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12.25.20 2020 plane 03.19.20 Decade: Albums
12.28.19 Decade: Songs 12.21.19 2019
12.17.18 2018 12.11.17 2017
06.13.17 "Of All Time," Circa 2017 12.24.16 2016
12.28.15 201510.22.15 Of All Time, Circa 2015
12.02.13 2013 01.02.12 2011
05.03.11 Of All Time, Circa 2011 06.20.10 2000s
12.17.09 2009

Decade: Albums

woo boy, what a trip this has been. the confounding continued existence of sputnik is a great source of pain and relief for me. this list jettisons the pretense of objectivity and is meant to portray the decade as it was (the wall-to-wall music, earmarked albums putting numbers on the board), not as i would like it to have been. go gentle. goodbye
An Album By Korallreven
98Sufjan Stevens
The Age of Adz
97Kayo Dot
96PJ Harvey
Let England Shake
95Shugo Tokumaru
In Focus?
94Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree
93Danny Brown
92Big Thief
Bel Air Highrise Plantation
89Tim Hecker
Ravedeath, 1972
88Afrikan Sciences
87Jai Paul
Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)
84Blood Cultures
Happy Birthday
83Chris Reimer
Hello People
Fading Frontier
81Joanna Newsom
Have One on Me
Collection 1
78Ex Eye
Ex Eye
77Fever Ray
The Seer
75George Clanton
100% Electronica
73Yellow Swans
Going Places
72St. Vincent
Strange Mercy
How Are You?
70Holly Herndon
Double Negative
68Mica Levi
Under The Skin OST
67Julia Holter
66The Caretaker
An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
65Colin Stetson
New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges
64Skee Mask
63Perfume Genius
No Shape
62The Men
Open Your Heart
61Atlas Sound
Bedroom Databank, Vols. 1-4
Plastic Beach
59The Avalanches
58The Books
The Way Out
57Yo La Tengo
There’s A Riot Going On
56Nicolas Jaar
55Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked At Me
54Adult Jazz
Gist Is
53Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel...
52Earl Sweatshirt
Some Rap Songs
51A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Sea When Absent
50Kacey Musgraves
Golden Hour
49Pop Winds
Earth To Friend
47The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt
46Jessica Pratt
On Your Own Love Again
Duct Tape
44Main Attrakionz
808s and Dark Grapes II
The Original Faces
Spiritual State
40DJ Koze
38The Knife
Shaking the Habitual
37Ian William Craig
A Turn of Breath
36Julia Holter
35Cut Copy
34Kendrick Lamar
33Matana Roberts
COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
32Avey Tare
Down There
31Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid
30The Field
Looping State of Mind
Years Past Matter
28Frog Eyes
Paul's Tomb: A Triumph
27Beach House
Depression Cherry
26Oneohtrix Point Never
R Plus Seven
25James Blake
James Blake
24Jenny Hval
Innocence Is Kinky
22DJ Healer
Nothing 2 Loose
Black Messiah
20Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition

Every individual component of this album is unspeakably ugly, but to Danny Brown’s immense credit, he fashions it all together in a way that is purposeful and rewarding. There is no question of Brown’s prowess as a storyteller, and Atrocity Exhibition becomes a concept album through the sheer force of its execution, in how the lyrics inform Brown’s performance and the dark psychosis of his warped music bed. It is the rare instance of an artist satirizing the culture that exasperates rockstar narratives like his own without losing himself to irony or self-deprecation, mapping his sins with a fierce awareness that translates with crystal clarity.

RIYL: Björk, Aphex Twin, falsettos to cut a diamond, the way a fire encroaches upon a lone cottage
18Animal Collective
Centipede Hz

Animal Collective are my favorite band. They had as perfect a decade run as any indie band borne of the new millennium’s technological advancements, rewarding a loyal fanbase with subverted expectations at each new release while telegraphing the blurred distinction between underground trends and mainstream successes. Centipede Hz continues the trend of retooling the sound to create something unique within their discography. Yet it is bogged down in an alien production that absorbs the blows of its clutter, the four-piece opting for a maximalist rock album that accentuates its lyrical fixation on fading frontiers and hyper-connectivity, the fear of our body aging faster than our sensibilities. Therein lies the key to the collective’s success, in their peculiar way of creating great art reflecting the very life for whom it was created. With growing pains and fresh anxieties, Animal Collective again telegraph something curiously obtuse about our modern obsessions and inadequate solutions.
17The Knife
Tomorrow, In a Year

With the help of Planningtorock, Mount Sims, and the operatic vocal stylings of their Danish and Sweden collaborators, The Knife write the best songs of their careers, totaling something grand and explicit about the process of evolution and the capabilities of sound structure to define it. The whole is a glorious, pretentious something and, especially in its first half, almost flagrant in alienating; connective tissue between the primordial and us, at the height of it all: eating, fucking, gawking and, privy to our inexorable species, creating.
Art Angels

