Ten for Tuesday: Anti-Love Songs February 14, 2012Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: Amy LaVere, anti-love songs, beatles, Bob Dylan, guns n roses, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, R.E.M., Rolling Stones, Skip James, Uncle Tupelo, Valentine's Day
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It’s Valentine’s Day, that time of the year when we bestow gifts upon those we love, telling them how important they are to us. It’s a time for cards and flowers, special meals and chocolates, and, of course, love songs.
I like a good love song as much as anybody, but making a list of them is a little boring. So, today I offer you ten great anti-love songs, songs that display the other, more cynical, side.
10. Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers
Sample lyrics: “And you can send me dead flowers every morning / Send me dead flowers by the mail / Send me dead flowers to my wedding / And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave.”
Yeah, keep doing me wrong woman. Here’s your flowers.
9. Uncle Tupelo – Gun
Sample lyrics: “Just don’t tell me which way I oughta run / Or what good I could do anyone / ‘Cause my heart, it was a gun / But it’s unloaded now / So don’t bother.”
That last line hurts, man.
8. Guns ‘N’ Roses – Used to Love Her
Sample lyrics: “I used to love her, but I had to kill her / I had to put her six feet under, and I can still hear her complain.” And “I knew I’d miss her, so I had to keep her / She’s buried right in my back yard.”
Next time I suggest you bury her farther away from the house.
7. Lucinda Williams – Joy
Sample lyrics: “I don’t want you anymore / ‘Cause you took my joy / You took my joy / I want it back.”
In this song she’s so hard up for joy she looks for it in West Memphis. Yeah, you know you got it bad when that happens.
6. Beatles – Run For Your Life
Sample lyrics: “Well, I’d rather see you dead, little girl / Than to be with another man / You’d better keep your head little girl / Or I won’t know where I am / You’d better run for your life if you can, little girl / Hide your head in the sand, little girl / Catch you with another man / That’s the end, little girl.”
They may charm you by saying I want to hold your hand, but if you ever let go…
5. R.E.M. – The One I Love
Sample lyrics: “This one goes out to the one I love / This one goes out to the one I left behind / A simple prop to occupy my time”
A prop? Dude, that’s cold.
4. Johnny Cash – Cocaine Blues
Sample lyrics: “Early one morning while making the rounds / I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down / I went right home and I went to bed / I stuck that lovin’ forty-four beneath my head.”
FYI: Cocaine and guns are not a good combination.
3. Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
Sample lyrics: “It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe / If you don’t know by now / And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe / It’ll never do somehow / When your rooster crows at the break of dawn / Look out your window and I’ll be gone / You’re the reason I’m a-travelin’ on / Don’t think twice, it’s alright.”
Dylan is arguably the king of the anti-love song, with scathing songs like “Idiot Wind” and “Positively 4th Street” in his long and illustrious catalogue, but the way he nonchalantly walks away in this song is just cold-blooded.
2. Amy Lavere – Damn Love Song
Sample lyrics: “Right now, I’ll do it right now / Here’s your damn love song / And don’t it say it all.”
A guy’s begging you to write him a song and you respond with “Here’s your damn love song.” Awesome.
1. Skip James – 22-20 Blues
Sample lyrics: “You know, sometimes she get unruly / And she act like she just don’t wanna do / But I get my 22-20 / I cut that woman half in two.”
Whoa. Those old blues guys didn’t mince words. Ladies, this is not a man you want to date.
What anti-love songs would you add to the list?
Ten Songs That Will Make You Hate Christmas December 7, 2011Posted by Matt in Christmas, top ten.
Tags: Bad Christmas Music, Celine Dion must die, Chipmunks, Do They Know It's Christmas, Do You Hear What I Hear, Feliz Navidad, Kenny G, Manheim Steamroller, New Kids on the Block, O Holy Night, Paul McCartney, The Christmas Shoes
Sure, it’s the happiest time of year. The time when people take a few moments to think about others, the time for tinsel and garland, the time for family and gifts. But, despite the joy and mirth, there remains an underlying fact that many try to ignore, a problem that often goes notoriously unchecked.
Bad Christmas music.
