Here’s my list from a year ago and my new one, Gentry-style.
20. Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
19. Capitol K – Island Row
18. Isis – Oceanic
17. Deerhoof – Reveille
16. Múm – Finally We Are No One
15. Keith Fullerton Whitman – Playthroughs
14. The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas
13. Sigur Rós – ()
12. Xiu Xiu – Knife Play
11. Out Hud – S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D.
10. Wire – Read & Burn 01 [EP]
9. Iran – The Moon Boys
8. The Notwist – Neon Golden
7. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Source Tags & Codes
6. The Books – Thought for Food
5. Max Tundra – Mastered by Guy at the Exchange
4. Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights
3. Interpol – Interpol [EP]
2. Various Artists – 24 Hour Party People
1. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
20. Sleater-Kinney - One Beat
19. RJD2 - Deadringer
18. Sigur Ros - ()
17. Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
16. Do Make Say Think - & Yet & Yet
15. Mum - Finally We Are No One
14. Capitol K - Island Row
13. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
12. Keith Fullerton Whitman - Playthroughs
11. Destroyer - This Night
10. DJ Shadow - The Private Press
9. Isis - Oceanic
8. Iran - The Moon Boys
7. ….And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Source Tags & Codes
6. The Books - Thought for Food
5. The Notwist - Neon Golden
4. Interpol - Interpol [EP]
3. Max Tundra - Mastered by Guy at the Exchange
2. Various Artists - 24 Hour Party People
1. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
What with my being a student and a music hack as well, I have more promo CDs than money. So… Ebay! Of course, the answer. I’ve just listed 100 of the buggers on Ebay, for sale around the world, have a butcher’s at them here. Each one starts at a penny… you’d probably make a profit of this stuff if you bought them off me and took them to a music exchange. Go on, allow me to actually eat this upcoming year.
Now that it’s nearly a year later, looking back at my list of favorite records from 2002, I realized how much my personal tastes had changed and I remembered certain records that I had come to adore this past year; records that deserved inclusion. You’ll notice certain records were entirely excised and others moved up or down considerably. I would pontificate on the specifics of each move and cut if I had the time, energy, and if my temperature wasn’t nearly 101 degrees at the current moment. If you have any specific inquiries I may be able to answer them as tersely as possible in the comments at some point.
Favorite Records of 2002 REDUX
01) Xiu Xiu - Knife Play (5RC/Kill Rock Stars)
02) The Decemberists - Castaways & Cutouts (Hush)
03) Jay Munly - Jimmy Carter Syndrome (Smooch)
04) Songs: Ohia - Didn’t It Rain (Secretly Canadian)
05) Sixteen Horsepower - Folklore (Jetset))
06) The Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas (Emperor Jones)
07) Sigur Ros - () (MCA)
08) Rivulets - Rivulets (Chair Kickers’ Union)
09) Low - Trust (Kranky)
10) Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)
11) Sage Francis - Personal Journals (Anticon)
12) The Mountain Goats - Tallahassee (4AD)
13) Nina Nastasia - The Blackened Air (Touch and Go)
14) Luna - Romantica (Jetset)
15) L’Altra - In The Afternoon (Aesthetics)
16) Books - Thought for Food (Tomlab)
17) Tanya Donelly - Beautysleep (4AD)
18) John Vanderslice - Life and Death of an American Fourtracker (Barsuk)
19) Life Without Buildings - Any Other City (DC Baltimore)
20) Lambchop - Is A Woman (Merge)
21) The pAper chAse - Hide The Kitchen Knives (Beatville)
22) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes (Interscope)
23) Mirah - Advisory Committee (K)
24) Múm - Finally We Are No One (Fat Cat)
25) Black Tape for a Blue Girl - The Scavenger Bride (Projekt)
Favorite Records of 2002 OLD
01) Xiu Xiu - Knife Play (5RC/Kill Rock Stars)
02) Books - Thought for Food (Tomlab)
03) Liars - They Threw Us All In A Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (Mute)
04) Sigur Rós - () (MCA)
05) Rivulets - Rivulets (Chair Kickers’ Union)
06) Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas (Emperor Jones)
07) Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)
08) Mirah - Advisory Committee (K)
09) Sage Francis - Personal Journals (Anticon)
10) Sleater-Kinney - One Beat (Kill Rock Stars)
11) Múm - Finally We Are No One (Fat Cat)
12) Nina Nastasia - The Blackened Air (Touch and Go)
13) Black Tape for a Blue Girl - The Scavenger Bride (Projekt)
14) L’Altra - In The Afternoon (Aesthetics)
15) Songs: Ohia - Didn’t It Rain (Secretly Canadian)
16) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes (Interscope)
17) Tanya Donelly - Beautysleep (4AD)
18) Life Without Buildings - Any Other City (DC Baltimore)
19) The Decemberists - Castaways & Cutouts (Hush)
20) Deerhoof - Reveille (5RC/Kill Rock Stars)
21) Lambchop - Is A Woman (Merge)
22) The pAper chAse - Hide The Kitchen Knives (Beatville)
23) Daedelus - Invention (EFA)
24) Luna - Romantica (Jetset)
25) Breeders - Title TK (Elektra)
I started a job at a gas station today. As I was filling out my you can’t sue us even if we maim you form I noticed there was one radio in the place. It was tuned to a pop station which was half audible over static. After that all I heard for the rest of the afternoon were beeps from the register as folks pulled up to fuel up. I sold lottery tickets by the hundreds.
