Guzzlemug: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Here are our picks. We actually ended up doing two a piece, because we’re stupid like that. Here goes:

(Tom Kelly’s picks)

Califone Roomsound: One of the most underrated indie albums of all time. I experienced this album at a young age, and it proceeded to define a lot of characteristics that I identify with in creative, experimental rock ‘n roll. Tim Rutili writes some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard, and more people need to pay attention to this band.

Mastodon Leviathan: This band blew the fuck up, and for good reason. Although I will never be able to experience this band in an intimate setting again, I feel their work is amazingly important in the watered-down metal scene. I choose this particular album based on its aggressive songwriting, and understanding of “the riff.” Combined with the production value and selection of guest performers, it is my go-to Mastodon album.

(Shane Prendiville’s picks)

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum Of Natural History: This for me is the most important band to arrive in the 2000s. Some could argue that their debut album Grand Opening and Closing would be the most important, but I think Of Natural History is their best release of their three studio albums. I remember where I was when I heard the first two tracks off this beast; there aren’t that many albums we can say that about. Sleepytime is not a band you throw on at a party, it’s for really listening to like classical or any other intricate, demanding music. They create a world of their own borrowing from Henry Cow, Art Bears, Metal, and even Bowie (vocals). This album will leave you satisfied, if not overwhelmed. There is everything you need: dynamic intervals, harsh to delicate passages musically & vocally, technical tricks everywhere (that are used to better the song, not hotdogging), and amazing vocals from Nils & Carla. One of my all time favorite bands, and they bring the beast to their live show as well. You must see them!

Khanate Capture & Release: I witnessed Khanate live once in San Francisco, I didn’t drink or do any drugs (beforehand) and when they were finished I felt sedated and somewhat like I was on psychedelics. They take you on a journey of something terrible, but real… and make you stare at it for a very, very long time. James Plotkin and Alan Dubin are from OLD and Atom/Phantomsmasher, Stephen O’Malley from Sunn O)), and Tim Wyskida from Blind Idiot God. When I first got this album, I listened to it in a loop which can detrimental to your well-being, but so good as well. I especially like the second track, Release. This album and band in general is not something you would listen to everyday while doing the dishes, they are very, very potent. Unfortunately, they are now disbanded.

(Charlie Werber’s picks)

The Mars Volta Frances The Mute: Bold, massive in scope, and perfectly executed.

Hella The Devil Isn’t Red: The union of two twitchy mutants connected at the brain yields an incendiary barrage of awkward karate chops to your genital area.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Photos taken November 26, 2009 and May 2, 2010 in and around Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Benny Caine of Cocaine: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Here are my five favorite albums after the year 2000 (no particular order).

Airbourne Runnin’ Wild: This album really fuckin’ rocks, start to finish. You could label it another AC/DC knockoff, but these guys have the right attitude. I’ve seen them live and that’s really what did it for me. The front man is like Bon Scott and Angus Young rolled into one person. Songs like “Cheap Wine, Cheaper Woman” just really seem to hit close to home.

Motorhead Inferno: There’s not really much to say about this one except, how does Lemmy keep putting every young “tough” metal band to shame. Songs like “Smilin’ Like a Killer” and “Life’s a Bitch” show that this band is as good as they ever were! They even break it down acoustic on “Whorehouse Blues” and prove you can be a badass with an acoustic and a harmonica.

Tom Petty Highway Companion: Tom Petty’s solo album released in 2006. It stands up to it’s name, possibly one of the best road trip albums to come out. The song “Saving Grace” might be my favorite Tom Petty song ever recorded. With its bluesy vibe and django slide guitars it really stand apart from the other more folky songs.

L.A. Guns Tales From the Strip: This is one that probably not too many of you know about. I picked it because the L.A. Guns have stayed true to their style since the ’80s, not trying to evolve and change for a younger crowd. I’m lucky enough to be good friends with these guys, and I can tell you they LOVE rock n’ roll.

Black Keys Attack and Release: These guys have done pretty good for a two-piece blues rock group. The singer is bluesy as shit and I love the production on all these guys albums, stripped down, very live sounding. “I Got Mine” stands out with some heavy riffing and hard hitting drums.

So that’s a couple albums I like released after 2000. It wasn’t too easy seeing as I don’t listen to much music recorded after 1983, but I proved to myself that there is still hope for rock n’ roll, if you dig deep enough you can always find something good. So do yourself a favor and turn off 93x and check some of these disks out.

Mike Watton of Haunted House: Favorite Albums of the Decade

These are my first, second, third, fourth and sixth favorite albums of the decade. Radiohead’s Amnesiacwould rate ahead of Broadcast for me, but you can read people’s thoughts on Radiohead any number of other places. So, Broadcast it is.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti The Doldrums: My favorite album of the decade, and close to my favorite album of any decade. This guy graduating from Beverly Hill High School and making these songs was one glorious climax to the post-WWII years of the American 20th century. David Berman once said that the best art in this country will always come from the suburbs before Greenwich Village or San Francisco. Case in point: The Doldrums. It’s very easy to give this the label of outsider art. And it probably is as coherent of an illustration of what it’s like to be an outsider in middle-to-upper class America as there is using sound. But it’s a bit more all-encompassing than just that. One of my favorite experiences with this album came at about three in the morning at a rather affluent home in Des Moines. I was practicing my putting on a home-putting device, with a glass of whiskey. When “Young Pilot Astray” played, it felt like the most perfect intersection of time, place, activity and music that I could recall ever having. It truly is an album to experience wealth to. A year later, I rode in a packed car down a highway in rural North Carolina as the sun set, “Among Dreams” playing. Everyone sang along deliriously for the entirety of the song, without the slightest bit of self consciousness. It was about the most euphoric young punk experience one can have over five minutes. So while it is an album for rich people, it truly is an album to experience poor young arthood to at the same time. It’s an album that could’ve been playing in the background at anytime, anywhere I’ve ever been in this country, and it would’ve been perfect.

