Filed under: RECORDS OF THE DECADE
Between now and the new year, we nine that have been in Los Campesinos! over the past decade (or past year, infact) will be posting personal lists of our favourite records of the decade. We are not dealing in universal terms of ‘best’. Our intention is merely to inform you, dear readers, of our individual favourite albums. Starting this whole charade is drumsman, Oliver Campesinos!.
A TOP TEN
10. Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica (Epic, 2000)
Modest Mouse’s first album on a major and what many people regard as the start of the decline of Modest Mouse being a credible “indie” band. This is still Modest Mouse, but Version 2.0. Having more money enabled Modest Mouse to up the production stakes and therefore the record sounds a lot better than The Lonesome Crowded West. Isaac Brock was clearly worried about signing to a major with lyrics like “Well, it took a lot of work to be the ass I am/ And I’m really damn sure that anyone can/ equally, easily fuck you over.” Isaac does allow the music to talk for itself a lot, no doubt due to the fact that he got his jaw broken whilst recording.
9. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight (Merge, 2002)
Spoon used the studio to their full advantage on their second album with Merge. Using voice and claps as rhythm sections rather than drums on some songs; check out Back to Life to experience this properly. Moreover, adding layers of backing vocals added a lot of texture and mood to pieces. Spoon don’t go over the top with this though, still relying on the core instruments of their band, rather; using the placing of mikes and mixing techniques to make this record really enjoyable to listen to on headphones. Spoon have created a stripped back sounding record whilst still maintaining a high quality of production.
8. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (Domino, 2004)
With The Strokes and The Libertines came a whole wave of so-called “indie” bands. Franz Ferdinand came from a different angle, instead of using jangly guitars they employed four on the floor beats, catchy guitar riffs and wrote songs that were laden with pop hooks. Take Me Out is probably one of the ten greatest pop songs ever written. Franz Ferdinand is filled with catchy songs; every one a hook, that as soon as it comes on the radio or club you instantly know what it is. Franz Ferdinand managed to create a classy and suave image in indie, with smart clothes, literal lyrics and avant-garde artwork.
7. Super Furry Animals – Phantom Power (Epic, 2003)
After the commercial success of Rings Around The World, Phantom Power tends to get overlooked, despite receiving widespread critical acclaim. Phantom Power was a back to basics for the Super Furry Animals. It is a much more fluid album than Rings Around The World. The album has been written so that it flows, gradually changing the feeling of the record rather than a rapid change from one song to the next. The record is much more a guitar record compared to the heavy reliance of electronics on Rings. The song Slow Life is one of my favourite Super Furry Animal songs.
6. The National – Alligator (Beggars Banquet, 2005)
Between Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and Alligator The National seemed to change their approach to how they wrote music. Instead of being a guitar-based band, all the instruments became key parts. Bryan Devendorf’s drumming has become an important part of the songs, the drums almost playing the riffs, allowing the guitars and other instruments to play around the “drum riff”. Matt Berninger seemed to become a stronger and more confident lyricist creating powerful imagery with his lyrics. All of this goes towards making a powerful and inspiring record that shot The National from being nobodies to a widely acclaimed band.
5. Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump (V2, 2000)
Jason Lytle wrote a concept album about how technology and nature cannot get a long; Jed the Humanoid dies from drinking alcohol when he is robot. But somehow Grandaddy manage to make nature and technology work; combining acoustic guitars with electronics and topped off with Jason Lytle’s Neil Young esque vocals. Lytle creates a dark image of the future, writing these songs just as the millennium approached. However, the millennium bug never happened and somehow the music, despite the lyrics, gives you hope for the future.
4. TV On The Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain (4AD, 2006)
TV On The Radio with their second album that propelled them into the limelight combined anthemic rock with rhythm and blue grooves. Tunde’s and Kyp’s soulful vocals create a great contrast to the music created with Dave Sitek’s production. Sitek’s production tucks loops and instruments into nooks and crannies in the songs, when you think it might be over a new synth line comes in. Jaleel Bunton’s drumming could almost be on a hip-hop record, keeping the groove whilst instruments and vocals dance around it. TV On The Radio aren’t an art band, they are a rock band with a soulful edge.
3. Deerhunter – Microcastle (4AD, 2008)
With Microcastle, Deerhunter took everything that they had developed in Cryptograms and added a rockier side to it. Microcastle is very different from early Deerhunter, whilst maintaining the use of ambience and vocal effects; they have now developed a more structured sound. The fragility of Bradford Cox’s lyrics are supported with ambient sounds created by Lockett Pundt, backed up by a superb rhythm section in Moses Archuleta and Josh Fauver. Cox allows the lyrics to be only a small part of the song allowing the music to do the talking, for example Nothing Ever Happened has only about 30 seconds worth of lyrics on it.
2. Broken Social Scene – You Forget It In People (Arts and Crafts, 2002)
With the opening track you think Broken Social Scene’s second record is going to be like the first Feel Good Lost, lots of ambience and post-rock, but then KC Accidental kicks in, in all its majestic glory, and just blows you out of the water, the 6/8 breakdowns really lifting the song, and then it drops allowing Kevin Drew to sing before it all thunders back in. You realise how talented these people are when they can write a great song like Stars and Sons whilst setting up to start recording this record. Despite the amount of people and instruments, David Newfeld manages to control it and turn it into a great sounding record.
1. Arcade Fire – Funeral (Merge, 2004)
When I came to University I was into bands like Iron Maiden and Rage Against The Machine. We started the band and Tom gave me a track called Wake Up by a band called Arcade Fire. I listened to it and it just changed my whole music listening experience. I bought the album and my life changed forever. Funeral is filled with massive songs from the opener Tunnels right through to Wake Up and Rebellion (Lies). Owen Pallett’s arrangements should not be overlooked, filling the songs with raw emotion and creating an anthemic sound. Arcade Fire had raised the flag for indie music and had shown that it wasn’t just men in skinny jeans or cardigans. Funeral was the soundtrack of my university years and I still get chills down my spine when I listen to it.
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