A Sunny Day in Glasgow Best of the Decade Artist Survey | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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A Sunny Day in Glasgow Best of the Decade Artist Survey

Ben Daniels

Dec 16, 2009 A Sunny Day in Glasgow Bookmark and Share

Under the Radar’s Best of the Decade/Year-End Issue features our Best of the Decade Artist Survey. For Under the Radar’s 7th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last decade and asked them for a list of their best albums of the decade. Some of the surveys didn’t make it in the issue and some answers from surveys that did make it in the issue had to be trimmed for space. Those surveys and answers are posted on our website. Pick up our Best of the Decade/Year-End Issue to read surveys from Camera Obscura, The Dodos, El Perro Del Mar, Final Fantasy, The Hidden Cameras, The Horrors, The Invisible, Ladytron, Sondre Lerche, Jamie Lidell, Loney Dear, Los Campesinos!, Mew, Midlake, Okkervil River, Stars, Telekinesis, The Twilight Sad, and Vivian Girls.

Ben Daniels

A Sunny Day in Glasgow

Top Ten Albums of the Decade

1. The Knife: Silent Shout (Deluxe Edition)Specifying the Deluxe Edition because of the live album that comes with it, which I think is actually better than the studio album. The version of “Heartbeats” from the live record is the most beautiful song of the decade. But the album itself is nearly perfect (I think). Every song sits together so well and it really just feels like its own little dark and beautiful world.
2. Xiu Xiu: La ForêtThere were a bunch of years during this decade where I kind of gave up playing any music at all. But I started listening to La Forêt all of the time and I just got so into it, it made me want to start playing music again (thank you, Xiu Xiu!). It’s funny too, because I lost my copy of this record after a year or so, and I haven’t really listened to it since 2006, maybe? I remember more how I felt listening to it than I remember how the actual songs go.
3. Boards of Canada: GeogaddiI don’t really have anything profound or novel to say about this record, but I listened to it a ton this decade and it’s easily one of my favorite records of all time. ASDiG gets asked about what “dream-pop” bands we like all of the time and I always mention Boards of Canada. I guess people think of them as IDM or whatever, but I don’t feel like anyone would/should object to calling these guys dream pop. This record is super dreamy. I also like this kind of dark, occult/math theme running through it. Math is cool.
4. Panda Bear: Person Pitch“I’m Not” is maybe the second most beautiful song of the decade? This record is also kind of perfect, I think.
5. Björk: VespertineI really love how delicate the music is on this record. Also, I have always wanted someone to write a song where they sing “I love him I love him I love him I love him” and have it be about me. Sigh
6. Caribou: Up in FlamesThis record always seemed to me like it felt “modern” without trying to be “modern.” I’m not even sure what that means, but I love this record so much and it was all I listened to for a year or so.
7. Daft Punk: DiscoveryThe fun songs on this record are probably the funnest songs released in my lifetime. But then the moody ones are there too. And even the straight up fun ones have at least a moment of drama or something that pulls back a little which just makes it even better. Anytime I listen to this record I always catch myself smiling constantly.
8. Ulrich Schnauss: A Strangely Isolated PlaceEvery song on this record is so lush and gorgeous, I feel like it should make you desensitized to that kind of sound, but for me there was always this really human element to this record. “In All the Wrong Places” is just so emotional, gets me all the time.
9. Belle & Sebastian: Dear Catastrophe Waitress and The Life PursuitI have so many wonderful memories from this decade where these albums were playing in the background or that happened while I was listening to these records. I took this epic trip around Scotland and Sweden with my friend Naomi right after Dear Catastrophe Waitress came out and she brought it along. Always makes me think of those good times.
10. The Clientele: Suburban LightThis one may not count because it’s a collection of singles from 1997-1999, but it came out in 2000. This band is so great, and I think this is their best record. “(I Want You) More Than Ever” is too good.

