Since the demise of NME in 2015, it has continued to disgrace itself and sh*t on its own legacy, selling out to appease an audience who don’t follow music or its history in an attempt to gain popularity instead of credibility. I’m here today to make my own list of 10 artists and albums that have defined the decade of the 10’s
As music fan and Songwriter growing up in this decade I’ve seen the changes and shifts in music that (like most decades) have gone under the radar of the general public, it seems the lasting tragedy of this era will be the complete domination of the musical chart by commercial and hollow music fronted by models and reality TV stars, backed by groups of businessmen. However, thankfully we have a wealth of artists and albums hidden just beneath the depths of popular culture.
So in Chronological order, lets get going…
Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
At beginning of the decade, we had an over spill of iconic 2000’s bands still making great works. With the album suck it and see (2011), the halcyon days of great music seemed to culminate in one last summer that we never wanted to end, in this dreamy album we have that. With the poetic lyrics by Alex Turner, woven together with soft nostalgic Indie guitar immediatly taking off with the opening track ‘She’s Thunderstorms’, the album feels perfectly poised as a dreamy end note for the decade that preceded it. Now, I could just as easily have brought the strokes in here too with their 2011 album ‘angles’ along with their 2013 album Comedown Machine but I felt this choice was more fitting.
Of course Arctic Monkeys released ‘AM’ in 2013 and Tranquility base hotel and casino’ in 2018, the two of which represent different parts of the decade. AM marking a slight commercial shift to fit in with the new decades audience and the former trying to attract its attention through an artistic ambition that this new audience of twitter users could never sadly comprehend.
Honourable mentions: The Vaccines, Babyshambles, The Last Shadow Puppets, The Strokes, The Horrors, Miles Kane, The Cribs, The Black Keys, Queens Of The Stoneage
Tame Impala – Lonerism
The Beginning of a new birth, a promise that was never fully delivered. In 2011 we had ‘Innerspeaker’, in 2012 we had ‘Lonerism’ two iconic albums for the new decade, but in addition to this we were also treated to the likes of Pond, The Babe Rainbow, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Mac Demarco. Tame Impala/Kevin Parker opened the doors of commercial success for these groups and led a flagship of neo-psychedelia into this new decade.
From 2010- 2016 we had an amazing wave of new music and bands that seemed to throw everything into the melting pot, aswell as a disregard for the tightly controlled commercial chart. Unfortunately like most things, they come to an end too soon, when in 2016 Kevin Parker turned up to the brit awards and professed his love of the commercial dross we call the charts. But what about ‘Currents’? from 2015, the album has great songs in it, but for us music fans the seeds had been sown and the commercial aspects now appearing in videos where they had once been very creative and certain blending of production to fit into the sound of the mainstream had begun. We would later see these seeds fully sprout when in Kevin worked with Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson in 2016.
Of course the remnants of Tame Impala’s legacy remain and we still have Pond, and all those other artists, but ultimately the dream was over and the opportunity to overthrow the chart (at least for a little while) had gone as Kevin willingly absorbed himself into the mainstream.
Pond – Hobo Rocket
When I think about the 10’s as a decade, this band encapsulates it. A band formed with shared members of Tame Impala, initially living in the shadows of their counterpart at the start of the decade but quickly began to build its following. The strong connections to Tame Impala build a world for the listener of a new scene of Australian music, for me and a lot of other people it began by finding these bands on Youtube, discovering Tame Impala, Pond, Shiny Joe Ryan, Nicholas Albrook, The growlers, King Gizzard and the lizard wizard, Melody’s echo chamber, the list goes on.
The bands 4th album ‘Beards Wives Denim’ (2012) was a massive step up from previous albums, more focused and you could see them developing extremely well, the next album ‘Hobo Rocket’ (2013) became an essential album among fans along with the previous one, it’s so unlike anything else from the time, its heavy in places, yet very light in others, filled with wackiness, genuine adventure and invention, stretching into not only the music but the album artwork and music videos. this is a theme that would follow into 2015’s ‘Man it feels like space again’. Releasing two further albums in 2017 and 2019. whatever your feelings are about this group there is something for everyone, each album appears to be different in sound whilst retaining a consistent identity.
Temples – Sun Structures
The English Equivalent of Tame Impala. This band Emerged victoriously with Sun Structures in 2014, the marvellous sequel ‘Volcano’ in 2017 and ‘Hot Motion’ in 2019. They are a band that have proven themselves to be consistently great with their song writing and album making.
Another English neo-psychedelic/post punk band that could easily be in this place is ‘TOY’ who have also produced consistently interesting albums in this decade with 5 albums of equally brilliant quality and interest, I’m sure everyone has their favourite TOY album, just as everyone has their favourite Temples Album, but more on TOY later!
