Friday, November 30, 2012

Nostalgic for the 00's

I have vivid memories of a dark period in music. In my mind, it was the late 90's into early 2000, a time when rap metal was an actual thing and when teen pop was everywhere. It was around then when I began to look back and dive into some classic alternative, post-punk, and indie rock. Mostly I was catching up and completing my Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order collections. Thankfully, around 2001 new music got cool again. I remember seeing the video to "Last Nite" by The Strokes and being completely intrigued. I began to feel hopeful that there was a chance that I'd finally find new music worth obsessing over. Then it suddenly happened. An explosion of cool new sounds whether it was fleeting (remember electroclash?) or long-standing (The White Stripes.) But for every band that had lasting power like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, or Yeah Yeah Yeahs, there would be those whose fifteen minutes of fame actually felt like fifteen minutes. This mixtape is a tribute to those bands. The ones who only needed one album or one unforgettable song to be carved into our memories. Some of these artists have moved on, while others have kept going, and some have reunited to try to recapture that one awesome moment. Their crowning achievements may have yet to come, but for now, this is how they're remembered. And to be honest, it's not such a bad fate.


1. Secret Machines, "Sad And Lonely": Liking the Secret Machines always felt like being in on the world's best kept secret. Now Here Is Nowhere still stands as one of my favorite albums of the last decade. They had a huge sound that had hints of classic rock but mixed it with the hazy psychedelia of late-period Flaming Lips. Nowadays, original guitarist, Benjamin Curtis is in one of my current favorite bands, School Of Seven Bells, while brother, Brandon Curtis recently toured as a member of Interpol.

2. The Stills, "Still In Love Song": 2003 was a great year in music. The Postal Service released Give Up and Cursive put out their last good album, The Ugly Organ. Oh and it was also the year that Elephant from The White Stripes came out. But to me, the sleeper hit was The Stills' full-length debut, Logic Will Break Your Heart. "Still In Love Song" has held up very well in the years since its release. It's as catchy and as dreamy as it was the first time I heard it.

3. stellastarr*, "My Coco": A band that got tagged as fashionable art pop, stellastarr* actually managed to get better with time. It's just a shame that time hasn't been on their side as even bands that they took out as their openers surpassed them. Proof of this is that I actually went and saw stellastarr* at the Middle East Downstairs around 2003 and the band that opened for them was The Killers. "My Coco" may not ever amount to be as big as "Somebody Told Me," but its gawky quirks still have a resounding charm about it.

4.  The Von Bondies, "C'mon, C'mon": It's too bad that The Von Bondies will forever be linked to Jack White. And not in a good way, either, since lead Bondie, Jason Stollsteimer is infamously known as the guy who got the crap kicked out him by White in a Detroit club. The bright side is that "C'mon, C'mon" would become the theme song to the TV show Rescue Me. They'd eventually release the criminally underrated 2009 album, Love, Hate And Then There's You which saw the band make a turn towards Cheap Trick-indebted power pop.

5. Radio 4, "Dance To The Underground": I really thought Radio 4 was going to be huge. To this day, I think they are very underrated. Hell, I'd take them over The Rapture any day. Gotham still gets pretty consistent play on BriPod. "Dance To The Underground" could have easily been as big of a dance-punk anthem as "The House Of Jealous Lovers."

6. Hot Hot Heat, "Talk To Me, Dance With Me": Make Up The Breakdown is a damn near perfect album. Yeah, I said it and I mean it. I actually dated a girl who insisted I borrow her CD because she thought I'd like it and she was right. I soon went out and bought my own copy. "Talk To Me, Dance With Me" was the album's highlight. I might be partial to it because of all that cowbell.

7. VHS Or Beta, "Night On Fire": Yet another band that I thought had the potential to be huge. VHS Or Beta's timing couldn't have been better, easily fitting that whole "dance-punk" thing that was happening around 2003 and 2004. I didn't even think those two words could co-exist but I'm glad they did because all those dance-punk practitioners (Radio 4, The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, !!!) made it ok to let loose and dance. "Night On Fire" is easily one of my favorite songs of that era and hearing it now makes me want to dance like no one is watching.

8. Death From Above 1979, "Romantic Rights": Recently reunited Canadians, Death From Above 1979 is another one of those bands who put out their career defining album in 2004 with You're A Woman, I'm A Machine. In spite of their questionable facial hair, they did manage to make metal-tinged indie rock with plenty of swagger with only bass and drums. They might be working on new material so one can hope it would live up to the quality of "Romantic Rights."

So there you go. Turn it up and party like it's the early 2000's.

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