It is December 2010 and I've been thinking for a while about doing a Best of the Decade post about music. A "Top 10" or something along those lines. I've been listening to a lot of new things lately, local, large and otherwise. The following criteria are how i've decided to do it:
1. I'm disqualifying all the bands that my friends are in. I love you all and you are making some wonderful music in a million different ways. Lets just say I don't have room for all the ways I respect my talented friends. All these friends are, by the way just a Google from your ears. Look them up!!
My friends who have finished albums in the past decade:
Hepcat Dilemma- Overend
Junk Fingers- You can't drink all day unless you start in the morning.
Incommunicado- Burning Daylight
Aardvark Spleen- Center of the Universe
Acoustic Ross- The Anarchist Fakebook
Naythen Wilson- various titles
Soma Mestizo- Telomere and various titles.
Corduroy Days- Timestamp EP
Krista Crommett- Private Parade
2. All the albums on my list are ones that I personally own. Do you think theres a particular album I will like better? Let me know. I'm always on the lookout.
3. Disqualified my own releases in this decade for obvious reasons. But in case you are wondering, they are:
Voxius- Psyclotomis Rex (2001)
Mister Voxius- Atroxius (2008)
Moot Pt.- This Space Intentionally Left Blank (2010)
That's really it. Just wanted to note my restrictions, hopefully to make the enjoyment of reading this list that much greater :)
Presenting!!!! Some albums put out since 2000 that I really want to talk about!
Regina Spektor- Begin to Hope- 2006
I have to start with a little story. When Reginas' Bonaroo 2010 performance was on npr.org, some person commented that she was "nothing but a Tori Amos wannabee" or something to that effect. Wanting to read the rest of the commentary and perhaps respond, I accidentally "liked" that comment and couldn't figure out how to take it back. So let me be clear now. That person is wrong, and in a huge way. The only thing that the wonderful Tori and Regina have in common is a piano. Thank you. done.
Begin to Hope starts in some kind of pop territory, with "Fidelity" and "Better", both excellent vehicles for a truly unique and flexible voice. Then comes "Samson" a simple lovers lament wrapped in a biblical verse that almost always still chokes me up just from the sound of it. "Apres Moi" still baffles me with its meaning, but sung partially in Russian, it is unforgettable. No one ever gets as versatile on a piano ballad as Spektor does on "Chemo Limo". Almost characteristically heartbreaking while still maintaining a sense of humor, this has become one of my favorite tunes.
The Roots- Phrenology- 2002
Where do you start with this one? The beginning? Ok. "Rock You" is everything you ever wanted from the Roots, solid beat, awesome rhymes, the feeling that this is not just another hip-hop record, and suddenly theres comes a formidable Fishbone impression in the form of "!!!" which somehow leads back to the silkiness of "Sacrifice". Yes, "The Seed 2.0" is one this one too. This is the album I pick first when discussing rap , it's pitfalls and its heroes. Considering their decade of output,including the latest John Legend collab and the excellent "How I Got Over" from earlier this year, I always come back to this one when I want to be amazed by the Roots.
OutKast- Stankonia- 2000
My re-introduction into hip hop. In the 1980's, when I abandoned DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and RUN DMC for Minor Threat and the Violent Femmes, it's because I was young and it matched my hair. Punk made a lot more sense to me at 15 than rap did. When I heard OutKast in about 2001, "Stankonia" and then "Aquemini" I first wondered, where on Earth did this come from? Then I marveled at the pure lyrical fanaticism of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Hardly anyone can touch these two for pure creative power. Includes fascinating George Clinton cameo. My favorite? "Humble Mumble" which features the scratchy soul of Erykah Badu. Includes this little gem :"She said 'I thought hip-hop was only guns and alcohol.' I said "Hell, Naw, oh but it's that too! You can't discriminate cause you done read a book or two."
