BEHOLD THE ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS 2002
XMAS GUIDE TOP
HOW WE DID IT : SEB WOOd, Blacklisted Igor, Angus Anderson, Vsevolod and myself picked their two favourite albums released this year. I tried to order them nicely and we added one more.
The Kiss of Morning
He’s been freed of his chains and brilliantly goes on as an odd post brit pop shell shocked solo artist. His idiosyncratic musical identity is not connected with England at all but is deeply rooted in American folk / blues / country / rock / lo-fi / indie tradition. This one is the best of his four albums, immersed in a gloomy vision of solitude and hope. Now that he has become a frontman, I hope he won’t change.
/5 rue Christine/
Jamie Stewart is a goth diva and the bleeding heart under Xiu Xiu's screeching machines. The music is noisy, contemporary, driven by dance beats, bells, distorted keyboards and guitars. Stewart's singing is hauntingly gorgeous, spitting sadness in a trance-like state, singing about lost friends, disease and suicide with a painfully tight voice. If you're able to feel empathetic, listening to this album will be the most grueling, exhilarating and intense musical experience you'll go through this year. I haven't been brought down by an album that much since Lou Reed's Berlin.
in Communist Russia
In a top 10, you have to have new, exciting and relatively little-known groups. Oxford-based Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia released Indian Ink early this year and ‘kocker indie rockers’ living outside England heard about them thanks to their weird, funny and conspicuous name and to the significant advertising of Peel sessions. I listened a lot to these few songs when I received them and I still put the cd in my player from time to time, which means that I haven’t grown weary of it. And this is a prevailing fact when it comes down to making out your annual top 10 list in December’s cold light. The music is bleak, melancholy, sometimes austere. Appealing feminine spoken words deal with disillusion, disgust, despair and makes us wonder if we like to listen to strangers reading their diary which mostly recollects moments of shame and mistakes. « Indian Ink » is composed of two kinds of songs. Quiet ones give the impression that the music is trying to soothe this whispering voice scared by the threatening atmosphere of a bad memory. The other ones use these quiet passages to bring into relief white noise catharsis (three overdriven noisy guitars, a powerful bass, a noisy keyboard and these sharp urban drum machine sounds). For those who like Prolapse and My Bloody Valentine…
I almost forgot to include this
in the top.
I fall in and out of love too easily, and it's usually the source of many troubles, on my side or on the other's. I didn't like Neon Golden at first. I mean, I liked One Step Inside Doesn't Mean You Understand, One with the Freaks and Consequence but didn't enjoy it on the whole. At some point I fell in love with a gorgeous mysterious girl and every song suddenly made sense, the dark flower unfolded the softest voice singing words I could relate to.
thursday night, 8 pm, at E's. V is standing in the kitchen with a phone stuck on his ear. He has tried to call Lila three times in the past two hours.
V : "Pick up the phone"
Tom Waits had not released a totally convincing album since Raindogs (even though Mule Variations is far from being bad). In Alice he tells the story of an old man in love with the Alice from Alice in Wonderland. This depressing album is filled with gorgeous worn-out crooner songs and extatic jazz pieces. It's soft, warm, comfortable and terribly desperate. This is about growing old, this is about death and unrequited love.
It's a Miracle
Eventually they have come back, even if the album is not as depressed as Black Black and not as grungy as A Taste for Bitters, It’s a Miracle was worth the waiting. Their refined style of music stands out of the indie music stream I helplessly observe from afar. I am genuinely fond of their minor chords progressions and weird structures, the songs on It's a Miracle are enhanced with clever, soft arrangements. I must admit that Chokebore is one of the most inspiring band for me. Best concert of the year, twice actually.
guess everything has been said about Sonic Youth… They won’t do another Dirty
or Daydream nation but their last album is extremely good in a different
way. While song structure are still indicative of Sonic Youth’s trademark,
their fierce sound and dynamic riffs have given way to a complex network of
melodies. With Jim O’Rourke’s arrival on bass, there are three permanent
guitars now which interweaves continually to generate an incredible lush
interplay. Murray Street is the perfect sequel to 1998 A Thousand
Leaves (if we consider that NYC Ghosts and Flowers is somehow
unfinished). Murray Street is by far their best release this year since
their Fishtank effort (with The Ex and Dutch jazzmen whose name I have
already forgotten) consists of oblique free-jazz tracks while their
participation to the Demon Lover soundtrack (8 tracks) is mainly made of
ethereal ‘soundscapes’ aiming at creating various atmospheres for the film.
