PHW's Albums of the Decade - Addendum, pt. 4

Last month I posted a list of my 50 favorite albums of the past decade. You can catch up with that by following these links - #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, and #10-1, if you’d like. While drafting the list 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 that finished product. It was extremely difficult to cut many of them, so for the past few Mondays I’ve been spotlighting albums that I consider every bit as essential as the Top 50, but, for whatever reason, fell short. Twenty in all, but not necessarily #‘s 51-70. Catch up with the first three installments here, here, & here. In no particular order, the last five:

Young Criminals’ Starvation League - Bobby Bare Jr. (2002)

Bare Jr., the son of country legend Bobby Bare, dropped his solo debut in 2002 to little fanfare, but those who heard it were quick to fall for its cracked underdog vocals and loose-spirited mix of folk, punk, & country influences. Heartfelt originals such as “I’ll Be Around” and “Mehan” are mixed with darkly humorous tales like “Flat Chested Girl From Maynardville” and “Dig Down”, a tongue-in-cheek complaint that all the good musical ideas have been used up. The album’s real strength is its diverse, unpredictable nature; it features soulful horn arrangements, back-porch dirges, spirited country rockers, and even shambling covers of The Smiths’ “What Difference Does It Make?” and Shel Silverstein’s “Painting Her Fingernails”.

MP3 :: I’ll Be Around
MP3 :: The Ending

The Hour Of Bewilderbeast - Badly Drawn Boy (2000)

The Hour of Bewilderbeast is an eclectic, sprawling, and deeply satisfying pop album that’s just stuffed with Damon Gough’s charming melodies and DIY work ethic. Gough hasn’t done much of note since, but that’s probably because he crammed every good idea he could ever possibly have into these 18 songs.

Shallow Grave - The Tallest Man On Earth (2008)

When I finally caught up with The Tallest Man On Earth’s 2008 album Shallow Grave I had missed the chance to include it among my 20 favorite albums of last year. Too bad, I guess, because, like Rook, it would have easily made that list. Swedish songwriter Kristian Matsson is full of shit by declaring himself taller than any other human being on the planet. Perhaps a better moniker would be “The Most Compelling Dude With Only An Acoustic Guitar On Earth”, cause, well, he just might be.

MP3 :: Pistol Dreams

Choochtown - Hamell On Trial (2000)

Choochtown is a punk record shot through with a strong (anti-) folk influence and Ed Hamell’s distinct ability to intertwine the stories of a bunch of small time crooks, low-lifes, and one shady private detective. Though there isn’t a proper narrative going on here, the record’s action centers around a late-night, drunken fight at an all-night diner that’s told from a few different perspectives, most effectively on the hilarious opener “When Bobby Comes Down”. Later, “Judy” recalls The Velvet Underground with a sharper sense of humor, “The Long Drive” is a muted mystery-noir, and “Uncle Morris” is invective punk-folk. Hamell brings all his losers to life, and by the album’s end it’s clear he's a master storyteller and this is one rough-edged, rewarding listen.

MP3 :: When Bobby Comes Down
MP3 :: Judy

The Sophtware Slump - Granddaddy (2000)

The Sophtware Slump is Grandaddy’s makeshift magnum opus; a startling look at the numbing effects of technology at the dawn of a new millennium as told through a series of songs that try to balance human (and robot) emotion with technological fear. It's also been inexplicably overlooked on nearly every "Best of the Decade" list I've seen so far. As has been pointed out with frequency, the album clearly shares themes with OK Computer, including a distinct sense of paranoia of the modern world and a resulting disconnectedness from it. Jason Lytle and company balance a mix of standard rock instruments and bargain-basement sounding synths; the combination of which is equally effective on both haunting ballads like “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot” and “Jed The Humanoid” as well as rockers like “Hewlett’s Daughter” and “The Crystal Lake”.

1 comment:

Ted Gaulin; Section A said...

Grandaddy: totally cool, totally underrated.