Best of the Decade – Music Edition (71-80) December 2, 2009Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
Tags: 2000s, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bright Eyes, decade, M. Ward, Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, My Morning Jacket, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Decemberists, The Raconteurs, The Shins, The White Stripes, top 100
80. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Master and Everyone (2003)
Will Oldham, the artist also known as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, has been a fixture on the folk music scene for over 15 years, releasing slice after slice of dark Americana while never quite breaking through to the mainstream. This album was my introduction to his acoustic styling, which sounds simultaneously wistful and sad, several years ago and I have been a fan ever since. Songs like “The Way” and “Ain’t You Wealthy, Ain’t You Wise?” are great additions to the alt-country canon.
79. My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves (2003)
It Still Moves was my introduction to the decidedly Southern, reverb-drenched sounds of MMJ and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Taking a cue from Crazy Horse, Jim James and company have put together a sound that is simultaneously mired in the stoned-out 70’s and distinctly modern. Take my word for it, songs like “Mahgeetah” and “One Big Holiday” will have you dancing and leave you wanting more.
78. Bright Eyes – Cassadega (2007)
You can count me among the people who like Conor Oberst’s trembling, perhaps overly-earnest vocal styling and, though they have been quite prolific over the past decade, this is probably the Bright Eyes album that I listened to the most. The cryptic lyrics are a bit Dylanesque and the heavily reverbed music oftentimes sounds like the aforementioned MMJ, but Bright Eyes have constructed an interesting sound all their own in today’s music landscape. Check out “Four Winds” and “If the Brakeman Turns My Way” for a taste of what these guys are all about.
77. Various Artists – O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)
Both among the best movies and soundtracks of the decade, O Brother reintroduced many Americans to the almost forgotten styles of folk music. This album of songs taken from the Coen brothers’ great film turns to artists like the legendary Ralph Stanley and a great trio of Americana songbirds – Gillian Welch, Allison Krauss, and Emmylou Harris. In addition, the soundtrack also employs the fictitious Soggy Bottom Boys (played in the film by George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Turturro), who are credited with two of the more memorable songs from the film, “I am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” and “In the Jailhouse Now.”
76. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely (2008)
This project of the 2000’s greatest guitar god, Jack White, may not be on the same level as his work with The White Stripes, but it still rocks like few others can. Consolers of the Lonely does a great job in showing that White’s blues-rock guitar works well in a full band context as well as in a duo. Turn on songs like “Salute Your Solution” or “Many Shades of Black,” crank up the volume and enjoy.
75. Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris – All the Roadrunning (2006)
Guitar maestro Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame, and Americana songstress Harris may seem like a strange pairing on the surface, but this work is one of the best in recent folk music. The combination of styles makes for a nice, easy-to-listen-to album, and their familiar voices blend together on songs like “I Dug up a Diamond” and “This is Us,” to form a near-perfect union.
74. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
This was the album that first turned me on to the White Stripes and the incredible Jack White, so it holds a special place in my music collection. The running bass line at the beginning of the “Seven Nation Army” is one of the most inescapable pieces of the past decade, which is actually a good thing, and songs like “Ball and Biscuit” display White’s proficiency in the blues. While its not my favorite work of the Stripes, it is an excellent album and definitely a must-have.
73. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World (2001)
The Shins may not have changed my life like Natalie Portman promised they would, but I do really like their brand of indie pop. Their subsequent albums have not grabbed me like this one from the early part of the decade, but Oh, Inverted World is a release that everyone interested in the music of the decade needs. The collection contains a number of excellent catchy songs, from the best-known ones like “Caring is Creepy” and “New Slang,” to those that are perhaps less played like “Know Your Onion!” and all of them are very good.
72. The Decemberists – Picaresque (2005)
I first heard The Decemberists on Radio Paradise, following the release of this album in 2005 and quickly became a fan. Their style is unusual and original, sounding often like a relic from some past time. Though vocalist Colin Melloy can sometimes be a bit over-earnest, his tales of barrow boys and other strange characters are quite appealing to me. The song “16 Military Wives” was their breakthrough hit from this release and it is great, but I think my favorite is “We Both Go Down Together.” Overall, it’s definitely an interesting work that deserves to be heard.
71. M. Ward – The Transfiguration of Vincent (2003)
Nostalgia is a powerful driving force in the world of music, but there are few artists whose works would sound at home on a transistor radio like M. Ward. This album is soothing, comforting in a familiar way. Just put on songs like “Vincent O’Brien” and “Undertaker,” and be transported back to another time. Take it from me, it’s worth the ride.