Madlib Beat Konducta Vol. 5-6: Dil Cosby & Dil Withers Suite: The best Madlib production of the decade came on Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes. It’s called “The Comeup (The Come Down),” and it’s beautiful. Maybe even more so than Ariel Pink, it’s the perfect embodiment of the romantic dream version of what Southern California wishes it could be. Or maybe what I imagine it to be. Either way, it’s absolutely ghostly and depressingly hallucinatory. Sounds like I want the afterlife to feel like. You should find the time someday to get stuck in Santa Barbara traffic with it playing on repeat. Vol 5-6 of the series, released together and made as a tribute to J Dilla, take all that and stretch it out over an hour. Earns the name “soul” as much as any album ever made, and made me believe that more than any other genre, soul works best as a blast of sound with no beginning and no end, just a big mass with no real structure.

J Dilla Donuts: This is a bit of a heavy one. It got released a few days before Dilla died and he spent the last of his energy getting this finished, at least partly while in the hospital. And everyone should be damn happy that he did. This is what American music is all about. It should make you want to steal a Ford Mustang and head into the sunset, staying in dingy hotel rooms with dingy hotel room light the whole way out to the coast. Lots of chain smoking and eerie restaurants along the way. It’s got a lot of the same qualities as the Madlib stuff I talked about, though the sound is a bit harder to pin down. Some of it borders on experimental. Still, one to fall asleep in the palm trees to. “Time: Donut Of The Heart” is one of the decade’s most beautiful songs. But it’s kind of silly to pick certain tracks when it’s really the album as a whole that’s so perfect.

Andrew WK I Get Wet: This album was the anthem of the period immediately following 9/11 for a lot of people, and it was damn exciting. It came out a couple weeks after I saw him in DC. I thought it was strange that he was playing a larger venue like the 9:30 Club, because I had been under the impression that he was still a very unknown guy who played his music on a tape player and ran around. Instead he came out with a metal band and I had no clue what to think. When I picked this up I was still confused, so much so that I bought it the day it came out because I couldn’t stop thinking about that DC show and how bizarre it was. I figured out quickly that it’s pretty simple and nothing to over think. And it was still difficult to wrap my head around. Basically, you’ve got hundreds of overdubbed keyboard and guitar tracks with lines like “Your life is over now/Your life is running out/When your time is at an end/Then it’s time to kill again” howled over it all for a half hour. And its effect is extreme, whatever you might think of it. His show at the Quest in Minneapolis shortly after this release was the most euphoric show I’ve ever been to, by far. Just so damn fun. I was laying on the ground by the end of it and felt high for weeks after it. So many people think this album is just boneheaded and stupid, and they’re right, but they’re still over thinking it in dismissing it that way. Also, they’re missing a lot. It’s an album of simplicity that is so grandiose and multi-layered that, as much as any of the often-named creative masterpieces from Forever Changes to Kid A, it earns the right to be called a work of art. It’s a house of mirrors inside this guy’s imagination, no doubt about it.

Broadcast The Noise Made By People: Somehow, this was released in the US on Tommy Boy, home to Naughty By Nature, Queen Latifah and the Jock Jams series. Maybe it doesn’t matter what happened to it in this country, the music on this album is about as quintessentially English as it gets. And I mean that in a very complimentary way. If you’ve ever been to England, outside of London, this is the soundtrack to it. So it’s kind of like a Gap Christmas ad gone medieval. It’s always grey outside, the streets are all ancient and are lined with beautiful stone architecture. The pubs all have dark carpet and fireplaces. Basically, it’s cozy. The whole thing makes you want to buy a sweater. That’s this album. I’m not sure you can find an album more evocative of the landscape it came from than this one. It’s not warm, but it’s extremely comfortable. The musicianship relies largely on Moogs and the like, but in no way is it gimmicky. The songwriting and composition is very advanced. The vocals are among the most beautiful you’ll ever hear. And the band is famous for coming up with great drummers. If you ever find yourself in Cambridge late at night and your girlfriend has to save you from a 30 year old woman and 12 boy who are attempting to mug you, this record won’t give you your manhood back, but it will make you feel like you’re right at home, at one with Bubonic Plague-era buildings and uninterested in whether your balls are still in your pants.

Erica Krumm of Sharp Teeth: Favorite Records of the Decade

Cat Power You Are Free: One of the most beautiful albums of the past 10 years, You Are Free tells poetic stories that leave room for interpretation. This record sounds best driving through fall leaves and is one of the few records out there that lends itself to be listened to all the way through. (My favorite album cover of all time.)

The Kills Keep On Your Mean Side: Dirty and raw, the Kills get away with writing songs about feeling the pain without sounding fake or pretentious. With a dark and desperate mood, each song creates a vivid picture of living in the moment, as well as self destruction. The fuzzed out guitar mixed with drum machine beats make perfectly crafted rock songs. Seeing these guys at 7th St. when this record came out was an incredibly memorable experience.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell: An amazing combination of dance beats and unruly rock. The songs are written with huge attitude contrasting perfectly with a quieter, honesty. Saw these guys play on some late night show one night when the album was first released. I was 20 years old, playing drums in a band, and I remember feeling really excited and rejuvenated in that moment about what was happening in music. This album has love and sex, power and playfulness all wrapped up.

Modest Mouse The Moon and Antarctica: Writing that wrecks you. A rough storytelling feel of soft and delicate material. With beautiful guitar parts and a huge overall sound, this record was my main soundtrack to being 17 years old, crazy in love, and going to visit my boyfriend in the dorms.

The Black Angels Directions to See a Ghost: Psychedelic rock for the future. Each song’s distorted and hauntingly pretty instrumentation kills. This whole album clicks as a new take on an old sound. One of the sexiest records ever.

Estate Interview

Recently landing a pair of spots on national television, Minneapolis' Estate is continuing to expand its audience outside of the Midwest. Recently speaking to [City Pages] about the new found exposure, the duo of Dan Kramer also Josh Johnson also spoke candidly about their unique approach to performing live and their affinity for creating remixes.

For those who haven't seen you live, how would you describe the mix between media and music in your shows?

