MilotheMayor's Decade in Music - My Personal 100 Albums


8 Mar 2010, 20:37

[100] Stars | Set Yourself on Fire
[098] Ladytron | Witching Hour
[097] The Go! Team | Thunder, Lightning, Strike
[096] Scott Walker | The Drift
[095] Mastodon | Blood Mountain
[094] Frog Eyes | The Golden River
[093] Cymbals Eat Guitars | Why There Are Mountains
[092] Sonic Youth | Murray Street
[091] Mclusky | Mclusky Do Dallas

[090] Starkey | Ephemeral Exhibits
[089] Studio | Yearbook 1
[088] M83 | Before the Dawn Heals Us
[087] Erykah Badu | New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
[086] Basement Jaxx | Kish Kash
[085] Super Furry Animals | Rings Around the World
[084] A Sunny Day in Glasgow | Ashes Grammar
[083] Department of Eagles | In Ear Park
[082] Caribou | Andorra
[081] Blonde Redhead | 23

[080] Comets on Fire | Blue Cathedral
[079] The Strokes | Is This It
[078] Raekwon | Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt II
[077] Primal Scream | XTMNTR
[076] Sleater-Kinney | The Woods
[075] Junior Boys | So This Is Goodbye
[074] Queens of the Stone Age | Songs for the Deaf
[073] The Notwist | Neon Golden
[072] Wolf Parade | Apologies to the Queen Mary
[071] …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead | Source Tags & Codes

[070] Fugazi | The Argument
[069] Deerhunter | Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
[068] Panda Bear | Person Pitch
[067] Daft Punk | Discovery
[066] The Avalanches | Since I Left You
[065] of Montreal | The Sunlandic Twins
[064] Kanye West | Late Registration
[063] St. Vincent | Actor
[062] J Dilla | Donuts
[061] Animal Collective | Feels

[060] Clipse | Hell Hath No Fury
[059] Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
[058] The Dismemberment Plan | Change
[057] Battles | Mirrored
[056] Les Savy Fav | Let’s Stay Friends
[055] M83 | Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
[054] Boredoms | Vision Creation Newsun
[053] Arcade Fire | Neon Bible
[052] The Antlers | Hospice
[051] Pantha du Prince | This Bliss

[050] The Pipettes | We Are The Pipettes
[049] Dirty Projectors | Bitte Orca
[048] Interpol | Antics
[047] Radiohead | Kid A
[046] Menomena | Friend and Foe
[045] Carissa’s Wierd | Songs About Leaving
[044] Cannibal Ox | The Cold Vein
[043] Broadcast | Haha Sound
[042] Spoon | Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
[041] The Tough Alliance | A New Chance

[040] Pulp | We Love Life
[039] Sufjan Stevens | Illinois
[038] Unwound | Leaves Turn Inside You
[037] The Unicorns | Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
[036] Jacaszek | Treny
[035] Mew | No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away. No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away
[034] Destroyer | Destroyer’s Rubies
[033] Portishead | Third
[032] The New Pornographers | Twin Cinema
[031] Liars | Drum’s Not Dead

[030] Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
"Why does the singer sound like Adam Sandler?" so pondered an iTunes review a mere four years ago. A sentiment certainly echoed by myself, the songs were there but couldn't they just shoot the guy with the mic? I came back to the record recently, knowing that my initial reactions were a bit contrived and calculated (just to be contrary to Sean Walt's recommendation?), and I believe I've rediscovered a gem that seems to be one of the first forgotten victims of the Internet hype machine. Perhaps I have encountered enough unorthodox vocal deliveries since my first CYHSY listen that I no longer have issue with Ounsworth's second puberty struggles. The old maxim that roundabout states 'the best singer doesn't necessarily carry a melody but has something to actually say' seems fitting with the album. Whether mixing war imagery with love lost or simply throwing out some classic self-deprecation, Ounsworth's wordplay (underneath the cracking tunelessness) combines with the sleek, muscular instrumentation to deal a reminder of indie-know-how done right.

