The Decade in Music

In case anybody cares…. [deep breath]:

SonicGeography: 10 Favorite Records of the Decade

MY 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS OF THE 2010’S

  1. Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven (2011, Swami)
  2. Turnover – Peripheral Vision (2015, Run for Cover)
  3. Daddy Issues – Deep Dream (2017, Infinity Cat)
  4. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (2018, Ipecac)
  5. Suede – Night Thoughts (2016, Warner Music UK)
  6. Touché Amoré – Stage Four (2016, Epitaph)
  7. Makthaverskan – II (2015, Run for Cover)
  8. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (2012, Top Dawg)
  9. Rival Schools – Pedals (2010, Photo Finish)
  10. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (2012, Fool’s Gold)

(And While We’re Here… my REDUX Top Ten Albums of the Century)

  1. Good Luck – Into Lake Griffy (2008, No Idea)
  2. The Twilight Singers – Blackberry Belle (2004, One Little Indian)
  3. Frodus – And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea (2001, Fueled by Ramen)
  4. Blur – Think Tank (2003, EMI)
  5. Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven (2012, Swami)
  6. Turnover – Peripheral Vision (2015, Run for Cover)
  7. The Ergs! – dorkrockcorkrod (2004, Whoa Oh)
  8. Piebald – We Are the Only Friends That We Have* (2002, Big Wheel Recreation)
  9. Sondre Lerche – Faces Down (2002)
  10. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound* (2008, SideOneDummy)
*This album was released between 2000-2009 but did not appear on my ’25 Albums of the Decade’ list in 2009. I love it now, though.

60 TOP SONGS OF THE DECADE

(Arbitary Rules: One Song per Artist, Nothing from my Top 10 Albums. I linked a bunch of them but I got tired, and I have confidence your collective ability to google.)

  1. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl” (2016)
  2. Robyn – “Dancing on my Own” (2010)
  3. BIG HUGE – “Carnal Pleasure” (2015)
  4. Taylor Swift – “Style” (2014)
  5. Basement – “Crickets Throw Their Voice” (2011)
  6. Ash – “Annabel” (2018)
  7. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Your Type” (2015)
  8. PUP – “DVP” (2016)
  9. The Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” (2010)
  10. The Smith Street Band – “Ducks Fly Together” (2013)
  11. Future Islands – “Vireo’s Eye” (2010)
  12. Swearin’ – “Just” (2012)
  13. Blur – “Ong Ong” (2015)
  14. Bob Bucko Jr. – “Heavenly Routine” (2015) – top instrumental
  15. Ex-Gold – “I’m a Man” (2014 technically)
  16. The Varsity Weirdos – “No Life on Planet Mars” (2015)
  17. Ex Hex – “Waterfall” (2014)
  18. White Reaper – “Pills” (2014)
  19. Teenage Bottlerocket – “They Call Me Steve” (2015)
  20. Suede – “It Starts and Ends with You” (2013)
  21. Gorillaz – “On Melancholy Hill” (2010)
  22. Big Boi – “Shutterbugg” (2010)
  23. Merchandise – “True Monument” (2014)
  24. Aesop Rock – “Kirby” (2016)
  25. Direct Hit! – “Werewolf Shame” (2012)
  26. Radon – “Headaches and Bullshit” (2017)
  27. Kanye West – “Runaway” (2010)
  28. Foxing – “The Medic” (2013)
  29. Billy Cobb – “1955” (2018)
  30. Smidley – “Power Word Kill” (2017)
  31. ALVVAYS – “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” (2018)
  32. The Gaslight Anthem – “’45” (2012)
  33. Kacey Musgraves – “Space Cowboy” (2018)
  34. Jason Derulo – “Want to Want Me” (2015)
  35. Loud Boyz – “4 the Ladies” (2014)
  36. Nothing – “Blue Line Baby” (2018)
  37. Pinback – “Proceed to Memory” (2012)
  38. Mogwai – “We’re Not Done (End Title)” (2018)
  39. Royal Headache – “High” (2016)
  40. Saves the Day – “Beyond All of Time” (2013)
  41. Alex Cameron – “Candy May” (2017)
  42. FIDLAR – “No Waves” (2013)
  43. Paramore – “Rose Colored Boy” (2017)
  44. Teenage Exorcists – “Love Buzz” (2010)
  45. Danny Brown ft. Purity Ring – “25 Bucks” (2014)
  46. Drug Church – “Tillary” (2018)
  47. Against Me! – “Crash” (2016)
  48. Walter Schriefels – “Open Letter” (2010)
  49. The Rentals – “It’s Time to Come Home” (2015)
  50. Sorority Noise – “No Halo” (2017)
  51. Weezer – “California Kids” (2016)
  52. The Sidekicks – “Everything in Twos” (2014)
  53. AJJ – “Kokopelli Face Tattoo” (2014)
  54. Plow United – “Bright Eyes” (2016)
  55. Cullen Omori – “Cinnamon” (2016)
  56. American Football ft. Hayley Williams – “Uncomfortably Numb” (2019)
  57. Hot Chip – “One Life Stand” (2010)
  58. Tender Defender – “FEFE” (2015)
  59. Bleachers – “I Wanna Get Better” (2015)
  60. Post Malone – “Sunflower” (2018)

