Headphone Nation’s 100 Favorite Songs Of The Decade (So Far): 2010-2014

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Am I an idiot for thinking that I can only pick 100 songs to share with y’all and not feel guilty about all the other music that I’m leaving out? Is this list completely bias? Am I brain-dead from trying to write about why I love every single song on this list?

The answer is yes.

Reminder: this is a list of MY FAVORITE songs of the decade, not THE GREATEST songs of the decade. There is a key difference. Same rules apply to this list as they did for my favorite albums of the decade so far.

Also make sure to check out the spotify playlist with all these songs at the end of this list.

Alright, let’s begin.

One Sentence Reviews Of Headphone Nation’s 40 Favorite Albums Of The Decade (So Far): 2010 – 2014

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Congratulations – you made it halfway through the decade. How does it feel? Did you come up with a good nickname for this decade yet? Is it as catchy as “The Noughties”? What were the highlights?

It’s easy to get caught up looking back at a particular year (or years) and try to pick out the few highlights that defined the year out of all the countless events. For any pop culture publication, it’s a cheap, bias way to get more hits, and it usually doesn’t do the year justice to what it was actually like.

But hey, we all love to make these lists, and we all love to read these lists.

One of the ways to define a decade is by the most popular (i.e. the easiest to define) musical trends of the time: the 60s were the age of Psychedelia, the 70s saw the height of Big Hair Music (heavy rock and disco), the 80s were the dawn of Indie and MTV, the 90s the mass takeover of Pop music (Grunge-Pop, Britpop, Rap-Pop, Noise-Pop, Trip-Pop, Boy Band-Pop, Riot Grrrl-Pop, it goes on), and the last decade saw the boom of the streaming revolution that we’re still in the middle of. Obviously there were more to these decades than those broad themes, but it gets the job done.

So what is the trend that will define this decade? Is this the age of Doomsday Disco (EDM, Reflektor), Mumblecore (what much of “Indie Rock” has become), or Black Stadium Rock (Kanye West and the realization of his Thriller-sized ego)? Or will we just clump together all this music, much of it angry and noisy, and call it “Great Recession Music”?

It’s too early to tell – we’re only halfway through this decade. There’s no telling to what we’ll be listening to within the next five years and what albums will come to define this decade. So to try and find any sort of pattern in the beginning of 2015 is challenging and probably not necessary.

But like I said, we all love these lists – so let’s have a little fun.

Below is a list of my 40 favorite albums released between 2010 and 2014 and the albums that have defined this decade for me so far. I tried to make things more interesting by describing each album using only one sentence. Of course you cannot properly sum up an entire album in one sentence – but it’s fun to try to anyways!

Please note – this is NOT a list of the GREATEST albums of the decade. This is just a list of my personal favorites, and I hope I introduce you to some great albums that you might have missed in this decade. If this were a GREATEST list, then there would be some albums that I wouldn’t have omitted and some that I would have taken off. For example, Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 good kid, m.A.A.d city is without a doubt one of the best quality albums of the decade, but I have no personal attachment to it – I just like it because it’s good.

There are also lots of albums that I’ve heard are great but I’ve never sat down with and listened to all the way through (Frank Ocean, Grimes, Tame Impala, etc). When I do my inevitable End-Of-Decade list at the end of 2019, some of those albums might appear after I listen to them more.

Also, some of these albums on this list aren’t necessarily “good”, but there’s something about them that I absolutely love or can relate to. Maybe it’s because it’s from a favorite artist, or maybe I have a strong association with that album and where I first heard it or who/what it reminds me of. No matter the reason, these are the albums that I loved the most in this decade so far.

And yes, there’s a good chance that I left out one of your favorite albums. Please forgive me.

This list is in alphabetical order, and click on each album cover for a link to a song from the album.

 

Alright, let’s begin.

Playlist: Zach Braff’s iPod

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This new playlist combines many of the songs from the Garden State and Scrubs soundtracks in addition to some other songs that I think match Braff’s great range of taste in music. There are also some songs on here from his new movie Wish I Was Here released in limited release July 18th.

 

My Pandora Stations: Moody Atmosphere

I’m introducing a new mini-series called “My Pandora Stations”.  I have multiple customized stations on Pandora that I enjoy, so every now and then I’ll show you the secrets on how to make them, what to expect, and when to use them.

My Station Name: Moody Atmosphere

Made Of: Bon Iver, Smashing Pumpkins, and The National

When I Listen To It: When I need to get a lot of studying done or if I’m reading.  Mostly atmospheric music that lets you focus on other activities.

What To Expect: Moody folky music with some instrumentals every now and then.

Have an important paper to write?  Want to stay in your room with all the lights dimmed and release your inner folky?  Do you have Bon Iver stuck in your head all day?

Well then my Moody Atmosphere station is perfect for you.

I like to listen to this station whenever I want to sit back and let my mind relax or to have something playing while I do homework or if I simply want to enjoy the music.  The songs that usually come up tend to be more on the acoustic and slow side, though I’ll get a popular upbeat song every now and then.  Highly recommended for those long nights/winder days where times moves all so slow, and it’s not all that bad.

