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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My 10 Favorite Music Videos of 2013

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Here they are, in no particular order, my favorite music videos of 2013.

Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop”

 

Kanye West – “Bound 2” (and the spoof)

 

Bob Dylan – “Like A Rolling Stone”

Click here to watch (and interact!) with Dylan’s classic.

 

Atoms for Peace – “Ingenue”

 

Mumford and Sons – “Hopeless Wanderer”

 

Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines”

 

MGMT – Your Life Is A Lie

 

SAFE – “Black Satin Living Room”

 

James Blake – “Retrograde”

 

Ylvis – “The Fox” (What Does the Fox Say?)

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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Mid-Year Report: My Favorite Albums of 2013 So Far

2013 has been very kind to the inner rock and roll loyalist in me.

When I’m talking about rock and roll I’m not talking about four dudes playing loud guitars with no electronics, though there was plenty of that in 2013 which I also loved. I’m talking about the idea of an album crafted by your favorite band meeting some sort of expectation or a new band coming out of nowhere with a debut that blows you away. The past couple of years have been great for music, but there were only a handful of true classic albums that’ll stand the test of time, though I’m sure I’ll be eating my words in 2029 when I’m reviewing the reissue of a Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album.

But the first half of 2013 is already full of classic albums that we know now are fantastic. We had comeback albums from classic artist (David Bowie, Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, The Strokes), career-peaking albums from established artists (Vampire Weekend, Kanye West), and we’ve heard albums that will finally bring bands from the underground and possibly into long(er) careers (Savages, Deafheaven, Kurt Vile). And even take away all the critically praised albums, there were plenty of other albums that were just great, albums that even if they weren’t life changing were still worth shelling out fifteen buck for.

2013 is already the year of the classic album, and I’m not the only one who is relieved to hear that. Here are my favorite albums of 2013 so far in no particular order:

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

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I could go on all day about Vampire Weekend’s maturity from Columbia lads to adult New Yorkers and how this album comes full circle to their realization of all our expectations of this band destined to make the best popular music not made by Paul Simon. And believe me, I really want to. But I won’t. Partly because it’s too easy to judge Vampire Weekend based on how far they’ve come from Oxford Commas to Diane Young, which most other reviewers (including myself) have done.

But my main reason is simple and innocent enough – Modern Vampires of the City is just a great fucking album. Forget their quirkiness, forget their cleverness, forget their backstory – just focus on the music. Listen to every note, harmony, and lyric and hear how everything is crafted with the upmost care and that these songs are true works of art. Gone is any sense of pretentiousness and instead we have an earnest album from a band finally hitting their stride.

If nothing else, listen to “Hannah Hunt”, which as of now is my song of the year, and just sit back and be grateful that a band in 2013 could make something so great.

Read my full review here.

 

Kanye West – Yeezus

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Here’s something that won’t shock you – I love Yeezus. I love Kanye West being Kanye West at his most Kanye West, I love this anti-pop album that’s both abrasive yet instantly likable, and I love to see haters shake their heads at Kanye simply for being Kanye. Here’s something that might shock you – Yeezus it not the album of the year. Not even close. Well how about Kanye’s best album? Nope, that’s still My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

But still Yeezus is so far (and will be) the most fun album to talk about in 2013 and it will still stay fresh in our ears come around December. Whether you love or hate this album you probably already have a strong opinion on it, which makes Yeezus the ultimate pop album and Kanye the ultimate pop star.

Read my full review here.

 

The Strokes – Comedown Machine

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Comedown Machine is my favorite Strokes album. I know that I’m supposed to say that Is This It? is my favorite, but that album has been wrapped up in so much legend that I think we like the idea of that album more than the actual music. Comedown Machine is great because the songs are strong and The Strokes actually sound like a band again having fun playing with each other. If the band decides to split for good, then this wouldn’t be a bad way to end things.

Read my full review here.

 

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

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I’ve always liked the idea of JT doing a classic throwback blue-eyed soul album, but at first 20/20 left me uninspired. Now I’ve seen the errors of my ways. The most impressive thing about this album is how JT manages to sound modern yet classic at the same time. This is partly due to some fantastic production, but you have to give credit to JT for being able to appeal to rock fans and pop fans with the same song. The album is very hit and miss and most of the songs are too long, but when JT hits it’s a home run.