The divisive “REALITi” is a good start. The fan-favorite demo is something of a calling card, the moment in which her bedroom sound transcended the soft blur of its lo-fi roots through sweeping, crafty pop hooks. It practically didn’t need to be touched. And yet… Grimes picks a telling track to retool for her AAA title, an album where she grapples with the consequences of perspective and autonomy, or lack thereof. There is a level of control across the album that speaks to her talent as a synthesist, trading the molten genre electro-pop of her breakthrough Visions for explicit detours and roadmaps that turn over with the ingenuity and inexplicable simplicity of a pop-up book. That “REALITi” works in both contexts speaks to the way in which the incredible pop music on Art Angels warps our understanding of the Earthbound observations of a woman already tending to her garden on Mars.
Tunes 2011 to 2019

Burial said trans rights!
Native Speaker

Native Speaker has been the salve applied to so many wounds since its release that it should repulse me; “better” albums have fallen to such associations, and feel forever linked to memories to make a stomach churn on impact. But Native Speaker is different: Braids have written songs that speak to those formative experiences that illuminate the questions you should be asking in the wake of consequences defined by the answers you sought. It is, ah, an album of many wrinkles, lush, colorful and grand-scaled, but the blocks are simple and well-defined, built up and then dismantled in plain, evocative ways. It is an album I will understand differently as I grow, that rare album of post-adolescence that ages more gracefully than we do.
13King Krule

tfw ennui but make it post-punk masterpiece

Something like an Americana classic, a damning love letter to the excesses of toiling romance and shady desires, of spoiled dilettantes and passionate vagabonds, set against a twinkling backdrop of sophisticated new age indie rock and a saxophone so delicious it teeters on blasphemy. America walks away bruised and delirious, and we dance with bloody feet on the remnants of her once-majestic disco ball.

Grouper is too pure for our hype cycles, so bless the stacked year that saw this ambient twofer slip between the cracks and into our sleepy subconsciouses. This one deserves a pillow and the aurora borealis of a closed eyelid.
10Flying Lotus

king shit
9Charli XCX
Pop 2

A fraught utopia of progressive queer inclusion and the careening emotional free fall of drug-induced euphoria and until-I-come love. Smart and frank exploration of workaholic neuroses and the necessary heartbreak of the rich and famous. Incredible production choices for 41 straight minutes. Ten of my favorite pop songs, period.
8Frank Ocean

Many college students have gone to college and gotten hooked on drugs, marijuana, and alcohol. Listen, stop trying to be somebody else. Don't try to be someone else. Be yourself and know that that's good enough. Don't try to be someone else. Don't try to be like someone else. Don't try to act like someone else. Be yourself, be secure with yourself. Rely and trust upon your own decisions, on your own beliefs. You understand the things that I've taught you. Not to drink alcohol, not to use drugs. Don't use that cocaine or marijuana because that stuff is highly addictive. When people become weed-heads they become sluggish, lazy, stupid and unconcerned. Sluggish, lazy, stupid and unconcerned. That's all marijuana does to you, okay? This is mom. Unless you're taking it under doctor's, um, control. Then it's regulated. Do not smoke marijuana, do not consume alcohol. Do not get in the car with someone who is inebriated. This is mom, call me, bye.
Public Strain

Don’t pant and we’ll go unseen.
Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

Sophie’s proper debut already feels like a landmark album, an iconoclastic blast of pop confetti and battering rams that draws lines as thick and textured as concrete slabs between synth-pop and industrial club music. Each song rings distinct in her oeuvre despite the precedents, and yet for all its whiplash segues and structural oddities, it hangs together with a purpose that mends the sharp edges into one cosmic, miraculous whole. What once scanned as well-crafted but ironically-distanced “deconstructed” pop (bolstered by her connections with the still-divisive PC Music) is now rendered vividly, achingly more-than human, a template not just for pop’s further exploration through genre boundaries but for the queer expression it galvanizes. “It’s okay to cry,” Sophie tells us; not exactly radical, but then, when was the last time someone told you that while they were laughing, sparkling, iridescent?
5My Bloody Valentine
m b v

she found now
4Shabazz Palaces
Lese Majesty

Lewis: The album sounds like to me a watercolor painting. Like how it should look, where one must really concentrate to understand how the colors and shapes come together. It is a very satisfying experience sonically.

Ishmael: [laughs] Yeah. That's interesting about the watercolor though, because every time we make a record, we always call and say it was mixed in, like say, "power glow," or you know, "mixed elixir log," which is like the overlying, or overriding philosophical approach sonically. And so, this one, we call it "pluvial" because pluvial is like a word that means "water-soaked" or "rainy," which I started thinking about how a moist atmosphere, how that geologically plays into sound and sonics. It must add a gravity, you know what I'm saying? Like if you soaked something in water, it's a little bit heavier, it's a little bit deeper, a little bit warmer, you know what I mean? And how sound plays out when you're deep underwater, too. I like that, too.
3Julia Holter
Have You In My Wilderness

This stands, so many listens later, as Holter's crowning achievement thus far: ornate, sun-bleached strings and rhythms that vibrate with an intensity that creates cacophony even in stillness. Holter brings her impressionistic bedroom synth-pop to full-tilt symphony with a flair that would consume egos twice her size. Have You In My Wilderness remains a stunning listen so many revolutions later, the premier work of one of the decade’s great artists.
2Jenny Hval

[review pending]

I hope everyone has one album that makes them feel the way E S T A R A makes me feel.
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