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Thursday, November 19, 2009

00's Music Roundup

The Bataan "death panel" march has wearied me of the Beltway, so it seems like a good time for another musical interlude. Time for the end of decade music lists, ergo, my chance to beat the big boys, yer Spins and yer Rolling Stones, to the punch in defining the era. Consider me humbled. Breaking with my usual end of year protocol, I claim no metaphysical certainty. It's just my list. I probably slant toward early-decade albums, since, by accident of timing, they have "endured" more in my mind. And I've adopted the somewhat artificial rule that no band or artist gets more than one entry, although I'll note some Honorable Mentions. Without further ado, here 'tis:

1) Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002). The band of the decade, the album of the decade, from the city of the decade (Chicago, natch). Tweedy's not the best singer or writer; the band is not the most catchy or innovative. Yet somehow it gels into a sum greater than the parts, especially on this alt country deconstruction with its forebodings of "authentic" America staggering drunk into the berserk. A 9/11 album (down to the cover art; "Jesus, Don't Cry," "Ashes of American Flags") somehow made prior to 9/11. As the first song says, "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." They do. Expect Wilco (the Album) to appear on my upcoming 2009 list.

2) Gillian Welsh, Time (the Revelator) (2001). The older I get the better she gets. We saw her once in our favorite $6 a head divey Vietnamese restaurant.

3) the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell (2003). Best car CD. "Maps" is perfection.

4) Josh Rouse, 1972 (2003). Tough to pick one. This is his most fun, the one to dance around the house with Lang. HM: Under Cold Blue Stars (2002) and Country Mouse (2007).

5) Ryan Adams, Demolition (2002). He releases ten discs in a decade (one a double), and his best is an odds & sods record! Apt. HM: Heartbreaker (2000), Gold (2001).

6) Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007). Close call w/ HM: Gimme Fiction (2005).

7) My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves (2003). HM: Z (2005), Evil Urges (2008).

8) Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose (2004). Props to Jack White. "Portland, Oregon, and slow gin fizz, If that ain't love then tell me what is? Uh huh!"

9) Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak (2005). Now that they're the hottest rock band on the planet, I can happily say that their current CD kinda sucks. Their first two were asskickers. Even if the lyrics were always pretty dumb. Second best car CD of the decade. HM: Youth and Young Manhood (2003).

10) Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue (2008).

11) Shelby Lynn, Suit Yourself (2005).

12) M. Ward, Post War (2006). HM: Hold Time (2009).

13) Eels, Shootenany (2003).

14) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Dig! Lazarus Dig!! (2008).

15) Cat Power, The Greatest (2006).

16) Ron Sexsmith, Time Being (2006).

17) the Features, Exhibit A (2004).

18) Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2005).

19) the Old 97s, Satellite Rides (2001). "Someday somebody's going to ask you; A question that you should say yes to; Once in your life; Baby tonight, I've got a question for you." Verges on Hello Kitty. Still works. How was that not a pop hit?

20) Drive by Truckers, Brighter Than Creation's Dark (2008). HM: Southern Rock Opera (2002). SRO will go down as their classic; I want to hear BTCD more often.

21) Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas (2006).

22) Sun Kil Moon, Ghosts of the Great Highway (2003).

23) Elvis Costello, The Delivery Man (2004).

24) the White Stripes, Elephant (2003). HM: White Blood Cells (2001).

25) Super Furry Animals, Rings Around the World (2002).

26) Mudcrutch (2008).

27) REM, Accelerate (2008).

28) Bruce Springsteen, The Seeger Sessions (2006). HM: The Rising (2002). TR has the incomparable 9/11 song, "You're Missing," but lacks something in overall cohesion. TSS is all covers, but a record to listen to again and again--the loosest he's sounded in ages.

29) U2, No Line on the Horizon (2009). Hmmm. . . . We'll see.

30) Beck, Guero (2005). HM: Sea Change (2002), the Information (2006). Sea Change will get all the critics picks for decade highlight; I see it as one perfect song ("Lost Cause"), a few good ones ("Golden Age"), and a fair amount of filler.