Bon Iver: “Beth/Rest” – The Version You Need To Hear

Last summer’s Bon Iver, the second album from the creative vehicle of Justin Vernon, just keeps growing on me.  While at first I wasn’t a huge fan of the band’s departure from the folkiness that made For Emma, Forever Ago so great, the expanded sound has grown more appealing over multiple listens.

One track that confused me at first was the album’s closer “Beth/Rest”.  It sounded like a Peter Gabriel B-side that had no place in Bon Iver’s catalog.  But then I saw them live and they killed the song, and soon “Beth/Rest” became one of my favorites off the album.

However, while the maxed out live version made me appreciate the song more, hearing the song stripped down to just piano made me absolutely love this song.

First here’s the song off the album.

 

Now here’s the “piano” version.

 

Now I hope you know what I mean when I say this is the version of “Beth/Rest” you need to hear.

Music Journal: Yeah, About Those Grammys…

Due to my busy schedule, I will not be able to report on this year’s Grammys right away.  It breaks my heart that I will not be able to report to you on Monday morning a night that many people in the music business consider deceptive, out of touch, and boring.

I shall report my reactions as soon as I can, but until then here’s a little something to get you ready for Sunday night.  This song is up for both record and song of the year, and it’s my favorite to win at least one of those awards.

 

Also, check out who’s up for what awards at this year’s Grammys.

 

Music Journal: My Favorite Albums of 2011

In 2011 the album became cool again.  This year I actually got excited for the release dates of many albums, something that hasn’t happened in a long time.  Though there wasn’t one huge album that towered over the rest, except maybe Adele’s second album in terms of album sales, there were a lot of great albums for almost every kind of music fan in 2011.  Here are my favorite albums released this year and then some honorable mentions.

James Blake – James Blake

One of the most powerful album I’ve heard in a long time, this will be the album that I’ll remember the most from this year.  The album is soulful and minimal, using post-dubstep electronics that are usually anything but minimal.  James Blake should be someone to look out for in the future, but his proper debut album has already established his place in music.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Before this album came out, Justin Vernon was known more for the story of his debut rather than the music itself (loner musician is sad, goes to a cabin in the winter woods, makes a record, becomes friends with Kanye West).  However with Bon Iver, he is no longer confined to his own myth.  Now he is, to me at least, the Peter Gabriel of our generation, a creative artist who is defining his career with such great songs such as “Calgary” and “Holocene”.  If For Emma, Forever Ago is his winter record, then this is his spring record.

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

My favorite singer-songwriter finally released an album after a three year drought, and it did not disappoint.  It sounds like a classic Neil Young record, and it is stacked up there with Heartbreaker and Gold.  It’s good to have you back Mr. Adams.

Wilco – The Whole Love

Wilco had nothing to prove in 2011, but Jeff Tweedy and his most consistent lineup created a fantastic album anyway.  The album keeps the weird dream-pop of Being There and experimental of A Ghost Is Born, all while being one of Wilco’s most accessible albums.  Every song is great, but “One Sunday Morning” could be a top five Wilco song.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Where as their first album sounds medieval, Fleet Foxes’s second album sounds timeless.  This was the album I kept in my car the longest this year, it was the perfect driving album.  This album stopped this band from becoming a one-album wonder and shows a promising future from this band.

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

The album I didn’t expect to love so much, especially considering the past work of the band that is the closest thing to a modern day Smiths.  Simple lyrics, stripped down production, lovable songs, what more do you want from an album?

Honorable Mentions (Albums You Should Still Check Out)

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Drive Motion Picture Soundtrack

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Tom Waits – Bad As Me

M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

The Strokes – Angles

This is an awesome album collection, and I am excited to see what I’ll be buying in 2012.

Music Journal: My Favorite Songs of 2011

Well 2011 is almost at an end, and what a year it was.  There’s a lot to cover from this year, so for my first of three parts of my end-of-year review, I’ll play for you guys my favorite songs released this year.  There’s a variety of song here, from rap, electro, folk, rock, indie, and even cheesy 80s jazz pop (and that’s a compliment). Here are the songs, in alphabetical order by artist, released in 2011 that I listened to the most.  Enjoy.

“Mona Lisa” – Atlas Sound

“Wash.” – Bon Iver

“Swim Club” – The Cave Singers

“LES” – Childish Gambino

“Need You Now” – Cut Copy

“You Are A Tourist” – Death Cab for Cutie

“Kaputt” – Destroyer

“Over My Dead Body” – Drake

“Helplessness Blues” – Fleet Foxes

“Down in the Valley” – The Head And The Heart

“That’s My Bitch” – Jay-Z and Kanye West

“Video Games” – Lana Del Rey

“Midnight City” – M83

“Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” – My Morning Jacket

“Super Bass” – Nicki Minaj

“Taken For A Fool” – The Strokes

“Yonkers” – Tyler The Creator

“Fail Forever” – When Saints Go Machine

“One Sunday Morning” – Wilco

“Cameras” – Wiz Khalifa

Any songs that I left out? comment below or hit me up on twitter @BradyWGerber and let me know your favorite track from 2011.