[029] Girl Talk | Feed the Animals
To say that I don't pay attention to mainstream music is quite the understatement. So Girl Talk is the acceptable manner for me to avoid embarrassment and experience some genuine pop trash. That was my attitude starting out but I've come to realize that there has to be some actual merit in these mash up snippets. Why else would I be having an emotional reaction to Soulja Boy? Maybe that's a testament to Gregg Gillis' impeccable sequencing and how he places every hook in a new context to work their magic. Snobbery really gets me nowhere in this case. Everybody is equal in the eyes of Girl Talk so that I can share Feed the Animals to all my friends and jam out without shame 2:30 in the morning.

[028] El-P | I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
Hey now! This is the token rap album in my top 30! Actually, I'll Sleep When You're Dead was the first rap album I downloaded, so this position may be biased by nostalgia, but what an effort to first experience a genre. About the farthest removed from mainstream hip-hop I could have managed, El-P's industrial claustrophobia and the live instrumentation seemed to imply that this was a rock album. If the connection is true than I'm not surprised by my gravitation toward El-P's style. But his hyper-literate flow, while sometimes awkward, perfectly complements the paranoid atmosphere he fosters so effectively. A lucky shot in the dark resulted in the discovery of a thinking man's rap album.

[027] Dan Deacon | Bromst
Overall, 2009 appeared to be a watershed year in electronic albums; ranging from the treacly awful (Owl City) to almost workmanlike pleasurable (Phoenix) to the near universally adulated Merriweather Post Pavilion. While the three previously mentioned artists form a convenient slope of increasing complexity in composition, compared to Baltimore's resident sonic weirdo/maestro Dan Deacon those efforts appear hilariously juvenile. While Animal Collective fans (yes I know, I'm one of them. spare me the grief.) got excited about a minute long "trance" section in "Brother Sport", Deacon goes about crafting eight minute slabs of tumultuous hypnosis and melodic deconstruction alongside other rewarding tangents. A siren-launched ultra-kinetic rave-up so fast that it DOES skid off the tracks! ("Red F") Pseudo-rap accompanied by frogcroakbirdchirps! ("Woof Woof") Psychedelic vocal shenanigans! ("Wet Wings") Sublime, minimalist beauty! ("Surprise Stefani") Both!! ("Snookered") Contrary to many, Deacon fully fleshes each of these sensational concepts into rewarding melodies. As such dedication draws the album's length to over an hour, the end result is somewhat akin to drowning in a torrent of skittles (but the rainbow just tastes soooo good!) Fortunately, Deacon saves his ultimate scream till the end with "Get Older". On first listen, the climax seems to occur a minute within so what happens two minutes later must be spontaneous combustion, so by extension what finally occurs at 4:45 has to be the equivalent of nuclear fusion. Ah, so that's what is happening in that tent on the cover! Dan Deacon! World energy problem solver! By too many skittles!

[026] Fucked Up | The Chemistry of Common Life
Compared to the Nineties, the current decade has been fairly awful with regards to post-hardcore releases. The D.C. stalwarts have closed up shop and any remnants of 'hardcore' has been replaced by turgid Hot Topic-ready metalcore bands who have transformed the thrashing anthems of yore into disappointing emo/James Hetfield imitation singalongs. Striking out of a sullen sky like an Ian MacKaye hailstone, The Chemistry of Common Life breathes wonderful life into a genre short of breath. Raging guitars are the hardcore bread and butter, but, my my, how this release presses some innovative buttons. Every stylistic diversion truly augments Pink Eyes' (skinhead he may be, but he is a very charming man, and funny!) mytho-religiosity rants. Flute intros, bongos, FEmale vocals, shimmering guitar overtones of beauty, instrumental interludes of krautrock jams don't dilute the essence a genre left for dead, but rather refine and diversify eleven aural battering rams.

[025] LCD Soundsystem | Sound of Silver
I fully expect Sound of Silver to age gracefully in my aging hipster-poseur eyes. There was a recent discussion I was reading concerning albums that captured post-collegiate, late twenties angst and Sound of Silver may be the best answer. James Murphy recounting his tales of heartbreak and washed-up friends through the only lens he knows of, "irony", might as well be placed in any brochures handed out to students receiving their liberal arts bachelor degrees. That simplification unfairly ignores the immensely mature confessions ("Someone Great", "All My Friends") which exhibit the narrative gravitas that shows Murphy is just playing along with the hipster crowd for kicks. Contrary to many other listeners, I delve past those two songs to appreciate how the rest of Sound of Silver rounds out Murphy's State of the Aging Hipster address, circa '07.