Francis Henville, I thought your year end article was fantastic. Definitely my favorite so far. My favorite album of the year is whatever ambient sounds were present while I read it. I don’t remember what they were. I like the idea that my ‘album of the year’ is unconscious to even myself. At least I am unconscious of its content. I am very conscious of its name. For years I’ve admired my speakers turning on and off. My bedroom is in a basement with no windows and I lay down there and listen to the furnace kick on and off. It’s a rattle and then a dirty bass drone. Often it wakes me from deep sleep. Half dreaming I think of LaMonte Young. He was kind of an asshole. Then I think of John Cage. I think he was nicer.
Since I use my headphones every single day and end up cramming them into the bottom of my bag with an assortment of books, CDs, pens and/or highlighters, I need a durable set. This week has been a difficult one; my Bose snapped at the place where their headband joins the earpiece. It’s happened several times, but now the glue no longer holds since it’s broken in a new, completely unanticipated spot within the same general area. The whole spot is a mess. My old Sennheisers (the HD 477s) just don’t seem comfortable enough anymore. I ordered some Sennheisers (the HD-280s) yesterday in a full-blown, self-gifting frenzy. I like the Grados too, but I just can’t wear them around on the bus or on campus because they let in too much noise. I thought I’d throw this out there to all Stylus readers/writers: does anyone have a pair of headphones that they absolutely love which are durable enough for everyday urban stress?
Not very good, is he? I mean, sure, Knightley, whatever. Knightly- Blink 182, Winslet- Green Day, surely? So who the fuck is Bloom supposed to be? Richard E Grant? What? Seriously, help me out here.
But, by a strange combination of looking a little bit like Justin Timberlake’s Greek cousin, the man is now THE British face of 2003. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? America’s face of 2003 was shot nine times. Britain’s… used to be in Smack the Pony.
For the first Xmas in years my flat is filled with cards! Sadly none of them are actually mine, they’re fictitious ones I addressed to the actual legal owner of the flat that I’m ’subletting’ in order to escape eviction, as somebody from the council was getting suspicious and came around to inspect the place. To make it more plausible that I wasn’t living there I hid the Brainbombs and GG Allin CDs and left the Leann Rimes ones out. This track is from 1998’s ‘Sittin’ on Top of the World’ and has a big Rush influence, the 12-string intro from “Closer to the Heart” with the synth-bass stabs from “Tom Sawyer”. The album is nowhere near as good as ‘Twisted Angel’ though. That one’s incredible and her “Tic Toc” is even better than Myleene Farmer’s!
Shocked. And awed. Well, maybe not shocked as such, but regardless, this is class. The general air is Heart FM potboiler, but with all the settings exactly perfect. Having tried ‘Bond theme’ on Free Me (and failed), followed by an attempt at ‘Austin Powers’ on Maybe (which was tons more successful), the general air is a bit ‘Bonanza’ this time round. I might only be saying that because there’s a harmonica solo.
But think about that. There is a harmonica solo!!! On a single by her that used to be Baby Spice! Serious! There’s acoustic guitars - and they’re fantastic! Someone somewhere has actually given serious thought to the percussion arrangement!
