The 30 Best Albums of the Decade: 21-30

As the 2010s began, pop music was on the brink of a renaissance as a critically-acclaimed art form, hip hop was beginning to stretch its wings into new sonic territory, and the pop punk scene was beginning to fade from public consciousness (or was it?) The past decade has been defined by numerous genres receiving a shot of adrenaline from new artists who are playing by a different set of rules than their predecessors. If you hadn’t yet ditched your CDs for a streaming app in 2010, you certainly have by now.

So what does it looks like as genres begin to blend together and the idea of an album itself begins to morph as artists seek to create for audiences who have no interest in purchasing music? Well, that’s what we set out to capture in this feature on the 30 Best Albums of the Decade.

It’s All Dead came into existence just over seven years ago, and we’ve been fortunate to experience so much thoughtful, introspective, groundbreaking music since that time. The decade was marked by a darker tone, for a number of reasons, but so many great artists have risen to the occasion with something powerful to say. Over the coming days, we’ll be exploring some of our favorite sounds of the past 10 years that have moved us and made us move. We hope you’ll join along and share some of your favorites with us, as well!

30. NF – The Search

If you read my review on this album, it will be clear to you why it belongs in a decade-defining list, despite only being released this past July. Nate Feuerstein’s focus on mental health is still very much needed in a culture that has, in the past, sought cover from such a delicate issue.  What better way to end the decade than with an album that refuses to hide the struggles of mental health away any more? – Nadia Paiva

29. The Interrupters – Fight the Good Fight

Fight The Good Fight pays homage to the sound of punk in the mid-90’s and doesn’t stray far from the path forged by Rancid. However, by retaining such a “classic” punk sound, The Interrupters have become one of the leading punk voices of the decade. They have managed to do what few bands seem to be able to do: revive interest in a scene long thought dead. In the vein of true punk music, every song on the album is irresistibly catchy and fights back against the cultural norm. Fight The Good Fight proves that a particular sound isn’t contained to a certain point in time. If expressed correctly, a genre of music that was cast aside 20 years ago is even more powerful when resurrected. – Kyle Schultz

28. Haim – Days Are Gone

By the fall of 2013, indie pop was due for a shot of adrenaline, and it got one in the form of a slew of debut albums that helped shape the sound of the decade. The trio of sisters that comprise Haim have a keen ear for melody and a penchant for quirky tracks that incorporate everything from bubbling synthesizers to grungy guitars to slick, sing-along choruses. Days Are Gone is a hit factory that oscillates between playful pop numbers and dark, introspective tracks that set the tone for a decade’s worth of underground pop. But the best part about Days Are Gone? It captures the distinct and sincere personality of its creators, ensuring that it can never be fully replicated. – Kiel Hauck

27. Hozier – Hozier

With the explosive, Grammy winning single “Take Me to Church”, Ireland’s Hozier took over the folk scene in 2014. His self-titled album is certainly one of the best folk offerings of the decade, surpassing Bon Iver and Mumford and Sons. It’s accessible and soulful. Andrew Hozier’s charismatic stage presence made the world fall for him and his mournful songwriting. – NP

26. AFI – AFI (The Blood Album)

AFI (The Blood Album) is the first album in AFI’s astounding career to fully capture almost every element of the band’s sound and amplify it. Jade Puget is at his most impressive, making enough sound for two guitarists (“Hidden Knives”; “Feed The Floor”) while singer Davey Havok shows off the insane range of his talents while crooning poetic until the very end (“So Beneath You”, “The Wind That Carries Me Away”). The Blood Album is a rock album that truly makes the disconnection of emotional pain, the fight against faith, and the damaged ideal of love tangible. AFI make good on the promise of this album, as it rages and philosophizes in a way that only they can. – KS

25. Childish Gambino – Because the Internet

In 2013, it was hard to imagine Donald Glover as someone commanding the pop culture conversation, but before all of the Grammys, Emmys, and blockbuster film roles, Glover dropped an album that would kick-start his transition from quirky comedian and backpack rapper to a full-fledged artistic force. Because the Internet is sprawling in nature, rarely pausing on one sound or thought long enough to digest. But that’s the point. The album paints a messy mural of our digital age, complete with early Gambino’s signature smirk. “Everything you don’t say, you Tweet it,” he seethes on one track. His point might be even more poignant six years later. – KH

24. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Lady Gaga ushered in a new era to pop music when she released 2008’s The Fame, but really took it over the edge (haha, get it?) with 2011’s Born This Way. With this album, she became truly confident in the image she chose to portray and used this album to bring to the forefront some social issues of the day, largely her support for the LGBTQ+ community. It genre-bends in the best way, and the album, as well as the stunning music videos she created, sent the decade into a new form of expression. – NP

23. I Can Make a Mess – The World We Know

Ace Enders has proven himself adept at writing almost any type of music, however his acoustic songs always seem to be the ones that grab people the most. The World We Know is a world weary album broken down to embrace and appreciate simplicity. Enders’ signature hooks, catchy choruses, and emotion seep through the guitar strings across the record. The World We Know perfectly captures a moment in time we all find ourselves in: the quiet realm of trapped-in-thought and looking to climb out of a personal hole. The album is hopeful, honest and arguably Enders’ magnum opus in a career filled with musical highs. – KS

22. Architects – Holy Hell

By the early part of this decade, modern metalcore had already become a caricature of itself, with many bands leaving the sound altogether for new pastures. Yet throughout the 2010s, Architects held fast, gradually becoming a beacon for the genre. After the tragic passing of guitarist Tom Searle, the band unexpectedly rose from the ashes in 2018 to release their grandest album to date. Equal parts punishingly cathartic, atmospherically expansive, and sonically overpowering, Holy Hell not only solidified Architects as the defining metalcore act of the decade, but set a benchmark that no other band aside from themselves may be capable of reaching. – KH

21. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

I’m not usually a fan of Top 40 radio, but Teenage Dream made my list because it’s quintessential 2010s pop. It came out in my last year of middle school, and I wasn’t allowed to listen to it. This, of course, made me all the more curious, but even without direct access to the album, I couldn’t help but hear “California Girls” everywhere I went. It was the first album released by a female to have five singles on the Billboard charts, and it cemented Katy Perry’s spot as Queen of Pop. – NP

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Haim to Release New Album “Something To Tell You” on July 7

Need more great music to look forward to? Good news! Indie rock trio Haim are set to release their much anticipated new album Something To Tell You on July 7. A follow up to 2013’s Days Are Gone, Haim promises to deliver a “modern, exciting and fearless” collection of tracks. You can check out the music video for “Right Now” below!