People love Christmas music, it’s true, and much of it rightly should be enjoyed, whether it be in the form of religious experiences or in the general happiness of the holiday, but many times the songs of the season are annoying, overplayed, or just plain awful. This list is dedicated to those.
10. Anything by Kenny G
Why? Because Kenny G sucks. He makes me want to throw puppies into the path of a speeding semi-truck.
9. Feliz Navidad
So annoying and repetitive it will make even the most stalwart humanitarian want to join the Border Patrol.
8. New Kids on the Block – Funky, Funky Christmas
Come on, don’t be ashamed. If you’re my age you know you had this one and if you care about the eternal resting place of your soul, you repented of it long ago when you threw the cassette in the garbage.
7. Anything by Manheim Steamroller
The idea of running over their gargantuan collection of Christmas music with a steamroller makes Santa smile.
6. Do You Hear What I Hear?
It doesn’t bother me that the writer of the song was obviously on some type of hallucinogenic drug that caused him to think of talking lambs, rather it’s the stupid lyrics like “A star, a star, shining in the night, with a tail as big as a kite” that bring about my disdain.
5. Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime
Paul gets a synthesizer and in a matter of minutes destroys the Beatles legacy.
4. That stupid Chipmunk Christmas song
I propose we make it open season on chipmunks anytime this annoying song is played.
3. O Holy Night
Yes, I know its sacrilege to hate O Holy Night, but I can’t stand the overwrought, awful way it is always sung. It makes me want to gouge out my eardrums with an ice pick.
2. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
What a piece of crap. I like Bono fine, but when he says, “Thank God it’s them instead of you,” it makes me want to throw up.
1. The Christmas Shoes
So bad and saccharine it makes me want to put on the Christmas shoes and kick the kid’s dying mother in the head.
What about you? What would you put on the list?
Just for good measure, see if you can make it through this one.
Ten for Tuesday: 2001 July 19, 2011Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: 2001, best albums, Bob Dylan, drive-by truckers, Gillian Welch, Jay Farrar, Jay-Z, Radiohead, Spoon, The Shins, The Strokes, The White Stripes
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It has been some time since we last stepped foot in our top ten time machine, so today seems like an appropriate one to take another look back. This time we will set the course for ten years ago, the year 2001. So, without further ado, here are my top ten albums of 2001.
10. Jay Farrar – Sebastopol
Whether in groundbreaking alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, his longstanding group Son Volt, or in his solo recordings, Jay Farrar’s voice remains one of my favorite in the music world. It has an organic, broken-down quality that pierces right to your soul and, though this release differs from his bands in sound, it is still quite good. Download: Barstow, Feed Kill Chain
9. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World
On their debut as The Shins, the band crafted one of the seminal works of indie pop for the early 21st century. The music didn’t really enter the public consciousness, though, until Natalie Portman told Zach Braff in the wonderful 2004 film Garden State to listen to the band and it will “change your life.” We did and it did, for the better. Download: Caring is Creepy, New Slang
9. Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Welch’s third release (not counting her work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack), is an incredibly beautiful work of folk music that sure deserved the praise heaped upon it over the years. It’s dark and real and wonderful, with her backwoods voice blending with banjos and guitars perfectly and wonderfully. Download: Revelator, Red Clay Halo
7. Radiohead – Amnesiac
In 2000 Radiohead slammed the music world with a proverbial curveball when they released the incredible Kid A, an album that deviated so wildly from their earlier works that it left many past fans scratching their heads, and this album continued in that same direction. Their experiments with ambient sounds, electronica, and jazz probably turned off some listeners, but those who stuck around were rewarded well. Download: I Might Be Wrong, Knives Out
6. Spoon – Girls Can Tell
Austin’s Spoon creates some of the most fun and danceable tunes you’ll hear anywhere and this, their third release, is no exception to that rule. Britt Daniel’s band comes out strong with an 80’s inspired guitar riff in “Everything Hits at Once,” and never let up for the remainder of the album. Seriously try to listen to this and not at least nod your head. It’s impossible. Download: Everything Hits at Once, Me and the Bean
5. Jay-Z – The Blueprint