True, this is still being sung by Emma Bunton, so it does still sound like her voice has been tinkered with to high heaven, but that doesn’t matter. If this doesn’t tear through early 2004, summat is wrong, very wrong indeed.
I was rewatching A Clockwork Orange again the other night, and I think I truly understood for the first time what a contribution Wendy Carlos’s soundtrack makes to it overall. When I was in college, I bought it and tried listening to it while I studied; “Suicide Scherzo” just didn’t work with Mill on the Floos and the like. Still, this time around I found myself wondering how a review would turn out if I put it on and started to write. May well be worth another purchase.
This morning I am sitting on the tube, bopping along to the Postal Service (Best couplet of 2003: You seem so out of context, in this gaudy apartment complex. Genius!). I look up to behold a man, fashioned in such a way that I simply must share with you.
(Brief aside. Living in London, I get to enjoy the sight of many men in sartorial splendour. I don’t know if it’s because they are European or it’s cosmopolitan city or what, but for crying out loud, the men here are freaking stylish.)
Anyway back to the blokey on the tube. He is wearing: flawlessly baggy/worn in Levi’s (how some guys manage that ideal sack-ass look I will never know), a jade green zip-up hoodie over a grey wool v-neck sweater and a white t-shirt underneath that. In lieu of a proper jacket, he’s got a blue pinstriped blazer, with perfectly placed fraying right at the pocket seams and a long woolly striped scarf. His hair is superbly mussed; a combo of just rolled out of bed, but somehow not looking scummy. He is reading…wait for it…”The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Kundera.
And that’s his fatal flaw. He is choosing to be the bohemian arty-sensitive type guy. I mean c’mon! All the aware of it elements are there, capped off by the prize Kundera book. You’ve been rumbled mate! The only way it could be more obvious was if he was reading “The Trial” by Kafka (or perhaps “The Idiot” by Dostoyevsky). Of course I might be wrong. He may have picked those clothes up off the floor of his damp bed-sit, and it could be the 19th time he is reading that book. But then I notice he is wearing very expensive, seriously tripped-out Nike sneakers. So I frigging doubt it.
In a fit of holiday melancholia and a general bad mood, I decided earlier this evening to take my dog on a long solo walk in the 20 degree Cleveland cold — I thought the stroll and the biting cold might take my mind off my troubles — and I chose as my soundtrack Must I Paint You A Picture, the new Billy Bragg anthology on Rhino. With the stark beauty of the freshly fallen snow as my backdrop, I roamed the deserted streets of my neighborhood, leash in hand, as the musical memories of one of my favorite artists of my youth came flooding back into my brain. Bragg may be mainly known to the public at large as a political bigmouth, or as that guy who ruined those Wilco records, but fuck, the man can write emotional songs that tug on the heart strings as if they were tied to a runaway train. “The Saturday Boy” brings up memories of Shelley Bauer, the cheerleader I had a such a huge crush on in high school who would never give me the time of day. “St. Swithins Day” reminds me of the regrets of nearly every failed relationship of the past. “A Lover Sings” perfectly expresses the frustration of love and sex and the indelible memories of both. Bragg’s take on “Walk Away Renee” is a love story gone wrong of heartbreaking proportions. The list goes on. If you’ve never experienced the sublime beauty of Bragg’s love songs, I highly recommend seeking them out.
As for myself, by the time I had circled around to Gunning Park, about a block from my house, my all-time favorite Bragg tune came on, “Greetings To The New Brunette.” The dog was anxious, so I let her off the leash and we romped together in the football fields, rolling in the snow and playing with an abandon it’s been far too long since I felt, her with the wild freedom of an animal set free, and me with the bittersweet/happiness that the song brought to me. By the time the final, hopeful lines came around (”Would the leaves fall from the trees/if I was your old man, and you were my missus?”), I had tears in my eyes and a strange joy in my heart, laying on the ground making snow angels with a ridiculous grin on my mug and belting out the tune for all the neighbors to laugh at. Looking up at brilliant stars in the night sky, laying there in the cold, I hoped and prayed that everything would work out for me, laughing in the face of my worries as the tears froze on my face. It was an utterly perfect moment.
