And Thus Ends a Decade… (pt. 1 of 2)
Well it’s that time of century again… when the last few seconds of 2009 expire in just a few short weeks, it will be a new decade. Seeing as it has been a popular topic for bloggers, music enthusiasts and, oh yeah, just about every radio station in the continental US… I thought it might be nice to reflect upon the last 10 years.
The 2000s were responsible for introducing us to bands like The Jonas Brothers and Kanye West. It was a time when phrases like “superman dat ho” and “sugar we’re going down swinging” were made to thrive. I guess I can’t say it was all bad though… at least we managed to put out 2 Twilight movies, am I right?
Now I know you’re all thinking: Andy, there must be something you liked about the last 10 years? You are correct. Amidst all the Kelly Clarkson and Bronson Arroyo (better known for his being a red sox pitcher NOT A MUSICIAN DAMMIT), the music industry did manage to put out several albums that I consider to be worthy of the highest praise. I’m the kind of guy who can barely pay attention to anything long enough to even tie his own shoes, so any album that I can listen to cover to cover and not get bored with any of the songs is really a keeper (to be said in the most wisconsonist of ways). Here are a few that have been able to do just that (in no particular order… at least listen to the links if you’re not gonna read it haha):
Death Cab for Cutie – Plans (2005)
Death Cab’s album, Plans, came out in 2005 and was a huge success. Death Cab was formed by lead singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard (also of All-Time Quarterback and the ever popular Postal Service). This was the first record that they released on the Altlantic Records label. They had experienced some indie success for their previous album Transatlanticism, which showcased the single “Sound of Settling”. Yet as good a single as that was, they really hit their stride with their 2005 follow up Plans. On this album they boasted heavy hitting chart toppers with their singles “Soul Meets Body” and “Crooked Teeth“, both of which received extensive airplay. However this is not what makes this album worth a listen. If it only had two good songs, I would simply recommend you go out and download them and be done with it. This album is however a masterpiece of songwriting. Each song is an ebbing and flowing tribute to the beauty and simplicity of analogue sound. You know a song is good when even the bass line is holding your attention; no song does this better than “Summer Skin“. However, my favorite song on the entire album has to be “Brothers on a Hotel Bed“. Death Cab later went on to make the personally dissapointing “Narrow Stairs”, and most recently a single called “Meet Me on the Equinox” which so far as I can tell, was written explicitly for Twilight’s sequel “New Moon”. Come on guys.
Director – We Thrive on big Cities (2006)
What do Director, Bell x1 and U2 all have in common? If you said they’re all bands, you’re right… and retarded. The actual answer I was looking for was they’re all Irish. In 2006 the young quartet from Malahide, Ireland released their first album We Thrive on Big Cities, which found a strong foothold across the Emerald Isle. They were praised for singles such as “Reconnect” and “Big Cities“. They then proceeded to win several accolades for the album, including a 2007 “Meteor Best New Band” award. I like them personally because they have a style reminiscent of other art rockers, such as The Strokes, yet at the same time have a level of songwriting I’ve seen nowhere else.
Telefon Tel Aviv –Fahrenheit Fair Enough (2001)
During my freshman year at Northeastern, my friend Charlie introduced me to New Orleans duo Telefon Tel Aviv. They are a part of a movement within electronic music known as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), which tries to express complex beat structures and off-kilter sampling through the digital medium. Their 2001 album Fahrenheit Fair Enough is certainly an interesting take on the electronic genre. In the background they contrast the smoothest of synth melodies with the most random cacophony of any and every sampled sound, which serves as the beat. The resulting mish-mosh is prickly, frenetic, almost epileptic and yet oddly soothing . This music is well suited to studying, and I’ve even found I study better while listening to it. Also try driving and listening… whoaaah. If you haven’t already, check out “Fahrenheit Fair Enough” and “John Thomas on the Inside Is Nothing but Foam“. But wait, also try TTV.
The Slip – Eisenhower (2006)
The Slip have been around a while and have been kicking ass for almost as long. They originally started off playing avant-garde rock in 1996 after dropping out of Berklee College of Music. 10 years later they released Eisenhower, which was, by far, their poppiest foray into the music business to date. Their song “Even Rats” even made it into the first Guitar Hero game. However, this album was certainly not about the fame. Every song on this album is its own little world, with it’s own stories and its own ambiance. One song might be a slow ballad showcasing the vocal talents of singer/guitarist Brad Barr, the next might be a heavily percussive funk inspired mostly instrumental piece. This range is seen quite clearly between “Suffocation Keep” and “Airplane/Primitive“. The one thing that makes this album so easy to listen to, is that it never, for even one second, gets boring… and yet it does so without resorting to heavy on/off, loud/quiet shifts. My hat is off to the Boston based trio.
Kaki King – Dreaming of Revenge (2008)
Kaki Kings 4th studio album continues in the tradion of her previous efforts; amazing acoustic guitar. This album however sees much more of her vocals than her previous albums, a huge step for the New York singer/songwriter. She had been hailed as one of the best female guitarists of our time. Over her short career she has managed to work with such bands as Tegan and Sara, Northern State, and oh yeah… THE FOO FIGHTERS. The lead singer of whom is quoted as saying “There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really fucking good. And then there’s Kaki King.” She has also helped score such films as “August Rush” and “Into the Wild”. But enough about her… the album “Dreaming of Revenge” was released in 2008 and showcases Kings talents as a guitarist, a vocalist and a songwriter. She shows off her ability to play guitar on “Bone Chaos in the Castle“, her singing prowess in “Life Being What It Is” (song starts at 43 secs) and her ability to write a crowd pleaser with “Pull Me out Alive“.
I hope you’ve taken the time to read all of this, and if you have… THANKS GOMES.