Josh’s Favorites of the 2010s
Josh's Retrospective on the music of the 2010's.
DISCLAIMER: This was supposed to be published on November 18th, but due to indecisiveness, it was published a day behind schedule.
Welcome to the start of UIC Radio’s Eboard’s Best of 2010’s! Everyday, for the rest of the week, we will be putting out lists that describe our Top 15 songs of the decade, our Top 10 albums of the decade, and our Top 5 albums of the decade.
Please understand, we all have a very specific music tastes and backgrounds. All of these are our own personal opinions, so if you don’t see your favorite album or song it’s not a slight against you. Each of us will defend our lists in different manners, and that’s alright.
So here we are! The first list is mine! Be prepared for a whirlwind of a rollercoaster as this list took a long time to develop and took even longer to fully comprehend the final selection.
Top 15 Songs of the 2010's
15: Reptile – Periphery, 2019
After leaving Sumerian records, Periphery expressed their desire for more creativity. So immediately, their self-released ‘Hail Stan’ opens with an almost seventeen-minute beast of a song, about a stoner goes to fight reptilians. In all seriousness, this song is a ride and somehow doesn’t feel like it’s nearly seventeen minutes.
14: Ghost On The Dance Floor – blink-182, 2013
Another opening track, this time from blink-182’s final release with vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge. The sense of loss and longing for someone who is no longer in your life is something that has been covered by many of blink’s songs, but this one has a more mature and a sense of moving on that the others didn’t.
13: Bullsh*t – Rise Against, 2017
This song is a vocalization of feelings of how things have been the last few years. It’s not subtle, it’s not nuanced, but why should it be? The subject matter isn’t.
12: Nina Cried Power – Hozier, 2018
Staying in slightly similar territory as the previous entry, but done with more tact, Hozier’s ‘Nina Cried Power’ is an ode to those who came before to fight for the rights of others. This is a song that recognizes that we mustn’t be afraid to speak out and to fight, and the courage to do so is laid out before us by those that have fought.
11: Mean Brain – Sharptooth, 2019
I debated putting this on here, mainly because of how recently it was released, but honestly, this is one hell of a rager. The intensity of the instrumentation is as high as ever, with vocalist Lauren Kashan’s vocals reaching an even higher level of brutality. This is a must for all hardcore fans.
10: Moth Into Flame – Metallica, 2016
Metallica is one of the most pioneering forces in the world of Metal, yet they have a rather divisive discography. After an average release in 2008, Metallica returned in 2016 with a return to form, with ‘Moth Into Flame’ leading that charge. This is a hearty song, full of exquisite riffage and dealing with a rather delicate subject matter quite well.
9: Cirice – Ghost, 2015
Say what you will about Ghost, but the one thing you cannot deny is their ability to create a dark, moody atmosphere. Their theatrics and abilities to compose sinister sounds have given birth to what I think is their finest song.
8: Firepower – Judas Priest, 2018
Like previous inclusion, Metallica, Judas Priest is one of the pioneering forces in the world of Metal. But in a career that has spanned nearly 50 years, there mustn’t be that much more left in the tank, right? Yeah, then you hit play on the opening/title track of 2018’s FIREPOWER, and you are reminded what an idiot you are for thinking that Judas Priest wasn’t capable of putting anything like this out there. Idiot.
7: Your Graduation – Modern Baseball, 2014
One of the best pop-punk bands to come from the 2010 era, this song is essential. Telling the all too familiar story of leaving people you knew, in this instance by graduation, and finally leaving behind that toxic person in your life. You get a real sense of pain, yet comfort, from each vocal line, depicting raw emotions behind the removal of the toxicity.
6: Forever – Code Orange, 2017
Code Orange open their 2017 outing with a song that is the physical embodiment of a mosh pit; once it kicks off it refuses to let go of you. It’s a hell of an opener and a hell of a song.
5: The Opener – Camp Cope, 2018
Serving as the album opener for their 2018 album, the song explores what it’s like to be a woman in the music scene and just the hot garbage they have to deal with. It’s unfiltered and it’s honest. It’s an issue that needs to be brought to light more, how often female artists on all scales are disrespected by promoters, venues, and even fans.
