Exec’s Decade of Music
by Jordana Solomon on January 24, 2020
Posted in: Uncategorized
In the long post that follows (if you read it all bless you), each member of exec took a unique approach to completing the somewhat impossible task of writing about their most important musical happenings of the decade. From concerts to album art, shower tears to fruit songs, here are the moments of music that defined our 2010s.
Here are my top 10 concerts of the decade, divided into 3 sometimes-overlapping categories that I’ve realized are incredibly indicative of my personality. This list excludes Middlebury campus shows and anything I was too stoned to remember.
|When||What||Where||I was in love (and they were there with me)||I was in Burlington||I was at a festival|
|Aug. 2012||Strung Like A Horse||Miller Plaza in Chattanooga, TN||✔|
|May 2014||Lucius/Tegan and Sara||Track 29 in Chattanooga||✔|
|June 2015||Jamie xx||Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN||✔|
|May 2016||Diet Cig||Shakey Knees Fest in Atlanta||✔||✔|
|June 2017||The Flaming Lips||Riverbend in Chattanooga||✔||✔|
|Aug. 2018||Sylvan Esso||Shelburne Museum||✔|
|Feb. 2019||Palehound/Cherry Glazerr||Higher Ground||✔|
|Aug. 2019||Beach House||Flynn Center||✔||✔|
|Oct. 2019||Palehound/Big Thief||Higher Ground||✔||✔|
Strung Like A Horse
So my hometown throws this free concert series called Nightfall every Friday night downtown during the summer. They block off the neighboring streets for motorcycle parking only, there’s beer (and frozen lemonade), food, dogs, the whole bit. Strung Like A Horse is this garage-bluegrass band that’s from Chatt; I sorta grew up with the band members because almost all of them worked with my dad at the best pub in town as cooks. After watching some of the most talented upright- and fiddle-playing I still have yet to see, the band led a parade through downtown Market Street to an EP-release show at one of the local bars. I was 13 years old and parading and shouting through downtown with all of the late-night freaks that hula, belly dance, and walk on stilts. Up until then, I’d mostly thought that my hometown was mostly about little league soccer games and strip mall food courts; it was one of the first times I’d felt like I actually belonged there.
Lucius/Tegan and Sara
This was the first concert I actually remember paying money for. I was in ninth grade and went with my first girlfriend and my step-mom (hah). We were in the original Track 29 venue on the southside before it was relocated; it was this warehouse-type place on the old Chattanooga train tracks. My girlfriend was like, reeeally into Tegan and Sara and I definitely only knew the chorus of “Closer” but it was pretty cute anyway. Also, Lucius opened, which was cool to see before they really hit it off as a band.
This is still maybe my favorite concert of all time. I was 16, alone, and under a giant tent with at least a couple hundred people in the oppressive Tennessee summer heat of the middle of the afternoon in June. It was only a few days after Jamie had released In Colour, and I remember him starting out the set with holding onto the intro of “Gosh” for like 8 whole minutes before the beat dropped. I lost my fucking mind. I was overheated, stoned, and danced like I’d never danced before or since, and watched everyone else do the same. I finally understood what house music could do to me, and haven’t gone back ever since.
I’m pretty sure was my first girl punk show and oh my fucking god did I cry and scream to “Harvard.”
This was when he was still a solo act with just his guitar. For the first like half-hour of his set, they couldn’t get his PA system to work, so eventually he just gave up and started playing acoustic and screaming into the crowd. Everyone smushed in as close as they could get to the front of the stage to hear him. It was awesome.
The Flaming Lips
I fucking hate this festival that Chattanooga puts on every year but the Flaming Lips were playing as the headling act of the last night, so my girlfriend and her dad and I decided to go. During the encore, they shot confetti into the crowd of probably like 4000 people to “Do You Realize” against a backdrop of fireworks and I cried.
I went with a group of friends that hadn’t seen each other in a long time at the end of the summer before sophomore year. This was like the 2nd or 3rd time I’d seen Sylvan and honestly I’ll never stop loving them and knowing every word to every song.