Read my full review here.

 

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

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Trouble Will Find Me is the sound of The National becoming the arena indie-rock band they were always destined to be and having nothing left to prove, so of course this is the most National-sounding of National albums – gloomy, beautiful, and depicting every day worries as if they were life or death. Even if it’s too moderate for its own good, a good National album is still better than most albums released in any given year.

 

My Bloody Valentine – m b v

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Radiohead had to follow up Kid A, Springsteen had to follow up Born To Run, and My Bloody Valentine had to follow up Loveless. It’s always a daunting task to make your next record when your last one is already hailed as a classic, which immediately puts a world of pressure upon a band that most of the times proves to be too much.

It’s one thing to release an album that has been in the works for nearly 20 years, but it’s a completely different for that said album to actually be satisfying. m b v sounds like the next logical album for My Bloody Valentine; a little different from Loveless but still capturing that signature swirling guitar sound that helped define modern indie-rock. Don’t worry kids, Loveless is still the band’s masterpiece, but what’s incredible with m b v is how well it stands on its own feet. There are only about two songs that remotely sound like “singles”, but no one goes to MBV for singles but for albums, and this album delivers. And if nothing else, many people will go back to discover Loveless, which is a beautiful moment for any music fan.

 

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Daft Punk’s place in electronic dance music history has never been in jeopardy, but for a while their relevance was. Their last album was made eight years ago and it was a dud and their contribution to the Tron soundtrack was weaker than anyone will admit.

So how does Daft Punk confront their weakening relevance in modern music? They made a classic throwback non-electronic dance album of course. Random Access Memories is full of dance tunes that sound like tributes to 70s and 80s dance music. An incredible list of contributors and some quality production can only do so much, but in the case of Random Access Memories they secure Daft Punk as relevant as ever. And if nothing else, “Get Lucky” is the perfect single for 2013.

Read my full review here.

 

Savages – Silence Yourself

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There were stronger albums made in 2013, but what separates Silence Yourself from every other album this year so far is Savages’s total confidence in itself, and this is their debut album! The album is a ruthless onslaught of post-punk confronting the modern sense of losing touch in a time when we’ve never been so connected. The guitars and drums match the intensity of Jehnny Beth’s vocals who also manages to write lyrics that stand tall among a genre that is mostly known for noise. Expect plenty of great things in the future from Savages.

 

Other great albums to check out:

Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

 

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

 

James Blake – Overgrown

 

Deafheaven – Sunbather

 

Mikal Cronin – MCII

 

Albums to (hopefully) look forward for the rest of 2013:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Self Titled (July 23)

John Mayer – Paradise Valley (August 13)

MGMT – MGMT (August 20)

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks (September 3)

Arctic Monkeys – AM (September 9)

Drake – Nothing Was the Same (September 17)

Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull (September 24)

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Part 2 (September 30)

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (?)

Arcade Fire – TBA (?)

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: 20 Songs From April 2013 (Via Spotify)

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Well April marked the final days of winter – we still had snow in Indiana at the beginning of the month – which means I was on my annual National kick during the ugly transition between winter and spring (and because they have a new album coming out!). There was also plenty of great new music from James Blake, Kurt Vile, Daft Punk, Fall Out Boy, Iron And Wine, and Phoenix.

Here are my 20 songs from April 2013.

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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James Blake – Overgrown [In 3 Words]

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Lush – This is a word I wouldn’t use to describe James Blake’s 2011 debut album. The arrangements on Overgrown are more confident and interesting and it’s nice to see Blake approaching his songwriting to incorporate more textures and less “drops”. The best songs from his debut were powerful in their simplicity, but on Overgrown the best songs are the busiest. The complexity on tracks such as “DLM” and “Life Around Here” are big steps forward for Blake’s songwriting. Sometimes there’s too much going on (“Digital Lion” and “Voyeur”) and the core of the song gets lost by trying to add too much.