According to the band, this is just a teaser of what’s to come – the official first single will be released next week on May 3. What are your thoughts on “Right Now”? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Most Anticipated of 2017: #6 Haim Take Summer by Storm

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Four long years have passed since one of recent memory’s most lauded debut acts hit the scene. Haim charmed the music world in 2013 with the release of Days are Gone, a simmering R&B-tinged pop rock debut album that landed them as the opening act on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, live performers on SNL and festival headliners across the country.

You’ll have to forgive the Haim sisters if they’ve been a bit busy, but even so, the ladies have been hinting at a new album just on the horizon for over a year now. When 2016 passed with no new music, the band’s growing fan base began to whisper. So…what’s the hold up?

Multiple rumored producers have surfaced in the past year, including an “organic” in-home self-produced record from the band. It’s clear that Haim are taking no chances with what is quickly becoming a crucially important sophomore release. If it’s not exactly right – they won’t be releasing it. As of now, the band is pointing at a summer 2017 release date.

It’s difficult to be mad at the ladies who have become some of the most likable figures in the indie rock realm, especially when Days are Gone still goes down so smooth. However, with each subsequent listen, that album begs even harder for a second chapter.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Is indie rock starting to have fun?

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Pardon indie rock if it seems a bit pretentious, but you just wouldn’t understand. Even if you pretended to understand and started buying vinyl copies of its albums and getting floor seats to arena shows of its biggest crossover acts, well, it just makes it look like you’re trying to hard. But that’s okay – you’ll just feel dumb the next time you climb into your mom’s SUV and she’s blasting the newest CD of the band you feel cool about listening to.

Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it sums up the sneer that many “outsiders’ that enjoy the music feel. For decades, indie rock has prided itself on being an exclusive club – a group that actually “got” what music was supposed to sound like and reveled in keeping it close to the vest. The recent breakout of arena-filling indie rock like Arcade Fire or any of the major folk-indie acts that have found their way onto pop radio has resulted in another knee jerk reaction away from the bandwagon for some.

But to say that the majority feels this way would be dishonest. In fact, there’s been insurgence of indie acts that are having a good time and invite as many as would listen to come have a good time, too. Last year’s Celebration Rock by the Japandroids was the perfect example of an inviting experience – one that didn’t fit the mold of pop radio, but certainly didn’t possess the exclusive attitude or wet-blanket response to positive involvement.

This year has seen an uprising of even more welcoming, fun and downright inviting bands. Below are just three of the bands that are adding a smile and a dance step to the indie scene. Don’t feel bad about enjoying them.

Haim

The all girl indie pop outfit from Los Angeles released one of the best records of the year in September. With Days Are Gone, Haim has created one of the most promising debut efforts of the past few years and has cemented themselves atop the indie pop landscape. Days Are Gone certainly has its fair share of heavy and painful content, but the band responds to this subject matter with a wink and a smile as their music exudes a hopeful bounce.

Shifting between 80s pop, 90s alt rock and even a dash of R&B, Days Are Gone hints at the band’s many influences and creates its own unique sound. Singles like “Falling” and “The Wire” are sing-a-long worthy, while “If I Could Change Your Mind” is slick and full of groove. If their upcoming Saturday Night Live performance is any indication, Haim will be recruiting even more listeners very soon.

CHVRCHES

Scottish sythpop act CHVRCHES have been bubbling on the brink since they appeared on the scene last year. After a few EP releases, the group dropped The Bones of What You Believe in September and is currently crashing dance parties around the globe. The vocal delivery of Lauren Mayberry is sweet and calm, matching the synth-laced electronic soundscape laid out by the band. But don’t be fooled – Mayberry is no pushover, singing lines like, “I will be a gun and it’s you I’ll come for”.

Like Haim, CHVRCHES has some tough subjects to deal with throughout The Bones of What You Believe, but approaches them with snarky tongue-in-cheek lyrics and some of the catchiest, dance-worthy music you’ll hear this year. It would be easy to label Bones as a guilty pleasure, but that would be to slight the intelligence of what the band is saying and how they’re saying it. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that CHVRCHES is more than a catchy tune, but a welcome and joyful response for the downhearted.

The 1975

You haven’t really danced until you’ve heard the debut self-titled record from Manchester’s The 1975. While the album’s lyrics don’t delve as far into painful past memories as the bands listed above, the band excels in its ability to enjoy the things that are worth enjoying. The indie rock four-piece has a knack for writing killer choruses and moving bodies with their funky guitar work.

The beauty of this album is that it doesn’t feel the least bit exaggerated or hollow. If you’re response to the peppy bounce of The 1975 is to guffaw or roll your eyes, you’re not doing it right. This isn’t the mindless self-indulgent American pop of the last decade. Instead, the band seems very self-aware of what it is and wants to sing and dance for all of the right reasons.  In short, The 1975 is a damn good time that’s offered to anyone that would have it.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog.  You can follow him on Twitter.