dinsdag 31 december 2019

The Top 100 of the 10s, part 1

And here we are, folks. Ten days into this adventure. Today all will be revealed. Have you gathered, knowing Wo.'s faves from all these years on the blog, what to expect today? Let's not keep you in suspense for too long.

The 10s come to an end today. Another decade gone. Tomorrow this blog, including the magazine years, goes into its third. In 2021 it is 20 years ago the first issue was published, more as a joke than anything else. To tease the editors of our internal OPTA magazine as they did not allow us one musical article per issue. Well, the results of that are known. You are still bothered by us and in different ways, as I discovered a knack for writing about music and really truly enjoying formulating my thoughts and feelings that come with listening to music. Each day you can find something on these pages. In February it is eight years ago the blog started and this Christmas it was three years ago the magazine ended. I do not know how long .No has his radio show 'Kairos' on Concertzender, but it could well be close to 10 years. All from a joke that became so much more; and of course a deep love for music. We both found our different ways into the world of music.

What kind of decade was the 10s musically? For me a great one. No, I am almost never impressed like I used to be when I was so much younger. It is also impossible, simply because there is so much baggage in front of that new stuff. References, memories, albums and songs that will always remain my absolute favourites until I either die or can't remember anymore. Having said that, I am privileged to have gotten to know so many great albums and at times the artists behind that music because of this blog. To receive their music, to be able to form my thoughts and turn them into words on this blog, for being invited to their shows and shake hands afterwards. In some cases have them perform in my living room for friends, family and neighbours. To be amazed that at times I find a quote from this blog actively used by an artist or label. Even on the back cover of a cd.

And so, yes, there are a few bands that have impressed me in deep and profound ways. Bands that the average person has never heard of, yet ought to have. Ideally right here and now. You will find several of them in this final part of the list and some come from The Low Countries as well. Like one of the members of one of these bands once said to me: "but we touched you on a very special level" and that is exactly what happened with several of the albums here. There's hope for everyone, just as long as you open yourself to it, to allowing yourself to be surprised, to the new, to the beauty of being alive, like I am privileged to undergo every once in a while still.

All thanks to the love, dedication and hard work of musicians that have a drive to produce new music. Against the digital tide, against trends, against all odds, simply because they have to. It is all this and my inner self I try to capture in writing. When truly inspired it has become so easy and so much fun to reach for.

Enough said, let's go.

10. Suck It And See. Arctic Monkeys (2011)
The most important new band of this century as far as I am concerned. The final album of this decade did not make it here. In the end I was somewhat disappointed after all. Suck It And See still has that touch of brilliance that I heard  at the time of release. After the slightly disappointing 'Humbug' Suck It And See delivered with great singles and album tracks.

9. Supermoon. Sophie Hunger (2015)
Thank you again, Erwin. Sophie Hunger is another artist that I discovered early this decade and enjoy so much following since. 'Molecules', her last album to date may not have made it to this list, it is a daring move again. Supermoon holds it all. There are so many extremely strong songs on it. Guided by super guitarist Geoffrey Burton who makes sounds as if by magic escaping his guitar and amp, this album is mystical, beautiful, large, small, somehow all in one. Simply one of my favourites of the 10s.

8. Tim Christensen & the Damn Crystals. Tim Christensen & the Damn Crystals (2011)
The only album by Tim Christensen in this decade but what an album this is. The 10 minute opening song is a mini rock opera of giant proportions and from there the adventure only continues. This should have been the album opening the world to this Danish ballad rocker but it turned out the album after which he seems to have decided that his solo career was over. Such a shame. Also for the Damn Crystals as they were a great backing band, supporting the talent of Tim Christensen fully. One impressive album indeed. (In 2011 it would have been my #1 record, but it is not in that list. Somehow I left it out while scoring and did not notice that until I saw the magazine in print, ahum.)

7. Always Ascending. Franz Ferdinand (2018)
Yes, my favourite band bar one of the 00s hold their own. Both albums of the 10s have found their way into this list, with the last album as the highest. Franz Ferdinand with a new line up seems to have regained that little bit of playfulness that had seemed to have gone missing. As if the band took itself just a little bit too serious. Always Ascending simply sparkles and the title track is simply mindboglingly good.

