It is that time of year again (I am not referring to Christmas). I will make the trip down Oldham Street and into Piccadilly Records, a journey I take often, but, at this time of the year, as I pay for whatever difficult-to-get-hold-of CD/vinyl there is an added perk. On the counter, amongst all the zines, flyers and free badges, there it is. Highlight of my festive season. Piccadilly Records' Albums of the Year. An opportunity to catch up on all the music I have missed, equally to brag about all the music I haven't. Only this year, it will be Albums of the Decade - Oh boy! I have not made that journey yet, and I wish to compile my own list right here first.
It was the decade when politics became a personality contest (thanks to some Freudian psychology gone horribly wrong); 9/11 sent aftershocks throughout religious groups, colliding cultures, terrorists and conspiracy theorists alike; war struck a controversial chord within each and every person in the western world; the digital era finds it's footing and molds a whole community dependent on connection speed rather than geographical placing; a western generation would be born and not know life without the internet; music piracy and theft hit a peak thanks to the internet and file sharing causing cuts in the overall creativity of the music industry; thanks to nano technology not only can we carry our entire music catalog around with us, but we can expect to live forever (that one may not be quite true, yet); global warming has secured an apocalypse for the human race and it is closer than we think... but there may still be time to solve that one.
2000-2010 has been a very important decade for me personally, it has been a pivotal decade, the decade where I have become an adult. I have had to deal with things like teenage angst, puberty, adolescent love/lust, Exams, Exams, Exams, hormones, life changing decisions, high school, then college, then university, another life changing decision, one insane allergic reaction, messy messy messy nights out (and in), a couple of suicide attempts (not by me), death (for the record, neither suicide nor murder), throw in a couple more heart wrenching decisions, more hormones, becoming a fully grown adult person, financial instability, un petit depression, a lot of tears, a lot of laughter, a bit of betrayal, a first class honors degree and I think we have just summarized my life in the last decade. A shaky one. But at every low, and at every high I have had a piece of music by my side. It was the decade I discovered music in a serious way. The decade that I fell in love with David Bowie. The decade that I broke my addiction to Queen (I listened to nothing but for most of my childhood) and branched out. A decade that I am proud to be a part of.
Now for the important bit.
(much trickier than I thought, check out playlist for my highlights of 00-10: Now That's What I Call A Decade 2000-2010)
10. MGMT- Oracular Spectacular
New age and beautifully innovative.
9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell
For energy, dancability and personality
8. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Isolation and heartache fed the beauty of this album (I'm just off into hibernation for three months then...)
7. Jamie T - Panic Prevention
Witty lyrics, Jamie T rivals Alex Turner as story teller of the decade, only I feel Jamie's songs are slightly more edgy and experimentally diverse
6. The Libertines - Up the Bracket
Finishing off what the strokes started, molding the music of this generation
5. The White Stripes - Elephant
Minimalist rock n roll
4. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in the People
Anti minimalist Canadian Super group, lo-fi, quirky well written songs.
3. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
Innovative production, unusual vocals, well crafted
2. Arcade Fire - Funeral
A new surreal world created another Canadian Supergroup, a beautiful album with some perfectly written songs
1. The Strokes - Is This It
This was probably the album that saved a generation. Before this all the kids had were mainstream radio stations, nu-metal, a fizzling out hip hop scene, (ahem) 'vintage' music, and Coldplay. Things were looking bad. Nothing was happening. Then The Strokes arrived. It was the perfect antidote for the times. Everything about this band opened my eyes as a 15 year old adolescent. Skinny jeans and trousers two inches too short, disheveled hair, leather jackets, knackered high tops. This band had an unkempt sexuality oozing from their Stratocaster and Epiphone guitars. Even the album cover (UK version different to US) oozed sexuality and roused my curiosity. A kinky simplistic photograph donning the words "Is This It" in sans, red type, echoes the album's raw simplicity and entices us in. The title is filled with dissatisfaction, disappointment and angst that perhaps ran parallel with the feelings towards the music of the time, but they are most certainly not the emotions provoked by 'Is This It.' So you peel back the cellophane wrapper, swing open the case and pop out that most obsolete music format, the Compact Disk, place it into the stereo, and what can you expect? Music that has influences from drone bands of the past such as The Velvet Underground, catchy and disjointed licks reminiscent of Television, and a sort of dry, don't-give-a-shit energy of proto-punkers The Stooges. The songs are unpolished, roughly cut yet perfectly ensembled. All of it seems so obvious and familiar but no one else had released this album, it belonged to The Strokes. All glory may be rested upon Julian Casablancas' having written the album, but each other Stroke added their own style to the sound. It may be Casablancas' baby, but it could not have happened in the same way without the procreation and influence of Nick Valensi, Albert Hammond Jnr, Fab Moretti, and Nikolai Fraiture. Yes the have grand names, they look good, they have written three great albums (not to such great critical acclaim however), not to mention some stellar solo projects. This is what started it:
If this album had been released a year later it would have been too late, it helped shape the music scene of this decade, paving the way for bands like The Libertines, The Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Arctic Monkeys and many many others. It secured an audience and dare I say a scene for a lot the bands featured in this list. It is an album misunderstood by older generations who simply don't get it, that is because they weren't there which only assures it's place in this generation's hearts.
Is This It is not only the album of the decade but the album that kick started the decade.