OK, so even if technically, the end of the decade would be the 31st of December 2011 (we all know that), it's always a big fetishist fuzz when we turn from the 9 to the 0. And everybody launch improper top 10 (to 100) albumofthedecades covering the last ten years (in fact the last 9 years), often without any personalities (zzzzz The Kills, zzzzz Animal Collective, zzzzzz The Rakes, zzzzzzz The Cribs, zzzzz Vampire Weekend). It's funny how everybody love to celebrate a new year by organizing a burial.
And because we got personalities and we're surprisingly humble, let's drop our top 10 and our best-something-category-ofthelast9years. And if you think it's sucks, you're on our blog, show some respect and go fuck yourself. So let's start the nostalgic rock-critic exercise :
1) Is This It - The Strokes (2001)
Ok on that one I don't show any difference with anybody else, but well, would be like pretending that Nevermind The Bollock is a bad album.
Just remember, if you were, let say, 17 in 2001 and desperate to listen to rock and you only had the choice between Radiohead, Muse and Smashing Pumpkins.
Gosh, all my friends were into Radiohead.
Honestly, I was just living by The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, Einstürzende Neubauten and (errrr) Bauhaus. I couldn't admire, well, not even love a band under 35 of age (except Belle And Sebastian, of course, but for rock'n'roll action, B&S is not the best band ever). Which was quite embarrassing.
In those pre-internet days, the access of information seemed to have been trust by technoïd and post-rock trend, and for any little boy dreaming of clever energetic short songs, this period was hell on earth. And The Strokes came. They immediately intrigued me, first because they didn't seems to be fossil-came-to-life (like Thee Gun Elephant, for example) and they didn't had anything of this boring US indie like we had before (I never liked Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr, just a few songs by Pavement and Royal Trux were looking too dodgy for me then. And remember again, all those band by 2001 were about their 5fh albums, so not really young either).
The great stuff about Is This It, it draw a line. Not between cool and uncool people (well, ok a bit) but inside the rock nation: once again we could pretend once more that techniques, pretentious, covers, never-end gigs, all these things were un-necessary to write good songs. And that a good album never last more than 40 minutes. And we could say once more that The Doors and The Floyd were actual shit.
It seems a bit odd to write that today, after a decade of rediscovery of the immediately virtues but at this time in France, that was more than useful.
Well I will not write anything about the sexy-sm of the Strokes, all I could say is they had a incredible way to dress. Just by looking at them I could feel part of something who were then about to disappear: I could have long hair, tie, shirt, tight jeans and boots without feeling like a loser. I was part of something. It was like the pics of the VU or of the NYC punk I loved coming to life. Like breathing.
Like having somewhere some connections with people who didn't think "hummm yes, the 60's look good, but anyway it's DEAD. Now you need these stupid baggy jeans, these ugly hoods, and those horrible trainers. Do it or you're out."
Ok, end of the nostalgia sequence.
I haven't listen to it for quite long time now and the last time I did I was in a basement and my colleague upstairs started to play it and to scream on it (hello, Graham). And if it came out now I'm sure l would laugh at it. But Is This It just came at the right time and started something we're still on today. And today I feel like I'm a part of it.
That's my actual number one. This time I don't have any nostalgia story about this one. Well one, I bought the album after reading an incredibly good interview of the singer. That's it.
Ikara Colt always been underrated I think, for reasons I never understood. But I think if Chat And Business was released one year later, everybody would have been in love with it. Because it just came a this moment of reconstruction of the new-indie UK scene, a bit before it became the Next Big Thing. So not a lot of people get a hook on it.
I did and I still do.
The thing about Ikara Colt is they sound like anybody else but sooo much better. Full of tension, aggression, like if they would collapse if they stop to play. But it always stay in balance between the HxC tension and the pop side. A great paranoid record which is actually the best The Fall album ever (anyway, apart from Live At the Which Trial and Dragnet, did Mark E Smith ever succeed to be something else than being an alcoholic? No. And don't say anything about Grotesque or Hex Induction Hour. No. Don't.). Feverish drums, minimalist guitars, post-punk bass and this great voice in between (well, no need to talk about the keyboards).
A lot later after Chat And Business and a lot after my mod period, my post-punk period, my goth period and my punk period.