TEN BEST LIVE PERFORMANCES I SAW THIS DECADE

  1. Davila 666 (Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, 09/09/11)
  2. Lipstick Homicide (Media Club, Vancouver, 07/20/13)
  3. VOIID (The Tote, Melbourne, 7/13/19)
  4. King Kong (The Pilot Light, Knoxville, 11/12/2016)
  5. Merchandise (Ace of Cups, Columbus, 6/7/2013)
  6. Direct Hit! (Surprise Gig, Allston, MA, 4/6/17)
  7. The Dismemberment Plan Weekend (Washington, DC, Jan. 2011)
  8. Mdou Moctar (The Pilot Light, Knoxville, 1/13/19)
  9. Hot Chip (Coachella, April 2013)
  10. Ex Hex (Athens PopFest, May 2018)

THREE FAVORITE MUSIC VIDEOS

Dan Deacon – ‘True Thrush’ (2012)

Suede – ‘Life is Golden’ (2018)

Julien Baker – ‘Sprained Ankle’ (2015)

 

 

 

A Pair of Geography Playlists for your Monday

Happy Monday, and Happy Finals Week (depending on where you are) everyone. I’ve been fortunate to bring some fun subjects into what’s normally a stressful time for students and faculty alike.

My Globalization class (GEO 121) submitted their 4th paper, which required that they pick a song and pick apart its geographical references. My North American regional class (GEO 350) had a group zine semester project, which they are just submitting today. One group, who focused mainly on the American Southeast, did a zine devoted to music and region. Despite their thwarted attempts to burn a mix CD, they were still able to share their playlist with the class, which I’m passing along here.


GEO 121 Musical Geography Paper Class Playlist

  1. King 180 – ‘I Ain’t Goin’ Back Again’
  2. Sufjan Stevens – ‘Oh Detroit, Life Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)
  3. Jason Aldean – ‘Crazy Town’
  4. Gordon Lightfoot – ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’
  5. Rise Against – ‘Help is On the Way’
  6. Kid Rock – ‘All Summer Long’
  7. Toto – ‘Africa’
  8. John Denver – ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’
  9. The Kinks – ‘Waterloo Sunset’
  10. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’
  11. Nelly – ‘King’s Highway’
  12. The Manao Company – ‘Drop Baby Drop’
  13. Men at Work – ‘Down Under’
  14. Eminem, Royce da 5’9″, Big Sean, Danny Brown, Dej Loaf, Trick Trick – ‘Detroit vs. Everybody’
  15. U2 – ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’
  16. Logic – ‘Everybody’
  17. Lynyrd Skynyrd – ‘Sweet Home Alabama’
  18. Ray Charles – ‘Georgia on my Mind’
  19. We are the World 25 for Haiti
  20. The Hold Steady – ‘Confusion in the Marketplace’
  21. Arkells – ‘Michigan Left’
  22. Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett – ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere’
  23. Highly Suspect – ‘Serotonia’
  24. The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’
  25. Jason Aldean – “Fly Over States’
  26. Shakira – ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’
  27. The HU – ‘Wolf Totem’
  28. OutKast – ‘ATLiens’
  29. Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Especially in Michigan’
  30. Panic! at the Disco – ‘Vegas Lights’
  31. Kid Rock – ‘Detroit, Michigan’
  32. Drake – ‘Know Yourself’
  33. John Denver – ‘Rocky Mountain High’
  34. Jim Jones ft. Fat Joe – ‘NYC’
  35. ‘Tear Me Down’ from “Hedwig & the Angry Inch”
  36. Tony Bennett – ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’
  37. Jack White – ‘Just One Drink’
  38. Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys – ‘Empire State of Mind’

GEO 350 Group Project Playlist

  1. OutKast – “Ms. Jackson” (oooooh)
  2. Lil’ Jon – “Snap Yo Fingers”
  3. Wes Montgomery – “West Coast Blues”
  4. Blind Blake – “West Coast Blues”
  5. Blind Willie McTell – “Statesboro Blues”
  6. Mississippi Fred McDowell – “You Gotta Move”
  7. Garth Brooks – “Friends in Low Places’
  8. Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire”
  9. Randy Travis – “Forever and Ever, Amen”
  10. Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World”
  11. Nina Simone – “Backlash Blues” (Live at Montreaux 1976)
  12. Nina Simone – “Backlash Blues”
  13. Joe Hertler (CMU alum) & the Rainbow Seekers – “Evening Coffee’
  14. The Velvet Monkeys – “The Creeper”
  15. Scream – “Caffeine Dream”
  16. Fugazi – “Waiting Room”
  17. Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
  18. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama”
  19. The Allman Brothers – “Midnight Rider”

“13” Turns Twenty

13_28blur_album_-_cover_art29Happy Friday, everyone. I recently noticed that Blur’s everything-falls-apart masterpiece “13” came out twenty years ago today (March 30 in the States, to split hairs). I’d be remiss if I let that landmark slip by without mention here, because I completely missed the anniversary of their self-titled album (my entry point as a fan) two years ago.

