Allanna’s Top Ten Albums of the Decade
I want you all to know that I have never been so honest as I have been while writing this list. It will be pretty uncomfortable if I see you on the street, now, because you are looking deep into my soul on this one. Before there is any serious judging going on here, I would like to note that I didn’t really get into music until I moved to Boston last year. Surprised? I certainly was. These albums comprise my memories of the last decade, sappy and shallow as some of them might be, they’re all that come to mind when I think about these last ten years. It is the first long-ish period of time in which I am able to remember a whole lot more vividly, rather than memories being confused with a dream I had last night. A part of me feels like the next decade should be me listening to “good” music, but… I have a feeling in 2020 the list will look only slightly different. There will be flying cars, though.
10. Plans by Death Cab for Cutie
Released August 2005 on Atlantic
I like Death Cab for Cutie. There. I said it. I’m emo-y and wear black eyeliner and hate my suburban background (semi-true). I’m (maybe) striking a balance between indie music and once-upon-a-time indie music. This album is associated with my lengthy career as a Parking Enforcement Officer in college. I listened to this album while giving people parking tickets. It was an interesting to sort of hear people yelling at me and listen to “Summer Skin.” It made me feel better about getting called names, but I didn’t feel guilty about giving the ticket. I feel the same about this album.
Released March 21, 2006 on Sub Pop
The last house I lived in in Eau Claire was dubbed “The Pirate Ship” and every time we did the dishes, this album was invariably put on. When I listen to this now, I feel like I can smell a little bit of the beer from last night, Johnny smoking out on the lounge, and a feeling of anticipation of what was to come. We were all in transition out of college: graduating, moving, getting real jobs, and wishing that this time—that of college and cheap rent and friends over all the time—would last a whole lot longer.
Released December 18, 2007 on Atlantic
When The Cool came out, I was beginning to listen to a lot of acoustic guitars and banjo-y music and sometimes I wondered what happened to the person who was really into hip-hip not too long ago. And then I got my paws on this album, put it in my car, and fell back into step (actually, it was more of a limp). So it goes.
7. Home by The Dixie Chicks
Released August 2002 on Columbia
I’m from the Midwest, so for me to have a country album on here is not exactly surprising, especially since it’s the band that was so publicly shamed for speaking out against one GW Bush. This album (and their album before it, Fly) made me fall for banjos and that twangy, old style of country that is rarely heard on the radio nowadays. It does have that sound—really and truly. Maybe you won’t listen to this album because it’s a modern day country album, but they know what they’re doing. You might call this a soft spot in my music collection, but I’m okay with it.
Released September 12, 2006 on Jive
Don’t deny JT’s power. It’s insanely catchy and incredibly dance-able. People freak out when they hear tracks from this album. It came out in 2006 and yet it still sounds fresh. Granted, three years ago is not long at all, but when it comes to pop– three years might as well be a decade. This album is the embodiment of everything fun to me– I hear it and all I want to do is gather all my friends for a dance party. How did this influence me? How could it not influence me?
Released April 23, 2002 on Nonesuch
Here is a secret that will make the rest of this list make sense: I was never “into” music until very recently. I like bands and had a pretty eclectic taste and didn’t enjoy Britney Spears (all the time…) but I had never heard this album until September of 2008. Yes, yes, that is correct. When I heard this album, sat down and really listened, I got into music. I noticed shifts and lyrics and what artists were doing differently and what made songs unique and what made songs all sound the same. And thus my transition into one of those people.
Released May 2006 on Cabin 24
Some people think I’m all pessimism and grumpy and don’t like children. The last part of that statement is really the only true part. Maybe I am grumpy, but deep down inside, I am a total “girl” who is soft and squishy inside (emotionally, all the organ stuff is obviously squishy). The majority of my male friends seem to not be able to grasp this concept and are greatly surprised when I try to explain that I am, indeed, female despite my penchant for dick jokes. They need to look at the albums I have listened to a thousand times (maybe an exaggeration) and they will see the truth. Like Boys and Girls. This album is definitely an album that makes me long for my group of female friends from college. I remember driving into Northern Wisconsin to snowshoe across a lake and singing this and talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Making dinner and drinking on Thursday nights. Music and mom-dancing. These are the things you do with good friends in negative weather in the middle of nowhere.
