Monday, December 14, 2009

Favorite Albums of the Decade from Our Favorite Artists

(Design credit Julie Cope)

In the face of all of the "best of decade" lists, we...well, we did some too. However, we reached out to a substantial number of indie artists that we are fans of and asked them what albums made the most lasting impression on them over the course of the past decade, in hopes that we would turn up some records that you won't find on the typical lists. We left the format open and welcomed multiple lists from each band. We are extremely grateful to all who participated. Below is the response. As an added bonus to you, the reader, feel free to post your own list in the comments section.

Greg Vanderpool - Monahans

"Even though this has been the decade of iTunes and shuffle playlists, I still love the album format. When a record locks into a mood from beginning to end yet still has enough contrast from song-to song to keep things interesting, it's a beautiful thing. I also love consecutive albums that complement each other so much so that they become a sort of saga (the same way Godfather I & II could be considered one film). It's hard to deny the body of work that Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Spoon and Wilco created over the past 10 years, alone. Aside from those, these are some of the ones that stick out in my mind..."

Chris Whitley - Soft & Dangerous Shores
Califone - Roomsound
Crooked Fingers - Crooked Fingers & Bring On The Snakes
Centro-Matic - South San Gabriel Songs/Music
The Court & Spark - Bless You
Bexar Bexar - Tropism & Haralambos
Steve Earle - Transcendental Blues
The Damnations - Where It Lands

Rob Lowe - Piano & Guitars; Balmorhea

"I am surprised at my list. I think most of the music that I really love and respect happened before 2000. It's hard for me to have a lot of perspective on music since 2000. I guess these records are the ones that I find the most affective, the ones I want to listen to all the time. They don't particularly represent the records that I think are the most innovative or even the most interesting (although most of them are both), but these are definitely the ones that I am closest to. And I guess that is what I like most in a record, something mysterious that just makes you keep listening over and over and over."

In alphabetical order:
The American Analog Set - Know by Heart
Gillian Welch - Time (The Revelator)
Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Rachel's - Systems/Layers
Sigur Ros - ( )
Smog - A River Aint too Much to Love
Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highways
Tiny Vipers - Life on Earth
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Winston Chapman - Drums; Bosque Brown

Strokes - Is This It? (2001)
Bill Calahan - Woke on a Whaleheart (2007)
Dr. Dog - We All Belong (2007)

Mara Miller - Bosque Brown

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Master and Everyone
The Shivers - Charades
Beach House - Beach House
the Knife - Deep Cuts
Gillian Welch - Time (the Revelator)

Jeremy Buller - Guitar, Keyboards, Miscellaneous, Vocals; Bosque Brown

John Vanderslice - Time Travel Is Lonely- Not his first solo album but, to me, the one with which he found his voice - settled into a style of writing, production, and engineering that all continue to influence me a great deal. His adaptation of Robert Lowell's 'The Old Flame' is perhaps my favorite of JV's recordings.

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther- Though Midlake has had several markedly different-sounding records prior (and all of them very good), this one is another 'settling' album - they really found their sound here. A few critics thought the first three tracks left the album too front-loaded; they're idiots. Tracks 5-7 ('Young Bride', 'Branches', and 'In This Camp') make up my favorite three-songs-in-a-row of any album, ever. Magical moments include the vocal delivery of the second verse of 'Roscoe' ('now it's filled with hundreds and hundreds of chemicals that mostly surround-you-you-wish-to-flee-but-it's-not-like-you-so-listen-to-me-listen-to-me...'), the bowed strings and shakers that creep in at 1:27 in 'Head Home' (and Paul's most excellent guitar solo, and the dueling-guitars freakout slow-fade that closes the song), the lone snare hit that punctuates the second verse of 'Young Bride,' the way the words 'I wanted to maaarrrrryyy Babette' soar over the crashing guitars and drums of 'In This Camp'... etc. etc. etc... there are so many more...

