Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why I Aughtta... (hurt you for making bad, outdated puns)

Contrary to popular belief that I help perpetuate, I do not only listen to music that first came about in the 90s. Oh, I may not have much of a disposable income anymore, but I didn’t spend the last decade clutching Definitely Maybe and Deep Dish, dreaming about better days. Not when there are lists to make!

From the year 2000 until the last moments of 2009, I aged from 16 to 26.

Though, yes, there are a lot of artists on these lists who also released albums in the 90s. What can I say? I’m loyal. These aren’t my usual style of reviews. Due to the length of the lists, I think everyone will appreciate me not meandering.

Now then! In no particular order...

15 Favorite Albums of the Aughts:

Cold Roses by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (2005)
Life without this album is not worth living. I can’t believe I did my entire Alphabet Soup project before hearing it. There is not point in telling you what are stand-out tracks, since they are all stand-out tracks, except to say, life without “Let It Ride” is definitely not worth living. You must buy this album.

Sing the Sorrow by AFI (2003)
If you do not like AFI because they signed with a major label and because they aren’t a hardcore band anymore, I have a few words for you over on SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine. (Summary: You’re insecure.) Sing the Sorrow is a damn near perfect album, right up there with Art of Drowning, which came out in the previous decade. AFI continue to evolve, but I do love this melancholy, lovelorn offering. “Silver and Cold” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

The Swimming Hour by Andrew Bird (2001)
It’s not the album that made him famous, but it’s the one of which I am most fond. Breezy, somewhat silly and with a ode to Greenland, there’s not a song on it that I don’t like. One of these days, I’ll summon the bravery to cover “Too Long” in some form. Anyone who is an Andrew Bird fan that has not investigated anything before The Mysterious Production of Eggs is doing themselves a disservice.

Don’t Believe the Truth by Oasis (2005)
I went back and forth, trying to decide between this album and Dig Out Your Soul. When I already love just about everything they release, I have to get nit-picky. I can’t believe it, but the deciding factor? Andy Bell. Andy’s penned song, “Keep the Dream Alive,” is worlds better than “The Nature of Reality.” However, this is the album where Liam starts to show more promise as a songwriter (“Meaning of Soul” is perfect), and Noel... Well, you already know I like everything he writes.

Glasvegas by Glasvegas (2008)
Back in July, I said of Glasvegas, “If Joe Strummer and the Edge had a baby, and if that baby was raised in Glasgow on a steady diet of Oasis and The Smiths, you might get something like Glasvegas. Never have such sad songs felt so good.” One of the best new bands of the decade, easy. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

More Adventurous by Rilo Kiley (2004)
I like to entertain the thought that if I were a singer, I’d be a bit like Jenny Lewis. When I sing along with her, I feel as though my voice might not be half bad. Every song on this album will make you want to sing along, even when she’s lamenting relationships gone twisted and all the people who disappoint. Rilo Kiley are the best and only band I’ve ever discovered by reading an issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Some Cities by Doves (2005)
Ah, Doves. I have loved you ever since you popped up on my Q Magazine Best of 2000 CD. I figured out how to end my book while listening to “Someday Soon,” and if there are people who don’t like “Walk in Fire,” I’m not sure I want to know them. I’m a sucker for Northern bands, it’s true, and please don’t hold it against me that I haven’t yet bought Kingdom of Rust.

The Invisible Band by Travis (2001)
Travis get some flack, and it’s true that their newer stuff is probably only as good to the die-hards, but I have a great fondness for their first three albums. The Invisible Band is full of gems like “Sing,” “Flowers in the Window,” and “Indefinitely.” This album makes me happy, and I’m content not to complete their catalogue.

Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea by PJ Harvey (2000)
I’d never purchased a PJ Harvey album before buying this one. She always seemed like the sort of artist I should respect, but I’d never gotten around to her. Then “Kamikaze” popped up on that aforementioned Best of 2000 CD, and I had to get what would turn out to be another near-perfect album. I don’t care if it’s different from everything else she’s done, and I don’t care if she’s not “supposed” to write “happy.” I will always sing along.

Golden State by Bush (2001)
Their last album. The roommate I had on the day of its release tried to have a conversation with me when I put it on for the first time. I may have shushed her a little too forcefully, but come on, I’d been waiting 3 years for this thing. While it may not be my favorite Bush album, it’s a million times better than Gavin Rossdale’s last solo album. Seriously, Gavin, I’ll keep saying it — Give the other guys a ring.

Skylarkin' by Mic Christopher (2002)
I only heard of Mic Christopher after his sudden death, by his association with one of my favorite bands, The Frames. A friend sent me this album around my birthday that year, and it’s just beautiful, heart-swelling music. It’s unfortunate this is the last he ever made.

O by Damien Rice (2003)
The man may be a bit of bastard personality-wise, but he makes some great music. In September, I said, “He is a howl of loneliness and introspection, crashing through love lost and love never had at all. The songs are so personal, yet so identifiable — How does one’s chest not seize just a bit while hearing them?”

Morning View by Incubus (2001)
Honestly, this is the last good album they’ve made. Everything following it has been mediocre with flashes of possibility, and it’s too bad. In 2001, they seemed to have finally shed the stoner-surfer vibe and began to really work at what they did. “Warning” is a beautiful song, one of many with good, interesting lyrics. What happened after this that caused dreck like “Love Hurts?”

Robbers and Cowards by Cold War Kids (2006)
When Tyson saw these guys play a tiny opening gig in Seattle, he wondered why they weren’t huge already. Six months later, they were, and he could finally find the album in a store. An indie rock record that isn’t shoe-gazing and ethereal? Imagine that! Crunchy guitar, scratchy vocals, stomping out the melancholy — what a debut.

The Rising by Bruce Springsteen (2002)
Bruuuuuuuce. This is the album that made me a fan, I’ll admit. Sure, I found what I heard by him before enjoyable, and I never minded when one of his songs came on, but this is the one that made me “get it.” Although some songs on here nearly move me to tears, I’m glad I came around. The man knows what he’s doing.

10 Favorite Songs (not included in the above albums) of the Aughts:

“Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Handle with Care” by Jenny Lewis and Conor Oberst
“Countenance” by Beth Orton
“Boots of Chinese Plastic” by Pretenders
“Never Forget You” by The Noisettes
“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley
“Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior
“Newborn” by Elbow
“Very Best Friend” by Proud Mary
“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall

5 Favorite Live Albums of the Aughts:

Dreams We Have As Children by Noel Gallagher (2009)
Set List: Live in Dublin by The Frames (2003)
Live in Boston by Fleetwood Mac (2004)
Collision Course by Jay-Z and Linkin Park (2004)
So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter by Ani DiFranco (2002)

5 Favorite Gigs of the Aughts:

Oasis, Ryan Adams and The Cardinals — Seattle, WaMu Theater, August 2008 (last tour)

Gavin Rossdale, Bush, live in Denver 2002

Bush — Denver, The Fillmore, February 2002 (last tour)

Fleetwood Mac — Spokane Arena, August 2004
Ani DiFranco — Spokane, The Met, August 2006

Lucinda Williams — Spokane, Riverfront Park, September 2008

Man, that’s a lot of lists. I didn’t even trot out my more specific ones, like 10 Favorite Oasis Songs From the Past 10 Years, or the same for Ryan Adams, but you can believe they exist. I’m sure that in about a week, some glaring omission will hit me with these, but as they stand, I think I summed up my listening habits well.

Onwards into the Teens. Get cracking on that solo album, Noel.

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