Thursday, 31 December 2009

Albums of the Decade

Right this one is going to be long. It involves my taste in music. I can talk about music for an eternity so if you're not really into that just quit reading.
As the 'noughties' (quite possibly the worst decade name ever) are coming to a close and the 'tens' are about to start, I'm going to sum up as best as I can the albums that have made this decade for me.
I have managed to whittle it down to twelve. I wanted a nice rounded number like 10, but twelve was the lowest I could go to.
For those who have had the misfortune of not hearing these albums, for each album I mention, I shall include a clip of a track from each album in the form of a youtube video so you can educate yourselves.
They are in no particular order, just records that have had some considerable kind of impact on me this decade.

Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

Basically for me, this album represents everything that music should be: experiments, creativity, fusions of old leading to the creation of new and not playing it safe by conforming to everything else out there. This album is an epiphany unto the listener. Even the URL of this blog is taken from the first track, 'Everything in its right Place'. That's how much I like this album. It's the kind of album that opens your eyes to what is truly possible when minds are set free to delve into realms previously unexplored. I have heard nothing like it from any other artist. These compositions transcend the simple boxes and categories we mortals can clumsily throw them into. Illuminations of landscapes in your head as the soundscapes sweep over you, ranging from gentle ambience to richly textured beauty. When Radiohead do an album, they do it right.

Idioteque - from the album:

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More (2009)

A fairly recent album, from the second the first song started, I was in love. The rich, smooth vocal harmonies of the opening title track enveloped me in their anguish. I felt every word. The whole record is absolute perfection, with no weak tracks dragging it down. Beautiful from start to finish. Stands out among the rest of the bands coming out of the current Neo-Folk movement.

Little Lion Man - From the Album

Sigur Rós - Takk... (2005)

OK, I know it's not their best album, but this album is the first I ever heard from Sigur Rós. This is the album that started it all for me. From here on in, every second of music I heard from this artist was pure bliss, an absolute aural orgasm, making strong use of dynamics and composed with such musical precision, as if every note in every piece has been specially selected to sound absolutely perfect. This music takes you to places that you never thought existed.

Hoppipolla - Taken from the album. The actual music video wasn't available, so here is some footage from Planet Earth to accompany the song:

Jónsi & Alex - Riceboy Sleeps (2009)

Not too long after I had discovered Sigur Rós, I found out an album made by their singer, Jónsi, and his partner, Alex, was soon to be released. Naturally, I bought it as soon as it was made available and my was I in for a treat. Much more the mellower side of Sigur Rós, this album has provided perfect ambient bliss for me. It had gotten me through hours of mind numbing revision and work yet also provided atmosphere while I have read novels. I have even fallen asleep to this peaceful record.

Boy 1902 - Taken from the album:

M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts (2003)

Rich and textured sonic bliss. Excellent electronic ambience. Anthony Gonzalez really is in a field of his own and stands out against the backdrop of electronic music. Some of these songs are almost orchestral in texture yet have been produced digitally on a computer. A very rewarding album.

Run into Flowers - from the album:

Peter Broderick - Home (2008)

This album is just pure luscious acoustic folk from an exceptionally talented musician. From the choir-like layered vocals singing together in harmony in the opener, 'Games', this album is a pleasure to listen to. And what's more, the album artwork is one of my favourites of all time. To me the artwork just represents the title, 'Home', so perfectly. Broderick is such a well-rounded musician and enters singer-songwriter territory effortlessly here.

Below It - from the album:

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (2008)

Fleet Foxes are unlike no other band I listen to. I saw them live at Lollapalooza this year in Chicago and their sound put me into a trance; a state of absolute awe. Seeing them live was more than just a gig; it was an experience. This album is a wonderful, soothing listen. I would recommend this band to anyone. The record is natural and organic, conjuring up images of beautiful forests, rivers and mountains in the listener's mind. An unmissable album.

White Winter Hymnal - Taken from the album:

Protest the Hero - Kezia (2006)

Well this is going to be a controversial choice. This comes straight from the extreme end of my musical spectrum. This is about as metal as I get. From the second I heard Protest The Hero, they appealed to the musician in me. The amount of time and tempo changes they can fit into one song is unreal.
Kezia is a concept album which spans three perspectives of the execution of a prisoner. These three perspectives each comprise a 'chapter' of the album, and the storyline unfolds through the lyrics. The perspectives are that of the prison priest, a prison guard who is to execute her and the prisoner herself, named Kezia.
When the band wrote the music for this album, they were still in high school and weren't skilled enough to actually play the stuff they had written. So they practised and practised until they could actually play their own stuff. That's how technical this music is. The music snobs call it mathcore. I call it insane.

Heretics and Killers - Taken from the album:

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

Bon Iver is the solo project of Justin Vernon. After his previous band broke up, Justin confined himself to a cabin in Wisconsin for three months. This "hibernation" led to the creation of this wonderful record, capturing the feeling of his seclusion perfectly. An excellent album.

Skinny Love - Taken from the album:

Arctic Monkeys -Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)

There's nothing not to like here. This album flows perfectly from start to finish and is a perfect representation of modern day British culture. Believe the hype.

A view from the afternoon - taken from the album:

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (2008)

I absolutely love this album. It is 100% deserving of the Mercury Prize it won back in 2008. Every track is perfection and the orchestral sections are beautifully composed. Buy it if you haven't heard it already. This band deserves to be huge.

Weather to Fly - from the album:

Frank Turner - Love, Ire & Song (2008)

As the ex frontman of Million Dead, Frank Turner has always had a punk rock mentality. This shines through in his music through the sincerity with which he sings, meaning every word, making him stand out among the beige, drab backdrop of singer-songwriters. His songs are intelligent and diverse and he is very politically in tune with the world around him. For me, this is his best album, although others may disagree.

Love, Ire & Song - Taken from the album:


  1. Mumford & Sons turned out amazing didn't they ;) everyone is listening to em now. maisie's flatmates had it on.
    Arctic Monkeys. where to even begin. coolest band ever, cheeky chaps.
    Covered fleet foxes lol :P was fun doing the harmonies, i'd love to hear them live out in the sun.
    Frank Turner, brilliant ;) absolutley amazing live lol we saw him about a week apart :P the same week i came up.

    all brilliant music

  2. Yeah you'd like Bon Iver mate. I need to give you more good music when I'm down over Easter ;)