6. This Is All Yours. Alt-J (2014)
Everyone votes for the debut album. I still can't do very much with 'An Awsome Wave'. The coin dropped with This Is All Yours. Probably the most played LP in my newly added collection. There is so much adventure on this album. The band wasn't content until everything was explored and mapped. A song wasn't ready until it all was investigated. That is what I hear and appreciate so much. That weird voice as if on helium the whole time is added over it all and the result is simply striking.

5.Veggie Patch In The Desert. Elenne May (2016)
Late in 2015 an email dropped into my mailbox. If I was interested to listen to a new EP by a then totally unknown band to me. Something that was still an exception at the time. Thus Sheep For Fibre came into my life, after two more EP releases morphing into the album with this name. The stately, intense, pure and beautiful world of Elenne May unfolded for me a little bit more every few months into 2016. This is such a beautiful album and ought to be part of the Dutch pantheon of pop albums. And despite all these raving words, The Netherlands is not down to its final contribution.

4. . David Bowie (2016)
I had bought this album on a whim on David Bowie's birthday. I had read the reviews and really, truly thought this is not for me. Let's call it a deep rooted Bowie sentiment or instinct that I bought it anyway. In the evening I kept playing it, deeply impressed and kept doing so on the 9th. In the evening I started writing and had a review ready for the following morning. The radio was on as my girlfriend had stayed over. She likes the radio on in the morning. After she left, I opened my laptop to check the text before posting on the blog. Giel Beelen was talking to the singer of Tringerfinger and said hey, wait a moment, this is something I need to check. Beelen fell silent and the singer, after what seemed ages (for live radio) asked what's a matter? "It says here David Bowie has died", answered Beelen. And here I was checking the final words and had to start my review sort of over.

Blackstar was a well orchestrated goodbye album, Lazarus his farewell gift to the world. Almost four years later Blackstar still stands like monuments do. The hectic rhythms, the weird songs, none of it has lost anything of its power. the album is up there with Bowie's very best albums. What a way to say goodbye, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen.

3. Another Place. Maggie Brown (2017)
Talking about albums that touched me deeply. This one sort of resonated within me and sang itself into my core and fibres. The beautiful pop music of Maggie Brown reaches fantastic levels on this album. Soft toned, harmonically so well worked out and with a song like 'Hail To The Rain' it holds a single that goes with the absolute best and then I'm talking The Beatles. Luckily not all albums are this good, because I would not have a life left.

2. Rivers & Coastlines: The Ride. TMGS (2013)
And so Belgium defeats The Netherlands musically in the end. Erwin's highest doted tip in this list. When I heard 'Tell Everyone' for the first time I almost fell off my chair. The mariachi trumpets that come in several times during the song like an instrumental chorus. Each time the tingles run down my spine. Peter Lodiers soft, highish voice leads the album in and just listen what happens from then on. A Hammond organ, a pedal steel, harmonies, a great guitar part and then the trumpets kick in. This is musical heaven. When the album easily keeps this level of music going, you have a winner. Are you paying attention, folks? But why is this album #2 then? Because,

1. AM. Arctic Monkeys (2013)
Those paying attention already would have noticed that I labelled Arctic Monkeys the most important band of the past two decades. The album opens with that great single 'Do I Wanna Know?' That strong, riff-driven song is the baseline of AM. A baseline the band easily holds up to the end. The rough and wildness of the first album was gone, total style came in return, with great riffs and melodies with more than enough excitement to go around.

I had truly expected that the band would take that next step within a few years and make that album that would have been as great as 'Revolver' and 'Sgt.' Pepper's', making Arctic Monkeys, perhaps not as great, but certainly musically as important as The Beatles once were. Perhaps that is impossible in this decade, for a rock band a least. Arctic Monkeys took a step back and waited five years before coming with a new album, that in the end is too much style and not enough brilliance. For now AM is the culmination of a fascinating musical ride that for certain will continue with some great records to come.

Fin 2010 - 2019.


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