In case you ever wonder what the big deal is about hip hop artist Jay-Z, just pop in a copy of The Blueprint. With plentiful soulful samples and Jay-Z’s swaggering rhymes, this stands as one of the greatest works to ever come from the rap community. Check it out and I bet you’ll agree. Download: Izzo (H.O.V.A.), Girls, Girls, Girls
4. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
The blues-based indie rock duo of Jack and Meg White had been around for a few years when White Blood Cells was released, but for many this was their first exposure to the group’s roof-blowing sound. Together, the Stripes blast through genres with great aplomb, from the aforementioned blues to country (Hotel Yorba) to the almost punkish “Fell In Love with a Girl.” Download: Hotel Yorba, Fell in Love with a Girl, I Can’t Wait
3. The Strokes – Is This It
The do-it-yourself garage rock ethic of the early 2000’s can be, in large part, traced back to this earth-shattering gem. Julian Casablancas’s lyrics were spot on for those of us in our mid-20’s, recent college graduates, coming to grips with a pasture that wasn’t quite as green as we had hoped. If the early part of the decade had a soundtrack, The Strokes would hold a prominent spot on it. Download: The Modern Age, Someday
2. Bob Dylan – Love and Theft
If 1997’s Time Out of Mind was a powerful, late career surge in creativity for the legendary artist, Love and Theft was the amazing continuance of that wave into the new millennium. This entry no doubt deserves a prominent spot in Dylan’s canon as a definite high point in the last chapters of his lifetime in the music business. Download: Mississippi, High Water (For Charley Patton), Moonlight
1. Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera
Could there be any doubt that the best album from my favorite band of the past decade would be at the top of the list? If there is one thing you can say for Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and the others, it is that they are ambitious. The fact that they released a double concept album revolving around the dual story of growing up in the South in the 1970’s and the rise and demise of Lynyrd Skynyrd, should be proof enough of that. But the band isn’t just ambitious, they are awfully good, one of the best musical ventures to come out of the South in years. Download: Zip City (one of my favorite songs ever), Let There Be Rock, The Southern Thing, Guitar Man Upstairs
Ten for Tuesday: 2006 May 31, 2011Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: 2006, Amy Winehouse, Beck, Belle and Sebastian, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, Matisyahu, neko case, The Decemberists, The Hold Steady, Thom Yorke, top 10
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Last year I began delving back in time to look at the sources of entertainment, particularly music and movies, from years in the past. Today we will continue that by traveling a mere five years back in time using our top ten time machine, to the year 2006.
It was a good year for music, with some releases that ranked among the better ones of the decade and as a then-29 year old with a voracious appetite for good albums, I collected quite a bit of them. Looking back, these are probably my 10 favorites.
10. Matisyahu – Youth
I first picked this release up because of its novelty – I mean, how often to do you find a reggae album by a Hasidic Jew? – I came back to it because of its quality, both in musicianship and in lyrics dealing with issues of social justice. Matisyahu does an excellent job of crossing genres while never giving up his reggae core and that is one reason why this stands as one of the few post-Marley albums of the genre that I actually own.
Download: Youth, Jerusalem
9. Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
Belle and Sebastian have long been the lead purveyors of sunshiny, twee pop, a genre that evokes visions of sunbeams and rainbows and all of that stuff that I usually can’t stand, but in this context it works remarkably well. A listen to this will undoubtedly lift the spirits of even the most dour person. Download: Another Sunny Day, The Blues are Still Blue
8. Thom Yorke – The Eraser
The genius of Yorke and his band (who are perhaps the most important band of the past two decades) Radiohead has been scoped and probed from every possible angle, and yet they continue to astound. Though this solo release may not be on the level of modern masterpieces like OK Computer or Kid A, it is still quite good and certainly deserves its spot in the holy canon.
Download: The Eraser, Atoms for Peace
7. Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris – All the Roadrunning
The idea of teaming former Dire Straits guitarist Knopfler with folk siren Harris may seem strange upon first hearing of it, but a listen will soon dispel all misgivings. On this set the two artists meld perfectly, their voices intertwining in such a way that they seem as though they were always meant to be this way.
