Posts Tagged 'Top 10'

My “Top Music of the Decade” List

(originally posted at Turn Off The Radio)

It’s really, really difficult to look back over the past 10 years and pick out a handful of albums that you would consider the “best”.  Picking out influential albums isn’t that hard, to be honest, but getting them into some sort of order is.  There’s also a tendency, perhaps, to give more weight to recent releases, since they’re more fresh in your memory.

Looking back over this past decade, I realized that this has been a very influential time for me, musically speaking.  It’s strange, because although I’ve been doing a lot less musically (personally) than the previous decade, my musical tastes have grown up in a number of ways – some of them quite surprising to me. 

The biggest change has definitely been my willingness to open up to new & different artists.  I owe much of this to “life’s crazy (and at times unfortunate) events”, as well as the guys in This Diminishing West, who stretched me musically.  More recently, my switch to subscription-based music (via Zune Pass) has blown my musical library wide open, which has really been a lot of fun.

All that said, I’ve attempted to list (with reasonable accuracy) my Top 15 Albums of the Decade.  A month earlier, this list may have looked a bit different.  A year earlier, it certainly would’ve, but what’re you gonna do.  It is what it is.

Hope you enjoy it.

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My Top 15 Albums | 2000 – 2009

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#15:  Muse, Absolution

I can thank the guys in This Diminishing West for showing me the door to Muse.  This is an absolutely awesome album, and I’m sincerely looking forward to seeing these guys (live!) in a few months.

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#14:  16 Horsepower, Secret South

I’m guessing that this album didn’t make a lot of “top albums of the decade” lists, but it should have.  Moody.  Unique.  Lyrically incredible.  A band that deserved a lot more credit than it ever received.

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#13: Editors, An End Has A Start

My good friend Ken helped me discover Editors a few years ago with their album The Back Room.  Their follow-up album (and subsequent) tour was even better!  Definitely a top album of the decade for me.

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#12: Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown

Talk about an album (and band!) that I never expected or wanted to like, but here they are.  Previous to this album, I didn’t want to touch these guys with a 10-foot pole, but something changed – with both them and me.  First, this album is far more mature than their previous releases.  In fact, it’s an incredible album.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I allowed myself to “like an artist that I didn’t want to like”.  The title track remains one of my faves.

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#11: The Fire Theft, The Fire Theft

Strangely enough, it was The Fire Theft that finally got me to appreciate Sunny Day Real Estate.  I wish they’d kept on as a band, though, ‘cause this album is awesome.

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#10: Jimmy Eat World, Bleed American

It was somewhere around our recording sessions for The Waiting Room that I discovered Jimmy Eat World.  Late to the party, I know.  This album was, in my opinion, pulled off masterfully.  It’s rockin’, smart, and never cliche.

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#9: Radiohead, In Rainbows

As I’ve mentioned before, I was really a late-comer to the Radiohead fan club.  Actually, I’m not sure I’m entirely a fan of theirs, but this album is incredible.  Yes, I’ve heard their previous albums.  Yes, those albums are good.  But, there is something about In Rainbows that captured my attenion.

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#8: Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

It was actually a local radio station that introduced me to Spoon.  Their track, The Underdog, received some significant airplay, but what really caught my ear was how much it sounded like Billy Joel on the vocals.  Almost jokingly, I decided to listen to the rest of the album… and I’m sincerely glad that I did.

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#7: Sunny Day Real Estate, The Rising Tide

Did I mention that I wasn’t really much of a Sunny Day fan?  In fact, to the hardcore & faithful fans, I’m still not.  In my opinion, though, this band got better with each album – culminating with the release of The Rising Tide.  Without a doubt, some of Jeremy’s best work.

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#6: Neko Case, Middle Cyclone

Here’s a case in point where a recent addition to my musical catalog could possibly be unfairly high on my “best of the decade” list, but I don’t think so.  This was not only my 2nd favorite album of 2009, it’s an absolute and immediate classic to me.  Fox Confessor Brings The Flood and Blacklisted are both equally incredible albums.

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#5: Silversun Pickups, Swoon

Also my pick for “favorite album of 2009”, Swoon is a truly wonderful album.  Is it better than Carnavas?  In my book, yes, but they’re both a triumph.  Looking forward to seeing these guys “live”!