It was I think a Tuesday night at the beginning of spring semester. A bunch of WRMC folks carpooled up to Burlington and I remember it being unbelievably fucking cold outside. I really embarrassingly got a couple of Js I had in my pockets taken away by a very reasonable (and very cute?) security guard before we went in. This was I think the 2nd time I’d seen Palehound, which is always great. Then I watched Clementine Creevy scream “Who should I fuck daddy” into my face and somebody in the audience passed out or got hurt or something in the mosh and had to be carried out. It was a trip.
This was at the end of this summer. I’d been working on campus as a tech for language schools, and I’d just met my current partner, a WRMC alum who was back at Middlebury 3 years later for French school. I absolutely fell in love with them watching them close their eyes and sway while listening to one of their hometown bands (I’ll see you soon, Baltimore!). Frontrunner Victoria Legrand told us we didn’t have to sit in our seats for the show and we were so relieved.
WRMC alum boyfriend comes back to visit me during Fall semester and we head back up to Burlington for another show. Palehound’s Black Friday was released earlier in the summer and I cried during “Aaron” while seeing the band for what was now the third time. Big Thief’s Two Hands had come out just a few days prior, and my partner and I cried watching Adrianne Lenker’s beautiful forehead crease as she played that heart-wrenching solo in “Not,” undoubtedly the best rock song of 2019. Playing through a migraine that didn’t seem to phase her in the least, Lenker and her band pulled something out of me that I didn’t know needed out.
Rather than list only music made in the past decade that I feel has shaped the decade, I’m going to write a list of songs that have influenced my decade in particular — regardless of when they were made.
Foster the People’s Torches (2011)
This was the first album I ever memorized by heart. It’s also the album that changed my approach to music forever. Prior to this album, which still makes my heart skip a little when it plays (and it always, inevitably, is playing somewhere), I used to just listen to whatever I heard on Yahoo! Music’s homepage, or whatever my aunt would upload onto my pink iPod Nano. This album somehow manages to wash my tumultuous preteen years with a warm, hazy nostalgia. Foster the People have never came close to this album since.
Cocteau Twins’s “Bluebeard” (1993)
Here we’re brought into the loneliness of early high school. This was when I couldn’t drive yet and when I went to a school where all my friends lived scattered across the county. I spent a lot of time in my room listening to sad songs and watching as many movies as I could. This song sticks out to me as something I might’ve listened to the most; I would skip to the end in particular, when they start echoing each other, asking the important questions with a desperate cry. “Are you the right one for me?” It all felt very powerful and moody — just like being fifteen.
This Mortal Coil’s “Song to the Siren” (1984)
Spotify told me that This Mortal Coil was 2015’s most-listened-to artist for me. This makes sense, since all I remember about being sixteen was listening to It’ll End in Tears, smoking cigarettes, acting very, very rude. The sepia-toned underwater girl on the album cover will forever be burned into my mind.
Rejjie Snow’s “Blakkst Skn” (2015)
I remember loving this song so much that I somehow made it the focus of my final history project during my senior year of high school. This song just distinctly slaps. I love it very much and feel as though not enough people appreciate it.
Daniel Fernandes’s “Pop that Thang” (2014)
This was the first electronic song that I really fell in love with. A boy I went out with during my feb-mester in Dublin put this on a playlist for me, and then when I showed up to college a few months later, I couldn’t stop playing it for people. This is the music I felt should’ve been played at parties. I still feel this way.
Skinshape’s Skinshape (2014)
Skinshape’s eponymous album changed my perspective on what genres could be forever. This album doesn’t lend itself to categorization. I made an entire playlist, which I still update to this day, based on songs that match this special vibe/sound/ambiance. It’s a very special piece of work (I mean Skinshape, but this also could apply to the playlist) that I feel is worthy of recognition. So, let it be recognized here!
Run the Jewels’s “Call Ticketron” (2016)
This song is so funny. It’s also very good. I listened to it (and songs like it) so much, and for so many years, that I must give credit where it’s due. “Do you come in peace, or should everybody fear? I wait to reply with a blunt and a beer.” If you dare to play this song in front of me, I will start rapping it word for word, and it’s up to you if that’s something you want to see embodied by a twenty-year-old Jewish girl from New Jersey.