Damien Jurado - Where Shall You Take Me? - It's hard for me to pick from Damien's albums. He's had so many albums full of fantastic songs... the first two songs of his I ever heard, though, were 'Matinee' and 'Window' from this album. 'Amateur Night' showcases the less-is-more dark-narrative writing that he's so freaking good at, and 'Tether' is one of those songs that is identifiable to the point of scaring me. 'Tether' is one of the reasons the repeat-one button exists.

David Wingo - Ola Podrida

"I was asked to provide 5-10 of my favorite albums of the last decade but I ended up with 12, and I couldn't see fit to take any of these albums off the list. Depending on my mood I could say that any one of these amazing records is my favorite of the decade...there are many, many albums that came out over the last 10 years that I love a great deal but these are the ones that I feel like have truly become a part of me and that I imagine will always fully engage and astound me, no matter how many times I've listened to them. I don't really know how to properly talk about any of them; I'm too close to the music at this point, and I think that's the hallmark of any great music...words can't even begin to do it justice."

In no particular order:
The Clientele - Suburban Light
Songs Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co.
Sigur Ros - ( )
The New Year - Newness Ends
The Radar Bros - And the Surrounding Mountains
Bibio - Fi
Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
Joanna Newsom - The Milk Eyed Mender
The National - Boxer
Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary
Radiohead - In Rainbows
M. Ward - Transfiguration of Vincent

Daniel Markham - One Wolf

Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf...i was initially excited about Dave Grohl's return to the drums, but the songs and fuzzed out guitars really did it for me. i still listen to this on a weekly basis on cassette.

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cold Roses...i always hear people talk about how hit or miss this album is, but for me it was just perfect. it just sounds so classic to me.

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots...i love anything weird, and this is definitely that. it will always remind me of driving through thick fog on the California coast. i love how scientific wayne coyne's lyrics are, too.

Beck - Sea Change...when i got this i couldn't stop listening to it. it's just so mellow and trippy. it's by far my favorite beck album.

R.E.M. - Accelerate...r.e.m. is my favorite band of all time. this is such a great "return to form" for them after a few more experimental albums. it's very energetic and also very short. i absolutely love this album! it has everything i love about this band on one disc. for sure!

Sun Kil Moon - April
Richard Buckner - Impasse
Centro-matic - Distance and Clime
Hem - Rabbit Songs
The Walkmen - Bows and Arrows
Kathleen Edwards - Failer
Beck - Sea Change
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day
Lucinda Williams - Essence

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros - Streetcore (2003)
Billy Joe Shaver - Freedom's Child (2002)
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - All the Roadrunning (2006)
Flatlanders - Wheels of Fortune (2004)
Brandi Carlisle - Brandi Carlisle (2005)
Robert Plant and Allison Krauss - Raising Sand (2007)
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

"Not in this order necessarily. These are some of the albums that I think have kept music to a high standard during this decade. I hope they're just a taste of what's to come."

Brooks Kendall - Bass; Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
Jay-Z - The Black Album
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Jacksonville City Nights
The Game - The Documentary
Hayes Carll - Trouble In Mind
Macon Greyson - Uneasy
Radiohead - Kid A
Doug Martsch - Now You Know

Stephen Malkmus - Real Emotional Trash
The Court and Spark - Hearts
Joseph Arthur - Nuclear Daydream
Twilight Singers - She Loves You
Magnolia Electric Company - What Comes After The Blues
Strays Don't Sleep - Strays Don't Sleep
Daniel Lanois - Shine
Matthew Ryan - Vs. The Silver State
Nick Cave - Dig, Lazurus, Dig!!!

