Friday, January 01, 2010

Artist of the Decade

This is the only "best of the decade" award I'm going to hand out, mainly because, while taste in music is strictly a subjective thing, my yearly rankings of albums also adds a bit of an objective measure, as far as I'm concerned.

What I mean by this is I have no intention of wasting my time arguing why the Yankees are the team of the decade in baseball. That could easily be debated. Actually, the Red Sox are probably the only other team you could make an argument for, as they are the only team, besides the Yankees, who won two World Series in the '00s. But still, this discussion would involve an objective comparison of the two teams, in terms of their number of World Series, American League and AL East championships, in addition to their total wins for the decade.

On the other hand, if I were to attempt to name a beer or brewery of the decade, this would be so subjective to the point of being ridiculous. I would have nothing to compare, except my own perception of individual beers at specific moments in time, an exercise that would prove nearly impossible.

But, like I said, this particular music discussion combines subjective and objective elements. Of course, my individual perception of music is totally a subjective measure, but given my previously determined album rankings, the process of making this decision became a bit of an objective exercise.

So, before I reveal my pick for Artist of the Decade, I want to acknowledge a half-dozen honorable mentions first (in alphabetical order): Drive-By Truckers (three top ten albums), The Hold Steady (three top tens), Modest Mouse (three top tens), A.C. Newman (two top tens as solo artist, two with The New Pornographers), Anders Parker (one top ten with Varnaline, one as solo artist, plus two solo top 20s), and the Pernice Brothers (two #1 albums).

That's a pretty impressive list, and it was whittled down from an initial list about twice as long. In fact, I didn't realize how difficult a decision this would be. Well, I knew selecting one would be a chore, but I wasn't aware of how many artists I would feel are truly worthy of consideration. But, when it came down to selecting the one artist most deserving of the honor, the answer was pretty clear.

Spencer Krug image courtesy of

Spencer Krug burst onto my radar as my favorite of the two creative forces in Wolf Parade when they released their debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, which finished 2005 as my #10 album. The following year, I became aware of his main side project, Sunset Rubdown, as their sophomore effort, Shut Up I Am Dreaming, ranked as my #11 album of 2006. Krug followed that up with three consecutive years in the top ten: Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover (#8, 2007) and Dragonslayer (#2, 2009), and Wolf Parade's At Mount Zoomer (#2, 2008).

The interesting thing about these "best of the decade" type awards is that recent efforts tend to receive more emphasis than those that occurred early on. So, that helps to explain why I was able to look past the Pernice Brothers' two #1 albums in the first half of the '00s. However, had they even added one more top ten album in the second half of the decade, they may have made this decision much more difficult on me. But, in the end, it just seemed like a fairly obvious choice to declare Spencer Krug my Artist of the Decade.


  1. Either you've lost your mind, or I have... one or the other.

    My word verification for this comment is "foopher."