Aquarius Records : Customer Favorites 2002

(see the AQ staff favorites of 2002, 2001, and 2000)

Once again we are proud to present year-end favorites list from some of our fellow music-obsessing customers... and can we just say we LOVE reading these lists. The care that goes into them, especially from the folks who filled us in on the whys and hows of how they came to love these records. Ah, you guys are great.

From: Andy Larsen

AJL's Top Ten Albums Of 2002:

10. Oxbow- An Evil Heat
9. Tin Hat Trio- The Rodeo Eroded
8. Tom Waits- Alice
7. Certainly, Sir- Mugic
6. Sixteen Horsepower- Folklore
5. Richard Buckner- Impasse
4. Isis- Oceanic
3. Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
2. Woven Hand (s/t)
1. Archer Prewitt- Three

The Rest Of The Best (In the order I had them ranked):

11. Anaal Nathrakh- The Codex Necro
12. Queens Of The Stone Age- Songs For The Deaf
13. Mclusky- Mclusky Do Dallas
14. Bellini- Snowing Sun
15. Eyvind Kang- Live Low To The Earth, In The Iron Age
16. David Bowie- Heathen
17. Tom Waits- Blood Money
18. Antibalas- Talkatif
19. Melvins- Hostile Ambient Takeover
20. Los Lobos- Good Morning AztlŠn
21. Interpol- Turn On The Bright Lights
22. Black Heart Procession- Amore Del Tropico
23. Dave Douglas- The Infinite
24. Iron Maiden- Rock In Rio
25. Blue Bob (s/t)

From: Brian Turner, WFMU

Noxagt - Live KFJC 7" (Norway Rat)
Laura Cantrell - When the Roses Bloom Again (Diesel Only)
Burning Star Core - Brighter Summer Day (Thin Wrist)
Hot Snakes - Suicide Invoice (Swami)
Deerhoof - C 7" (Cool Beans)/Reveille (KRS) + Live
Beta-Lactam Ring 10"s: Aranos/Miroslaw Rajkowski/Charalambides etc.
ESG - Step Off (Soul Jazz) + Live
Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights (Matador)
Burmese - Treaties of Greed & Filth 7" (Scenester Cred)
Joan of Ass - 10" (555)
Richard Devine - Aleamapper (Schematic)
Knead - s/t (PSF)
Jay Munly - Jimmy Carter Syndrome (Smooch)
Rene Lacaille & Bob Brozman / Digdig (Riverboat)
Sunn O))) - Flight of the Behemoth (Southern Lord)

From: a n g i e c o o k -- r e k l u s . c o m

2002 Top Ten

1. Doug Martsch - "Now You Know"
2. The Flaming Lips - "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots"
3. Queens Of The Stone Age - "Songs for the Deaf"
4. Beck - "Sea Change"
5. Neko Case - "Blacklisted"
6. The Mountain Goats - "Tallahassee"
7. Kelly Willis - "Easy"
8. Sigur Ros - ST
9. Sleater-Kinney - "One Beat"
10. Spoon - "Kill The Moonlight"

From: Ryan Shaw

In alphabetical order:

* Coa, Sea Urchin Character.
* Deerhoof, Reveille.
* Dry & Heavy, Dub Creation.
* Merzbow, Merzbeat.
* Sonic Youth, Murray Street.
* Spoon, Kill The Moonlight.
* The Books, Thought For Food.
* The Cinematic Orchestra, Every Day.
* The Roots, Phrenology.
* Woven Hand, self-titled.

List with MP3s at:

From: Ben, Amoeba Music Employee, Aquarius Customer

El-P - Fantastic Damage
The Good Life - Black Out
The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up - Homemade Drugs
Larsen - Rever
Low - Trust
Nico - Desertshore (LP reissue)
Tujiko Noriko - Make Me Hard
Pretty Girls Make Graves - Good Health
Venetian Snares - the 3 albums on Planet Mu and the 3" box thing on Hymen

From: JS (Jim) Adams

2002 LISTING...

AUDIO [with some fudging]

