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Lenten Listen #22: The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music March 16, 2012

Posted by Matt in Lent.
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I forgot to post this yesterday, so bear with me.

The Byrds-like Americana sound of The Jayhawks has long been a favorite of mine, beginning with this 2003 album that served as my introduction to them. In particular, I like the song “All the Right Reasons.”

I don’t know why day it is,
I can’t recall the seasons
And I don’t remember how we got this far
All I know is I’m loving you for all the right reasons
In my sky you’ll always be my morning star.

Best of the Decade – Music Edition (51-60) December 17, 2009

Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
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Don’t worry, I have not forgotten about my top 100 of the decade list even though it has been more than a week since I updated it. Today we continue our look back at the greatest albums of the past ten years. In case you missed them, you can read the other entries below:
61-70
71-80
81-90
91-100

60. Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans (2004)
Undoubtedly the most spiritual of the young singer-songwriter’s album catalog, Seven Swans is bursting with life, despite being one of Stevens’ sparser efforts. Most of the songs from this release consist of Stevens’ earnest, wavering voice and his trusty banjo, without much of the orchestration and electronic sounds of his other works. Stevens openly displays faith as a motivator behind his music career on songs like “Abraham” and “The Transfiguration,” and it works far better than any CCM artist.

59. Beck – The Information (2006)
From the opening line, “One, two, you know what to do,” to the last, Beck weaves together an altogether fun album reminiscent of his work in the 90’s. The danceable rhythms, stoned-sounding vocals, and the occasional Spanish phrase thrown in for good measure are vintage Beck and that’s a great thing. I’ve been a big fan for going on 15 years and his fun sense of creativity hardly ever disappoints. Check out songs like “Elevator Music” and “Cellphone’s Dead” to get a good taste of his mid-2000’s greatness.

58. Spoon – Gimme Fiction (2005)
Speaking of danceable tunes, Spoon has put out a ton of them in this decade and every collection has proved to be excellent. This was the first album of theirs that I bought and it quickly turned me into a fan. This is the way good pop music is supposed to sound. Listen to “I Turn My Camera On,” and “The Delicate Place,” and I promise that you’ll agree.

57. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (2008)
This breakthrough album took the country by storm in 2008 and with good reason. “Time to Pretend,” with its resonating tale of youthful hopes and dreams being dashed to pieces against the disappointments of life, is one of the best songs of the decade. These relative newcomers have a great future ahead of them and I look forward to hearing their future releases. In addition to aforementioned tune, be sure to check out “Weekend Wars,” and “Electric Feel.”

56. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2006)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s debut album broke new ground soon after it was released by becoming one of the first word-of-mouth hits of the internet era. Though it had little radio support in the beginning, positive attention from music blogs soon pushed the band out of the shadows and into the spotlight, cementing their place in the 2000’s indie rock canon. Among the best songs that you should hear from this release are “The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth,” and “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away.”

55. The Gaslight Anthem – That ’59 Sound (2008)
In case you ever wondered what would happen if a young Bruce Springsteen had fronted the Clash, here is your answer. The Gaslight Anthem blaze through songs that seem like snapshots of real life in small town America with a punk rock ferocity. Like the aforementioned Springsteen, they name-drop characters (like Mary, unsurprisingly) all around, lending an air of realism to each of these slices of Americana. Check out the songs “That ’59 Sound” and “Great Expectations.”

54. The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music (2003)
The Jayhawks were among folk rock’s elite few when this excellent album, thus far their final one, dropped in 2003. With harmonies that echo The Byrds and a plethora jangling melodies, this release is there to make one smile, even when the subject matter wouldn’t normally lend itself to that kind of reaction. Among my favorite tunes on the album are “Stumbling Through the Dark,” and “All the Right Reasons,” but the entire thing is great.

53. The Killers – Hot Fuss (2004)
This debut album from The Killers, with its retro-1980’s sound reminiscent of bands like Duran Duran, was a huge hit in the mid-2000’s and with good reason. It’s catchy and fun dance rock that sticks in your head for days after you hear it. Listen to “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside,” and then see if you can get them out of your mind.

52. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin (2007)
At times their sound echoes contemporaries My Morning Jacket and classic rocker Neil Young, but this album really set BoH as their own band and as a force with which to be reckoned. Their reverb drenched vocals and decidedly Southern sound need to be heard. Check out songs like “Is There a Ghost” and “Detlef Schrempf for a nice primer on the band and then pick up the whole album.

51. Kings of Leon – Only By Night (2008)
These sons of a traveling Pentecostal preacher slowly built up their status in the U.S. over the decade before breaking through in 2008 with this magnum opus, turning them from bluesy, southern rock purveyors to arena rock headliners. Though not my favorite of their works, the huge sound of Only By Night is made for the big stage. Listen to “Crawl,” “Sex on Fire,” and “Use Somebody.”

To be continued…

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