3. Deyarmond Edison by Deyarmond Edison
Self released 2004
This is the album that made me fall in love with Eau Claire. I hated the town when I first got there, which, if you know me know is hard to believe. I didn’t understand it and felt out of place and was just a homesick, miserable freshman. But I settled in (unknowingly) after time and stopped looking into transferring schools and stayed. In my sophomore year I stayed in Eau Claire for winter break and heard this album for the first time. During that break, I spent time in the town outside of college, staying with people off campus. I went to bars (slightly illegally) and found good restaurants and trekked around the river paths and settled in for the winter. I fell into my own routines and made up a life for myself without worrying about times I needed to be home or would it disturb my roommate. This was me becoming an adult and embracing the place and people that surrounded me.
2. God Loves Ugly by Atmosphere
Released June 11, 2002 on Rhymesayers
This album. This album. I’ve heard people call this “emo rap” and I won’t really fight that and I’ve heard people make fun of Atmosphere, but I don’t really care. I’m from Minnesota so, in a way, I’m required to love the hometown rap sound (yikes, Allanna. Yikes…) but this album was the end of my high school relationship and the anger and hurt I felt in that and the homesickness and loneliness when I began college. Music gives you those outlets and looking back on those events I can shake my head and smile at my youth, but at the time those moments were the worst and there could be nothing more. Fortunately, I’ve done some growing up since then. God Loves Ugly was my first encounter with hip-hop that I could relate to– it was a heavy beat and lyrics that I could understand far better than gangster rap and dealing drugs. I grew up in the suburbs– I couldn’t try and pretend I was anything but a middle class teenager with a pretty good life. But I could feel all shitty about a broken relationship and love for my home state and blast this through my first car’s speakers while driving home from work. I don’t listen to this album much anymore and when I do, it’s not for very long. It doesn’t have the same draw to me, but I remember a long time (longer than many other albums) where this album was always on hand and played on repeat.
Self -released in 2007, re-released February 19, 2008 on Jagjaguwar
I know what you’re going to say. This is so many hipsters’ favorite album of the year/decade/century/universetimeandspace and I do wear scarves and cardigans so I’m in that category. But I first bought this album from Racy d’Lene’s coffee shop in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when it was pressed and released in a brown and black cardboard sleeve and no one knew what to think of it. This was sometime in the fall of 2007, when life was starting to change pretty dramatically for me. I remember watching Justin Vernon at the House of Rock in Eau Claire, opening for the band Halloween, Alaska sometime before this album came out. I remember being pretty intoxicated, but also not liking any of it and wishing that Deyarmond Edison would get back together. But then I heard a few songs from the album played around at the Joynt and at Racy’s. So I bought the album for (maybe) ten dollars from Mike Contezac and a coffee. I was pretty skeptical. Really skeptical. But I kept listening and when you listen to it in the middle of a Wisconsin winter, you can hear what that winter feels like– familiar and lonely and harsh and the end of the world and the beginning of it, too. When I moved to Boston, it meant even more to me. I was (and still am at times) incredibly homesick for that life in Eau Claire. I know that most of that is really the people who surround you, but there is still a feeling to Eau Claire that can’t be replicated. I’m going to fumble in my description of how Wisconsin can feel in the winter, because it can be a sorrow-filled, bitter time. All that talk about the country being a slower pace is true—there’s time to spare out there. It can seem like eons, but it can also be magical. You can take a day at the Joynt seeing all the people you love, having a variety of conversation, and you never feel at a loss for that time. Suddenly, all the time in the world is enough or maybe it gets to be too much, but you have to leave. You have to move on, otherwise, that perfect stillness that comes with the winter becomes something that weighs you down. I still look forward to visiting, though.