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Artists of the Decade – 2000s (#1 to 10)

5th Jan 10 (Tue) 5 comments

Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions (1/1/2010 blog link)

  • Dweezil Zappa
  • Tori Amos
  • Celldweller
  • Iron & Wine
  • King’s X
  • Derek Webb

Artists of the Decade (#21 to 25) (1/1/2010 blog link)

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)
24 ~ Peter Mulvey

23 ~ Opeth

22 ~ dredg

21 ~ Holy Fuck

Artists of the Decade (#11 to 20) (1/4/2010 blog link)

20 ~ Pedro the Lion (and David Bazan solo)
19 ~ Jurassic 5

18 ~ My Brightest Diamond

17 ~ Nellie McKay

16 ~ Secret Chiefs 3
15 ~ Over the Rhine

14 ~ Mike Patton

13 ~ Ani DiFranco
12 ~ Johnny Cash
11 ~ Dave Douglas

And now on to the final ten

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10 ~ Glen Phillips

At the turn of the decade / century / millenium, Glen’s band Toad the Wet Sprocket were breaking up. He went on to make several solo albums (Winter Pays For Summer being my fave thus far), several mostly brilliant side ventures (Plover, RemoteTreeChildren, WPA, Mutual Admiration Society), and even reunite with Toad for some tours. He’s as active as ever and also quite the tweeter (oft humorous / oft political).

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9 ~ Porcupine Tree (and Steven Wilson projects)

Near the beginning of the decade, I was giving up on “prog rock.” Then a buddy told me about Porcupine Tree (thanks, SteveC). 2002’s In Absentia is amazing, and I quickly bought PT’s catalogue. The entire decade was full of Steven Wilson projects – whether Porcupine Tree or his many (and I mean many) side projects.  Speaking of… Steven’s 6th and final Cover Versions CD and 7″ vinyl will be out sometime soon in the coming months.

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8 ~ Sufjan Stevens

Illinoise was Paste’s #1 album of the decade. I think it’s in my Top 10 (as mentioned earlier, I honestly can’t bring myself to widdle down my album list to 20 or even 50 for the decade). Illinoise was my first foray into Sufjan’s world. The infatuation was near immediate. He ranges from poppy, to eclectic folk, to avant-electronic, to chamber music… and I think his song titles, while sometimes considered pretentious, put him in my hero list. :) The later part of the decade showed a more secluded Sufjan and a recant on the 50 States “promise.” However, I’m still very excited about what’s up his sleeves for the next decade.

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7 ~ John Zorn (Masada and otherwise)

I knew of Zorn in the 1990s (via the connection to Mike Patton and specifically Mr. Bungle), but didn’t get into him until 2003 or so. Even still, I didn’t know about Masada (his klezmer-jazz quartet) until mid-decade. Their recorded studio work was all in the 1990s, but they stayed active touring throughout the 2000s… and John Zorn kept actively writing Masada Book Two – which is a book of music covered by other bands and has seen a dozen fantastic releases on his label, Tzadik. I just counted, and I have 82 John Zorn related disks from the decade (CDs, DVDs, vinyl). So, um, yeah, he’s prolific. The Masada / Bar Kokhba / Electric Masada is my favorite category of Zorn releases; but his Filmworks series, Moonchild Trio (Mike Patton, Joey Baron & Trevor Dunn), and The Gift / Dreamers band are also key releases. 2010 has 12 new Zorn releases on the docket. *drool*

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6 ~ Maynard James Keenan (Tool / A Perfect Circle / Puscifer)

One of the best singers in the world of rock, Maynard has kept busy… this decade: three bands and eight or so albums, several DVD releases, remix albums & singles, vinyl singles, and a new winery. While he doesn’t always nail it every time, his and his bands’ hit rates far exceed most. His solid work ethic points to more releases next decade. A recent interview leads me to believe that the touring side of things may slow down some, but I’m hoping that just means “less touring” and not “no touring.” There have been hints of Tool and A Perfect Circle studio stuff in the near future… and Puscifer seems alive and kicking (and keen on the internet EP thing). Puscifer is hitting the Midwest and East Coast in early 2010.

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5 ~ Daniel Johns (Silverchair & The Dissociatives)

2002’s Diorama (by Silverchair) is a contender for best album of the decade for me. Daniel Johns followed that up with a side project with Paul Mac called The Dissociatives. Their self-titled debut (2004) is also a contender for best album of the decade… then Silverchair came roaring back in 2007 with Young Modern – another strong contender. Daniel Johns and his couple of bands has large gaps between studio releases, but they all score high every time for me. They’ve moved well beyond their debut (which they released in the 90s at age 15). 2010 promises the follow-up to Young Modern… so, look out, Best of 2010 lists…

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4 ~ Elliott Smith

I found out about Elliott in early 2000, a little bit after Figure 8 came out. I had the opportunity to see him live at Southgate House (Newport, KY) on the Figure 8 Tour. He quickly became an important part of my musical diet. His albums hit me emotionally, but he left us too early (he died of apparent self-induced stab wounds to the heart on October 21, 2003). I still get goosebumps with his music and quite frankly have never been affected by a celebrity’s death like I am by Elliott’s. An album and more of his unreleased material has made its way out since his death. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there were one, I’d hope to get to meet Elliott and have a beer with him.