Download: Beachocombing, This is Us
6. Beck – The Information
I’m a longtime Beck fan who eagerly awaits each release from our generation’s lead troubadour and this work does not disappoint in the least. If songs like Elevator Music don’t have you dancing around the room, then I regretfully have to inform you that there is no hope for you.
Download: Elevator Music, Cellphone’s Dead
5. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
I first started listening to The Decemberists with their release prior to this one, Picaresque, but this album was the one that truly made me a fan of their weird, hyper-literate tales that seemed to be beamed in from some time past. This strange retelling of a Japanese folk tale is probably their best work to date and definitely a must-own.
Download: O Valencia, The Crane Wife 1 and 2
4. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
If the powerful voice of Neko Case does not give you chills, then let me suggest that you may need some professional help. I fell in love with her vocals on this album and it has remained one of my favorites ever since then. After seeing her twice live, once solo and once with The New Pornographers, my devotion has never yet waned.
Download: Hold On, Hold On, That Teenage Feeling, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
3. Bob Dylan – Modern Times
Dylan was a spry 65 year old when this late career gem was released and it quickly became one of my favorites of that year. He sounds incredible, from the rollicking Thunder on the Mountain to the crooning Spirit on the Water, and this deserves several listens.
Download: Thunder on the Mountain, The Levee’s Gonna Break
2. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Her personal life may be a wreck, but this strong-voiced testament to hard-living is one of my favorite recordings of the past ten years. She comes across as the bad girl that guys want to date, but who you’d never want to take home to your parents, and it suits her sultry, soulful vocals perfectly. This is the rare albums that has no weak tracks, the kind that begs to be listened to from beginning to end and leave you wishing for more.
Download: You Know I’m No Good, Back to Black, Some Unholy War
1. The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
Back in 2006 I had not yet come around to the Springsteen-fronting-a bar band sound of The Hold Steady, so I came back to this album later after becoming a huge fan of their next release, Stay Positive. These tales of massive nights with girls and drugs and music are masterful in the art of storytelling while the music just plain rocks. I had the chance to see them live last year and let me tell you, the energy of their live show is almost beyond compare.
Download: Stuck Between Stations, Hot Soft Light, Massive Nights, Citrus
A Playlist for the Apocalypse May 20, 2011Posted by Matt in music, top ten.
Tags: AC/DC, Apocalypse music, Beck, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, end of the world, Hayes Carll, John Prine, Johnny Cash, May 21, Nirvana, Oasis, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, playlist, Prince, Radiohead, Soundgarden
My friend Susan gave me an idea today when she posted R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” on my Facebook wall in celebration of the global apocalypse scheduled for tomorrow (Check your local listings). I think we need a good playlist to celebrate our last day on earth. Here are some choices from my iPod.
10. Hayes Carll – She Left Me For JesusIt’s time for those last minute conversions and this is the perfect song for it.
9. Beck – Earthquake WeatherAccording to the apocalyptic prognosticators, we can expect a global earthquake tomorrow that should reach us around 6:00 pm. I think we should dance to Beck.
8. Prince – Sign O’ the TimesYes, we should have been looking for the signs, I know, I know…
7. Radiohead – How to Disappear CompletelyWell, that is what happens in the rapture, right? Cars will veer off the road unattended and suddenly unpiloted planes will crash and burn. Well, either that or it will just get a little more pleasant for the rest of us.
6. Pearl Jam – Given to FlyThen again, maybe we’ll actually see people ascend bodily into heaven. That would be much cooler.
5. Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around / Metallica – The Four HorsemenYeah, worldwide destruction is what’s in store for those of us left behind. At least we have some diverse music choices dealing with it.
4. Soundgarden – Black Hole SunThe sun will turn into a black hole? I think they’re reading of Revelation may be a little off.
2. John Prine – Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven AnymoreMaybe extreme patriotism isn’t the best way after all…
Most likely, though, I think this song will be appropriate for those actually expecting the world the end tomorrow.
Bob Marley – Waiting in Vain
What songs would you put on the End of the World Playlist?
