a Boredoms CD–and I’mean one they bought on their own and didn’t download.

  34. way to list the wrong Fiery Furnaces and Black Keys albums.

  35. That Dando album is actually really great.

  36. i *heart* chuck and i like his pieces in spin. but, the secret machines? i differ on that choice. i saw ‘em live and wished i would’ve stayed at the black angus tossing back a few more drinks. it was tortuous listening to them. just snoozeville…or maybe it was because i really wanted interpol to take the effing stage already.

  37. eric’s comment has me crying with the visuals, espech the crumpled citrus flavored thera-flu packet. ha ha!

  38. I own three albums on that list. Fasinating.
    But isn’t anyone who says they are the arbiter of “what’s cool” by default un-cool? Ontop of that he sounds like a snobby twat, so there.

    D-

  39. jrmy  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    I fall firmly in the Klosterman supporters camp, even if I disagree with anywhere from a quarter to half of what he says. And I give two big thumbs up to Tequilla Red’s assesment of the situation. Not to belabor the old “Lester Bangs is God” thing, but Chuck’s about the only serious answer we have to Lester in the field of music writers in mainstream media today. For that alone, I’d buy him a beer and gladly listen to him rant about how great Poison was. Hell, I thought Dr. Feelgood was the best album in the world before I discovered Yo La Tengo and My Bloody Valentine and The Hold Steady and The Exploding Hearts and all those other indie-riffic three-word-name bands. “Kickstart my Heart,” and “Dr. Feelgood” still kick ass. So there.

  40. theContinental0p  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    This is a fantastic list for anyone out there who wants to have the exact same taste in music as Chuck Klosterman. Personally I’d rather have my own musical taste which couldn’t agree less about these choices being ‘high quality’ but hey if Chuck really enjoys listening to that Courtney Love record then power to him. I myself wouldn’t even listen to that shit with his ears.

  41. ChuckSucks  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    Was he kidding? Was it a joke? Only 4 of those albums are actually “high quality.” I hate Klosterman, I hate Spin, I hate Esquire and I hate most of those albums.

  42. jt  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    i have no idea if he’s serious or not but putting gonga and the exploding hearts on any list of good stuff is to be applauded. but super negative kick in the balls points for adding the coachwhips, that shit is terrible.

  43. greg  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    Chuck is a moron, agreed.

    But he has a point: Coldplay SUCKS.

    I liked them better 10 years ago when they were called Catherine Wheel.

    And that’s not saying much.

  44. jenny  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    Don’t worry Stereo, Chuck blew me off at a party once. It’s not just you.

  45. aaron  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    this list…no…just no

  46. Instead of leaking the new oasis why don’t we all just pull out the last 6 and rest on our laurels…we all know they have.

  47. janine  |   Posted on May 3rd, 2005 0

    Klosterman is actually the abominable snowman and has been shaved as a disguise. This is why he’s so ornery. Now, I think the list is a nice idea. It does its stated job very well. You don’t turn to someone who hasn’t picked up a new band in five years and tell them to listen to friggin Mars Volta; you ease them in.

  48. Whateva people.

    C Klosterman is adorable!!!!!

  49. andrewtsks  |   Posted on May 6th, 2005 0

    guess what, kids–those of you bitching about the short length of the descriptions got pranked by stereogum, because this repost is actually missing most of the article!

    for example, here’s the full paragraph for the hold steady:

    “hailing from uptown minneapolis, the hold steady combines king missile with thin lizzy, and somehow this record ends up feeling like an ironist’s “born to run”. the singer (craig finn) likes to make up nicknames for people you’ve never met, including himself; he also hates guys who wear eye patches, and he’s possibly the best lyricist of the past decade. you will like this album if you used to like ac/dc but now you just read a lot.”

    no, i’m not gonna transcribe the other 20. go read the magazine in the store or something.

    p.s. you kids putting down evan dando are crazy–that record is awesome.

  50. Audrey  |   Posted on May 17th, 2005 0

    ha! This is so funny. I met Chuck, chatted him up in a nothing but completely friendly and affable manner, and he was totally rude to me too! Totally blew me off. I couldn’t believe it!!! The man is completely unattractive, somewhat fat, has the most nerdy inflection when speaking that I could imagine, and was STILL totally rude to my friends and me. And we’re all nice people who span pretty much the whole spectrum of what any given man would find attractive. Who’s rude to nice, attractive strangers?

    Is Chuck Klosterman a dick?

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