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)
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)
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?
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)
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)
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”?
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)
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)
2. Band of Horses – Everything All the Time (2006)
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)
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!
I got sucked right into grandaddy‘s beautiful space pop when I heard their amazing album The Sophtware Slump way back in old ’00. A couple of albums later, front man Jason Lytle decided to call it quits (after releasing Just Like the Fambly Cat in 2006). He packed up his gear and moved to the Bridger Mountains around Bozeman, Montana. I opined back then that the clean Big Sky air would likely result in something cool in the not too distant future. Well it took three years, but here we have it: Jason’s debut solo album, Yours Truly, The Commuter.
The sound and feel of the music doesn’t stray far from the grandaddy sound – gorgeous melodies, unique lyrics, and an infusion of experimental electronic sounds into indie/folk based songs. There’s a sweet and gentle quality to Jason’s music, with an undercurrent of bittersweet sadness.
And it’s the dreamy, floating, melancholic tunes that I gravitate towards most on this record. The last half dozen songs have this area covered… “Fürget It” transitioning into the slow waltz of “This Song Is The Mute Button”; followed by “Rollin’ Home Alone”, “You’re Too Gone”, “Flying Through Canyons”, and “Here for Good”.
After hearing these, I can guarantee you won’t be cheered up. But that’s obviously not the intent. The self-imposed exile that Jason imposed on himself – from Modesto, Calif. to Montana – obviously sparked some soul searching, and the result is a sublime but sort of downcast collection of songs (if you ignore “It’s the Weekend”, an out of place ode to Saturday).
It’s all summed up during “I Am Lost (and the moment cannot last)” -“On mountain high / I’ll say goodbye / My concerns have been confirmed / I am lost”
Jason Lytle’s Montana days have yielded a great album, but hey – friends of Jason – sounds like he needs some company!
If I knew Photoshop / Image Ready a little better, I would’ve added some sweet wintry sparkles to this picture of Alan Parsons. But it involves things like rasters and vectors and “noise”, and I’m just not up to that level yet.
As the man behind the Alan Parsons Project, and the man who manned the controls in studio for Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon, Mr. Parsons is clearly not someone to be messed with. But Jason Lytle and his now defunct band Grandaddy had some fun with him in this holiday ditty.
Jason’s web site has shown promises of his first solo album sometime in 2008, but the clock is ticking, and there is no word from Mr. Lytle. So enjoy this. And if you don’t have The Sophtware Slump, go get it!
Grandaddy – Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland (mp3)
By no means do I think it’s a great idea for respected musicians to shill products on TV. But once in a while, as hard as it may be to stomach, I can’t help but be entertained. Case in point, the use of Meatloaf and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” in a new AT&T “GoPhone” commercial. Oh, and that’s 80’s teen queen Tiffany playing Mom.
Another recent surprise is the appearance of Grandaddy’s music in the advertising world. “A.M. 180” shows up in the new Dodge Journey ads…
This is a picture of the Millau Viaduct in France, the tallest vehicular bridge in the world. Pretty amazing if you ask me. It opened on December 14th, 2004. Guess what else opened on Dec. 14th, 2004? Why, this web site of course… Yep, today marks the 2nd birthday of Ickmusic. 429 different posts, 715 comments, and still plugging along.
Sing it with me: R-I-A-A Stay Awayyy, let me blog another dayyy
Looking back, here are a few milestones:
First Post & Song: Dec. 14th, 2004 – It’s Worth a Try | Song : Quattro (Calexico)
Whatever happened to the music video? I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting older, but I do know that you have a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing one on MTV or VH-1. Yeah I know, we have MTV2, VH-1 Hits, and Fuse and so on, but it’s rare that I’ll see any contemporary video that captures my interest (now Vh-1 Classic, that’s another story!).
That is, until I caught the new Grandaddy video for “Where I’m Anymore” (online of course). It’s back to basics weirdness, Jason Lytle on a bicycle, riding along in a grove of trees and a typical American suburban neighborhood, singing his song with in inanimate cat (the Fambly Cat, I assume).
It’s sort of indicative of the current state of Grandaddy, all that’s left is Jason. He just finished up a short promotional tour with some in store acoustic performances and radio interviews. From what I understood from his WOXY interview, he’s heading back to his new home in Montana to live the quiet life. ‘Just Like the Fambly Cat’ is sadly Grandaddy’s swan song, but I’d bet Jason will be soaking up some inspiration out there in the Big Sky Country and it won’t be too long before we hear his melodic, poetic tech-organic-space tunes again….
XD-Data II (mp3) Nonphenominal Lineage -> So You’ll Aim Towards The Sky (mp3) Miner At The Dial-A-View (mp3)
It’s downright depressing to me that Grandaddy is no longer. I only saw them live once, opening for Elliott Smith in the early 00’s (once again, I think). I never saw a full show. Will I ever? No Fambly Cat touring? What gives?
Last Tuesday, the great Modesto, Calif. band Grandaddy released their final album, ‘Just Like the Fambly Cat‘. I first discovered Grandaddy when I heard ‘The Sophtware Slump‘ in 2000, a collection of dreamy, gentle, electro-space-pop with awesome songs (and song titles) like “Broken Household Appliance National Forest”, “Jed The Humanoid”, “Chartsengrafs”, and “The Crystal Lake”.
So last Tuesday, singer/guitarist/keyboardman Jason Lytle and drummer Aaron Burtch got together at Good Records in Dallas for a full set of Grandaddy acoustic goodness.
Jason Lytle & Aaron Burtch (from Grandaddy)
May 9th, 2006
Good Records, Dallas, Texas
[Buy some Grandaddy music]
The Go In The Go-For-It
Jed the Humanoid
Summer Here Kids
Go Progress Chrome
Protected from the Rain
Today I Started Loving You Again (Merle Haggard cover)
Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)
Fare Thee Not Well Mutineer
El Caminos in the West
Dreaming My Dreams With You (Waylon Jennings cover)
I just got done watching ‘Imagine: John Lennon’ on HBO. I saw it in the theater back when it came out in 1988, and hadn’t see it since. Really a powerful film since it’s basically entirely narrated by John with audio and video clips taken from his entire career. No need to expound on the genius of John Lennon and the Beatles, but suffice it to say once the film is over, you feel emotionally drained as you’re left with the reality of his tragic death. Blah. Blech.
Here’s a contemporary take on a Beatles classic…
Grandaddy: Revolution (mp3) – from the I Am Sam Soundtrack, which features 17 different Beatles covers.