Turn on the Bright Lights
Talking of Interpol is weird. Because I've listened to them so much over the past year that I can't really judge this objectively. I guess it's ok. A lot of my indie friends who had heard the fukd id & self-released eps were disappointed by this album, mainly because of the absence of the gorgeous Precipitate and Song Seven. And Say Hello to the Angels is far from being a favourite around here. I have to say that, even if i am not totally objective about Interpol, I agree with this argument. The album could have been much better with Song Seven and Precipitate in the place of Say Hello to the Angels. Even if SHTTA grew on me, it still cannot compare with the two aforementioned jewels.
But. My friends are romantic: they tend to exaggerate disappointment. The album could have been better, no doubt about it, but it doesn't prevent it from being great. From the hypnotic Untitled to the stunning Leif Erikson, from the punk rock of Roland and the impressive Obstacle 2 to the hazy NYC, Interpol have released one of the most impressive collection of tight, haunted songs in 2002.
no one believed in a great breeders comeback except some die-hard Kim deal fan.
Today, everyone has to admit that Title TK is grandiose. All the songs
are good, be they full of energy (“Son of Three”, “Huffer”), brilliantly
laid-back (“Little Fury”, “The She”, “Too Alive”), sometimes
reminiscent of the previous albums (“London song”, “Son of Three”,
“Forced to Drive) or of The Amps (“Full on Idle” version is cleaner than
on Pacer), or beautiful and peaceful ballads (“Off You”, “Put on a
Slide”, “Sinister Foxx”). Steve Albini’s production suits these
mid-tempo songs to perfection (especially the drums sound). Title TK is
exclusively made of great songs
(contrary to the previous Breeders albums). None of the 12 tracks should be
|Girls vs. Boys
You Can't Fight What You Can't See
mother is cool but I wish she was a crypto-communist”.
week, SEB WOOd and I talked about our forthcoming 2002 top 10. We agreed that
the GIRLS Vs BOYS comeback album is our favourite release of the year. In my
opinion, if an album deserves 10/10, it is this one. There is no such
thing as a perfect album, you can always find flaws and even though this record
contains some, it remains awesome, sharing the spirit of the band’s best album
to date (House of GVSB). Sometimes, though you love an album, you can’t
keep yourself from concentrating on tiny things you would have liked to be
different. That’s why SEB WOOd let me write something about it: he can’t
keep himself from talking about derisory things (‘that 3’42 hi-hat sound’
for instance), he does not know to content himself with something great but
flawed. I wish my mother was cool. All of us whose mother is boring, incredibly
old-fashioned or simply dumb, would love her to be cool. Not like Fonzy but you
know, just nice and cool… SEB WOOd’s mother is cool but he wishes she was a
Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Sources, Tags and Codes
This album made this year a little disappointing : it was released in the first quarter of 2002 and it's awesome. We tried to find better albums than this one, we listened hard to a lot of things, we tried to believe the Queens of the Stone Age guys when they told us that Songs for the Deaf was the best Rock album of 2002, but really, nothing succeeded in beating this impressive Texan four-piece. Every song on the album impresses, the band sounds tighter and less raw than before, the lyrics are mature and elegant without sounding arty, the arrangements are perfectly balanced and never luxurious. The band succeeded in keeping the furious energy of their earlier recordings while polishing their sound and developing the melodic aspect of the compositions, intertwining guitars, making each song sound like a definite statement of their undeniable superiority.
