This is an attempt at a different kind of post. Something less technical. Something more personal. I’m a pretty big music fan, and I’m always scrounging around the internet for new artists and songs to fill my Spotify portfolio. One of my biggest fears is being that 50 year old dude who still only listens to those same two Def Leppard songs. Mullet optional.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a list of the best albums/songs/whatever in the last decade—though I think they’re pretty dope—but an anthology of nostalgia from the last ten years. Some songs are associated with life events, which I’ll go in to. Others, just cool songs. For myself this is a journal. Maybe for the reader, a novelty to find new music.
To give some context, when 2010 reared its head I had just turned 17. Still in high school! I had just became an uncle, and my favorite artists were The White Stripes and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. A big change from Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance from years before (we all listened to it, don’t judge). This was all fueled by that drunk next door neighbor who knew all the cool bands. It was around this time that I had been playing guitar for a few years. Playing in a band was the natural progression. We played all the covers: Iron Man, Smoke on the Water, and Crazy Train. This was short lived—we wanted music that related to us.
Wavelets split w/ Senders
Really, I don’t remember how I ever stumbled across The Wavelets. What I do remember is that I found them on MySpace. The second I heard the intro lick to Let Off Some Steam I was instantly hooked. It wasn’t grandpa’s music. The sound coming from my speakers was raw in every sense of the word. The recording quality, vocals, lyrics, instruments. Despite that the lyrics were relatable, the guitar was all over the place, and it was a sound I never heard before. It was Let Off Some Steam that made me do a 180, and completely changed the music I was into. The Wavelets eventually stopped playing, and a few of the members created a new band, Dikembe, which hold some of my favorite songs of all time. Though they had a short discography, The Wavelets are the pioneers to the rest of this list. The home base. I’ve been playing music for close to ten years, and I’m still trying to recreate my own version of Let Off Some Steam.
This Town Needs Guns (TTNG) and Moving Mountains
I’m grouping these two bands, because they came around the same time. Though, totally different in sound, they equally expanded my musical pallette in different ways. These bands pushed me further off course. It started with rawness, The Wavelets, then got more mature with TTNG and Moving Mountains. A lot of the experiences I had in this decade can be equated to these three bands. The people I met, the places I got to travel to.
We’ll start with Moving Mountains…
Pneuma, the first album from Moving Mountains, is a whirlwind of an album. Its loud and in your face, but also soft and melodic. The first song I heard from this band is 8105. It was completely different than other songs. First, it was freaking 8 minutes long! Second, it didn’t follow the classic song writing structure. There is no verse, chorus, verse chorus… Just one long linear story. 8105 taught me to experiment, try radical new sonic escapes, and got me into the genre Postrock.
TTNG is a different beast. Ever heard of Math Rock? No, it’s not songs about multiplication tables. Math Rock is a style of music that fluctuates in time signatures. It can almost sound disjointed. But, TTNG with their song 26 is Dancier Than 4 is not just a crazy time signature free-for-all with guitars and drums flying everywhere. It’s beautiful. Just listen to that outro! TTNG got me into the exocentric side of music and at the same time, the twinkly “pretty” stuff. Most bands I’ve played in, or played with have been categorized as “Math Rock”. It has almost became a label for me now.
The Appleseed Cast
I have a weird love/hate with The Appleseed Cast. Their music isn’t bad—in fact it’s amazing. Do you ever have one of those bands or songs that remind you of a time in your life? The Appleseed Cast is one of those bands. Around the time their album Illumination Ritual came out I had been hanging out with a girl I really liked. She liked me. But, depression and anxiety was running rampant. I went into a spiral—pushing everyone away (spoiler, this happens a few more times for different reasons). You know, college stuff where we really don’t know what we want in life and what we’re doing. What was the result? A year lost to isolation and drinking a lot. Spring came and I began to hike after class everyday. A mile. Then more. The Liberty Lake Loop was my favorite coming in at around 8 miles round-trip. My classes ended at 11am. I was generally done with the hike around 5pm. The whole hike I would listen to The Appleseed Cast’s latest album over-and-over again, on repeat, for the full 8 miles, every time. The Appleseed Cast will always be associated to the time I went into that abyss, and found my way out. The good and the bad.
Before I was even done with college I got a job offer for my dream job. Ever since six years old I wanted to work in the games industry. Here it was, I got an offer to be a programmer for Playstation in San Diego, CA. The experience was amazing—it was everything I would of wanted. Would.. Here I was in a totally new city. Everyday after work I would go home, and isolate myself. Stare at the walls of my 500 square foot apartment until I fell asleep. Then back to work. I had went from playing gigs every weekend and hanging with friends all the time to nothing. There was no future. To throw fuel on the fire, my dog got cancer. Then a second one did (we had three dogs). And a close grandparent started to show signs of Alzheimer’s. Fuck! This is my life when The Hotelier’s album Goodness came out. I would walk around a nearby lake, Lake Miramar, and listen the heck out of this album. Something about Goodness always lifted me up. It made me hopeful that even though I had achieved what I had always wanted to do, someday I would be back in my town playing my old crappy songs with the people closest to me.
When this began. This was a thing. That we could both share. A bit of shade. The goodness fades. And we begin there.
Now there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of songs that could put on here. But, this is the music that stood out. That mean the most to me. Think of it as my most memorable five songs of the decade—without the clickbait. What would your top five songs be of the decade? What songs mean the most to you?