The 25 Best Albums of the Decade
As we head into 2020, seems like a good time to take a look back over the past ten years at some of the best Adult Alternative Rock that came our way from 2010 through 2019. There is something about writing out “Best Albums of the Decade” that smacks of hubris. Been an ocean of music put out over the past ten years, so serving up a curated little cup of it as the very “Best Of” it all seems… presumptive? But? I’m doing it anyway. Of course, or this article would end here.
These are personal favorites — 25 personal picks that spoke to my musical heart and soul in the last ten years. Popularity isn’t a factor, though some of these albums are big. It’s about how good, powerful, impactful, and sticky they were for me. What am I still listening to? What albums refuse to stop playing in my head? What stirred my musical soul and satisfied my informed taste as a radio music director?
There are plenty of other Best Music of The Decade lists dominated by recognizable, best-selling names. This isn’t one of those. Hopefully, this undeniably subjective list will tip you off to great music you haven’t heard. Yet.
In December on WBKM.org, our Adult Alternative Rock Radio Station, I went through the decade featuring the best music from each year, day-by-day. I piled up my favorite releases as I went, and reassessed the stack at the end to pick out my best. With thirty or so albums left, I applied some discipline, narrowed it down, and found my Top Twenty-five, getting down to this list.
Let me tell you about all the good stuff…
1. Frank Turner — England Keep My Bones (2011) — What a way to discover the work of Frank Turner! Didn’t know what to expect from this green CD with somewhat archaic looking packaging when it showed up. Was it a folk album? Punk? Neo-classical? Only one way to find out. Put on “Peggy Sang the Blues” — a song about playing poker with the ghost of his grandmother — and was immediately hooked! Frank comes from a punk background and aesthetic, yet his neo-punk sound recalls roots-rock with a nod towards English folk and show music traditions. Or? What we call “Rock n’ Roll”, as Frank reminds us on “I Still Believe”. So many stand-out tracks, from dreaming of hitchhiking with Bob Dylan in “I Am Disappeared” to the medieval acapella tale of the “English Curse”, to the closing atheist’s “hymn” “Glory Hallelujah” — and more. Space prohibits me from listing every song! Still a go-to album for me. Made me a Frank Turner fan. And then — seeing him perform live? One of THE BEST out there right now! Frank knows how to give and take with the audience, creating amazing communal, musical energy. YouTube a live performance from Frank and you’ll see. Or start here, with England Keep My Bones.
2. Darlingside — Birds Say (2015) — My introduction to Darlingside and their harmonious folk-pop-art rock power. The quartet performed live in the radio station studio when their album was released. Their harmonies and instrumental virtuosity stunned, making many instant fans. They’re also some of the nicest people you’ll meet! There is a beautiful intricacy, a playful complexity in the music of Darlingside, in their layered vocal harmonies, their intelligent and thoughtful lyrics, and their amazing arrangements, evocative of some whimsical, steampunk watch-works constructed by four master craftsmen. Their proficiency live is jaw-dropping, each displaying mastery over multiple instruments. They capture much of that essence on Birds Say. “Go Back” was an early favorite, as was “White Horses”. “Harrison Ford” is a lot of fun! “God of Loss”, deep with emotion, comes from the other end of the emotional spectrum, and shows their breadth. “Good for You” means so much I can’t really listen to it currently, given all it recalls internally. This music is meaningful — feels like it means something to love and treasure it. And it feels right to support a band making music like this, this good.
