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Field Music/School of Language Best of the Decade Artist Survey

David Brewis

Dec 15, 2009 Artist Surveys 2009
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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.

David Brewis
Field Music/School of Language

Top Ten Albums of the Decade

Always difficult to know whether to include our own, but, in all honesty, they are my favorite albums so I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t put them in

1. The Week That Was: The Week That Was
2. School of Language: Sea From Shore
3. Field Music: Tones of Town
4. The Fiery Furnaces: Widow City
5. Deerhoof: Milkman
6. Joanna Newsom: Ys
7. Jim O’Rourke: Insignificance
8. The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
9. The Futureheads: News And Tributes
10. Feist: The Reminder

What was the high point of the last decade for you, personally?
Meeting and getting to know my soon-to-be-wife. Releasing some records has been great too, as has getting a cat.

What was the low point of the last decade for you, personally?
Too personal to say. Musically, the sad death of John Peel is a huge blow for independent music.

What are your hopes and plans for the next decade?
That we can keep making records that are more interesting than the ones we’ve already done.

Which artist and their music do you think most defines the last decade and why?
Probably The Strokes—not particularly because of their music (though that first album is undeniably pretty good), but more because they’ve changed how young people relate to indie or alternative music in the U.K. And in a bad way—dressing “indie” has become so mainstream and so pervasive that any true independence in music can’t really find an audience.

Which musical trend or scene from the last decade do you feel was most overrated/overhyped? Which one was most underrated/under-hyped?
Haircuts and rock and roll mythology are overrated. Music is underrated. It was probably always thus.

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?
Everybody is so aware of the record—selling game now, that indie has become an incredibly false term. And nobody wants to say so in print, because no one wants to admit they care (or don’t care) about how their records are sold.

What big issues and challenges do you foresee musicians and the music industry facing in the next decade?
Why buy records when you can get them for nothing and the chance of being penalized for it is, in a practical sense, zero? Why buy albums when most albums aren’t very good and the singles are available to download individually? Why go and see a band when most venues are either scruffy and uncomfortable or impersonal, huge, and uncomfortable? Musicians and the music industry need to figure out ways to generate income and value from what they do. The best things musicians can do for the most part though, is to make better records.

Which political and societal change/development from the last decade most concerns you? Which one most gives you hope?
The hard-line reactionary conservatism of the Bush-era gave us a real fright. Most Brits find the opposition to nationalized healthcare fairly unfathomable—surely, no one should be trying to make a profit from people being ill? Unfettered faith in “the market” frightens me. Some things should be exempt—trying to make a profit from healthcare, public transport, or utility provision seems both impractical and cruel—it always penalizes poor people, but nobody seems to question it anymore. I’ll blame that on rich people owning and running the media. Giving poor folks’ side of the story isn’t a money-spinner.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s job performance thus far?
He’s already started to alter outside perceptions of the United States, which is surely all that could be expected within a year given the vitriolic opposition in Congress.

What are your thoughts on the healthcare debate and what would your preferred eventual outcome be?
I love the NHS—it has problems but very, very few people in the U.K. would vote to disband it in favor of a private insurance-based health system. Every country should have one. Some socialist ideas make sense.

Which global issue (or issue within your own country) would you most like to see resolved by 2020?
Reliance on fossil fuels and deforestation somehow have to be tackled. But it’s difficult for politicians to convince us to vote for long-term or partly intangible goals, which will cost us in the short-term. Damn.

How do you think you’ll describe the last decade to your children, grandchildren, or other young people in the future?
Consumerist, greedy, short-sighted, and mostly stupid. That’s providing the coming decades aren’t more so.

What was your life like in January 2000 and how has your life most changed since then?
I was living with my parents, doing my math degree, and trying to figure out how to make music. I was a very nervous chap, but I have a lot more faith in myself these days. I can use a telephone.

How are you most like your parents? How are you least like them?
I share their love of political debate and their trust in the power of hard work and dedication. But I don’t clean the house enough.

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 still enjoy The Simpsons even though sometimes it’s really dumb. There was a brilliant program about advertising called The Power of Nightmares on the BBC (another brilliant nationalized institution—God bless it!), probably inspired by a book from the ‘50s called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. I loved The West Wing and The Wire. City of God is a brilliant film. I read and enjoyed a lot of Paul Auster this decade.



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December 30th 2009

I was living with my parents, doing my math degree, and trying to figure out how to make music. I was a very nervous chap, but I have a lot more faith in myself these days. I can use a telephone.

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I also love The West Wing and The Wire. City of God is also a brilliant film.

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This is truly a unique band and I think it is amazing that they have been able to travel the world doing what they love. They are all so unique in their own ways, but come together to form a truly unique sounds. If you have not heard of these guys before, I would definitely recommend a listen.

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There are many things covered and uncovered by the responses of this intriguing interview because it is what is on his mind that is what we want to know, and where the music comes from is what matters the most.  Significance can be found in this way for some reason.

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