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Pete’s Favorite Albums of the 00’s

Quick Note: I didn’t want to bombard my Top 10 with Springsteen and Prince albums, so I chose my favorites of theirs from the 00’s. Did I spend more time with  M.I.A.’s Arular than with Bruce’s Magic or Prince’s Musicology?  No way.  Just so you know, I limited my picks to one album per artist.

And now, on to the completely subjective look at 10 of my favorite albums of the decade!

10. Prince – The Rainbow Children (2001)

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Jazzy, funky, and dipping deeply into P’s then new-found life as a Jehovah’s Witness, this album connected with me more than any Prince album of the 00’s (and nope, no JW am I). As much as the 54 second “Wedding Feast” makes me cringe, the album makes up for it with great tracks like “Digital Garden”, “The Work, Pt. 1”, and “The Sensual Everafter”.

Favorite tune: “1+1+1 is 3” (mp3) – to me, easily the funkiest Prince song of the 00’s.

9. M.I.A. – Arular (2005)

arular

I couldn’t leave the girls out! M.I.A. came out of nowhere halfway through the decade with her brand of world-influenced electronic hip-hop. I love her attitude, her style, her accent, and she ain’t so bad lookin’ either. I think this is one of those love it or hate it albums. My wife can’t stand it. But for me, songs like “Pull Up The People”, “Fire Fire”, and “Amazon” just, er, do it for me, okay?

Favorite tune: “Bucky Done Gun” – super sexy militant rappin’ time:

8. Steve Earle – Jerusalem (2002)

jerusalem

Steve had a lot to say about the state of our country after 9/11 and the ensuing conflicts overseas. Of course he was his controversial self with “John Walker’s Blues”. He was fierce as hell on “Ashes to Ashes” and “Amerika V. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do)”. And he looked for a world of peace in the gentle album closer, “Jerusalem”. A great album top to bottom.

Favorite tune: “What’s a Simple Man To Do?” (mp3) – an organ-driven barnburner of a tune about a Mexican drug smuggler’s letter to his madre.

7. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

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Sure, some people think this is the obligatory best of the decade album – even if they think it doesn’t merit it. But guess what, it’s completely subjective, and certain albums connect with certain people. YHF was on constant rotation early in the decade. Wilco’s creativity and originality were through the roof in the late 90’s to early 00’s. The changes in direction between Being There, Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and A Ghost is Born are startling.

Favorite tune: The “War on War” and “Jesus, Etc.” combo special.

6. Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump (2000)

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The brainchild of Jason Lytle, this futuristic, tech-themed album – with its gorgeous, sweeping electronic-based melodies – blew me away. Who would’ve guess I’d have such strong feelings about songs like “”Broken Household Appliance National Forest” and “Miner at the Dial-a-View”?

Favorite tune: “The Crystal Lake” and the beautiful “So You’ll Aim Toward the Sky” (YouTube).

5. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

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Win Butler and his merry troupe of noisemakers got my attention with “Old Flame” from their self-titled EP. And when I heard this album, I was hooked.

Favorite tune: “Wake Up” (YouTube) – especially after seeing them live at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. A sea of people singing “Whoooa-ooooa Whoooa-oooo-oooo-ooo”.

4. Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006)

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When Bruce takes a break from the E Street Band, you never know what you’re gonna get. And with the Sessions record, it was a return to the roots of American folk music, and he brought along about 15-20 of his friends for the ride. This album provided countless hours of joy around our house. And the tour stop through Phoenix was an absolute thrill for me and my wife. Hey Bruce, bring back the Sessions Band!!

Favorite tune: “Pay Me My Money Down”. A family favorite. The kids still sing it.

3. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin (2008)

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2. Band of Horses – Everything All the Time (2006)

everything

Thank God these guys came along. Led by the gentle voice of Ben Bridwell, the first two Band of Horses albums are folk/indie masterpieces. There isn’t a bit of filler in either of these, and I look forward to following these guys for the rest of my lifetime.

