To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.
2009 – #10. Mumford & Sons
2009 was a frankly stunning year for music. So many great albums that didn’t make the ten, mainly cos there could only be ten. From life long faves (Wilco, Bob Evans, Rhett Miller, Pearl Jam and Phoenix) to newer bands who came back with awesome albums (Franz Ferdinand, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Clem Snide, Vic Chesnutt, Bottle Rockets) and surprising new acts (Passion Pit, Joel Plaskett, Yves Klein Blue)…I can only hope 2010 is half as good.
Then there was Mumford & Sons, and their record Sigh No More. Coming out at the end of 2009, with an unlikely radio hit in Little Lion Man, I was struck by how honest this album was/is. Whatever else you want to say about this band, they are all heart, in an era where that matters less than ever.
The obvious touch stone here is bluegrass – in it’s most sing-along, euphoric form. The playing is impeccable. They’ve translated it to a bigger setting, but it’s still the place where this all begins.
But if that was it, then they would just be the new Old Crow Medicine Show. Something else has gotten through, and it’s the lyrics. Completely lacking in irony, pretty much every song is about love, sung passionately and directly.
Love that will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you
It will set you free
That’s from the opening, title track, and shows from the onset these guys aren’t fucking around with anything but the greatest themes of all. And they’ve got choruses big enough to hold them too.
Little Lion Man still sounds fantastic, but I avoided it on radio. Roll Away Your Stone and Awake My Soul are even better.
Honesty is always an illusion in music, but whatever it is this band is trying to say, they are doing it with classic rock ‘n’ roll passion. And so, the decade ends with a reminder that writing from the heart and playing the fuck out of those songs still works.
Little Lion Man. Future sounds a lot like the past.