Estate: Like the question implies, our live shows are a blend of audio and synchronous video which was created by both our friends and ourselves. Each song has a unique video made to fit the mood and feel of the song. They're edited to the rhythm and feel of the music. We really like how they reinforce each other both on stage and on screen at home. During the show we project the video on a large screen right on stage with us. We like when other groups give the audience options on what to pay attention to. Watch the band, chat with friends, dance, watch the video, or all the above. It's up to you. We spend a fair amount of time as freelance sound designers so we know the synergy that can arise from mixing interesting audio and with awesome visuals. We love it. We had always been really impressed when we saw bands incorporate a visual element to their show, and the idea to play live with the videos came about after we were in contact with Jon Thompson (local animator and awesome guy) about creating some videos for songs off our first album. After he had finished a few videos for us, we thought to ourselves, "Man wouldn't it be awesome to have these things going while we play live." Easy solution; our musical computer software (and bread and butter) Ableton Live started incorporating video at the same time Jon finished some videos for us. The goal of our live shows is to create an evening of experiences and the visuals are one aspect of the many experiences we hope the audience takes away with them.

When you're recording your music, do you keep in mind how it might transfer to the stage. Or rather, how it might transfer to the way in which you showcase your music?

Estate: We don't seem to feel the need to stick to a single formula which is great for us. It ends up giving us the freedom to experiment as well as lending a unique flavor to each tune. Whether or not a song will work for us live comes very late in the writing process. A few brews, a nice beat, and some new synth sounds usually kick start our songs.

The birth of an Estate song is like a dysfunctional childhood. It's born at an unexpected time and we don't yet know how much love it's going to receive. All songs are kept, but some are favored. If we decide it has potential to become a productive member of (Estate) society, we keep nurturing it. If over time, and two or three Estate dads still feel like it's a really bright bulb, it will make it to our full three person practice. This is often when we decide if the songs graduate to maturity aka the stage. Very few do. Most are neglected. Some songs, maybe more, work well for recordings but not the stage.

Our writing, recording, production, and editing happen concurrently so we are constantly tweaking them all as we go. We do however, typically divide the writing process into two phases. Phase one is the birth of the song. It is the time when we create the sonic qualities, characteristics, melodies and grooves of the song. The second phase is much more analytical as it is when the structure starts to take shape and a majority of the editing is done. At this point, we've boiled down the big sound elements we're working with and now have to figure out how to make them fit together.

If we have a song that has graduated to further practices, we take a listen and say, "OK. Who wants to play what?" (aka Dan you have guitar and synth lead, Josh you rock the bass, vocals and wind sample, Jessie - you blend the acoustic drums, and MPC with the prerecorded beats and rhythms.) Next we give it a try and see what needs to be stripped out of the computer mix and what we can add, if anything. We try to showcase our music live by making a hybrid of what you'll hear on the album and what you would expect from a live band. The end results is something that is has the energy and drive of rock with the smooth sexiness of highly produced electronic music.
Our first concern with our music is making something we'd want to listen to. Sometimes we put a song down for a few weeks and pick it up again, throw on some headphones and see if it catches our ears. If so, that song-child might have a future.

How have the many remixes of your songs helped expand your audience? Last year's split with Nobot was awesome--are you working on producing any other remixes yourself?

Estate: Remixes are one of our favorite things. Whether it's us making one or having one done for us, it's always gratifying. It can breathe a whole new life into a song. When you're working on remix for someone else, you have all these awesome elements to play with and add your sound to. Super fun and rewarding.

The icing on the cake is that the remixes can only help expand our audience. Plus we end up meeting great, like minded, bands/peeps. We have a Toronto remix connection with Madrid and the Cansecos which are two awesome groups, and we know our name is much more familiar up there as a result. Same goes for Nobot and Gigamesh. Every group has their own friend/fan base and it's a great way to get exposed to new people and return their efforts with the same. We end up performing some of these remixes live as well. We liked the Gigamesh remix of our tune so much we ended up performing it instead of our original! We are always interested in working on remixes of interesting groups.

How'd you end up landing your recent national television spots?

Estate: We were approached by a small company out of LA that focuses on commercial placement. We didn't know what they could do but gave them a shot. They've landed some cool stuff for us so far and seem to have more in store. These TV placements and our new album coming out this winter have kept us excited and busy.

[This article was originally published by City Pages.]

Kristian Melom of Minor Kingdom: Favorite Albums of the Decade

1) Radiohead Kid A: This record pretty much changed the way I thought about recorded music. The textures and nuances that hit your ear, especially when wearing headphones, were incomparable to anything that I ever heard before.

2) Yo La Tengo And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out: One of the best records to put on during a fall/winter afternoon. These guys can do no wrong in my mind.

3) Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Jim O’Rourke, who produced this record, pretty much made this one happen for me. He used some pretty non-conventional production that really separated this band from its previous efforts.

4) Sufjan Stevens Seven Swans: Emo in its best form. Once I realized how influenced his words were by his religious views it became a little eerie but beautiful none the less.

5) Sigur Rós Takk: This band instantly puts me in mood where I want to create, or travel, or climb a mountain in Iceland! They are not afraid to use space in their music and it has been one of their most powerful tools.

Pete Biasi of Double Bird: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Madvillain Madvillainy: I love everything about this record; an aurally dense and intense piece of music, and a document of two well-practiced craftsmen operating at the top of their game. This album will blow minds forever.

Hot Snakes Automatic Midnight: Here’s how you make a record that I will still trip about in 10 years: have John Reis write 10 no-shit, pure fucking rock and roll jams, make Rick Froberg sing over them, and sprinkle mind-bogglingly low bass drops throughout the songs. Done and done.

T Wehrle Howler: This album contains of some of the most beautiful, haunting, and catchy songs I’ve ever heard. If even one person checks it out because I put it on this list, then I have changed someone’s life for the better. Isn’t that what online magazine favorite-records-of-the-decade lists are all about?

Tragedy Vengeance: This album, much like this decade, will always be synonymous in my mind with a sense of impending doom and a loss of faith in mankind’s ability to not destroy itself. It is a brutal, bleak, heavy piece of work, born out of a brutal, bleak, and heavy state of affairs.

Clipse Hell Hath No Fury: I enjoy the Neptunes’ beats. I enjoy well-spun tales of selling drugs and partying on yachts and trying to find the “bluest” shoes to buy with your giant piles of drug money. I think we’re done here.

