Duel of the Decade: Male Bracket: Jake v. Zack

The women have cast their stonessanta-lineup and now it is time for the men to take the stage. Like two gladiators focused on the glory, this will surely be a fight until death. Don’t forget to make your selections in the comments below in order to decide the fate of the world, amongst other things.

#2 Seed, Male Bracket: Jake, the Kungfuologist

My choices probably come more from the latter years of this decade because I can’t remember too far back. Alcoholism – it’ll do that to you.

Glamorous Pharmacy (美好药店) – A Daoist From Lao Mountain (崂山道士)

Xiao He’s solo stuff can be a bit hard for some people to stomach, but when he’s with Glamorous Pharmacy, the music is far more accessible. This is my favourite track from their album Rumbling Footsteps (脚步声阵阵), featuring Xiao He’s full vocal range, some brilliant musicianship and some audio clips from old cartoons. Avant garde folk I suppose.

LAVA|OX|SEA – hey,stranger (你好!陌生人)

So I’ve chosen a LOS track. Shock. I’ve ranted enough elsewhere about why this is the best album of the year by far and how significant it is. The only trouble was choosing a track from it. I’ve gone for this one purely because it’s the opening song and therefore the first one I heard when I played the album. Genius.

Dan Deacon – Wham City

“There is a mountain of snow, up past the big glen / We have a castle enclosed, there is a fountain / Out of the fountain flows gold, into a huge hand / That hand is held by a bear who had a sick band / Of ghosts and cats / And pigs and bats / With brooms and bats / And wigs and rats / And play big dogs like queens and kings / And everyone plays drums and sings /
About big sharks / Sharp swords / Beast bees / Bead lords / Sweet cakes / Mace lakes /
O ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma”. Know what I mean?

UGK – International Players Anthem (I Choose You) (feat. Outkast)

Yeah I listen to non-Chinese stuff too you know. I don’t have too much to say about this track really, I just know I love it. Andre 3000 is on fire on it. They all are really.

At the Drive-In – Pattern Against User

Relationship of Command only just scraped into this decade but was one of the best records in it. Then the band went and split up right after. Nuts. Still, this track shows them at their best.

Subs – What More

This is another band where I have trouble picking a favourite song, but I reckon this just about shades it. Of course, it’s best when seen live.

Cinematic Orchestra – All Things to All Men (feat. Roots Manuva)

Because I am. Just kidding. There’s something about the instrumental build up in this, juxtaposed with Roots Manuva’s rapping that I just love. Listening to this is eleven minutes well spent.

Muscle Snog – Think and Shit

I’m not sure it’ll happen, but I seriously hope this band gets back together. This was always a classic song live and the studio recording of it on Mind Shop is fucking brilliant.

Daedelus – Welcome Home (feat. Mike Ladd)

“In the largest limousine in the traffic jam to paradise”. You kind of get that feeling when listening to this – it’s the perfect Sunday morning record. Or like a lazy summer evening record, which you can then follow with The Avalanches’ Since I Left You. That song is amazing too, even though everyone just goes on about Frontier Psychiatrist. They’ve got a new album coming in 2010 too. Exciting. (And yes, that was a not-too-subtle way of sneaking in an eleventh track).

Top Floor Circus – Shanghai Welcomes You

Am I at ten already? Crap. I suppose I better stick in a Ding Ma track really. This isn’t particularly their best, but it is hilarious and given everything that’s happened concerning them and this song recently, I think it’s worthy of a mention. This should be an anthem next year. Instead, it’s being erased from history by the powers that be.

#3  Seed, Male Bracket: Zack, the Smart Money

This list damn near killed me. I’m not saying it’s hard to name a few tracks that you liked in 10 years, but I was always worrying about what I left off. And that’s a lot. I think after this decade I should spend the next one just listening to what I have already accumulated. Sorry to all those bands I have loved this decade that didn’t get the mention here. It’s a cold world out there and, if I have learned anything in this decade, it’s straight cash, homey. I got a title to win.

“3030” by Del, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala (2000)

Remember when you were a kid and you thought that in the year 2000 we would have flying cars and shit? Didn’t happen, right? Well, in the year 2000, my friends and I were convinced that the apocalypse was going to happen. Soon. In a related story, George W. Bush was elected as President of the USA and Deltron 3030 was released in this year. Coincidence? I think not. W and Del tried, but it hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t given up hope, though. Yes we can!

“Is This It” by the Strokes (2001)

I don’t like that I like the Strokes, but I do. This song is the perfect track to represent absolute boredom and disappointment, like in long-term relationships and getting older. There’s so much anticipation and then you finally get to a point where it’s like, “Is this it?” Oh well. Guess Julian and I will get along somehow.

“Daylight” by Aesop Rock (2001)

This song is amazing; I think it’s the best thing that hip hop has produced in this decade. Unfortunately, like “3030”, this represents the high point of this artist’s career. When you knock it out of the park on one of your first tries, it’s hard to duplicate that on following albums. I think Aesop is still making good music, but there will never be another “Daylight”. Never.