4: Lazarus – David Bowie, 2015
When I was sitting down to put this list together, I saw this song was going to be on it. This is probably one of the most bone-chilling songs ever released, and one of the most haunting songs of any artist’s catalog. I remember liking the song when it was first released, but after the release of the music video for ‘Lazarus’, and then the subsequent passing of David Bowie, this song morphed into something else entirely. Instead of just being a chapter in the concept being told by ‘Blackstar’, it became an emotional farewell from Bowie himself. That opening line, “Look up here, I’m in Heaven” just hit so much harder.
3: Melancholy Hill – Gorillaz, 2010
This is a pure and beautiful song, plain and simple. This synth-heavy, pop track is a true standout, not only in the album, ‘Plastic Beach’, but in the entire catalog of Gorillaz.
2: Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Ax) – Power Trip, 2017
Listen to this song, and if you’re not headbanging by the end of it, I cannot trust you. This song is a trip back to classic 80’s thrash, but also it stands its ground as its own entity with its own flair. With bands like Power Trip, the future of metal is safe.
1: Crazy, Classic Life – Janelle Monae, 2017
This song sets the tone for the thematic elements of Janelle Monae’s gorgeous 2017 outing. You can feel every last bit of raw emotion and love pouring from every bit of her vocal performance. This song is about being open and being yourself, and every moment of the song solidifies it. Backed up with equally passionate instrumentation, ‘Crazy, Classic Life’ is my favorite song of the decade.
Top 10 Albums of the 2010's
10: Gold and Grey – Baroness, 2019
Woah, woah, woah, did I just put ‘Gold and Grey’ above ‘Purple’ and ‘Yellow and Green’? Why yes. Yes, I did. There is no denying that the production is pretty much trash. That said though, the songs here are just some of their finest. Not to mention, their addition of Gina Gleason to the group really adds new depth to their songs, both on this album and not on the album. Her ferocious backing vocals and guitar work really complement the rest of the guys, and her stage presence is just incredible. If you can get past the brick-walled production, this is really good.
9: Electric Messiah – High On Fire, 2018
I heard once that Matt Pike puts out bad albums like he puts on shirts – He doesn’t. High On Fire is one of those bands that any album is going to be a good album, and their 2018 release, ‘Electric Messiah’, is just that. The album is completely unrestrained with its balls-to-the-wall insanity, with your only breaks being the pauses between songs. Pick a song, any song, off this album and you will have an undeniably awesome time.
8: The Valley – Whitechapel, 2019
Clean singing, in MY deathcore? Yes, I think so. Whitechapel shows a new side to their sound with their 2019 release, ‘The Valley’. Diving into the childhood traumas of lead vocalist Phil Bozeman, this album feels like a truly cathartic piece that signals a new level of maturity to deathcore legends. This album is what music is truly about, being open and healing together.
7: …Like Clockwork – Queens of the Stone Age, 2013
This is the defining work of Josh Homme. This is his finest piece, as he hits a balance of blues, rockabilly, psychedelic, and good to honest pure stoner rock. Couple the genre pushes to a couple of guests collaborations, such as Trent Reznor and Elton John, this is the best of rock from this decade.
6: Where Owls Know My Name – Rivers of Nihil, 2017
Couple tightly performed songs, this is probably the best use of saxophone in technical death metal. Probably the best use of saxophone in metal, period. Each song on this concept album complements each other, building up and moving along until the eventual conclusion.
5: Dirty Computer – Janelle Monae, 2017
I had difficulty discerning between Janelle’s most recent effort or her turn of the decade debut, ‘ArchAndroid’, but after a couple relistens I stand firm in my choice of ‘Dirty Computer’. Whereas her debut ‘ArchAndroid’ had these big sweeping orchestras and sounds behind it, ‘Dirty Computer’ has a more intimate approach with its songs, each with its own flair and style that blends so incredibly cohesively. Undeniable is her personality, evident on both albums, but ‘Dirty Computer’ hits hard.