Maria Gadu’s “A Historia de Lily Braun – Ao Vivo” (2009)
Maria Gadu’s cover of “A Historia de Lily Braun – Ao Vivo” represents my general obsession with Portuguese/Brazilian music that must also be represented in this list. I’ll never forget where I first heard it, sitting on the floor of my apartment when I was studying abroad, filled with that special swell of energy that only comes around when you hear something new and really good. Yes, please listen to this song. I guarantee you’ll love it (almost) as much as me.
Steve Monite’s “Only You” (1984)
God, there was a period of time when my friends and I listened to this song for three months straight. I was so inspired by this song in every single way. I wanted to make a feature film based on this song alone. It’s very disco. You will feel glamorous listening to it. My friends and I sure did, at least.
Wayne Shorter’s “Ponta de Areia” (1975)
This song, more or less, represents my junior year of college thus far. Soft, jazzy, acoustic songs that are easy on the ears and easy to sway to in your living room. While my year has been far from soft, jazzy, and easy, it’s nice to know that the music I’ve consumed has been. We VISUALIZE the LIVES we want to LEAD!
Hope you enjoyed this little summary of my decade! Goodbye.
Top 3 Fav things:
A collective that started off a new wave on their own by being odd and loud. Odd Future was the friends that everyone wanted to have and the wildness that I wish I had. This collective ended up springboarding the careers of Tyler, Syd, Frank Ocean, and, my favorite of the bunch, Earl Sweatshirt. How did such a wild collective not only dominated the early underground hip hop wave of the early 2010’s but also have enough influence to start their own clothing line and TV show? Although their peak was soon and left us with the collective branching into their own, it’s still “KILL PEOPLE BURN SHIT FUCK SCHOOL”. They were truly radical.
V a p o r w a v e
As the internet began to get more surreal, vapor wave came out of nowhere to protest capitalism but indulge in its materialistic a e a t h e t i c.
Streaming has changed the landscape of music forever. I discover more music with Spotify and other streaming services than I did before their help and artists, though severely underpaid, can gain a (small) profit from these types of platforms. Personally I’m a huge fan of the personalizations of Spotify and their algorithm that really knows what I want, horrifying or not.
RIP Pop Punk
Oh the 2010s! A decade I spent deep in the thralls of teen angst. What else could have gotten me through the terrors of adolescence but pop punk. And what a time it was for pop punk (its not dead tho). Going through my high school playlist, I can’t help but think about driving around my home town, nothing to do and nowhere to go, listening to the whiny fast paced sounds. I go back to this playlist often and always expect there to be a day when I finally “grow out of it.” However, so far it does seems that my love pop punk is not indeed “just a phase.” And sure some of it hasn’t held up and what I once found profound I now find utterly cringey (i’m sorry Joyce Manor). But there are still a few albums to which I always return. Thus, I give you my three favorite pop punk albums of the last decade.
The Front Bottoms – The Front Bottoms (2011)
Younger me might have lost their shit if I did not put this as one of my favorite albums. I also think a love for The Front Bottoms has been a bonding experience in so many of my close relationships over the years (please do not make fun of me for this).
Torch Song- Radiator Hospital (2014)
In all honesty I still listen to this album once a month. This album made feel heartbreak before I had ever even experienced heartbreak. “Fireworks” makes me cry every time- the reprise? I’m sobbing.
Sunchokes- Remember Sports (2014)
I love every single remember sports album. They are a band that is always in my rotation. I chose to highlight Sunchokes because it 1) bangs and 2) the group recently did a five year anniversary tour for the album where they played it from beginning to end.
i decided to choose my top musical happenings of the decade based on events, moments, or periods of time that were defined by music. this is because i’m bad at picking favorites, but good at reminiscing on my life as if it’s a continuous narrative to be analyzed. i’ve also tried to honor my past self and the things that were important to her.
in the peak of my eighth grade emo phase, my friends and i went to an asking alexandria concert. i remember the lead singer coming on stage drunk and showering a bottle of jack daniels over the crowd. i remember escaping to the outsides of the mosh pit only because i knew i should, but not because i wanted to. i remember feeling as though i was standing on my tippy toes to blend in with the grown ups. i never really liked asking alexandria very much, but if my life were a coming of age movie, that concert would be an important turning point. i didn’t want to be a child anymore.