Top Album of 2009

1. jj: no. 2I moved to Sydney, Australia in September, and I’ve been really kind of depressed because I missed so much autumn and I don’t really know anyone in Sydney. But this record has been really cheering me up. “Masterplan” is my favorite song of the year. It’s hard to say after this record. I’ve liked so much stuff this year, I feel like it’s been an exceptionally good year for music, but nothing has really grabbed me as much as the jj record.

What was the high point of the last decade for you, personally?
After Scribble Mural Comic Journal came out, we got a one line email from Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins saying something like “Hey, this is great!” He probably sent 10 of those that day to random bands, but I don’t know, it really meant the world to me. Really loved getting to live in London for a couple years too.

What was the low point of the last decade for you, personally?
Panic attacks and art school (tied).

What are your hopes and plans for the next decade?
I kind of feel like I will be surprised if I am alive at the end of the next decade. I can’t imagine going through something like the past decade again. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just can’t believe everything (good and bad) that happened in the past decade. I guess I would hope that something makes sense to me in the ‘10s.

Which artist and their music do you think most defines the last decade and why?
I feel Beyoncé was always there, either with Destiny’s Child or on her own. She’s probably the person I will most associate with this decade.

Which musical trend or scene from the last decade do you feel was most overrated/overhyped? Which one was most underrated/under-hyped?
I feel as though no one really deserves anything, and therefore, everything is perfect in terms of hype/rating.

Do you think what is considered “indie rock” is different than it was when the decade started? With the commercial strides made in the past decade, how do you think the definition of “indie” rock has changed?
Probably. I don’t really remember what it meant in 2000 though, or really what it means now. But god, I would hope a genre would evolve over a 10-year period. The definition of “indie” has probably just broadened over the past 10 years.

What big issues and challenges do you foresee musicians and the music industry facing in the next decade?
No idea. Thinking or talking about any kind of “industry” is just too tedious to me. The only aspect of music making that I am even half good at is the actual making of music. But history tells us that most musicians are almost always broke, so I bet that will still be the case.

Which political and societal change/development from the last decade most concerns you? Which one most gives you hope?
Lots of wars in the past decade, which I guess doesn’t make it different from any other decade, but also doesn’t make it any less vulgar. This was the first decade I really paid attention to politics, and I’ve gone full circle to the point where I don’t pay attention to politics anymore. This gives me hope because the conclusion I came to is that politics have so completely and totally failed, I feel like more people might catch on to that idea and the world might turn into a better place.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s job performance thus far?
I honestly have not paid attention at all.

What are your thoughts on the healthcare debate and what would your preferred eventual outcome be?
I think it would be wonderful if everyone could have healthcare. It’s really the only civilized and humane option. Is this something that might happen?

Which global issue (or issue within your own country) would you most like to see resolved by 2020?
War/killing people for no good reason. I can’t think of a good reason to kill people.

How do you think you’ll describe the last decade to your children, grandchildren, or other young people in the future?
I feel like this is the decade where everything in my life happened to me. I will probably bore my grandkids with personal stories. But I will probably tell people that this was the decade where people got so mad about politics, they were moved to apply bumper stickers to their cars en masse.

What was your life like in January 2000 and how has your life most changed since then?
In January 2000 I had never been anywhere that wasn’t Philadelphia, and over the course of the decade I’ve managed to spend a lot it abroad. That’s been exciting. Otherwise, though, I think I am basically the same.

How are you most like your parents? How are you least like them?
My mom used to be a music teacher and she is a professional flautist and she pretty much plays every instrument there is. I am pretty much positive that I get my music stuff from her. My dad has an encyclopedic knowledge of doo-wop from the 1950s and ‘60s, specifically around the Philadelphia area. I think I get my music collecting/nerd tendencies from him. My parents are both well-adjusted people with respectable jobs/careers/homes/etc.this is where we differ.

