During the polling for the Top 100 Albums of 2000-2009, 17 different Punknews staffers contributed, and we ended up with 17 different #1 picks for Best Album of the Decade. I engaged in "interviews" (more like conversations) with many of the poll's participants to talk about their #1 picks. These resulted in a discussions that are as varied and dynamic as the contributors themselves.
Over the course of the week Punknews will be presenting these interviews for your enjoyment.
Punknews Editor Samantha Barrett’s #1 pick:
Bouncing Souls - Anchors Aweigh
JS: What's Up, Sam? For the Top 100 Albums of 2000-2009 poll of Punknews staff and reviewers you (unsurprisingly) chose a Bouncing Souls album, 2003's Anchors Aweigh. What is about this album that lead you to put it as your #1 pick of the decade?
SB: Well… Naturally I would choose a Bouncing Souls album but this just so happen to be my favorite Souls album. I got into punk later than most. My now husband/then boyfriend was listening to 'Summer Vacation' non stop one summer, I was not entirely into the punk thing at the time. When he picked up 'Anchors Aweigh' I gave it a shot and it became the first album that I instantly fell in love with from the band. The whole album, in my opinion is perfect from front to back.
JS: Perfect, huh? That's a strong word, haha! I'll have to admit that this is probably my favorite album by them of all time, let alone the decade. What surprised me though, looking at your choices, was that the other two TBS albums from that decade, How I Spent… and The Gold Record, ended up much lower than I expected from you. Do you think its kind of because Anchors… is the one that really got you into the band, and sometimes we keep a special place in our heart for our first love, kind of thing?
SB: Again. In my opinion… Perfect. Yes and No. Yes, in the way that from 2-13 (from Sam's top 100 - ed.) are albums that got me into the band so they were listed as such. When creating this list. I had to really think about the albums that stands out in my life and mostly I have a lot of sentimental attachment to. 'Summer Vacation' is relatively high up there but there are other bands that I love just as much as the Souls.
JS: That kind of confirms a suspicion I had a after your first response: knowing that gusto with which you appreciate punk now, and the breadth of style you listen to, the top of your list is pretty chock full of great albums, which required some of the other Souls releases to be a bit further down. I imagine it must've been hard putting a number to a lot of those albums.
Speaking of Anchors Aweigh, if you had to pick one song from that album as your favorite, and I mean like at gunpoint, which would it be?
SB: I don't need to be at gunpoint to know this. "Anchors Aweigh". I consider it a dam treat whenever they decide to play it live. I may even cry…
Crying in joy that is.
JS: That's a pretty firm response! I guess I'll just finish it up with this last question: You ranked Bouncing Souls Anchors Aweigh as your #1 album of 2000-2009. Without being too specific, unless you want to, how does it rank for you across the entire library that is Sammies' favorite albums of all time?
SB: Definitely still in my top 5 favorite albums of time at the present moment. Who knows what will happen to me or music in the next decade or so…
JS: I like how you bring the future into it because, you're right: who knows? Some of our favorite music may still be ahead of us.
SB: I will never know what will moves me in the future, that is until I grow older and get there. People change, my ears will change to like different sounds, and my life will change in the future, maybe. All of these experiences help determine the things I choose to do and listen to. There are a ton of bands that I never listened to in the 00’s that I found out about or started to listen to 10 years later. If you asked me in 2010 to do this same list, it might of been a different list.
JS: Wow! That's pretty deep, there.
SB: Yeah, I had a tough time deciding whether or not to include albums put out during that time frame, but I didn't listen to until later. I'm not going to give away which way I went with that, but I can see what you mean about putting an album at a certain rank now versus where you may have put it at the end of the decade.
I am such a deep person despite this exterior. Ha. A lot of thinking/feelings/attachment went into my list and just how I listen to music in general. Also I really like making lists, it allows me the time to think and reflect. I do not reflect as much as I would like to.
JS: You're the best!
Punknews writer Tyler Barrett’s #1 pick:
Fugazi - The Argument
JS: Hey there, Tyler. How's it going? So today we are going to talk about the album that was your #1 pick for the Top 100 of 2000-2009. You chose Fugazi's 2001 release The Argument. Good choice! So, tell me a bit about why this album made the top of the pile when all was said and done.
TB: It sounds platitudinal, but Fugazi was more than a band. And yes, I realize I’m using past tense here despite their status as simply “on hiatus” for the past 16 years but as someone who takes seriously Ian MacKaye’s emphatic remarks on the importance of music’s temporal context in helping justify activity and reformation, I’m not mincing words to say Fugazi WAS an institution. The all-ages shows; the five dollar tickets; the self-released records and the apparent constant push for artistic development. The Argument is an intense and uncompromising record, whether it’s MacKaye quietly humming the title track flanked by brazen declarations of defiance or Guy Picciotto’s cacophonous wailing on the verses of “Full Disclosure.” It’s a record that took on great risks with measured confidence and it’s a record only Fugazi could make.
JS: Is this a music appreciation class? Haha! I'm kidding! That was just a very academic answer, but touches on something I hadn't thought of: aside from their music (which I do really like, don't get me wrong), is Fugazi's perception among the music-listening public partially influenced by their image? Their approach to making and disseminating their music?
