I like to talkaboutmyself. I like to talk about music. So when NPR’s All Things Considered did a story last week on the 50 most important recordings of the decade, I was all over it.
But first, a little about my experience with the Recency Effect… I worked at Bow Wow Records, roughly the years encompassing 1995 through 1999- with this guy, this guy and eventually this lady and this guy. I was responsible for the year-end "best of" lists for albums of various genres. I used to be kinda cheesed off when these guys never asked me to chime in on their version each year at year's end.
Whenever I would make these lists, I was very careful not to weigh too heavily on the more recent, "towards the end of the year" releases, to combat any recency bias. Hopefully NPR has done the same kind of list-making soul searching in their All Songs Considered list for the decade.
Also, I think by selecting 50 recordings, as opposed to albums, NPR in some ways has an easier job than my brethren and I at Bow Wow back in the day. They are selecting snippets, essences, nuggets, slices. A great song can be a flash in the pan (but typically is not), whereas an album has a higher threshold in order to achieve decade-long greatness.
The Shins' "New Slang" is the only one of the NPR's 50 that I want to talk about.
I remember when James, Jesse, Marty (and apparently Neal to a lesser degree because I don't see him in these scenes- he is replaced as a visual "fourth" by Elyse Sewell, mostly...) made the video for New Slang, we all went up to watch it at James’ parents house up by Indian School and Tramway, near that randomly placed former Blue Cross, Blue Shield high rise destined to be condos one day (is this venture still on?), to watch it. I loved it. James explained that the band wanted it to be a paean to all the great indie rock videos/images that preceded them, Husker Du, The Replacements, Slint, etc. It was 50% hubris, 50% pie-eyed naïveté.
Years later, when the guys swung back through town on a tour, Marty told me that Zach Braff from Scrubs had asked James if they could include the song in the soundtrack to a movie he was making, and that the song was going to be part of the dialogue at some point as well. Little did any of us know (least of all the band) that NPR would dote upon it and hail it as a defining moment of the decade, musically.
For me, right now, The Shins as I knew them then are no longer. James and Dave (who replaced Neal between the first and second albums and was actually the guitarist before Neal way back in the first formative months of the band) and recent addition Eric appear to still be touring as the Shins, but no releases are slated as far as I know. Marty’s not in the band right now, and neither is Jesse. He’s got a new gig:
And then I hope the Shins do get back together. They are a piece of Albuquerque, forever and ever, amen. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I will say that I am thankful for the three albums they did give us.
I missed NPR’s 50 recordings of the 1990’s, if they did one.
As a reader participation starting off point, I would like to relate that my Top Ten Albums list (of which there are 15) of that decade looks like this:
The Orb -The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld Radiohead -OK Computer DJ Shadow -...Endtroducing Uncle Tupelo -Anodyne Pavement -Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain Built to Spill -Perfect from Now On Beastie Boys -Ill Communication Portishead -Dummy Palace Music -Viva Last Blues Stereolab -Mars Audiac Quintet Dr. Octagon -Octagonecologyst Ride -Nowhere A Tribe Called Quest -Midnight Marauders Archers of Loaf-Icky Mettle Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-Orange
What are your top albums of this last decade, the 2000's, the "Oughts", if you will?????
(Feel free to include Bright Eyes' "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning", Outkast's "Stankonia" and Arcade Fire's "Funeral"...)