“California” by Phantom Planet (2002)

I have to say Andy Best inspired this pick. He recently confessed that he really likes this song, which was the theme song for an American television show called “The O.C.”, which he denounced, but I will defend it as a good show in the first two seasons. However, I also liked “Beverly Hills 90210” in the 90s, so maybe you shouldn’t listen to me about TV. But music, that’s another story. This song is fucking great.

“El Caminos in the West” by Grandaddy (2003)

This song is just great, cool and breezy. This is a band that kind of defied the establishment and paid the price because they should have gotten a lot more recognition than they did. Now the lead singer, Jason Lytle, bears the adoration of public radio music commentators all by himself.

“Desperate Guys” by the Faint (2004)

An entry for the hipster dance folks, this Omaha band is, I don’t know, so nervous and self-conscious in a confident way, if that makes any sense. King of the Nerds. The opening string line to this song is iconic. And it bangs away from there. The sound is the grimiest I have heard from white boys outside of dubstep.

“Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand (2004)

This song was sweeping the nation when I moved halfway across the USA from Washington State to Lansing, Michigan, with my ex-girlfriend. Have you ever driven across Iowa in the dead of night? Well, that’s goddamn boring. We had just discovered this song and my girlfriend made me stay up all night while she was driving, flicking through the seven radio stations that they get in Iowa, looking for this song. And I was totally happy about this. We never did find it, though. That’s how cool this song was when it came out. I swear.

“Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymnoceros” by Flight of the Conchords (2008)

I picked one of the funnier songs from the first Flight of the Conchords album because I thought this was a great project as a whole and there are so many hilarious tracks to choose from. I really wonder what these guys are like in real life. If they were really cool and self-assured it would be weird.  Parody was no match for the Conchords this decade.

“Handlebars” by Flobots (2008)

You think I’m not gonna represent Denver in the decade? Think again, my friend! Denver doesn’t have many claims to fame, but we can boast of these guys (by the way, sorry about the Fray and 3OH!Three, or however you write that shit. You’re both dead to me.) This song is uber-catchy, has a message, and did I mention they’re from Denver?

“Better Things” by Passion Pit (2009)

I tried to write a column about how disco was taking over indie music in 2009, which was one of the stories of the year, but I couldn’t quite make it work. There was just too much of it! These guys did it the best, though. This is from their EP “Chunk of Change”, but I could have easily picked many other songs from the full-length “Manners”.

“Armistice” by Phoenix (2009)

I could do a lot of songs from 2009, obviously, because it’s fresh in my mind. I could also pick a lot of songs from this album because I think it’s great. In a time when many artists are building more around singles, this French band created a perfectly sequenced album, full of hits. It should be listened to on vinyl, but who does that anymore?

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  1. Andy Best

    Must say, I was mightily surprised in a good way about Zack’s picks … considering he counts ‘world music’ in with other regular music. Ho ho.

    And, there’s Phantom Planet ..and I thought the pilot and first few shows of the OC were great with so much potential, then it turned all sit com. Flight of the Conchords are in there too.

    But you see, Jake has bands that represent everything I like in music.

    Jake has Top Floor Circus, Lava Ox Sea, The Subs, Muscle Snog and Glamorous Pharmacy.

    Forget the ludicrous and prejudiced idea that the Chinese scene is undeveloped so the bands are not aware of modern, more layered music. If you talk to the guys and gals they have encyclopaedic knowledge and appreciation of all music old and modern.

    These are bands who reject ‘trying to be something’ and manage to capture their own hearts and souls and present it to us in their music. Each one of those artists work is tattooed with their own distinct personality and voice. Their music is simply who they are.


  2. Mike

    I’m going to have to go with Zack because Deltron has the most meaning to me of all the tracks mentioned by a healthy margin. Not that the other ones aren’t good, I just don’t know them well, or maybe in some cases don’t like them particularly. I have this problem where I rarely remember if I don’t like something, so all the bands/music that I don’t know get filed together with music that I don’t really like. Deltron was, along with MF Doom, who I definitely would have on my list, a new kind of hip-hop concept album that was silly and serious, like there was a sharper point on inventive fantasy than there had been before.

  3. Jenny

    I go for Zack, he got Franz Ferdinand there

  4. Emma

    Some great tunes on these lists. I love the inclusions of the Subs and At the Drive In from Jake, but I’m going to give this one to Zack. Flight of the Concords is representative of a lot of the tongue-in-cheek, funny-yet-actually-good music that came out in the TingTings, and I totally forgot about Franz Ferdinand and how catchy they were (are?).

    On a related note, a friend of mine learned how to play “California” on the er-hu. I think it’s the best version of the song I have ever heard.

  5. Emma

    *sorry, I meant Ling Lings.

  6. Hannah

    Love the Franz Ferdinand track and like Emma said… some really great tunes here, just 1 tiny little exception…California??? Really? Maybe I just got sick of it watching too much OC? Great track list anyway, will be part of my I-pod immediately!!!


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