Avenpitch Interview

This weekend the TC electropunk scene is celebrating the release of its fifth compilation with a show at Club Underground. In preparation for the event I had a few words with Todd Millenacker of Avenpitch, the band which will be headlining the show. In addition to giving away free copies of the new album to fans who attend the show this weekend, the collective is also offering each of the previous compilations as free downloads via

How has electropunk evolved in the Twin Cities since the first compilation?

Todd Millenacker: I don't know if really has. For me, it's still a motley bunch of musicians throwing stuff against a wall and seeing what sticks! In terms of the "Electropunk Scene" bands just keep coming out of the woodwork. Over the course of five years TC Electropunk has been associated with 43 acts and it seems like interest just keeps on expanding.

It's always hard naming names, but who are some of the rising stars in the local scene?

Todd Millenacker: To be honest my perspective is so warped on things that I really have no clue who is becoming successful outside of each band's own little circle. In terms of Volume 5, I know OBCT, milkbar, Thought Thieves and Pop Inc all seem to be working it pretty hard and I'm hoping someone breaks through eventually.

Have any bands on the compilations had any solid national exposure?

Todd Millenacker: Screaming Mechanical Brain, who was on Volume 4, is probably the most well known. Those guys are road warriors, have a great work ethic and have definitely earned the national attention they've been receiving.

As for the rest of us, every so often a little ray of hope shines through. I know Avenpitch has been pretty lucky in getting music placed in video games, indie movies and (most recently) a TV series.

Who are some of your favorite local electropunk bands?

Todd Millenacker: Obviously my band Avenpitch, but also I'm quite fond of the few bands that have been on all five TC Electropunk compilations - Mach FoX, Thosquanta and Uber Cool Kung Fu/IKKI.

What inspired you to get involved in the genre?

Todd Millenacker: I really like the general attitude behind it. The whole do-it-yourself mentality of getting a guitar, plugging into your computer and making some noise!

[This article was first published by City Pages.]

Alexei Moon Casselle of Roma di Luna: Favorite Albums of the Decade

1) Ghostface Killah Supreme Clientele: This record established Ghostface Killah as not only Wu Tang' new leader but as one of the brightest and most promising voices in rap music. Combining more raw, spontaneous energy, vivid, street-crime storytelling, humor, swagger and just plain skill on this record than most artists can hope for in a career, this was the perfect soundtrack to usher in a new millennium of hip hop.

2) Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Wilco took some major risks with this album and they all paid off immensely. Jeff Tweedy's songwriting mixed with a perfect balance of experimental and deconstructed soundscapes and the rock/alt-country sound the band had become known for all blend together seamlessly. There are no signs that Wilco won't continue making great records but I doubt they'll make another one as beloved and heartfelt as this one.

3) Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago: This record sounded classic to me the first time I listened to it. Rarely does an album or artist with as much hype as there was surrounding this record live up to it. However, Justin Vernon created that perfect concoction of “familiar and feel-good” while exploring new terrain and establishing a sound all his own.

4) Gillian Welch Time, The Revelator: Keeping true to her country and folk influences, Gillian Welch stands by her simplicity as one of her many strengths and this album is a perfect example of it. With no more than a couple stringed instruments per song, air tight vocal harmonies and a beautiful country drawl, Welch masterfully walks the line of carrying on the craft and tradition of folk music while simultaneously breathing new life into it.

5) Radiohead Kid A: One of the great rock bands of our time completely reinvented themselves at the peak of their career, alienating fans and music critics alike. But Radiohead wanted to make something different, so eventually we pulled up a chair and really gave this thing a listen (despite the fact that it had more in common sonically with Pink Floyd than with OK Computer). It took a while to sink in but this is a pivotal moment of transition and creative genius caught on record, of one of the most important bands we've seen so far.

Buff1: Favorite Albums of the Decade

1. Outkast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below(both albums!)
2. Ghostface Killah Supreme Clientele
3. Common Like Water For Chocolate
4. Slum Village Fantastic Vol. 2
5. Bilal 1st Born Second or Love For Sale (unreleased)

Marshall LaCount of Dark Dark Dark: Favorite Albums of the Decade

What a difficult project! At best I have a top 15. In no particular order, here are five:

Blonde Redhead Misery is a Butterfly
This album came out after Blonde Redhead’s popularity had quieted a bit. I disregarded it for a couple years, until I accidentally heard it in a quiet place, and on nice speakers. The arrangements and orchestration are surprising, sexy, and gorgeous, just like the band always was.

Glover Gill with the Tosca Tango Orchestra Waking Life Soundtrack
Way back at this time, I think this soundtrack, and the one from Amelie, by Yann Tiersen, had a huge secret influence on the punks. It became just as reasonable to say “I’m learning the violin” as it was to learn three chords on a guitar. For the sake of being brash, I’ll also credit these records with being the gateway into a whole international music interest that has devoured Klezmer and Eastern European music, and is currently working its way through India, Africa, and all sorts of islands with great musical traditions. I’m trying to refrain from mentioning Nick Cave’s Proposition soundtrack, and Philip Glass’ Fog of War soundtrack, but I can’t.

TV on the Radio Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
One of the dirtier productions we have from this band, and one that should blow most anyone’s mind, unless they hate fun, sex, dancing, innovation, soul, or anything else that makes up real life. Interesting in its ability to cross over to pop critics and audiences and eventually lead the band into being HUGE.

Antony and the Johnsons The Crying Light
Tough choice on which one to pick; I like things that demand very special quiet attention, and Antony’s legacy is a great one of hard work, persistence, and vision. When things like this become critically acclaimed and popular, there is still hope in the world.

Nico Muhly Mothertongues
Totally pretentious, gorgeous, and brilliant. Also requires headphones or nice speakers. Contains three movements of deconstructions and reconstructions. Informed by the important work of minimal composers in a time where Philip Glass could potentially get stuck making the same soundtrack over and over, and a fresh contribution.

Chris Besinger of STNNNG: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Whittling 10 years of albums down to a measly five was a brutal task and I could have easily picked another 30 (and I, in fact did, sorry Country Teasers, Nina Nastasia, Jandek, Signal To Trust, Jemeel Moondoc, A Frames, etc., etc.). But here's a list of five basically decent albums from the aughts.

