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This Decade In Music

No need to specify which decade I'm referring to. By the time 2020 rolls around, I'm sure we'll by on mega-blogs directly implanted into your brain, and I will be a thirty year old grumpy man with no joy left in my heart. I'll see the kids running around saying "Hey old-man Rosby, where the lists at?" And I will just shake my fist at them and continue to not update this here Blogger, which is so Web 2.0.

However, as it stands, I'm in a pretty spectacular position to be doing decade in review at this age. If I were still in high school, how could I possibly wrap up my music tastes at age six? I didn't have any. Essentially, my entire musical development occurred in the last ten years, which is really frightening and exciting to think about. So what we're going to do here is take a quick look back at ten significant albums in my life from each of these ten years.

2000 - Kid AThere is probably nothing else to be said about the most critically acclaimed album of the decade from arguably the most important band of the decade. At least about their music, there isn't. But from a personal perspective, this album, which I first heard no sooner than 2003, represented a major departure in my tastes from your standard rock and roll drum and guitar and vocals instrumentation.

Apologies to: Sleater-Kinney - All Hands on the Bad One

2001 - Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
Here's probably the pick on the list most guilty of nostalgia-factor-over-excellence based decision making. But I still contend that the totally goofy pop and poop sensibility these three had is of critical merit. It also was the perfect backdrop for Jewish sleepaway camp at the peak of pubescence. And I'll really be an old man when I stop laughing at "he's always fucking shitting his pants."

Apologies to: The White Stripes - White Blood Cells, Andrew W.K. - I Get Wet, The Strokes - Is This It?

2002 - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
I bought this record for my dad's fifty second birthday, but I am positive I got the most playtime out of it. This very quickly brought down my pop-punk leanings, and showed me that powerful lyrics can really drive forward the songs. And who doesn't still get chills from "I want to salute / the ashes of American flags." Again, awash in critical praise, so I'll spare you that, but a totally solid and unforgettable record.

Apologies to: Rilo Kiley - The Execution of All Things, Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights

2003 - The Lemon of Pink
One that really gained its importance in more recent years, but an incredible demonstration of the power of cello, guitar, bass, and found noise. And it really is spectacular found noise - a perfectly manufactured sonic landscape. And while we're talking about context appropriate, I think I've listened to this mostly late at night, writing papers, with headphones in. This has been my post midnight brain fuel for all of college.

Apologies to: The Rapture - Echoes

2004 - Seven Swans
If Christian music is garbage, how can music about Christianity be important, touching, and personal? Perhaps because the central message of Sufjan Stevens' best album is that religion is complicated, troubling, and difficult. It's also pretty, and achieves an economy of sound. It sounds enormous and ambitious while being relatively toned down compared to his more-is-more swirling achievements in the 50 states project.

Apologies to: Ted Leo / Rx - Shake The Sheets, Arcade Fire - Funeral

2005 - The Sunset Tree
I've had an attraction to things about dysfunctional and downright frightening family situations, I think, because I was raised in a totally loving home. This album, about J.D.'s abusive and downright scary father, is his best collection of songs. There is such satisfaction earned through a complete listen to the album cover to cover, especially when you arrive at that final sighing " she told me how you'd died at last, at last" in the final verse of Pale Green Things.

Apologies to: Animal Collective - Feels, Nujabes - Modal Soul

2006 - Ys
Don't this just say it all:
And though my wrists and my waist seem so easy to break,
Still my dear I would have walked you to the edge of the water.

And they will recognize all the lines of your face
In the face of the daughter of the daughter of my daughter.

And darling we will be fine but what was yours and mine
Appears to be a sandcastle that the gibbering wave takes.
Apologies to: The Hold Steady - Boys & Girls in America, Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

2007 - Neon Bible
Yes, this is the best album they have done in their young careers. Funeral had its own moments of beauty, but this one captures the early 21st century Zeitgeist perfectly. Fear of religion, the future, the captivity of the self. And yet through it all, the briefest moment of hope "between the click of the light and the start of the dream."

Apologies to: Andrew Jackson Jihad - People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People in the World, Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends

2008 - Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst is the most important songwriter in my life. Fevers and Mirrors was there when I needed catharsis, I'm Wide Awake It's Morning was there when I needed a steady hand and understanding, and this, his best album, isn't tied to any particular time in my life. The lyrics are honest without being diary-page cloying, the songwriting is Mexican influenced without aping, it's just really solid songwriting.

Apologies to: Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

2009 - Bitte Orca
This is the thesis statement album Dave Longstreth's entire career has been leading up to. Seeing them play live this summer only reinforced this belief. They are the tightest, most unified band out there now, pushing music forward by looking backward and drawing on history itself. Their re-imagining of Black Flag in 2007 was good, but this record pushes their distinctive musical style to its fullest evolution here. It's no mistake that the back of this album features Dave staring down Nietzsche. Right, the music. Frenetic guitar play that borrows from Africa (who isn't doing that these days?) but also classic good-old-USA-American rock riffage. The female vocalists are incredible, I can tell what they mean by "Mariah Carey" influence as a positive adjective. Accessible while mysterious, familiar while strange, this album is just the best of 2009. Oh, and seeing it performed live really pushed it over the top.

Apologies to: Japandroids - Post Nothing, Dan Deacon - Bromst


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