Blur’s mid-90’s rivalry with Oasis (manufactured as it was to sell copies of NME), formulates one of my favorite lectures I include in my European Geography (GEOG 371) course. Popular culture reinforces geographic assumptions, especially the sense of place that permeates any discussion of “the North” and “the South” in England. Not since The Beatles vs. The Kinks had there been such a raw encapsulation of that dichotomy. For the record, I do prefer The Kinks, too (and not because of any predilection for Southern England; I just enjoy their music more than most bands in the first place).

Anyway, in 1997, Blur were shedding their Britpop skin and embracing Graham Coxon’s love of American indie rock, perhaps best manifested as the wonderful “You’re So Great.” As I said, Blur was my entry point as a fan, so I didn’t fall in love with the band’s foppish (in a self-aware way) era. Like many of my friends who were listening in this era, I remember being less enthused at 13 when it landed in 1999. “Coffee & TV” felt like the only marginally accessible song on the album, which didn’t matter much to critics, but to a teenage American, it felt like a bit of an affront. I recall putting the CD on at some friends’ house in Syracuse while we sat around as a party dwindled; by the time “1992” got to it’s third-level of noise, walked over to the boombox and turned to me and said “I’m, uh, gonna change it.” If you want to get a decent impression, feast your brain on this:

Knowing what we know now, though, makes the accomplishments of 13 all that more remarkable. Namely, the band had long since shed any sonic accouterments of what had ostensibly made them huge, defied every music writer in the UK, and more or less entered into the worst collective period of their lives. Again, I was too young and under-educated in life to recognize half of this album as a heady mix of cries for help and the other half as gleeful conflagration of their rental castle-mansions. I’ll never forget reading a story on Blur in SPIN in the wake of the trans-Atlantic success of “Song 2” that really harped on how much the members hated one another. It seemed pretty sensationalized (because it was), but I can only imagine how much resolve it took the four of them to remain a band. In 1997, Graham Coxon sang that “DT’s [delirium tremens] and coffee helps to start the day,” and in 1999 he sang “sociability is hard enough for me” to chronicle a years-long battle to overcome alcoholism. “Coffee & TV” sounded convincing enough, and one of the all-time great videos to dramatize his ‘coming home’ certainly helped this case. Stateside, it remains in contention against “Girls and Boys” for the vaunted title of ‘Blur’s most successful single that doesn’t go “WOO-HOO.”‘

Anyway, since it’s 2019, there are a multitude of ways to hear 13 in its entirety if you’re interested in doing that today. Twenty years ago, Blur played most of the album live at the Hippodrome Theater in London, and a fan named Claire Welles taped the gig off the radio. A little over a year ago, she digitized it on YouTube. Considering the teeming oceans of Blur material on the site, it’s only accrued 556 views so far. I’ll embed it here if you’d like to add to that count.

One dynamic that I can’t get out of my head while listening to this was how so many of those cheering fans, like so much of Britain on BBC1, were hearing songs like “Trailerpark” and “Battle” for the first time ever. I believe that Napster, Limewire, and Kazaa were all active by this point, which had fundamentally changed the lifespan of anticipated music’s release. Gone were the days of that hot new single arriving at the BBC on a CD encased in some briefcase with a combination lock.

Damon Albarn, right on brand, didn’t sound too enthused to be performing these songs, but again, the fact that the band still existed in 1999 was remarkable. Considering the worldwide success Albarn had waiting in the rafters with James Hewlett at this point, it’s even more understandable that it feels like he’s punching the clock here. Still, you can’t help but imagine he begrudgingly knew how insane and special this new album was. And no matter what your feelings are on Albarn, he headlined Glastonbury two years back-to-back (2009-2010) with two different bands.

Alright, I’ve said enough. Happy 20th anniversary to 13, hope you all have a great weekend, and if you’re anywhere near Oak Ridge tomorrow night (Saturday 3.16) come see me and Nina Fefferman (UTK Evolutionary Biology) talking science with comedians Shane Mauss and Dave Waite at the Grove Theater. It’s close to selling out, but there may be tickets for sale at the door!  More info in my previous entry or at Shane Mauss’ site here.