i discovered oberhofer when one of their songs played at the end of an episode of bojack horseman. after that night, i listened to their album chronovision in full three times a day for at least a month. i was a pretty melancholy sixteen year old and brad oberhofer’s lyrics spoke to my soul. i listened to that album up and down the metro north hudson line every time i visited my high school boyfriend in the city, but i never played it for him because i knew he wouldn’t like it.
june – august 2018
the summer between high school and college, what a liminal space. i met my current boyfriend in some kind of tinder miracle. i cut ties with many of my close friends. i drove all over westchester and fairfield county. i made a playlist that was seven and a half hours long. the 122 songs that comprised my 2018 summer playlist crafted a nostalgia so potent that i could feel it even when it was happening. i was falling in love, transitioning into adulthood, smoking a lot of weed, and expanding my musical horizons. the music was memorable because of the timing, but the time was important because of the music. does that make sense? here’s the playlist if you’re interested: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0QWFuZnBlGyI1Zk5ECNJ6b?si=dSCyvISAS9S44zbz-mIR9A
A splattering of important musical happenings of my 2010s
AMY documentary. This shit absolutely shook me to the core, think about it perhaps weekly. Sometimes try to imagine what bend her music would have taken if she was around for the rest of the decade, but mostly try to absorb and appreciate the limited but unmatched genius of the queen.
While I sadly think he has fallen off since this album, at the time, J. Cole’s “BORN SINNER” completely rerouted my music taste, and will always be a thing of beauty to me because of that. I’d be lying if I said that listening to the whole project in one sitting with the itunes animation getting funky on “Forbidden Fruit” wasn’t a defining moment of my decade.
Phoebe Bridgers not only exists but got a TOOTH TATTOO
GARDEN STATE SOUNDTRACK, did not come out in the 2010s but I dare say no movie soundtrack since has surpassed it, at the very least in importance and impact in my life. I mean Coldplay, The Shins, Iron & Wine, Simon & Garfunkel, Frou Frou are you kiDdInG????
PEOPLE, an online streaming platform and artist collective started by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Bryce Dessner of the National in 2016. This larger project goes along with the collaborative musical project of the two under the name Big Red Machine, which has and has the experimental production of Bon Iver’s later albums and the dark/romantic (?) sentiment of both artists. A generally amazing collaboration from two artists that have shamelessly flooded the past decade for me. Check it out here: https://www.37d03d.com/discover
NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL twice with my mother dearest and her directly out of a sitcom college friends. Lovely balance of hippie elders and babies with unbelievably large ear protection. Saw some all time favorites (Jason Isbell, Courtney Barnett, Dr. Dog, Sheryl Crow, Stephen Marley, Lake Street Dive) and tons of new discoveries that quickly became favorites (Julia Jacklin, Marlon Williams, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Yola, Nilufer Yanya, Bedoine).
WRMC Sappy! but just true… being a part of this organization has led me to SO much new music, some of my favorite people and memories, and i suppose has been part of my life for ~40% of the past decade (o sheeeeet) but don’t check my math on that
George’s Best Blues and Roots Rock Albums of the Decade:
Boys & Girls – Alabama Shakes (2012)
While many would give recognition to Alabama Shakes’s 2015 album Sound & Color over Boys & Girls, there’s something to be said for the earnest grit in their debut. Its allegiance to the traditional standards of Southern rock is plain, which puts it in contrast with the more clearly soul-inspired Sound & Color, but it’s hard not to award top billing to the album which introduced much of the world to Brittany Howard’s exceptional singing.
Favorite Songs: “Hold On” and “Be Mine.”
Mental Illness – Aimee Mann (2017)
Well, what can I say, I’m a huge fan of Aimee Mann’s songwriting. Does that mean that I’m giving her the number two spot just because I’m a fan? Obviously, I am. But I also believe that Mental Illness is one of the best roots rock albums of the decade. The songs included are some of Mann’s most lyrically well-developed, often featuring vocal hooks that allow her to use wide swathes of her vocal range. The songs’ instrumentations are also harmonically rich despite their restraint.
Favorite Songs: “Rollercoasters” and “Lies of Summer.”