[024] A Place to Bury Strangers | A Place to Bury Strangers
The Jesus and Mary Chain are a load of bollocks; true they may have been the first to reinterpret Phil Spector's Wall of Sound as a literal sonic reality, but outside of "Just Like Honey" I cannot find enough Ronettes underneath the feedback to justify the praise. Non-sequitur criticisms aside, APTBS refines what the JAMC's ethos was supposed to have been. The principle realized: copious decibels are meant to rip off your face and APTBS succeeds. On first listen the songs' defining characteristics may be given grounding priority (well, if your ears survive "She Dies"' second half speaker implosion, you may not want to continue for a second run through) over the actual song craft. Yet working backwards reminds you that "Ocean" is the best Cure song in forever, and you're encouraged to throw your long time hearing fidelity back into harm's way.

[023] The Knife | Silent Shout
For all the synth-[whatever] revivals from the decade (and my admitted enjoyment of said whatever revivals), Silent Shout is an interesting specimen. I see here on RateYourMusic that Silent Shout is tagged as synth-pop, but was a-ha ever this obliquely peculiar? "Neverland" has the closest element of a hook (that underwater synth motif), followed by four minutes of impenetrable overtones and that, I'm losing sight of pop comparison. Ok screw the apologetics, Silent Shout isn't pop. Expect heady electronics, purposeful androgyny and a dose of "hooks" for your efforts.

[022] The National | Alligator
No overarching artistic statement, just a band finding its sound and its confidence. Thirteen songs - a collage of self-deprecation, slow burners, half-drunk posturing, circular feelings and lyrics. And "Mr. November". The respectable cynic is about to find his group to have a drink with.

[021] Wilco | Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The back story drama of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot unquestioningly sealed its place at the top of every decade list. While I believe some records get swallowed up by their own mythology (cough Kid A), YHF glows with creative ambition that dwarfs the origin tale as should happen. The term experimental country gets thrown around to describe YHF yet I'm hesitant to settle on a designation. I would rather appreciate how Jeff Tweedy takes the rein of every exemplary songwriter from the 60s and 70s (Byrds, Stones, Kinks, Donovan, they're all here) and rises to the challenge of adding his Americana personal statement as an equal. Of course the songwriting is half the package as Jim O'Rourke's visionary production placed YHF within the always sought after circle of albums that seem removed out of time. Static, feedback, found sounds, drones re-imagines the songwriter. O yeah, but "Jesus, Etc." didn't need any trickery I should say.

[020] Wild Beasts | Two Dancers
I suppose there really isn't anything new under the sun nowadays in the rock n' roll world. Nonetheless, inventive amalgams of genres are the real creative boon necessary to get noticed. Needless to say, Wild Beasts splice together so many art-rock influences that you may confused into thinking that this a breakthrough sound. Perhaps it is actually, but I can definitively say at least that the breakthrough of Two Dancers is in the quality of songwriting if not originality. The abuse of alternative cliches is so enchanting (cabaret reinterpretations of Talking Heads? Radiohead soundscapes paired with New Wave?) that the abuse is a welcome practice.

[019] British Sea Power | The Decline of British Sea Power
Being stuck here stateside, little specific detail has ever been shone on the completely Anglophilic British Sea Power. So BSP's debut album has remained a virtual mystery to me throughout the years. The red herring of beginning with a Gregorian choir transitioning to Dostoevsky name checking post-punk, that was much more fractured and eccentric than their peers, certainly placed The Decline... in a different category. Sticking out through the anomalies were the ballads. While delivered under a few more idiosyncrasies, "Something Wicked", "Fear of Drowning" and "Carrion" emphasized that BSP were actually New Romantics, and their earnest metaphors carried a palpable sense of yearning. I was never expecting that some of the decade's best melodies emerging from the figures with tree limbs attached to their bodies while playing on Jools Holland.

