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Albums that defined the 2010s

Dec 20, 2019

  1. “King of the Beach” – Wavves 

July 13, 2010


After a tour meltdown and a seemingly tarnished career, waves proved he was more than a one hit wonder with his sophomore album.


Wavves 2010 album “King of the Beach” ushers in the decade with dry, straightforward pop punk that sounds like it’s being played at high volume out of the back of someone’s garage. The album plays like one epic night or lost weekend. Going up and down in a glorious 37 minute roller coaster ride. 


When all of indie rock is licking the floor acts like mac demarco and tame impala walk on, clinging to echoey guitar and hi reverb, it’s refreshing to finally hear some straightforward, hard hitting, punk music on the scene. 


The straightforwardness of the music echoes over in the lyricism, Where other artists are clinging to obscure metaphors and clever lyrics to get their point across, this is well beyond the glorious immaturity of King of the Beach. On “Idiot” he puts it bluntly: “I’m not supposed to be a kid, but I’m an idiot. I’d say I’m sorry but it wouldn’t mean shit.” 


Wavves doesn’t care, and neither should you, and that’s exactly what makes this album so brilliant. It’s an album to play full volume with the windows down, and to smile wryly at when it comes to your playlist during the work week. 


  1. “Currents” – Tame Impala

July 17, 2015


The closest Gen-Z can get to the existential transcendence of bands like Pink Floyd, Tame Impala’s “Currents” is modern psychedelic pop that’s anything but a throwback. 


Tame Impala covers the listener in a blanket of synths, guitar solos, bass and so many instruments you probably couldn’t count them on your own two hands. In fact, there’s so much going on here that telling them apart becomes nearly impossible, they just meld together in a glorious batch of musical jungle juice. 


Singles like, “The Less I Know the Better,” and “Let it Happen” provide the perfect backdrop for a party or just spacing out in one’s room.


  1. “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” – Kendrick Lamar

Oct. 22, 2012

A grandiose concept as rich as Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in scale, the album that thrust a young Kendrick Lamar into the spotlight is a theatrical masterpiece. The album flows like a 90s gangster movie, following a young Kendrick through the events of ne lifechanging night in his hometown of Compton. 


With mentor Dr. Dre’s producing abilities, Kendrick creates a world entirely of his own. Besides, if you haven’t sung along to “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”, or “Backseat Freestyle” word for word, in a car with all your closest friends, were you really in this past decade?


  1. ”Wolf” – Tyler, the Creator

April 2, 2013

Tyler, the Creators 2013 effort “Wolf”, is the textbook definition of the endless summer. Set in the fictional land of “Camp Flog Gnaw,” Wolf follows the storyline of two characters, Sam and Wolf, as they engage in a love triangle over Sam’s girlfriend, Salem. Hijinks ensue, but that isn’t the main focus here. It is the shear summer camp setting entwined with a young Tyler’s primitive jazz chords and vulgar verbatim that make this album so special. 


Songs like “Slater” and “Bimmer” feel perfect for that sunset drive. “Awkward” and “Ifhy” tell tales of adolescent romance with a brutal honesty other artists wish they could achieve. The troublemaking antics that brought a young Tyler into the spotlight remain clear on “Rusty,” “Trashwang,” and “Domo23.” Wolf offers the perfect first look at an artist that would go on to become one of the biggest acts of the 2010s. 


  1. “Because the Internet” – Childish Gambino

Dec. 10, 2013

The record that proved Gambino was something more than just a punchline rapper, “Because the Internet” is experimental hip hop’s daydream. The album finds Gambino providing his most mesmerizing production to date, proving that hard hitting punchline bars and pop music can go hand in hand. “Because the Internet” also offers the closest look one can get on Gambino’s genuine singing voice. Songs like “Shadows,” “Flight of the Navigator,” “Pink Toes,” and “Urn” show a much more vulnerable voice then the one singing on Gambino’s 2016 hit “Redbone.” Gambino proves he can still have fun however on classics such as the head bopping “Worldstar” or the summers buddy rap hit “The Worst Guys.”


  1. “Salad Days” – Mac Demarco

April 1, 2014

With starry eyed guitar, laid back vocals, and lyrics tinged in romanticism, “Salad Days” is the sound that would go on to define indie music for years to come. Demarco is at his prime here, making fun lighthearted tunes to soundtrack any occasion.The sheer atmosphere of songs like “Blueboy,” “Goodbye Weekend,” and “Passing Out Pieces” cannot be ignored, while the heartbreak felt on “Let My Baby Stay” and “Chamber of Reflection” shows the more sensitive, crooner side Mac would further explore on albums like “This Old Dog” and “Here Comes the Cowboy”. 