Blak And Blu – Gary Clark Jr. (2012)
I think that Gary Clark Jr. is one of the best blues rock musicians of the 2010s, hands down. It also turns out that 2012 was just an excellent year for blues rock debuts, since it also gave me my number one pick. Blak And Blue is a solid album with some truly excellent guitar work. Give the man some credit, he knows how to play.
Favorite Songs: “When My Train Pulls In” and “Breakdown.”
9 albums from the 2010s with cover art as good as the music:
FKA Twigs – LP1 (2014) Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (2019) Beach House – 7 (2018) Alvvays – Alvvays (2014) Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid(2017) Solange – A Seat at the Table (2016) Bjork – Vulnicura (2015) Kaytranada – 99.9% (2016) Tierra Whack – Whack World (2018)
It’s easy to forget about the visual aspect of music, but a good album cover can make all the difference. Here are some exciting albums from this decade with great cover art and great music. I’m definitely forgetting some big ones, so there’s no mention of “best” here…
three unfinished creative projects re: mitski’s 3 biggest releases of the past decade (recent to earliest)
ty queen for so many years of social messaging and vivid songwriting so formative of my high school and early college years:’)
- june-august 2018 – “be the cowboy’s coming out, gotta tweet a portrait @ her”
april-may 2018 – wrmc zine submission
november 2016-march 2017 – music video screenplay moodboards, bury me at makeout creek (2014) – puberty 2 (2016)
The 3 artists of the decade you may not have heard of but should go listen to!
Raveena constructs colorful soulful medleys with soft vocals. She was raised with Bollywood soundtracks alongside jazz singers like Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald.
3 Songs to Start With: “I Won’t Mind” “If Only” “Honey”
Suggestions on How to Listen: Listen when coming out of the shower.
Hope Tala is a fusion of influences and musical traditions from around the world. Inspired by Erykah Badu to Stan Getz with a literary degree from England. The different layers of Hope Tala’s sound is endlessly rich.
3 Songs to Start with: “Blue” “Lovestained” “D.T.M”
Suggestions on How to Listen: Listen with friends in a warmly lit space.
Georgia Anne Muldrow
“A Thoughtiverse Unmarred” is the perfect album to soundtrack the revolution to. A thoughtiverse is exactly the kind of trance you fall into in Muldrow’s full length rap album.
3 Songs to Start With : “Great Blacks” “Ankles” “Child Shot”
Suggestions on How to Listen: Listen while driving in a city at night.
Encapsulating how big the past decade has been for Noname, and by extension me, is almost impossible. I remember spending the last week of the summer before my junior year with Telefone, I was staying at my friend’s house in El Paso, TX and she had no internet. So while she spent her days at work I would listen to the only albums I had downloaded, Telefone and Blonde, on repeat. And Noname would start each morning. Finding out ‘Bye Bye Baby’ was about abortion and warm family love. I remember listening to Room 25 and realizing, ‘oh she is REALLY comin for y’all now ???? okay!’ I remember not liking Room 25, feeling destabilized and shifty, unable to settle when I listened to the album. And how that calmed, and I could hopscotch with her from rhyme to rhyme, rhythm to rhythm, and feel it all around me. Cuz we don’t talk enough about HOW GOOD that album really was. Blaxploitation, Don’t Forget About Me, Regal, Ace. UGH please. AND I GOT TO SEE HER PERFORM LIVE (while white people ruined a really important song to her, *so frustrating*). And the absolute political glo up??? Completely within the public eye??? She got (rightfully) dragged for trying to redeem capitalism, took the call out and went quiet, doing some personal work and reading and came back as an open and evolving person with a passion for political education. Noname Books, the Ghetto Sage collaboration, Factory Baby in the works…All while being completely independent. It really is wild to try to imagine how much of a creative force this woman is, and how much she has shaped my musical life. Her songs are warmth and technical skill and words that spill and flow and gentleness and longing, headass antics and education. My favorite rapper, Queen Fatimah takes the decade for me.
