Posted by: Jeff | January 2, 2010

The Decade: Best Band

Joe’s more plugged into pop culture than I am, so not surprisingly he handled all the “Decade” retrospective posts we had until now. I’d been trying to come up with at least one to do, and bands hadn’t been covered yet. Then I stumbled upon this Matt Yglesias post and thought, “Yep. That sounds right.” So I figured I’d just link to it.

Suppose I wasn’t trapped on a desert island at all, but for some reason I would never again be allowed to listen to an album released between 2000 and 2009. Except for one band! So who do I make the exception for?

By that standard, I think the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are my band of the oughts. Three albums and two EPs, all excellent, and a sound that evolves all the time while staying somehow essentially Yeah Yeah Yeahish.

So long as you’re discussing bands which got their start in the oughts (or “aughts?”) I’d say this holds. Listening to an album and feeling that lightening bolt of excitement where you realize you’re hearing something genuinely new and creative and meaningful is a rare thing for me. And I experienced that with both Fever to Tell and It’s Blitz! Granted, I discovered the Yeah Yeah Yeahs within the last year. So they’re still fresh in my mind. But I second Yglesias on this.

I’d also say honorable mentions should go out to The Arcade Fire and The White Stripes. (Even though the latter technically got their start in 1997.) Furthermore, my personal kudos to a little band from San Diego called Grand Ole Party, which a friend of mine and myself discovered around two years ago when they opened in Austin for Rilo Kiley. Two songs into their set, and we were already in line to buy their album. Which is Humanimals, in case you’re curious. Another three piece band with a female vocalist (shades of Grace Slick) and featuring a sort of weird, percussion-heavy, gypsy-punk indie-rock-funk vibe. To this day one of the most unique musical sounds I’ve encountered. They’ve been off the radar for a while, but are suppose to release their sophomore effort soon. Here’s to hoping.

Moving on, were we to remove the “got their start this decade” requirement, and simply ask who had the best decade period, I’d say Bruce Springsteen could give all these bands a run for their money. Between The Rising, Devils & Dust, The Seeger Sessions, Magic and Working On a Dream, (“The Wrestler” especially from that last album) The Boss has had a prodigious ten years.

Finally, I’d like to name James McMurtry as the lyricist of the decade. No other musician has, for me at least, captured so perfectly the struggles, contradictions and demons this decade has revealed within the American character. You should all check him out.



  1. I love me some YYYs and Arcade Fire but my vote goes to Wilco.

  2. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of the best albums of the decade, no doubt. But Springsteen’s Magic is my favorite.

  3. Oh dear. Do we need a “Best Album of the Decade” post?

  4. No. Let’s look forward, not backward!

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