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Saint Etienne Best of the Decade Artist Survey

Bob Stanley

Dec 15, 2009 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern 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.

Bob Stanley
Saint Etienne

Top Ten Albums of the Decade


1. Broadcast: Haha Sound—If I could be in another group this would be it. English folk/jazz through a RGM prism. Trish Keenan has such a beautiful, warm voice, and the drumming is unbelievable.
2. El Perro Del Mar: El Perro Del Mar—Simplicity and repetition, hard to pull off. I picture the Paris Sisters doing therapy by singing nursery rhymes next to a Swedish lake.
3. Annie: Anniemal—Pop gets, err, intelligent. This was what introduced me to Richard X and Annie. “Heartbeat” absolutely floors me. I’m welling up thinking about it.
4. Britney Spears: Blackout—Reminds me of a roadtrip, heading through the most grizzled, frazzled bits of Florida. Scrunched metallic album sounds and strikingly sexual lyrics, it works as both revenge and therapy.
5. The Cardigans: Super Extra Gravity or Long Gone Before Daylight—Both dark and rich, their best albums to date. “And Then You Kissed Me II” is so intense and beautiful.
6. Wilco: A Ghost Is Born—The odder they get the better they are. “Spiders” is 10 minutes plus, not a second wasted, and best listened to driving through the East Midlands in the dark.
7. Girls Aloud: Tangled Up—The group with the worst artwork in history (you’d think it was impossible to screw up). Any track could’ve been an A-side. Cute, vicious, girl group nirvana.
8. Amy Winehouse: Back to Black—“I told you I was trouble.” Ubiquitous, but such great, busted love songs and oblique humor: “What kind of fuckery is this?!”
9. Mew: And the Glass Handed Kites—Scandinavia ruled the 00s for me. I’m not sure how this lot don’t have a higher profile; it’s as if A-Ha decided to play Foxtrot by Genesis at double speed. And I’m a sucker for a good falsetto.
10. Keren Ann: Not Going Anywhere—She now seems hell-bent on “authenticity” (ie riffing on Lou Reed) but this and the Lady & Bird album have such pretty, fragile, rounded European melodies. A Best Of could yet become the best selling album of 2010.

What was the high point of the last decade for you, personally?
Long weekends in New York and Red Riding country, making the trilogy of London films with Paul Kelly.

What was the low point of the last decade for you, personally?
Bad scenes with chicks, Xenomania going down the tubes, Boris Johnson becoming mayor of London.

What are your hopes and plans for the next decade?
Get my first book written and published and take it from there. Seeing out the decade would be a start.

Which musical trend or scene from the last decade do you feel was most overrated/overhyped? Which one was most underrated/under-hyped?
Beard indie-there’s been so little genuinely progressive “alternative” music. Because of that, pop-especially R&B productions-were still undervalued.

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?
It was still a Britpop hangover in the U.K. at the start of 2000. Stereophonics are still with us, but it took a backwards/forward step (The Strokes) to move things along. I dunno, it’s a pretty small ripple.

What big issues and challenges do you foresee musicians and the music industry facing in the next decade?
Earning a living.

Which political and societal change/development from the last decade most concerns you? Which one most gives you hope?
The inability of the Labour Party to find a new direction when the Tories are going to return to power with such uncharismatic leadership.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s job performance thus far?
Very early days. He’s steadying a boat that was rocking all over the place.

What are your thoughts on the healthcare debate and what would your preferred eventual outcome be?
We have death panels over here, like any civilized country. Does anyone think it’s a good idea not to have health insurance?

Which global issue (or issue within your own country) would you most like to see resolved by 2020?
No cars that run on petrol.

How do you think you’ll describe the last decade to your children, grandchildren, or other young people in the future?
Technology changed the way we all communicate. I sent my first email in 2000, got a mobile phone in 2003. It’s hard to remember life before them.

What was your life like in January 2000 and how has your life most changed since then?
There are some constants (non-league football, pubs, second-hand record shops), but the rest has been a little up and down. I’d really like to be as settled as I was in 2000.

How are you most like your parents? How are you least like them?
Like: Stubborn, in-jokes, boozy, trivia obsessed, bad collector habit, think laughing gets you through most things. Unlike: I eat less frozen food.

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?
Movies: Mulholland Drive, In The Mood For Love, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Ghost World. TV: 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mad Men, The Wire-not very original, but they are all off the scale. Websites: Freaky Trigger, Non League Today.

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

Texting.

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?
On the 17th floor of Turnpike House, Islington, with my best friends. No plans yet for this year.

Which conspiracy theory do you most believe?
The non-petrol run car is ready to go, and the plans are being sat on by oil companies (is this even a conspiracy?)

What’s the biggest goal for your life that you have yet to realize?
Having children.

When you were a child, which fictional character did you most want to be and would you still want to be them?
Roy Race, star footballer in Roy of the Rovers. Of course!

Given the exceptional variety and innovation represented by the albums that have been released over the last ten years, do you think the 2000s will be remembered as one of the most vibrant eras in the history of music?
No. Is that a trick question? Albums barely seem relevant in 2009—it’s the songs, man.

(www.saintetienne.com)



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annuities
December 24th 2009
6:58am

I’m not sure how this lot don’t have a higher profile; it’s as if A-Ha decided to play Foxtrot by Genesis at double speed. And I’m a sucker for a good falsetto.

Mark Ewans
January 30th 2010
5:22pm

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February 11th 2010
2:56pm

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.

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February 18th 2010
7:01pm

This seems like a really interesting group. I would like to hear some of their songs. Do you think their music compares to any artists that are currently on the market?

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March 12th 2010
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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.

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Britney Spears: Blackout album is really nice!!! good job gays!!

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