Favorite tune: “Monsters” [mp3] (from EATT) and “Windows Blues” [mp3] (from CTB) – surprise, the slower tunes.

1. Marah – Kids in Philly (2000)

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In 2000, when I was going through some “woe is me” / “whaddya mean I can’t get this girl back”-type stuff, this album picked me up, punched me in the nuts, and knocked me back over. I was living down by the new Tempe Town Lake, and I’d run around it a few nights a week – I’d start running as the opening banjo riff of “Faraway You” ignited the album, and I wouldn’t stop ’til the closing street harmonies of “This Town”. The album was super cathartic, and every time I listen to it, I think of that summer of 2000. August 2000 also included one of the best rock ‘n roll shows I’ve ever seen: Marah at Tempe’s now defunct Long Wong’s – a small, sweat-soaked bar. I’ll never forget the energy of Dave, Serge and the boys that night. The album and band encapsulate what stripped down rock ‘n roll is all about.

Favorite Tune: “Round Eye Blues” (mp3) – capturing the spirit of Motown and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, this is a vivid and beautiful song, sung in the perspective of a young man in Vietnam:

Fables tell of men who fell
With swords dangling from their chest
The old guys down at the taproom swear
The Japs could kill you best
But late at night I could still hear the cries
Of three black guys I seen take it in the face
I think about them sweet Motown girls they left behind
And the assholes that took their place

Goosebumps every time.

When all is said and done, this is the album that affected me most personally, and therefore must be crowned: Pete’s Album of the 00’s!

Markadelphia’s Best of the Noughties

The last decade of music was fucking amazing. One would think that being the Brit Rock maniac that I am I would be all about the 90s. While I did enjoy that decade, the music that came out in the last ten years made me wish it was a woman that I could kiss deeply and shower her with love and affection.

So what were the best ones? Here is my Top Ten with comments followed by my other 40 to round out the Top 50 CDs of the Noughties!

10. The Coral – Roots and Echoes (2007). Haunting, beautiful and brilliant. The best album of their career. Also contains my son’s favorite song of all time–“Cobwebs.” A psychedelic kiss…

9. Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires (2008).

Like Ennis Del Mar, I can’t quit this album. They musically illustrate what it’s like to “Jump in the Pool” on the track of the same name. Wow! Every track is a dime. And they are a great live band. See them.

8. Mercury Rev – The Secret Migration (2005). From the first sound of this disc, the listener begins a sacred feminine journey that is a kiss to be cherished forever.

7. Coldplay – Parachutes (2000). Their first album is still my favorite. “High Speed” is the very definition of dream pop. Memories of those I love wash over me when I hear it…

6. The Kooks – Inside In/Inside Out (2006).

A stunner of a debut. Pop bliss wrapped in an amorous red bow.

5. The Fratellis – Costello Music (2006). Sometimes you hear a record for the first time and yet you have known it your whole life. This is one of those records. “Her’s is the tonic and mine is the gin”–mega…

4. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not (2006).

The heirs to the Beatles and Oasis. This disc is filled with love soaked Brit tales that are guaranteed to warm the heart and make us all Holy Knights of the British Empire.

3. Sterephonics – Just Enough Education To Perform (2001). Their finest album.  NME will never forgive Kelly for “Mr Writer” and I think that is fucking wonderful.

2. The Subways – All Or Nothing (2008). The album that has defined my life. I think Billy and I are kindred spirits. Listening to this record is an answer to the question “Just what is Mark’s romance with women and music all about?”

1. Brian Wilson – Smile (2004).

An album 38 years in the making. Even in 2004 (just as in 1966), the concept of this album is light years ahead of its time. Brian Wilson is a genius. He is the American John Lennon. I was fortunate enough to see this album performed live in its entirety. It left me with no doubt that there is a higher power because, in addition to being the best show I have ever seen, Smile is one of the purest forms of beauty I have ever heard.