* Festival Sampler 2002 (K-raak-k3 CD / Belgium) ... including Main, WIO, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Ekkehard Ehlers, and Toss
* Rothko "Red Cells" (Too Pure 7-inch single / UK) // Wish for a world without hurt [forthcoming] (Nail Records 12-inch / Italy)
* William Basinski The Disintegration Loops (2026 CD / USA)
* Sounds of The Lid Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid (Kranky 2CD / USA) // Avec Laudenum [reissue] (Kranky CD)
* Yellow 6 / Rothko / Landing New Found Land (Music Fellowship split CD / USA)
* Phillip Jeck Stoke (Touch CD / UK)
* Janek Schaefer Le Petit Theatre de Mercelis (Audiosphere CD / Belgium)
* Wire Read & Burn 002 // Read & Burn 001 (Pink Flag CD / UK)
* Christian Fennesz "A Name with No Horse" from The Kingdoms of Elgaland - Vargaland 1992-2002 (Ash International 2CD / UK)
* Andreas Karperyd "Costumers Prospects Partners and Competitors" from The Kingdoms of Elgaland - Vargaland 1992-2002 (Ash International 2CD / UK)
*acetate zero _ground altitude_ (cd arbouse recordings, france)

LIVE [missed opportunities ... Goodiepal @ Galaxy Hut // Fugazi's annual Ft. Reno Park free performance ... damn travel!]

* Richard Chartier / Sonic Circuits festival @ The Kennedy Center - Millennium Stage [WDC]
* DJTrio [Christian Marclay, Toshio Kajiwara, and DJ Olive] @ The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden - Ring Theater [WDC]
* Delicate Awol @ Galaxy Hut [Arlington VA]
* BLK w/ BEAR @ Art-O-Matic 2002 [WDC] .. just for that really cool Aquarius Records t-shirt!!


* Zero To Infinity: Arte Povera 1962-1972 @ The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden [WDC]
* H.C. Westermann @ The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden [WDC]
* Metropolis in the Machine Age @ The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden [WDC]

From: Rae Donaldson

As always the year was full of fine things to hear if your ears were tilted in the right directions. In a UK context this meant steering well clear of the increasingly moribund agendas of our mainstream music press. You've asked for customer top tens but I'm going to follow your own example and add a load of other titles that gave me pleasure during the year.

Top Ten

Oddfellows Casino-"Yellowbellied Wonderland"(Pickled Egg)
David Kilgour-"A Feather In The Engine"
Pedro The Lion-"Control"
Brother JT3-"Spirituals"
Robert Plant-"Dreamland"
The Soft Boys-"Nextdoorland"
Iron And Wine-"The Creek Drank The Cradle"
Laura Nyro-"The Loom's Desire"
Doug Martsch-"Now You Know"
Julie Murphy-"Lilac Tree"(Beautiful Jo Records)

....................And now the rest, in no particular order and making no distinction between new albums and reissues.

Motorpsycho-"It's A Love Cult"
Wipers-"3 Cd Box Set"
Beck-"Sea Change"
Nina Nastasia's-"The Blackened Sky"
David Holmes-"Come Get It I Got It"
Michael Gira/Dan Matz-"What We Did"
Jesse Sykes And The Sweet Hereafter-"Reckless Burning"
Davis Redford Triad-"The Mystical Path Of The Number Eighty Six"
Patrick Porter-"Reverb Saved My Life"
Tara Jane O'Neill-"Tko"
The Bruces-"The War Of The Bruces"
Richard Buckner-"Impasse"
Rocket From The Tombs-"The Day The Earth Met...................."
Kemialliset Ystavat-"Kellari Juniversumi"
John Vanderslice-"Life And Death Of An American Fourtracker"
Golden Hotel-"The Silver Wilderness"
Sleater-Kinney-"One Beat"
"Kes"-Original Soundtrack composed by John Cameron
Kevin Ayers-"Still life With Guitar"
Tony Caro And John-"All On The First Day"
Jonathan Coleclough-"Period"
Boom Bip-"Seed To Sun"
Love-"Four Sail"
Phill Niblock-"G2, 44+1 times 2"
Damon And Naomi W/ Michio Kurihara-"Song To The Siren"
Gary Wilson-"You Think You Really Know Me"
Philip Jeck-"Stoke"
Cynthia Dall-"Sound Restores Young Men"
Doleful Lions-"Out Like A Lamb"
Woven Hand-"S/T"

From: Robert Nedelkoff

Each year I'm one of about 1300 "rock critics" asked to vote on the best records of the preceding 12 months for the Village Voice's "Pazz & Jop" poll. This was the ballad I turned in for 2002.