Honourable Mentions; Yak, The Vinyls, Blossoms
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi Love
When ‘Multi Love’ came out in 2015, it was a bit of an event, at the time the world had just found out about the neo-psychedelic bands hailing mainly from Australia and were riding the wave. Sometimes dubbed the New Zealand equivalent of Tame Impala, they are more soulful and funkier with lofi vocals. This album marks an evolution on from their celebrated first two albums and is seen as a high creative point.
Nothing else from the time quite sounded like this band or album, or at least not having the same conviction within it, an album to check out if you haven’t already.
The Orwells – Disgraceland
‘Disgraceland’ from 2015 represents the reinvention of garage rock for this decade, the album feels like its hit after hit when listened to. Fans found them in the early days via YouTube, particularly in the UK, this band picks up the torch left over from the heyday of the likes of The Hives and The Vines, making it new for a new generation. Their first album ‘Remember when’ (2012) is now a nostalgic throwback to the early part of the decade along withtheir second album.
Honourable mentions; Fidlar, Divv, Wavves
Blur – The Magic Whip
The Legends Return. At the beginning of 2015, no one was expecting a new Blur album, including the band themselves. But when ‘The Magic Whip’ did materialise in 2015, it marked a major return for the band and a vital shot in the arm for British Song writing that the chart needed.
Each song has a consistently great quality to it and could possibly be their best album to date, depending on person to person. From 2015 onwards the theme of Legends from the past returning to deliver us an album or two becomes a solid theme. I suppose you could attribute part of this to the fact that the commercial grip institutions had on the chart began to tighten increasingly in the middle of the decade, you could begin to see NME sell out to try and become mainstream, MTV slowly getting rid of any trace of musical legends or fresh new bands that it could take a chance on, the same going for record companies. At this point and for the rest of the decade the motto was ‘Sex Sells’. When the void left from new, younger bands coming through was beginning to be cut off, the legends stepped in and began to shine once more.
Honourable Mentions: Peter Perrett, Robyn Hitchcock, Andy Partridge, Stephen Duffy, Squeeze, Paul Weller, The Fall, Stone Roses, Lloyd Cole
The Libertines – Anthems For Doomed Youth
Now I probably could have included The Libertines in a previous spot, however their 2016 album ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ stands out in this decade as something different, a new chapter in their story, an evolution of sorts, in a time where most new audiences never knew their history. Continuing the lineage of great British bands with them they produced a truly great comeback album, in a time where guitar bands had become phased out by businessmen in the pursuit of electronic music fronted by models, written by a team of five co-writers. The libertines came back and redeemed music for a short while, and hopefully they comeback very soon with new material.
Morrissey – Low In High School
Following on from our legends return theme, in 2017 Morrissey delivered an album ‘Low In Hight School’ that did everything the music of the chart did not, he gave us an album full of honesty, credibility, humour and above all a collection of truly great songs, proving he is still as great as he ever was.
Now, of course he has always been perceived to be controversial and in a time where it’s looked down upon and berated for any musician, artist or member of the public to speak honestly or be controversial, we realise that we need him more than ever before.
Honourable mentions; The Pixies, Johnny Marr, Slowdive, Noel Gallagher
TOY – Happy In The Hollow
TOY is in some ways feel tied to Temples, Pond and Tame Impala for their retro look and sound, however they are another facet and have their own identity within their sound and types of song. More inspired by 70’s post-punk, with a 60’s look, they came to define the first half of the decade with their self-titled debut in 2012 and have continued to produce 4 more albums, one of the latest being 2019’s ‘Happy In The Hollow’. In some ways it was hard to choose an album or artist from the same year as this was written as it usually takes a couple of years not to talk nonsense about music (que the NME) but I decided to write about one of TOY’s latest. The album goes back to the sound of their first, albeit a little darker. The artwork and music videos feel like a slice of what TOY very much is all about, the post punk guitar sound, the 60’s look, the unique vocals.
I chose this album/band to talk about last because really for me the 10’s as a decade in music is really about the explosion of new psyche bands that became their own thing, a story of some of those bands selling out and others continuing on after the initial hype had died down, peppered by older legends returning once more to deliver a few important gems to take us away from the dumbed down cliché that the mainstream music chart had become.
Bonus – Mac Demarco – Salad Days
Everyone loves a bonus don’t they! Since making his mark with the Debut ‘2’ in 2012, this follow up from 2014 defines another aspect of the burst of new music from the early to mid part of the decade. The album is rich in personality and rich in the quality of Songwriting/overall sound. It has a mix of the confessional John Lennon and the neo-psychedelia to it. Among the many standout tracks ‘Chamber of reflection’ comes instantly to mind.