I like to talk about myself. 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:

James Mercer has a new project with a tentative name, "Broken Bells", and an album coming out early next year that will probably blow minds.

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"...)

Views: 20

Comment by jeff on November 25, 2009 at 11:11am
nice list.
mejico maxico - mis
guero - beck
Comment by Masshole in Fringecrest on November 25, 2009 at 11:26am
The Grey Album suggestion gave me goosebumps (not kidding) and I wholeheartedly agree.

Guero's probably in there... gonna have to check out Mejico Maxico. Something has to be in there from Beirut, I think, too. Bon Iver might be a Recency Effect choice... i'll have to see.
Comment by pepeye on November 25, 2009 at 12:44pm
Portishead's Dummy is, even as I write this, on my iPod. That disc just does not get old. And if you have Dummy on the list, I think you have to have Massive Attack's Blue Lines on the list too.
Comment by the hand model on November 25, 2009 at 1:39pm
Here's a few:

TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Spoon - Girls Can Tell
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Radiohead - Kid A
The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
Radiohead - Kid A (and prolly Amnesiac, too)
Arcade Fire - Funeral
The Strokes - Is This It
The National - Alligator
Comment by Tricross on November 25, 2009 at 2:32pm
Kinda surprised not to see the Eels or Fleet Foxes mentioned.

Last Stop in this Town and Your Protector respectively.
Comment by JeSais on November 25, 2009 at 2:55pm
I would definitely second Beck's Guero
and add Gnarls Barkley's St. Elsewhere
Comment by Monica on November 25, 2009 at 4:08pm
I prefer Pinata over Mejico Maxico
Comment by Dan Ehrig on November 25, 2009 at 4:18pm
The Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
Swagger - Flogging Molly (it technically came out in 2000 IIRC)
Comment by Masshole in Fringecrest on November 25, 2009 at 5:14pm
2000 is good. the decade (as I see it, anyway) is 2000 thru 2009.
Comment by cathyray on November 25, 2009 at 5:29pm
dang, masshole, I am officially OLD.

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