The rest of the best…

11. The Verve-Forth, 12. Keane-Hopes and Fears, 13. Doves-The Last Broadcast, 14. Snow Patrol-A Hundred Million Suns, 15. The Subways-Young For Eternity, 16. Delays-Faded Seaside Glamour, 17. Joe Jackson-Volume 4, 18. Ryan Adams-Love Is Hell, 19. The Kooks-Konk, 20. Coldplay-X and Y, 21. Snow Patrol-The Final Straw, 22. Stereophonics-You Gotta Go There To Come Back, 23. Doves-The Last Broadcast, 24. Saint Etienne-Finnesterre, 25. Travis-The Invisible Band, 26. U2-All That You Can’t Leave Behind, 27. Todd Rundgren-Liars, 28. Planet P Project-Go Out Dancing Pt.1, 29. The Last Shadow Puppets-The Age of the Understatement, 30. Kings of Leon-Holy Roller Novocaine EP, 31. Tom Petty-The Last DJ, 32. Doves-Some Cities, 33. Stereophonics-Language, Sex, Violence, Other, 34. Phoenix-United, 35. The Libertines-Up The Bracket, 36. Muse-Black Holes and Revelations, 37. Green Day-American Idiot, 38. Neil Young-Silver and Gold, 39. Beck-Guero, 40. Starsailor-Love Is Here, 41. Captain-This is Hazelville, 42. Kaiser Chiefs-Employment, 43. The Strokes-Is This It? 44. The Vines-Highly Evolved, 45. Paul McCartney-Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 46. Stereophonics-Keep Calm and Carry On, 47. Yeah Yeah Yeahs-EP, 48. Neil Finn-One Nil/One All, 49. John Starkey-Live at Jitters, 50. Oasis-Dig Out Your Soul

The Time live in KC

In the year nineteen eighty-three, Prince’s Triple Threat Tour did hit the road. Vanity 6 opened the evening, with The Time as their backing band behind a curtain. Next up, before Prince took the stage, Morris Day and the boys got their 45 minutes in the spotlight, and they took every advantage, trying their hardest to upstage their boss.

I was a wee 12 year old during this tour, so I didn’t get to witness the competition firsthand. But from all accounts, it made for an amazing tour – Prince touring behind 1999, and the Time, with two solid (Prince-produced) records under their belt, there to try and show him up night after night.

Here’s The Time’s set from a recently unearthed soundboard recording from March 19th, 1983, at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.

The Time
Kansas City, MO
March 19, 1983

1. Intro
2. Get It Up
3. 777-9311
4. Girl
5. Wild & Loose
6. Gigolos Get Lonely Too
7. Cool
8. The Walk
9. Outro

New Tune: Matthew Ryan’s The Wilderness

Care to be haunted and moved and blown away by a great song? Then listen to the brand new tune from Matthew Ryan: “The Wilderness”.

Matt’s been making appearances on Ickmusic since I first fired this bad boy blog up back in 2004.  He never disappoints, and this tune definitely has me looking forward to the new record, Dear Lover, due out in late October.

Keep up with Matt on his Web Site, and be sure to follow him on Twitter. One of the most down to earth guys out there…

It’s Live, It’s Purple: Musicology in Phoenix

A couple times a year, I slip into my Prince-only phase – three, four, five weeks of obsessive listening. To spur it on this time around, it was the Spin issue commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Purple Rain. The movie and album pulled me into Prince’s purple universe in the latter half of 1984, and I haven’t left since.

What I could use right now is some live Prince – something I haven’t experienced since April 2002, when he was touring behind The Rainbow Children album with his ‘One Night Alone’ shows…

Unfortunately, I missed the Musicology tour. I was moving from Denver back to Phoenix that Spring of ’04.  He stopped in Denver a few weeks after I left, and he played Phoenix a week or two before I got there. Great luck.

I’m still assuming that Prince would want to tour behind his latest albums, Lotusflow3r and MPLSound, but we’re still waiting. Over the last few weeks, he’s played the Montreux Jazz Festival and a fancy-pants show in Monaco. But let’s hope he gets back stateside for some normal gigs for everyman and everywoman. You know, the fans who’ve supported him for decades?

