20. Norah Jones - "Come Away With Me" (2002)
I wasn't crazy about her sophomore effort "Feels Like Home," even though it does contain an awesome duet with Dolly Parton. However, "Come Away With Me," remains utterly listenable more than eight years after I first heard it. Her marriage of jazz, country and folk music, combined with her sweet, whispery voice definitely made an impression.
Best Track: "Nightingale" I didn't even have to think twice.
19. Green Day - "American Idiot" (2004)
That's right, I like Green Day and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Say what you will about them, but they are often imitated (badly I might add...My Chemical Romance, I'm looking in your direction) and quite influential. After a four year hiatus, they returned with what remains their strongest album to date and one of the best of the 2000s.
Best Track: "Are We the Waiting"
18. Feist - "The Reminder" (2007)
A truly unique sound that emerged when her sophomore effort received mainstream commercial success. I loved this album to pieces and listened to it obsessively. "One, Two, Three, Four" was such a great introduction as an amazing first single (and it's not even the best song on the album). I'm happy to include Feist on this list with a little swell of Canadian pride.
Best Track: "Brandy Alexander"
17. Scissor Sisters - "Scissor Sisters" (2004)
A lot of great debuts in this section. Scissor Sisters are sadly a band I haven't been following since their amazing burst onto the scene in 2004 (note to self: must remedy this), but this album got a lot of play from me and I can't imagine this list without it. And I fell in love with it all over again during the third season of "Big Love" when Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) did her crazy dance to this song after her mom died (seriously, are the Scissor Sisters even legal in Utah? Brilliant...)
Best Track: "Take Your Mama"
16. Ray LaMontagne - "Trouble" (2004)
Rounding off this section of the countdown is yet another amazing 2004 debut. Ray LaMontagne will be featured on this list again, rest assured. This album just warms my heart every time I listen to it. And you've probably heard some of it, even if you don't know it. A lot of these tracks were featured on various television shows, movie trailers, etc. Remember that great scene in the second season of "Rescue Me" where Dennis Leary's five-year-old son is killed by the drunk driver? Yep, that's Ray LaMontagne's "All the Wild Horses" playing in the background (incidentally, I know someone who worked on that show and the story behind the decision to kill off the son is a hilarious one involving an annoying child actor and an unruly stage mom). Give it a listen when you have a chance and let LaMontagne's "Trouble" croon you to sleep.
Best Track: "Hold You in My Arms"
Countdown continues with 15-11...