Home > Roundups, Uncategorized > And Thus Ends a Decade (Part 2 of 2)

And Thus Ends a Decade (Part 2 of 2)

For those of you who read part one of this blog post thanks so much. For those who haven’t you can catch that here.

I’m not going to lie to you guys, this post is tough for me. I got cocky with my last post “Ooooh look at me… I’m soo important, there are only ten good albums blah blah blah”. Would somebody shut that douche up?  What, does he think he’s better than us? (Take notice how I have cunningly and craftily removed myself from the blame… ha-HA). Well as it turns out, there are lots of really great albums that came out over the last ten years, and now that it’s crunch time (and I already used up 5 of the 10) I’m finding the decisions tougher and tougher to make. Who am I to decide what albums are better than others? And besides, what is an album anyways… y’know, like in the grand scheme things… album is, like, just a label man… (Note to self, no drugs before blogging).

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is; these decisions were tough, but I just kept going with the criteria that I suggested in part 1 (that I should be able to listen to the album cover to cover without the urge to skip any songs).  There are some albums that didn’t make this list that I absolutely love, and some of my top 10 favorite bands didn’t make this list, but I have to knuckle down and be a man. Here are the last 5.

Mother Mother – O My Heart (2008)

If there was one band I was absolutely sure had to make this list, it is the canadian quintet Mother Mother. Originating in Vancouver, they have released two albums and have done several multinational tours. The band started when lead singer Ryan Guldemonde wanted to round out the sound of his music in a full band setting. He recruited his sister Molly, and before long Mother Mother was born. Now they have released 2 full length albums to high critical praise and are already working on a third. Their 2008 effort, O My Heart is without a doubt a weird album. It fuses elements of folk, jazz, rockabilly and even rap into the alternative rock genre. The focus with most of the songs is certainly the melodies. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics are fun, but often heavily repeated (see Hay Loft). This album is odd, quirky and downright strange… but it’s also one of the most endearing I’ve heard. You can’t stay mad listening to “Ghosting“, “O My Heart” or “Body“.

Antoine Dufour – Existence (2008)

I first heard about canadian born folk guitarist Antoine Dufour almost by accident. I was watching a popular video on youtube called “Drifting” by one of his contemporaries (Andy McKee) and Antoine’s “Spiritual Groove” came up in the related videos section… the rest is history. This choice was not an easy one, for if you actually take a day to watch all of the videos on the Candyrat Records channel, you’d realize that there are literally 5-6 very talented and overly qualified artists all doing amazing things with the guitar. I decided upon Dufour’s Existence because there are so many beautiful and complex songs on that record. There is the musically entrancing “Catching the Light” and also the technically demanding “Song for Stephen” wherein he changes the tuning of his guitar mid-song. He is the winner of the 2006 Canadian Guitar Festival’s Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, and the winner of my attention. BRAVO (brav-ohs… also a new breakfast cereal.)

The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour (2007)

This Winnipeg based quartet is certainly not new to the music scene.  The Weakerthans have been making records since 1997.  This project was formed by John K. Samson, who used to play for the popular punk band Propaghandi.  This new project, however, was a departure from the heavy fast political punk of his old band.  The Weakerthans takes a step in a more mellow direction, which isn’t to say they can’t still rock out.  The fun blues and folk inspired punk riffs, however, are not even close to what makes this band worth a listen; that award goes to the lyrics.  The lyrics are introspective and insightful, like nothing I’d ever heard before.  Several of their songs are written from the perspective of Samson’s cat Virtute, and are often commentaries on the state of his owner.  The depth of meaning in Samson’s lyrics coupled with his nasal yet earnest and unimposing vocals makes this music to think about (and who doesn’t like using the old noodle?  Also, in addition to that noodle thing, who doesn’t like using their brain?).  Reunion Tour is their ten year anniversary album, and their fourth studio effort.

With lyrics like “My popcorn squeaks with the question, wonders why I’m not at home” and “Why can’t I draw right up to what I want to say?  Why can’t I ever stop where I want to stay?” it may be tough to tell he’s actually talking about the sport of Curling, but that’s exactly what “Tournament of Hearts” is about.  My other favorites include “Night Windows” and “Civil Twilight“.

Modest Mouse – We Were Dead  Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)

Modest Mouse is yet another band that has been around seemingly since the beginning of time.  Starting in 1993, they remained, for the most part, a second tier indie band throughout the remainder of the 20th century.  They really came into the public forum, however, with their 2004 hit “Float On“, which was so popular as to become overplayed and subsequently (and ironically) unpopular.  With the corresponding album Good News for People Who Like Bad News people began to recognize them as a serious indie contender.  With that kind of hype, however, there is almost always a tendency for the follow up record to be a large disappointment.  This is usually due to either the band being unable to handle the pressure, or because the record label sees an opportunity to make a quick profit and over-produces the album.  Modest Mouse’s follow up, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, did not fall victim to either of these pitfalls.  Aside from a suspiciously MIDI-enhanced sounding Dashboard (which even still is a really good song) the band sticks to it’s guns, keeping overdriven guitar and lead singer Isaac Brock’s gritty voice the focus.  The album showcases several great songs such as “Spitting Venom” and “Missed the Boat” as well as “Little Motel“.

Maritime – We, the Vehicles (2006)

Maritime, like The Weakerthans, formed after a prominent underground indie band broke up… actually two prominent indie bands to be precise.  In 2003 Maritime was formed by Promise Ring singer and guitarist Davey Von Bohlen and included the bassist from The Dismemberment Plan, as well as Promise Ring drummer Dan Didier.  Von Bohlen decided to take this project in a different direction from either of the bands from which it spawned.  This band was much more acoustically oriented and tended to lean away from the borderline emo lyrics from their early 21st century counterparts.  Maritime’s second album We the Vehicles is an orgy of power chords, fast strumming and melodic vocals.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things, they’re really not terribly important… they don’t stand out too much… they’re just like any other indie band from the last ten years.  So why pick this album?  Quite simply put, I’ve listened to loads and loads of these types of album: catchy, but nothing to write home about.  Of all of those albums, however, none have made me want to write home quite as much as this one.  Check out “Tearing Up the Oxygen“, “Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts” “We Don’t Think, We Know” and “No One Will Remember You Tonight

So… there ya have it…  There were soo many eligible albums to choose from.  When it came time to pick these last five, I found myself with a short-list of 14 albums that I consider to be great.  Unfortunately only 5 could make the list.  I’d list the runners up but I feel as though that would diminish the sense of mystery.  Maybe your favorite album just barely didn’t make it, ooooohhhh the mystery oooooohh.  Anyways thanks so much for giving enough of a shit about what I think to read this far into my post.  I hope at least I’ve helped you discover a few new artists you’ll like, if not validated your feelings towards a particular band.  Again, if you didn’t catch part 1, you can do so here.

P.S. Sorry, but have to give these guys some credit.  They did make my short-list, but overall I decided they just didn’t have quite the volume of songs I was looking for on their album.  This, however, does not diminish from their overall musical prowess.  Boston’s own Art Decade and their album Royalty (2009) definitely deserve an honorable mention.  They’re just a blast to listen to and really fun to talk to, as I discovered when I interviewed them on my show a few months ago.

Check them out on myspace.

(Also check out Audiophilia‘s Top 10)

Categories: Roundups, Uncategorized Tags: , ,
  1. reactionmechanism
    December 17, 2009 at 2:34 am
  1. December 19, 2009 at 7:13 pm

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