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.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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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.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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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.

 

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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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.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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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.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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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.

 

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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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.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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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.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Grammy Nominations: Who Should Win, Who Will Win, And Who Got Snubbed

The Grammy nominations have been announced, and there were a lot of pleasant surprises.  Some things I expected (Kanye West and Adele with the most nominations), but there were some genuine shockers (Bon Iver getting so many nominations, Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy not up for Album of the Year).  Here is the list for the most prominent awards and their nominees along with who I think should win, who will probably win, and who I believe got snubbed out of a well-deserved chance at this year’s Grammys.  Also to clarify, Song of the Year means that it was the best written song and the award goes to the songwriters.  Record of the Year is the best sounding song and goes to the performers and producers.

Album of the Year

Adele – 21

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Bruno Mars – Do-Wops & Hooligans

Rihanna – Loud

Who Should Win: None of these.  I’m very unimpressed with this selection.  The only album here I’ve heard is Wasting Light which is a great album, but there were much better albums that came out this year.

Who Will Win: 21, because that’s what most people heard all year.

Who Got Snubbed: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This was truly the album of the year.  It was commercially successful while still being artistically strong.  The Purple Rain of our generation (might not be a good comparison musically, but hopefully you get what I mean).

Record of the Year

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Katy Perry – “Firework”

Who Should Win: “Holocene”.  The production of this song is gorgeous and is matched with an equally gorgeous vocal work from Justin Vernon.  A highlight from a truly great album.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  It was impossible to escape this song, and unfortunately I bet most people have never heard “Holocene” (for those people, please click here).  But then again, I said the same thing about Arcade Fire at last year’s Grammys.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – “Taken For A Fool”.  Listen to the song here and see if you agree.

Song of the Year

Kanye West – “All of the Lights”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Who Should Win: “The Cave”.  This is such a great and uplifting song, something that has been missing from popular music for a long time.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  Same reason as why it’ll win Record of the Year.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart – “Down In The Valley”.  A simple yet powerful song.  Click here to make up your mind on it.

Best New Artist

Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

The Band Perry

Who Should Win: Either Bon Iver or Nicki Minaj.  Both have been around for a decent time making quality music, but they are now getting due credit.  I’ll be happy just as long as J. Cole, Skrillex, or The Band Perry doesn’t win the award.

Who Will Win: This is a tough call.  Probably Nicki Minaj but there’s a decent chance for Bon Iver.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart.  I’m not sure if they would be eligible, but this is a solid band with a promising future.

Best Rock Album

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Jeff Beck – Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You

Wilco – The Whole Love

Who Should Win: The Whole Love.  I’m so glad Wilco gets recognition from the Grammys.  This was by far my favorite album out of all of these, and I actually listened to all of these (expect Jeff Beck).

Who Will Win: Wasting Light.  The album did well commercially and it really is a great album.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – Angels.  This might not be the band’s best album, but it was better than most of the albums on this list.

Best Alternative Album

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys

Foster the People – Torches

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Who Should Win: Bon Iver.  For goodness sake please give Justin Vernon a Grammy.

Who Will Win: No Idea: This is a hard call because all these albums did equally well commercially.  Radiohead is probably the most well known band here, but they don’t deserve this Grammy.

Who Got Snubbed: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues.  This album had my vote for the best album of the year so far.  Though my opinion may have changed, this album still deserves a Grammy.

Best Rap Album

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV

Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Who Should Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  The least the Grammys can do for Kanye is to give him this award to make up for not being nominated for Album of the Year.

Who Will Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  I have faith that the Grammys won’t screw this up, but anything can happen.

Who Got Snubbed: Nobody.  That’s because MBDTF deserves this award.

Other Thoughts On This Year’s Grammys

James Blake should have been nominated for Electronica Album of the Year.

Congratulations to Fleet Foxes for being nominated for Folk Album of the Year.

So how did I do?  Are my predictions accurate or way out of line?  Comment below or Tweet at me (@BradyWGerber) and let me know who should bring home the big trophies at this year’s Grammys.


Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Music Journal: The Best Albums and Songs of 2011 (So Far!)

Well it’s finally August and it’s the halfway point of the year (ok technically July is the halfway point, but I just got around to doing this; better late than never right?)  So far 2011 has been a pretty good year for music.  There were plenty of great albums that have come out, but I will say that there isn’t one album that towers over the rest.  Here are the albums and songs that I feel are the best ones to have come out this year so far.

Please remember this is all subjective!  I can only give my opinion and I’m sure people will disagree with me on some of my opinions.  Also, there were plenty of albums that came out this year that I haven’t gotten around to listening (Cut Copy, Ty The Creator, etc).  These awards only reflect my music taste and what I have been listening to this year so far.

BEST ALBUM

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

For a long time I was torn between picking Bon Iver or James Blake for this year’s best album so far.  These were the two albums I was most looking forward to, and in no way did these albums not match my expectations.  However, for every great moment on both of these albums there were plenty of filler, and sometimes I caught myself becoming bored.

Helplessness Blues completely caught me off guard.

This album is such a pleasure to listen to, and it works well as an album – all the songs complement each other and it rarely drags on (though “The Shrine / An Argument” is pushing it with its eight long minutes).  This album does not abandon the band’s freak-folk style that made them such a hit in the beginning – you gotta love those harmonies – but they are more confident this time around and they greatly expand their creativity without sacrificing the songs.  Compared to their debut album Fleet Foxes (which is still worth checking out), Helplessness Blues is more colorful, as shown by its beautiful album cover.  This album turned a former skeptic into a fan, and now I believe this band is worth following.

Honorable Mentions (aka you should still buy these albums)

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Yuck – Yuck

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

The Strokes – Angels

James Blake – James Blake

BEST SONG

Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”

The highlight to an excellent album, this was the song that turned me into a fan.

Honorable Mentions

The Head and the Heart – “Down In The Valley”

Yuck – “Shook Down”

James Blake – “Limit To Your Love”

Bon Iver – “Calgary”

The Strokes – “Taken For A Fool”

Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist”

Well how did I do?  Were my opinions not good enough for you, or did I hit the nail on the head?  Comment to let me know and also tweet your favorite albums and songs so far released this year @BradyWGerber.

Stay tuned for more music awards!

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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