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Your top 10 albums of the decade

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#1 imbenurnot


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Posted 02 August 2019 - 04:46 PM

Since it's 2019, what would be everybody's top ten albums released between 2010 and 2019? I I was thinking about it, and my list would be way different than I would have expected in 2010. I'll put some thought into it, and come up with 10 albums, a description of why, and at least one standout track from each.

I would love to see everybody's thoughts of the same!

#2 JellyRoll Baker

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 08:31 AM

It's kinda crazy how much my listening has changed over the last 10 years. Doing a weekly blues show has focused my listening plus the media landscape has changed so much that I don't absorb the wider pop hits through cultural osmosis any more. So this is in no way an attempt to name the "best" albums. These are just records that have stuck with me. In no particular order:


Big Jon Atkinson & Bob Corritore House Party at Big Jon's




At first listen this is a tribute to the sounds of '50s blues, especially from the Chess label. On 2nd listen you realise that there's something else going on here. There's subtle little modern licks, there's a touch of Louisiana creeping in here and there. If it's an act of recreation it's recreating something that never existed in the first place. I dunno how a record can be so retro and so post-modern but here it is. (PS: The two had a falling out and Big Jon now hates this record. He reckons there's too much high end on the final master. Whatever. I dig it.)



Chris Russell's Chicken Walk Shakedown



Chris held down a weekly residency for a record breaking 53 weeks at Melbourne's legendary Cherry Bar while hashing out this album. Sometimes there were more people in the band than in the audience, which is awkward when you're a two piece. But that just helped hammer the shit together.  Chris' Melbourne meets Clarksdale vibe was shaken up by Cosmic Psycho's drummer Dean Muller ("Dress mod, play punk, think jazz") who gave Chris the base he needed to take flight. This whole album is insanely tight and shaking. This and a six pack are all you need to get your party going.


STANDOUT TRACK: Bad Motherfucker


Jimmy "Duck" Holmes It Is What It Is




In direct apostolic succession from Skip James, this is Bentonia blues straight from the Blue Front . It's a living tradition as it is today and that's kinda what makes it so weird because it's not a throwback, it's the sounds of a living community that knows it's gotta fight to keep its spirit alive. It's like the Voyager gold record from a place just outta Yazoo. The minor key drone carries on, telling its story at its own pace and in its own time and it gets under your fingernails and beneath your skin and you either leave baptised or damned and there's no in between.


STAND OUT TRACK: It Had To Be The Devil

#3 JellyRoll Baker

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 08:32 AM

Hugo Race and Michelangelo Russo John Lee Hooker's World Today




A former Bad Seed (you'll find him all over Kicking Against the Pricks) joins with a buddy in Einstürzende Neubauten's studio to record an album of John Lee Hooker tunes and what the hell else did you expect, an exercise in traditionalism? Guitar drones meet synth drones, soundscapes fade in and out and Hugo strips away the crap to reach the very core of what makes John Lee matter. A better tribute than any of the official releases out out by the estate.

STANDOUT TRACK: Serves You Right to Suffer


Ry Cooder and Corridos Famosos Live in San Francisco




Ry has this habit of playing a song in a way that sounds nothing like the original while remaining completely authentic to the tradition. We get rock and roll and blues and Mexican ballads and Woody Guthrie and Flaco Jiminez coming out on stage and the best damn backing singers you could hope for (Terry Evans people!) and we start to realise that we can recognise folk music as a united thing while respecting each tradition for what it is. Pete Seeger once taught me that the act of making music is itself political. Ry proves it. This is a disturbingly post 9/11 and post GFC album but it never presents itself as such. Music talks as it always should.

STANDOUT TRACK: El Corrido de Jesse James

Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabati 




Two masters doing their thing. It's all too tempting to reduce the rich and varied traditions of West Africa as proto blues (and reduce that to rock and roll because the ultimate aim of all art is to become WHITE PEOPLE STUFF) bit you gotta let it stand on its own feet and draw you in to its own self and this album is a great way to do it. Sure, there's crawling king snakery a plenty but the traditional songs are called out and called upon and you stand on the edge of this album and look back over 500 years without ever forgetting that this is a work of modernism. The music is kinda comforting and relaxing until you really listen and the it's anything but.



#4 JellyRoll Baker

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 08:32 AM

Leo Bud Welch The Angels on Heaven Done Signed My Name




Leo only started recording when he was well into his 70s, performing in his church style taking secular tunes and singing sacred lyrics kinda like a reverse Ray Charles but with deep and crazy Mississippi guitar that's playing in like 4 grooves at once, threatening to run away and lose itself and then coming back home again like wild geese. This is Leo's last record, it only came out after he passed and it's damn short - only like 20 minutes - but it's the one to get because he recorded it with Dan and it's his only record where everything was really miced and recorded proper and sounds the way it should. Just go and goddam get it.