3. Blitzen Trapper — American Goldwing (2011) — It began with a song. Wasn’t hip enough in 2008 to discover Blitzen Trapper when they broke through with their big fourth album Furr, so “Love the Way You Walk Away” from American Goldwing was my first exposure to this Portland, Oregon band. The first time I heard it? Felt like I’d known it my whole life. One of the world’s most perfect songs — in my humble opinion. The album itself kicks into gear with the crashing intro to “Might Find It Cheap” and we’re off! Stories in song take us on a precarious ride with ol’ “Fletcher”, into the isolation of space as an “Astronaut”, down the highway on the back of an “American Goldwing” — each tune a small slice of life. The timeless quality of the band has always struck me — not retro, it defies easy classification by era, though songwriter Eric Earley certainly displays no concern for current music fads. At BT’s best, Earley’s gravelly voice reflects the truth in his words, and the lyric and melody weave together with universal power. It’s simply great American Rock Music, as practiced by the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, and others. And yet, they are pure Blitzen Trapper, their own unique expression, and so it’s happy coincidence their sound fits in that tradition.
4. blur — The Magic Whip (2015) — Ever discover — for yourself — and get majorly into — a brilliant band with a deep history? But very late, after their heyday. As they release a successful reunion album and enjoy a triumphant comeback? No? That was me with blur the first three-quarters of 2015 — my blur year! Sure, I knew “Song 2” (“Woo-Hoo!”) and even “There’s No Other Way”, but not much else. When I heard “There Are Too Many Of Us” and discovered, “This is new blur?” I was intrigued… and then hooked! Got all their old albums, fell in love with so many songs… and proceeded to dig each new track they revealed from their upcoming reunion album! After The Magic Whip arrived, it became my go-to listen that summer, alongside their catalog. “Lonesome Street” was a perfect single, another advance track as well. “Ong Ong” a romantic bit of pop fun. Many different flavors served up by blur — including “Ice Cream Man”. “Magic Whip? Magic Whip? Three Magic Whips…” Sweet Candy — and ices — some strange, like the odd North Korean flavors in “Pyongyang”. Twenty years on from their Brit Pop ascendency, blur returned strong, The Magic Whip proving again how well the band grew and matured as artists since those early days.
5. Midlake — Antiphon (2013) — Antiphon’s title cut opens the album, absorbing you, drawing you in, subtly rising keyboards and layered vocals lulling you into an immersive, transformative musical journey, exploding with highs and plunging to lows, providing hope while still acknowledging despair, celebrating both beauty and sadness. Next comes our first brush with “Provider”, then the first track I heard from this one, the sort-of Pink Floyd-ish track “The Old and The Young”. Antiphon is a beautifully crafted piece of work. The albums on this list are Experiences — the Album as Art Form. Antiphon is such an Experience, from the titular opener through the immense closing track “Provider Reprise”. The term antiphon refers to a medieval call and response in song, usually in church. When their former leader and songwriter quit as they worked on their next album, the rest of Midlake continued on. Though Eric Pulido emerged on lead vocals, the entire band stepped up, singing as one, their chant-like harmonies reflecting the album’s title, evoking ages lost. Midlake found strength in approaching the project collectively. Many as one, they rose to the challenge — heard the call and responded. With Greatness.
6. The Moondoggies — A Love Sleeps Deep (2018) — The Moondoggies… Oh… yeah! When lead track “Easy Coming” appeared, I remembered hearing something special in The Moondoggies’ Tidelands album a few years back, and looked forward to hearing what they were up to now. Loved it. Heavy and melodic. Serious guitar. Fat organ and keys. Harmony vocals. When I was a kid, drawing pictures of imaginary bands on stage, making their music in my head, I’m pretty sure they sounded like The Moondoggies. Especially the quasi-title cut on this album “Underground (A Love Sleeps Deep)” — this is what I’ve always hoped rock would be in the Future.
7. Weyes Blood — Titanic Rising (2019) — I cannot stop listening to this album. Good thing Natalie Mering just released an EP — Weyes Blood’s “Rough Trade Session” — giving us a couple of alternate takes to take in. As I wrote earlier this month, Titanic Rising “grows on you… and grows… and grows… Titanic Rising lives up to its title as you take it in, sinking into your unconscious depths only to then, later, surface again and again like some beautiful, ghostly reminder of things lost. The melodies are striking and timeless, the production subtle and layered, the sounds at times daring and individual. And her voice — on par with great vocalists like Annie Haslam. …an exquisite work of art. Song by song, each tune stands alone to behold, a minor masterpiece, presented for our perusal in her gallery of song, in this her latest exhibition and show.”