Ten for Tuesday: Halloween Music October 26, 2010Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Frank Sinatra, Halloween music, Iron Maiden, Outkast, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, top ten, Type O Negative, Warren Zevon
In my mind one of the most important pieces of identification for any occasion is the music involved. Whether it is a holiday or my 10 minute commute to work, nothing sets the tone like a good soundtrack. So, with Halloween just around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to set up a top 10 Halloween soundtrack. So, without further ado, here is my list:
10. Outkast – Dracula’s Wedding
Upon my 15 minutes of research for this list, I discovered that there is a definite lack of songs about Dracula and almost no Halloween-style music from hip-hop artists. Luckily, we have the genius of Big Boi and Andre 3000 to save the genre from a total skunking. Sample Lyrics: “For richer or poorer, through sickness and in health / Till death do us part, till death do us part / You only live once, well not in our case, cause we live forever.”
9. Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London
Zevon built a career on his masterful wit, but this was one of the few songs of his I ever remember hearing on the radio. It’s also one of the only songs I can think of about werewolves. Sample lyrics: “I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s. / His hair was perfect.”
8. Frank Sinatra – Witchcraft
You may not automatically think of Old Blue Eyes when you think of Halloween music, but this song was the first one I came up with that mentions witchcraft. Sample Lyrics: “It’s such an ancient pitch / But one I wouldn’t switch / ‘Cause there’s no nicer witch than you.”
7. Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear the Reaper
What is more Halloween than the grim reaper and a cowbell? That’s right, nothing. Sample Lyrics: “Seasons don’t fear the reaper / Nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain.”
6. Type O Negative – Black No. 1
You have to have some really evil-sounding gothic music for the devil’s holiday and this mid-90’s tune fits the bill well. Sample Lyrics: “She’s got a date at midnight with Nosferatu / Oh baby, Lilly Munster ain’t got nothin’ on you.”
5. Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein
Alice Cooper has been doing the same dead guy act for some four decades, so he is a definitely a must for any Halloween soundtrack. There aren’t a lot of songs out there about Frankenstein, so Alice wins this one by default. Sample Lyrics: “I’m a hungry man / But I don’t want pizza. / I’ll blow down your house / And then I’m gonna eat ya.”
4. Rob Zombie – Living Dead Girl
With his allusions to old horror films and dark, beat-driven songs, Rob Zombie pretty much created a niche for himself in the music business. It’s not necessarily about a zombie, but the title sure makes it seem like it is. Sample Lyrics: “Goldfoot machine / Creates another fiend / So beautiful, They make you kill.”
3. Ozzy Osbourne – Mr. Crowley
Take rock music’s Prince of Darkness and mix him with one of the most famous occultists of all time and you get this metal masterpiece, which also happens to feature the incredible guitar work of the late Randy Rhoads. Sample Lyrics: “Mr. Crowley, what went down in your head? / Oh, Mr. Crowley, did you talk to the dead?”
2. Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast
You don’t get much more over the top than this signature song from Maiden. Sample Lyrics: “In the night the fires burning bright / The ritual has begun Satan’s work is done / 666 the number of the beast / Sacrifice is going on tonight.”
1. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
This 40 year old song is still one of the spookiest ones I’ve ever heard. The simple three note guitar riff will give you shivers up you spine while Ozzy wails in agony. This is the king of Halloween music. Sample Lyrics: “Big black shape with eyes of fire / Telling people their desire / Satan’s sitting there, he’s smiling / Watches those flames get higher and higher / Oh no, no please God help me!”
Thoughts? What would you include?
Ten for Tuesday: 1995 August 31, 2010Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: 1995, alice in chains, Bruce Springsteen, Everclear, Foo Fighters, Garbage, music, Oasis, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, top ten, Tupac Shakur, Wilco
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Hey everybody! It’s time to hop back into our top ten time machine and take a trip back a few years to see what made the music and film industries tick during that time. Over the past few weeks we’ve checked out the tens: 2000, 1990, and 1980, and we’ve looked back five years at 2005. Today we’ll take a look at 1995. In 1995 I began my senior year of high school, turned 18, and spent my time driving the backroads around our small town in an old 4-Runner. While much of the popular music I listened to at the time was not that great (Silverchair and Bone Thugs to name two regrettable choices), there were some true gems released that year, some of which I didn’t come to appreciate until much later.