Silkworm Italian Platinum
You can have it all, great songs, a seriously hot shit guitarist ("The Hebrew Hendrix" no kidding), a thundering rhythm section and two singers who make it nearly impossible to pick a favorite and still be resigned to "cult" status. The album's title is a wry comment on the amount of records they'd sold up to that point, because for whatever reason Silkworm never seemed find the audience they deserved. But, whatever, that doesn't really matter, what does is this record. Their third for Touch and Go and though its predecessor, Lifestyle, is a bit more accessible, Italian Platinum with its sort of lumpy and cryptic first side is the record I find myself reaching for the most. Singer/guitarist Andy Cohen lyrics are almost as stinging as his solos, "There are kike jokes and then there are street mimes/In times like these no one seems to mind" and "Tobacco's a help because is clears the mind/But like all your friends it is vilified." But it's Tim Midgett's heartbreaking "Bourbon Beard," a duet with drummer Michael Dahlquist, one of the best boozer anthems of, like, all-time, where every note and every word is absolutely perfect-that's the heart of the record. It's a record that's sweet and mean in equal measure. And if you ever figure out what the hell "The Ram" is about, let me know.

US Maple Acre Thrills
Al Johnson gets more mileage out of a few constricted gasps than most singers get out of the entire English language. While he creepy-crawls the whole scene cooing right into your ear about rice, the guitars rat-a-tat-tat away like dung beetles jockeying for position on the shit pile over an occasional bomb blast of frantic drumming only to have the entire song pull back and drift off into the ether. Plenty of albums get hyped as "weird" and "experimental," but US Maple’s dogged pursuit of their own eccentric vision of rock-like-it-actually-means-something pissed everyone off, at least everyone who mattered. Acre Thrills was their high point, the most focused, the best sounding, the one that best laid out their thing. You could spend a lifetime decoding the ping-ponging riffs, the backwards drumming and still never get your head around all those "yeah, yeah"s. Favorite moment: "Open a Rose" where the band locks into a recognizable groove for a couple a minutes as if to prove they could be rocking like that all the time, if they really wanted.

The Thing Garage
This is probably the only album from this decade that features covers of both the Sonics and Peter Brotzmann. Wild Scandinavian jazz men playing free jazz with punk fury, this is the real crossover, the best mind-meld of rock and jazz since Funhouse. Covers of the White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren't wink and nudge muso affairs; they're platforms for gut-bucket wailing of the best sort, hot and raw.

Getachew Mekuria and the Ex & Guests Moa Anbessa
There's been a flood of incredible underground music from Africa recently, Konono No.1 to Group Doueh to countless archival albums but this record, featuring Getachew Mekuria, an 80-year old Ethiopian saxophonist hooking up with long running Dutch punks the Ex is a definite highlight. The Ex (who have long championed great African music) prove to be flexible collaborators for such a distinctive player. Mekuria who translated Ethiopian battle cries into a sort of proto-free jazz in the 1950s is definitely the star of the show. Some of the music is atavistic, like a pre-rock-n-roll form and some it doesn't even really have a name yet. A killer party record, trust me.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Matt Sweeney Superwolf
I had sort of lost track of Will Oldham a couple years before this album come out, the first time I heard it was in a record store and I had to go up to the front to ask what it was. Some of the tunes remind me of the mellow moments on the second half of Physical Graffiti with Oldham as the jolly pervert as usual. Sweeney supposedly wrote the songs to Oldham's words, whatever the case it works perfectly. "I have often said/I would like to be dead/In a shark's mouth." The whole rides a kind of sweet/sad, lonely/horny axis, giving the music a sense of longing and ache that's more affecting than most of Oldham's work from this decade. If you're going to be up until four in the morning listening to records toward the very end this will be the record you're going to want to hear. Superwolf also spawned a ’70s hard rock-damaged double live record, which you should probably go get as well.

Wu-Tang Clan “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)”

While it might not touch Wu-Tang Forever, the Wu-Tang Clan did everything in its power to make The W the best it could be, including calling in favors from Redman, Snoop, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Streetlife, Junior Reid & Isaac Hayes. Regardless of the pedigree of its collaborators, The W was full of holes and felt far more forced than anything the group had put out to that time (I’d argue that Iron Flag took that feeling one step further).

The album wasn’t without its moments however, the highlight of which being “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off),” the only track on the album to feature all 10 of the group’s members (with the exception being Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who I believe was in rehab, jail, or on the lam at the time of its recording—one of the three, check me on that if I’m wrong).

It’s a banger from start to finish, standing as one of the last remaining showcases of what the Wu-Tang Clan is capable of when each of its members are on the same page, and stands as the slickest moment the group has had as a collective since “Triumph;” that includes 8 Diagrams.

Travis Bos of Chibalo: Favorite Albums of the Decade

My top five list for this decade was a hard one. A couple were no brainers, but to sit and think about what made the most impact on me in the last 10 years was quite the task. For one, this had to have been my least favorite decade for music listening. Some may agree, many will disagree with my picks. In no order:

Boredoms Vision Creation Newsun
I’ve enjoyed the Boredoms since Pop Tatari era. At that time, their silly, spastic and quirky songs were fun, but nothing compared to what they were about to embark on. This album showed that even when you lose members, you still march forward with a new and refreshing sound. This release stands the test of time, even when many performers/groups have bit their sound from this period. A must have for any music nerd/fanatic.

Boards Of Canada Geogaddi
This record was perfect for me when I was experiencing jet lag from the second European tour I did. I would find myself waking up at 4:00 A.M. browsing the internet while listening to this release. It was perfect. Surreal, creepy and very psychedelic. I would love to see the movie that would have this album as its soundtrack.

Slayer God Hates Us All
If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s my love for metal. When I say metal, I mean true metal. Not metal core, nu metal, rap/yo metal. REAL METAL. During Jr. High, I would listen to the likes of the “mighty four” as if it were my religion. Of course I’m referring to Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth. After the grunge era ruined my favorite metal bands sound, Slayer still seemed to do its best. Granted, they had a few releases that were mediocre, but all that was made up for on this record. It was the perfect release to purchase on 9/11. The ultimate middle finger to those who thought that metal was done for. Not fucking likely.