I had to moved to England and I was feeling lonely and totally depressed. I was hardly speaking any English at all and was just staying in my (expensive) room, just living by night and by Soulseek.
Before Sunn O))), I never had a proper metal period if you except Burzum's Filosofen. I was feeling in need of something creeper, harder, weirder and more aggressive than what I could have been listening to before. I started to listen to a bit of noise, a bit of drone, a bit of grind, a bit of doom (anyway, I was mixing up).
I knew about Sunn O))) by some live review on internet and I had the Demo. But I couldn't go further, feeling a bit lost and illegitimate.
Well, so I came to Black One. Who was just so incredibly deep and dark that if I was listening to it loud enough it could calm my feeling, and even made me feel good.
Honestly, Black One is not a record or even music or sound, it's like a medication. In fact, actually like taking a warm bath and it's even sensual. Yes I mean it.
It's occupying your ears, surrendering your body and let yourself abandon your mind to daydream. And not even dark or painful. Just incredibly good.
I know it's suppose to be the black metal album of Sunn O))) and when you listen to it carefully, if you manage to stay awake to yourself, it's true, it's a black metal album. But it's so intense that it's manage to be quasi-magical.
The best was still to discover it's actually working even when you're not depress anymore.
(I can now write that Black One is my feel-good album of the decade, and how much it's beating Good Vibration and I'm finish with this review)
More metal, yeah!!!!!
And still from the pharmacy wardrobe. Electric Wizard is my hangover band. Not only, but after a busy night drinking, nothing is like Electric Wizard. Or maybe a bit Acid King, but the Wizard is still the best.
Have you ever notice how much better all the stoner bands are the day after alcohol/drugs/whatever rather then during the action?
You can dance slowly, have vision of travel in dark tunnels at light-speed, hear echo of voice all along around you, and still think it's perfectly normal.
With Dopethrone, it's the same that all the post-Hawkwind trad but heavier. Like being crushed by a mountain, reaching a point where all you can notice in this amount of noisiness is the feeling of slow beating drums and some distorted echo of some of the most perfect riffs ever yelling in the bottom of the mix. The music is hiding behind this powerful vibrations offering itself just through its owns remains. You can't identify it: there's somewhere, moving slowly but quickly enough for disappear each time you start notice it behind the heavy curtain of distortion. And quickly you're just moving to shadow rhythm and musical ghost.
What's quantifiable in Dopethrone is just the noise, the rest is uncertain. You could have dream it, it would feel the same.
And for those who think I'm talking about shoegaze, it's no, it's heavier, noisier, louder, Sabbather and definitely better. Like a friend of mine said once about Skullflower: it's like MBV but ten time better.
Well, Electric Wizard it's ten time better than Skullflower. (And it's not like MBV, I agree on that.)
I never really get into the first album by the Liars, whose for me, was a lot of useless noise surrounding Mr Your On Fire Mr, We Live Ne Of Compton and This Dust Makes That Mud. So I didn't expect anything from the second. I read reviews who were talking of failure, comparing it to PiL's Flowers Of Romances, but I heard Broken Witch on a compilation and discover their There's Always Room On The Broom 10" with the design of the Einsturzende Neubauten's Strategy Gegein Architecture I, and it just caught me at once. I used to be a big fan of E.N., so I was feeling like having a special connection with these guys.
I absolutely loved the album: I had the impression to listen to a post-punk Sonic Youth, to a twee Throbbing Gristle and to a electro Einsturzende Neubauten IN THE SAME TIME. It's seemed that we were back in the dangerous edge of music again. From Broken Witch to Flow My Tears The Spider Said, I was just feeling like being in a forest at night eating magic mushroom and running naked while screaming children's song.
Certainly one of the warmer trance I ever feel from a record and it let me in a physical tiredness and a semi-consciousness state each time I listen to it.
Certainly the tweest band of my top. And for people who don't think so, you're talking about people who were giving chocolate for their easter gig (DSP!/No Age) and cupcake for their 100th gig (KIT/Mika Miko/No Age).