Didn't miss anything, did I?

[Post updated: a few more links, a few more Hon. Mentions, a little more Wilco.]



At 10:21 AM, Blogger Will said...

Great list. I didn't realize you were a White Stripes/Jack White fan. Many props to your fine taste in music for that one.

I feel that he will be the equivalent of my generations Bob Dylan. A living legend in the making. At least that's my hope. I am a huge fan.

Anyway, nice list. There are a few I would disagree with, but overall, I'd say this sums up, quite well, the defining music of the past few years.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

So Will, what are your disagreements? You know I always like a good debate.

I do agree on Jack White. When the "expert" lists come out in the next couple of months, Elephant should make most top-10s. I also need to amend to put in White Blood Cells as an HM. But here's the thing. As much as I love both the WS and Raconteurs, I'm getting too old. White makes fantastic records that you can't listen to very easily with little kids in the house. Just too noisy. Part of it is that, thanks to three years of intermittent baby/toddler screaming, I can't handle the loud stuff as well as I used to either. My brain/ear connection has changed, and not for the cooler. When I can--which typically means in the car alone--I gravitate to the YYYs, Kings of Leon, even the Black Keys. But that's still not as often an occurrence as it once was.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

No Robert Plant?

Seriously, man. Mighty Rearranger is one of the BEST albums of any decade.

At 7:40 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

The Decembrists, "The Crane Wife," was also quite good.

At 12:10 AM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Hmmm. . . I'll give you the Decems, although I think Picaresque is better than Crane Wife. Plant? Really? OK, Raising Sand with Allison Krauss is pretty great, although it is a covers album.

Other CDs that I had to think hard about leaving off: the Shins, Chutes Too Narrow; Franz Ferdinand; Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha; Dylan, Love & Theft; Warren Zevon, The Wind; John Mayer, Continuum; Amy Winehouse, Back to Black; and Tift Merritt, Tambourine. I also probably would have put on Billy Bragg & Wilco's Mermaid Avenue, V. II (especially for "All You Fascists," which Mrs. TMcD once pitched as our best wedding recessional), except that I thought it violated my rule against repeating artists.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger fronesis said...

The whole thing is really, really good. And I'll be listening to a few things down the list that I didn't know. Thanks, tmcd!

2 quibbles:

1. Ryan Adams should most definitely be on the list, but Heartbreaker, Gold, and Love is Hell are all better albums than Demolition.

2. Taking the Long Way was definitely in the top 10, but somehow missed even your honorable mentions in the followup. What gives?

At 6:16 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Ryan Adams is a tough one. For me, Heartbreaker, Gold, and Demolition are all tightly packed in terms of quality rankings. Heartbreaker will likely top most critics' lists, and I agree that's it's the most consistent in tone, and it includes three of RA's best songs: "To Be Young," "Oh My Sweet Carolina," and "Come Pick Me Up," the last of which is my favorite Adams song. I remember when he played it on Letterman, and it left Dave somewhat slackjawed: "That's how I feel every DAMN day of my life, Paul!" was his response. It's a powerhouse.

Yet Heartbreaker also drags a bit after that song, and, short on rockers, it doesn't give you the whole Adams package. Gold and Demolition both do. Gold also has some of Adams' best material, notably "When Stars Go Blue." The downside is it needs some editing, and again, the latter half is not as good--a little excessive. Demolition, on the other hand, has the whole package while staying pretty tight: great rockers ("Nuclear," "Starting To Hurt), midtempo countryish shuffles ("Hallelujah," "Chin Up, Cheer Up), and weepers ("Desire," "You Will Always Be The Same"). So, tough call, that's my thinking. (I'm less impressed with Love Is Hell.)

Sorry for leaving off the Dixies. I agree it's pretty great and deserved an HM. I just haven't listened to it much in a while. If Mrs. TMcD made her list, it would likely have Been pretty high.

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