RIP Steve Soto

oStopping by to leave a note in remembrance of Steve Soto, the longtime bassist and songwriter for the Adolescents. I don’t remember ever having the pleasure of meeting him, but multiple accounts from friends in and out of the SoCal punk community are unanimous that he was one of the nicest and funniest people in the history of that scene, as well as throughout the American ’80s hardcore underground.

I never played in a hardcore band, but I can’t overstate the importance of the Adolescents (especially their canon 1981 self-titled record) to me when I was getting into hardcore. They also played a role in unlocking my curiosity about the contrasts between Orange County and LA, a schism I would later dig into as a novice geographer sitting on the border of the two in Long Beach. Outside of my buddy Carlos’ mom’s amazing restaurant in Santa Ana, downtown Fullerton (one of the band’s home bases) would become, and remain, my favorite thing about the OC. A growing, collective interest in OC punk would also lead my Berlin colleagues Lucas Elsner and Lauri Turpeinin to present research on Californian suburbia at the 2016 AAG Meeting, where we met and have been friends ever since.

I had the opportunity to see the Adolescents play in 2006, when they toured through the Black Cat in DC. At the time, the original members were all in their forties, but the teenage son of one of the Agnew brothers was playing guitar in Rikk’s place, so the band’s name hadn’t lapsed into irony. When I heard that Soto had passed this morning, I thought back to that show, and I remembered how clearly Steve was doting on the young kid between songs, patting him on the back, smiling and shouting words of encouragement. The underground scene was lucky to have people like him.

Rest in power, Steve.

 

Thanks for reading! If you don’t own Adolescents, correct that immediately. I’ll be back soon with more geo-updates; I appreciate your collective patience. The summer has been much busier than I’d anticipated.

New Article Published in ‘Arts and the Market’ Journal

Aside

aamcoverJust a quick announcement that I have a new article out this week! I wrote a piece about the idea of the vinyl record as a souvenir for the Emerald Publishing journal Arts and the Market. Thanks to the editorial staff for helping me sculpt this one, which originated as a research paper for a seminar on tourism. I drew equally on some older MA thesis research on the marketplace around vinyl as well as some PhD research on the seismic legend around harDCore.

Sonnichsen, T. (2017). Vinyl tourism: records as souvenirs of underground musical landscapes. Arts and the Market 7 (2), 235-248.

You can check out this issue as well as prior issues of Arts and the Market on the Emerald Insight page here. Depending on your institutional access, you may be able to find the HTML or PDF version of the article directly from there. If not, then don’t hesitate to contact me and I can help get you a copy.

Iain Chambers on Music, Literature, and Nostalgia

Quote

Music as a language (like all language) maintains this tension through its communal use and individuation. Its ready accessibility compared to other, more formally institutionalised [sic], languages such as literature, historiography and the visual arts, permits a ubiquitous and unexpected punctuation of the scripts we are expected to follow. Music, in its anonymous consumption and innumerable moments of articulation – from the desert ceremony and forest clearing to the bar, street corner, subway exit, and modern consecration in the recording studio – perhaps provides an altogether more extensive and irrepressible configuration of a language that sings time and being while recording memory. If music provides a home for nostalgia, it also offers a point of return for what becomes a new point of departure.

– Iain Chambers, in The Cinematic City (edited by David B. Clarke), p. 237.

Dr. Chambers, I don’t always understand what you write, but when it hits, it HITS.

Michael Seman on Music Geography

From UNT website.

I felt a good return to music on this blog was in order, mainly because I’ve got some more antique postcard news in the works. I was very fortunate to meet and work with Michael Seman, a musical geographer based in Denton, TX (we did talk briefly about the Mountain Goats song and the Marked Men, don’t worry), at the AAG Meeting in Los Angeles last year. This morning, I got an email from a collaborator saying that Mike had been interviewed for the Washington Post! Not a bad spot to land.

You can read the whole interview here, or check in on writer Danielle Paquette‘s story about Omaha’s use of indie rock to revitalize it’s urban neighborhoods right here, but here are a couple of Seman’s quotes that I thought were pretty to-the-point about what Music Geography does, and why it’s important.

[Music Geography is] the examination of music and how it interacts with the people, economy, built environment, and technology that comprises a certain space or place.

Music, like food, offers a lot of insight into how landscapes develop and how they might continue to do so in the future… Music scenes can act as branding agents, spur urban redevelopment and emerge as industries in their own right. I’ve also found that music scene participants are civic-minded and often become involved in philanthropic pursuits, run for political office, and seek employment in city departments.

More updates coming soon. Check out Michael’s work for more background on the interaction between music and public places. I’m no doubt going to be citing a lot of them in the future.

For now, time to dive back into teaching and formulating my own papers to present this year. It’s been so busy that I feel like first I have to…. well, The Marked Men can probably say it better than I could.