1. Derek Bailey: Ballads (Tzadik)
2. Cynthia Dall: Sound Restores Young Men (Drag City)
3: David Grubbs: Rickets & Scurvy (Drag City)
4. Dennis James: Cristal (Sony Classical)
5. Pulp: We Love Life (Sanctuary)
6. Jim Roll: Inhabiting The Ball (Telegraph)
7. Smog: Accumulation:None (Drag City)
8. Ian Whitcomb: The Cat's Meow (RCA/BMG)
9. Workshop: Es liebt Dich und Deine Korperlichkeit ein Ausgeflippter (Blue Chopsticks)
10. Yo La Tengo: Nuclear War (Matador)

From: Gary Simmons

Since you asked for a list, I'll give you a list. Here are my personal 20 favorites for the year 2003.

Tom Waits - Alice
Jonathan Coleclough - Period
Mirror - Solaris
Loren Chasse - Fantasy Apparition
Shuttle 358 - Understanding Wildlife
Thuja - Ghosts Plants
Loren Chasse - Hedge Of Nerves
Taylor Deupree - Stil.
Keith Fullerton Whitman - Playthroughs
a-ha - Lifelines
Biosphere - Shenzhou
Thomas Koner - Daikan
Muslimgauze - Dar Es Salaam
Thomas Jirku - Entropy
Paul Schütze - Writing On Water
Christopher Willits - Folding, And The Tea
Chartier / Gunter / Roden - For Morton Feldman
Sogar - Stengel
Hazard - Land
Thuja - Hills

From: Chris Lowe

1. Iron & Wine -- the Creek Drank the Cradle
2. Neko Case -- Blacklisted
3. Sleater-Kinney -- One Beat
4. Chain Fights, Beer Busts & Service With a Grin:
The Best of Scharpling & Wurster on the Best Show on WFMU
5. El-P -- Fantastic Damage
6. RJD2 -- Deadringer
7. Beck -- Sea Change
8. Out Hud -- S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D.
9. Blackalicious -- Blazing Arrow
10. Boards of Canada -- Geogaddi

From: Dan Johansson (Sewer records, Sewer Election)

top 10 of 2002 in no particular order---

Prurient - The History Of Aids cd (Hospital Productions/Armageddon)
Christine 23 Onna - Acid eater cd (Midi Creative)
Afflux - St.Martin-sur-mer, Aizier, Dieppe cd (Edition)
Fly Pan Am - ceux qui inventent n'ont... cd (Constellation)
Black Sand Desert - Concavity 3"cdr (Chondritic Sound)
Seamonster1 - :eplektriknastr 12"(Amphibient broadcasting)
Pedestrian Deposit - Anatomy Scum-drum 3"cdr (Monorailtrespassing)
John Weise/Guilty Connector Lp (Ataxie Disques)
Government Alpha - Arial Patrol 3"cdr (Sewer Records)
Mum - Finally we are no one cd

From: Todd Pontius

20 FAVORITE RELEASES OF 2002 (in no particular order)

Davis Redford Triad - The Mystical Path Of The Number Eighty Six CD (Holy Mountain, reissue)
Eyvind Kang - Live Low to the Earth, in the Iron Age CD (Abduction)
Various - the Silk Road: A Musical Caravan 2 X CD (Smithsonian/Folkways)
Orchestra Baobab - Pirate's Choice 2 X CD (Nonesuch, reissue)
Six Organs of Admittance - You Can Always See the Sun CD EP (3 Lobed)
Modulo 1000 - Nao Fale Com Paredes LP (World of Sound, reissue)
Low/Vibracathedral Orchestra split 7" (Misplaced Music)
Various - Disco Not Disco 2 CD (Strut, reissue)
HNAS - Im Schatten der Mohre CD (Streamline, reissue)
Antipop Consortium - Arrhythmia CD (Warp)
Erase Errata/Numbers 3" CD (Tigerbeat 6)
Various - Best Bootlegs in the World CD (No Label)
Wolf Eyes - Dread CD (Hansen, reissue)
Mamar Kassey - Alatoumi CD (World Village)
Devendra Banhart - Oh Me Oh My CD (Young God)
Various - Schwartzenegger Calls mp3s (online somewheres)
Comets on Fire - Field Recordings from the Sun CD (BaDaBing!)
Six Organs of Admittance/Charalambides split 12" (Time Lag)
Isis - Oceanic CD (Ipecac)
OutHud - S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. CD (Kranky)