10. Garbage – Garbage
I always liked what I heard from this album, but it wasn’t until later, after I saw them open for the Smashing Pumpkins, that I finally bought it. Its combination of dance-rock beats, a shoegazing guitar sound, and Shirley Manson’s vocals make this a recording that still holds up well. My favorite track is probably “I’m Only Happy When It Rains,” but the best known one is undoubtedly, “Stupid Girl.”
9. Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters
Following the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 and the subsequent demise of grunge rock in general, many music fans looked around bewildered, wondering what would be next. They would not have to wait long, though, for rising Phoenix-like from Nirvana’s ashes was drummer Dave Grohl, now as the singer/guitarist of a new band, Foo Fighters. Their brand of pop-punk-rock was a departure from the sometimes noisy sounds of Nirvana, but it was a welcome one nevertheless. “Big Me” was the hugest hit, particularly for it’s video, but I really like the songs “I’ll Stick Around” and “This is a Call” the best.
8. Alice in Chains – Alice in Chains
As the final album featuring vocalist Layne Staley, this work stands as an exit sign of sorts for the grunge era. While I don’t love this as much as 1992’s classic Dirt, it is still a good album that features a good deal of Jerry Cantrell’s trademark sludgy guitar riffs with metal sensibilities. My favorite songs on this collection include “Grind” and “Over Now,” with “Heaven Beside You” also standing as an excellent piece.
7. Everclear – Sparkle and Fade
This album is included more for the nostalgia it induces than anything else, especially since I was part of a band at that time that played “Santa Monica.” Overall, the album is a good one about growing up and moving on, topics that were important to me as an 18 year old. Though I still occasionally like to turn this one on, its place was somewhat diminished after I saw Everclear put on one of the worst concerts I’ve ever seen several years ago. Check out the aforementioned “Santa Monica” and “Summerland.”
6. Tupac Shakur – Me Against the World
Tupac was widely known as one of the best rappers of the decade even before his murder in 1996, and this album, along with the even better All Eyez On Me, display him in top form. For better or worse, Tupac took the 90’s thug persona to a whole new level and his untimely death made him a legend. On this album, check out the monster hit “Dear Mama,” and the title track.
5. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
With the possible exception of the aforementioned Everclear album, there were no new discs that I listened to from beginning to end more often as a high school senior than this one. The Gallagher brothers reached the pinnacle of their rock star careers with this one and that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. “Wonderwall” is one of the best and most nostalgia-inducing songs of the decade, while “Champagne Supernova” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” are also great listens.
4. Wilco – A.M.
Wilco’s debut album following the breakup of Uncle Tupelo, evaded my interest as a high school senior and it wasn’t until several years later that I first realized the brilliance of Jeff Tweedy. Sure, this is not among their best albums to date (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth), but it is still a very good one, particularly on songs like “Passenger Side,” “I Must be High,” and “Box Full of Letters.”
3. Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad
There is something criminal about the way that this incredible acoustic work from The Boss was swept under the rug in the mid-90’s. Harkening back to the great Nebraska, this album finds Springsteen traveling back to the Midwest, to the trials and tribulations of the common man, and emerging with sparse tales of hard times. Check out the title track, “Youngstown,” and “My Best was Never Good Enough.”
2. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Mellon Collie is no exception to the general rule of double albums. It is bloated, ego-driven, and sometimes displays a little too much self-importance, but when Billy Corgan’s band is on target, which they are most of the time, they are one of the best around. The band rips through some huge riffs in songs like “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” and “Zero” that can still blow the listener away.
1. Radiohead – The Bends
Before The Bends, most thought of Radiohead as little more than a one-hit wonder of the grunge era. Their song “Creep” was huge, but there was little else on their debut that captured the imagination of music fans. When they burst back on the scene in 1995, though, it was with a true game changer and one of the best albums of the entire decade. Everyone remembers songs like “High and Dry” and “Fake Plastic Trees,” but it is the album in its entirety that truly astonishes. The Bends also marked the first entry in a trilogy of works, along with 1997’s OK Computer and 2000’s Kid A, that stands as quite possibly the best threesome of albums in the history of rock music. Seriously, I will put these three up against any three album span of The Beatles, Dylan, anyone, and I think it will fare just fine. For now, though, just listen to The Bends. Turn it up loud and let the genius of Thom Yorke take you away. You won’t be disappointed.
