Monday, October 28, 2019

Albums of the Decade

With 2019 - and the decade - coming to a rapid close, the first lists of "best albums of the 20-teens" have started to come out. Whereas the younger me could tell you what year any album had come out, everything gets a bit hazy around the millennium...and continues to be so.

Was "The Suburbs", easily my favourite Arcade Fire album as long ago as 2010? It appears so. So that's a contender - it made my contemporary list. Flying Lotus "Cosmogramma" and "Maya" by MIA were also favourites at the time. Apparently I also had a lot of time for the Shit Robot album, which I can't even remember now!

2011 was P.J. Harvey's year with "Let England Shake" and time hasn't dimmed it. I also liked "James Blake", a highly original debut, and at the time, "Build a rocket, boys" by Elbow, a band who perhaps tend to be a bit samey - but that's probably their best since their debut.  Jay Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" was one of the decades best hip hop albums. I still like David Comes to Life by Fucked Up, but would have to listen to the Naked and the Dead again, same goes for Liam Finn and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

By 2012 there were quite a few excellent female artists such as Grimes, Lana del Rey, and the always reliable Cat Power. I think my favourite of the year would probably have to be The Allah-las debut, its one I've still kept listening to. I missed it at the time but "Channel Orange" by Frank Ocean remains a favourite.

It seems I was paying a bit more attention to indie guitar music in 2013, local heroines PINS debut, plus albums by Kurt Vile and Ducktails were favourites. I also still listen to Bowie's "The Next Day" and Daft Punk's "Random Access Melodies."  Though perhaps "Enjoy Yourself" by Savages is pick of the bunch. A couple of pop albums I came to a bit later: Chvrches "The Bones of What You Believe" and Lorde "Pure Heroine". "Fields of Reeds" by These New Puritans also came out that year and I've listened to Haim's debut a lot.

I don't seem to have done more than a cursory list for 2014 - but honourable mentions to "The Silver Globe" by Jane Weaver" and "LP1" by FKA Twigs seem worthwhile ones, as well as Manic Street Preachers' return to form with "Futurology." "Singles" by Future Islands and "1989" by Taylor Swift ought also to be in there. John Grant "Queen of Denmark" remains a favourite.

2015 I was seeing a few more gigs and bands I'd seen out and about like PINS and Sauna Youth and Bernard and Edith did excellent records as did Lonelady with her second album "Hinterland". "Key Markets" by Sleaford Mods was a highlight as well. The best albums were ones I discovered a few months later, Courtney Barnett, Father John Misty and particularly - my favourite of 2015, Julia Holter's astonishing "Have you in my wilderness." Also a late discovery was Jenny Hval "Apocalypse, Girl". Its also the year of jazz tour de force "The Epic" by Kamasi Washington. Actually this was a stunning year - also loved "Songs in the Dark" by Wainwright Sisters.

I didn't make a list in 2016 either....but Rihanna with "Anti", Bowie with his final album "Blackstar" and albums by Iggy Pop and Tegan and Sara, as well as the ubiquitous Beyonce would probably be in contention. I also liked Lambchop's "FLOTUS" a lot.  Eno's "The Ship" was a real pleasure as well.

2017 seems ridiculously close - Protomartyr "Relatives in Descent" is a highlight, as was LCD Soundsystem's return and return to form "American Dream." What else? "Pure Comedy" by Father John Misty stood out.

A mere year ago my favourites were probably U.S. Girls, Amber Arcades, Goat Girl and Parquet Courts, oh and "Honey" by Robyn. This year...heck....I've not even thought about it yet!

So out of that lot.... lots of great female artists, or female-led bands, and I'm sure I've missed a few, a good indie scene, often bands I've caught live early career, not much in the way of rock music - and not many great albums by legacy acts, more echoes of former glories it seems. A certain general electronica that is often attached to classy songwriting and inventive production. Glad to see some interesting singers like John Grant and Future Islands appear. I've only been blown away by a couple of pop albums - maybe they are all pop albums these days - and whereas rap is now the biggest selling genre in the world, I've not quite got into, say, Kendrick Lamarr, like previous generations of rappers.

Off top of my heard my top 5 would be Arcade Fire, Julia Holter, Jenny Hval, John Grant and P.J. Harvey but will have a listen to a few things between now and decade end.

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