I came home and drank a bathtub full of scotch, and now I sit at 2:45 in the morning like a moron writing this gibberish, unable to sleep and not sure if I want to. I’m sure I’ll wish I hadn’t in the morning, but for now, the Bard of Barking has delivered me from my winter depression in elegant form. Cheers to you, Billy. Long may you run.
It’s always quite sickening when some minor-blogger attempts to make a name for himself by calling you out on some “You plebs should be happy that the beautiful people are adopting your inferior cultural values”, but Senor Carmody also doesn’t bother responding to e-mails asking for some vague clarification on “What the sweet fuck are you talking about you skull-fucked little man?”.
So I was on my way home last night. I get on the escalator at Baker Street, and as I am running down it, I notice that this guy has one of those folding chairs - you know - like people use when they watch golf matches? Well anyway, this guy has decided to unfold it and SIT on it whilst riding the escalator! I mean, c’mon! How flipping lazy can you be? No, really, I must sit down at all times…I am the king you know. I would have brought my sedan chair but it is the help’s night off. This actually tops the last ridiculous thing on I saw on public transportation. I saw a guy turn the page of his book…with his tongue. Nice one.
I guess I’m the newest horse in the stable. The editors haven’t posted any of my work yet. I live with my parents in a town with a population of 57. Seriously. I work odd jobs so I can buy records and kill time until I go back to grad school. I don’t have a car and nearest shows are two hours away. What I post here will have to creative.
For fun I make noise tapes. Recently, one of my CDR’s got reviewed on another website. The reviewer chalked the ‘very noticeable’ tape splices to poor editing. Some people just miss the point. That being said, overall, the review as very fair and I should email him and say thanks. I borrow my mom’s car and drive a half hour to the library where they have one computer with a scanner, Photoshop, CD burner, and a copy machine. That’s the office for my crap noise tape/CDR label.
This year I saved up a bunch of those tins that AOL discs come in. I painted them and lined them with colored felt and put mix CDs in them for my friends as Christmas presents. There is this horde of poor kids, that probably come from fucked up homes, who just live at the library and play online roleplaying games. It’s probably better that they are there and not out becoming teenage alcoholics or oxycontin junkies. Anyway, I’m mixing one of these Xmas present CDs and my headphones come loose and Kevin Drumm just explodes in every direction. I let it roar for about six seconds. Then all these teenage boys with greasy hair and sweatpants say the word ‘noise’ and chuckle in a dead on Beavis and Butthead manner. Actually, I guess it wasn’t that different than a normal noise show.
On the way home from the library, I often stop and visit my elderly grandfather. The other day he had my grandmother dig his old 8 track player out of the closet. It’s just this box that unfolds to become two speakers that you plug into the wall, and the 8 track gets shoved into the side of one of the speakers (actually a really incredible piece of industrial design). After his stroke, granddad seemed to have trouble remembering that Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison was one of the greatest albums in the history of American music. I skillfully talked him out of any Kenny Rogers, and compromised with Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. So my grandmother is in the next room cutting carrots as I sit on a loveseat, and my grandfather in a wheelchair, not saying a word with the Christmas tree glowing in the background listening to what could be (with the exception of Lawrence Welk) corniest music in the history of America. Like a good episode of Northern Exposure, here’s a perfect place to fade out.
I feel like I’m out of the loop. The writer in the void. Todd hates me already. Until next time…
Last week Todd the Boss recommended checking out Banner’s “Choose Me”. It’s a nice enough track, but I’ve fallen for “Cadillac On 22s” instead. I know we live under the rule of Pharell’s casio and Blaze’s 45 rpm sound, but the warm springtime melancholy of the opening acoustic guitars sounds so fresh in comparison to the digitally tweaked sounds of yesteryear that this has to be shouted about. The cheap drum machine sounds against the ‘real’ instruments make this sound like an Arab Strap instrumental politely borrowed by young David, and if it wasn’t for the patter of the Dirty South cymbal beats I would swear it was. Who produced this?! I need to know.
The open sky sad singalong of the Outkast style chorus is already a car-tape classic of 2004.
I caught a mini-documentary/live show about The Darkness a few days ago and had my eyes opened a little. They all seemed very sincere about what they were doing and loved classic rock totally. I think because I don’t really take that style seriously, I had assumed it must a joke of some sort.
