In which we introduce our new project to average TWO posts per month this year...
There comes a point in life where a man just has to admit it. It's a young man's game, and young is a passing phase.
For me, the definitive moment came when Paul asked me to put together a best-of list for the 2000's. That's when it really hit me hard. I am no longer hip to the indie, kids. I no longer live on the razor's edge. There was a time...oh yes, there was a time; drink and drank and drunk, and pogo in you head everybody. But alas, no more. My liver has tired. I started the decade more or less in tune with the ebb and flow of the underground but somewhere in the middle I'm pretty sure I lost sight of the shore. I'm no longer getting too old for this shit, I am already too old for this shit. I am an old man. I have old man biases. So be it. You have been warned.
Back before affixing "post" or "gaze" or "core" to any existing genre became acceptable form for describing some "new" style a bunch of us were searching for some way to describe the nascent sounds that would eventually coalesce into "post-rock." This was early- to mid-90s, before there was an Evilsponge, back when we were just sitting around Paul and Tracy's apartment, drinking beer and spinning discs, passing the time before that weekend's show. It was proto-sponge, a drink in every hand, and we were trying to figure a descriptive for this new sort of sound seeping out of the empty spaces. I'm pretty sure it was Paul, in a fit of wit and pique, who finally came up with the phrase "Slint-damaged bands."
In a lot of ways, I think of the 2000s as a Slint-damaged decade. This isn't so much a criticism as a statement of direction. To my ear, the last ten years have been dominated by artists exploring the edges of traditional song*. Whether it be the found-recordings/orchestral mash-ups of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, the proto-jazz freakouts of Do Make Say Think, or the hazy experimental electronica of Radiohead since "Kid A" it seems like music has been more concerned with introspection and soundscaping than, you know, writing a singable song. From post-rock to math-core to drone to sludge-metal, it's all dominated by experimentalism, off beat time signatures, and the disappearance of the human into the void. None dare call it prog, but it has left me feeling somewhat disconnected from the times. While I appreciate a good wonkish digression now and again - oh Jesu, how thou doth dismantle my very concept of being and time - I am a rock guy at heart.
My basic relationship to music was defined by Chuck Berry right at the very start. I got no kick against modern jazz, unless they try to play it too darn fast. But lose the beauty of the melody? Well, in that case you've probably lost me too. I want that back beat, the kick and the snare, the hook that brings you back. I want that riff that catches you in the gut and slings you around the room until you're so much meat pudding. I want lyrics worth belting out in the solitude of hours long commutes and the anger and heartache that drives them. I'm a rock guy. I'm a pop guy. I'm a fuzzed out bass and distortion marred guitar guy. I'm a lyrics worth paying attention to guy. What can I say? It's gotta be rock-roll music if you wanna dance with me.
All of which is a roundabout way to say that I expect some might find my tastes a little retrograde. I consider "Kid A" to be more tragedy than artistic expansion. I can't listen to Animal Collective for more than two minutes without a reflexive "WTF?!" I'm a soul adrift, a man without a country. Mine was a decade out of step. Much like the preceding twenty years I spent the last ten immersed in power punk and swampy blues rock, Brit-pop and twang-infected Americana. It is what it is, and if you're still with me, it's just this. I'm a rock guy. These are my favorites from the last ten years. Your mileage may vary. These results may not be typical. All returns require receipts. We hope you enjoy your stay.
*for the purpose of this exercise we will pretend that hip-hop does not exist
Tomorrow: In which we actually start with the lists...
Obligatory baseball comment that gives Darren cover for posting this to BBTF: Troy Glaus and Chipper Jones will both crack 30+ HRs in 2010. It will be Chipper's last truly magnificent effort before he fades quietly into his Cooperstown reward.