Ok, for those who missed it, HoH is actually the whole Upset The Rhythm team. And UTR were from their Esquilax/Trencher 10'' to the Numbers' Now You Are This vinyl version, and if you except BARR, the best label in the world. And the best promoter in the world. Even BEFORE Chaos Vs Cosmos. Remember the Mika Miko/No Age/PRE/HoH/Look Look Dancing Boys at Barden's? Remember the stage invasion with the girls of LLDB at the end of Mika Miko? And the Psychic Ills/Coughs? The incredible mosh pit for Cough?
Oh my god, so brilliant.
After that, let's be honest, something went wrong. It actually started at their gigs, when it started to be the next big thing for designers of Shoredich, Vice Division.
Anyway, the HoH side is one of the best thing recorded in UK for... long (but you have to forget about the Sticks part). Imagine a whole panda army associate to XBXRX (without the Ian Svenonius/McKay complex of Vice Cooler -and the prog-noise one of Weasel Walter-) in an homage to Fire Engines. A pure genius nonsense barbedwire pop/perfect melody in a train disaster lead by bIG fLAME on a cute green and red 10''. For 15 min.
And it's sold out. And you missed it.
You just missed your life.
(I know, I saw No Age a lot.)
7) Franz Ferdinand- Franz Ferdinand (2004)
Usually, it's here I say I know THE Michael of the song. But because everybody know him, I have to write something else.
We are a few years after the Strokes hype and every band on the planet started to dig into the rock history in order to bring back some remains to fill their records and justify their contract. Gosh, what I loved these years!
Even if almost all these albums couldn't impress longer than one month, most of it always had one song above everything, the one you could kill for hearing. And the best was to see all those bands sounding totally different, playing with different corpses, offering to dig yourself into their favorite period. And Franz Ferdinand was the best one. And the last one. After them, what? Few bands in the mid-2000 London scene who gave us The Horrors (thanks for that, you could have kept it for yourself, you know), what else before the post-New Weird America? Test Icicles? Woooh-hoo...
I loved everything from Franz Ferdinand in the beginning, from their above-everything attitudes to the crazy reports of their gigs, to their dandies and to their elegant songs. They were (and in some way still are) my popular band I (love to) admit to love.
I have to say, and I'm stupidly a bit ashamed of that, but like lots of people they introduced me to 1) Orange Juice, 2) Josef K, 3) Fire Engines, 4) dancing. They could have done it for Glasgow as well, but that one it's finally thanks to The Pastels and Shop Assistants.
And about their first album... just perfect pop from begining to the end. And they bring indie pop to a new point, they actually allowed indie to go somewhere else, to the bright land of milk and honey and musical awards and big success.
Somewhere, where in fact, everything sucks. Thanks for have made Kaiser Chief and Bloc Party possible, guys. Hope you don't feel too guilty, Pandora.
8) Chemical Chords- Stereolab (2008)
In any top, you need to award an old, classic, big and used-to-be-influencial band. Usually, it's the moment for the rock-critic to remenber the existence of Sonic Youth.
For me, it will not be the middle-of-the-road NYC noise living dead legend but the Back From The 80's indie Dead turn German Free Design and mocked since the late 90's; Stereolab.
Yes, the french accent of Laetitia Saddier, yes the dusty museum of synth of Tim Gane, yes even the fake brazillian Sean Microdisney High Llamas O'Hagan, yes the 70's mid-class comfort drop in the 90's postmodernism, all that smell of dust and of frigidity nowadays, but fuck! Listen to Chemical Chords! It's the first album of Stereolab with just only SONGS!
It took for them almost 16 years to succed, but they did great and it's just perfect melodies everywhere. On every songs.
If Chemical Chords caugh the band in their usual retro-futurist exercice (which this time is deeper -they even go back to the fifties easy listening and beyond with their vintage machines) it also got some of the best string arrangement in an early 20 century mood mix with jazzy winds. And one of the best song ever since Family Fodder's Savoir Faire and Debie Harry and the Melody Dog 's Futuristic Lovers, Valley Hi! And the best reverse tape ever with Pop Molecule. Chemical Chord is almost coming from a haunted broken radio playing a dreamy and evenescent soft psychedelia. Asolutely brillant.
Let's say it straight, there is nothing in this record. Just a riff and its variations for 42 min. But what a riff. The best one, ever. Like Sister Ray cover by Mötörhead in a Neu! mood.
