Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 30 albums of the decade

December has hit and for music journalists and bedroom critics alike we start thinking of top albums of the year. I began thinking about some favourites but before I could even form a list for 2009 I noticed the Guardian had put out its top 50 albums of the decade. I gave up at 30. Counting down (I pondered whether to number and I opted for decisiveness) here goes. Do feel free to leave me your list below.

30. Joe Strummer - Streetcore (2003): The final bow for Strummer hears his influences refined: reggae on 'Get Down Moses' and Marley's 'Redemption Song' while the fireside strums of 'Long Shadow' was actually written for Johnny Cash and 'Silver and Gold' a message to the youth not to take life for granted.

29. Dappled Cities Fly - Granddance (2006): A Grand dance indeed, the Sydney band's second record was a joyful, sweeping epic, full of harmonies, melodies and swooning arty guitar pop. Reminds me of good times.

28. Kev Carmody - Cannot Buy My Soul (2007): Granted CD 1 of the double album is his best of, but the covers by artists like Tex Perkins, Dan Sultan, Paul Kelly and Bernard Fanning on CD 2 hopefully opened younger listeners to the brilliance of one of Australia's finest songwriters.

27. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006): Punchy tales of the UK's boozy youth prickly with sarcasm and wacky wordplay, Alex and co were a breath of fresh air.

26. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (2005): Punching and poetic, Separation Sunday read like a Catholic sermon on a retalin come-down, a guilt trip about fallen suburban youth (Craig, Holly, Charlemagne and Gideon) and their hedonistic ways, all to the sound of New Jersey inspired punk-infused rock n roll.

25. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose (2004): I doubt I'd have listened to this if Jack White weren't involved, but I'm thankful I did. It's full of busted-up, appalachian (not the no-hair disease) charm straight from the cliches of country music, which is what makes it so perfect - it's by one of the originators.

24. Gorillaz - Demon Days (2005): Those four crazy kids conjured up a sophomore record full of electro hip hop starring fantastic collabs with De La Soul, Shaun Ryder, Bootsy Brown and even Dennis Hopper.

23. Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For the Deaf (2002): Desert rock driven on hard grooves, a shit load of fuzz, a cocktail of drugs Hommes' macho sleaze and Dave Grohl behind the kit.

22. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007): A great party record baring a relatively negative attitude Sound of Silver is dance music with angst. Real people shake the shit out of their week in a sweaty club, so why gloss it over. Fuck you feel-good Ibiza and fuck you Bob Sinclar.

21. Gomez - In Our Gun (2002): Mixing country, dub, rock and folk Gomez create enough catchy hooks and riffs here to toss them in and out where they please where other artists would've milk them dry, coupled with the three vocalists and you've got a record that keeps you on your ears, so to speak.

20. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (2008): Infectious indie-pop from Melbourne's trio who nod to new wave, cheesy house and noise-pop all the while making it a sound of their own ready for the dance floor.

19. Fever Ray - Self titled (2009): A brooding and oozing record that turns electronics into an organic undergrowth, rotting and dank Fever Ray is a slower, more sombre record for Karin Andersson, one part of brother-sister duo, The Knife.

18. TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (2006): From the heralding horns of electronic elephants on opener 'I Was A Lover' to the fevered hi-speed hunt of 'Wolf Like Me' and slow chugg of 'Dirtywhirl' this record was class.

17. Dan Auerbach - Keep It Hid (2009): More dynamic than a Black Keys record, Auerbach's solo record Keep It Hid ironically allowed him to bring in more musos. Porch-front blues to Louisiana Voodoo and rolling CCR rock n roll, it gets me a bit closer to his record collection.

16. Postal Service - Give Up (2003): This lo-fi indie-dance record served as the thinking hipster's emo there for a while and remains one of the best records ever recorded for riding a city trains to.

15. The Dears - Gang Of Losers (2006): Bypassing 'Synthro', 'Ticket to Immortality' begins the album with an uplifting charm as the lyrics radiate a certain optimism. The optimism doesn't last long for this gang of losers though, with melancholic yet soulful indie tunes.

14. The National - Boxer (2007): Wandering tinges of rock, indie and country Boxer meanders through lush and spacious instrumentation that finds common ground between Interpol and the Boss, all under cryptic lyrics that even quote Napoleon Dynamite.

13. Calexico - Garden Ruins (2006): The Tex-Mex horns, the el mariachi guitar, Joey Burns' smooth front porch vocals and John Convertino's dusty brush strokes create a sound so geographically precise I can smell the tortillas toasting and taste the cerveca. I miss that country.

12. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002): Tweedy's writing is detailed, idiosyncratic charm, from opener 'I Am Trying To Break Your Heart' to the upbeat 'Heavy Metal Drummer' blending country twang with Steely Dan prog-pop and the melancholic closer 'Reservations' that looms out.

11. White Stripes - Elephant (2003):Opening with Jack's drop D (E maybe?) and Meg's thundering bass drum, the chunky repetition of 'Seven Nation Army' charged this album from the opener. Momentum kept it pushing on with 'Black Math' or 'Hardest Button To Button' with delicately interspersed sweetness from 'You've Got Her In Your Pocket' and 'Little Acorns'.

10. Outkast - Speakerboxx & The Love Below (2003): The double album let the ATL duo stretch their characters and while may have been catalyst for their drifting demise it stands alone as a stunning example of where hip hop can go.

09. MIA - Kala (2007): A banging second record blended electrified world music that punched from every favela and ghetto in the world of Sri Lanka, Africa, outback Australia, Brazil, England, and even Timbaland.

08. Kings of Leon - Because of the Times (2007): Stepping beyond their slack-jawed, spittoon drawl and cow-punk indie (by no means inferior), this layered southern opus let the lads build on their backbone and become a little bit CCR a little bit Pearl Jam.

07. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (2005): Brit hedonism and 'modern love', Silent Alarm cut jagged shapes through the UK music scene and onto messy indie-club dancefloors so we could both moan and shake it.

06. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (2007): Some will argue Funeral is better, but to me the Baroque pop meets Jersey shore rock of Neon Bible felt so much more rounded and bold.

05. The Strokes - Is This It (2001): With a touch of snotty slacker Holden Caufield this record re-invigorated indie New York cool at the turn of the century and led the rock revival - thank fuck.

04. Danger Mouse - The Grey Album (2004): An album of the times that optimised the concept of hip hop, Jay Z's Black Album vs The Beatles White Album. It took Brian Burton from the bedroom to Damon and Beck's house, and led the way for others to try it and fail miserably.

03. Kanye West - Late Registration (2005): An upbeat party album full of obvious samples and hollerback lines, it's only downside was that it's success led to the misguided ego of this once genuine genius.

02. Avalanches - Since I Left You (2000): Australian pastiche took elements of hip hop and vintage samples for a mix that would shit on any chill out album that came before or after. This might be controversial but on top of it's 'objective' brilliance, this has much sentimental value and that, friends, proves the noughties just got old.

01. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007): From the off-kilter timing of '15 Step' and ethereal 'Weird Fishes' to the closure, the haunting 'Videotape' this downloadable pay-what-you-like album was far from a throw away record.

Synopsis in five: 1. That took a lot of about 3 weeks to finalise. 2. I listen to a lot of alt-country and tangents of. 3. Dance music didn't quite grab me as much as I thought. 4. I also listen to a lot of indie. 5. My twenties was soundtracked to some great fucking music.



  2. Good to see the avalanches near the top there Disco. Many fond memories re:Canada. I will never forget you wacking on the cd on the way to Whistler fresh off the plane.

    Though where is hansdom boys modelling school.