1. Charalambides (the Basement, Durham NC)
2. Des Ark/Work Clothes (the Basement, Durham NC)
3. Cherry Valence (Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC)
4. Rah Brahs/the Locust/Lightning Bolt package tour (GO! Studios, Carrboro NC)
5. Shallow Be Thy Name (GO! Studios, Carrboro NC)
6. Mum (Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC)
7. Need New Body (somebody's basement in Raleigh, NC)
8. Extreme Animals (Mallette Street, Chapel Hill RIP)
9. High on Fire (Kings, Raleigh)


1. Punch Drunk Love
2. Dog Town and Z-Boys
3. Spirited Away
4. Italian for Beginners
5. 8 Mile
6. Secretary
7. Spiderman
8. Mulholland Drive (!!??)


Olive Herb Bread, Lemon Garlic Tofu, Nayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lettuce, tomato, thinly sliced white cheddar. Now that's first class lunchin, and that's some fly shit.

From: Mike Woodring

Not in any order

Norscq "Lavatron.X"
The Necks "Athenaeum, Homebush, Quay & Raab"
"Donnie Darko" soundtrack
Sand "Still Born Alive"
The Notwist "Neon Golden"
Sinister Luck Ensemble "Anniversary"
Jonathan Coleclough "Period"
Logh "Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings"
Johann Johannsson "Englaborn"
Bohren & Der Club of Gore "Black Earth"

From: Bartosz Petryk from Stockholm, Sweden

2003 favourite records list:

1. Julie Doiron "Will you still love me?" reissue

The rest in a shared 2nd place:

Loren Chasse "Hedge of Nerves"
Circle "Sunrise"
The Hototogisu "Floating Japanese Oof! Gardens Of the 21st Century"
Philip Jeck "Stoke"
Low - "Trust"
Sagor & Swing "Melodier och fĆglar"
Steven R. Smith "Kohl"
Thuja "Ghost Plants", "Hills" & "Suns"
Wilco "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"

AQ 'I have no idea what's happening in my neighbour country Finland' tip of the year:

Kemialliset Ystavat and the Fonal & Lal Lal Lal labels

'Sound clips only' favourites:

Nagisa Ni Te reissues on Jagjaguwar
Fursaxa "s/t"
Golden Hotel "The Silver Wilderness"
The Tumult 'end of the year' releases
Vincent Gallo records

Other format honourable mention:

Lightning Bolt "the Power of Salad & Milkshakes" DVD (Was it released2002? I saw it 2002...)

From: Eric Heiman of VOLUME {design} inc.

Here's my list:

1. Wilco--Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2. Clinic--Walking With Thee
3. Bright Eyes--Lifted, or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
4. The Flaming Lips--Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
5. Hives--Veni,Vidi, Vicious
6. Beck--Sea Change
7. Radio 4--Gotham!
8. Neko Case--Blacklisted
9. DJ Shadow--The Private Press
10. The Roots--Phrenology

Bonus Number 11 (tie) (The "old favorites are still crankin" entry):

Elvis Costello--When I Was Cruel
Tom Waits--Blood Money & Alice

The next 10:

11. Super Furry Animals--Rings Around the World
12. Elf Power--Creatures
13. Interpol--Turn on the Bright Lights
14. Coldplay--A Rush of Blood to the Head
15. Lovage--Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By
16. Royksopp--Melody A.M.
17. Chemical Brothers--Come With Us
18. Barry Adamson--The King of Nothing Hill & Motorlab #39 (with Pan Sonic)
19. Sixteen Horsepower--Folklore & Woven Hand
20. Eels--Souljacker

The Bonus "wow, I was really surprised I liked this" Number 21:

