He Said She Said: Albums From the Past Decade of Our Lives
When this decade began, He Said was but 15 years old, bored, jobless and chubby. It ends with him 26, overworked, overstimulated and chasing away his self-imposed demons with too much of everything and too little of most things. But the one constant has been the power of music to lead him out of the proverbial wilderness. It's weird to think that the 2000s were our first full decade of total awareness. The first decade and a half were wasted on learning to walk, write, read, drive and get rejected by prissy junior-high chicks. The last decade is the first one we can now look back on with a view that isn't colored by our parents or mainstream pop culture. This decade saw He Said's ears go through erratic changes from month to month, with his tastes seemingly changing every minute from hip-hop, street punk and Oi!, heavy metal, '77-style punk, garage, classic country, noise, doom and proto-punk. There was never a dull moment, seeing that He Said came of age at a time when the Internet was bursting at the seams with new and old sounds for him to get his downloading mitts on.2000: At The Drive-In, Relationship Of Command From the first salvo of the drums on At The Drive-In's breakthrough release on Grand Royal, we instantly found ourselves in a foreign land of afros, manic guitars, and multi-syllabic rantings on murder and decay. This all led to us discovering the MC5 and the Stooges over the winter break from school and broke our mental cherry. Everything else before seemed slow, plodding, and without purpose. He Said still puts this album on full blast whenever the coffee or Red Bull doesn't quite do the trick. Try it for yourself.
2001: The Strokes, Is This It? Oh, you mean that we can like music that's not about working-class ethics and smashing the state? The Strokes' first album came into our lives right after high school graduation and injected us with a dose of slacker cool that wasn't missing from the Oi! and street-punk that was happily polluting our personal airwaves. The hair started growing out and the clothes starting getting sloppier and tighter and we met Lady Whiskey. Thanks, Julian.
2002: Queens Of The Stone Age, Songs For The Deaf Other than the next album in this list, He Said cannot think of another release that came into his life this past decade that meant more to him at the exact perfect time. We even got the front logo tattooed on the back of our arm. From the first ten seconds in, when you hear the car door slam and the engine start up, we were hooked and booked. QOTSA released two other albums after Deaf (so far); both moved him, but not in the way that this sexy bitch still does.
2003: Turbonegro, Scandinavian Leather For He Said, the mark of a great album has been that point while you are listening that you feel at home. You look around at your surroundings and say, "I could stay here awhile, maybe even get the lead singers face tattooed on my forearm and start wearing obscene amounts of denim." Turbonegro's comeback album was that album for us, when we finally found a skin we could be comfortable and empowered in. We understand that's strange, seeing that our favorite song on the album is titled "Wipe It Till It Bleeds." The album even helped us name our first official blog excursion for the Houston Press with the song "Drenched In Blood (D.I.B)."
2004: Eagles Of Death Metal, Peace Love and Death Metal There are points in a mans life when he fully accepts his masculinity not as some sort of fratty birthright, but as an actual weapon. For He Said, Peace Love and Death Metal was the first album where he could give a good Little Richard howl out into the ether and let his ass shake for better or worse. He's never found a girl who could keep up with the rhythm and filth of EODM's output, but keeps looking anyway.
2005: Death From Above 1979, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine When that whole glut of two-man bands began to become all the rage at the middle of the decade, only two of them truly rocked He Said's black socks. One was Early Man, who have since added a bass and second guitarist. The other was the late Death From Above 1979. He Said doesn't know what those hipster fucks do in Toronto to make music like this, but wishes more people could tap into it. Sadly the band broke up the next year. Drummer Sebastien Grainger still tours with his indie band The Mountains, and bassist Jesse F. Keeler is one-half of electro-rock group MSTRKRFT.
2006: TV On the Radio, Return To Cookie Mountain This album marks a rather sad time in He Said's life, and to this day it will always remind him of waiting rooms and bad decisions. This album came into his life while he was in the grips of an addiction to painkillers and uppers that, it seemed, constantly left him with a feeling of defeat and sadness, staring at the walls of his bedroom. There is a stillness to this album that he still cannot describe, even at its most juiced moments. It's really true that some pieces of music hit you at the exact right point in your life... and leave just as quickly.
2007: Justice, Cross He Said started 2007 by getting engaged to one girl and ended it by getting pulled out of a stranger's backyard in Lake Jackson by a totally new girl after that engagement ended over the summer. This French electro group's debut soundtracked everything in between for better or worse, be it weird weekend trips to Austin that didn't end until Monday morning or drug-fueled jaunts down memory lane when the demon pills reared their ugly head again. He still gets a little sweaty and nervous when "DVNO" pops up on our iPod.
2008: The Black Keys, Attack & Release He Said was playing house for most of 2008, and this was the album that we jammed from time to time to shakes the domestic life he was living in out Pearland. It gave him a respite away from college classes, feeding dogs, making healthy dinners and watching movies in the evenings instead of bellying up to the bar at Boondocks. It may have not been the rock and roll lifestyle he was used to, but it sure as hell beat puking in the parking lot of Mai's before dinner. "Strange Times" indeed.
2009: Justin Townes Earle, Midnight at the Movies It wasn't until 2009 that He Said fully fathomed how much of a bastard we could be to every man and woman around us, and Justin Townes Earle's sophomore LP did everything in its power to make us shut our damned mouths. Midnight At The Movies came out in March and was soon entrenched in He Said's black heart. The album's "Someday I'll Be Forgiven For This" seemed to haunt him at every turn, from Highway 288 all the way to U.S. 290. Currently, final track "Here We Go Again" is thoroughly killing him at this point. When Earle plays "Mama's Eyes" live, we usually disappear into a dark corner of the venue alone to man-mist like a mofo.
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