If the album by itself cannot stand the test of time, it’s sheer influence on the music scene will. Since it’s release the world has seen a million Mac Demarco’s come and go, each hoping to echo the atmospheric ear candy heard on Demarco’s beloved 2014 album. Yet, at the end of the day nothing beats the original, in all its 11 song glory. 


Many have been quick to sight Neil young, rather to his own reluctance, as the godfather of grunge. Perhaps in his own right, on “Salad Days,” Demarco proves himself as the godfather of 2010s indie, inspiring an entire generation of bedroom guitarists. 


  1. “Pure Heroine” – Lorde

Sept. 27, 2013

Often overshadowed by its radio ready single “Royals,” Pure Heroine is an extravagant look at the teenage experience told by a 16 year old wise beyond her years. Songs like “White Teeth Teens,” “The Love Club,” and “No Better” possess enough teenage angst  and nostalgia to make anyone look back at those days they spent riding around for hours with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Pure Heroine’s youthfulness transports you back to your friends basement party, to your first love, to the sound of your alarm waking you up for school and back again all within one album. The production furthers the cinematic feel, taking the listener to a kind of party where no one is dancing. Lorde is only blossoming into a star here, yet she’s already shining bright. 


  1. “Channel Orange” – Frank Ocean

July 10, 2012

Music paints a picture, and that’s exactly what Frank Ocean does with “Channel Orange.” Through the album’s brief 56 minutes, Frank entrenches the listener in a world of love and sadness, of youth and their self decaying decadence. Frank’s lyrics may lean more towards the moronic side, clinging to cheesy double entendres such as “This shower head feel so amazing,” yet this is hardly an issue. His voice is sheer poetry alone. It’s romantic, charming, heartbreaking and eye watering all in one glorious soundbite.


  1. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” – Kayne West

Nov. 22, 2010


Following the infamous Taylor Swift VMA incident, Kanye West had a lot to prove. His reputation was torn to shreds, the media vilifying him as nothing more than an entitled egotist. While the title may not come undeserved, West certainly holds a whole lot of merit as a musician. Those who forget this fact were in for a rude awakening on “My Dark Twisted Fantasy,” the artists magnum opus.


Backed by a suit of collaborators and musicians, Kanye made an album full of songs that would go on to become staples of the 2010s. “Power,” holds enough motivational pull it is worthy of a montage in “Rocky.” “All of the Lights” is an anthem based in tragedy, “Monster” introduced the world to a young Nicki Minaj, and “Runaway” takes the cake for perhaps the best song West has ever written. The album is an MC growing out of the backpack rap of his former years to make something mature, polished, refined and still a hell of a lot of fun. West even lifts a sample from the prince of darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, on hell of a life.


  1. “Faces” – Mac Miller

May 11, 2014

Mac Miller’s death was perhaps the biggest tragedy in the music world since Kurt Cobain, and the worst part is, he knew it was coming. While technically a mixtape, “Faces” is the most personal, best, and diverse work the rapper ever graced to a streaming service. Held up in a pool house studio, Miller spent months doing nothing outside of recording the album in a writing process that would make Jack Kerouac wet himself. 


With Mac on the majority of production, the album takes on a dark, diabolic tone. The instrumentals sounding as if the devil possessed Duke Ellington and then went straight to the recording studio. 


Lyrically, Mac holds true to the tone of the album, giving listeners the closest look they can get into the turmoils of his own addiction, dishing out lines of nihilistic self destruction like they were just your everyday braggadocious nonsense raps. 


Acclaimed journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, who’s own voice is sampled twice within “Faces” once said, “The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Well if there’s an edge to be found, Miller goes over it and far beyond, diving deep into a sea of existentialism, self-questioning, and toying with the notion of just giving up completely. 


For all it’s darkness, “Faces” is awarded with a highly personal feel, like you’re sitting down for a heart to heart with the music world’s latests sacrifice. By the end of the album, it feels like you’ve gotten to know Miller, or at the very least the person he was during the album’s creation. This makes “Faces” a highly addictive listen egging the listener to revisit just one more time with the guy they’ve come to know so well.


While many may disagree, “Faces” offers the most personal work of any popular artist within the decade, and sheds light on the too often ignored back alleys of fame. In a decade where  popular music seems to be one big endless party, “Faces” feels like the aftermath. Miller was thrown into fame, drugs, and money before he even turned 20. Now the happy go lucky guy the decade met on projects such as “Best Day Ever” is forced to take a harsher look at himself. 


The instrumentation, flow, and lyrics that take on a writer’s edge closer to the beat generation than anything Kayne West proves “Faces” is in a class entirely on its own. No album in all of hip hop, or any other genre for that matter could be compared to the musical novella that is “Faces.” “Faces” is a rap album with a rock and roll spirit, a delve into the mind of a doomed artist, and by far, the best work put out within the last 10 years.


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