Sleater Kinney--One Beat

The Bonus "shit, I forgot one somewhere in the range of 12 to 15" selection:

The Streets--Original Pirate Material

From: Gage Kenady


ETIENNE CHARRY / Aube Radieuse Serpents En Flammes
DNTEL / Life Is Full Of Possibilities
THE NOTWIST / Neon Golden
KID GALAHAD / Gold Dust Noise
SPOON / Kill The Moonlight
NETTLE / Build A Fort, Set That On Fire
BEACHWOOD SPARKS / Make The Cowboy Robots Cry
GOMEZ / In Our Gun
VOLCANO THE BEAR / Guess The Birds
ALFIE / A Word In Your Ear
AVEY TARE, PANDA BEAR & THE GEOLOGIST / Hollinndagain Live 2001
RJD2 / Deadringer
BOOM BIP / Seed To Sun
THE STREETS / Original Pirate Material

and other delights:

ARNOLD / Arnold (EP)
INTERPOL / Turn On The Bright Lights
THE FLAMING LIPS / Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
BECK / Sea Change
SIMIAN / We Are Your Friends
CLINIC / Walking With Thee
LOS SUPER ELEGANTES / Channelizing Paradise
THE SUPERNATURALS / What We Did Last Summer
AMON TOBIN / Out >From Out Where
JOSHUA / Gold Cosmos
RASPUTINA / Cabin Fever!
TALL DWARFS / The Sky Above, The Mud Below
BELLE & SEBASTIAN / Storytelling
GUITAR / Sunkissed
MICHAEL NACE / The Voyage Out
THE POLYPHONIC SPREE / The Beginning Stages Of...
LAWRENCE / Lawrence
THE WALKMEN / Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
LONE PIGEON / Concubine Rice
BRIGHT EYES / Lifted...
COTTON MATHER / The Big Picture
DAVID GRUBBS / Rickets & Scurvy
WILCO / Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

also: the "B" sides of SIMIAN's Mr. Crow are some of the best songs of the year.

BEST LIVE SHOW: U.S. Maple at Hemlock Tavern

From: Dan Schaaf

1 burning brides "fall of the plastic empire" (v2)
2 the warlocks "phoenix album" (birdman)
3 flaming lips "yoshimi battles the pink robots" (wb)
4 superdrag "last call for vitriol" (areana rock)
5 mclusky "mclusky do dallas" (too pure)
6 radar bros. "Surrounding Mountains" (merge)
7 california soul (ubiquity)
8 dj shadow "private press" (mca)
9 rocket from the crypt "live from camp x-ray" (vagrant)
10 skate rock reissues (alternative tentacles)


the anniverary "your majesty" (vagrant)
the donnas "spend the night" (atlantic)
flamming lips reissues (restless)
mudhoney "since we've become translucent" (subpop)
the reigning sound "time bomb high school" (in the red)
the exploding hearts "guitar romantic" (screaming apple)
the standard "august" (touch and go)

From: Elizabeth Kairys

Devendra Banhart - Oh Me Oh My ...
Doug Martsch - Now You Know
Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights
Neko Case - Blacklisted
Beck - Sea Change
V/A - Tribute to Kris Kristofferson - Nothing Left to Lose
Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Amon Tobin - Out from the Out Where
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Radar Bros - And the Surrounding Mountains

From: Debra Zeller

01. Thee More Shallows "A History of Sport Fishing"
02. Iron and Wine "The Creek Drank the Cradle"
03. Knife in the Water "Crossfire Bells"
04. The Notwist "Neon Golden"
05. Ugly Casanova "Sharpen Your Teeth"
06. Nate Denver's Neck "You Will Die Behind These Walls"
07. Mum "Finally We Are No One"
08. Radar Bros. "And The Surrounding Moutains"
09. Yo La Tengo "The Sounds of the Sounds of Science"
10. Dalek "From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots"

From: David Graham

1. isis - oceanic
2. radar bros. - and the surrounding mountains
3. knut - challenger
4. hrsta - l'eclat du ciel etait insoutenable
5. low - trust

From: William Tiller

William Tiller hear, checking in from the rural reaches of South Carolina (please don't hold Strom Thurmond against me).