42 min of heavyness and loudness danceable as fuck, a warfare weapon for urban everyday life going straight to your head and to your nerves. A fantastic warrior jam making Hawkwind sound like a little bird. A fucking riot-starter space-boogie shot who make you ready for fight, for nights out, making you stand for everything. And making you scream powerful. And transforming you in a horrible barbarian deadless monster. WITH A FUCKING GIANT SWORD. IN A FUCKING HUGE CUSTOMISED CHOPPER. IN SPACE.
Lord Sidious, you're a fucking dead man! GNAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWW!
I also could have done a nice and polite review, comparing them to Steve Reich or to Charlemagne Palestine. WITH A FUCKING HUGE WALL OF AMPS.
Well, no, I couldn't.
10) The Glow Pt.2 -The Microphones (2001)
This last place was hard to decided as I feel I had thousand of bands and records to award. So, it goes to The Glow Pt. 2 but I feel in two weeks I would regret it. I could have put the Pastels/Tenniscoat but 2 months is too short in regard to a 10 years (yep, 9 years) top.
And since The Glow was released in 2001 and not in 1999 like I though at first and it's a true indie classic, I feel like I should put it, anyway.
The thing with it is even if I like it, I will not, weirdly enough, putting into my favorite records. So why I do it right now? Well, the thing is it's a true classic, in every meaning of the word. Even if you don't like The Velvet Underground And Nico, or Abbey Road, you still have to put them in a top 10 of the best albums ever. OK top 20, in the case of Abbey Road.
For a quite review, most of the songs are itself forgetable when the production is incredibly amazingly brillant, just like a lo-fi United State Of America recorded in the bathroom of the Dub Narcotic. And some of the melody sound just like a drawn, like if you had to complete it by yourself. Which is quite cute.
A great record. Really, I mean it, even if I don't like it that much. In fact 3/4 of my expanded top below got better songs, but no-one got this vision of an perfect experimental lo-fi pop production.
(and I already feel like I should have put The Galaxies' Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field Of The Tower Recording instead. Or Broken Voyage.)
Greatest Losers: Neils Children
So good losers that you don't even remenber them.
Remenber 2004, I Hate Models and Trying To Be Someone Else For Free? A lad wearing an Anarchy shirt copy and some make up around his left eye who made it in the NME Cool List before turning Duran-Duranesque Goth? His drummer somewhere between the emo kid and the emo kid? The never-end leaving bassist dance?
I used to have a big crush on them (I mean, as a band, have you seen how they were looking like?). After Change/Return/Success I waited and waited for an album who was finally released this year after seeing the band changed after discovering dub, then changed to be goth then changed again to turn neo-Postcard and for finally being entierely rip-off by The Horrors.
After almost hundreds of 7'', they end-up disappering for what, 4 years? for finally lose (again) their bassist when the band tried to come back... Neils Children could have been one of the best band of the last (roughly) 7 years and just became the best english joke ever.
Anyway, don't sell your singles of them now, in 20 years, they would become the cultest band from the 2000's. If they don't lose their fans for their comeback. Come on, John, come on, Brandon, you can do it this time.
Best French Album: Vive La Vie- Klub Des Loosers (2005)
This album is followed by my usual french-only disclamer: anyway if you don't speak a good level of french (and I mean, it's not because you understand locals in Paris when you're asking for the Eiffel Tower that you speak french) you will just hear boring funky jazz samples and a guy with a louzy flow who's not even in rhythm.
Signed on the Air vanity label and ditched just after releasing this record, Klub des Loosers is the most darkest and mysantropist thing you can find in French hip-hop. Roughly it's like "everything sucks, I hate myself, I hate you, I hate everybody, and I will kill myself after killing you". But honestly it's write in some way its actually really funny to get pissed on it and shout the lyrics loud. Like TTC but with more guts and hatred.
From all the others (aka the english peoples), you still can try Sous Le Signe Du V feat. Air.
(Yeah, it's THE "Kelly Watches The Stars" Air)
Best Mainstream Song: SexyBack- Justin Timberlake (2006)
Let's be honest, this one is just here because, during this decade also the "Mainstream is cool, maaaan" trend appeared.
