Top 40 Albums of the Last Decade

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Top 40 Albums of the Last Decade

Eric Arnouville, Contributing Writer

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It’s the end of the decade and all the major music publications are compiling their lists of the best music of the decade, so Driftwood has its own stance. These are the 40-something best albums of the decade in the opinion of someone you don’t know, in no particular order.

 

  1. Richard Papiercuts – IF: This guy is the best songwriter and performer you don’t know about. The album is filled to the brim with songs that should be classics. I dare you to tell me with a straight face that “Peanut Butter is Back” isn’t one of the best songs ever recorded. 
  2. Eric Copeland – Black Bubblegum: Eric’s career is weird, starting with a focus on plunderphonics, then kind of falling into outsider house. Anyway, here Eric makes strange sun-dried pop that sounds broken.
  3. Diamanda Galás – All The Way: Diamanda is the greatest living artist, full stop. Her newest in a set of two albums is a studio piano blues record with her constant occult emphasis and intensely disturbing voice.
  4. Scott Walker – Bish Bosch: I listened to this album my entire college life practically on repeat and I’m not any closer to understanding it.
  5. Aaron Dilloway – Modern Jester: Aaron is one of the noise greats, at least at this point. This is probably his best effort, though I do recommend venturing into his prolific catalogue.
  6. Amyl and the Sniffers – S/T: Great Australian punk outfit led by Amy Taylor, a ridiculously energetic performer. These guys are loud, fast and mad.
  7. Fabio Orsi – Just for a Thrill: No one seems to like this album as much as I do, but to me it’s one of the most consistently rewarding ambient albums I’m aware of. I listen to it when I do almost anything.
  8. Grouper – Ruins: This is what I hear when I wanna die.
  9. Randy Newman – Dark Matter: Randy is easily one of the most important American songwriters, and this album wouldn’t feel out of place next to his 1970s masterworks.
  10. Billy Woods – Today, I Wrote Nothing: Again, no one likes this dang album as much as I do. To me, it’s Woods’ strangest, most experimental record yet, with constant highlights and a near-perfect track list.
  11. S.H.I.T. – Complete S.H.I.T.: I don’t know if this one counts, but it’s just S.H.I.T.’s entire discography. If you’re in tune with what they do, then it’s a satisfying listen.
  12. That Handsome Devil – History Is a Suicide Note: THD is probably the most underrated band I know of, and while this doesn’t reach the highs of their debut or City Dressed in Dynamite, it’s still an amazing statement on where we are right now.
  13. Mélanie de Biasio – Blackened Cities: Really interesting ambient jazz record with a lot of strange twists and turns. For just one single long track, it gets a lot done.
  14. Downtown Boys – S/T: Listening to this will increase your heart rate to the equivalent of running a marathon.
  15. Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – Never Were the Way She Was: Very intense sax playing from Stetson. A lot of dark, harrowing music that I can’t make much sense of. This thing is cursed.
  16. Vanilla Poppers – I Like Your Band: I reviewed this for Maximumrocknroll and I didn’t have anything negative to say about it then, and I don’t have anything negative to say about it now.
  17. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition: I put this here so people know that I’m in touch with what’s new and don’t just follow career musicians from the ’70s and ’80s. Amazing album though. I saw him live and stood next to Shia LaBeouf (I think).
  18. M.I.A. – /\/\/\Y/\: People were not into this album at all when it came out, but now they’re calling it the best of the decade. Go figure. They gotta learn M.I.A.’s been on the cutting edge since her debut.
  19. Andrew WK – Close Calls with Brick Walls/Mother of  Mankind: This absolutely doesn’t count, but it’s on here. I don’t know what the hell Andrew was on with this one, but it’s a combination of his fun rock sound, weird funky post-punk, and straight-up undefinable weirdness.
  20. Billy Woods – History Will Absolve Me: Woods’ most fleshed-out and conventionally rewarding project.
  21. Andy Kaufman – Andy and His Grandmother: By this point you should be questioning the validity of my list now that there’s essentially an album of crank calls from a man who’s been dead since ’84.
  22. Litku Klemetti – Taika tapahtuu: Litku came out with a lot of great projects this decade (including one this year), but this one surprised me the most. Completely entrancing with a perfect group of tracks.
  23. Eric Copeland – Whorehouse Blues: This one’s hardly an album, but still a high contender for Copeland’s best work. Every track complements each other nicely.
  24. Neighborhood Brats – Claw Marks: I listened to this album on repeat for a while, then when they came here and I heard it all live, I transcended.
  25. Haim – Days Are Gone: This is on my list loud and proud and I’m a wuss for not putting it in the top 5. I don’t care if I heard some of these songs playing in a Forever 21, it’s a great album and when they played live they pulled out these massive tom drums and starting going buck wild on them while the crowd was freaking out.
  26. Death Grips – Year of the Snitch: I don’t know what the hell they were thinking when they released this complete mess of a masterpiece.
  27. IDLES – Joy: Lyrically, this thing is unmatched this decade, at least in the punk/post-punk scene. The songs are all amazing, and their messages are really important in today’s age.
  28. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake: Haunting. PJ, up until this point, had never disappointed. Her album after this one was good too, but not as rewarding long-term.
  29. Billy Woods – Hiding Places: By this point you should have decided to look this guy up.
  30. The Residents – Intruders: The Residents are legends, especially with their insanely dense back catalogue. This one is just as good as their prime ’70s and ’80s material, though they never really left their prime (in my opinion).
  31. Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY.: He won’t top this. The making of this thing is ridiculous, and the project that came of it is dense, consistent, and intoxicating.
  32. David Byrne – American Utopia: Would I like this if it was anyone other than DB? I don’t know, but it’s wild.
  33. Diamanda Galás – At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem: Not dissimilar from All The Way. Similar tracklist too, but live. People seem to rate this higher. I’m conflicted.
  34. Angry Angles – S/T: This probably doesn’t count either. But hey, things are moving around me all the time!
  35. Patti Smith – Banga: This album is great, but again, would I love it this much if it was anyone other than Patti Smith? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter anyway. Patti is a legend.
  36. Beta Boys – Late Night Acts: These guys are great. There’s nothing to it, but as a collection of songs, it’s great and insanely relistenable.
  37. David Bowie – Blackstar: If I didn’t include this I’d be a heartless criminal. I was intensely hyped for this and listened to it like 10 times before he died (three3 days after its release). Now it’s just depressing and perfect.
  38. BB Eye – Headcheese Heartthrob: Undoubtedly the most unique album I’ve heard this decade. The mixing isn’t perfect, but no one sounds like these guys.
  39. Lumpy and the Dumpers – Huff My Sack: Gross name.
  40. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly: Bet you guys never heard of this obscure pick.
  41. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression: Iggy’s discography is a nightmare and I’m one of the few people who sat through the whole thing, but this was the light at the end of the tunnel.
  42. Yoko Ono – Warzone: Yoko reinvents her older songs with a brashness and experimental focus that made them feel new. They don’t really transcend the original versions, but they add a new focus to them.

 Ed. Note: You do know the author – we profiled him earlier this semester. He goes by the name of Feck and his album can be streamed here: https://spoti.fi/2ORVrcn 

 

Photo collage courtesy of @feckmusic

 

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