Rockfeedback Records of the Decade - #50-26

22 Dec 2009

listen mate, i checked – 69 love songs came out in 1999 in the ‘states, so is technically ineligible.  shame, as otherwise it'd probably have won.  you’re thinking though, and that’s a good sign.  anyway, on with the penultimate part of the list!


50)  The Streets – Original Pirate Material

Once you view the artwork and listen to the contents of what's on offer here, you'll realise that never before has a name for an artist been so apt. In every way, Original Pirate Material successfully and effectively rubs off the sentiment of urban council-estates, run-down expectations and the general frustrations involved with copping off or forming relationships during a youthful age, doing this in the form of accessible and utterly infectious melodies and rhythms. If that means Skinner has to borrow certain other characters to sing over the top or implement the odd sample here and there, then so be it - either way, what results is bold, expectedly in-yer-face, and the most dynamic and potentially influential beats-record the UK had seen for years.  [TOBY L]


49)  Super Furry Animals – Mwng

Choosing the best Super Furries album is a pretty hard task but Mwng is certainly up there in its own special way. For an album recorded in two weeks for six grand to become the best selling Welsh language LP of all time was no mean feat. Mwng was full of beautiful melodies; ‘Ymaelodi A'r Ymylon’ was a bit like Blur’s ‘Coffee and TV’, with layer upon layer of harmonising vocals, while ‘Nythod Cacwn (Beehive)’ is a calm song about being stung by bees, the translated chorus being ‘Don’t pick on me/Oh! Beehive’. Lovely. ‘Ysbeidiau Heulog’ was their self confessed concession to ELO, full of the psychedelic sounds that have become a trademark, with a harmonic chorus to boot. Most of us might not understand one word of Mwng, but that really, really doesn’t matter. [KERI KENNEDY]


48)  Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand

When Alex Kapronoas and his troop of fellow thin fashionable Glasgow inhabitants showed up it was obvious right away that something had changed. Even the way their surprised faces all looked at each other in mock-shock as the derivative garage rock beginning of ‘Take Me Out’ slowed down out of nowhere, and gave way to the disco hi-hats and angular guitar jig which made up one of the choruses of the decade. The foundations were laid, and these now adult art school indie-popsters who now just wanted to “make the girls dance" had their way. The indie-disco took on a new life, as the kids stormed the clubs with a whole new vigour. This glitzy rough-around-the-edges triumph of retro indie-smashes introduced one of the most fun and credible pop acts of the last ten years. This self-titled debut may prove to be their zenith - full of just the right level of pastiche beat combo references, scratchy punk bits and massive landscape changing songs, their follow-ups have sadly not felt at all as satisfying.  [DANIEL MONSELL] 

47)  Foals – Antidotes

When Antiodes first found its way into the CD player a breath was held until the brass section walk off in the dying moments of ‘Tron’. It was a nervous, expectant, ravenously excitable breath that soon turned into a howling shriek of pleasure.  This tightly wound, tank-top wearing jerk-pop was the sweep of neatly packaged, bright starched white that British music was gagging for.   Out of the box intelligence is plastered with impatient guitar loops, a rear-wheel drive rhythm section and covered in handfuls of glittering beep and brass. Just under an hour of pure heart swells.  [SOFIE JENKINSON]



46)  Spankrock – Yoyoyoyoyo

This is a finger licking, c*ck sniffing, abusive f*ck pocket of delight. The rhymes are filthy: spitting in your mouth and slapping (theirballsagainst) your ass, the beats are bootylicious... no, the beats are damp - and you know the damp I mean, damp as in dripping through panties covering your smut buttons with aural pleasure (Jesus, Tim... – Ed.). But this is no misogynistic piece of retro-rap: it's romantic. It's intimate. And when Spank Rock suggests his hand holding pride at a movie date, Amanda Blank takes his potty mouth and scats all over it. XXXchange brings Baltimore beats that still sound unbeatable fresh today (perhaps why not even Spank Rock has completed a proper follow up) and for one of the two few times in this lacklustre decade there was fair claim that music had been pushed forwards. [TIM DELLOW]