4: Sailor’s Guide To Earth – Sturgill Simpson
A country artist? In my Top 10? Trust me, I’m scared too. But in all seriousness, this album is one of the most diverse, heartfelt, and soulful albums out there. From the opening track, ‘Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)’ in which the full spectrum of sounds explored on the album are teased, to the bombastic closer ‘Call To Arms’, Sturgill pens one emotional album. An album that explores the relationships between him and his wife and young son, the gratitude he has for the both of them, and the lessons learned and passed on from those before him. Not to mention, Sturgill performs one of the best covers of Nirvana that I’ve heard. Give this one a listen, even if you are like me and find country to be bland – this is far from.
3: Nightmare Logic – Power Trip
Seriously, Power Trip is the best metal band out there, right now. ‘Nightmare Logic’ is proof. With a classic sound to the guitars and vocals, the band really hits the 80’s nostalgic vibe while still maintaining a modern hardcore fusion. There really is nothing else to say that this album is just full of incredible pieces.
2: The Satanist – Behemoth
‘The Satanist’ is a disturbing, twisted album. It’s vile with its intentions, and it’s not afraid to tell you. The band rides the long worn-out “Hail Satan” vibes, but instead as coming off as cheesy or completely predictable, they manage to craft an album full of evil and fury that floors you on every listen.
1: Magma – Gojira
I can see the pitchforks now… HE DIDN’T CHOOSE ‘L’ENFANT SAUVAGE’???
My reasoning is simple. I’m a sucker for the really heavy stuff. It’s why I love Gojira. But I also love growth. ‘Magma’ could have very much been another heavy album, like all before it, but the Duplantier brother took a different approach. They used the emotions felt during the loss of their mother to channel a new sound, one with a more melodic approach and with clean vocals(a reoccurring theme here…). There was no question that Gojira was an excellent band, but now this album had shown what masters they are at their craft. Their willingness to grow and to refuse stagnation is important for any artist to survive.
Top 5 Artists of the 2010s
5: Rivers of Nihil
Rivers of Nihil have been continually pushing their limits of what technical death metal is. With each passing tour and release, they have continued to see where their sound can be grown and what are the limits of experimentation. If ‘Where Owls Know My Name’ is the direction for their future, I cannot wait to see what lies ahead.
4: Janelle Monae
‘ArchAndroid’ was the debut album for Janelle, and it is one that reaches for the stars. It had high reaching ambitions that would continue on with the next few releases, refusing to compromise in its power. From Janelle’s style, to her lyricism, to her musical abilities, she truly is a force to be reckoned with and definitely one that should be closely followed. It’s honestly an incredible shame that it seems that the mainstream has only just begun to recognize the absolute powerhouse that she is.
3: Code Orange
Code Orange may have formed as Code Orange Kids at the end of the 2000s, but they have truly hit their stride in the 2010s with their two powerful outings, ’I Am King’ and ‘Forever’. They could have easily been a straightforward hardcore act, but their refusal to stay within the confines of the genre and desire to experiment with industrial sounds, melodic elements, and just pushing their sound really shows how they went from underground shows to a Grammy nomination.
2: Beach Bunny
Beach Bunny is a fast-rising star from Chicago. Lead by vocalist/guitarist Lili Trifilo, they play a style of indie rock that’s honest, hopeful, and emotional. Each song is full of passion and love and are all really well put together songs, on all fronts. Recently signing with Mom and Pop Records, their first album is due out next year, and if lead single ‘Dream Boy’ is to be an indicator, they have no signs of stopping their growth.
1: Power Trip
If you know anything about me, you know I love Thrash, so this pick isn’t exactly a surprise. Power Trip’s debut album, ‘Manifest Decimation’ is truly an exercise in the classic thrash sound. However, for me, ‘Nightmare Logic’, their 2016 effort, is what puts them at the top of this list. Seriously, Power Trip is the best metal band out there, right now. Their versatility in their thrash sound, picking up influences of hardcore, punk, and other metal forms, has allowed them to reach the appeal of fans of said genres. Their take no prisoners attitude, sheer attack, and just total badassery make them my number one band of the 2010s.
That’s the end of the list. Remember: this is all my opinion. Love it? Hate it? Agree? Disagree? Let me know! Music is subjective! I want to hear every and all thoughts!
Oh! And if you want to listen to the companion piece to this blog, look no further! Click the link here and enjoy!