Here is my top 8 albums of the decade. I tried to do 10 but any two I tried to crowbar in at the end just didn’t quite match up to these ones. I’ve made no attempt to make these reviews “objective” in any way and it’s not in any specific order since I’d find it nearly impossible to choose my number one out of this bunch. But these are the albums which have rocked my universe the most in the last ten years.Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World
SFA: one of the biggest musical loves of my life and a band with which I developed (and many of my friends can attest to this) an unhealthy obsession. I first came across them supporting Blur at my first ever gig when I was 15. I absolutely hated them. My brain was simply not ready for the sheer level of eclecticism I was witnessing. For clarification's sake: I actually enjoyed the music of Menswear during this period of time. Only a persistent scouser at Uni could convince me to give them a second chance.
It all started here with Rings Around the World, SFA’s most wild, eclectic, and brilliant album. It’s got everything here: Aphex Twin-style electronic freakouts, upbeat indie-pop, prog, and techno. It is a mess, yes, but what a gloriously coherent mess it is. This album sent me off on a whole new musical adventure, dedicated to finding new bands which displayed this range of styles. And that’s how I discovered Ween. Need I say more? Viktor Vaughn - Vaudeville Villain
MF DOOM is at his absolute best on this album as the cocky, time-travelling emcee Viktor Vaughn. Spitting the most bizarre, quotable, and witty rhymes over dark, electronic beats, DOOM creates - for these ears - the best hiphop album ever (yeah, I said it). Vaudeville Villain keeps on delivering too – the lyricism is so dense I discover new details on every listen. DOOM can rap about one of the oldest gangster rap clichés, a drug deal gone wrong, and still make it sound like he’s the first person ever to broach the subject. He even makes references to Krull and Star Trek sound cool. Hymie's Basement - Hymie's Basement
Yoni Wolf has managed to wrangle himself two spots in my top 8, which is pretty unprecedented. Hymie’s Basement is still my favourite thing that he’s ever done. Teaming up with Fog, they created an album with beautiful off-kilter melodies and lyrics which offer an abstract dissection of life in American suburbia. Most importantly, it manages to deliver a sustained emotional punch all the way through with its combo of melancholic piano and half-rap. It’s a perfect late night album and an underrated little gem that deserves a far wider listenership than it’s been given. Quasimoto - The Unseen
Madlib has managed to channel his quite legendary weed habit into one of the strangest musical alter egos of all time: Quasimoto. The conceit with Quasimoto is that he is some kind of alien cum gangster rapper. This can be a bit off-putting at first, especially as the vocals sound like Madlib got himself a truck full of helium and put it to full use. However, hearing a tweaked alien bragging about his luck with the hoodrats over buttery jazz loops is galaxies away from your everyday MTV Base fodder and, for me, this is key. The Unseen manages to run with this concept over 24 tracks without ever sounding novelty or throwaway. This is pure, unadulterated hiphop for those who enjoy beanbags and late night fast food deliveries. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I honestly didn’t expect an album which I’ve only gotten into so recently to make my top 8, but here it is. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is just indie rock at its absolute best. For my money, this is the album where Spoon really came together and demonstrated everything that makes them one of the best bands currently going. Every track on this album – from the motown-tinged You Got Yr Cherry Bomb to the joyous pop of The Underdog – is fantastic. It’s the one album of recent years that has been in constant rotation since I discovered it. Why? – Alopecia
Alopecia totally blew me away from the first listen. I’d been a big fan of cLOUDDEAD but WHY?'s first record, Oaklandazulasylum, had never done anything for me so I’d never bothered following Yoni’s work afterwards. Then one day I read someone on the AtEase forum giving Alopecia high praise so I decided to give it a whirl.
This album offers the most perfect blend of rap and indie-rock, it’s almost as though someone at Anticon analysed my taste in music and decided to contract out an album based on it. Yoni Wolf offers the best lyrics he’s ever mustered – simultaneously abstract and confessional – and songs that make you want to bop your head and cry under your bedsheets at the same time. The Fall of Mr Fifths is the highlight for me – I’ve tried to grow bored of it but it’s bloody impossible. More of this please.Ween – Quebec
Any of my friends reading this will be rolling serious eyeball right now… But Ween are my band of the decade – actually, scratch that – my life.
Quebec is Ween in the purest sense. It has everything from Motorhead-style metal (It’s Gonna be a Long Night) to Pink Floyd prog (Captain). And, if you know your Ween history, you’ll know that the duo were at their lowest emotional ebb during the recording of this album. The undertones of Quebec are dark, though it may not seem so to the casual listener (see: Hey There, Fancypants). But Ween don’t deal with emotions in the same way most other bands do and so a song like Zoloft doesn’t tackle prescription drug-induced inertia through critique or self-pity, but instead, offers a lethargic, hazy song to reflect the actual feeling of being on said drug. And that’s why I love Ween.Madvillain – Madvillainy
Madlib and MF DOOM were always going to be recipe for success. And this album more than delivers on the promise of the collaboration. DOOM spits pure fire with no choruses while Madlib delivers the beats. The album once again showcases DOOM as an emcee at the height of his powers with his trademark dense, quotable lyrics. It even features his alter-ego Viktor Vaughn delivering a diss track against DOOM for stealing his girl: “When you see Tin Head, tell him be ducking down. I'm not rompin around; He better be ready and prepared to be stomped in the ground.”
Madlib provides the perfect soundtrack to this insanity, with an array of dirty jazz-record loops replete with weird b-movie samples. It’s blunted, leftfield, and completely unique.