45)  Johnny Flynn – A Larum

In a decade full of tyranny and chaos we all need a bit of optimism and Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit's debut album, A Larum, a variation on the flamboyant Shakespearean call to arms, delivers this with a wisdom, of such insight that belies the songwriter’s 25 years.   Flynn is a raconteur. Enchanting his audience as much with the time-worn characters he plays within his innocent tales, as with the music itself which is playfully jaunty. Lyrically there is no doubt that Johnny Flynn has some talent and loose comparisons to Dylan should not be taken lightly.  Interlaced with sharp observation and (Sussex) wit, Flynn stitches together ideas about religion, faith, love and loss. ‘The Wrote and the Writ’, in my opinion a stand-out track on an album with no 'fillers' to speak of, wonderfully showcases his execution of the English language and the clear influence that poets such as Shakespeare and Wilde have had on this one-time actor.   This debut holds all the excitement and promise of an exceptional first date kiss. [JO-ROSIE HAFFENDEN]

44)  Bright Eyes – Lifted, Or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground.

This list is a combined effort of many music lovers and writers alike, and I'm sure whichever album wins will be deserving and great, but it won't matter to me as much as this album has, and continues to do.  I was 13 years old when I first accidentally downloaded a Bright Eyes song called, 'Love I Don't Have to Love'. It may sound unbelievable, but that song completely changed my life. It was as if this passionate, and admittedly out-of-tune boy who was singing about all these deeply personal feelings, had gone into my head, seen what was there, and transformed it into a wonderful song. I had to hear more, but alas, I couldn't seem to find the album anywhere, only a few more songs here and there. Nevertheless, these new songs had a similar effect on me, and my yearning was only inflamed.  Finally, on my 14th birthday, an ex boyfriend walked up to me at school and presented me with Lifted. Immediately it became my favourite album, and I knew then that 6 years later, I would still be in love with it.  Lifted is an album for anyone who has ever felt sad and doesn't know how to talk about it; this album will talk to you about it, it will show you how to feel. It completely captures that oh so teenage feeling of not knowing your place in the world yet. Some are put off by Conor Oberst's voice cracking and mix of musical styles, but to me it just makes what he's singing all the more real. He has conviction in each and every lyric that he sings, and that passion comes across in his voice. His songs go beyond the usual tales of lust and lost loves and instead tells stories about the intricacies of life, and how to deal with heartbreak. It's gotten me through so many bad times, and I know that it still will be at the end of the next decade.  [IZZY JAMES]

43)  Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Listening to this album in the summer, it feels like a fitting season to hear it. I also know that when I listen to it in the autumn or in winter or spring it will feel just as fitting. The philosopher Blaise Pascal once said "Nature is an infinite sphere of which the centre is everywhere and the circumference nowhere." Fleet Foxes encapsulate nature; the universality of timeless beauty is contained within every aspect of their makeup. Its real music. Let it grow and its roots will set deep.  [SAM CRAWFORD]




42)  PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea

Pure, raw, unadulterated SEX was at something of a premium in the post-millennial Britpop wilderness, but when PJ Harvey's primal Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea dropped in 2000 it offered grown-up depictions lust and desire by the bucketload.  From the assured, sultry opener 'Big Exit' ("I wanna pistol in my hand...") to the single-minded carnal charge of 'This Is Love’, these twelve stripped-down tracks provided welcome respite from the whiney acoustic ploddery and nu-metal's unseemly macho posturing that dominated at the turn of the century. Hell, it even made Thom Yorke sexy via the Radiohead singer's vocal contributions, including the aching ‘The Mess We’re In’. He wants it, she wants it, and there are helicopters. Phwooar. [MATT TOMIAK]


41)  Beirut – The Gulag Orkestar

The Gulag Orkestar is not the most multifaceted album on the planet, but the very fact that it manages to keep up its intensely sad but proud orchestration itself is really worth sticking with it for. There's never a point where the aesthetic focus slips, which isn't to say that there may not be any points where you'll find yourself tiring of it, but it's precisely albums like this that you can keep coming back to again and again just for their sheer originality and power of their sound.  [CHARLIE POTTER]