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#4: Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

Fiona’s previous release, When The Pawn…, was a tough act to follow, but I believe that Extraordinary Machine more than rose to the challenge – especially in regards to album continuity and “sonic wonderment”.  I just don’t seem to get tired of this album.

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#3: Coldplay, X&Y

Here’s another band that I was late-to-the-game with:  Coldplay.  Although X&Y is panned as a “commercial sell-out” by some, I find this album to be incredible.  It’s not just the album, though, it was the motif around it – dark album artwork, mysterious, and slightly unapproachable.  It was the right album at the right time for these guys, and I find it truly enjoyable. 

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#2: meWithoutYou, Brother, Sister (tie with Catch For Us The Foxes)

Not just one of my favorite albums of the decade, this is without a doubt one of my favorite bands of the past 10 years.  I found these guys right away, and fell in love with A>B Life, which failed to impress most people I showed it too.  I felt alone in my admiration, but I stuck to my guns.  Their follow-up release, Catch For Us The Foxes, was a smart departure from their first album, and a step in the right direction.  It challenged me, though, and I initially thought it was a bomb.  The same went for Brother, Sister, which took some listening to for me to thoroughly enjoy.  Finally, though, my love for this band won out.  These two albums are most definitely favorites of this decade.

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#1: Over The Rhine, Ohio

My absolute favorite album of the decade… from Over The Rhine?  REALLY?  You know it.  Heck!  I’ve been listening to (and loving) Over The Rhine since 1993.  Although I know that Ohio was the album that nearly ripped them apart, the genius is unmistakable.  This is their very best work – heart & soul present in spades – with Drunkard’s Prayer a close second.  It’s beautiful, heart-wrenching, emotional, humorous, and entirely wonderful.  The fact that it’s a double-album only makes it that much better.  My personal favorite tracks are: Ohio, Suitcase, Show Me, and Changes Come.  So powerful…and my choice for the best album of the decade.

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There you have it, folks.  Many thanks to Alan P. for the challenge to dream up this list.  If you have the time, check out his faves of the decade.  We’re like musical twins separated at birth… mostly 🙂

2009… signing off.

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My “Top Music of 2009” Lists

Well, as 2009 rolls to a close, I thought it fitting to give a run-down of my ‘notable musical items of the year’.  For the most part, these albums/artists have all been found on my “Now Playing” posts throughout the year, but I’m also adding some other categories to keep it interesting.

Here we go…

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My Top 10 Albums of 2009

61XfZozztmL._SL160_AA115_[1] #10  Doves, Kingdom of Rust

This group was totally unknown to me before this year, but Kingdom of Rust was a *great* way to get to know them!  Fans of Radiohead & Muse, check it out.

 

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#9  |  The Decemberists, Hazards Of Love

A very well put-together ‘theme’ album that weaves an interesting story line.  Good music to “zone out” to.

 

 

51F0mKrQ9cL._SL160_AA115_[1] #8  |  Jeremy Enigk, OK Bear

Not as strong as ‘World Waits’, if you ask me, but a very good album nonetheless.  I hate the album cover.

 

 

51UvkmJCPQL._SL160_AA115_[1] #7  |  David Bazan, Curse Your Branches

If there’s one thing I love about David Bazan, it’s his brazen, bold honesty, and this album doesn’t disappoint.  Not everyone’s cup o’ tea, I’m sure, but really great stuff.

 

31UyE4JPN7L._SL160_AA115_[1] #6  |  U2, No Line On The Horizon

Although I’ve been listening to U2 for the past 25 years, I’ve never been a rabid fan.  That said, “No Line On The Horizon” features some incredible work.

 

31MuYSuVGhL._SL160_AA115_[1] #5  |  Metric, Fantasies

This is without a doubt the strongest commercial release for Metric.  This album is slick, catchy, and well-done.  Seemingly overlooked by many, but it’s worth your time.

 

 

51miWWfKK0L._SL160_AA115_[1] #4  |  Thad Cockrell, To Be Loved

Mr. Joey Sanchez (of Fair) let me know about this album, and I’m really glad he did.  Wonderful, old-timey folk worship that brings a tear to your eye.  So great.

