Welcome to the Roaring Twenties!
There are two schools of thought, apparently both correct, regarding when one decade ends and a new one begins.
The monks who conceived the Gregorian calendar didn’t account for a year 0. They decreed we went from 1 BC to 1 AD. So the first year (AD) ran from January 1, 1 to December 31, 1. The first decade, therefore, ran from January 1, 1 to December 31, 10.
If that’s so, then that means the current decade runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2020. We’ve still got another twelve months to go before we begin a new decade.
Ah, but wait. As a modern society, we refer to decades differently. When we talk about, say, The Sixties, we have come to define that decade as running from 1960 through 1969. Once the calendar clicks over from 1969 to 1970, well, the Seventies have begun, right?
Oh, for crying out loud, does it really matter? It’s just another year has ended, another has begun. Maybe we celebrate the new decade twice — now, and again a year from now.
All I want to do here at Hack’s Back Pages is to put in my two cents regarding the best new bands/artists and the best albums of the past decade, regardless of when it supposedly ends.
This is itself a departure from what I normally write about. Having come of age in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, those are the years I know best and I have consequently focused my explorations and dissertations on those three decades, with a few exceptions..
But damned if the world hasn’t kept on turning in the years since then. New music, new bands, new songs, new albums have continued to come out at a remarkable rate, now more than ever, it seems.
I try to stay abreast of what’s out there, but it’s been an uphill climb through thick forest. I am no fan of hip-hop, nor am I wild about country, and those two genres have been dominant lately, so I have to hunt a little harder to find music that appeals to me. I do take note of music recommendations I get from friends whose opinions I value, and I have two daughters (29 and 26) who have absorbed a lot of music over the past ten years, and have steered me toward songs and artists they think I’d like.
So as I reflect on the albums released during the 2010s, I notice that my favorites fell into three categories:
Albums by artists/bands who made their debut during the 2010-2019 decade
Albums by artists/bands who got their start in the 1990s or 2000s
Albums by vintage artists/bands
They’re all worthy of some discussion, but in order to do them justice, I will merely list them here in today’s post, and then go into greater detail on them over the next three posts in January.
Best albums released in 2010-2019 by new artists/bands
“A Deeper Understanding,” The War on Drugs, 2017
“How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” Florence and The Machine, 2015
“By the Sun/By the Moon,” Emily Hackett, 2018-2019
“Making Mirrors,” Gotye 2011
“How Do You Do,” Mayer Hawthorne, 2011
“Hozier,” Hozier, 2014
“Night Visions,” Imagine Dragons, 2012
“Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” Greta Van Fleet, 2018
“Something to Tell You,” Haim, 2018
“Flying Colors,” Flying Colors, 2012
“Woodstock,” Portugal. The Man, 2017
“By the Way, I Forgive You,” Brandi Carlile, 2018
“Coming Home,” Leon Bridges, 2015
“÷,” Ed Sheeran, 2017
“Sound & Color,” Alabama Shakes, 2015
Best albums released in 2010-2019 by artists/bands who got their start in the 1990s or the 2000s:
“A Moon Shaped Pool,” Radiohead, 2016
“Threads,” Sheryl Crow, 2019
“Bon Iver,” Bon Iver, 2011
“Paradise Valley,” John Mayer, 2013
“Turn Blue,” The Black Keys, 2014
“Colors,” Beck, 2017
“The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire, 2010
“As You Were,” Liam Gallagher, 2017
Finally, amidst all of these artists of a new generation, it might be easy to ignore the fact that some of the iconic writers and singers of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s still managed to stay active, recording and releasing significant new work during 2010-2019:
“Thick as a Brick 2,” Ian Anderson, 2012
“So Beautiful or So What,” Paul Simon, 2011
“Songs of Innocence,” U2, 2014
“Privateering,” Mark Knopfler, 2012
“Sunken Condos,” Donald Fagen, 2012
“Blackstar,” David Bowie, 2016
“Egypt Station,” Paul McCartney, 2017
“Come Tomorrow,” Dave Matthews Band, 2018
“Before This World,” James Taylor, 2015
“Who,” The Who, 2019
“Standing in the Breach,” Jackson Browne, 2014
“Hypnotic Eye,” Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, 2014
Looking forward to talking about all these albums over the next few weeks!