40)  Regina Spektor – Soviet Kitsch

A bipolar album, at its height and middle point swinging from the insufferably cute whispering between Regina and her cousin 'Bear' on '***' to the all-out guitar assault of 'Your Honor', made all the more reeling following the piano balladry that preceded it. And those piano ballads were a breath of fresh air to a genre Vanessa Carlton and Norah Jones were slowly crucifying. Full of dream states, literary allusion, death and sadness, lightness and laughter, love, life and suicide. And all conveyed by that voice - we'd heard nothing like it. Frankly, anything with 'Us', 'Chemo Limo' and 'Carbon Monoxide' on it would have been a 5* classic on the merit of those three tracks alone. That the rest of the album not only supports its songs-of-wonder, but in fact can surpass them in scope, and that previously relegated tracks creep forward over time to become your favourite songs, are infallible marks of a truly classic album. In every sense Soviet Kitsch was a masterpiece, and a form we hope to see Regina return to, but in either case a perfect piece of work left behind for us to fawn over and cherish.  [KEVIN MOLLOY]

39)  Panda Bear – Person Pitch

Much to Dylan’s chagrin, we spent much of the decade looking back as a means of moving forward. But not Panda Bear. He was looking in, on that last continent of man, the self. Because Person Pitch is obsessed with itself, a collage of half memories, found sound samples and never ending internal loops, not unlike the artwork that adorns its front cover.  As such, it’s a deeply personalised record, in that it couldn’t have been assembled (I think that’s the appropriate verb) by anyone else. I don’t know how Person Pitch happened or at what point it started to make sense, but hidden somewhere in these nine waking dreams was a logic that dictates a start, middle and an end. But I can’t find it. I’ll leave that to Panda Bear to know. I just hear waves of insect colonies, waterslides, school playgrounds and stoned love. Endless, endless stoned love.  [STEVE PIETRZYKOWSKI]

38)  Daft Punk – Discovery

Having monopolised the dance world with Homework, Daft Punk knew they had to come up with something supremely special to even come close to repeating the trick. Never ones to do things by half measures, the duo resurfaced three years later with the LP-and-film project Discovery, accompanied by feature-length cartoon Interstella 5555. And not ones to crack under pressure (robots, of course, do not feel pressure), you press play and Daft Punk serve up four of the best singles of this, or any, decade. ‘One More Time’, as we all know, manages to be the most exuberant and tear-jerking moment in modern pop; ‘Aerodynamic’ destroys you with hyper-distorted arpeggios; ‘Digital Love’ proves that machines have hearts too; and ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’, with it’s progression from assembly line funk to short-circuiting freakout, has inspired everyone from Kanye West to the fame-hungry on YouTube who happen to possess hands. Elsewhere on Discovery we are treated to vocoder-heavy Barry White parody on ‘Something About Us’, rambunctious hell-raising on ‘Crescendolls’, and a sort of apocalyptic ball on ‘Superheroes’, where we are told repeatedly that there is “love in the air”, and that we must dance or die. It is this that sums up the Daft Punk ethic most of all, and the thing that makes Discovery such compelling and vital listening – we are allowed to extract pleasure from it, but equally we must never forget that it is our robot masters doing a gracious favour to us, and we must act and move accordingly.  [FRED MIKARDO-GREAVES]

37)  Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

Each one of these songs has a place in your life, each one grants you the satisfaction that someone empathises, someone knows what it's like, and that if we're governed in every sense by a wider society, freedom comes from creating our own society, our own community.  This is the only hope that's offered. And it's all you should take. Because it's true. And this is one of the only bands ever, who have the courage to tell you that truth. Because it's not easy. Anyone can scream that 'this is for the poor', and attempt a rebellion, performing as a 'rock-star' as an alternative from their comfy thirty-grand job. But very few people, real people, can whisper in your ear that 'we sit and we sigh and nothing gets done, we just get old,' and hold your hand and hope. Silent Alarm offered this assurance. And we all need that.  [TIM DELLOW] 