Justin was happy not to play the ass kiss game by refusing to deal with writers that had flung shit at them or took the piss. Pop Fact! He had wanted to call it Persimmon to Land after the fruit but was shouted down by the rest of the band.
He was also quite dismissive of those who trash guitars on stage, saying it was akin to beating up your Wife in a pub.
Got an email from Rock of Travolta’s PR (the band I reviewed the other week) Apparently, as a result of my review Dreamworks in the US have contacted the band! So not only might they get a deal, but that means music big wigs are reading Stylus. Once I get my signing bonus, I’ll be sure to share the wealth with you lot.
I don’t know who reads Freaky Trigger ’round here, but it’s been pretty excellent recently. I found this absolutely stunning, though; it’s nothing less than a pretty full explication of how I, and I’d be willing to wager at least some of the other writers around here, feel about criticism. It’s definitely something I’m going to be saving and going back to in the future.
One of the finest screwed and chopped hip-hop songs I’ve had the pleasure to hear this year. The song is originally fast enough that when it’s slowed down it only goes a bit slower than an old school Run DMC joint. In the end, the beauty of the acoustic guitars and the epic synth line (it can be done without being cloying, take note Eminem) make this song sound more Pink Floyd than Big Moe.
Perhaps the thing that makes this screwed and chopped album so much better than anything I’ve ever heard in the past is the definite sense of hope underlying it, rather than the depression-inducing exaggerated slowed down tracks of DJ Screw and others.
In my Shins review for Stylus, I quoted a whole lot of lyrics. And at the time, due to cash constraints etc., I hadn’t actually bought the record, I had downloaded it. I knew, just , that I was going to get at least one wrong. So I listened to the songs over and over (not exactly a chore), and double checked everything.
Now that I’ve bought Chutes Too Narrow (which my record store initially had written down as ‘Shoots To Narrow’), I of course noticed a mistake. I’d meant to write down “Your raving hard in your criminal lies”, although somehow I missed the ‘hard’ in the actual review. Well, the line is “Your ailing heart and your criminal lies”. Also, “Something inside me went away” has a “bad” in there before “inside”, changing the line entirely.
Everything else about the review is right, although I probably should have given it a 9.5 instead of a 9.
Mr. Panzner & I rolled down to Cincinnati Friday night to catch Low and, not surprisingly, a good portion of their set was spent ‘road testing’ new material. I knew something was up when Amazing Grace had a new psychadelic guitar solo (or was it two?) added and said solo was accompanied by fierce Sparhawk gyrating (easily the most movement I’ve seen from the band). The new material wasn’t all that different from writing style on Secret Name or Trust, but featured heavily distorted guitar work and often repeated single chords throughout. Very psych, very very loud. Like playing either of the previouly mentioned albums through a shit boombox with the volume cranked and speakers nearing death. Can’t wait for the new record.
Brings to mind the ‘Flashdance’ line, “When you lose your dream you die!” What if you have more than one dream though? What was John Fahey expecting when he went to visit him in the hospital? When you’re in the hospital you’re always going to be shitty to people, it can’t be helped. They’re leaving and you’re staying in there. Skip James plays piano on some tracks and guitar on others. This is weird for old blues guys because usually they do one thing or the other. This is a good album to listen to when you realise that your ‘dream’ is what’s actually been killing you. Unfortunately by that point your electricity’s run out so you can’t actually ‘listen’. Country-blues albums are great for that though because all you have to do is look at the song titles and you’re already singing your own country blues songs, in the dark! And once the power comes back on and you decide to record them you can’t because due to the power being restored you don’t feel so shitty anymore! This record’s incredible. It sounds like he’s done a lot of bad shit to people, and he knows it’s wrong, but what can he do? Soon I’ll be on a plane, so I can’t complain.
Went home for the weekend, so I actually watched some TV. While flipping by MuchMusic at about 2am Sunday morning I was treated first to Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’ (damn good) and then to a blast from the past: ‘Money Jane’, one of the songs on Toronto collective Baby Blue Soundcrew’s first (and only?) album, with equal collaboration from Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, and none other than Sean Paul. This one came out back in 2000 so I hadn’t heard of SP then, and his verses (while good) remain the least exciting part of the song for me. But Black’s chorus is a killer, Offishall is at least as good as he usually is, and Canadian TV played this so inncessantly back then that it at least _feels_ like a classic. Well worth a download.