Sunday, November 01, 2009

TGWOOfY's Band of the Decade

In the 4 years I've been writing this blog, I've done many a music list. From the best songs of a year, or of all time to my favorite records and even a review of new stuff from time to time. I'm not saying I'm an expert in any way, because I'm not. I'm one guy who likes music a whole lot, and who can't keep his opinions to himself. The nuns at St. Francis Elementary school can attest to the latter, that's for sure.

While I will always be most partial to the 90's, as it was the decade most influential on me, I've really loved a lot of the music that has come out in the last 10 years. So I thought I would take a look at the 100 songs from the 00's that I most enjoyed (which I'll publish early in December) and the 10 groups that will always say 2000-2009 for me. Here it is.

10) Paramore, Nashville Tennessee. When this decade started Hayley Williams, the lead singer of the group, was 12 years old. I'll let that sink in for a second. By the time 2005 rolled around she was 17 and getting ready to put out the band's first record All We Know is Falling. That was followed by the hugely successful Riot! in '07 and this years fantastic third record Brand New Eyes. The band has a huge future in front of them, but Hayley has already done some solo work which may one day spell the end of this very talented group.

9) Foo Fighters, Seattle Washington. In the aftermath of Nirvana there was a whole lot of people that were let down that we'd never see more from Kurt. I, for one, would take the Foo's over more new Nirvana any day. While the group is in a place that allows them to take some time between records, they were still quite prolific in the '00s. The decade started with singles still on the radio from 99's There is Nothing Left to Lose which was followed in '02 by One By One. 2005 brought us two fantastic discs of In Your Honor which is certainly one of the best records of the decade. Not to rest on their laurels, they came back in '07 with Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace which was another comprehensive rock record.

8) Be Your Own Bet, Nashville Tennessee. I can almost forgive Nashville for unleashing the evil that is Myley Cyrus because it also brought us two members of my top 10. Almost. Sadly, it was BYOP that went away after just two records, when it should have been Billy Ray's devil child. At least I'll always have be your own PET from '06 and Get Awkward from '08 to enjoy. Plus, in the wake of their break up, singer Jemina Pearl went solo and gave us a stand out disc for '09 in Break it Up.

7) Arctic Monkeys, Sheffield England. This dynamic group of lads we all also high school aged when the decade kicked off, but they played a rocking game of catch up with three records in the last four years of the decade. 2006's What Ever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is among one of then best freshman efforts I've ever heard. While they slipped a bit in '07 on Favourite Worst Nightmare, which was still quite good, they took a bit more time for the third go around and killed with this year's Humbug. In a year that say their Brit-pop progenitors Oasis break up, let's hope they have another great decade in them before they do the same.

6) Killing Heidi, Violet Town Australia. Like so many others on this list, Killing Heidi proved that talent knows no age. Lead singer Ella Hooper was just 13 when she and her older brother pulled the group together. She was just 16 when the band hit it big at the very dawn of the 00's, with songs that no one would ever guess were written by a girl in high school. With a hit single to close out the 20th century already to their credit KH earned 2000's Aussie album of the year for Reflector. 2002's Present and 04's Killing Heidi showed how much the band was growing and improving as the years went by. In 2006 the group stood ready to release The Waiting but broke up instead. Many of the tracks made it around the web, and they were some of the best work the group had ever done. Now Ella and Jesse have formed a new group, The Verses, and after hearing the first single from this year's expected LP I'm excited all over again.

5) Green Day, Berkley California. After forming in the late 80's and exploding in the early 90's no one would have been surprised if Green Day were just an after thought in the first decade of the 21st century. They weren't. In 2000 the band dropped Warning, which while solid, may have been seen as some as a step downward. Then in 2004 they put out the single greatest album of the decade in American Idiot. The inertia of that record carried over all the way to early 2007 with single after single popping up everywhere and a huge tour taking the band around the world multiple times. When it looked as if they would let the rest of the decade go by without another release they put out 21st Century Breakdown in '09. On it's own this would be a good record, but, coming on the heals of Idiot it felt a bit too much like a "let's try that again" kind of project. It still doesn't diminish how truly great this band is, however.

4) Rilo Kiley, Los Angles California. It seems like Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley couldn't sit still in the past 10 years. She and the band put out four records and she still found time to be a part of the Postal Service and make two solo records as well. Rilo's '01, '02 and '04 releases Take Offs and Landings, The Execution of All Things and More Adventurous were all positively amazing. After a break in '06 for Jenny to put out Rabbit Fur Coat, the band got back together to make Under the Black Light in '07, which was strong, but not as good as that early triumvirate. Jenny's '08 release Acid Tongue was also very good, but not as strong as her first solo. One wonders if an amazing decade in "the industry" has changed them to the point where their best work is behind them. I'm hoping they prove me wrong going forward.

3) Missy Higgins, Melbourne Australia. Missy Higgins will not be rushed. Another in the group that started the decade in high school, she burst on the scene in 2004 with her record The Sound of White, which pretty much owned Australia for two years. She waited till '07 to put out her next record, On a Clear Night which was about as good of a follow up as you can ask for. Missy is a very gifted singer and songwriter, but she sure does like to take her time in between projects, so it may be a while before she releases another full length album. In the meantime, she keeps dropping a single or a cover here and there to keep us at bay.

2) Death Cab for Cutie, Bellingham Washington. Death Cab has released 5 full length records in the decade as well as a half a dozen EPs and they have all been great. Add to that fact that Ben Gibbard is one half of the Postal Service who inspired indie rock orgasms in '03 with their one and only record Give Up, and you get a consistent driving force of music in the decade. In 2005 Death Cab produced another of the decades signature records with it's much acclaimed disc Plans. That was followed by last year's Narrow Stairs, which was not as well accepted but which I thought was on part with the earlier work. Now, if Ben could just get Zooey to do some work with the band, I'd be in heaven.

1) Camera Obscura, Glasgow Scotland. Anyone who knows me knows that I've been head over heals for Camera Obscura for a while now. Their brand of indie music is just about perfect in my book, and they are consistently excellent. From 2001's Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi to this years best record My Maudlin Career they keep on churning out top notch songs. Lets Get Out of This Country from 2006 is one of my all time favorites from start to finish and 2003's Underachievers Please Try Harder isn't too far behind, and also includes fantastic non album tracks on the singles. Seeing them play all my favorites in DC earlier this year was the perfect way to cap off a great music decade.

While I didn't plan it this way, I ended up with a bunch of pairs on this list. 10 and 8 hail from Tennessee while 9 and 2 come from Washington and 4 and 5 are California born. My two Aussie acts at 3 and 6 both come from Victoria, leaving only 1 and 7 as not being from the same state, but they are both from the UK.
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