The first of our contributor’s top ten lists!
Well, it looks like I’m first up in the contributor’s Top Ten of the Noughties list, a feature which we’ll be running over the coming weeks with our writers trying to whittle down their favourites into a list of ten albums from the last decade.
As I’m always making lists and pretty much knew what the content was going to be, I was keen to kickstart to process and start getting you readers thinking about what your top ten might be.
So, where did ten years go? It’s hard to believe a decade has passed. You could say there haven’t really been any scenes or movements of any notoriety; musical history has been put in a blender without the lid and allowed to shoot off in every conceivable direction as genres clash into each other – some enduring, others extinguished in a heartbeat but all leaving ripples in the pond.
Anyway, here’s my ten…
10. Prinzhorn Dance School – Prinzhorn Dance School (2007)
Publicity shy Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn make up this Dance School. Their sparse arrangement and confrontational delivery extract Marmite reactions from all who listen. Some smash the CD with a hammer and hurl themselves from buildings to escape, others embrace to their bosom. I’m clearly in the latter camp, every note and utterance demands full attention like a manifesto for the criminally insane. Utterly essential.
9. The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike (2004)
Plinky-plonky Charlie Brown jaunts clash with Thurston Moore guitars overseen by slick double-dutch rap vocals make this a poster boy/girl for the decade that mashed things up. Home baked production values give it that made-just-for-you feel, as precious as your first born child’s opening lines in the primary school play.
8. Super Furry Animals – Rings Around The World (2001)
In an attempt to piss away as much of the record company’s money as possible this epic album was the first to be released on DVD & CD at the same time. Orchestral arrangements and layer upon layer of lavish sounds makes this most ambitious album in the Welsh wizards’ arsenal and the pinnacle of their career. Let the beauty of the album wash over you, then listen to the 5.1 mix on the DVD as Gruff’s voice circles around the room, drawing rings around your world.
7. Moldy Peaches – Moldy Peaches (2002)
Def Leppard may take 300 years in the studio but The Moldy Peaches record in as long as it takes to hit play-and-record on the tape. Ludicrously amateurish, yet all the more charming as a result, they manage to be vulgar, childish and adorable all within a single sentence. Simple and honest songs about love, busses and crack.
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell (2003)
At times a woman possessed, at times bearing her soul for all, Karren O’s unmistakable voice and performance shook up a New York populated almost exclusively by boys in skinny jeans. You couldn’t ask for more competent architects of uproar than the faultless backing band of Nick Zinner & Brian Chase, never resting upon their laurels and always pushing things forward. A startling debut.
5. Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2002)
For a short time the combination of Lanegan, Homme, Oliveri & Grohl were without question the finest rock and roll band on the planet. Switching vocal duties between tracks ensured no time for complacency and who can forget that ever-so-quiet intro that had you turning the volume dial up only for the band to crank things into overdrive and tear your speaker cones to shreds?
4. Laura Cantrell – Not The Tremblin’ Kind (2000)
Not The Tremblin’ Kind is the oldest album in my list but the opening notes of ‘Two Seconds’ still always puts a lump in my throat, and the chorus – a tear in my eye. It re-ignited my love of country music with an emotive performance second-to-none. Broken-hearted lovers or those just in need of a cuddle won’t find safer haven than this.
3. Aphex Twin – Drukqs (2001)
Supposedly released in a panic after Richard D. James left an MP3 player of this unreleased material on an aeroplane, this 2-disc collection of tracks may lack continuity as it swings from piano sonatas to an answer-phone message of birthday wishes from parents, but it’s a lucky dip of electronic joy from a true genius.
2. The Libertines – Up The Bracket (2002)
“There are fewer more distressing sights than that of an Englishman in a baseball cap” sums up the commercialisation and death of English culture. These lads set out to re-discover merry old England whilst along the way taking in all the sights. Like riding a rollercoaster maintained by alcoholic squirrels it feels that at any second it could all go off the rails, somehow it holds it together to give dizzying thrills and, in ‘Time For Heroes’, produce the finest song of the decade.
1. Midlake – The Trials Of Van Occupanther (2006)
Golden sounds that transport the listener to another place, painting a picture of another world from a palette of unparalleled musicianship and harmonies. Each song is like a different room in a cottage hidden deep in the woods, the views of rolling hills and forests through each window tell a different story. The fireplace roars in the background enveloping the listener in a blanket of warmth and security. Beautiful, reliable and enduring.
I hope that’s reminded some of you of albums you need to dig out again or maybe even inspired a purchase or two for releases you may have missed. Looking back it’s certainly been a decade of variety and quality and I’m really looking forward to seeing the next lists from contributors and readers alike.