36)  Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell

Karen O brought the moves, but the real colour throughout Fever To Tell is Nick Zinner. The way he makes those furores of sound - ranging from Rage Against The Machine righteousness ('Cold Light') to soaring floor-fillers ('Pin'), or avant-garde trippy-dom ('No No No'), and gentle understatement ('Maps'), once the pedals are pushed, that distortion kicking in, nestling alongside his infectious licks, God knows where you could head next. Ending in the equally epic likes of 'Y Control' with its late-evening eeriness, and a slumbering, sleigh-bell bandying 'Modern Romance', this isn't so much a class introduction as a simple classic.  [TOBY L]



35)  Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

This album is perhaps best summarized in the middle bit in ‘Useful Chamber’, where it drops out to just David Longstreth, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle's incredible vocal harmonies. Just when your jaw has dropped a little too much and you've let your head tilt back at the sheer heavenly splendour of such remarkable music, it then literally gets evenbetter, as they raise their pitch to a bizarre semitone up in a way you didn't think humans really could. This is a band that's sheer brilliance was already hard to touch, but with Bitte Orca they still managed to take it to all new highs. Just as David Byrne led an incredible group of rock musicians to stupendously exploratory realms, Dave Longstreth seems to be doing something similar (yet altogether different) with Dirty Projectors. This record was particularly astonishing for it's obvious introduction of modern R'n'B overtones - Bitte Orca showcased a band not just hammering out experimental alt-sounds to a hipster New York crowd - they'd made an incredible soul record for the modern indie generation. Beyond this it magnificently capped off a decade where western pop and rock embraced all in the world around it, effortlessly pulling in enough middle-eastern and afrobeat twiddles and drops to feel like we'd travelled the world over in the space of 45 minutes.  [DANIEL MONSELL] 

34)  ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes

Source Tags... is not even an obviously great album. What the band did was take the strongest elements from their prior work and focus on them with finer detail, tighter musicianship and a bolder outlook on what can achieved, both melodically - and loudly. From the opening 'It Was There That I Saw You', as it growls up to a howling and raucous riot of an intro, before unfolding into a dark and slow-paced ambient number, soon returning to its original franticness, it becomes clear the direction this album is going in: open-minded, exploratory and, ultimately, tuneful.  After all, 'Baudelaire' sounds as if it could have been by The Clash, what with its thunderous drums, shaky singing and marvellous guitar-led hook, whereas the dual vocals of 'What is this you give us - it's just a dream/What is this you give us - it's everything' shout-out ending of 'Another Morning Stoner' is one of the most exhilarating few seconds on the LP altogether. Oddly, though, as you pass through these moments on the record in the early half of its duration, there is a great feeling of the pressure building up throughout, as if it's going to explode at some point into a kind of fitting climax.  And then, it does... [TOBY L]

33)  Bjork – Medulla

Medulla – a pretty much entirely all vocal record – is simply not of these times; there is something in it too incredibly huge to be contained in any era, or inside your head. It hasn't outgrown genres; it probably created them at the beginning of time, and will nurture them 'til the day of judgement. Rahzel's beatbox sends the LP spiralling into the future, whilst Björk's incredible throaty growls, sensual sighs and purest tone heave your heart back to some innate, prehistoric time.  It's just a little bit good.  [KEVIN MOLLOY]




32)  Electrelane – The Power Out

When considering what we have these days in terms of ‘cool’ girl bands, it’s enough to make even the faintest feminist weep. There’s Girls Aloud of course, and plenty of strong female figures, but few without at least one testosterone-filled companion. So it is with heart-wrenching sentiment that we can look back on one all-female band who got it oh-so-right: Brighton’s favourite feminists, Electrelane. The Power Out was released in 2004, utilising far more vocals than anything the band had done before, and with awe-inspiring effect. Without meaning to sound like a media student, this album broke through as something ‘women in rock’ (forgive the expression) can truly stand up and wave around as something to be bra-burningly proud of (sorry). There are few bands out there that could go from a pious choral hymn to a Nietschze novel, and make it sound like everyone else has been doing it wrong all these years. An entirely French opener followed by a Spanish sonnet, and the closest thing to an out of body experience I’ve ever had - ‘Birds’ – the album features some of the best songs ever to hit ear drums.  The incredible thing about The Power Out is the fact that it was – and still is – massively under-appreciated. Critically acclaimed yet wholly forgotten, I can only hope that it will reach the pedestal it deserves when recognised as one of the greatest albums of the past ten years. Maybe then everyone can turn around and ask how on earth this one slipped by.  [HAYLEY LEAVER] 