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3 ~ Sigur Rós

Ágætis byrjun and ( ) may be the most beautiful things that I don’t understand due to language barriers – two perfect albums, if you ask me. This past decade Sigur Rós went on to make four full length albums, a handful of EPs and soundtracks, several world tours, an utterly gorgeous tour documentary called Heima (that rivals Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii in stunning beauty),  and still find time to take time off (well, time off except for Jónsi – who released a duo album with his partner Alex Sommers and is set to release a solo album in early 2010).

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2 ~ Radiohead (and Thom & Jonny solo)

One of the most unarguably overrated bands of all-time… yet, one of my favorites. The decade started with Kid A and ended with some Thom Yorke solo activity… it was a full decade of albums, tours, solo work (the aforementioned Thom solo stuff plus two soundtracks from Jonny). They branch out and sometimes get more praise and credit than is merited (I know skads of indie artists doing the “pay what you want” method years before In Rainbows), but I suppose Radiohead were the first formerly major-label / international band to do so.  Anyway, Radiohead, despite public pressure, continue to evolve as a band. That scores major points with me. They’re hitting the studio in January 2010… yippie.

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1 ~ Kevin Moore (Chroma Key & OSI)

Yeah, the #1 of the decade who few know about… Kevin Moore left the progressive rock band Dream Theater in 1994, shedding the seemingly antithetic “progressive” constraints of the progressive scene to make his own music.  Chroma Key’s debut Dead Air For Radios (1999) is my #1 album of all-time… but it came out in the late 90s. The 2000 album You Go Now is probably in my Top 10 of all-time as well. The branching out into scoring with Kevin’s solo soundtrack Ghost Book (for the Turkish horror movie OKUL), political/religious-imagery radio/mix-taping with Memory Hole 1, and the new band project with Jim Matheos called the Office of Strategic Influence (aka O.S.I.) solidified Kevin in my favorite artists list. I’m looking forward to more Chroma Key, O.S.I., Memory Hole, or solo work that Kevin puts out… hopefully soon.

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As pointed out the other day, the 2010s are shaping up to be a great decade… see you on the other side!

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid

Oh, and for those who say that the decade ends at the end of 2010… meh. I’m starting with 0 and ending with 9 (like a LOT of people). Rationale: the 80s, the 90s… you don’t say the 80s went from 1/1/1981 to 12/31/1990 or the 90s from 1/1/1991 to 12/31/2000.

Artists of the Decade – 2000s (#11 to 20)

4th Jan 10 (Mon) 5 comments

Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions (1/1/2010 blog link)

  •  Dweezil Zappa
  • Tori Amos
  • Celldweller
  • Iron & Wine
  • King’s X
  • Derek Webb

Artists of the Decade (#21 to 25) (1/1/2010 blog link)

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)
24 ~ Peter Mulvey

23 ~ Opeth

22 ~ dredg

21 ~ Holy Fuck

And now round 2

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20 ~ Pedro the Lion (and David Bazan solo)

Pedro the Lion released their two most powerful and poignant albums in the early 2000s (Control and Achilles Heel), then frontman David Bazan decided to disband PTL and go solo (though by the 2000s, the writing was primarily Bazan anyway with hired guns for studios and tours).  Prior to his first full length solo album, he did a side project called Headphones, put out annual Christmas 7″ vinyls, and released a split electric/acoustic EP.  At the end of the decade, he hit the ground running with his fantastic “breaking up with God” record, Curse Your Branches.  He’s been touring in a solo fashion fairly regularly since 2007 or so and is going to hit the road again this coming spring…

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19 ~ Jurassic 5

Jurassic 5 combined four well-versed, naturally flowing MCs (Chali 2Na, Soup, Marc7 & Akil) and two melodic, creative, musicianship-driven DJs (Cut Chemist and NuMark) to create some excellently catchy hip-hop and rap.  What I loved about them is that they weren’t all about the “drugs and bitches” that the gangsta rap had just previously been all about (don’t get me wrong, I love Dr. Dre’s The Chronic from the 90s, but J5 tended to keep it positive and definitely more musically-inclined).  All six members have gone on to do solo albums and/or side projects after the band’s official breakup in the late 2000s… my faves have been Cut Chemist’s The Audience’s Listening and Chali 2Na’s Fish Outta Water.  I still long for a reunion record, and I bet it’ll happen… maybe in the 2010s?