Best New Records

1. No Neck Blues Band Re: Mr. A Fan Live in Detroit
2. Jackie O MF Change
3. Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
4. Sonic Youth Murray Street
5. Guided by Voices Universal Truths & Cycles
6. Black Dice Lost Valley 3" cd
7. Richard Buckner Impasse
8. Tom Waits Alice
9. Jackie O MF/Vibracathedral Orch. Split 12"
10. Matt Valentine Space Chanteys

Best Reissues

1. Don Cherry Orient
2. Pavement Slanted & Enchanted
3. Organum Sphyx
4. Henry Flynt Backporch Hillbilly Blues 1 & 2
5. The Dillards Wheatstraw Suite; Copperfields

Biggest Disappointments

1. Black Dice Beaches & Canyons
2. The Breeders Title TK
3. Steve Earle Jerusalem

You guys RULE. Getting up on every other Saturday morning to read your latest update is a highlight of my existence!

From: charles wyatt (aka charles atlas)

town & country - c'mon
mick turner - moth
squarepusher - do you know
sierpinski - this geography of ours
casino vs japan - whole numbers play the basics
kawabata makoto - infinit love
david grubbs - ricket & scurvy
wilco - yankee hotel foxtrot
beth gibbons & rustin man - out of season
the flaming lips - yoshimi battles the pink robots

stendec (7") - auchinek (static caravan)

reissue - the replacements - STINK

From: RepliConan

top 10 records (not in any order):

1.Hot Snakes-Suicide Invoice
2.Fugazi-The Argument
3.Babyland-2002 ep
4.Sonic Youth-Murray Street
5.pAperchAse-Hide the Kitchen Knives
6.The Mass ep
7.Melvins-Hostile Ambient Takeover
8.Last of the Juanitas-Time's Up
9.Steelpole Bathtub-Unlistenable
10.Hayden-skyscraper national park

From: Josh Herr

here are my picks for 2002 -- in no particular order...


Philip Jeck - Stoke (Touch)
Sonic Youth - Murray Street (Geffen)
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi (Warp)
DJ/Rupture - Minesweeper Suite (Tigerbeat 6)
Ekkehard Ehlers - Plays (Staubgold)
Derek Bailey - Ballads (Tzadik)
Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebzeit - Secret Rhythms (Nonplace)
Cinematic Orchestra - Everyday (Ninja Tune)
Wilco - Yankee Foxtrot Hotel (Nonesuch)
Boom Bip - Seed to Sun (Lex)
El-P - Fantastic Damage (Def Jux)
William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops (2062)
Susie Ibarra Trio - Songbird Suite (Tzadik)
Major Stars - Distant Effects (Squealer)
Roots - Phrenology (MCA)


Circle - Raunio (Squealer)
Yabby You - Dub it to the top 1976-1979 (Blood and Fire)
Sun Ra and His Arkestra - Music for Tomorrow's World (Unheard Music Series/Atavistic)
Joe McPhee Quartet - Underground Railroad (Unheard Music Series/Atavistic)
Taj Mahal Travellers - July 15th, 1972 (Showboat)

I also just wanted to say that I just got the newest issue of the Wire (jan 2003) and I was pleased to read in Jim's notes from the year that his unfortunate gall bladder problems (sorry...) were helped by employee insurance from Aquarius. I just want to say that I think you are a great group of people and hearing this is such a nice divergence from the current bang bang shoot 'em up we get from all sides from the bush dictatorship to corporate joes; more health/music, less bombs...

From: Nathan Barnes

in no order

1.sonic youth-murray street
3.sissy spacek-scissors lp make say think-&yet &yet &yet
5.blackalicious-blazing arrow
6.boris-heavy rocks
7.polyphonic spree-the beginning stages of
9.boards of canada-geogaddi
10.flaming lips-yoshimi battles the pink robots

From: Jordan C. Perry

Jordan C. Perry's 2003 Dream Girl would have liked these albums as much as he did in 2002:

Lucifer Rising soundtrack by Bobby Beausoleil
Sea Change by Beck
Revolution of the Mind by James Brown
and "It's in Our Hands" by Bjork

Jordan C. Perry's 2003 Dream Guy would have liked these albums as much as he did in 2002:

Season of Glass by Yoko Ono
(most of) Justified by Justin Timberlake
American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash
and Gandalf by, yes, Gandalf

And be it Guy or Girl, he/she would know that no movie this year came even close to the perfection of last year's "In the Mood for Love."