Super Furry Animals Rings Around The World
I haven’t stopped listening to this record since I first heard it in 2001. Gruffs Rhys vocals are just mind blowing and the musicianship is equal to it. So many times I find myself with a track from this album in my head and it puts me in a great mood. Also, how many groups can you think of releases a DVD with a video for every track on the LP plus loads of remixes? If I recall, they were the first group to do just that. The best release by far from this Welsh group.

Einstürzende Neubauten Supporter Album #1/Perpetuum Mobile
In 2002, Neubauten started working on their next release without the support of a label. Rather opting for the “supporter” or patronage system. Fans who donated to the cause were able to watch Neubauten streamed online during rehearsal. The fans were then encouraged to give feedback to the band and in return, would use their ideas/opinions in helping shape the songs. The live shows of this tour were recorded by the band’s sound engineers, then burned on CD-Rs with individual pictures of each show and sold directly after the concerts to the visitors; numerous “official” live albums were created during this tour as a result. Still one of the most ambitious and important musical groups of our time. This release further cemented my love for the band and gave me respect and hope for new music.

Steve McPherson of Big Trouble: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Radiohead Kid A: Coming on the heels of the world-destroying OK Computer, Kid A appeared, at the time, to be at the very least a timid backing away from what Radiohead had already accomplished, and at best a moody, introverted sidelight, but time has shown otherwise. Kid A is arguably every bit the record that OK Computer was and more: it’s a deeply felt take on the humanistic flaws at the heart of technology and has possibly been more influential than its vaunted predecessor. Sort of the White Album to OK Computer’s Sgt. Pepper’s, except Kid A is better than the White Album. Yup, I said it.

Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: The album largely responsible for noisying up the milder side of the rock underground (viz. Death Cab’s Transatlanticism, Blitzen Trapper, Dr. Dog) was billed as the sound of Wilco ripping apart at the seams, but really, like the At the Drive-In’s last record, it’s compelling evidence for the power of tension within a band. Tweedy’s abstract wordplay collided with Jay Bennett’s ragged rock traditionalism in ways that forced compromise. The result was a record that captured as well as any the doubt and tentative hope that came along with being an American in the 21st century.

At the Drive-In Relationship of Command: On first listen, Relationship of Command is still shockingly aggressive and angular nearly a decade after its release. But repeated listens reveal something even stranger: the lovechild of U2 and Fugazi, raised by Rage Against the Machine and Sunny Day Real Estate, maybe. Cedric and Omar would go on to get weirder (and less rewarding) in the Mars Volta while Jim and Tony would go on to straight emo territory in Sparta. Nothing was as good as the original.

Madvillain Madvillainy: Here’s all you really need to know about Madvillainy: it’s a rap album from 2004 without a single chorus. Without hooks to pen him in or slow him down, MF Doom was free to write some of his most compellingly unhinged verses ever, and Madlib’s jazzy production fit him perfectly. That rarest of rare things: a flawlessly cohesive hip-hop record.

D’Angelo Voodoo: Like rap albums, R&B albums in the ’80s and ’90s mostly refused to take up the mantle of the true album, ending up as either collections of singles or sprawling overfull monsters adorned with skits and meaningless filler. Not Voodoo, which is the spiritual successor to great R&B and funk records like Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and Sly & The Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On. Honestly, it’s one of the only R&B albums made since the ’70s that absolutely everyone should give a damn about.

6. Spoon Kill the Moonlight
7. The National Alligator
8. Grizzly Bear Yellow House
9. The Knife Silent Shout
10. Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head (That’s right: I’m saying it. A Rush of Blood to the Head. It’s an amazing record.)

Them Crooked Vultures “Them Crooked Vultures” Review

First hinting that the band even existed a mere six months ago, the ultra-super-mega powers of John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin; heard of ‘em?), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), and Dave Grohl (Foovana) find themselves tangled in the sounds of murky rock and sludgy blues (with a few oddball tangents to boot) of Them Crooked Vultures.

The album itself plays out as more of a classic rock Desert Sessions than it does an attempt at living up to any of the musician’s past work. The rhythmic jive between Jones and Grohl sounds as tight as any release Jones has been involved with over the past three decades (I kid) while Homme riffs away as he’s been known to do with his mainstay. For having only been working on the project for a half year, the trio’s chemistry sounds impeccable, though that’s kind of predictable considering how much influence Zeppelin has had on Grohl and Homme (especially on QOTSA’s brilliant Songs For the Deaf where Grohl sat in on drums).

Aside from Homme’s predictably throbbing grooves (QOTSA is best heard on “New Fang”), Them Crooked Vultures introduces a variety of unexpected sounds into the mix; “Scumbag Blues” leans on some “Funky Town”-ish keys, “Caligulove” rips into some organ straight out of the ’60s, and “Gunman” subtly wah-wahs its into the mix.

While the album is hardly forgettable, don’t expect some sort of musical Transformer that combines the superhuman talents of the band’s unique parts.

Heath Rave of Wolvhammer: Most Important Records of the Decade

The other day, one of the nicest dudes I know in Minneapolis asked to me write about what I would consider the five most important records of the ’00s to be. What a tough assignment. Important music. That is much harder than picking favorites, as it’s easy to love something without it being important. William Shatner’s last solo record is one of my faves of the ’00s, but I definitely could never categorize that record as important. It’s just 50 min. or so of feel good irony, produced by the wonderful Ben Folds. Important would have to be influential, genre defining if you will. So as I’ve stewed on this a few days, I now have for you my five most important records of the first decade of the new millenia, in a complete and totally biased opinion in no particular order.

Converge Jane Doe
I know that this is going to end up on at least a couple other people’s, but that’s because you can’t deny the brutal intensity and sheer balls to experiment with such a limiting genre as hardcore. Yeah, its a metal record, but Converge is a fucking hardcore punk band, hand’s down, and they made one the most brutal metallic hardcore records of all time. From the iconic cover art to the unbelievably too loud recording this record created a thousand photoshop layout lookalikes and I can only hope made a few scenester pussies grow a pair. A pure classic.