Soulful – One thing Blake fans will notice immediately on Overgrown is that Blake’s strength as a singer has grown. Where as Blake’s debut album sounded like he was trying to hide his voice behind the music, most of Overgrown put his vocals as the focus as the song. “DLM” has some of Blake’s finest singing yet and it’s a prime example of how electronic music can sound soulful. Overgrown proves that Blake is a talented singer who plays electronic music instead of being an electronic artist with some soul knowledge.

MehOvergrown is not a bad album, but it leaves me much desired. It is more assured than his debut, but it lacks the rawness that made his debut so great. Also RZA feels very out of place on “Take A Fall For Me” and Brian Eno on “Digital Lion” doesn’t really add anything special.

Keep this in mind: Dubstep is no longer as fascinating as it once was in 2011, which back in the day helped Blake become the one dubstep artist dubstep haters could like. A lot of the reason why Blake’s debut album was so successful was because of all the hype, but now James Blake is just another successful artist still releasing music.

This is the kind of album that needs to grow with time, and already with each re-listen I’m picking up on bits of the album I now enjoy. Who knows, maybe I’ll love this album by the end of the year.

Overall: Though his best songs are on Overgrown, there’s nothing about James Blake in 2013 that stands out more than James Blake in 2011. Fans will enjoy it, but newcomers might leave the album wondering what the hype was all about two years ago. Like the Matrix movies, the sequel is actually not bad, but Overgrown plays the same tricks as the original and it leaves the audience wanting more.

Essential Tracks: “Life Round Here”, “Retrograde”, “DLM”

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 Video Theater: James Blake – “Retrograde”

God damn it, James Blake sure knows how to make music videos.

The video for “Retrograde”, the first official single off his upcoming LP Overgrown due April 8th, is as surreal and pretty as the song, which itself is fantastic. Props to Martin de Thurah for another great James Blake video.

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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(At Least) 7 Albums To Look Forward To In 2013

After reading Consequence of Sound’s list of their most excited releases for 2013, I was compelled to make my own list of albums I’m looking forward to listening (hopefully!) this year. A lot of the due dates and album artworks are not confirmed yet, so I’m working with what I got.

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My Bloody Valentine – TBD

Mention the band My Bloody Valentine to your hipster friend and he will become bubbly and ramble on about how their 1991 album Loveless is one of THE greatest albums of all time (no, like really, like, THE GREATEST). Teasing aside (Loveless is indeed worth looking into), the band’s sudden announcement of a new album in over 22 years is causing quite the ruckus. Expectations are impossibly high, but My Bloody Valentine is a band that could actually match those expectations.  This is already 2013’s most scrutinized album, but it could also be its best.

Release date – Apparently January, since the band has confirmed that the album is 100% completed.

 

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Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God

I have no idea what to expect from My Morning Jacket’s lead man’s first solo album, but judging from the album cover I’d say he’ll cover a little bit of everything. Hey who knows, maybe It’ll attract more My Morning Jacket fans, and that’s always a good thing.

Release date – February 5th

 

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Atoms For Peace – Amok

The debut album from a band consisting of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea? Yes please.

Release date – February 18th

 

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

As fantastic as Nick Cave is, it seems that he and the Bad Seeds don’t have an accessible album for any newcomer interested in this living legend. Push the Sky Away might very well be that much needed album. Or it could be just another Nick Cave record, which would still be awesome.

Release date – February 19th

 

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HAIM – TBD

I first hear HAIM (pronounced like “lime”) last month from their single, “Forever”, and I immediately fell in love with these girls. A lot of comparisons to Fleetwood Mac are being thrown around, but that doesn’t quite do justice to HAIM’s well crafted indie pop that doesn’t feel in any way dated.

Release date – Sometime in March

 

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Phoenix – TBD

Their smash 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix grabbed the entire world’s attention with their French electro-pop that could sum up what indie rock sounded like in the late 2000s, but now it’s time for their much desired follow up. No word on the overall album’s sound, but apparently it’s very “experimental”, whatever that means…

Release date – April

 

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Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Vile himself described his new album as, “Just rock”. Good enough for me.

Release date – Spring

 

Here are some more releases that I’m looking forward to in 2013, but unfortunately I have almost no knowledge of release dates (some of these might not even be released this year).

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Arcade Fire

Cloud Nothings

Daft Punk

James Blake

Lady Gaga

Vampire Weekend

 

Here’s to 2013!

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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