8. elbow — Little Fictions (2017) — This is elbow, then? Magnificent? Hmmm. “Magnificent (She Says)” opens the album. Led off the promo tracks, too. Got my attention. I’ve appreciated past elbow albums, and do enjoy their newest, Giants of All Sizes. But Little Fictions really connected with me. Driving a lot at the time, this one, up loud, was a wonderful escape, whether losing myself in the rhythms, or the craft of the lyrics, or the precision of the sound and crispness of the mix. Americans haven’t really embraced elbow. Too British? Singer and principle songwriter Guy Garvey has an unapologetically English delivery, like a jaded, aged former choirboy — think Morissey but with an intellect and wit like Donald Fagen. Except English. Although, I may be thinking Steely Dan because the songwriting, virtuosity and production are that tight — Steely Dan tight. Hitting the high bar.
9. Bright Eyes — The People’s Key (2011) — I remember listening to The People’s Key on my commute so many times in a row, all the way through, I began to worry it was too much. Loved the album! Saw Conor Oberst and the band on tour. Got into Bright Eyes’ older stuff. What do you mean that’s the end? Damn. Turned out I’d missed Oberst’s announcement that this was going to be Bright Eyes’ ending. Maybe it was good I missed it. Some fans’ anticipation of the dissolution of Bright Eyes meant they weren’t really open to the new, and now, final, album. The People’s Key wasn’t even truly appreciated when it appeared — praise at the time seemed to fall on deaf ears. After not listening for a bit, so happy to hear The People’s Key now, again, and sit down at the campfire with Conor and the modern shaman to ponder all the ways we seek truth — music, religion, love, spirituality — how that seeking makes us vulnerable — and how we can’t stop. No one can. And how we need to understand that, understand each other, and create more compassion.
10. Blitzen Trapper — All Across this Land (2015) — Forgive me if I overuse the word timeless when it comes to Blitzen Trapper. BUT… damn, this album is a great Rock Album. As in Damn the Torpedoes great. Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley has said songs sometimes come to him in bunches. This bunch seems made of straight ahead, easy to love rock tunes. Literally, I suppose, in the case of “Rock and Roll (Was Made For You)”. The album’s title track kicks open the doors, however, track one, with a continent-wide embrace and some “Wooh-Woohs” Stones fans might feel borrowed — how much have the Stones “borrowed”, then, eh? “Welcome to Earth, my son…” the lyrics begin, and we’re off, through “Rock and Roll” and its gig-time musings, through the tale of those crazy kids “Mystery and Wonder”, the personal yet universal relationships in “Love Grow Cold” and “Lonesome Angel”. And Side Two isn’t bad. Oh, come on! How many classic albums did most people only listen to one side of? I’m joking, too. I like “Caddillac Road” and, um… “Even If You Don’t”. I do!
11. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — Polygondwanaland (2017) — Five albums in one year. This was the fourth and it was given away — released into the public domain (http://kinggizzardandthelizardwizard.com/polygondwanaland/). Aussie rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard put out five albums in 2017 — Five! Flying Microtonal Banana (February), Murder of the Universe (June), Sketches of Brunswick East, with Mild High Club (August), Polygondwanaland (November), and Gumboot Soup (December). Each album has a different sound & approach, and Polygondwanaland is the Progressive Rock album. “Crumbling Castle” opens the album, about ten minutes long, and though it descends into cookie-monster metal vocals towards the end, it works — a great example of Neo-Prog. The other nine songs are more like 3 other tunes divided into thirds, as tracks 2–3–4, 5–6–7, and 8–9–10 flow together. Any fan of great, intricate arrangements, tight and talented playing, and extended compositions will enjoy this romp. And, it’s free, so… have at it!