Well, usually, it's the "Well, pop is cool, man, not good to be elistist, maaaan" thing. Fucking hippies., And yes, you have to admit that you listen to MJ and Lady Gaga all day long. And that all the Prurient albums or the Frumpies stuff are just there to impress your friends.
Because it is so nice to be able to appreciate both noise and bad R&B, so nice to beeeee opeeeeeeen and not see the difference between pop (cool, melody, feel-good) and mainstream (shit, bad shit and worst shit).
When undeground is still fucking exciting, I don't want to bother with mainstream. Yes, I think ABBA got some fucking kick-ass good songs. And? So what? Do I have to spend my energy to promote ABBA? Does they really need me to put Gold in the chart each christmas? I don't think so. The problem with that attitude is the naivety to pretend that "it's just music".
No it's not. Because without all the networks of fanzines, scenes, blogs, mainstream can still rely on radio, magazine, TV, Murdoch website and look-like (Facebook, Myspace, ...). But do you think that Upset the Rhythm or Social Registry or PPM could afford to release records? No, not really.
And for those who think that Lady Gaga or Madonna (or Bono, but strangly, nobody wants to take his defend) can actually change things in this world from their place in mainstream, you're just fucking naive and you should actually try to believe in politics. At least, there is some hope to change something. You know, by collective action, by common fight, by organization, by strikes and demonstration, by this kind of stuff. You don't need to rely on the head of the entertainment, you need to rely on yourself and on your peers.
Well, you know what? Here we love soft toys and AK 47, we love cupcakes, sweets and feminism, we love birthday card, tea-party and Karl Marx. So come back to stalinism, fuck that trend, stay underground and invent your own entertainment. And if it happen that mainstream is producing sometimes good pop, I prefer to rather miss it than buy it.
Let's launch our backlash op on mainstream now!
No need to put the video here, you know where you have to go. And not even one word on why I think SexyBack is the best mainstream thing for years. (Actually since Cry Me A River)
Fuck you Justin.
Best Lyrics: Losing My Edge - LCD Soundsystem (2001)
Ah ah ah, James Murphy, the perfect fat-ass record seller.
The one who will always prefer Shoes to Big Star, the one who will never be able to go to sleep without watching closely his records collection (Germans imports! All the good techno cuts from Detroit from 86 and 87! And you can add to that the Sylvester records and all the Gainsbourg from the 60's.), the one who see all his friends achevied to a cult indie star status and who have to stay close to the stereo to vaguely stamp a pile of rare Beatles records all day long or the one who's talking shit with his colleague while he's burning DVD's on the computer of the shop. Or the one who's always listening to Harry Pussy horribly loud to scare customers. Or the one who still don't know how to make work a till after several years in the same shop. Or the one who's bitching about all his colleagues while he's reading The Guardian he bought on expenses of the shop.
Yeah sorry, I can't help it but I have to mix him up with my own memories of selling records.
Record collectors are always creepy alcoholic pathetic losers. And all their little lifes are just turning around music. And girls, but not that much.
So, when one is actually able to get up from a sticky floor (where he was lying for better watching the one quid cds) and when he's able to say something else than "Yeah, fanx, cherr, fanx, all the best", and go to a studio, he can just talk about his records and how he was the first one in NYC to listen to Daft Punk and how he saw all his friends sell their guitars for turntables and how it was affecting him.
It's maybe not glamorous, but when I heard this song and when I actually understood a bit of the lyrics, yes, I wanted to be one of them. I even droped my philosophy study for that. I always had crushes on losers, anyway.