[018] Animal Collective | Strawberry Jam
If memory serves correctly, Strawberry Jam was the first album I downloaded illicitly through the Internet back channels. At the time I wasn't very aware that AnCo was practically worshiped within certain circles of bookish music nerds. That was 2007 and since then AnCo has of course exploded all over the indie and festival scenes due to the fairly accessible Merriweather Post Pavilion. I was originally caught in the MPP hype storm and tempted to declare the album a modern classic. Since then I've snapped back to what I actually believe rather than following hipster hive mind, and I can truthfully christen Strawberry Jam as my preferred AnCo offering. The short version of my logic is that contrary to their LPs, every SJ cut is practically essential, no filler to be found (I know that implies my enjoyment of "#1" and "Winter Wonder Land", well...I do!). The longer-winded reasoning lies with the dry production. SJ's clarity of sound allows Avey Tare to let it all out, so to speak. The eccentricities remain luckily, but the emotional peaks (namely "For Reverend Green" and "Fireworks") are practically unparalleled in their catalog, partially due to the casting off of studio slog. Strawberry Jam may have been Animal Collective's transition record, but to me it represents the band at their most accessible and honest while still embracing the signature quirks. Too much schmaltz later on. That's a different discussion.

[017] Sigur Rós | Ágætis byrjun
My first real musical passion dealt with the enjoyment of classical music, and the medium is certainly not short of grandiosity. That focus was put to the wayside for an extended period as became immersed with rock. Grandiose in its own sense, but more like looking at Stonehenge in comparison to Notre Dame in terms of refinement. Fast-forward several years. I was aware obviously of the genre of post-rock, the ol' bait-and-switch technique of waiting ten minutes for a payoff. Didn't buy it. The atmospheres were too sterile, nothing to keep my attention for that long duration. All it took to change my ways was Sigur Ros' symphonic aspirations. Rather than dawdle around in the build-up, every moment of Ágætis byrjun is immersed in strings and brass, Jonsi's angel voice or generally beautiful melancholia. I took the bait and the payoff was worth the ticket; "Viðrar vel til loftárása"'s climax is the Romantic crescendo of rock lovers’ dreams.

[016] Cut Copy | In Ghost Colours
This whole decade has supposedly been an 80s revival, but every band has missed the point of excess! The Killers were more interested in singing about smutty relationships than embracing that Duran Duran image. Then The Rapture whipped out some cowbell and a decent bass line, but the singer....just kills the vibes. And by vibes, I mean some serious dancing material. And by dancing, I mean by myself. Consider myself ecstatic to find In Ghost Colours, a whole album of synthesizer abuse that nearly squares up with my New Order singles compilation. Yeah, those lyrics are a tad disposable and vocals unfailingly emotionless. However. I'm not listening to Cut Copy for intrigue dammit. Dance, dance, dance to the radio, baby.

[015] Broken Social Scene | You Forgot It In People
In a sense the greatest compilation ever released. Not particularly surprising given BSS' immensely diverse lineup of no-name all-stars. Nevertheless, you might think that having every song change in style would allow you to make a comparison somewhere, just one. The issue isn't bothersome given the quality. The BSS potpourri machine unleashes nursery rhymes, fuzz rock and, my personal favorite, tropicalia so convincingly that the familial connections begin to appear coherent. Slacker attitude at its best, anything goes and it will be alright. Just when you have fifteen different bohemians together, they might forget the people involved and get right to making messy, venerable statements.

[014] Natural Snow Buildings | The Dance of the Moon and the Sun
I don't know the names of whoever is involved with Natural Snow Buildings, I don't know if they're signed to a label, I don't know the song titles by heart, I haven't even listened to Dance of the Moon and the Sun in its entirety besides my first listen. All I care about is that this album represents a reminder that in this interconnected world, mystery of song and its accompanying meaning can be maintained. I'm expecting some profound thoughts to pop up to illuminate this audible mausoleum's secrets, however, I am at a loss. This cannot be brushed into a genre, movement or musical canon. Two and a half hours of life affirmation manifested in drone and whispered words and strummed guitar. Ambiguity suits The Dance of the Moon and the Sun better than association.

[013] Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | No More Shall We Part
A search for light, faith, sanity by Cave. No More Shall We Part is a testimony in how a secular artist can provide powerful commentary on spirituality and soul-seeking. Cave maintains his trademark cynical humor, but the attraction is due to the equal parts of haunting beauty or enraged fury within. See "Hallelujah"'s funereal laments, Cave might as well be recounting his trials from beyond the grave, the ending female incantation seals that this album is deathly serious in its ambitions. Or how "Oh My Lord" bubbles over with righteous neurosis, Cave preaching from his fiery pulpit to his own soul. Invigorating melodrama that may have lead to the reformation of Cave's spiritual health with us being lucky enough to witness an artist willing to battle his demons openly in this therapeutic medium.

