Best of the Decade / Adam Johnson / National Albums

Adam Johnson – National Albums

Windhand – s/t Windhand were the metal I’d always dreamed of – slow, heavy, guitars for days, sonic transmissions from beyond the aeons transmitted through a wall of Marshall amplifiers. They remain the loudest band I’ve ever seen live. While the mist around them has cleared over the last few years, their debut still stands as their best.
Future Islands – Singles I was in the midst of a new start in my life when Singles was released, so I’ve sort of grafted this album onto my psyche. My life was pretty uncomfortable for quite a while, so these earnest, beautiful songs about love and learning were and remain absolute nourishment.
Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter While Carlile had already been writing some of the best songs in the business for a few years (her album The Story was covered in its entirety by an all-star gamut in 2017 for charity), The Firewatcher’s Daughter synthesizes all her best qualities. I fell in love with this album while delivering mail on my very first assigned route, which means I was seriously open to the vibrant menagerie of emotions Carlile was sending my way.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly I could have chosen any (or all) of Lamar’s releases from the decade, but this downright masterpiece is his best offering so far in a most distinguished, unconventional career. The story is solid through and through and the production is high art. Lamar has no real peers in the mainstream game at moment.
IDLES – Joy As An Act of Resistance I hadn’t heard honest, positive exuberance from a punk band since…well, the Clash when I got a hold of JAAAOR and it hit me in all the rights places: head, heart, gut, balls – and all at once, too. Passion is still the finest fashion, and these mad dogs and Englishmen couldn’t keep their love to themselves if they wanted to.
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit… Barnett established her place in rock-n-roll outright from the continual affluence of Aussie exports with this proper debut in 2015. Her songwriting is off the charts, she can tear the shit out of a guitar, and her powers are only growing stronger; which is just what the world needs more of – strong, talented women kicking out the jams.
Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory I’m not saying Colin Stetson single-handedly brought the saxophone back into the popular spotlight, but this wildly talented horn-blower has been lighting up the musical and cinematic worlds with his unique sensibilities to great effect. There are countless torches blazing at moment for the power of flesh and blood instrumentation, but Stetson’s burns brightest.
David Bowie – Blackstar A person doesn’t usually get to pen their own eulogy, but David Bowie was far from/beyond normal. While the world has held the Thin White Duke in wholly deserved esteem for decades, it took his death to bring me to this album and allow its gravitas to finally cue me in on a very real fact – David Bowie was a true artist, and we shall never see his like again (whatever that may have been).
PDaft Punk – Random Access Memories I hated Daft Punk for years. No kidding – hated for years. Then I heard Random Access Memories after a few years of opening my mind to more electronic- and disco-based music and it all made sense. They may not have had a great an influence on the decade as prominent chill-wave artists, but Daft Punk made the best electronic-based album of the 2010s (imho).
High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine Matt Pike was the true tastemaker in heavy metal for over a decade, and this watermark album is proof positive. Maybe it was the recollection of the mighty Sleep, maybe it was a natural progression of an artist’s talents; Snakes For The Divine is the best guitar work Pike has laid to tape thus far, and it’s the best thing High On Fire will ever do.