And, finally, the expanded top:
BTW, I read a few weeks ago a french e-zine complaning "We're all agree, nothing happened those last 10 years, not even a single movement, few goods records, it's terrible..." and in the comment all the readers were fighting to put Radiohead as the Best Band Of The Last 10 Years. I actually went down in my comptuter and in my memory and in not even 20 minutes did this list with records who's worth more than a quick listening and could have actually done it in my 10 best records:
Animal Collective's Here Comes The Indians, The Aislers Set's How I Learned To Write Backward, All Girl Summer Fun Band's All Girl Summer Fun Band, ARE Weapons' ARE Weapons, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's The Doldrums, Ascend's Ample Fire Within ,The Black Angels' Passover, The Blackfire Revelation's Gold And Guns On The 51, Belle And Sebastian's Fold your Hands, Blood On The Wall's Awesomer, Boris' Heavy Friends and Pink, Broadcast's Tender Buttons and Investigating the Witch Cults Of Radio Age, Bratmobiles' Girls Get Busy and Ladies, Womans & Girls, Butcher Boy's Profit In Your Poetry, Cause Co-Motion's It's Time, Chain & The Gang's Down With Liberty, Up With Chain, Christy And Emily's Queen's Head, Chrome Hoof's Pre-Emptive False Rapture, Circle's Forest, all the Clinic's album, Coughs' Fright Makes Right, Dan Deacon's Spiderman Of The Rings, Death Sentence: Panda's Puppy, Kitty Or Both and Insect Awaken, Deerhunter's Turn It Up, Faggot and Cryptogram, The 80's Matchbox B-Line Disaster's Horse Of The Dog, Electrolane's Axes and Power Out, Esquilax's Esquilax Side, Electric Wizard's Witchcraft Today, ESG's Step Off, Fat Truckers' The First Fat Truckers Album Is For Sale, Gang Gang Dance's God's Money, Gentle Waves' Swangsong For You, Ikara Colt's Modern Apprentice, Indian Jewelry's Invasive Exotics and Sangles Redux 2002-2005, Kaito's Band Red,Jeremy Jay's Slow Dance, Calvin Jonhson's Before The Dream Faded and What Was Me, KIT's Broken Voyage, Kites' Peace Trial and Hallucination Guillotine, Konono N°1's Congotronics, Kraftwerk's Tour De France (at last...), Ladytron's 604 and Light & Magic, Jens Lankman's Oh You're So Silent, Jens, Jeffrey Lewis' It's The One Who've Cracked That The Light Shines Through and 12 Crass Songs, The Libertines' The Libertines, Liars' Drum's Not Dead, Le Tigre's Feminist Sweepstakes, Samara Lubelski's Parallel Suns, John Maus' Songs, Melt Banana's Cell-Scapes, Mouthus' Saw A Halo, Slow Globes and Long Salt, NTX's We Are The Wild Beast, No-Neck Blues Band's Qvaris, No Age's Get Hurt, Mika Miko's CYSLABF, Om's Conference Of The Birds, Omar Souleyman's Highway To Hassake, Partyline's Zombie Terrorist, Pastels/Tenniscoats' Two Sunset, Pink And Brown's Shame Fantasy II, Pharaoh Overlord's #4, Pre's Epic Fits, Primal Scream's Evil Heat, Portishead' Third, Psychic Ills' Dins, Prurient's Black Vase. Raccoo-oo-oon's Is Night Peoples, Sian Alice Group's 59.59, Sleep's Dopesmoker, Spider And The Webs' Spider And The Webs, The Sunburned's Z, Sunn O))) Flight Of The Behemoth and Monolith And Dimension, The Swords' Age Of Winters, T.I.T.S.' Throughout The Age and Second Base, Trans Am's Sex Change, The Tower Recording's The Galaxies' Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field Of The Tower Recording, Trencher's Lips, Tv On The Radio's Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, Viki/Hair Police split CD, The Warlocks' Phoenix, Weird War's If You Can't Beat Em, Bite Them and Illuminated By The Light, Whirlwind Heat's Flamigos Honey, Wives' Erect The Youth Problem, Wolf Eyes' Burned Mind and Human Animals, XBXRX's Sixth In Sixes and Wars, Yellow Swans' Descension, Live During War Crimes 1 and 2 and At All End.
That's quite impressive, isn't it ? And lots are still missing and I didn't included some of them I talked about earlier (like LCD Soundsystem for example). And it's not to say anything about the reissue industry who went totally nuts those last years, from Another Sunny Day to Erkin Koray, and from Bobby Beausoleil to The Feelies (at last!) or the whole ESP-Disk back catalogue.
I don't know why, I feel like this time all established journalists will come and complain in their paper that they miss the old good 90's. Please, if you meet one, just punch him in the face and remind him to do his job. Like listening to his promo copies before selling it at MVE. Thanks.