Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aughts Mix

I had no intentions of doing a decade-spanning mix. Then upon hearing my plan to review the decade on my radio show, a recipient of the year-end mix asked if I would be making a decade retrospective as well. Being the geek that I am, once I had that bee in my bonnet, I couldn't let it go. And here we are.

I had to go for a two-disc set. Disc one is more rock oriented whereas disc 2 is more dance oriented. Even so, these discs are far from comprehensive. There are many regrettable omissions (Scissor Sisters, Crystal Castles, CSS, Erykah Badu, Madlib, Brazilian Girls, Broadcast, She & Him, We are Scientists, The Bird and the Bee, Regina Spektor, Rainbow Arabia...). But cuts had to be made. Some of these were due to time, others to flow. The second disc was a bitch to put together, but I finally whittled it down and made it fit.

I will provide only the briefest of notes. A friend recently posted his top albums of the decade on Twitter, which forced concise reasons and justifications. I'll be about as brief.

Download Disc 1
Download Disc 2

One More Time: The Music of the Oughts

Disc 1

1. Sigur Ros - Vaka (2002)
One that I admittedly don't listen to much these days, though it is still incredible. A huge album for my friends and I that year. We left this playing while we slept each night during a debaucherous NYC trip. Also one of the best live shows I've ever seen.

2. Air - Playground Love (2000)

One of the last Air albums that I liked. The song (and album) so perfectly fit the mood of The Virgin Suicides.

3. Death Cab for Cutie - A Movie Script Ending (2001)

This will forever remind me of my time at WPTS and the fall of 2006, when I rediscovered the album.

4. M83 - Kim & Jessie (2008)

Great album, great band, great song. The oughts nod to the '80s.

5. Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell (2008)

A favorite from 2008, a nearly perfect album.

6. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks (2007)

I've already heard this in the grocery store, but oh well. I don't mind whistling while buying my produce.

7. Radiohead - Idioteque (2000)

I'm not a huge Radiohead fan, but OK Computer and Kid A are all aces.

8. Bat For Lashes - What's a Girl To Do (2006)

Incredible expression of a very specific emotion. Also a great video that reminds me of dreams I've had:

9. The XX - Vcr (2009)

Another favorite from this year's debut by The XX. See 2009 mix notes for more.

10. +/- - Yo Yo Yo (Please Don't Fall in Love) (2002)

This made it onto nearly every mix I made in 2002 and 2003. Also another fond CMJ memory of seeing these folks in some club or another.

11. Santogold – L.E.S. Artistes (2008)

The big single from my favorite album of 2008.

12. MGMT – Electric Feel (2008)

I hear this pretty much every time I'm out in Pittsburgh, and I'm still pretty okay with that.

13. New Young Pony Club – Get Lucky (2007)

A 2007 favorite from this UK indie dance-rock outfit. Hoping their 2010 follow up is as good.

14. The Raveonettes - Heartbreak Stroll (2003)

From Chain Gang of Love, the first Raveonettes album I heard, and still my favorite.

15. Hot Hot Heat - Get in or Get Out (2002)

Good lord - a year's worth of memories associated with Hot Hot Heat's Make Up the Breakdown. CMJ 2002 shenanigans and post-'80s night gatherings among them. This band will always remind me of a friend who was obsessed with them at the time. This song also summed up my feelings about Pittsburgh circa 2003.

16. Ted Leo - Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone? (2003)

I've heard a few more recent Ted Leo records, but none of them have done much for me. Hearts of Oak remains a favorite though. One of the better bands WPTS brought in during my tenure there.

17. Phoenix - 1901 (2009)

Another favorite from the decade's final year. Ubiquitous. Catchy. Still rock out to this one despite the Cadillac commercial.

18. Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (2007)

I first heard Spoon when Catch the Moonlight came out. Each album sees them developing their craft - a trend that will hopefully continue with their January 2010 release. They also understand the importance of brevity, which applaud heartily.

19. The White Stripes - The Denial Twist (2005)

I mentioned on my radio show that I might have to pick Jack White for "artist of the decade." He's always got at least one project coming out every year, and I have yet to be disappointed. The White Stripes (four this decade), the Loretta Lynn record, the Raconteurs albums (two this decade), the Dead Weather, the Third Man record label and store, not to mention touring behind all of these acts as well. Get Behind Me Satan remains my favorite White Stripes record, and here's one reason why.

20. The Dresden Dolls - Sing (2006)

The first Dresden Dolls record was great. The second was far superior. They found their niche and perfected it on Yes Virgina. This song is one that has gradually stood out from the album in the course of three years. Just sing.

21. Flaming Lips - Do You Realize?? (2002)

Many memories associated with the Yoshimi album as well. Another huge one during the WPTS years. This song is at once joyous and tragic, but ultimately compels the listener to realize the value of life and time.

Disc 2

1. Snoop Dog feat. Pharrell - Drop It Like It's Hot (2004)

It was between this and "Sensual Seduction." This was the song that brought Snoop back into people's musical consciousness, including myself (though he certainly remained a focus in pop culture). I remember driving back to Iowa after Thanksgiving or Christmas that year, hearing this on the radio and exclaiming that the breakdown was right out of the Rick Rubin playbook.

2. Outkast - So Fresh, So Clean (2000)

So many Outkast songs to choose from. "Hey Ya!" is undoubtedly a decade-defining song. But I'm a little sick of it (which is not to say that I don't boogie down when I hear it). I intended to include "The Whole World," but time prevented its inclusion. Just as well. Stankonia is one of my very favorite albums of the decade, and one that holds up quite well as we enter the next.

