Rhythm and Soul: Top 5 albums in the last 15 years
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 23:10
I could not name my top five favorite albums if my life depended on it. I simply have too many categories to pick favorites from. Classic rock? My top five would have to include Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul,” Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” Queen’s “Greatest Hits,” and The Beatles’ “Help!” I could go on naming my top five for classical music, soul, pop, indie, folk and soundtrack albums. I’m going to spare you all from that, and focus on my top five favorite albums from the past 15 years.
I categorize my favorite albums by how many times I’ve listened to them, how frequently I listen to them and how inspired I was by them. As someone who dabbles in creative writing and visual art, music has always been a part of my process. The poetry on many of these albums is what made them so memorable to me, but the music is also superb.
5. “Broken Bells” by Broken Bells.
Fronted by The Shins lead singer, James Mercer, Broken Bells is collaboration between one of the reigning kinds of alternative rock and music producer Danger Mouse. The result is stunning. With lyrics like, “What amounts to a dream anymore?/crude device;/A veil on our eyes A simple plan we’d be different from the rest / And never resign to a typical life,” the songwriting is relatable, but incredibly poetic. The production behind the music on this album is flawless. The understated, electronic backings paired with acoustic melodies in the song writing are an absolutely refreshing change from the genre of electronic music, but also from the folksy confines of indie.
4.”Lungs” by Florence and the Machine
Florence Welch’s debut album is something I play at least once per week. Her airy, ethereal vocals, coupled with gratuitous harp harmonies and explosive melodies created an indie classic. Her vocal range is impressive, but the sensitivity and femininity of her delivery is what makes the album so listenable. Whether you’re in a happy mood, or commiserating along, “Lungs” fits the mood. Stand out tracks such as “Cosmic Love” and “Howl” are amazing contributions to the world of music.
3. “Fold Your Hands Child You Walk Like a Peasant” by Belle&Sebastian
Belle and Sebastian are a surprisingly underappreciated group by most college students considering how popular they were a decade ago. Despite this minor fact, the band’s 2000 album is a diamond in the rough. Tracks like “Family Tree” and “Nice Day for a Sulk” deliver soft spoken, delicate melodies that inspire scenes of walking past the Clyde River in the band’s hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. Other songs are more upbeat, such as “Wrong Girl,” and “There’s Too Much Love,” and keep the album from feeling too Leonard Cohen-y. There’s a perfect balance between sadness and happiness, which made this album a favorite of mine in 2009.
2. “Franz Ferdinand” by Franz Ferdinand
Where to begin on my favorite band? In 2009 I discovered this record and wouldn’t stop playing it. Four years later I still listen to it once a week because it’s just that good. As someone who like punk music and is especially attracted to post-punk aesthetics, Franz Ferdinand had it all. From the leather jackets to the skinny jeans to their heavy guitar melodies and angst-ridden lyrics, there is nothing edgy that isn’t served up on this album. Tracks like “Dark of the Matinee” and “Take Me Out” are perfect upbeat, classic-rock-inspired, riot-inspiring tunes. Other stand out songs included “40’” and “Auf Ausche” which take a quieter approach to Franz Ferdinand’s rebellious attitudes.
1. “Wincing the Night Away” by The Shins
The Shin’s most lauded album that surfaced in 2006 is truly a masterpiece that stands among the best albums of the 00s. The eccentric lyrics of “Phantom Limb” made it a stand out classic that was played over and over again on TV shows and radio stations alike. The melodies in Shins songs are always intricate and evocative. On “Wincing the Night Away” the band took its hallmark calling card to a new level with songs that overpowered listeners with their delightfully crafted harmonies and intense emotions. The powerful nature of the music was complemented by the use of experimentation in sound. Pianos, tinkling percussion and slide guitar were all featured on the album and kept the mere 11 tracks interesting.