Ten for Tuesday: 2005 August 3, 2010Posted by Matt in top ten.
Tags: 2005, Beck, Bright Eyes, Gorillaz, Kanye West, music, My Morning Jacket, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, the new pornographers, The White Stripes, top ten
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Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken trips in our top ten time machine to 1980, 1990, and 2000. Today we will be taking a short hop to five years ago, 2005. In ’05, I was 28 years old, we had been living in the Memphis area for a year, and our second child was born. Needless to say, it was a busy and exciting time. There was also a great deal of excellent music and movies being released and that is what we will look at today.
Top 10 Albums of 2005
10. The Decemberists – Picaresque
Picaresque was my introduction to The Decemberists, a Portland-based indie band known for its use of unusual instruments and hyper-literate lyrics. I was quickly taken by their lush arrangements and Collin Meloy’s storytelling, particularly on great songs like “We Both Go Down Together” and “16 Military Wives.”
9. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
This was around the time that I first became aware of one of The New Pornographers, one of indie rock’s great supergroups, and soon their brand of power-pop drew me in. The combination of Dan Bejar, AC Newman, Neko Case (one of my personal favorites) and others is a winning one on this fantastic collection.
8. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
I can understand how Conor Oberst’s earnest, quavering voice rubs some people the wrong way, but I’m certainly not one of them. To me he exudes confusion and doubt in way that seems so real and normal.
7. Beck – Guero
I’ve been a huge fan of Beck since his breakthrough back in the 90’s and over the years I’ve collected all of his albums. While this one is not his best (a distinction that goes to either Odelay or Sea Change), it is a nice swerve back to the “two turntables and a microphone” style of alternative dance-rock, complete with random Spanish phrases and great beats, that he popularized a decade earlier.
6. Gorillaz – Demon Days
It was an interesting concept to say the least when Damon Albarn from the band Blur teamed with cartoonist Jamie Hewlett to form a new sort of project, one involving an animated alternative rock/hip-hop act, but it was this incredible second release, with unavoidable hits like “Feel Good, Inc.” and “Dirty Harry,” that they truly became a force to be reckoned with.
5. Spoon – Gimme Fiction
For 15 years, the Austin-based band Spoon has lurked just below the level of stardom, slowly building up their name and garnering attention without ever truly breaking through to the big time. Gimme Fiction shows the band doing what they do best, creating great danceable alternative rock numbers like “I Turn my Camera On” and “My Mathematical Mind” for their growing legion of fans.
4. The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
The duo of Jack and Meg White were on top of the world at this time following the hugely successful lo-fi albums White Blood Cells and Elephant, but with Get Behind Me Satan, they decided to swerve from the blues-rock path they were blazing. Their more experimental style may have confounded some, but I loved it, particularly on great songs like “My Doorbell” and “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet).”
3. My Morning Jacket – Z
I was first introduced to MMJ’s spacey, retro-70’s style on the incredible album preceding this one, It Still Moves, but I think I can safely say that I believe Z is even better. Jim James’ band is on fire this time around, employing their Southern sensibilities through a psychedelic haze to produce a truly great work. Check out songs like “Gideon” and “Off the Record” and you’ll agree.
2. Kanye West – Registration
Back before he was a headline-grabbing bad guy, interrupting the acceptance speeches of teenage award winners, Kanye West was one of the most important forces in hip-hop and this is probably his masterpiece. How can you not like “Gold Digger” and “Diamonds from Sierra Leone?”
1. Sufjan Stevens
Illinois marked the second in Sufjan Stevens’ now seemingly-stalled 50 state series of albums, but this work is so incredible, so varied and interesting, that it seems almost impossible to top. Stevens employs a childlike uncertainty to his vocals against a lush instrumental background to tell stories from the great state, including songs like “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.,” “Decatur, Or, Round of Applause for Your Step-Mother!,” and “Chicago.” This is a must-have from 2005.