 

61LmFcR9lcL._SL160_AA115_[1]#3  |  The Dear Hunter, Act III: Life And Death

I literally new *nothing* about this band until this past summer when my wife and I saw them open up for meWithoutYou.  Their live performance intrigued me, but this album has blown me away.  It’s strange, dynamic, catchy, and not at all what I expected.  It’s also really, really good.  Not sure who to compare them to, so just give it a listen!

 

51WBw0YZBTL._SL160_AA115_[1] #2  |  Neko Case, Middle Cyclone

Wow.  Where do I start?  First of all, this album should probably be a tie for first place this year, but I had to choose someone, so I did.  It grieves me slightly, though, because this is such a wonderful album – from the opening track, to the closing “noise” that could lull you to sleep.  I love the music, the melodies, the lyrics, and the (awesome) album cover.  Hoping to see Neko Case live sometime in 2010.

 

51sMDGXbcNL._SL160_AA115_[1] #1  |  Silversun Pickups, Swoon

Following up an incredible album such as “Carnavas” is typically too much for most bands.  Their next release is either lacking, boring, just “so-so”, or is just outright bad.  Not in this case, though.  “Swoon” is exactly what it needed to be.  It’s not an incredible departure from their last album, but it is evolutionary in every regard — songwriting, production quality, and continuity.  Without a doubt their best work to-date, and my pick for the best album of 2009.

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My Top Musical Finds of 2009

thumbnail[1] Neko Case

Yep.  You read that correctly: it’s not an album, it’s an artist.  Although I had heard her name before, I’d never listened to any of her stuff.  Upon recommendation from a friend of mine (thanks, Ken!), I picked up Middle Cyclone and gave it a listen.  I was blown away.  Not only is this album phenomenal, but so is her catalog of previous work:  Blacklisted, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, and her album Furnace Room Lullaby (released as ‘Neko Case & Her Boyfriends).  Truly a great find this year.

41ndY2-8eQL._SL500_SS110_[1] The Hourly Radio, History Will Never Hold Me

I’ve found some wonderful artists/albums via the ‘Related’ section of the Zune Marketplace – and The Hourly Radio is one of them.  Although they’ve since disbanded, they left behind some really great albums including ‘History Will Never Hold Me’.  Not sure how to describe their sound, but it’s somewhere around Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World, and who knows what.  Just check it out.

51dJ2F-jcwL._SL500_SS110_[1] The Working Title, About Face

Another rabbit trail lead me to this album, About Face.  How can I describe it?  Moody, powerful, poppy (at times) and just plain good.  Sadly, their latest release, Bone Island, is receiving fairly poor reviews, but this album is great… and most definitely one of my favorite finds for 2009.

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My Top Musical Disappointments of 2009

61KaJBMm6cL._SL500_SS110_[1]meWithoutYou, It’s All Crazy!  It’s All False!  It’s All A Dream, It’s Alright

Perhaps the stakes were just too high, but as one of my very favorites artists of the past decade, they seemed to do no wrong in my eyes.  As far as I was concerned, each album of theirs was better than the last.  All good things must come to an end, I guess, as their latest release, It’s All Crazy!…, just didn’t do it for me.  I enjoy most of the album, to be honest, but I have to confess my disappointment with it.  Quite simply, it’s not at all their strongest work.  There are, of course,  moments of (their typical) genius, but many more moments of feeling tired and repetitive.  I’m not sure if they’re planning on releasing any more albums, but I sincerely hope that they get back on the wagon.

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Muse, The Resistance

Possibly another case of ‘setting the bar too high’, but the latest Muse release just kinda flopped for me.  It sounds like the same stuff rehashed, and it bums me out.  I’d like to see Muse enhance and grow their sound, but they haven’t.  There’s no doubt that this band is extraordinarily talented, but talented individuals don’t always make an incredible album.

51X9LgTrVzL._SL500_SS110_[1] MuteMath, Armistice

When MuteMath started recording this album, their goal was simple: “embarrass their last release”, or something like that.  Problem is, their last album was really good, and this one isn’t better.  It’s fine, but not great.  Another issue I have, though, is that one of their best tracks, Spotlight, was released several months earlier in support of the Twilight soundtrack, and thus was pretty worn out by the time the album was finally released.  Perhaps it’ll grow on me, but as it stands I tend to pass by it in my playlists.

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And there you have it, folks!  Hope you enjoyed my year in music.  As always, comments/questions are welcome 🙂