Top 5 Noname Lyrics
Everything I ever was / I lost in the cigarette smoke tonight / I know this feeling won’t last forever but / God damn it still hurt (Cherrypie Blues)
My pussy teachin ninth-grade English / My pussy wrote a thesis on colonialism / In conversation with a marginal system in love with Jesus / And y’all still thought a bitch couldn’t rap huh? (Self)
I know everyone goes some day / I know my body’s fragile, know it’s made from clay / But if I have to go, I pray my soul is still eternal / And my momma don’t forget about me (Don’t Forget About Me)
Grateful for my everything, his body’s a casket / The lining cherry wood, the pussy turned him ashes to ashes (Haagen Dazs)
Bye bye blue, somebody let the yellow in / Bye bye blue, I’m gonna fall in love again / On a lonely road where happiness needs us / You my baby, you my baby / I’m your baby, I’m your baby (Bye Bye Baby)
- 2016 XXL Freshman Cypher
Every year, XXL Magazine releases a freshman class list of hot new Hip-Hop and Rap artists who are invited to perform solo and collaborative freestyles. XXL is best known for the group form of freestyle called cyphers, which last year included artists like Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty, Megan thee Stallion, and DaBaby. The most notable class by far was from 2016, which featured a cypher with Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yatchy, 21 Savage, Denzel Curry, and Kodak Black. At the end of the decade, this video was by far the most viewed on XXL’s youtube page with over 147 million views, which is more than triple of their second most popular video. The energy from all the artists put together behind a beat makes the video feel like a full track.
- Tomppabeats Harbor EP
This is easily one of the go-to Lo-Fi Hip-Hop projects to listen to while having a chill study cafe vibe. When I first started listening to this genre, Harbor was the first project that I listened to in full and still enjoy today. Tomppabeats has been my number one artist on Spotify for the past 3 years now as his tracks continue to find a spot on my playlists. Harbor is the perfect combination of ambiance and repetition that makes it easy to listen in the background when I’m trying to relax.
- Drake’s Take Care
The beginning of the decade started with the rise of Drake who is one of the top artists in the world right now. Though his recent albums, Scorpion and Views, have had great success, nothing compares to the classic Take Care album from 2011. This album is loaded with tracks, such as Marvins Room, Headlines, Crew Love, HYFR, and Take Care. It’s a classic of the decade for its memorable tracks and significance in the influence it had in Hip-Hop and RNB.
A top three collection of small Top Threes of 2010
Top Three Fruit
Raspberry Cane by Youth Lagoon
Apricots by Diet Cig
Fig in Leather by Devendra Banhart
I’ve collected a few fruit playlists over the decade, and so it only felt right to do a set of Top Three Fruit Songs over the 2010s. Enjoy their sweetness, find those fruits 😉
Top Three Wordless
Candide: Overture composed by Leonard Bernstein
Colonial Song composed by Percy Grainger
Thaïs: Méditation composed by Jules Massanet
I sort of play violin (badly). In high school we had a concert band that I was in and I played the oboe part on my violin. There I learned that I fully enjoy the overture to Candide the operetta by Leonard Bernstein. At Middlebury College (at here) I joined the orchestra almost exclusively to play at a minimal volume so that I could listen to the music. Although I have since quit the orchestra, I will be forever grateful for having been introduced to Colonial Song by Percy Grainger (though we don’t want to think about what the words colonial song mean…). As for the last of this wordless top three, I heard it in high school at a recital. It is also from an opera (which I ended up getting to see!), Thaïs and it’s the Thaïs: Méditation by Jules Massanet. I have the sheet music and on occasion I do a little bit of playing/butchering.
Top Three to Dance
I Love It by Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX
I Follow Rivers-Lykke Li
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)-Arcade Fire
I would not say no to another Icona Pop and Charli XCX collaboration though I’m not sure what Icona Pop is up to. Charli XCX… is of course doing so so well <3. I follow rivers is just good. As for Mountains Beyond Mountains, this is just so important to me. And I have to dance every time. I actually always think of the station when I hear it. So thanks to wrmc for a good part of the decade.
a decade of long, hot showers and emotional breakdowns
a list of the songs i would cry to in the shower throughout the years </3
2010 – addict with a pen // twenty-one pilots
2011 – all apologies // nirvana
2012 – karma police // radiohead
2013 – afraid // the neighbourhood
2014 – pixies // where is my mind?
2015 – little wing // jimi hendrix
2016 – queens of the stone age // i appear missing
2017 – sign of the times // harry styles
2018 – how to disappear completely // radiohead
2019 – not // big thief