[012] Gang Gang Dance | Saint Dymphna
World music is an easy enough diversion for many indie bands wanting to diversify, yet the aesthetic is applied skin deep. Saint Dymphna obliterates the international scenesters lurking in Brooklyn in favor of some actual forward-thinking crossover jams. Afro-pop music is in vogue you say? Have some of Gang Gang's futuristic Arabian hip-swinging instead. GGD isn't interested in simple things like normalcy, so if they want lay a track of aspiring jet engine instrumentals next to a grime two-step, you'll have to ride along. Calm down though, Liz's vocals provides some bearing amidst this electro-ethnic cacophony. Of course, clarity of production, voice and groove does little toward making obvious sense of this foreign record. You're better off wandering in this particular desert.

[011] The National | Boxer
Given my upbringing, current career path and future plans, I'm practically destined for a white-collar life. Despite the promises of job security and a stable livelihood, I can't really shake some kind of self-searching doubt. Maybe the surrounding malaise of America, whether economic/political/social, encourages this type of cynicism. As always, however, there is a band that connects to your life situation, and The National has that link to working class worries in the bag. Boxer's overarching pallor is brooding at best, but the mid-life crisis isn't an excitable event. The two are intrinsically tied perhaps. I may still be an impressionable young man in the scheme of adulthood, yet Boxer remains the probable trajectory. Leading a life of quiet desperation, not a cheery proposition; at least I know there is and will be another musical vessel to hold my consuls with in attempt of making sense of a more dignified suffering.

[10] Joanna Newsom | Ys
Just in time for this whole affair, I finally delved into Joanna Newsom's discography (thanks to Have One On Me, which is certainly going to be a cherished album of 2010). When I first got ready to jump into Ys, I was expecting to be partially repulsed. Quirky vocals, arcane subject matter, monolithic song lengths - I wasn't exactly an avant-folk fanatic proceeding forward. Well, perhaps ironically, the love affair was immediate. 'Ah, she doesn't sound any more off-putting than Bjork'; got that worry out of the way quick. I was expecting impenetrable tomes of lyric, however, hooks abound if you can compare any aspect of Ys to pop sensibilities. To say that Newsom's tales are labyrinths is an understatement, but not knowing how she is going to twist her narratives and melodies rewards every listen I've given Ys since the start. But I'm not attracted to Ys for catchy vocal and instrumentation lines, the true draw is Newsom's emotional tempest throughout her prog-madrigals. Oh I know Rolling Stone was especially critical of the precociousness of Newsom's allegories. Perhaps they could not comprehend how she sounds terminally drained from the emotional depths in which she is pouring out these confessions. "Only Skin", the centerpiece, exemplifies every admirable quality of Ys besides being emotionally devastating. My heart breaks already at the five-minute mark of seventeen, her voice is cracking, a lush resolution then the epic picks up speed with another diversion, another highlight; the string arrangements continue eccentrics, eventually Bill Callahan enters and the album achieves a type of fervent apex that has no comparison from the past decade. I may be rating Ys too low at the moment, this album will undoubtedly continue rising in the coming years.

[09] TV on the Radio | Return to Cookie Mountain
When Dear Science was released, I saw a review snippet that basically implied that it was the first TVOTR album that could be enjoyed by a non-music critic. Don't know what he means personally, Return to Cookie Mountain is perfectly accessible. I just notice my pants get a little tighter when I hear Dave Sitek's exquisitely placed layers of static and confusion covering lines such as "Making out so high in the backseat of a car-bomb under carcinogenic sun". Joking aside, I may argue that RtCM is the premier intellectual rock album of the decade. "Wolf Like Me"'s brazen propulsion and "Province"'s optimistic chorus bear their merits for some wider exposure but the album as a whole is oblique, cryptic and wonderfully intimidating. While many of my favorite releases from the decade have obvious emotional connections, RtCM sates the cerebral side of my listening preferences. After four years of analysis, an effort that can be best described as an 'urban apocalypse' is certainly a worthwhile puzzle to unravel.