Ghostface Killah Fishscale
I’m gonna tell you all that I don’t know shit about hip hop, nor do I give a damn about it as whole. I still prefer to call it rap music, as I think hip hop is probably one of the most saccharine terms I’ve ever heard coined and I fucking loved Run DMC and that shit was rap dude. But like I said, I don’t know shit about it, but what I do know is that other than the RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo this one of the few Wu solo records that comes anything close to classic 36 Chambers. Great programming, great guests, and tons of songs about coke, this is the quality that urban music should strive to achieve.

Darkthrone The Cult Is Alive
Oh man, hope this one pisses off all the “troo” and “kvlts.” Darkthrone has always had a punk influence, in fact real black metal in general usually does. And how much more punk or black metal can you get than by sticking a gargantuan Norwegian sized middle finger in the face of the genre that you helped create. No blast beats. No corpse paint photos. No ad-hoc satanism. Fuck you, we’re gonna write a denim and leather fucking heavy fucking metal record that sounds like its goddamned 1984 and we don’t fucking care because we fucking love Black Flag and Venom and we do whatever the fuck we want. Now that’s what black metal is.

Neurosis A Sun That Never Sets
I’ve seen this band nine times in 15 some odd years. This was my favorite band when most of the kids that love this stuff now were still in elementary school. I wouldn’t consider this their best, but, when I hear all the kids worshiping at the altar of whatever they’re calling it this week, “metalgaze,” “post-metal,” “ambient doom,” this is the record that I think gave the blueprint for all the watering down of slower paced heavy music that has flooded the market in the last decade. The loud/quiet dynamics and super long building of songs really started to show on this record as their older stuff was quite a bit more abrasive, and along with Isis who were the first to rip this band off, have created burgeoning genre of low rent slow heavy metal that I can’t even tell the difference between nowadays. If you can create a bunch of imitators, then you are definitely important.

Jesu s/t and Killing Joke s/t
I just couldn’t decide between the two. Justin Broadrick of Godflesh fame picks up guitar again and gets all My Bloody Valentine on your ass. Eight massive songs that reek of what I think Justin had always wanted to do with Godflesh but was too obsessed with dub and hip hop at the time to pull off. Then the sorely overlooked Killing Joke taps Dave Grohl play to drums for them, and pulls out a ripping sci-fi industrial metal masterpiece that pounds and stomps track after track including an amazingly reworked version of “Wardance.” Both important records from extremely influential artists.

[Wolvhammer is a Minneapolis-based band that is offering its Dawn Of The 4th EP for free.]

Jason Powers of Slapping Purses: Favorite Albums of the Decade

Dr. Dre 2001: I think this one kind of speaks for itself. If you don’t know Dre, you are lost and alone in the world. I consider this the best hip hop album since the Chronic and probably will be until he finally drops Detox.

Missy Elliott Under Construction: This album is packed with party jams. This is dance hip hop. Looking back at groups like Run DMC, JJ Fad, MC Lyte and electro influences she digs into some of my favorite material.

M.I.A. Kala: The beats on this album make me want to puke with joy. When the beat in “Bamboo Banga” finally drops, that might be my current favorite musical moment.

Gary Wilson Mary Had Brown Hair: Gary Wilson gets freaky. I love that this album sounds like it could have been something he recorded in the ’80s. I mean “6.4 = Make Out”? That is gold.

Quad Muth Selfsleeving Driftlimb: The first time I heard Quad Muth I was really upset because they were breaking up, and they were playing music I thought had only existed in my mind. Their disjointed garble of “bleaummghelhg eeakk ahkkkko okkk okkk mareug” that is totally danceable set up the framework of a Minneapolis music culture that would understand that noisy doesn’t equal boring.

Dessa’s Favorite Albums of the Decade

Andre 3000 The Love Below
Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
Jeff Buckley Grace (Legacy reissue)
Rodrigo y Gabriella Rodrigo y Gabriella
TV on the Radio Young Liars

[Dessa Darling is a solo emcee and spoken word artist as well as a member of the Minneapolis-based Doomtree crew.]

Holly Newsom of Zoo Animal: Favorite Albums of the Decade

I believe these albums were catalysts for cultural, musical or personal shifts. Because of that, I think they are some of the “Best Albums of the Decade.” In no particular order…

Drukqs by Aphex Twin: Though this may not have been widely appreciated commercially, I think this album was very influential in a lot of musicians creative lives, not just electronic musicians either. When I first heard this I was flabbergasted. The way he shifts from frailty to aggression is mind-blowing. You can find one of my favorite songs on this album, “Avril 14th,” a slow, mesmerizing piano piece sandwiched between electronic and spastic compositions. Not always an album I put on to enjoy in the background, but I learned a lot about composition from listening to this through headphones, attentive to nothing else. I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

Hail to the Thief by Radiohead: I mentioned this to some folks and they couldn’t believe of all the Radiohead albums in the last decade, that I would choose this one. The reason I did is because I think it displays the art of the song articulately. Though Kid A sliced through cliches like a knife, this record was like a thousand pound weight. I like the obvious guitar, piano, and drums heard on this record. It inspires me to make good with what I have.

Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens: What musician wasn’t inspired to be more elegant and musical after listening to this? I also think it widened perspective for many listeners. This may be the closest thing to “classical” music in many hipsters libraries.

The Hours Soundtrack by Philip Glass: Glass influences musicians, and makes people feel. I think this soundtrack brought him to a broader audience. Everyone should listen to this.

You Are Free by Cat Power: I learned to communicate with emotion by listening to this record. I distinctly remember being in my mother’s basement having a profound feeling I was “known” while listening to this record. You probably had a similar experience.

Har Mar Superstar Interview

The more you get to know about Sean Tillman, the more it seems like the guy never stops living the American Dream. That is, of course, if your version of the American Dream includes becoming a spokesman for a vodka company. And winning an onscreen dance-off with Ben Stiller. And making out with Kate Moss. And touring Australia with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Add to it that he just released his fourth album under his Har Mar Superstar moniker last month, celebrating the release of Dark Touches' first single by inviting his personal friend Eva Mendes to star in the music video—dude's got a grasp on the American Dream, indeed.