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18 ~ My Brightest Diamond

Shara Worden’s utterly gorgeous, operatic voice is almost too much for the indie rock scene.  Almost.  It seems to fit in perfectly with Sufjan Stevens’ quirky folk and her own lush My Brightest Diamond string-infused indie pop (and the subsequent remix LPs/EPs centered around her studio albums).  In a live setting, her voice is powerful and sublime, and her stage presense is charming.  If you can get ahold of her pre-MBD band CDs, do so (AwRy was the name of the band).

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17 ~ Nellie McKay

Her debut, Get Away From Me, is a 2-disc / 18-song satirical, poignant, humorous & angsty romp.  The tag-line of “Eminem meets Doris Day” rang true.  She followed it up with a couple of more subdued albums with the occasional harder edge tune, and then by decade’s end, she released a Doris Day only album.  It seems somewhere along the line, she lost the Eminem edge, but she ended up still topping my list with the more gentle album.  Her live performance for the Doris Day material was fantastic – which definitely helped its appeal with me.  She’s a vegetarian and animal rights activist, too… so, definitely on my friendly artists list.

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16 ~ Secret Chiefs 3

Book M and Book of Horizons (both in the early 2000s) were SC3’s last officially “SC3 studio albums,” but since 2007, they have been busy with a handful of impressive 7″ vinyl singles, a “greatest hits” compilation, an amazing John Zorn Masada Book Two release in 2008 (Xaphan), a great concert DVD, a soundtrack to a made-up movie, and the ever-lasting promises of the Book of Souls (an album in the making… since… 2005?).

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15 ~ Over the Rhine

In 2001, I think Over the Rhine made one of the best albums of their career… Films for Radio.  They followed with a stunning double-album (Ohio), several solo albums by pianist Linford Detweiler, four live compilations, a few more pretty darn decent albums (including a new holiday album), and continual touring every spring & fall/winter.  All in all, it was a pretty solid decade of a healthy work ethic.  I’m curious what the 2010s will bring in the land of Over the Rhine.  One can hope that they keep evolving.

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14 ~ Mike Patton

Mr. Bungle broke up at the front end of the decade… but Mike continued on from Fantômas to Tomahawk to Lovage (with Dan the Automator & Elysian Fields’ Jennifer Charles) to Peeping Tom to multiple movie scores to many projects with John Zorn and back to Faith No More in 2009. As we lead into 2010, there are more Faith No More touring plans, more Fantômas plans, new bands Mondo Cane (50s Italian pop) and Crudo (DJ/rock-oriented), another Peeping Tom in 2011, and plenty else up his sleeve. Patton’s vocal versatility and hard work ethic make him one of my faves this past decade.

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13 ~ Ani DiFranco

Similar to Tori Amos, the 1990s found a more consistently on her game Ani. While those days are gone, in the 2000s Ani kept delivering album after album after album and has way too many wins than loses, in my book. Revelling / Reckoning is quite possibly the most important release of her career (though not necessarily my favorite in this long oevre). She’s continually active and important in my musical world.

~*~*~

12 ~ Johnny Cash

This decade brought us American III, IV & V, and the Unearthed box set… all true genius from Johnny and Rick Rubin. The video for “Hurt” (a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song) is one of the most powerfully emotional videos I’ve ever seen (he really brought something new to that original NIИ song). If Rick Rubin never does anything important in the world of music ever again, he’ll still be the one who made Johnny Cash a legend (again).

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11 ~ Dave Douglas

Founder of Greenleaf Music (a jazz label), and member of John Zorn’s Masada quartet… Dave Douglas is my #1 living trumpet player. My foray into a mega jazz love throughout the decade led me to be a fond admirer of Dave and his varied work.  His various incarnations – the Quintet, Keystone, Brass Ecstasy, the Big Band, and more – show that he’s a hard worker.  I can safely say, he’ll be back on this list in late 2019. :)

~*~*~

Tune in tomorrow for the final round…

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid

Oh, and for those who say that the decade ends at the end of 2010… meh. I’m starting with 0 and ending with 9 (like a LOT of people). Rationale: the 80s, the 90s… you don’t say the 80s went from 1/1/1981 to 12/31/1990 or the 90s from 1/1/1991 to 12/31/2000.

Artists of the Decade – 2000s (#21 to 25)

1st Jan 10 (Fri) 5 comments

So, I can’t / won’t do a Top XX Albums of the Decade… it’s probably more “can’t” than “won’t.” There are so many great albums from the past 10 years… but, what I can do is recount the artists that have been my chief form of musical pleasure for the past 10 years.

