AS YOU’D expect, there’s been a ream of ‘end of decade’ lists published in the last three weeks, and one expects many more to follow. This morning The Irish Times published there’s and boy will it make for some debating.
I’m not gonna get into it – I’m pretty much with Paul Morley on this one – but Brendan Benson, Cathy Davey (both in the Top 10 no less), Ash, Elbow, Fleet Foxes and Animal Collective all in there at the expense of Radiohead, The Streets, Jay Z, LCD Soundsystem, Portishead, Badly Drawn Boy, Primal Scream, At The Drive In, Daft Punk, Beck, Gorillaz, Blur, Bright Eyes, and Bob Dylan – to name but a few – is beyond me.
The exclusion of Radiohead, in particular, is interesting and more and more, such lists just seem to raise questions for me about music criticism (where its got too and where it’s going – I defer to John Harris) and the lines between liking something and critically judging it. Critically judging a decade of albums, Radiohead would be up there. Wouldn’t they?
The artists of this decade that have really interested me are Dylan, Jack White, Damon Albarn, Badly Drawn Boy and Conor Oberst – not necessarily for a singular body of work they’ve produced – but for the way in which they’ve worked, grown as artists and never compromised. I’m planning little features on each.
On Oberst, he’s beginning to gain some added recognition from his peers over the last year with a number of cover versions of his songs having been recorded. The Killers have made a horrendous, synth-infused cover of 2007’s ‘Four Winds’ while Snow Patrol have covered 2002’s ‘You Will, You? Will, You? Will, You? Will’. A favourite, however, is David Rawlings’ cover of ‘Method Acting’ – also from 2002’s ‘Lifted…’ – which appears on his latest album. I think it demonstrates – at 21 – just how good Oberst was, and is, lyrically.
Just while we’re on Rawlings and The Irish Times, fair play at least to the paper of record for recognising Gillian Welch as a Top 10 record, as other polls have also done.