[08] Burial | Untrue
Simply an unparalleled monument of atmosphere. The emotions created by Untrue obviously alludes to that ashy figure on the cover. Sometimes I can't comprehend what those would be. Dejection, anonymity - yeah, the whole effort drowns itself in that self-awareness associated with loneliness. Perhaps loneliness isn't the ideal emotion being expressed among the ghost half-vocals. Slipping between shadows, between relationships, interactions is the path chosen by Untrue. The vulnerable moments where one wishes to shed responsibility, even meaning itself, is the existential core where Burial hones his ambiance. Even self-imposed exile can't last forever. The concluding "Raver" pulsates with hopeful energy, implying that a sunrise is imminent; the alley ways of one's heart will be illuminated again.

[07] Air France | No Way Down
///sorta like a dream

another world. a distant vision. flowing colours. warm air. sweetness. innocence. a wonderful past. a place where you can’t be. a place where you never knew existed. too short. too perfect.



[06] Deerhunter | Cryptograms/Fluorescent Grey
An accidental masterpiece so unforeseen, by even the band itself perhaps, that I discarded Cryptograms as a trifling mess for nearly three years. I'm pretty sure Bradford Cox didn't go into recording expecting to lay down a sequel to Loveless, but by gods, the elements for a modern dream-pop/shoegaze classic are here. Much has been said about the schizophrenia of Cryptograms (the garage rock duo of the title-track and "Lake Somerset", the ambient middle and ending third of psychedelic pop) and all I can really add is that time showed how the disparate sequences meld together into a quite convincing lucid dream. Cox proves to be a master of all trades in regards to psychedelia; the tension and release between noise climax and ambient denouement is profound if that was the whole of Cryptograms, but the 60s pop deconstruction at the end blurs expectations of what Cox can accomplish. I am including the Fluorescent Grey EP as an invaluable epilogue, which further emphasizes Cox's ability to convey fear and self-doubt in any manner of revelatory package (see: "Flourescent Grey"'s ascension to higher consciousness at the two minute mark or "Like New"'s 134 seconds of reawakened beauty).

[05] Radiohead | In Rainbows
On October 1, 2007 at approx. 10:30 PM I ran through my house turning on lights and screaming. Actual excitement over an impending release when I can download any music recorded in history within five minutes. Despite being the required topic in nearly any description of In Rainbows, the enormity of the release time line had a profound impact on my initial enjoyment. Of course if everyone is simultaneously appreciating an underwhelming album, this event would not have been particularly memorable. Luckily, this was not the case and In Rainbows fulfilled the role of being the emotionally personal Radiohead album in my collection. All the personal epiphanies evoked by Yorke's voice and the typical Radiohead landscapes of depression that were attached with Kid A seemed to apply to In Rainbows with me. The lush, organic production emphasized how Radiohead learned to be a band of genuine humans again, which was probably why I was I able to turn on several people to Radiohead and witnessed a massive surge in popularity (quite satisfying to be part of an artist's deserved coming out party). The In Rainbows era was another memorable period in my musical evolution that eventually reached its peak with the tearing up during Reckoner ten months later at Blossom.

[04] M83 | Saturdays = Youth
The stimulus has already been identified. The Breakfast Club (obviously enough) provided the link for me to revisit Saturdays=Youth after early dismissal. And the turnaround was quite thrilling. About an hour straight of shivers, but was the logic behind such a response the underlying nostalgia factor I initially attributed it to? I never personally experienced the 80s, any feelings of sentimentality are second-hand at best. Yes, Anthony Gonzalez took dead aim at the universal fear of having your "heart die" as you transition to adulthood. Perhaps my enthusiasm is due to another star artist from the 80s. While S=Y has been labeled as a synth-pop release (oh yes, I'm postive "We Own the Sky" apes the synth line from New Order's "Sub-Culture"), I feel that the album has much higher aspirations. After witnessing M83's live performance (and Anthony's bitch slap of justice), I came to the conclusion that this is shoegaze arena music. Indie world meet your U2. The guitar solo at the end of "Kim & Jessie", the entirety of "Highway of Endless Dreams" magnifies and stretches that quasi-religious wash of The Edge's trademark tremolo. Fortunately for us, Anthony isn't trying to save the world. Just a guitar and a heart.

