PHW's Albums of the Decade - #30-21

Here’s the Humpday edition of my favorite albums of the decade. Check back Thursday and Friday for the final two installments. Hope you’re enjoying it so far.

30. Fleet Foxes/ Sun Giant EP (2008)

Fleet Foxes’ stunning Sub Pop debut does a fairly common thing - it mixes traditional folk sounds with heavenly vocal harmonies and douses them in reverb. But while the method may not be unique, the results are - the album manages to make each of its small, simple songs sound like widescreen epics.

MP3 :: White Winter Hymnal
MP3 :: Mykonos

29. Plague Park - Handsome Furs (2007)

As the less critically-adored half of Wolf Parade, Dan Boeckner has been living in the shadow of the erratic genius of Spencer Krug for too long. Plague Park should be sufficient proof that Boeckner is deserving of no such fate. His is Wolf Parade’s steady hand, adding a solid string of steadfast rockers to both Apologies To The Queen Mary and At Mount Zoomer. The debut of his side project (a bare-bones duo with his wife, keyboardist Alexi Perry) is filled with gritty, paranoid urban-anthems stripped right down to their primordial core.

MP3 :: Cannot Get, Started
MP3 :: What We Had

28. The Midnight Organ Fight - Frightened Rabbit (2008)

Rock music has been documenting the tribulations of the sexually frustrated 20-something male for a long, long time. Frightened Rabbit capture that essence with their painfully earnest lyrics, their loud fucking guitars, and Scott Hutchinson's anguished Scottish howl with such precision that the fact that you’ve heard all of this before doesn‘t matter one bit. You haven’t heard this incredibly visceral version. Well, unless you have I mean. Then you already know.

MP3 :: Old Old Fashioned (live)

27. Girls Can Tell - Spoon (2001)

After 1998’s A Series of Sneaks and some unfortunate label woes, Spoon returned to the scene in a big way with the decidedly more adventurous Girls Can Tell. GCT is the beginning of Britt Daniels’ gradual incorporation of 60’s pop and 70’s soul into the band's stripped down, wiry indie-rock - soon to be perfected on Kill The Moonlight and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. A Series of Sneaks is a great rock record, but Spoon, as we know them today, starts here.

MP3 :: This Book Is A Movie

26. Feels / Animal Collective (2005)

Expanding on the psychedelic campfire vibe of 2004's Sung Tongs, Feels possesses a fuller sound and houses several songs that are more articulate than anything the band had yet attempted. The rest is organic, spacious psyche-folk (check out “Banshee Beat” to hear one of their very best songs) that walks the line between sublime and just flat-out weird (in a very, very good way).

25. Destroyer’s Rubies / Destroyer (2006)

Between Destroyer and his various side projects, Dan Bejar has been involved with, at my count, 10 albums in the past 10 years. That’s quite an output, and behind The New Pornographer’s Mass Romantic, Destroyer’s Rubies is the best one. Destroyer has always strived for expanse and mystique on record, but Rubies matches Bejar’s ambitions with a stellar set of songs (brimming with his typically bewildering lyrical fancy) and his most professional production to date.

24. The Meadowlands / The Wrens (2003)

The one-and-only Wrens album from the decade is a glorious, sprawling, broken-hearted mess of a record. The Meadowlands was put to tape over a tumultuous 4 year period during which the band were rarely, if ever, together in the same room at the same time. The results are decidedly slipshod, though somehow it still manages to sound more "mature" than anything they had previously tried. The Meadowlands captures the sound of resisting whatever urge there may be to age gracefully - turned here into high art by a couple of guys with day jobs, back alimony, and the kids on the weekend.

23. Constantines / Constantines (2001)

Canada’s Constantines made a few really terrific albums this decade, but their self-titled debut captures their ferocious intensity better than any of them. The throaty growl of Bryan Webb was the perfect vehicle for the band’s mix of raw punk energy and blue-collar classic rock. “We want the death of rock & roll” he sings on “Arizona”, which he makes you believe would be a good thing, if for no other reason than it could then be rebuilt in their likeness.

MP3 :: Arizona

22. In Rainbows / Radiohead (2007)

In Rainbows is sheer brilliance - a concise and instrumentally fluid album from the most important band of the past 15 years. Priceless.

21. For Emma, Forever Ago / Bon Iver (2008)

For Emma, Forever Ago came with the kind of built-in back-story that most albums would kill for. Guy with beard, guitar, and (incredible) voice loses his band & his girl. Guy gets mononucleosis. Guy recovers and retreats to his father’s secluded Wisconsin cabin to hibernate, only to emerge at the end of a very good winter with a record full of timeless songs. It may have taken a few months for this to really catch on after its initial limited-edition run, but when it finally did it absolutely exploded. So thanks Emma, for whatever happened.

MP3 :: Skinny Love

1 comment:

Wayne said...

I have to say that all of these albums are great. Especially Plague Park and Feels.