21 Century Breakdown: Mike Farley’s Top 10 Albums of the 2000s

The past decade to me was less about musical trends and styles, and more about how I listen to music. I’ve always been a mix tape guy, and as the ‘90s moved to Y2K, I was entering the world of burning mix CDs. But then around 2004, everything changed, and changed for the better, when I discovered iTunes. Now I could not only make up my own playlists from my music collection, but I could order single songs for 99 cents and add those to my collection. Suddenly I was re-discovering songs from my childhood and teen years, and basically every phase of my music-listening life. And I could arrange all those songs any way I liked…playlists galore and, as I described them, “kickass mixes.” Every four to six months, I make a new play list of what I’m currently listening to, and date that as a new Kickass Mix, something I can go back to that makes me remember what I was doing and feeling at that point in time.

As for the actual music I’ve been listening to and enjoying, there are a few acts that have entered my iTunes world this decade that have become favorites that I can’t get enough of, no matter how many times I listen: The Damnwells, the Silver Seas, Ari Hest, Jason Spooner and Butch Walker, to name a few. I know that radio is basically a shell of its former self and we find and listen to music in so many different ways, but I, for one, have fully embraced the digital world of music.

Here are my picks for top albums of the decade.
1. The Silver Seas: High Society
2. Jason Spooner: The Flame You Follow
3. Ari Hest: The Break In
4. Stereophonics: Langauge, Sex, Violence. Other?
5. The Damnwells: Air Stereo
6. The Southland: Influence of Geography
7. The Damnwells: One Last Century
8. Josh Rouse: 1972
9. Butch Walker: Left of Self Centered
10. Paddy Casey: Addicted To Company

  

Mutemath: Armistice


RIYL: Power Station, Wire Train, Gomez

When the members of New Orleans-based rock band Mutemath were beating their heads against the wall with the new material they had written as the follow-up to their stellar 2006 debut, the band almost broke up. The songs just were missing something, and they all knew it. Instead of channeling their energy into a bitter divorce, though, Mutemath enlisted the help of producer Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, The Hives, Elvis Costello), who told them to start over again and write some new stuff. They did, but they did so with an angry passion they lacked before the near-breakup, and the result is a powerful set of new tunes called Armistice. Singer Paul Meany may be one of the best rock vocalists you know nothing about, but that should hopefully change with this groundbreaking album. Right from the start with “The Nerve,” Meany and his band mates symbolically pay tribute to their own rebirth, with the gang vocal chorus shouting, “Set it on fire!” The layers of guitars and strings, slapping bass and tasty drums all mesh well with Meany’s vocals in a way few bands manage to these days. But just like the band’s debut, Armistice has twists and turns and variations in style and texture – especially on the electro-funk of “Backfire” or the title track to the alt-pop beauty of “Pins and Needles” or “Goodbye” to the Goo Goo Dolls-ish “Lost Year.” Whether or not the band does feel like it lost a year, they sure did gain back their self-respect and have delivered one of the best rock records of the year. (Warner Brothers 2009)

Mutemath MySpace page

  

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