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Master & Everyone

"how about... top 61? okay, i got a little carried away. i'm sorry! i just couldn't leave all these great records off my list! so instead, i tried to sort them as conveniently and non-arbitrarily as i could. the categories are fairly self-explanitory, except maybe the "spiritual documents" one. these are the records that, for me, go beyond the mere classification of "record" and dip into a realm of creation that "records" such as Astral Weeks exist in - more than just timeless recordings or timeless songs, there is something greater than the art of the musicians being captured here...
also, there are just some records that i can't separate from others in my experience of them. for instance, in thinking about the radiohead records that came out during this decade, i don't have a favorite. they are all my favorite. this decade of radiohead was my favorite radiohead record! i keep expecting them to let me down at some point, but so far, they haven't. so those four records count as one to me. as opposed to the arcade fire, who do have two very good records, but their second record is hands down my favorite of the two. therefore, only neon bible is listed.
look, just be grateful that i didn't include my favorite records that came out in PAST decades but weren't discovered by me until THIS decade!"

Zykos - S/T
Fivehead - Guests of the Nation
Meryll - You've Got Cousins / Happened / Rimziate
Shearwater - Palo Santo / Winged Life
Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band - S/T / Las Meridanzas
Frank Smith - Big Strike in Silver City
American Analog Set - Promise of Love
Milton Mapes - The Blacklight Trap
The Gloria Record - Start Here
The Miracle Chair - #4 The Digital Frontier

Pete Yorn - Music for the Morning After
Brian Eno and David Byrne - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs (Bootleg Series vol. 8)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
Radiohead - Kid A / Amnesiac / Hail to the Thief / In Rainbows
Thom Yorke - The Eraser
Coldplay - Parachutes
David Gray - A New Day at Midnight / White Ladder
Randy Newman - The Randy Newman Songbook vol. 1

Broken Social Scene - S/T / Bee Hives
Wilco - A Ghost is Born / Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Postal Service - Give Up
The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
Okkervil River - Down the River of Golden Dreams / Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See
Joanna Newsom - Ys
The Mountain Goats - We Shall All Be Healed

The Standard - August / Wire Post to Wire / Albatross
Sam Amidon - All is Well
Ho-Hum - Near and Dear
Don Chaffer and Waterdeep - Whole 'nother Deal
Nat Baldwin - Most Valuable Player
The Lord Dog Bird - S/T
The Wrens - The Meadowlands
Vigilantes of Love - Audible Sigh
Creeper Lagoon - Remember the Future
David Garza - A Strange Mess of Flowers / Overdub

Daniel Lanois - Shine / Here is What is
Gillian Welch - Soul Journey
Crooked Fingers - S/T / Bring on the Snakes / Red Devil Dawn / Dignity and Shame
Calexico - Feast of Wire
John Vanderslice - Cellar Door
Jim White - No Such Place
Joseph Arthur - Our Shadows Will Remain / Redemption's Son
Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway / Tiny Cities
Over the Rhine - Ohio
Nina Nastasia - Dogs

Guided by Voices - Universal Truths and Cycles
AC Newman - The Slow WonderWolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
Damien Jurado - I Break Chairs
Pedro the Lion - Winners Never Quit / The Only Reason I Feel Secure / Control / Achille's Heel
Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
Nada Surf - Let Go
Richard Buckner - Dents and Shells / Meadows

Akron/Family - S/T
Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
Gillian Welch - Time (the Revelator)
smog - A River Ain't Too Much to Love
Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

Western Ghost House

Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
M. Ward - Transistor Radio
Desaparecidos - Read Muisc/Speak Spanish
Beach House - Devotion
The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair When We Are Gone?
Deer Tick - War Elephant
Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
The Shivers - Charades
Darkest Hour - Undoing Ruin
Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica

Derek - Writer, CFO, Windfarm

The Paper Hearts - Plans for the Past
Lucero - That Much Further West
Damien Jurado - Where Shall You Take Me?
Willy Mason - EP
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
Silver Jews - Bright Flight
Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day
Kathleen Edwards - Failer
Gillian Welch - Time (the Revelator)
Will Johnson - Vultures Await
Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not...
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Master & Everyone
Arcade Fire - Funeral
Damien Rice - o
Hayes Carll - Flowers & Liquor

Jeff - Writer, Procrastinator, Windfarm

If I was to have to pick the albums that I would say had the greatest impact on me over the past decade, this is a pretty comprehensive list. Some of these albums I might leave off if I wanted to appear super cool or hip, but here's as honest a list as I can put together.

