ONE LAST LOOK BEFORE I GO

QC Staff (edited by Chris Carpenter)

“A man needs to look, not down, but up to standards set so much above his ordinary self as to make him feel that he is himself spiritually the underdog.”
- Irving Babbitt

The 00′s are over. The decade triumphantly ended, and now we’re on to the teens. Still, like the end of a complicated relationship, we keep looking back. We figure if we let out this last bit of nostalgia, we can finally move on. Before it’s gone forever, we’re giving one last chance to albums that might have gone overlooked during the 00′s. These are diamonds in the rough that deserve your attention before you move on to this new decade of newer tunes. Now that you’ve had your fill of “best of the decade” lists, here’s our list of “underrated of the decade.” QC style, always looking out for the little guy (we all had little brothers who used to get tooled on).

Artist: Mother Mother
Song: Hay Loft


In no particular order…

Tortoise & Bonnie Prince Billy / The Brave & The Bold (2006) / by Tim Howard

A completely unlikely pairing interpreting unlikely tunes from an eclectic selection of artists. Brave and bold indeed. Will Oldham sings “Thunder Road” better than The Boss (just never listen to that wild synth opening with a thermonuclear hangover. Trust me). The band turns Milton Nascimento into a heavy jam. Elton John’s “Daniel” gets spooky, and the lyrics shift their meaning. Their take on Richard Thompson’s “The Calvary Cross” is nothing short of breathtaking. Not only do they best the originals on almost every track, but to me the album’s the best thing either artist’s done in a while. I don’t say that lightly.

Blank Dogs / Under and Under (2009) / by Kevin Diamond

One-Man-Band studio project along the lines of classic early Eno. Raw and rugged. Blank Dogs’ magnum opus is dense, dark and rewarding. When you spend time with this album, it begins to unfold like the decade itself. Fear and excitement mix to form a hypersensitive soup of tense nervous release. This is end-of-the-world dance music, and it’s fucking stellar.

Artist: Blank Dogs
Song: No Compass


Blood Feathers / Curse and Praise (2006) / by John Ziegler

Honey-filled harmonies, brilliant hooks, churning guitars and cracker-jack songwriting somehow weren’t enough to push this little indie power-pop gem into even the dimmest spotlight.

Adult. / Anxiety Always (2003) / by Marisa Brown

Detroit electro duo Adult.’s first proper full-length, Anxiety Always, is a restless, aggressive album that manages to put you on edge and make you dance in the way that only the Motor City can. And how can you not like songs called “Kick in the Shin” and “Glue Your Eyelids Together,” anyway?

Artist: Adult.
Song: Glue Your Eyelids Together


Butane Variations / Love Five Songs (2007) / by Joel Chaffee

The second and final release from Butane Variations the leftovers from their debut self-titled LP — Love Five Songs is the EP as mini-album; as an extremely strong collection of songs. While some of us still value the LP, the widespread availability of (free) digital music leaves some attention spans at thirty seconds. This makes the EP’s length impressive, but not indomitable. Butane Variations were a band of songwriting — these songs have verses with lots of words, choruses just as long, bridges, more words — and the structuring of all of these writings within the rock band’s live abilities. That Songs achieves such climaxes as “Switch” and “Little Debbie” without forgoing the limitations of the band is wonderful to hear (co-songwriter Phil Weinrobe was partial to “The sound of a band in a room”). It’s guitars, drums, bass, vocals, and harmonies. Songwriters coming of age and expanding their mastery of the form; and their interest in styles outside their own. As the piece closes, “I want to thank you for that mix tape, honey…”


Mother Mother / O My Heart (2008) / by Chris Carpenter

Straight outta Vancouver, Mother Mother dropped this gem of an album in 2008. Their harmonies are some of the best in the biz, and upon listening any of these tracks can replay in your head for days.  When I interviewed Mother Mother for QC, Ryan Guldemond described their eclectic style by saying “It’s just notes and rhythm, words and rhymes, dressed in different outfits.”  They deserve more praise, and they’ll always get it from QC.

Black Francis / Bluefinger (2007) / by Kevin Diamond

Overlooked in the shadow of the Pixies reunion tours, Frank Black began releasing solo albums under his Pixies frontman name — Black Francis — and reclaimed some of the glory he had lost since Teenager of the Year. With songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a late-era pixies album, Bluefinger is a suite of songs about dutch artist and musician Henry Brood. It’s weird, but if you don’t like weird, then you don’t like Frank Black.

Artist: Black Francis
Song: Captain Pasty


Brandi Carlie / The Story (2007) / by Alyssa Coluccio

Such a beautiful album and such a unique voice– in a decade where all female folk-singers seemed to possess the same wispy, soft vocal quality, Carlile brought back that raspy, earthy quality that modern folk has been desperately missing.

Joanna Newsom / Joanna Newsom & the Ys Street Band EP (2007) / by Tim Howard

Joanna Newsom can’t be human. Not content with being simply beautiful, she’s some kind of prodigious mega-brain, became to the harp what Van Halen was to the guitar, writes lyrics so clever you blush, and sings incredibly, but with such an excess of bristle and gnarl that she sounds like a wildwoman come in from deep in the thickets of nowhere. Here there’s less gnarl, one new song, and two reinterpreted from her past two albums with a fuller band. Simply: each one is a masterpiece.

Artist: Joanna Newsom
Song: Clam, Crab, Cockie, Cowrie


Ofege / s/t (2008, reissue) / by John Ziegler

Little is known about this West African band other than that they recorded only one album back in the 70′s, they were in high school at the time, and they loved Fela Kuti and Santana. Thanks to those re-issuing re-masters at Academy Records, we can now hear this mind blowing set of psychedelic guitar rock and Afro-beat rhythm in all its fuzzed-out groovy splendor.

Witchdoctor / The Diary of an American Witchdoctor (2007) / by Marisa Brown

2007 was a decent year for hip hop, and it also was a decent year for Atlanta’s Dungeon Family, with all the Gnarls Barkley hoopla, so why Witchdoctor‘s solo release didn’t get much attention has been a source of confusion for me, especially because it’s just so damn good. This isn’t genre-defying hip hop here, just exceptionally good rhyming over exceptionally good production, and one of the  most solid full rap albums I can think of.

Artist: Witchdoctor
Song: Suicide Bomber



The King Khan and BBQ Show / s/t (2005) / by John Ziegler

Somehow it took two Canadians (one of Indian descent) living in Berlin to make rock n’ roll music more American than any of us could. Their first and finest album barely blipped on anyone’s screen until the duo started to pop last year.

Artist: The King Kahn and BBQ Show
Song: Love You So


Dirty Projectors / The Glad Fact (2003) / by Tim Howard

Like most people I adore Bitte Orca and Rise Above, but I love The Glad Fact. It veers on the edge of being off-putting at every turn, which Longstretch makes fascinating by the sheer number of ideas. Just check out that guitar intro on “Winter Is Here,” or the slightly fucked bunches of vocals on My Offwhite Flag. It’s as dense and rambling as Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree at times, interpreting so many different influences and, like McCarthy, spitting them all out in a voice that’s very much its own.

Artist: Dirty Projectors
Song: My Offwhite Flag

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