The 2010s saw a number of high profile album releases from artists who don’t release albums very often. I suppose the hardest thing for an artist who’s been out of the spotlight for a while to do is retain their relevance. This can be a tricky (if not impossible) maneuver, considering tastes change at such a rapid pace and don’t seem to be changing any less rapidly these days. So it seems to be the best route a long-gestating album can take is not trying to sound anything like contemporary pop music or even like the music an artist has previously released. It worked like gangbusters for Fiona Apple’s percussive-piano pop masterpiece The Idler Wheel, and it also worked for D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, an album that was nearly 15 years in the making. Continue reading
I spent a lot of this decade not listening to hip-hop, while also realizing I should probably make an effort to listen to more hip-hop. It’s just that most hip-hop is clearly not intended for someone of my demographic (and that’s fine!), while I’ve always found hip-hop to be the hardest music to listen to while writing or working, which were the main scenarios I found myself listening to music in the latter part of this decade. Still, there were a few artists that made such a splash that I just had to check them out, while one of those artists happened to be the unexpected success story that was Run The Jewels. Continue reading
Before we head into Thanksgiving, it seemed appropriate to talk about the debut album by Kacey Musgraves. First, because Musgraves sings about her family and humble beginnings quite a bit on Same Trailer Different Park, while “Merry Go ‘Round” stands (in true Kacey fashion) as a disarmingly funny/sad depiction of an All-American fucked up family. Then there’s the fact that Musgraves is releasing a Christmas special on Amazon this Black Friday. It’s been quite meteoric how she’s made a steady transition from the country music world to widespread cultural likeability, but Same Trailer Different Park already hints at what would make her a crossover country star well-suited for the 2010s. Continue reading
After having a consistently great and prolific ’00s, the 2010s were a little more hit-or-miss for The Mountain Goats. Granted, The Mountain Goats are a fairly cult-y band, so you could say that the band as a whole are a little hit-or-miss. Meaning their music hits you in a soft gooey part of your gut that reminds you how beautiful it is to be a weirdo, or John Darnielle’s voice is a just a little too nasally and his songs are a little too heady to do much for you. Either way, I’m sure there’s some debate among fans, but for my money, Transcendental Youth still stands as the band’s best album of the decade. Continue reading
It was only in the last few years that I started to really get into Erykah Badu, but from what I can tell, it’s been a weird decade for her. She started the decade off strong, releasing this follow up to 2008’s New Amerykah Pt. 1, but then for the rest of the decade managed only to release a mixtape in 2015, while a new album may await us in 2020. However, she still managed to retain her relevancy through extensive touring and festival appearances, while the kind of laid-back neo-soul she once harbored into the mainstream managed to stay in fashion over the course of the 2010s. She also managed to stay in the limelight (unfortunately) because she defended all-around great guys like Hitler and R. Kelly in public, but I guess it’s hard to give too much credence to any of Badu’s weird personal opinions when she’s always seemed to be living on a planet all her own.
I spent a chunk of the early 2010s waiting for Dum Dum Girls to really become a thing, but it never really happened. Not that any of their albums were underwhelming. In fact, all three of them are quite good. It’s just that they never really broke out from the pack of all the other retro-leaning indie rock bands of the era in terms of mainstream success. Still, I Will Be stands as perhaps the band’s finest moment (along with the End of Daze EP), and as a testament to lead singer Dee Dee’s ability to craft delicious hooks draped in dread. Continue reading
For basically every year of the 2010s, we’ve done a bunch of half-baked album reviews to catch-up on writing about music we never reviewed during the year. You would think that because of this, in addition to our regular reviews and end-of-the-year Top 10s that we’d have already covered all of the notable albums to come out this decade. Well, you’d be very wrong, since it felt like there was more good music this decade than any that had come before it.
So for the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing albums that have never been reviewed on this blog or mentioned in end-of-the-year Top Ten lists. Some of these will be albums that slipped under my radar when they were released, or I didn’t appreciate at the time and have come to enjoy as the decade wore on. I’m not sure how frequently I’ll post these, but the every-other-day of the week approach that Sean took with his Avengers Retrospectus seems like a good one to shoot for.