But first…

Artist of the Decade – Special Mention

Dweezil Zappa only had a couple albums in the 2000s, but he gets a special call out for carrying on Frank Zappa‘s music since 2006. Dweezil & Co have toured for the past three and a half plus years, playing Frank’s music in a new setting each year. I hope this continues. It’s a fantastic tour, every time I’ve seen it.

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Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions

Tori Amos ~ In the 1990s, she ruled. I still love what she does, and she’s very important in the foundation of my musical interests. The fact that she’s still active with albums and touring all throughout the decade gets her an honorable mention.

Her best albums of the decade…

Celldweller ~ He’s only released one regular album in the entire decade… had he done more, he’d probably make the proper 25 list. Despite the one album, he has released a mostly instrumental soundtrack, a handful of internet-only singles and Eps and a skad of remix CDs and EPs. He’s been far from lazy. I look forward to the 2nd full length Celldweller release sometime in the 2010s.

His most excellent debut and instrumental “score” release…

Iron & Wine ~ I got into Iron & Wine mid-decade, but immediately fell in love with Sam’s flourishing vocals and interesting guitar work. He has a beautiful whispy voice, a penchant for storytelling, and a great eye for videos (prior to music, he taught film down in Florida, and the videos he’s produced for his band and other bands have been fantastic).

My favorite release of his this decade…

King’s X (and related solo & side projects) ~ Between the regular band albums, all three solo members’ albums, the side projects, the live albums, and the indie demo issues – there are probably close 30 releases in the 2000s. Prolificity abounds. This is one band that keeps on ticking, and for that, I am grateful.

A few gems from this decade…

Derek Webb ~ Creative and exploratory since leaving his first band, Caedmon’s Call, Derek continues to push the boundaries of what a singer-songwriter is supposed to do. His latest, Stockholm Syndrome, is a fantastic exit from the 2000s and entrance into the 2010s. Rumor is that he’s working on one (or multiple) Caedmon’s Call-related releases with his old band, too… should be interesting.

My faves from this decade…

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Artists of the Decade

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)

The Five were no longer at the turn of the decade / century / millennium, which left the name sake on his own. Ben Folds was one of the first to ditch the full length and rapidly release several EPs all in one year. He saw the writing on the wall for the eventual, slow death of the CD format… and his solo albums (all in the 2000s) were generally fantastic – yeah, they are always a few tunes on each one that are doozies. He ended the decade with a cute (and enjoyable) acappella tribute album to himself from various college singing clubs. I was skeptical, but once I got it, I was very pleased with the covers.

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24 ~ Peter Mulvey

Peter Mulvey is one of my favorite singer-songwriters around. He’s a hard worker, touring all around from Alaska, the entire U.S. (including Alaska) and Europe.  He’s put out more albums to count on two hands in the past 15 years.  He started off the decade with the stunning The Trouble with Poets and ended the decade with the fantastic Letters from a Flying Machine.  He’s a truly wonderful storyteller, and if he comes near your town… GO!

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23 ~ Opeth

From singer-songwriter to Swedish death metal… roar!  Opeth came along with the “getting into prog band Porcupine Tree” period of the decade for me (check in later for Porcupine Tree’s position).  The string of three Opeth albums produced by PT’s Steven Wilson rank among the BEST metal out there… ranging from melodic rock to sweeping progressive movements to the in your face “cookie monster” vocals.  The first in the series, Blackwater Park, may be my favorite metal album of all-time (sorry, Dave Mustaine, you’ve been trumped).

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22 ~ dredg

I showed up early to a Coheed & Cambria show and was blown away by the opener… once I dug into dredg’s music, I really fell in love.  They run a tight ship of well-crafted, melodic neo-progressive rock music.  Gavin’s vocals and lyrics are a major selling point, too.  Their latest album (The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion) is my favorite album of 2009 – hands down.

~*~*~

21 ~ Holy Fuck

Starting out as a more experimental “live electronic” noise-jazz band and evolving into a more groove-oriented electronic jam band, Holy Fuck shot up on my hot list quickly.  Their 2nd full length is superb, and their live show is not to be missed.  Raw energy, dual keyboards, groovy rhythm section, crazy film-reel instrumentation, and uncanny dance-ability.  They’ve also embraced the vinyl comeback… score!

~*~*~

The rest of the decade recap to follow in the next few days… more musical variety awaits…

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid

Oh, and for those who say that the decade ends at the end of 2010… meh. I’m starting with 0 and ending with 9 (like a LOT of people). Rationale: the 80s, the 90s… you don’t say the 80s went from 1/1/1981 to 12/31/1990 or the 90s from 1/1/1991 to 12/31/2000.

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