3. Common - Go! (2005)

Truthfully, I have a deeper connection to Be's follow up, Finding Forever. But Be deserves every bit of praise it's received, and this song is probably the highlight of the album for me. A frequent soundtrack when I go out for a run.

4. Jamie Lidell - Multiply (2005)

The song that introduced me to Jamie Lidell, from the album of the same name. This and its follow up Jim are fantastic soul throwbacks, although Multiply is interesting in that it incorporates more musical styles.

5. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (2006)

The "big hit" from my favorite album of 2006. I'm still not sick of hearing this one. I only wish that Cee-Lo and Dangermouse stopped with this album. By 2008's The Odd Couple, they'd run out of creative steam.

6. The Roots feat. Cody Chestnut - The Seed 2.0 (2002)

To the extent one can say that The Roots had a "hit," this is it. I think it was actually in a Mandy Moore movie, so I guess that seals the deal. Their best work resides in the previous decade, but they've put out a series of consistently pleasing albums in the oughts as well (Phrenolgy, Game Theory, Tipping Point and Rising Down).

7. Spank Rock feat. Amanda Blank - Bump (2006)

Baltimore's best. Easily in my top 5 hip hop albums of the decade. Perhaps second only to The Black Album.. Speaking of which -

8. Jay-Z - 99 Problems (2003)

A juggernaut. Imagine if Jay-Z actually had retired after this album. Talk about going out on top. Of course, he didn't hold to it, and has released three albums in the ensuing years. A boy's gotta eat.

9. Prince - Black Sweat (2006)

Across six albums, the best thing the man recorded this decade. Straddles the fence between sounding current and "this is obviously Prince" more effectively than anything else he put out in the aughts.

10. M.I.A. - Galang (2005)

The first time that I head M.I.A. was in a friend's car on a visit to Portland. It was one of the very few times in recent history that my legitimate response was "I've never heard anything like this." Two great albums (Arular and Kala), and I'm told work is beginning on the third. Count me in.

11. Lil Wayne - Lollipop (2008)

Honestly, Lil' Wayne is the best thing that's happened to mainstream hip hop in the latter part of the decade. No homo. Despite his personal issues, he's prolific, productive and in general, I think interesting. I'm not holding out hope on his upcoming rock album though.

12. Lady Gaga - Poker Face (2008)

I won't go into my Lady Gaga rant here. Most of you have heard it before. Just dance.

13. Nelly Furtado feat. Missy Elliot - Do It (remix) (2007)

This begins a three-track sequence of my favorite pop albums of the decade, though I can't rank among them. Nelly Furtado's Loose! (produced by Timbaland - producer of the decade?) is one of the best pop / party albums of the decade. Perfect for getting ready for a night on the town. I liked "Promiscuous." I loved "Maneater." "Do It" blew me away. This remix has the added bonus of a Missy cameo.

14. Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For- (2004)

I've liked No Doubt since they hit it big with Tragic Kingdom. And I was pleased when they took a dancier direction with Rock Steady. But that didn't prepare me for Love Angel Music Baby. I played the hell out of this for a good 6-8 months. The follow up (The Sweet Escape) has some great tracks (especially the title cut), but pales in comparison.

15. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out of My Head (2001)

It's a good thing we have people like Nelly, Gwen and Kylie, because god knows Madonna hasn't done anything relevant this decade. It baffles me that Kylie Minogue hasn't had more success Stateside. She had three great albums this decade (Fever, Body Language, X), of which Fever remains the strongest. It's poppy, danceable, sexy, and of course has some great videos (even aside from the eye candy that is Kylie).

16. Justice - D.A.N.C.E (2007)

These next two tracks carry with them memories of the fall of 2007 in Iowa. I was getting way into these albums while prepping for comps (boo). But finally got to boogie down to them at the party that followed the exam (yay!). They were also staples while getting amped for the Friday ritual of happy hour followed by karaoke. Ahh, good times. Anywho, this song in particular was one of the hottest tracks that year, and a tribute to the then-living Michael Jackson. Justice probably also gets my award for best TV appearance of the decade:

17. Chromeo - Bonafied Lovin (2007)

I know I mentioned how great the Furtado/Gwen/Kylie discs were, but Fancy Footwork is seriously the best party album released this decade. They've got a sense of humor, they've mastered the Minneapolis sound and they sure can get down. They've got a new one slated for summer 2010, and if the lead single is any indication, we will not be disappointed.

18. Cut Copy - Lights and Music (2008)

Lights and music are frequently on my mind. Add dancing to the mix, and this may well be my theme song. The big "hit" from the great synthy dance album In Ghost Colours. A friend commented that they're carrying the New Order torch, and I can't disagree with that. Hold it high, I say.

19. Daft Punk - One More Time (2001)

I once saw an interview with Chromeo where they referred to Daft Punk's Discovery album as the French Thriller. Granted, it wasn't an international chart-topping phenomenon that shattered age, gender and racial barriers. But I can say that amongst my friends and within the realm of college radio, calling this the Thriller of the decade is pretty accurate. Everyone had it, everyone loved it. It was all over the place - a fixture at dance parties, plenty of college airplay, a series of commercials. Also like Thriller, listening to this album immediately transports me to a very specific point in my life, and a flood of memories rush forth. Sadly, their output since has failed to live up to the precedent set by this album and it's predecessor Homework. Alas.


Paul Johnson said...

Definitely the right Ted Leo pick.

Also I didn't think anyone else just crushed Hot Hot Heat for a while either, but I did really wear out that album when I was at Pitt too.

Gonzo said...

Yeah, it was between Rude Boys and The Ballad of Sin Eater. Tough call, but Rude Boys wins out by a hair.

One of my regrets is that we weren't at Pitt at the same time. Someday - someday we will all go to a conference in the 'burgh or something.