[03] Arcade Fire | Funeral
How would my life be different at this very moment if I didn't receive Funeral Christmas morning, '05? Yes, yes, I'm sure The Velvet Underground spurred everyone to start a band, but Funeral caused myself and probably countless other youngsters to try to seek other bands that sounded like this. More so than any other album here, nostalgia is certainly doing favors for Funeral but I cannot stress enough how fantastical the menagerie of songs seemed to be at the time. I never heard anything so artistic in a rock song as the intro to "Tunnels" or anything as psychotically ferocious as "Power Out", and most certainly "Wake Up" was an anthem that still holds immeasurable power. Such nostalgic praise can't ever really be conveyed without cliches but this is grand music, so ambitious that I didn't have much choice in whether I wanted to be manic-obsessive music fan since that morning. If this is what tragedy, joy, love, life can sound like then perhaps it is worth my best efforts to discover the limits of this passion.

[02] of Montreal | Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Am I surprised that the top end of this list is filled with albums which fulfill some seemingly necessary cliched prerequisite in late teenager's life? Eh, not especially. Well this is my fateful broken-friendship/girls-suck/why-am-I-a-cowardly-dumbass soul saver of an album. Disappointment and anger creates the illusion that the relationship you share with a reciprocal artist, who you seem to think shares all your inner-most insecurities and outrages, somehow validates continuing those feelings to their illogical ends. Even though I am not proud of the period when I discovered Hissing Fauna, I cannot deny that for a four month patch, I listened to Kevin Barnes' neurosis every day. Perhaps the album was a necessary displacement for my angst (hell, I'm pretty sure no one else knew what was going on), and I certainly chose a glamorous escape. Glam-rock alter-egos masquerading between disco and funk jams at least provided a sense of parody to the whole affair of self-loathing. In hindsight without the angst influencing my perceptions, Hissing Fauna still proves to be a memorable snapshot of a fractured psyche, which is always the most intriguing form of artistic expression. Maybe in accordance with my emotional maturity, I never appreciated the brilliance of closing song "We Were Born the Mutants Again..." back then. Now the restrained resignation Barnes finally comes to grip with in the end is the high road I should have taken.

[01] Interpol | Turn on the Bright Lights
Stream-of-consciousness reaction to album of the decade - - - - TURN ON THE BRIGHT LIGHTS

untitled `~ that ringing. sets the ambiance before the rhythm section arrives to take names. nosedive guitar into "surprise sometimes i'll come around.....when you're down". the most blunt Banks gets before he becomes wonderfully oblique with his penmanship. drone drone drone. rhythm section doing its own thing. devolves into an air raid siren. it's coming alright

obstacle 1 ~ post-punk revival, you say. pendulum guitars. "make playing only logical harm" brilliant nonsense. SHE CAN READ SHE CAN READ SHE'S BAD. he has this bellowing quality that he loses Antics onwards. royally pissed off. self-righteous anger really drives the interplay between drums, guitar, bass [does this cool ascending part at times]. cool detachment at the end - 'her stories are boring and stuff' relationships are boring until you don't have it. newer guitar bands don't do it like this anymore

nyc ~ slows it down again. untitled with a tune. impressionism that the 80s bands never achieved with the guitar. 'subway, she is a porno' makes the city sound delightfully decadent, I don't particularly like cities but oh well the point stands. album name appears in lyric, inspirational, soaring guitar, Kessler makes the song with his backing vocals, early emotional peak

pda ~ drum intro. imagines the music vid that accompanies song. dystopian atmosphere suits removed referrals to love assurances. oh this part of the drumming Sam is doing these triplet bass drum kicks. thank you Rock Band. i kind of prefer parts of the original demo, had a ghostly vocal effect in the pre-chorus. anyway. flat line vocal delivery suits the song perfectly leading to..........pre-coda. song doesn't end. instead guitar repeats simple motif until we get another incredible moment. kessler sings that uplifting bit, lovely addendum

say hello to the angels ~ gothic Smiths. crunchier than Johnny Marr. lyrics were important to me personally junior year. slurring of words. too excited he says in song, i can tell. YOU'RE LINKED TO MY INNOCENCE. 'an union' proper use of 'an'? red hair. really the best into, oh yes, more crunchiness. i'm sick of this town to see my faces change. instrumental breakdown, really badass. bass guitar adds fuzz pedal, title is mentioned doesn't contribute much but whatever

