Best New Stuff of the Year – with random comments
1. Proximo Estacion: Esperanza – Manu Chao. Some might dismiss this as a novelty record where silly sound affects, childlike voices and melodies intertwine in a multitude of dialects. But listen closer. The melodies have the irrepressible quality of nursery rhymes that you can’t get out of your head. There are some incredible horns floating faintly in the background. One song has a mother lovingly talking to her child in Spanish followed by a Latin radio announcer rolling his “Rs”. The songs all evoke strong images of the way we imagined the world as children. The album is also so playfully stupid, it’s hilarious.
2. Jimmy Eat World
3. Nickel Creek
4. All About Chemistry – Semisonic
5. Spirit of the Century – The Blind Boys of Alabama
6. Agaetis Byrjun – SigurRos
7. 100 Broken Windows – Idlewild
8. Josie and the Pussycats “I’m a punk-rock, punk queen, brown paper magazine, hotter than you ‘ve ever seen.. don’t you want to come inside…” Gotta love these lyrics-from the wonderful folks at Archie Comics.
9. Live in New York – Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band On my avorite Bruce Bootleg from 1977, the boys weren’t afraid to play anything even though hey didn’t have the chops. Well now they do. The HBO special has some transcendent i moments such as Nils, Steve and Bruce trading leads on Murder Incorporated or hen Bruce get so involved in a ballad that his eyes rolu up in his head. Only the Boss can get away with whipping up the crowd into a gospel revival frenzy as he takes ten minutes to introduce the band. But, heck, he is playing to the converted, and I’m a believer.
10.Gozo Poderoso – Aterciopelados
11. Arepa 3000 – Los Amigos Invisibles
12. Cuttin’ Heads – John Mellencamp
13. Goddess in the Doorway – Mick Jagger It got five stars in the Rolling Stone, yet allegedly sold less than a 1,000 copies during its first day of release in Britain. Of course, it is product and corporate rock. Still, I would rather hear Lenny Kravitz’ idea of what the Stones sound like than Keith Richards’ recycled riffs.
14. Is This It – The Strokes Sure they sound like The Velvet Underground and Television, but I hear the Feelies. Now weren’t they a great band.
15. American Hi-Fi
16. Deepcut to Nowhere – Graham Parker
Reissues, Complications Etc,
This is what made the year worthwhile.
Inspiration Information – Shuggie Otis
Liliput – Possibly the best female punk band ever.
Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond
Samba Soul 70!
Angel in the Dark – Laura Nyro
Can You Dig It? The 70 ‘s Soul Experience
Undewater Moonlight – The Soft Boys
The Sopranos, Peppers & Eggs
0 Brother, Where Art Thou
Action Packed: Best of the Capitol Years – Richard Thompson – Are you missing his critically acclaimed recent albums, and wondering whether this is your chance to catch up? Well, kind of. A lot of his best just isn’t that good. As for his “incredible” guitar playing, don’t get me started.
Lots of Buzz But Nothing Special
Love and Theft – Bob Dylan
Gold – Ryan Adams – Another soft country rocker who can play almost anything. Just what we need.
White Blood Cells – White Stripes – You can’t help but be impressed by their mastery of 60’s blues-based garage rock. His voice is perfect fragile, but to me its like listening to roots albums from Rounder Records. You never hear a hook that isn’t derivative.
Look into the Eyeball – David Byrne
Scar – Joe Henry – I want to like this album. Its film noir rock, and stylistically perfect. It’s like Tom Waits, but with a voice you can listen to. But unlike say Waits’ Heart of Saturday Night, the tunes don’t grow on you. There is no melody. I had the same problem with Dylan’s Time Out of Mind. After a while, it just drones.
Avalanche. A few songs come close to merging techo, sampling and some Firesign
Theater humor. Could be one to watch.
The Next Next Thing
Imagine there is a conveyor belt outside your door, and you can grab your favorite album
as it comes rolling by. It’s free and no one is watching. Napster and now Morpheus are
that conveyor belt. I have never bought a pirated videotape or CD on the streets of New
York. But I have used Napster. How do I resolve the hypocrisy? The record companies
better get realistic. Record stores and even music stores online are on their last legs. I
want to pay a monthly fee to download a set number of songs. I also want to deal with
one service that offers songs from numerous labels – and doesn’t charge me $15 to
download a CD. . If these changes don’t happen, I will revert to my life of crime.