Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Best of the Noughties

Bloody hell!  Here we are again.  Where did the year go? Looks like I blinked and missed it again. Even worse, looking at the calendar shows that it is nearly 2010 and that actually, a whole decade seems to have got behind us since those millennium celebrations, without so much as a by your leave.  Perhaps now is the time to have a look back at some of my personal favourite moments from the last 10 years?  Oh, all right then...

PJ Harvey – Stories From the City Stories From the Sea (2000). The decade got off to a cracking start with this effort from Polly Jean who suddenly discovered tunes but remembered to wrap them up in her finest edgy, raw and emotional playing.

REM – Reveal (2001). Possibly my favourite REM album to date having a symphonic ‘Pet Sounds’ ambience to it and some tunes that even Brian Wilson would’ve approved of. Consistent and accomplished if perhaps lacking a little in energy, but then ‘Accelerate’ didn’t turn out that well, did it?

Aimee Mann – Lost in Space (2002). Poor old Aimee. She just never seems to get the recognition she deserves and yet this is another fine album in a long line of fine albums packed with hummable tunes and astute lyrics. If only people would take notice.

Bangles – Doll Revolution (2003). Like the eighties had never gone away, the girls regrouped and produced what may yet be their best album ever. Time apart had given them space to grow musically and grow up emotionally. The result is this sparkling collection of songs given the classic updated psychedelic treatment overlaid with breathtaking harmonies.

Keane – Hopes and Fears (2004). Keane seem to have lost their way now but this debut is still as fresh as a daisy boasting gorgeous melodies, passionate vocals and a real sense of togetherness as a musical outfit. There was an endearing earnestness about them then that is still attractive now.

Sing-Sing – Sing-Sing and I (2005). The final curtain for Emma Anderson? Sing-Sing is no more and she has disappeared without trace leaving behind this little gem. The ex-shoegazer expands her palette to include trance-like ambients, heartbreaking ballads and jaunty sing-a-longs all wrapped up in stylised arrangements. Fab.

Nerina Pallot – Fires (2006). The Uk’s great unsung talent and answer to Tori Amos issues a bunch of superior singer-songwriter fare on her own label following being unceremoniously ditched by Polydor. Forget ‘The X Factor’, THIS is real talent.  Also, 'Real Late Starter' is on the bench as first substitute in my 'Song For Me' list.

Kim Wilde – Never Say Never (2006). The blonde-next-door returns from the garden as her 50th year beckons and produces a stunner of an album. New material rubs shoulders with reworks of old well-loved songs like they were long lost siblings. Guitars howl and drums reverberate in what could well be my favourite album of the decade. Pity the UK ignored it but the Europeans love it…and they’re right.

Lady Gaga – The Fame (2008). The new Madonna crashes the scene in the usual way: masses of outrageous sexual imagery and even more ridiculous costumes. The trouble is, she can play and she can write a great tune – ‘Just Dance’, ‘Poker Face’…the list goes on. Can she keep this up? Only time will tell.

Ting Tings – We Started Nothing (2008). The Mancunian duo has risen in meteoric style this year and although this is not an all time great album, it shows enough pep to give them the benefit of the doubt. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Bat For Lashes – Two Suns (2009). Brighton’s Natasha Khan and her exemplary band have created a beautiful ambient world full of strange exotic instruments and shifting rhythms. Their Glastonbury appearance was quite mesmerising.

Little Boots – Hands (2009). Bolstered by a series of YouTube ‘at home’ videos, Victoria Hesketh has showed herself to be a rising star destined for the top. Blessed with a prodigious song writing talent, her down to earth personality was not best served by a slightly over-produced album. Yet the promise is there – no doubt about it.

Well, that’s it for this year. I’m off for a well earned break. I’ll see you all in the New Year. In the meantime have a look at Bloggerhythms' list - different and provocative!  Happy Christmas!


Jayne said...

I like this post - be great to see what you'd choose for each past decade as well! (Hint for future posts). I am very impressed by your taste in music - I don't know half of what is above, but that list seems to encompass everything that serious music obsessives should like! I'm not sure what albums stands out for me as most impressive from the whole decade - let's see - The Beatles '1', Moby 'Play', Kaiser Chiefs 'Employment', Amy Winehouse 'Back to Black'. Not many, eh?!

musicobsessive said...

Thanks Jayne. I think having only a few 'stand-outs' is a good thing as it shows that they really are the best. My lists always start with good intentions by being orderly and only a few long and then the 'yes but what about...' entries start arriving and gatecrashing until the list is heaving with rowdiness and some of them are vomiting in the flowerbeds.

Oh well, perhaps I'll have a go at the other decades and see what happens.

Charlie said...

Very intersting list Martin. Most of these discs I have never heard! You're still hip!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Charlie - not so much hip as selective! I've checked out your list and others'and find I haven't heard of many of the constituents either. The positive to be drawn is that there is still good stuff out there but it's better hidden. With the market so saturated it's not surprising that one person cannot possibly know about everything.

That's why we all publish our own lists - to help guide others:)

YourZ said...

Hi, I stumbled on this and have to say that while there is lots on here I wouldn't have picked myself, I am impressed with the breadth of your selection.

musicobsessive said...

Hi YourZ - thanks for stumbling by! My list was never going to be to everyone's taste as it is very 'me' ie packed with female vocalists!

Nevertheless, I hope it acts as a catalyst to those looking for something new. Check them out on YouTube or Spotify and feel free to look in again:)

Perplexio said...

Interesting selections. I was unaware of the Bangles release, thanks for the heads up on that. I've always been a fan of their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's Hazy Shade of Winter but their other stuff is good too. Susanna Hoffs always had the most captivating eyes in their music videos.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Perplexio - seems it was Hoffs' captivating eyes that split them asunder in the late 80s! Do check this album out as it is a great collection with contributions from all four. Michael Steele toured with them for a year or two but is now permanently retired. The remaining three are still playing - have a look on YouTube as there are occasional live snippets.