STANDOUT TRACK: Don't Let the Devil Ride


VA God Don't Never Change The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson




Perhaps it's cause I grew up in the 90s but I'm a sucker for a good tribute record. This one is about Blind Willie Johnson and goddam, just look who's on it. If this sounds like your thing then it probably is and you should just go and get it right now.


STANDOUT TRACK: Dark Was the Night


Luther Dickinson Solstice




I really dig it when Luther mellows from the Allstars and Crows thing and just jams on some acoustic tunes. He crams traditions together in a funny way (See Cooder, Ry above - Ry was Luther's babysitter dontyaknow) and just lets it all breathe. This is one of those records you can put on at a dinner party as a litmus test. People who just hear pleasant tunes aren't worth talking to. But some people will get bothered by what's goin on here and they're the ones who know how to listen. 


STANDOUT TRACK: Hallelujah I'm a Dreamer



Chuck E Weiss Red Beans and Weiss




Chuck can't get no respect. He got drunk with Tom and he was in love with the girl who was singing the song and even Johnny Depp championed him (bad choice Chuck, but how were you to know) but he didn't like to record and he didn't like to fly so nobody really knew him. But he's old Hollywood in the right way, the kinda singer who sees blues and rock and show tunes and trad jazz as all part of the American tradition and if you know how to play 'em right (and only if you can play them right) you can mix em up any way you choose and they'll come out right. And they do. 


#5 imbenurnot


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Posted 04 August 2019 - 10:15 AM

Yeah, I need "God Don't Never Change." That lineup looks great, and I just listened to the first Tom Waits song. I'm hooked

#6 The Crawling KingSnake

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 07:01 PM

Oh I love taking the easy route... and finding new music from others.  Off to Apple Music I go....

#7 imbenurnot


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Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:23 AM

Okay, here we go:

The albums I could have predicted myself putting on this list, assuming I knew they would exist.

1. Blunderbuss-Jack White (2012)

This is probably my favorite album Jack has released since Elephant. It has this energy that's only in about half of Lazaretto, and I don't care for most of Boarding House Reach.
Standout tracks: Blunderbuss, Missing Pieces


2. Brothers-The Black Keys (2010)

I like "new" Black Keys. I have plenty of two-piece Black Keys, and am happy to see them evolve a bit, and Brothers is their best album yet. I really like Turn Blue and Let's Rock, but they both feel a bit more homogeneous to be the best. On Brothers, the production crackles and the songs are varied. I am on board!
Standout tracks: Everlasting Light, Tighten Up, Unknown Brother


3. The Whole Love-Wilco (2011)

This is my favorite late-era Wilco album. It opens with some of my favorite Nels Cline playing on "Art of Almost", it ends on a beautiful long musing piece with "One Sunday Morning." Jeff Tweedy's melodies are his best since A Ghost is Born or Sky Blue Sky. Songs like "the Whole Love" just move wonderfully, and songs like "Standing O" still rock like Summerteeth.
Standout tracks: One Sunday Morning, the Whole Love

Edited by imbenurnot, 20 August 2019 - 09:35 AM.

#8 imbenurnot


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Posted 20 August 2019 - 09:32 AM

The most surprising songs here: the musical soundtracks! Okay, so for the last couple of years, I've really been into Broadway shows/soundtracks. Ten years ago, I would not have seen this coming, but please hear me out! I'm writing more because I know these might be a harder sell...

4. Hamilton-Lin-Manuel Miranda (2015)
This is (predictably) the musical which started this trend for me. I'm sure plenty are sick of hearing about it, but damn it is so good! The music is just so damn good, and the hip-hop inspired format works so perfectly for the story being told. Rather than feeling like a history lesson, it works as a character piece about a man with so much to say and communicated at an indescribable pace, yet never had enough time. This works as a concept album, even if there were no show attached. The lyrics and rhymes ridiculously deft and inventive (my favorite could be when he rhymes "apprenticeship" with "sent a ship")This album showcases how powerful choral pieces and musical-style harmonies can be, and they're not really found anywhere else. The cast is spectacular, too. Daveed Diggs as Lafayette/Jefferson gives one of my favorite performances of all time (more on him later), Christopher Jackson as Washington has the velvety voice of a deity, and Renee Elise Goldsberry's Angelica Skyler fucking soars.
Standout tracks: My Shot, Yorktown, One Last Time

5. Hadestown-Anais Mitchell (2019/2016)
Okay, so I'm kind of talking about two different albums for the same musical. Is it against the rules? Sure, but the rules are arbitrary and the points made-up!