Lucero - Tennessee
Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
Nels Andrews - Sunday Shoes
Hayes Carll - Trouble in Mind
Atmosphere - You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having
Slim Cessna's Auto Club - Cipher
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Eleven Hundred Springs - A Straighter Line
Richard Buckner - Meadow

And while I didn't include any particular album from them, I want to note a few artists that I consider to have produced the strongest body of work over the decade.

The Avett Brothers (it was too hard to pick one album)
Doug Burr (both solo and with the Lonelies)
Ryan Adams (solo & with the Cardinals)
DeVotchKa (hardly a single bad song over four LPs)
Will Johnson (solo, Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, etc. etc. etc.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Not much to post lately:
although good things are on the way.

Check out Denver's own Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel:
on their recent Daytrotter session. These are probably the best recordings to date from the band, as their only record was recorded before the band was in its current formation.

Saw Invictus last night:
Great story. Good movie. Lots of rugby action, if you're in to that sort of thing. Still well worthwhile to watch even if you're not. However, no big surprises either.

In case you missed it:
Aquarium Drunkard posted a great interview with Kris Kristofferson a few weeks back.

Austin favorites Monahans:
have just reissued their out-of-pring debut record Low Pining for the first time on vinyl. Doesn't seem to be available online at this time though.

Also, I just saw Monahans tweeted:
"New Doug Burr songs kill!!!!" - Makes me even more anxious to hear that new record.

Not sure why I like this picture so much. Guess it just reminds me of my childhood:

(Picture credit here)

Monday, December 7, 2009

A decade of thrift

(photo credit Logan Caldbeck)

While I typically cover Denver area music happenings, at times I am compelled to mention events from my home state of Texas. Big milestones only come around so often, and thus I felt the need to make note of this one.

One of Lubbock's most longstanding rock bands, Thrift Store Cowboys, will celebrate their 10th year playing under that name this Saturday at Jake's Backroom. The band will be going into the studio next spring to begin work on their fourth full-length album, but in the meantime, you can pick up a copy of the 7" vinyl split with One Wolf from earlier this year, or check out the free downloads from their in-studio at KAMP in Tucson this past September.

TSC have lined up great support for the show as well, tabbing long-time friend and Austin rocker Collin Herring to open up the show. Herring is playing in support of his recently released fourth album, Ocho.

So if you happen to live in the Lubbock area, this is a show that will make you want to hire a babysitter and head out to. It's a celebration of not only the band's career, but more broadly of the Lubbock music scene and it's persistent presence over the decades. Check back here in 2019 for details on the 20-year celebration.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cold Weather for a Cold Heart

Photo: Library of Congress

It's worth multiple reads:
NPR presented a fascinating discussion on the record labels that we all love and their role in the current struggling music industry. It's worth multiple reads.

Austin blog action:
Austin Town Hall posted a great interview with David Wingo of Ola Podrida. Check out his excellent new album Belly of the Lion out now on Western Vinyl.

ATH also caught up with the always witty and quotable J. Tillman.

Recommended shows for Austin folks:
Monahans - December 3rd - Mohawk
Balmorhea with Ola Podrida & Martin Crane - December 11th - Mohawk
Dave Rawlings Machine with Gillian Welch - December 13th & 14th - Parish both days plus a free in-store at Waterloo Records on the 13th

Is there a more consistent band?
Spoon's new single, Written in Reverse, makes me happy. New album out January 19th, 2010.

Born to scream:
Cymbals Eat Guitars destroyed most of my theories on the state of music and "hyped" bands a few months ago when I saw their live show. This video almost proves my point.