20 Songs For September 2015

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Every month I make a playlist of the songs, old and new, that I listened to the most this month, and I write about why I picked each each song. At the bottom is a Spotify playlist with all these songs.

Grandaddy – “A.M. 180”

(This month Grandaddy announced that they were making a new album. It was the perfect excuse to go back through their discography and rediscover some great songs that I forgot about. Under the Western Freeway and The Sophtware Slump are the two albums you want.)

The New Pornographers – “Use It”

(I don’t listen to the New Pornos a lot, but when I do I really get into it for a couple of listens. Twin Cinema is a great starting place for newbies.)

Elvis Costello – “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”

(This month I went through a pretty intense, albeit brief, early Costello phase. This is one of his best singles off his debut album.)

Tweedy – “Nobody Dies Anymore”

(This is one of those songs that you can listen to a million times and each time you hear something new that will blow you away, whether it be in the cryptic all-meaning lyrics or in the disarmingly simple arrangements. This is also a great “Summer is ending and Fall is finally here and it makes me sad but it also makes me glad” kind of song. Sukierae has really grown on me and I can see it gaining some sort of cult status, much like how 808s and Heartbreak was a low key influential album until Pitchfork decided to do a thinkpiece about it.)

Blink-182 – “What’s My Age Again”

(Because I turned 23 this month…)

IGBO – “Creamy”

(It was on one of my Friday Mixtapes, yet I still love this song oh so much.)

R.E.M. – “King Of Birds”

(See my note about Elvis Costello.)

Craig Finn – “Newmyer’s Roof”

(I’m a big fan of this album, especially this song. It’s a genuinely strong song that tackles 9/11 and doesn’t try and force or exaggerate any dishonest feelings for the sake of imagery or patriotism.)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – “Bottled In Cork”

(Ted Leo was one of those musicians I always heard about from friends to check out. For one reason or another I never did, but this month I was finally given a specific starting point: The Brutalist Bricks. It’s a fun album, bouncing around between different styles and, like the best rock & roll, it never takes itself too seriously. If you like this then you’ll want to check out the rest of his work.)

Bob Mould – “The Descent”

(I ignored this album when it came out 3 years ago because I wasn’t a Hüsker Dü fan back then. Now I know better, and Silver Age is a worthy solo album that makes a case for Bob Mould The Songwriter instead of Bob Mould The One Guy In Hüsker Dü.)

The Libertines – “Anthem For Doomed Youth”

(Anthems For Doomed Youth is a great album in the same way that the most recent Strokes albums are great; it’s good music that has virtually no hype or press trying to turn it into an event. All you have is the music, but for some people that’s not enough. Oh well. It won’t convert you into a Libertines fan, but for the rest of us it’s a nice thing to have another Libertines album in the world, especially one this good.)

Gillian Welch – “I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll”

(Like a lot of musician I love, I discovered Gillian Welch through Ryan Adams. She sang and played instruments on Heartbreaker and she was an associate producer and performer on the Grammy winning and essential listening O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Time (The Revelator) is a great album if you also like Heartbreaker.)

Deerhunter – “Breaker”

(I’ve always liked the idea of Deerhunter, a band that combines nearly every great genre of the past 30+ years, throws them into a magical blender, and churns out Amazing Southern Americana Gothic Rock that is brilliant down to the very jangly riffs that they steal from their fellow Georgia neighbor R.E.M. However I can never finish an album without getting bored. Both Microcastle and Halcyon Digest are considered masterpieces (and they probably are) yet I can never listen to them from start to finish. Sometimes it’s just too ~weird~ man. However “Breaker” is already my favorite Deerhunter song because it sounds like the Deerhunter that I want to fall in love with. I’m sure that this new album won’t be the masterpiece that triumphs Halcyon Digest (though you ever know), but I have a feeling that this new album will be this band’s gateway drug.)

Josh Ritter – “Right Moves”

(Josh Ritter is one of my favorite songwriters, and when he premiered a new song off his upcoming new album I celebrated by listening to all his albums. The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is probably the album I’ve listened to the least, but I still fall in love with the wide range that this album covers.)

The Promise Ring – “Is This Thing On?”

(The best part of this year’s emocore revival is probably all the old albums that I’ve discovered from the late 90s and early 2000s. Nothing Feels Good (a very emo album title indeed) is getting a reissue, thus I play this song in celebration.)

Ryan Adams – “Bad Blood”

(Of course.)

Buffy Sainte-Marie – “Ke Sakihitin Awasis (I Love You Baby)”

(I had no idea who Buffy Sainte-Marie was when she beat out Drake at this year’s Polaris awards. So I wrote about her.)

Built To Spill – “Velvet Waltz”

(I was going to go see Built To Spill this month so I spend some time with their old albums. It didn’t work out, but at least I have a few new favorite BTS songs.)

Jeff Tweedy – “The Ballad Of The Opening Band”

(I usually try and stick with one song per artist, but this song is one of my cornerstones of my Fall Playlist, so it belongs here.)

The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – “You Can’t Live There Forever”

(This Album Is Not The Masterpiece That It’s Hyped Up To Be & That’s Ok Because Because It Still Has A Lot Of Great Songs.)

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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.

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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.

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Playlist: 20 Songs For August 2013 (Via Spotify)

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The month of August: back to school, back to college football, back to Breaking Bad, and back to listening to some cool tunes. This month’s playlist includes two bands that have “deer” in their names, I finally watch Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, and I pay tribute to The Postal Service and J.J. Cale.

Here are 20 songs for August 2013.

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Playlist: 20 Songs From May 2013 (Via Spotify)

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In May we said goodbye to a legend from the 60s, we all listened to new albums from Daft Punk, The National and Vampire Weekend (and they were all good!), and I listened to a lot of Brit-Pop (more specifically I listened to a lot of music from the Brit-Pop era).

Here are my 20 songs from May 2013.

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