Hadestown is the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice told retold in an industrial revolution-ish Hellscape with a blues/jazz written by Mitchell. This show started as just a concept album by Mitchell (2010), then there is a cast recording from workshops in 2016 with a perfectly condensed version of the story onto one disc, and the whole original Broadway cast came out this year 2019.

The 2016 album is probably the more approachable version of the musical with the more consistent energy, but the relationship between Orpheus and Eurydice comes off a bit undeveloped. The cast is different, too, especially a wildly different Hermes performance. In the 2019 Broadway cast, Hermes comes off as more of an old blues-man. I love the whole Broadway cast recording, but if you're skeptical of the musical trappings, then listen to the 2016 one AT LEAST!

Oh, and in either recording, Patrick Page's Hades sings with a booming bass that I can't picture anybody replacing.

Standout tracks: Chant (Persephone and Hades fight back in Hadestown, and Eurydice worries about starving to death)

Wait for Me (Orpheus tries to follow Eurydice to Hadestown after she has already made her deal with Hades)

6. Come From Away-Irene Sankoff and David Hein (2016)

September 11, the musical! Okay, less glibly than that, it's the story of when 38 planes were diverted to the the small town of Gander in Newfoundland, Canada immediately following 9/11 attacks when the US airspace was closed. The town has a giant airport from when planes used to have to gas up across the Atlantic, but it now it's a town of 7000 people whose population doubled during the events. I love the story because it's very matter-of-fact, rather than plot centered, and gives a wonderful slice of life view of these characters as they come together.

Musically, this is probably the least typical for me, very Broadway with a Celtic flavor to it. But the whole story is told in the songs on the soundtrack in a way that makes it feel like a radio drama, and I really can't tear myself away. The flaws still make it more endearing, like the ridiculous accents (the cast members are all playing multiple characters, alternating between the town people and the plane people).


Maybe I'm biased ranking this so high, since it just toured through Cleveland and was the best musical production I've seen! Oh well, paratext matters.

Standout tracks:
Welcome to the Rock
28 Hours


Edited by imbenurnot, 20 August 2019 - 09:33 AM.

#9 imbenurnot


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Posted 02 September 2019 - 10:16 AM

I should finish this list...

7. The Idler's Wheel...-Fiona Apple (2012)



I had never listened to Fiona Apple until about 2014, so she was all new to me. Sure, I love Extraordinary Machine, but this album is easily my favorite album of Apple's. It manages to hit my exact aesthetic. The instrumentation is sparse, the bass is upright, the percussion is syncopated, and the vocals are bare and strong. The album is perfect stretching of jazz feel onto a pop framework (pop onto a jazz framework?).

Standout Tracks: Periphery, Hot Knife.


8. Sound and Color- Alabama Shakes (2015)



If I knew this band existed ten years ago, I would have predicted this album making my list. It has great guitar sounds and well written songs, and Brittany Howard's voice sets is apart from a lot of music. I love the texture of the songs, with the different guitars playing chords in different registers. The high pitched, distorted guitar chords are exactly what I want to hear and try to play in my own music.

Standout tracks: Gimme All Your Love, Future People, Sound and Color

9. The Phosphorescent Blues- Punch Brothers (2015)



I'm pretty new to Chris Thile, and have been listening to his work and a lot related modern folk/bluegrass in the last few years, but this album has really stood out to me. It feels like prog rock, but for bluegrass instead. Thile's mandolin playing is incredible, as is everybody else in the band. The vocal harmonies, fiddle lines, banjo picking, and guitar parts swirl effortlessly. There's a mix of long, the aforementioned prog-folk and great Beatles-ish pop. The track "My Oh My" has quickly become one of my favorite songs of all time.

Standout tracks: "My Oh My, Little Lights, Familiarity

10. Splendor and Misery- clipping. (2016)



EVERYBODY LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM! It is an experimental afro-futuristic rap album about a slave revolt on a spaceship, where the leader ends up alone, falls in love with the computer, and ends up having to trust his future to the vast void of space (I think, I'm actually not great at following the story). This album was nominated for a Hugo Award (sci-fi fa), and is only the second album to ever be. The MC is Daveed Diggs, who was the best member of the Hamilton cast, and he is AMAZING on this album. The music is atmospheric and haunting, and there are no rap-cliches. There are gospel-ish interludes, and Daveed raps like an angel.

Standout tracks: A Better Place, Air 'Em Out, The Breach, All Black, etc....

Of course, now I'm really listening to Rhiannon Giddens, and she may belong on this list. WHO KNOWS?!




Edited by imbenurnot, 02 September 2019 - 10:45 AM.

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