12. Nahko and Medicine for the People — HOKA! (2016) HOKA introduced me to the music of Nahko and Medicine for the People. “San Quentin” was the lead track from HOKA, their third album. According to the album’s Press Release, the song “was inspired by Nahko’s visit with the imprisoned man who murdered his father — a father he had never met.’ It’s about forgiveness,’ says Nahko, ‘I went there to forgive this man and in forgiving him, I freed myself. It only hurts yourself to hang onto hate. Forgiveness empowers you to create change.’” “Love Letters to God” is another paean to understanding and spirituality, powerful stuff. Nahko described the album as “the soundtrack of the movement for a better planet.” Nahko has an unusual mixed heritage — according to his bio, he was adopted at an early age and raised by a caucasian family in Portland, Oregon, though he’s 1/3 Native American Apache, 1/3 Filipino and 1/3 Puerto Rican. “He has been channeling this ancestry through his music ever since.” There seems to be a higher consciousness at work in Nahko’s music, some kind of spiritual wisdom shining through. The mix is infused with world beats interpreted a la Talking Heads, Native American chants and flavors, and straight-ahead rock, all brought together with a jam band’s sense of experimentation and recombination. Guests abound, from the sisters from Joseph, to Xavier Rudd, Trevor Hall, Zella Day and more. HOKA showcases a brilliant emerging musical and spiritual voice.
13. The Claypool-Lennon Delirium — South of Reality (2019) — Man, this album is fun! Channels a bit of the Beatles, perhaps some Primus, and spotlights the unique chemistry in Les Claypool and Sean Lennon’s ongoing collaboration. Imagine the music made if John Lennon joined Pink Floyd when The Beatles broke up. Without really being fair, true or accurate, that kind of describes the sound of The Claypool Lennon Delirium. They’re somehow more than that, though… that doesn’t quite encompass the Les Claypool-quirkiness of the thing, nor the esoteric magick Sean Lennon vibe here on South of Reality, a wonderful psychedelic, progressive rock soup. Claypool and Lennon have given us a red and violet lava lamp of an album, colored blobs of glowing, transcendental awareness pushing up through clearer goo, exploding open in waves of expanding perceptions. “Blood and Rockets: Movement One — The Saga of Jack Parsons, Movement Two — Too The Moon” was my introduction to the album. Mindblowing! Parsons is a curious figure, a follower of “The Wickedest Man Alive” Aleister Crowley and friend to a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard — check out my article if you don’t know Jack — and Claypool and Lennon do an able job concisely relaying his tale in this Beatle-esque song. Part two is heavily reminiscent of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” — and I don’t care. Sean Lennon embraces his DNA here, in a way, channeling his Dad, not ripping him off but building on his legacy. And it’s only a part of The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s palette — “Easily Charmed By Fools”, another lead track, is clearly a Claypool concoction, for example, given Les’ driving bass work and snarling vocals. “Amethyst Realm” could fit into Floyd’s early outré. And the sitar-like guitar — and humorous recitation of “Psyde Effects” in the outro — in “Cricket Chronicles Revisited: Part I Ask Your Doctor — Part II Psyde Effects” makes it just a great psychedelic jam, perhaps recalling one of those food bands, the Electric Prunes or maybe the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
14. Dan Wilson — Love Without Fear (2014) — Dan Wilson writes songs that my heart sings. I’m a fan — I have the Deluxe Book version of this one, full of Dan’s own drawings and calligraphy — you see his art in his videos for the album, too. Been a fan since his days in Trip Shakespeare. Great guest list, too: Sara Bareilles, Lissie, Natalie Maines, Sean Watkins, Oliver Krauss, and more. These days, Wilson mostly writes songs with and for other people — he helped Adele pen “Someone Like You” — for example. So there are many great tunes here: Wry lead single “Disappearing”, the brave title track “Love Without Fear”, the majestic “However Long”, folksy ditty “Your Brighter Days” — “When It Pleases You” is Dan’s version of a tune written with Sara Watkins and released on her Sun Midnight Sun solo album in 2012. “A Song Can Be About Anything” is an amazing pop rock song — and “Even the Stars Are Sleeping” with Missy Higgins comes off as simply sublime. A beautiful collection of music.
