PHW's Albums of the Decade - Addendum, pt. 1

Two weeks ago I posted a list of my 50 favorite albums of the past decade. You can catch up with that here, here, here, here, and here, if you’d like. Or, you know, just scroll down a little bit, I guess. That’s probably easier. While drafting the list (there were 164 original considerations) I found that I rediscovered plenty of albums that were and are still worthy of more attention, even though they ultimately weren’t included on the finished product. It was extremely difficult to cut many of them, especially some of the ones made by smaller artists who don’t receive the level of national and international attention that the big boys get. So, for the next four Mondays I’ll be bringing you an addendum to that list that brings together 20 more albums that I feel are also worth mentioning. No, these aren’t necessarily #’s 51-70, but rather artists that I feel strongly about whose great albums of the past 10 years were overlooked, underappreciated, or just plain missed out on. The first five, in no particular order:

Lost In Revelry - The Mendoza Line (2002)

Not so much in sound as in spirit, The Mendoza Line always seemed to me to be this decade’s version of The Replacements - a wildly talented band sabotaged from wider success by their own recklessness and tendency for self-sabotage. Though they made several solid albums featuring better production in the years that followed, not to mention the full blossoming of Shannon McArdle’s underrated songwriting, it’s Lost In Revelry that best captures the slapdash spirit of the band at their self-defeating best. Peter Hoffman throws in a handful of winning indie-rock songs and McArdle’s growing talents as both a singer and songwriter are evident on her five contributions, but the undeniable highlights are the four folk songs and barroom rockers of bandleader Timothy Bracy, whose drunken warble of a voice and detail-rich lyrics sound like a man coming apart at the seams. Perhaps predictably, the band fell apart a few years later when Bracy and McArdle’s personal releationship did the same, but they left us with some of the decade’s most perfectly dysfunctional music, much of it right here on Lost In Revelry. In 2002 The Village Voice had this to say about the record: "a small classic of no cultural import whatsoever -- merely the most likable record of the year, a toothpick Blonde On Blonde held together with chewing gum.”

Hey, you’re killing me with protocol
She acts just like she’s seen it all
But I don’t think you’ve seeeeen this
A big shot at the mini-mall
You learned to fuck before you could crawl
It don’t make you a genuis

MP3 :: A Damn Good Disguise

Coke Machine Glow - Gordon Downie (2001)

In 2001 Gordon Downie, front man of one of Canada’s most beloved bands, The Tragically Hip, threw fans of his band’s by-then-predictable modern/alt-rock for a loop by releasing a solo album recorded with a bunch of Toronto musicians and friends. Coke Machine Glow is full of folk waltzes, lo-fi rock, and jazzy, spoken word interludes that are a far cry from The Hip's fist-pumping, power-chord rockers. The result is easily one of the more interesting records he’s ever been a part of - full of eclectic instrumentation (not strictly relying on guitar, bass, & drum arrangements), lyrics that doubled as poetry (literally, as there was a book of it released to coincide with the album), and Downie’s distinct vocals. “Vancouver Divorce” alone is worth the price of admission.

MP3 :: Vancouver Divorce

Nixon - Lambchop (2000)

Kurt Wagner surrounds himself with more musicians than just about any songwriter I can think of - Lambchop’s numbers can swell well up into double digits on any given night. With this constant revolving door of members you’d think that their music would be a crowded, impenetrable wall of sound, but it’s actually a study in spaciousness and minimalism. Nixon is the band’s excursion into weird, countrypolitan soul music - it’s an austere and strangely beautiful collection of songs made by, according to Merge Records, “Nashville's most fucked-up country band”.

MP3 :: Grumpus

Please Pass The Revolution! - The Sweetbriars (2008)

The Sweetbriars’ debut album is the combined effort of two fantastic songwriters from Central Pennsylvania. On Please Pass The Revolution! the classic country leanings and seasoned professionalism of Earl Pickens are mixed with the ramshackle, anything-goes spontaneity of Bruce W. Derr. Both singers had already released a batch of noteworthy solo albums, but here they come on like a poor man’s version of mid-90’s Jayhawks, trading off verses and songs over their country-tinged, melodic power-pop and garage rock.

Video :: Parade (Meet Me Halfway)
Video :: No Way Home From Here

Introducing Gentleman Jesse - Gentleman Jesse & His Men (2008)

Gentleman Jesse sounds like he’s spent a considerable amount of time studying every tragic note The Exploding Hearts ever played. But if that band has a worthier successor to the brash, garage rock and power-pop of their only record then I’d like to hear them. On this, their debut, Gentleman Jesse & His Men play a bunch of energetic, punk-influenced scorchers, most of which (“All I Need Tonight”, “Butterfingers”, “You Don’t Have To If You Don’t Want To”, etc) become hopelessly anthemic in the hands of such a compelling tunesmith.

MP3 :: All I Need Tonight (Is You)

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