Top 100 Albums of the Decade (part 6)

Dinosaur Jr—Farm
Jagjaguwar, 2009

Maybe Dinosaur Jr are simply repeating their own history. Since reforming, they have released one pretty good record (2007’s Beyond), one stellar record (this one), and there are already rumors floating around about tensions resurfacing within the band on tour. Think about it—DJ’s first album, 1985’s Dinosaur, was pretty good; their next album, 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me, was stellar; and by that time, they had already started throwing guitars at each other onstage. If this pattern continues, we can expect one more classic record from this lineup (per 1988’s Bug), and then perhaps a couple albums of J Mascis playing all the instruments, which may or may not be winners (though 1991’s Green Mind is a classic). If Dinosaur Jr implode before any of this, at least they will have left Farm in their wake. They may all hate each other, and they may all be old as hell, but this is the glorious sound of seasoned rockers refusing to go out whimpering. As a songwriter, Mascis has developed a formula he does not stray from too often, but even that 90’s slacker persona he has cultivated and perfected over the years can’t hide how committed he is to this batch of songs. He even sounds invested in Lou Barlow’s songs, perhaps because Mascis realized they would be two of the album’s best. Here’s hoping that made him guffaw a little.

Neil Young—Silver and Gold
Reprise, 2000

Though it usually gets lumped in with Neil Young’s uninspired later work (specifically the two lackluster albums that surround it, Broken Arrow and Are You Passionate?), that is so, so not fair. After a decade, Silver & Gold remains Young’s last great record. Granted, much of the material is decades old—for example, there is a live recording of “Razor Love” that dates back to 1976, and the title track (which might be the album’s best song) was written in the early eighties. This is not something to scoff at—many artists have been known to keep songs in the “work-in-progress” stages for quite some time before sending them to print. Bob Dylan does it all the time, and there’s no way he could make an album as good as Silver & Gold today. The best thing about Young is his stubbornness to prove people can peak several times in their lives or careers, not just once. He playfully acknowledges his initial stardom in “Buffalo Springfield Again”, but seems to fully embrace growing older on songs like “The Great Divide” and “Good to See You”. There is a sparse, whispery tone to this record, and at times the arrangements seem skeletal. But unlike Young’s later albums where it just sounds lazy, this feel gives Silver & Gold the perfect glow.

The Raconteurs—Broken Boy Soldiers
V2, 2006

2008’s Consolers of the Lonely may be favored by many Raconteurs fans now, but it feels more like a White Stripes album in that there is too much material, and much of it is bloated and forgettable. Broken Boy Soldiers presents The Raconteurs as an entity all their own, and at a concise 10 songs, it leaves little room for filler. Though not a perfect record, it does boast quite a smorgasbord of killer tunes, like the overplayed-for-a-reason anthem “Steady as She Goes”, the Zeppelin-esque title track, and the creepy and nonsensical “Intimate Secretary”. The interplay between old school Detroit homies Brendan Benson and Jack White feels quite organic, even though most of the songs originated from either Benson or White Stripes outtakes. This is more apparent on some songs than others (like the Stripes-y, organ-driven “Store Bought Bones”), but it always feels like a cohesive statement rather than the lumping together of random ideas. In the end, the classic pop style of Benson meshes quite well with Jack White’s carnie bluesman shtick, and most of Broken Boy Soldiers makes for memorable rock.

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