Musical map of the decade

The 2000s are almost done, but this blog won’t let its passing go. Instead of just listing what I think the best artists/albums/songs from the last ten years were, I figure I’ll go a little meta and give you the overall themes of what shaped my musical listening through the decade. I’m certainly not the most current in terms of the trends of the moment, nor do I pretend to be, but if I like something, then I’ll certainly find other artists resembling that sound.

The main theme that basically permeated everything was my listening shift to CBC Radio Two. I might have a passive-aggressive relationship with it now (IMO, calling yourself commercial-free during a blatant commercial for another Radio 2 program is pure hypocrisy), but I can’t turn my back on the station that opened my ears to music beyond the bland commercial stuff I’d been listening to previously. Classical, jazz, the weird stuff from Brave New Waves, and the indie leanings of the Saturday night programming (remember Radiosonic?): all of those I’ve listened to on Radio Two to one degree or another for most of the 2000s. The emergence of George Stroumboulopoulos’ genre-free Sunday night show has also given me new hope in the revised Radio 2.

It is from my listening of Radio 2 that several other themes developed. One of them is intelligent dance music (IDM). Two artists in that genre, Boards of Canada and Manitoba/Caribou, I have followed since hearing them on Brave New Waves. There’s something atmospheric about IDM that had me addicted to it. Maybe it’s the slower tempo and (for the most part) instrumental nature of IDM that’s conducive for relaxation and getting ready for bed.

Another theme was my growing appreciation for jazz. I started attending shows of the Vancouver Jazz Festival in 2004, and have tried to go to at least one every year since then, even if it’s just the free stuff at David Lam Park on the second weekend. That’s led to some of my personal favourites: Beady Belle, Elizabeth Shepherd, Sekoya, and Sophie Milman. And I’m not forgetting the all-time greats who came before them: Armstrong, Parker, Ella, and Nina.

In terms of other favourite artists from the decade, I just ate up the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (another discovery via Brave New Waves), the White Stripes, Emm Gryner, and Sarah Slean. Of course, some love has to go to local artists, including the New Pornographers, the Organ, Vincent Black Shadow, and Adaline.

An eclectic selection of music, to be sure, but then that’s how I roll. The next decade of music should be interesting, and my ears will try to find some good ones.

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