Seu Jorge- The Life Aquatic Sessions- 2005
I love this album so much it's ridiculous. Brazilian singer Seu Jorge does David Bowie songs acoustically and in Portuguese. It doesn't hurt that it includes many of my favorites from "Hunky Dory" and at least a few from "Ziggy Stardust". Truly, I cannot express how much this recording means to me. If you are even a little bit of a Bowie fan you should get it. Mind Blowing.
Andrew Bird- Armchair Apocrypha- 2007
This album contains a song called "Simple X". It features an incredibly catchy drum loop by Martin Dosh at the beginning, is full of melancholy melody and you know what? It makes me feel good every single time I hear it. If there were no other songs on the record (there are) this one would still make my top 10 of the decade. Other notable tracks: "Scythian Empires". This one is a triumph of sound engineering as well as songwriting. The spaces they create with simple sounds, whistling, plucked violin, it's an adventure to listen to.
Gorillaz- Demon Days- 2005
"Feel Good!" bowp ba ba ba bawp bow! bowp ba ba ba bow bowm! Infectious isn't even the appropriate word for the repeatability of most of these tracks. When not bouncing with dance floor bombast you find quieter moments in "November has come" and the late Dennis Hopper brings you alien history in "Fire coming out of the monkeys head". This album is frozen in time and space, nothing by the Gorillaz or anything else will ever touch it.
Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere- 2006
When was the last time you danced? Probably near the last time this was on. Something about Cee-Lo Green makes me root for the guy. Even though "Crazy" probably got overplayed no matter where you live, it's deeper than the average pop song. "There was something so pleasant about that place, even your emotions have an echo in so much space..." Cheers to CLG and Danger Mouse for etching out a unique place for St. Elsewhere to live.
The Breeders- Title TK- 2002The best things about a song like "Cannonball" (from 1993's Last Splash) pop up everywhere on tyhis album. Simple ,catchy and yet so sonically unique. Perfect harmony over imperfect rhythym. Garbage can drums and bass propel Kim Deals ever so slightly damaged voice to proclaim "I will sing...Title TK...if I don't black out!"
This is how I like my rock'n'roll.
" I am the autumn and the scarlet, I am the makeup on your eye..."
I truly hope you enjoyed reading my opinions and thoughts on music from the last decade. I find it only fitting to close with a quote from one of my true heroes, who will never be surpassed in this decade or in another. A Squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous! Got me!
~~HAPPY NEW YEAR~~
Orange Claw Hammer by Captain Beefheart
Uh thick cloud caught uh piper cubs tail The match struck blue on uh railroad rail The old puff horse was just pullin' thru'n uh' man wore uh peg leg forever I'm on the bum where the hoboes run The air breaks with filthy chatter Oh I don't care there's no place there I don't think it matters My skin's blazin' thru'n my clothes in tatters'n the railroad looks Like uh "Y" up the hill of ladders One shoe fell on the gravel One stick poked down Gray of age fell down on uh pair of ears An eagle shined thru my hole watch pocketUh gingham girl baby girlPassed me by in tearsUh jack rabbit raised his folded ears Uh beautiful sagebrush jack rabbit'n an oriole sang like an orange His breast full uh worms'n his tail clawed the evenin' like uh hammer His wings took t' air like uh bomber'n my rain can caught me uh cup uh water When I got into town Odd jobs mam ah' yer horse I'll fodder I'm the round house man I once was yer father Uh little up the road uh wooden Candy stripe barber pole o'n above it read uh sign "painless parker" Licorice twisted around under uh fly'n uh youngster cocked 'er eye God before me if I'm not crazyIs my daughter Come little one with yer littleole dimpled fingers Gimme one 'n I'll buy you uh cherry phosphate Take you down t' the foamin' brine 'n water'n show you the wooden tits On the Goddess with the pole out full sail That tempted away yer peg legged father I was shanghied by uh high hat beaver mustache man'n his pirate friend I woke up in vomit 'n beer in uh banana bin'n uh soft lass with brown skin Bore me seven babies with snappin black eyes'n beautiful ebony skin'n here it is I'm with you my daughter Thirty years away can make uh seaman's eyes Uh round house man's eyes flow out water Salt water