From: Dan Buskirk

I'm getting married this year. Records from your store will be played.

Lots of really good records this year for me; few lousy, few great. This is also the year I stopped working in record stores and actually had to do some work to find out what was going on with music.

Ten '02 LPs

*Devedra Banhart - Oh Me Oh My... (Young God)
*Bright Eyes - Lifted (Saddle Creek)
*Philip Jeck - Stoke (Touch)
*Little Wings - Wonderue (K)
*Low - Trust (Kranky)
*Mirah - Advisory Committee (K)
*The Notwist - Neon Golden (City Slang)
*Six Organs Of Admittance - Dark Noontide (Holy Mountain)
*Songs: Ohia - Didn't It Rain (Secretly Canadian)
*Youngsbower - Relayer (VHF)

next ten...

*Antipop Consortium - Arrhythmia (Warp)
*Jessica Baliff - s/t (Kranky)
*Boom Bip - Seed To Sun (Lex)
*Loren Connors - Departing Of A Dream (Family Vineyard)
*Electralane - Rock It To The Moon (Mr. Lady)
*Fontanelle - Style Drift (Kranky)
*Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man (Go Beat)
*Steven R. Smith - Linements (Emporer Jones)
*Thuja - Suns (Emperor Jones)
*Various Artists - Painted Black (Tumult)

Ten '02 Singles

*Breeders - Off You (4AD)
*DJ Shadow - Six Days (MCA)
*Koop - Waltz For Koop (Jazznova)
*Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot - Work It (Elektra)
*Mum - Green Grass Of Tunnel (Fat Cat)
*Nelly - Hot In Herre (Universal)
*LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge (DFA)
*LCD Soundsystem - Give It Up (DFA)
*The Rapture - House Of Jealous Lovers (DFA)
(it's embarrasing, but all these DFA singles are so good)
*Q And Not You - Soft Pyramids (Dischord)

Ten '02 Reissues

*Segun Bucknor - Poor Man Get No Brother: Assembly & Revolution 1965-'75 (Afrostrut)
*Gary Wilson - You Think You Really Know Me (Motel)
*Don Cherry - Orient (Fruit Tree)
*Sonny & Linda Sharrock - Paradise (Water)
*Earth - Extra-Capsular Extraction (Sub Pop)
*Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra - Strange Strings (Saturn)
*Laddio Bolocko - The Life & Times Of (No Quarter)
*Various Artists - In The Beginning There Was Rhythm (Soul Jazz)
*Can't Stop It!: Australian Post-Punk 1978-82 (Chapter)
*John Coltrane - A Love Supreme:Deluxe Edition (Impulse/Universal)

Ten E.P.s by 12 Groups

*Cerberus Shoal/Herman Dune - The Hows and Whys Of... (North East Indie)
*My Morning Jacket/Songs:Ohia (Jade Tree)
*My Morning Jacket - Chocolate & Ice (Badman)
geez, My Morning Jacket could have had a great follow-up to "At Dawn", but squandered it over two e.p.s; great listening anyway
*The Walkmen/Calla (Troubleman Unlimited)
*Kid 606 - Why I Love Life (Tigerbeat 6)
*Kid 606 VS. Dalek - Ruin It (Tigerbeat 6)
*Erase Errata/Numbers (Tigerbeat 6)
*I Am Spoonbender - Shown Actual Size (Gold Standard Laboratories)
*The Walkie-Talkies - s/t (self-released CD-R)
Classic Philly lo-fi electro-skonk from the legendary live act; the soundtrack of this city in '02; in '03 they have something coming out on Kathleen Hanna's Mr. Lady label