What were some of your favorites of the last decade in terms of movies, TV shows (which ones did you watch most religiously), books, comic books, websites/blogs, and video games?
I don’t really watch TV ever, but when I lived in England I saw this show called Teachers a few times. That was really funny. I hated reading/learning prior to this decade, so I’ve been catching up with everything written prior to this decade. Until it got to be too depressing for me to read anymore, I used to read this blog called Rigorous Intuition. It deals largely with what most people call conspiracy theories, but really it’s a lot more than that. Rigorous Intuition turned me onto a lot of cool stuff like Terrance McKenna and the holographic universe and meditation. I am happy to say, without irony, that Love, Actually is my favorite movie from this decade. Also really liked that American Splendor movie. Ooh, and the Batman movies!

Which technological advancement from the last decade are you most surprised that you previously lived without?
Cell phones I guess?

Where (which city) and how did you celebrate December 31, 1999 and January 1, 2000? Did you make any preparations for the Y2K threat? Do you already have plans for New Year’s Eve 2009?
I was in Philly with my friends. It was fun. I remember we all woke up at like 6 PM on January 1 and made a big breakfast, it was nice. I didn’t own anything really then, so I didn’t make any Y2K preparations. I am kind of excited to spend New Year’s at the beach or something completely different to northeast U.S. New Year’s. I guess it’s summer in Sydney then.

Name five things that you’d put in a time capsule to represent this decade, one to be opened in a 100 years.
Um, a Kompakt Records compilation, skinny jeans, a selection of people who appeared on reality TV shows, a picture of my dog, Gertrude, and veggie burgers from Trader Joe’s.

If you could be God for a day, what would you do?
Make it autumn everywhere, all the time.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
I think I already am mostly invisible, so I don’t know what I would do differently.

If you could live in alternate reality/universe, what would you like that reality to be like? (For example, a world where JFK was never assassinated or one where Hitler was assassinated before WWII.)
I would have liked to see what John Lennon or Kurt Cobain would have done had they kept living. Also, I want to live in the universe where Jonathan Richman can be president of the world. And maybe the Phillies win the 1993 World Series?

If you could travel in time and visit your 10-year-old self, what would you tell them about your future?
Far too much to write here. Tying this one into the previous question, I want to live in the world where I could do this.

Which conspiracy theory do you most believe?
When New Coke was introduced in the ‘80s or whenever, it was because this was when corn syrup became a viable cheap sweetener. So Coke wanted to use it because it was so much cheaper than real sugar, but they couldn’t get Coke to taste exactly as it did with real sugar. So they deliberately made an inferior Coke (New Coke) so that everyone would forget how old Coke tasted, and then when everyone hated New Coke, they brought it back with the corn syrup and everyone was happy.

What were your goals for your music career at the beginning of the decade? What have/haven’t you accomplished?
I don’t think I had any at the start of the decade. It would be nice to make money someday from music. Make that one a goal for the ‘10s.

Do you believe in ghosts and/or aliens? What’s the spookiest/strangest/weirdest thing to ever happen to you?
Yes. I have had two out of body experiences. They were strange but wonderful. I felt really good after each one of them. Didn’t do anything crazy, but I walked around my apartment and looked at what was happening as I was sleeping in my bedroom.

What do they think was one of the biggest surprises to occur during the past 10 years (politically/musically/socially)?
I don’t know. Socially speaking, probably me getting a girlfriend.

Given the exceptional variety and innovation represented by the albums that have been released over the last 10 years, do you think the 2000s will be remembered as one of the most vibrant eras in the history of music?
I do, and I hope it’s seen that way. I don’t know this for a fact, but I feel there was probably more music made during this decade than ever before. That is really exciting to me. Maybe no one makes money anymore, but more people than ever are making music and that is arguably the best thing that people can do.

Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?
It’s not as bad as it seems (if you think things are bad) and not as good as it seems (if you think things are good).



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Ben Davis Gorilla
February 25th 2010

Girl’s skinny jeans are usually skinny, meaning snug to the skin, but some aren’t. Guy’s skinny jeans seem to be anything that’s just less baggy than whatever their baggy jeans.

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I always mention Boards of Canada. I guess people think of them as IDM or whatever, but I don’t feel like anyone would/should object to calling these guys dream pop. This record is super dreamy…

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When New Coke was introduced in the ‘80s or whenever, it was because this was when corn syrup became a viable cheap sweetener

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