15. Phosphorescent — Muchacho (2013) — This is an Album with a capitol “A”, beginning with the sunrise — “Sun, Arise (An Invocation, An Introduction)” — and ending with “Sun’s Arising (A Koan, An Exit)”. This was my introduction to the work of Matthew Houck — who is Phosphorescent. Turned out he was a pretty amazing performer! Saw him live a couple of times on this tour, and it was intense, and somehow perfect. “Song For Zula” is majestic, with its lofty strings and the fragile strength of the vocals. The entire album is a mesmerizing masterwork of cosmic Americana, a concept album of sorts about crazy hopes born out of desperation. Surprised me how much this one spoke to my soul — it was subtle in its osmosis.
16. Ryley Walker — Primrose Green (2015) — Ryley Walker fingerpicks an amazing twelve-string guitar — he can be mind-blowing to watch perform, when he doesn’t stray into self-indulgence. Which happens. Walker plays like a force of nature, finger-picking his way through improvised arrangements and jazz flavored progressions that somehow coalesce into songs. The title track won me over from my first listen, it’s one of those timeless tunes. Some songs veer into true folk territory, like “On the Banks of the Old Kishwaukee” or “The High Road”. Others dabble in the jazz world like “Summer Dress” and “Sweet Satisfaction”. Walker hasn’t managed to top this one since. Still hoping he can find his way into another Primrose Green.
17. Frank Turner — Be More Kind (2018) — The message and the album that the world needed in 2018 — still needs, really. The title cut is potent enough — then Turner turns MAGA on its head with his own “Make America Great Again”. The official first single “Blackout” seemed a weaker choice. I appreciate Turner’s glossier commercial songs, but I love his rawer, personal, less detached tunes. Sure, the poppier songs are open doorways drawing folks into Frank’s world and music. But it’s when we hear his heart in a melody and lyric that he really connects with us. The album is a nice blend of FT’s different styles — sometimes sincere, often playful, here somewhat punky, there verging on pop-y, and always, as ever, somewhat wry and cynical with a hint of optimism. And hope. That’s the beauty, here — there is hope. There’s a rather basic message behind the entire album: Things are shitty? Okay… how’s about doing your best not to make them shittier? And? Maybe, just maybe? Even try to do some good.
18. Rodrigo y Gabriela — Mettavolution (2019) — If you’re not yet familiar with Rodgrigo y Gabriela, the duo play classical guitars in a modified flamenco style, weaving in and out of each other’s’ playing in their intricate arrangements — pretty intense watching them perform. They originally made a name for themselves playing instrumental covers in their trademark style, songs by the likes of Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and other heavy bands. Speaking of covers, Rodrigo y Gabriela announced the arrival of Mettavolution by releasing an eighteen minute long cover of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” — it’s amazing! It’s also the only cover on the album — the rest are original compositions that shine. The new originals on Mettavolution are some of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s most mature and intricate, yet soulful and spirited work to date, displaying the pair’s amazing prowess as composers, arrangers and performers, distilling the essence of their craft down into concise, focused presentations. The driving opener, title track “Mettavolution”, propels us into the album, and second track “Terracentric” doesn’t let up. “Cumbe” then dabbles in the more traditional before “Electric Soul” takes us dancing in the new now. We tour through a variety of textures until we wrap up with the Floyd cover closer, Rodrigo y Gabriela’s arrangement breathing new life into the almost fifty-year old composition, their unique take still so evocative of the original, when I close my eyes, I see flashes of Pink Floyd live at Pompeii.