I missed a good show in Phoenix that Spring of ’04. Hear for yourself…

Musicology Tour
Glendale Arena | Phoenix, AZ
March 31st, 2004

Part 1

1. Intro
2. Musicology
3. Let’s Go Crazy
4. I Would Die 4 U
5. When Doves Cry
6. 1999 – Intro Baby I’m A Star
7. Shhh
8. D.M.S.R Incl. The Way You Move
9. A Love Bizarre – The Glamorous Life – I Feel 4 U
10. Controversy
11. Interlude
12. God
13. The Beautiful Ones
14. Nothing Compares 2 U
15. Insatiable

Part 2

1. Sign ‘O’ The Times
2. The Question Of U – The One – Fallin
3. Let’s Work
4. U Got The Look
5. Hot Pants
6. Soulman
7. Kiss
8. Take Me With U
9. Outro
10. Purple Rain

Bonus Tracks:

San Antonio, TX | SBC Center | June 9th, 2004

11. D.M.S.R.
12. A Love Bizarre
13. I Feel For You
14. Controversy

Amazon Links:

Bruce Meets Band of Horses

Not only did Bonnaroo bring together two of my favorites in the form of a Phish-Springsteen collaboration, but, as it turned out, Bruce also found time to catch Sunday’s set by Band of Horses. And as you can see from some brand new pics posted to BoH’s blog, Bruce hung around to meet Ben Bridwell and the band afterward. Thanks and props to Christopher Wilson Photography for capturing the moment!

My musical universes continue to converge.

Check out Band of Horses Tour blog with more pics of the encounter, and a bunch of others from Bonnaroo.

By the way – if you’re a Boss fan wondering about Band of Horses, check out this Amoeba in-store video for a good intro.

Photo Credit: Christopher Wilson Photography

Review: Alan Wilkis, “Pink and Purple”

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Brooklyn-based electrofunk wizard Alan Wilkis recently gave me an early peek at his latest release Pink and Purple. For those of you not familiar with Alan, let me bring you up to speed the self-described “musician, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and general musical mover-and-shaker” first came to my attention last year with his self-released debut Babies Dream Big (Review). Earlier this year he dropped a brilliant remix of Pheonix‘s hit “1901” which only served to build the anticipation for his new material which has been in constant rotation since it landed in my inbox.

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The six tunes that make up the Pink and Purple are clearly derived from the synth-laden funk rock of the early 80’s but it’s never derivative. There is something immediate and familiar about the tunes and where where his previous release Babies Dream Big may have lacked focus, Pink and Purple is concentrated and intense. The auto-tuned double entendre’s flow with the lead track “Snuggle Up to Nail Down” and erupt with 4 bars of pure shred bliss. The juxtaposition of the electronic and analog meshes perfectly. “N.I.C.E.” could bring a tear to George Clinton‘s eye it’s so funky and “Gotta Get You Back” makes me long for the days of my youth and is an rollerskating rink classic and is an early contender for the track that I will wear a spot on the hard drive with. The closer “Time Machine” builds to an completely unexpected epic guitar driven finale that absolutely begs for a continuation.

With all the great (and not-so-great) music coming out of Brooklyn these days it’s hard to know what’s worth the precious listening time, but if you still own a Swatch, love Hyper-Color, Rubik’s Cube and Brat Pack movies look no further because it’s Mr. Wilkis’ world and he’s here to make you dance.

Alan Wilkis – “Gotta Get You Back” (from Pink and Purple)

Buy Pink and Purple: Official Site | iTunes

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace | on Twitter

Dave Matthews Band: Live @ The Beacon Theater

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Tonight Dave Matthews Band will celebrate the release of their new record Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King with an intimate show at the historic Beacon Theater in New York. The show will be broadcast live beginning at 9:00 PM EST on the Fuse network as well as online over at Hulu. Through a twist of fate (and the amazing detective skills of my better half) I will be in attendance tonight and will be sure to post a full review of the show as well as the new album in the coming days.

You can listen to the Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King in its entirety over at Pandora.

Buy Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King: Amazon