Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best Albums Of The Decade

I alluded to the fact that I don't put too much stock into a new year but it's remarkable to me that the first decade of the new Millennium has passed. A better case to start a process of reflection. I brought in the Noughties at a house party, DJ'ing hard techno to many friends and amid a cloud of smoke and weird energy. Wouldn't exactly say it was memorable and as the night progressed and the techno got harder and faster I made an exit, wishing I was with Frankie, Podge, Tubs, and Ed who were hanging out in Francine's house in Canada. The turn of the Millennium kind of forecast the years to follow. The reason we ended up at a house party was because every establishment in town decided to milk the regulars and force them to stay at home. But from an athletic view point and a musical view point the months that followed were remarkable. I returned to the States from that winter break completely out of shape and it was in the months that followed that I decided to actually take running seriously. 2000/01 was my favorite time in America. Not only did my running go to a whole new level but it was the only year I had no injuries, no cares, success, and constant fun times. The lads on the team all ran well and we fed off each others energy. The girls team were running great too and I don't really remember any negative vibes from June 2000 - October 2001. From a running stand point everything went downhill after October 2001 but the rest of the decade had a lot of high points. Since this blog is about Running and Music I don't need to go into politics or any of that. It was obviously a very significant period for the entire globe. We saw the best and the worst of human behavior.

I have spoke to a lot of people about whether or not the 90's edged the 00's out as far as music goes. Almost all of my friends agree that the 90's had it. It is significant to note that we (me and my mates) lived through very inspiring culture shifts in music. A shift that we didn't see in the 00's. In fact there were two major musical movements that I personally experienced. Rave Culture and Brit-Pop. In the USA there was the grunge thing (which was also massive in Ireland) but I never got into that and still don't really like the sound. But Rave and Brit-Pop were amazing. I remember back in 1992 and 1993 making the almost religious weekly trip to Luci's with the rest of the town. Every Friday and Saturday night the lines outside were ridiculous. Rave had gripped everyone and unfortunately so did a little white pill called Ecstasy. Not that everyone was doing it or anything but it was certainly a major reason why the clubs were packed to the rafters every week. I like to think the music had a lot to do with it but thats just my buzz and always has been. I bought my Decks and wanted to be a DJ.

Right at the same time a band from Manchester called Oasis hit the scene and Brit-Pop was born. Blur, Elastica, Pulp, Supergrass, Suede, there were so many. The energy was a real wake up to youth to bring back the good times and the fun. It was a backlash against some of the self loathing of grunge and the introverted shoegazing sounds. It was about "Cigarettes and Alcohol". Looking back it is amazing to think how big Oasis were. Even though I was more of a Blur fan I saw Oasis 4 times in concert and so did the rest of the country. It was nuts and really memorable.

With that being said I don't necessarily think the decade had better records than the 00's, even though my favorite album of all time, OK Computer came out in 1997. I am somewhat on the fence. I think the 90's were more significant in that the social change that music evoked was massive in scale and shaped and changed so many people growing up and experiencing their first concerts and nights out. But as far as the actual music goes, I think if I had to do an all time favorite albums list more albums from the 00's and maybe even the 80's would place more regularly. This decade it seemed that bands broke the mold with each album. While in the 90's we didn't want our bands to change and evolve the opposite was true of the 00's. So many new genres emerged and the revival of sounds from the 80's fused with modern music technology created lots of new groups and types of music. The series of "post" rave, rock, punk etc all presented fantastic albums. No one sound dominated. However, with that being said, the lowest common denominator of music took off in the 00's and that is the world of Pop/American Idol and X-Factor. But we won't talk any more about that here.

I put my albums into 2 categories. Top 10 of the Decade in order. And the rest that I couldn't rank because I kept changing my mind and it was doing my head in! Note, I picked a live version of a song from each album which shows how amazing these groups are.

1. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
Idioteque is my most listened to song of the last 10 years and maybe my favorite song of all time. And this album turned me from loving Radiohead to becoming fanatical about Radiohead.

2. Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)
I'll believe in anything. One of my favorite songs ever. And the album that kick started my obsession with Spencer Krug and everything he does.

3. Sigur Ros - () (2002)
Suggested to me on a Radiohead message board. Apparently Thom and Jonny were listening to these guys so I went out and bought this album and have been fanatic about these guys ever since.

4. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
From the way it was released to the amazing music the record contains. Beautiful. Still listen to these songs every single week.

5. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights (2001)
Heard NYC somewhere random way back when and loved Paul's voice. Bought the album on the cheapo in Newbury Comics and played it until it was riddled with scratches and needed to be thrown out. Amazing.

6. Blur - Think Tank (2003)
I really thought Blur were done and that they had their best days. But this along with 13 in my opinion is their best album. Saw the songs performed live in the Olympia with a few devoted fans and was blown away.

7. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover (2007)
Some of my most listened to songs in the last 2 years came off this album. I could never get bored of this record. Spencer and his band at their best. So uplifting and inspiring.

8. Radiohead - Amnesiac (2001)
The very quick follow up to Kid A. Not as good but still full of amazing tunes from the best band on the planet.

9. Sigur Ros - Takk (2005)
Perhaps my best concert moment of the decade was Sigur Ros on the Takk tour stop in Bostons Opera House. Very strange feelings. Such a joyful album.

10. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
Jumped on the bandwagon and bought into the hype until I had about 2 or 3 listens and realized it was very real and that this album is genius.

The Rest In No Particular Order:

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
Thom Yorke - The Eraser (2006)
Mew - And The Glass Handed Kites (2005)
Editors - The Back Room (2005)
Radiohead - Hail To The Thief (2003)
Mogwai - Happy Songs For Happy People (2003)
Royksopp - Melody AM (2001)
Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place. (2003)
M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts (2003)
Morrissey - You Are The Quarry (2004)
Interpol - Antics (2004)
Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (2008)
Ulrich Schnauss - A Strangely Isolated Place (2003)
The Shins - Wincing The Night Away (2007)
Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City (2007)
Boards Of Canada - The Campfire Headphase (2005)
Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer (2009)
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver (2007)
The Album Leaf - Into The Blue Again (2006)

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