hands away ~ this is NOT a throwaway track. mood piece of the highest order. if you are love sick in your barren bedroom with dust and ash blowing across your face, this is the soundtrack. paul enters with something, probably confirms what i just said, he's pretty desolate faced from what i can tell. palette cleanser

obstacle 2 ~ ok, the lyrics are a bit hinky. but i've internalized everything on this album and love all lines nearly equal. LOVE IS IN THE KITCHEN WITH A CULINARY EYE. say what you will about paul but no one wrote lyrics like this including him now. he's bellowing again, perfect substitute for singing, makes me able to pretend that i could be him [i do have a passing resemblance]. last minute really ups the melodrama, 'IT TOOK TIME' sounds important enough for me to care and he goes into a high howling that is incredibly effective. love it

stella was a diver and she was always down ~ got the underwater guitar arpeggios. got sam drumming like stephen morris, actually see the joy division comparison for once. 'she was alright, cuz she was so tight, airtight' yeah i can really get behind ambiguous relationship descriptions. first born child [boy/girl] is goin to be stella. nah. ocean imagery expands. OH STELLLLLLLLLLAAA. STELLLA I LOVE YOU. airtight lyric repeated with heavier guitar. i dig. second half pacific theme. down down down there into the sea. right on. drifts drifts and drifts no real comparison for this section

roland ~ shhhhhh. come on come on. just rocking out. talks of butchers and stopped snow and beards. brings back the pendulum riffs. mid-section leads into a synth layer being added, it brings flavor. "I LIKED HIM FOR THAT. HE WAS GROWING ON ME" outro is unbelievably intense, Kessler's guitar lead just soars, focused energy. ballsy

the new ~ already getting ready for the half way mark but might as well enjoy the ballad while i'm here. girlfriend says that this vocal delivery is catchy. paul's being earnest and sexy, foreshadows Antics-era Interpol, not surprised then. 'spent some time a-lying' is he lying or sleeping around. ok launch is imminent. tom toms a go. BAM. this blew my mind upon first listen. lovely dissonance please continue indefinitely. sorta does. loses sonic youth-ian clanging for clarity and hi-hats. last minute outro the best, no surprise, common theme. streamline gothic, post-punk, coolness, names mean nothing. might as well be the highlight

leif erikson ~ best lyrics. 'her rabid glow is like braille to the night' "SHE FEELS MY SENTIMENTAL SIDE SHOULD BE HELD WITH KIDS GLOVES, SHE DOESN'T KNOW I LEFT MY URGE IN THE ICEBOX" vital guitar work, Monet paintbrushes. just powerful delivery by paul, 'you come here to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" then the guitar echoes ah god that is really great. 'my love's subliminal' intense, man, intense. shit, cat. that's some richness, daddy

Turn on the Bright Lights is frankly the coolest album I heard in the past five years. Guitars, bass and drums locked in to perfection. Every moment is memorized, savored, appreciated to their fullest extent. Heard it early, love it still. Does not fulfill some creative, ideological benchmark in music criticism. Hits all the right buttons, all the time. A perfect record that won't likely be topped soon or ever.


  • insomniacme

    NSB is a such a stand out from this list. By that, I mean how it's probably the only one not to make it into a Pitchfork recommendation or related list / article.

    12 Mar 2010, 11:56
  • MilotheMayor

    You might be onto something.

    12 Mar 2010, 22:43
  • presquepartout

    i enjoyed what you had to say about 'the dance...' -- i like to name it as such in an attempt to add weight of importance to it a la 'the rite...'. there definitely are some indelible aspects to it, in that it evokes an emotional response, though not necessarily consistent ones. for the longest of time i had issues expressing why i loved it so, or so i thought. i would always describe instances when i was listening to it, preferring to elaborate on what i saw, not what i heard. well, now, i realize that this is the essence of it all -- a series of experiences, not processes. so then what i felt, what i saw, while listening are the genuine descriptors. that summer day driving through the mountains of new hampshire with disc two playing is my review, is my life (?), one which is just happy to have natural snow buildings in it.

    14 Mar 2010, 4:12
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