31)  Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Reflecting on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot at the end of the decade, it seems all the more inconceivable that Wilco’s fourth album was initially turned down by their label. A record that has just about everything you could ask of it, the band’s magnum opus catapulted them from Americana favourites to rock music heavyweights. Lyrically, Jeff Tweedy covers everything from detached social commentary to intensely personal confessions of drug addiction and heartbreak; musically it is expansive and experimental while presenting challenging 8 minute epics alongside perfect twisted pop songs. And as far as rock albums of the past ten years go, few bettered it. [CHRIS HELSEN]



30)  Jay Z – The Blueprint

Bob your head backwards for a moment to rap music as the ’90s drew to a close: the hottest sound was digitally-driven, pop-friendly hooks from Diddy (er, Puff Daddy) and Timbaland.  In response, 2001 saw Jay-Z and his producer Kanye West flip the template to classic soul and rock, meshing dense lyrical flow with tracks built on the more organic vibe of artists including Al Green, The Jackson 5 and The Doors.  In doing so, The Blueprint shifted hip-hop’s landscape, defining key sonic motifs for the genre’s next decade.  (Of course, it also unleashed Kanye onto the world -- but, hey, nobody’s perfect…) [JOSHUA K] 



29)  Portishead – Third

Are Portishead the only band to ever have gone on one of those usually fatal 'indefinite hiatus' spells and come back with a record that not only puts to shame all others released this year, but one that makes their once era-defining past efforts seem like insignificant, half formed kids stuff? Probably. Third was everything one could have hoped for from a Portishead return and more; wholly unpredictable, and as beautiful as it was genuinely unsettling, on it the resurgent band displayed a mastery of manipulation of human emotion. From gorgeous ukulele interludes and spellbinding ways with melody such as displayed on 'The Rip' to the stunning Silver Apples-influenced groove of 'We Carry On' and sheer assault of 'Machine Gun', it's a masterpiece you'll return to for years to come. [THOMAS HANNAN] 


28)  Deerhoof – Friend Opportunity

A magnificent, weird and wonderfully abstract collection of songs ranging from pop perfection to almost unlistenable indulgences, it is perhaps this element of unpredictability that really makes Deerhoof one of the best bands of the moment. They've been special for a long time, but with Friend Opportunity they become very, very important. Ignore this at your peril, intelligent music listener - it's a record that's a testament to the power of imagination. Imagination, and pure, unadulterated happiness. It's utterly, joyously free - not in terms of being devoid of structure, more like they can structure themselves in any way they want. There's the freedom. You get the feeling that there is nothing Deerhoof considers impossible, and that makes for one hell of an enlightening listen. Deerhoof's charm is that you're happy to follow them in to uncharted waters simply because the boat they sail there on looks so appealing. [GARETH ROBERTS / THOMAS HANNAN] 

27)  Anthony and the Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now

Searching, plaintive, imposingly honest, Antony is a tear-jerking star. That much we're certain of. Already.  You can't, after all, release an album this brave, this archly harrowing, and not be. I Am A Bird Now, a second opus, is as much a release for the artist as it is for its audience. An androgynous warbling, his hum-like croon is one of the most pure and engulfing we've experienced in our generation - one wrestling with the weight of the world, through the unifying tribulation we all incur through craving/attempting acceptance and trans-gender interplay; behind it all the while, a restless soul and pouring heart. [TIM DELLOW]



26)  Low – Things We Lost In The Fire

The lush and considered tones of Low really came together sublimely on TWLITF. A vivid and sparse collection of lo-fi balladry of the highest order, through clanging ditties such as 'Dinosaur Act' and 'Sunflower', Low also managed to threaten straying the borders of great pop music. On a personal note, the almost incomprehensible beauty of Mimi Parker's vocals on 'Lazer Beam' is still enough to make me cry every time I hear it (hell, I'm welling up now just at the very thought of it). [TOBY L]








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