Barbara H :
1. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Sources, Tags and Codes
2. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
3. Chokebore - It's a Miracle
4. Xiu Xiu - Knife Play
5. Tom Waits - Alice
6. Sage Francis - Personal Journals
7. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
8. The Notwist - Neon Golden
9. The Black Heart Procession - Amore del Tropico
10. Hot Hot Heat - Make Up the Breakdown
11. The Walkmen - Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone
12. Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
13. Buck 65 - Man Overboard
14. El-P - Fantastic Damage
15. Hayden - Skyscraper National Park
16. DJ Shadow - The Private Press
17. Múm - Finally We Are No One
18. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Yanqui U.X.O.
Angus Anderson :
This is my top 8 albums of the year. Not necessarily released during this particularly dull year, not politically coherent and not necessarily in that order but alphabetically listed. Some might say I have a tendency to start fires but all I know is that I am a lazybones.
_ Beatles – Anthology II ( Apple / timeless ) Simply because I am an absolute fan, I must include at least one Beatles’ album in this list but I could not choose one specific album so I picked up this delectable collection of demos, alternative takes, live performances and anecdotic stuff from Sgt Pepper to Let it Be. You can only appreciate if you’re a fan, I suppose.
_ Chokebore – It’s A Miracle ( Pale Blue / 2002 ) Eventually, they have come back, even if the album is not as depressed as Black Black and not as grungy as Taste for Bitters, It’s a Miracle was worth the waiting. Their refined style of music stands out of the indie music stream I helplessly observe from afar. I am genuinely fond of their minor chords progressions and weird structures, it's a miracle songs are enhanced with clever soft arrangements. I must admit that Chokebore is one of the most inspiring band for me. Best concert of the year, twice actually ( I know guys, I haven’t seen Guitar Wolf ).
_ Graham Coxon – The Kiss of Morning ( Transcopic / 2002 ) He’s been freed of his chains and brilliantly goes on as an odd post brit pop shell shocked solo artist. His idiosyncratic musical identity is not connected with England at all but is deeply rooted in American folk / blues / country / rock / lo-fi / indie tradition. This one is the best of his four albums, immersed in a gloomy vision of solitude and hope. Now that he has become a frontman, I hope he won’t change.
_ Destiny’s Child – Survivor ( Columbia / 2001 ) It may remain unexplained. I must thank the friend who offered it to me because I used to joke about it at first but this album grew on me month after month. Ok, Beyonce is hot and the music is basic r’n’b, but there is something in the voices of the trio that hits me on a gut level. Besides I must expose my difference in regard to my fellow companions' playlists.
_ Lauren Hoffman – From the Blue House ( Free Union Records / 1999 ) Lauren Hoffman’s second album is a sensitive exploration of the broken self, a sad broken-hearted self. She sums up her short life in refined, sometimes gloomy ballads, exposes herself, talks of the pain resulting of the death of her boyfriend ( the world famous Jeff B ) and above all she is a nice girl. Scarlet mouth and almond eyes. She has abandoned the music business after that album and entered university, the world is fucked up and we’re all gonna die.
_ Pavement – Crooked Rain Crooked Rain ( Domino Records / reissued 2002 ) Brilliant laid-back indie pop played by nonchalant young men. I could have chosen any other of their albums but this one is the last one I bought, and by the way it is a milestone in indie pop rock history. They split last year. Shit.
_ Sleater Kinney – One Beat ( Kill Rock Stars / 2002 ) I suppose we must call them riot girls, because there is always a riot going on somewhere. Two guitars and drums, this may sound familiar but yet the three of them paved their prolific discography with creativity and evolution. One Beat is a perfect sequel to a painful lo-fi bad trip : joyful, dark, refined, chill out, harsh.
_ System of a Down – System of a Down ( American Recordings / 1998 ) Just because this is another side of my listenings. I know that I am not the only non-metal fan who likes this one and this emphasize their achievement. SOAD proved that heavy music is not constricted into one single dropped D style when you’re innovative performers. I like Slipknot too, but you never think you know why.