Greetings to all friends new and old. And to all my brothers of years gone by, at least we have this way of communicating to each other. Hope all is well, hope you come prepared with some good criticism, and I hope another year does not go by where we do not see each other. You know who you ‘all are. Let’s begin.
01. Badly Drawn Boy – Have You Fed The Fish?
First it starts with a bang, slows it down midway, and then picks it up again. Even better then his first full length offering, this record is all over the musical genre map. Clearly, the most fun record of the year.
02. Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
I think I once mentioned how each of their records are better then the previous one. I’d be remiss if I did not mention this again. All of their records are better then the previous one. There, I said it. Dare I say operatic, indie-rock?
03. Josh Rouse – Under Cold Blue Stars
Ok, it’s not Dressed Up Like Nebraska, but it sure beats a hell of a lot of the other crap out there today. The first half is more brilliant pop. The second half? Yea, I could live without it. But, I’ll take 1 half a great Josh Rouse CD any day.
04. Wilco – Yankee Foxtrot Hotel
Did I miss this one from last year’s list? As always, I eat my own words, because I’ve had this album since early 2001, but I truly did miss it the first, second, and third time around. I won’t doubt Mr. Tweedy ever again: He rules.
05. Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel
I really think this guy can do no wrong. His voice gets better with age, his lyrics are as strong as ever, and his melodies and hooks are as sweet as anything he wrote 20 years ago. Put this up against any of his classics. I dare you.
06. Neil Halstead – Sleeping On Roads
If the Mojave 3 sounded this good, I would have been converted a long time ago. Of course we can make the obvious Nick Drake comparisons, but I sense originally throughout. A great “mood” record.
07. Zero 7 – Simple Things
Probably the most listened to album of the year for me, even though it came out in 2001. Right up my alley. Spacey rock. Think Dark Side Of The Moon with a sexy female fronting. Makes me want to break out the black light again.
08. Neko Case – Blacklisted
Still hits me hard each time I hear her voice; she gives me that warn feeling inside. She even stretches her sound a bit, making good old mountain music.
09. Tahiti 80 – Wallpaper For The Soul
Not as poppy as the last one, but still filled with tons of flavor. Atmospheric disco is the best way to describe it. You know, if Abba was remixed by Cornelius. Plus, I can’t sit still when I hear it.
10. Brendan Benson – Lapalco
This is another great, overlooked pop gem. With my boy Jason Falkner giving a helping hand, these are some of the best-understated, low-fi, pop-ditties to come around in awhile.
11. Rhett Miller – The Instigator
I was never a big Old 97’s fan. I though they sounded like so many other bands of that genre, but there were ones who did it better. Now I might re-evaluate that thinking. Clever heartbreaking pop tunes on his solo debut. It actually got me to thinking… If a freshman’s record is described a Sophomoric, is that a complement?
12. Barry Adamson – The King Of Nothing Hill
Another staple from one of the most underrated, soulful folks out today. I guess the fact that he never tours with less then 30 band members makes it difficult for him to play anywhere other then his hometown.
13. I Am Sam Soundtrack
Just a fun collection of Beatles classics, sung quite tastefully by some of the finer musicians around.
14. Citizen Cope – Citizen Cope
I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting old, wiser, or maybe my tastes just suck. Sure, it’s another Everlast type of thing, but he’s got some good hooks. Ok, let the jokes begin; I’ll stand behind it, for now.
15. Koop – Waltz For Koop
Another 2001 missed released, I think I have a thing for hip, female vocal electronica.
16. Fela Kuti Tribute
Finally, an artist worthy of such a tribute.
17. The Doves –The Last Broadcast
Ah yes, guitar clouded indie pop. I remember this. Glad to see someone’s keeping Ride’s torch alive.
18. Cornelius – Point
The man’s a master behind the mixing board. It’s not as happening as his last, but it sets a nice mood.
19. Deep Field South – Deep Field South
Please, somebody find out something on this band for me! And yet again, another 2001 release.
20. Beck – Sea Change
Well, the truth is, I’m not really feeling it like everyone else is. Perhaps since I’m in a good place emotionally. But, it’s always good to know it’s there for me to go back to when I need it, sorta like a 70’s Dylan album.
Top 5 Reissues (oldies but goodies):
1.Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue could have also been #1 overall of this year.
2.Richard Hell – Time great collection from this true musical poet.
3.The Band Box – The Last Waltz finally a complete collection from one of the best, true finales of all time.
4.Elvis Costello – reissues galore hard not to put all these great records on any list.
5.Flaming Lips – and this is where is all began.
Top 5 albums I just don’t get (also know as The I’m Getting Old & Crusty list):
1.Ryan Adams – Demolition enough already.
2.Spoon – Kill The Moonlight never cared much for them, and this didn’t change my opinion.
3.Interpol –Turn On The Bright Lights yea, and?
4.Sonic Youth – Murray Street me thinks they need to drop the Youth part their name and change it to Sonic Old.
5.Tie: Aimee Mann – Lost In Space & David Gray –A New Day At Midnight sorry folks, I used to find them both interesting.
And in a time of reflection, let’s take a moment of silence for fallen heroes this year:
Waylon Jennings; Jam Master Jay; Dee Dee Ramone; Layne Stanley; Dave Van Ronk; Lionel Hampton; John Entwistle; Rosemary Clooney; Otis Blackwell, and the two that hit the hardest: Mary Hansen & the immortal Joe Strummer. Long live the Clash!
Eric Fine - Westchester, NY, 2002