19. Arctic Monkeys — A.M. (2013) — Could not stop listening to this album when it first arrived. There’s a kind of… slinky-ness? That reminds me of Queen, but AM is more rhythmic — there’s a hint of Hall and Oates here as well. Both are on display immediately as the album opens with “Do I Wanna Know”. A.M. is one of the better known albums on the list, so I’ll just single out “Arabella”, “Fireside”, and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” as other personal favorites and move along…
20. Lo Moon — Lo Moon (2018) — Enchanting. There’s something sort of magical and enticing about Lo Moon. This self-titled debut from the Los Angeles-based trio was a long time in coming. I’d been looking forward to its release since the first “single” — the 7-minute plus “Loveless” — appeared — in September 2016. This is finely-crafted art-pop with ethereal overtones and occasional wanderings into Prog Rock spaces. Lo Moon also owes a little something to the mid 80’s sound of Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, Talk Talk and artists of their ilk, as you can hear on the album closer, a favorite, “All In”.
21. decker. — born to wake up (2018) — decker. is Brandon Decker, singer, songwriter, storyteller and performer. He’s been at it for a while, but his latest studio effort was my introduction to the man and his music. He was based out of Sedona, Arizona (though he’s since moved to L.A.), and born to wake up is in some ways a musical reflection of the open spaces of the western desert. It’s another album with a capital “A” like Phosphorescent’s Muchacho, with which it shares some headspace. born to wake up is bookended by “No Beginning, No End” and “No End, No Beginning”, and filled with those desert reflections, from the almost Spaghetti Western sensibilities of “The Matador” to the pure, uplifting, raw spirituality of “Awake”, burning Sage to chase off the evils in “Smudge”, or maybe the smoke is from “Burnin’ Grass”… this album grew on me a lot over time, and after seeing decker. perform live, and getting a chance to meet and talk with him. That can really cement an album in your soul, you know?
22. Bear’s Den — Islands (2014) — There might be an alternate reality where Bear’s Den is the biggest band in the world. Feels like there is, or there should be. In that universe, I wouldn’t have to tell you how brilliant these buddies of Mumford and Sons are, and right now we’d all be talking about just how good their new Winter EP Only Son Of The Falling Snow is (it really is SO good, listen!). The band were introduced by the release of two Eps (Without/Within and Agape) in 2013, and a couple of the songs from Agape show up on Islands the year after, in new forms. “Agape” itself is a powerful album opener — though the band has gotten away from the banjo a bit since this first album, it’s used as such a tasteful part of the mix, there’s a delicacy to the sound (their two more recent albums saw the departure of one member and the addition of more keyboards to the sound). Bear’s Den used the banjo a bit less bludgeonly than their buds in Mumford, soaring a bit higher than that, their music more atmospheric and ethereal at times than their mates. Then there’s the sublime interplay of the voices of Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones, with Andrew on the lead vocals, and Kevin coming in to amplify and power the vocals with his harmonies, some alchemy there.
23. Dan Wilson — Re-Covered (2017) — It’s a covers album… but it kind of isn’t. Dan Wilson co-wrote all the songs on this album. The erstwhile frontman for Semisonic & former member of Trip Shakespeare has been co-writing songs with artists looking to find a new groove or a helpful, fresh perspective. “Big Hits and Lesser-Known Jams, Illustrated, Illuminated, and Re-interpreted” it says on the cover of my book edition. Dan Wilson did calligraphy and drew cool pictures that you find throughout, including his giant center spread with all the songs. But more than that, he writes about songwriting — a little about the writing of each song, and some about the process itself. There’s all kinds of insight into the mind of one of modern music’s more successful contemporary songwriters. And then there’s Dan Wilson’s versions of the songs… His take on “Someone Like You” — the huge hit for Adele — has a sweet, different aura, with him on acoustic guitar accompanied by the Kronos Quartet, instead of Wilson on piano on the original. One of the other big hits Wilson “Re-Covers” is Semisonic’s “Closing Time”, given a whole different feel here — this time with Wilson on solo piano. “Home” — a huge Country hit for Dierks Bentley — gets a new gloss. “Never Meant to Love You”, written with and for Wisconsin-based singer songwriter Cory Chisel, was unknown to me — so it sounded like a fresh, new Dan Wilson tune.They are “covers”, but they’re also the song’s co-writer offering new interpretations of songs he helped write. Beautiful tunes like his co-write with Chris Stapleton “When the Stars Come Out”, and songs heard a bunch, like “Not Ready to Make Nice”, given a new spin — an amazing collection.