In addition to his new release, Tillman played a role in Drew Barrymore's Whip It, which premiered in theaters last month, and is in the process of developing Stitch N' Bitch, a new show for HBO he's been working on with Ellen Page (Juno) and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development). Not bad for a guy who spent his formative teen years in Owatonna. Tillman recently spoke to us via email, discussing Dark Touches, his acting roles, and his competitive dodgeball team, the Juggalos.

Are you originally from Marshall or Owatonna?

I was born in Marshall and lived there until I was nine. Then, we moved to Owatonna. I stayed there until I was 15 and went to the what is now the Perpich Center for Arts Education. After that I stayed in St. Paul until I was 24. Then I moved London for a year, and I've been in L.A. for the last six years. At some point I lived in Chicago for a about a year. Can't remember when.

Do you still have any family or friends there? When did you head back there last?

My parents are still in Owatonna, so I end up back there a lot. There are a lot of good people there that I like to visit. Just go to the bar at the bowling alley and everyone's there. Convenience.

What was the inspiration behind performing again recently with Calvin Krime at the Uptown recently? Ever thought about taking Sean Na Na or CK on the road again?

The people at the Uptown Bar contacted me about doing a Har Mar show before closing the doors. I was all excited to help out and get a chance to rock the place one last time. After I thought I about it a bit I realized that I never really did many Har Mar shows there. Calvin Krime would play, and during that era I watched countless bands through the window just dying to turn 21 so I could go in. I got a wild notion to get Jon and Jason to play a few songs, they agreed, and we rocked the encore. It was super fun. I would like to play more with those guys. No official plans. It was just nice to dust off the bass and scream. As far as touring goes, I'm always threatening to do more Sean Na Na shows. If we got a good tour offered I'd put the band together. It's kind of brutal on the road these days though, so no promises.

What sort of impact did Michael Jackson's death have on you?

I was really surprised. Michael Jackson's death was so sudden. I came out of a movie and heard the news. It didn't seem real. I don't think I actually cried. I was more relieved for the guy. He was under such constant scrutiny that it must have been hellish. I feel like he finally got a little bit of peace. I love his music and his life story is legendary. Anyway, I hope his dad goes soon. Motherfucker.

Do you think that songs like "Dope, Man" or "Turn it Around" would exist had Jackson not?

Obviously M.J. was a huge influence on me. Thriller was the first album I learned every word to. I was in kindergarten and would come home and listen to it every day, dancing next to the record player with these giant white headphones on. I think that really shaped my point of view and love for R&B. Simply put, most of my songs wouldn't exist without Motown in general.

When did you guys have the idea to include [Eric Wareheim] in the video?

Eric and I have been trying to get together and make a video for a while now. He was super busy working on Tim and Eric while we were shooting this, but he was all about dropping by and getting slimed. It all came together nicely.

What's the continuation of the DUI theme about in your music?

I think I only reference Dialing Under the Influence once on Dark Touches. I guess it's something I'm prone to doing. Drunk dialing is a blessing and a curse.

"Game Night" has this strange hardcore-synth sound that reminds me a bit of Lords of Acid. How much do you listen to artists like that—or maybe Peaches—who are almost over the top with the openness of their sexuality? Does that sort of music influence you at all or is it the opposite—are you influencing someone like Peaches?

I've never really listened to Lords of Acid. P.O.S handed me a disc of beats and I really liked that one. It's just brutal and awesome. I love that bass sound. It's so gritty and huge. The song kind of wrote itself from there. As far as influencing people, I can't really answer that. I am friends with Peaches, and I think her shows are amazing. In that respect, I totally look up to her. We're peers though, so it's more of a mutual admiration. We've both been at it for a LONG time.

Forget old man Timberlake—think that you're bringing sexy back with Dark Touches bringing?

I love Timberlake. I think he's awesome. I think Dark Touches is my best album yet, so I'm really excited. I think this one's only 75% about sex. It's mostly about jubilation... which normally ends up with sex I guess. I don't know. I can't help it. People want to love me.

[This article was first published by City Pages.]

A Plus D Interview

When did you start making mashups?

A Plus D: We made our first mashup back in 2004, when we mashed up Missy Elliott with The Cure, and produced "I'm Really Hot Hot Hot!!!" Back in those early days of bootlegging, someone once said that your first mashup should always be made with either Missy Elliott or Eminem, due to the tightness of their raps, making them easier to sync up with other music.

But of course, we had been downloading and listening to mashups since 2002, and had already been DJing them at our Bootie parties for over a year. But being so intimately familiar with the art form by the time we finally started making our own definitely helped our craft.

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

A Plus D: We hate to sound cliché, but it's the usual suspects: 2manyDJs, Freelance Hellraiser, and Go Home Productions all initially inspired us to start producing our own mashups.

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

A Plus D: Shockingly, no! In fact, we've even been clandestinely approached by representatives from a few major labels to help them mash up their own artists on the down-low!

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

A Plus D: DJ Tripp's "Just Stop Believin'" (Lady Gaga vs. Journey). Damn, now there's finally another "Don't Stop Believin'" mashup besides our own that we actually like!

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

A Plus D: [As] the curators of the monthly Bootie Top 10, we have SO many favorites. Can we just go crazy? In no particular order: DJ Lobsterdust, DJ Schmolli, the Illuminoids, DJ Earworm, DJ Fox, MadMixMustang, Dan Mei & Marc Johnce, Divide & Kreate, Titus Jones, Loo & Placido, the Kleptones, DJ Y Alias JY, DJ BC, Zebra... these are just off the top of our heads, so if we left anybody out (and we're sure we did!) don't hate us, we're sorry!

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

A Plus D: We actually keep track! We number each mashup in the MP3 ID tags! So far, we're up to 52 officially-released A Plus D mashups... although we have at LEAST a dozen more that we've never actually posted online yet.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

A Plus D: Of all time? That is SUCH a difficult question! We used to say "Rapture Riders" (The Doors vs. Blondie) by Go Home Productions, but now it's getting a little long in the tooth. We can probably say what our "Mashup of the Year" is though, and that would be MadMixMustang's "I Got More Than A Feeling" (Boston vs. Black Eyed Peas). But check back with us at the end of December when we release our annual "Best of Bootie 2009" compilation album!

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]