Today, we’re throwing the door open to friends of The Contrarian, who, along with our regular contributors, are providing their “best of the decade” music lists. We’ll start with our interwebs pal Geoff, who is also the proprietor of one of my favorite sites, Blog-Sothoth. I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across his blog, but it’s been a daily read for a few years now. Geoff writes about his harrowing (and often touching) experiences as a Baltimore city schoolteacher, and somehow still finds time to critique a wide range of film and literature. B-more is just down the street, so the next time I’m in town, I’m totally gonna buy him a few pints.
Geoff’s for realz bio is below his list, which is one of the first to not include either Broken Social Scene or the Shins. He deserves a prize. . .
Picks after the jump.
1. Neil Young, Greendale
I loathed this album the first couple times I heard it, but I found myself drawn by a couple melodies to re-listen, and then I re-listened obsessively for a year. One of the few records of the decade that I pull out again regularly. Read the stories in the liner notes, listen to the lyrics, and what you’ll find is a short story collection by a master of the form. With appealing fuzzy guitar solos and simple riffs long-time fans of Neil will love.
2. Ray LaMontagne, Til the Sun Turns Black
This album kills me every time I hear it, and sums up in mood and tone a decade sandwiched between 9/11 and economic free-for-all. And yet the songs don’t sound modern, they sound like stuff I heard on AM car radios in the ’70s: well-produced and pensive folk/rock. But dark.
3. Gillian Welch, Soul Journey
Gillian Welch writes songs that are as immediately comfortable as worn jeans. She seems to have stopped after this album, making Soul Journey all the more important. And David Rawlings on guitar and backing vocals? Oh, my goodness.
4. Noisettes, What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf?
Shingha Shoniwa is some kind of half-Gypsy, half-banshee beastie from outer space. She plays hot bass, she plays guitar, and she has an indescribably evocative voice with more range than the Voyager 2 probe. This album is uneven, but the tracks which are great are so much fun — and exhibit so much promise — that I have to rank it up there.
5. Rob Thorworth, Dig it Up
After winning songwriting contests and opening up for the likes of Buddy Guy and Robert Cray, Rob Thorworth found himself the victim of label and band issues which washed him from the Gulf Coast and into Baltimore.. I discovered him because he ended up playing local pubs, where he wrote and self-produced this album, which I spent five years listening to. Check out the track “Devil’s Confusion” first. Listen to the words, listen to that off-the-hook acoustic guitar, and then dig up the rest of his LP. (This record is not embeddable, but check out his website.)
Geoff is an epic under-achiever with two BAs and two MAs. He lives in Baltimore, and teaches Language Arts in its public middle schools. He reads books and blogs at Blog-Sothoth. Now and again he plays lead guitar in the schizophrenic Celtic/rock cover band Move Like Seamus. His favorite hobby is traveling as much as possible, both around the world and through inner space.