24. Darlingside — Look Up And Fly Away (EP) (2019) — Six songs doesn’t quite make up an album. However, the five actual songs here (the sixth is just a little bit of an instrumental thing, really) have brought me such sunshine, light and optimism I have to include the release. It’s gorgeous and soul-lifting stuff! Look Up and Fly Away features five incredibly solid tunes. As many full-length albums can’t boast five solid tunes, quality here outweighs the quantity and merits its inclusion. The band’s Birds Say sits up there at #2. Look Up and Fly Away once again brings together the beautifully blending voices of Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner and David Senft, propelled by percussive play on traditional instruments. There is something sublime and harmonious, sunshine-filled and summery about this EP that recalls Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys at their most transcendent, yet not slavishly so. Darlingside’s lyrics are more evocative in their tales and imagery, and certainly more ranging in subject matter — though “Paradise Bay” could stand alongside any of those summer songs of old. Apropos to its title, Look Up & Fly Away is an uplifting work. It raises the spirits and shines like the summer sun.
25. Various — Day of the Dead (2016) — An incredible 5 CD, six-hour, 60+ artist Grateful Dead Tribute project put together by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner from The National. A giant beast of a compilation, Day of the Dead is also a benefit release, with proceeds going to the Red Hot Organization. The Dessner’s gathered together an incredible array of artists, and in so doing, showed the breadth and depth of the impact of the Dead. Mumford and Sons cover ‘Friend of the Devil’, Kurt Vile and the Violators (featuring J Mascis) do ‘Box of Rain’, The War On Drugs cover “Touch of Grey”. Check out Phosphorescent with Jenny Lewis and Friends doing “Sugaree”. There’s also the Dessner’s band The National’s covers of “Morning Dew” and “Peggy O”. You get Bruce Hornsby’s and DeYarmond Edison’s take on ‘Black Muddy River’ and Courtney Barnett doing ‘New Speedway Boogie’. Plus Jim James & Friends — “Candyman”, Lucius — “Uncle John’s Band”, The Lone Bellow & Friends — “Me and My Uncle”, Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear and The National (featuring Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, So Percussion and Brooklyn Youth Chorus) — “Terrapin Station (Suite)”, Wilco with Bob Weir — “St. Stephen (live)”, Phosphorescent & Friends — “Standing on the Moon”, Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band — “Cumberland Blues”, The Tallest Man On Earth & Friends — “Ship of Fools”, Local Natives — “Stella Blue”, Bela Fleck — “Help on the Way”, Unknown Mortal Orchestra — “Shakedown Street”, Hiss Golden Messenger — “Brown-Eyed Women”, The Lone Bellow & Friends — “Dire Wolf”, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks — “China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider”, The Flaming Lips — “Dark Star”, and many more. The epic scope and scale of this collection merits its inclusion. Impressive. Most impressive.
It’s been a good ten years of music. Had to make some tough choices on what to include, what to leave out. And the thing of it is, a decade is such a long time, with so much music contained within it, everyone’s Top 25 will be different. So here you have mine — 25 great albums from the past ten years, some of which may be new to you. Maybe you’re now motivated to check out some of the music you might have missed… that’s why I do what I do. Thank you for reading. Happy listening!
Mike Luoma is a writer, music director and afternoon host on WBKM.org, audio book narrator, podcaster, science fiction author, independent publisher and comic book creator. Find out what he’s up to at http://glowinthedarkradio.com.