I’m abandoning the seventies journal in favour of a series of decade journals instead! This one is on music. My taste in music has recently taken a bit of a bizarre turn so I am going to try to stay consistent with what I’ve listened to for the most part of this decade.
I am also going to limit myself to the things that have been released over the past ten years. I never realised how limiting that would be until I actually did it. It was going to be ten albums, but I got lazy. I also hope you notice the decrease in the quality of what I’ve written about each.
In no particular order:
1. Fucked Up – Hidden World 
This album is a masterpiece. I say that without prefixing it with ‘in my opinion’, because it’s not my opinion, it is a fact. I would even go so far as to say it’s one of the best albums of all time.
I love the interconnectedness of this album. Everything flows, even the cover art is amazingly well thought out [the Wikipedia page suggests that the Venn diagram is supposed to represent the hidden world and the “real” world], and the fact that album ends with “Vivian Girls” seems purposeful to me. “Vivian Girls” references the magnum opus of a mentally ill man named Henry Darger, who was an advocate for child welfare. I won’t go into too much detail about the man right now, as I plan to write a post dedicated solely to him and his artwork at a later date, but he created this immense, complicated mythology about the Vivian Girls who stage a rebellion against an oppressive regime in which children are reduced to slavery. Darger, most of his life working menial jobs, composed The Story of the Vivian Girls… without the intent for it to be published or for anyone to see it. Hence, the “Hidden World”.
Fucked Up are consistently amazing and innovative, they’re constantly pushing the limits of their genre; I cannot name the million things I love about this band. I feel it is all epitomized in the nine minutes and twenty-six seconds of “Vivian Girls”, which I unfortunately cannot find a decent version of on You Tube.
Fucked Up’s myspace
2. Joanna Newsom – Ys 
It was really difficult for me to choose between this one and The Milk-Eyed Mender. Both albums are quite beautiful, but I feel like Ys is just richer sounding [due to the orchestral arrangements, I guess]. I find it more interesting to listen to. I find most people tend to focus on her vocals and harp [as they would], but I think her brilliance as a poet often gets overlooked. The lyrics from the songs on Ys are absolutely beautiful and show her prowess as a poet.
To read Newsom’s lyrics, go to Milky Moon. I imagine they’re pretty accurate, but I haven’t checked myself.
3. Electric Wizard – Dopethrone 
Yeah, I know. I’m posting this with major reservations, so please be gentle [Catherine].
When I said that my taste in music has taken a bit of a bizarre turn recently, this is partially what I was referring to. I came to listen to this band serendipitously (I’m using that word a lot today). I’d heard of them before but it just never occurred to me that I would like them at all.
However, when I became obsessed with witch trials (Salem and otherwise) I tried to find literature and films that centring around testimonials and the types of things that those accused of witchcraft went through. I happened upon a movie called Mark of the Devil [which I still haven’t watched!]. That led to me watching the following video for “I, the Witchfinder”. I thought the song was quite impressive, especially along with footage of the film.
The witch trials have strangely become something that mean a lot to me, in the same way someone would feel an interest in the Holocaust or the Great Purge or the Rwandan genocide. I guess the concept of accusing someone of witchcraft has become so ridiculous to people now that it’s glossed over some of the horror which characterizes that period in western history. Part of why I want to see Mark of the Devil so badly is because it seems as though it fairly shows the brutality of the witch trials, as some of the implements of torture shown in the film are direct facsimiles of those found in the Austrian castle in which it was filmed. Whether it intends to make people sympathize with these individuals or if it’s intended to titillate, I think it’s good to immortalize those acts in film, so it makes it a little more difficult to forget.
Anyway, huge digression!
As with Joanna Newsom, I was conflicted about which album to pick [Dopethrone or Witchcult Today], but ultimately I chose Dopethrone because I love “I, the Witchfinder” and “Vinum Sabbathi” is embarrassingly high [hah] on the list of my top tracks on last.fm and iTunes.
EXTREMELY NOT SAFE FOR WORK FOR EVERY REASON ANYTHING WOULD NOT BE SAFE FOR WORK. SERIOUSLY.
There is torture and tongues being pulled out and nudity all over the place. You’ve been warned.
4. Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse 
This is the album that got me into Sonic Youth. Because I love them, I love this album on principle—but also because it’s just really good from start to finish. I really haven’t been able to get into Rather Ripped or The Eternal the way I have gotten into this album, though both of those definitely have their moments, too (Pink Steam from Rather Ripped is probably one of my favourite Sonic Youth songs ever, so I’m going include a video of that song too). Anyway, the first song I ever heard by Sonic Youth was “I Love You Golden Blue” and I still love it just as much as I did when I heard it the first time.
The original is seven minutes and three seconds long. I would suggest you try to find a version of that one, but this will do.
5. Belle and Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant 
I am pretty much including this album because I want to ensure that Belle and Sebastian are on this list and I don’t feel like any of their other albums composed of material exclusively from this decade are as good as their albums from the nineties. After my huge rant about witches, I’m too lazy to find something that differentiates this album from the preceding ones. That said, “The Chalet Lines” is an amazing song and this album deserves to be on this list for that song alone. It’s probably the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
Broadcast – Haha Sound 
Godspeed You! Black Emperor- Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven 
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones 
North of America – These Songs Are Cursed [????]
Deerhunter (not sure which album yet!)