TB: I definitely think so. I mean, you could either say that in addition to writing interesting and powerful songs, their approach to the business and ethics of music increases their appeal as two separate factors…or you could say (as I view it), Fugazi is the schema under which thoughtful politics and social ideas, challenging songwriting, utilitarian practices and a commitment to the DIY spirit of punk rock coalesce. And I find that inspiring. And perhaps, subconsciously, that allows me to enjoy their music with even more conviction.
JS: I think that happens often. It may just be how I am wired, but I simply cannot grasp how people enjoy cookie cutter pop stars whose music can sound inspired and meaningful, but was actually constructed by a committee of, often, dozens of people. Essentially "The Industry." And then comes along Fugazi who wear their hearts on their sleeves and you can tell that they MEAN IT. Like, a lot of the bands I listen to aren't perfect by any means, but you can tell that they've put a little bit more of themselves into it and, to me, that makes them a lot better than some perfectly produced album from a band with no soul.
TB: Exactly. And that collective integrity comes through in their music, too. Not too many bands have courage to take on an issue as thorny as eminent domain and the repurposing of land for an alleged public good, let alone pull it off with as much finesse as the head-bobbing, hip-hop turned post-hardcore album opener "Cashout."
JS: You know I never really thought of that a hip-hop element in there but, now that you say it, I can imagine it with, heck the same background music, just the more spoken style of hip-hop/rap instead of MacKaye's gentle tones. I just listened to it again thinking that and I'm like "fuck, that works."
TB: Because Fugazi was built on a musical foundation that could accommodate their dub influence, a lot of their songs work surprisingly well with hip-hop. The 2011 mashup 13 Chambers made by Minneapolis hip-hop producers Cecil Otter and Swiss Andy splices Wu-Tang Clan and Fugazi in incredibly clever and effective ways. Take for instance, "Another Chessboxin' Argument," which blends Wu-Tang's "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" with our subject's title track, and witness the magic of these two creative powerhouses coming together:
JS: I know that sounded familiar! Man, I totally forgot about Wugazi…
TB: One of the better mashup projects, in my opinion. From concept to cohesion it works musically, thematically and one could argue even culturally.
JS: Definitely, and I think the absolute love those two guys had for both bands means that a bit more effort went into making this work. Like, I hear a lot of these mashups (god I hate that word) that are just so half-assed and pedestrian.
TB: Yeah, that’s a good point. Fugazi is one of those bands that’s just so hard not to like…even casual music listeners can hear a song like “Life and Limb” and understand what’s cool about it from a purely sonic standpoint. Then you heap on everything else that’s great about the band and it makes sense why they seem to have more acclaim than just about any band since the other foursome that changed the face of music.
JS: B-but… there were five guys in Oasis… Looking at the album, what would you pick as your favorite song out of the bunch?
TB: Very hard to choose, but the way “Cashout” morphs from a coolly restrained description of an obviously upsetting social problem to what sounds like something bordering on unbridled rage is a great microcosm of the breadth of the album as a whole.
JS: Here’s the doozy: Taking the decade out of the requirements, how does The Argument stack up out of all time albums for Tyler?
TB: If I had any critical sway, I’d slip it into the top half of the 250 Greatest Albums of All Time. I think it gets unfortunately lost in the shuffle, released at a chaotic time just a couple weeks after 9/11 when talking about a music was not exactly at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. To me, The Argument feels like the band at its most fully evolved and most musically, lyrically and thematically articulated.
JS: So, like Top 100 of all time for music as a whole, or just in your opinion?
TB: I’d say it’s a top 250 record of all time, and I think its under appreciated even by fans of the band who lean more heavily toward their earlier work. Qualitatively, I think it’s their best.
JS: I get a feeling I’m not asking this question correctly, hah! You mean for YOU it’s definitely in the top 250 of all time? This is all still in your opinion of the music you’ve listened to.
TB: Ah well…that’s a harder question. It’s a phenomenal record artistically but I have to be in a specific mood to want to listen to it repeatedly, like Sigur Ròs’ Takk…or Battles’ Mirrored, for instance. Incredible works but because I’m an individual who both has his own preferences and is sometimes asked to be objective about quality, those I consider the best aren’t always my favorite. Is Sgt. Peppers a better album qualitatively than Dead to Me’s Cuban Ballerina? It would be hard to argue otherwise but since Cuban Ballerina appeared at a certain time in my life, I relate to it more, and it hits all the right notes for me personally, I’m going to reach for the latter seven times out of ten. Even looking at just Fugazi albums, I’m probably likely to give Repeater or Steady Diet of Nothing more consistent time in my rotation. But I still think The Argument is the better record.
JS: Man, you’re really hedging your bets on this! That’s ok, though, I’ve gotten similar answers from a bunch of people Haha!
TB: Well I’ve never yet undertaken the task of ordering my favorite 250 records but I have an inkling The Argument would be on there somewhere after all the lowbrow hardcore and derivative pop-punk that seems to have an interminable grip on my attention.
JS: Well, we can work on your Top 250 of all time for the next big story! Just kidding!!! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me on this, Tyler!
TB: Haha don’t tempt me with a good time. Thanks, Jeff!