Terrell’s Tuneup: BEST OF THE DECADE
A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 25, 2009
Political satirist Andy Borowitz recently wrote, “As the decade draws to a close, a new poll shows that a majority of Americans are holding out hope that the 10 years just past turn out to be a dream sequence from which they will soon awake.”
That pretty much sums it up. But here are 10 albums that made this lousy decade a little more bearable. A few are out of print, but you can find them around.
* We Have You Surrounded by The Dirtbombs. I guess I like a dose of apocalyptic paranoia in my music. It reigns supreme in The Dirtbombs’ 2008 offering. On nearly every song, singer/guitarist Mick Collins seems to be looking over his shoulder and not liking what he sees. The end is near, and everyone’s out to wreck his flow. With a lineup that includes two bassists and two drummers, The Dirtbombs are one of the many Detroit bands of the 1990s that didn’t become famous when The White Stripes rose to glory.
* Cow Fish Fowl or Pig by The Gourds. Pure exuberant hillbilly funk with vocals that sound as if the town drunk had hopped on a honky-tonk stage and led the band into bold new dimensions. The stomping jugless-jug-band (well, Kev Russell sings about jugs) sound of “Ants on the Melon (With Due Regards to Virginia Adair)” remains my favorite Gourds song.
* Kids in Philly by Marah. These Philly kids were roots conscious without a trace of retro, and so spirited — even when they sang of winos in the alley and murder in the streets, Marah had a jarring aura of optimism. And though they were much too young to have experienced the Vietnam War, their jaw-dropping “Round Eye Blues,” a veteran’s grim memories of the war, mixed up with images from rock ‘n’ soul lyrics, cut to the marrow. Marah never again matched this album from 2000.