From: Russell Blank

Show: "Sampling" by Christian Marclay at the SFMoMA
Movie: "Y Tu Mama Tambien"
Rep house movie: "Battle Royal" at PFA
Documentary: "The Kid Stays In The Picture"
DVD release: The "Zatoichi" series (volumes 1-5)
Food discovery: Superstar Noodles at Burma Superstar (4th and Clement)
Magazine article: "The Trenchcoat Robbers" by Alex Kotlowitz from The New Yorker
Radio: "Action! Action! Action!" by Starlee Kine on This American Life
Book: "The Book Of Illusions" by Paul Auster
Back in print: "Little Tales of Misogyny" by Patricia Highsmith
Vinyl reissue: Pete La Roca's "Turkish Women At The Bath"
Reissued song: "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" by Jimmy Scott from Falling In Love Is Wonderful
Cover song: "Kalakuta Show" by MixMaster Mike & Blackalicious from Red, Hot, & Riot
Song: "Lose Yourself" by Eminem

* Biggest Disappointment: The disappearance of the bacon-wrapped hot dog vender on Mission Street.

From: Bryan Magers

Actually, it's a top seven list. Cranky about music last year.

1. Clinic - Walking With Thee
2. Tom Waits - Blood Money
3. Moby - 18
4. Pia Fraus - In Solarium
5. Richard Buckner - Impasse
6. Azure Ray - Burn and Shiver
7. Hot Club of Cowtown - Ghost Train

From: Roger Rohrbach

Dear Aquarius,

Here is my obsessively discursive 2002 musical highlights list.

Musical Travels 2002

I was based in Brussels and traveling a lot during the year. My musical environment was more varied than in recent years, and although I bought some great records, some of the best moments came from other listening experiences:


Listening to Radiocampus Bruxelles, the station of the Free University of Brussels ( Falling for old flames (Leonard Cohen) again for new reasons ("Master Song"), hearing old and new stuff from Germany and France I'd otherwise have missed, sending gleeful instant messages back and forth with a friend who was streaming it at home in NYC whenever something really whacked came on. Some favorites:

Red, "Dyin' in the Vine" (from Felk). "Outsider blues" recorded on a home computer with the kids playing underfoot.

Bambi Synapse, "Lotus" (from Weather Forecast). Steve Reich-influenced ecstatica from Japan.

Robert Lippok, "Close" (from Open Close Open). Like having Tantric sex to (with?) Mahler's 5th.

Pulp, "Roadkill" (from We Love Life). Desolate.

Clarika - "Les Garćons dan les Vestiares" (from La Femme Tu Sais). Bubblegum addressing the topic of "les plaisirs solitaire." Only the French...

Discovering the music of Toru Takemitsu. His complete piano works fit on one CD and extend Debussy in a direction Messiaen didn't take. His complete guitar music also fits on one CD, and includes four Beatles transcriptions. Quotation of Dream "samples" Debussy's La Mer and makes for good back-to-back play with Biosphere's "Shenzhou."

Seeing the Dalton Drum Syndicate at Arts-ô-Base. I'd not have thought listening to four drummers play their kits at one time could be a compelling experience. 'Twas. (

Dead Man Ray at La Botanique. Fresh from recording an album with Steve Albini (featuring Ken Nordine of Word Jazz fame), this outfit, descended from deUS, makes a uniquely Belgian flavor of post-rock, seasoned with the uniquely Belgian Sherman filterbank. (


Buying That's What I Call Sweet Music, compiled from R. Crumb's collection of 78 rpms, at a bookstore in Piccadilly. Slipping the headphones on my girlfriend's ears while she napped in our hotel room and playing "Sing Song Girl."

San Francisco

Sonic Youth at the Fillmore, especially "Rain on Tin."


Encountering Steve Albini at the first annual Tape Op conference. He's not nearly as ferocious as I imagined him--though he did bite my head off for questioning his dogma.

New York

Picking up the Cold Blue sampler at Other Music. Discovering that Cold Blue is back in business ( Jim Fox's Last Things has also been in constant rotation.

Reading Bjork's comments on how Peter Baumann's Romance '76 changed her life in MOJO, then finding the LP at Academy Records in the East Village for $16. ("MOJO article?" the guy who sold it to me asked politely.)

The Walkmen at the Bowery Ballroom. "That's the Punch Line," from Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone, was one of my favorite songs this year.

Hearing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ("Bang") and The Moldy Peaches ("Anyone Else But You").


Walking into a Japanese boutique in the Barri Gėtic, hearing what sounded like Chet Baker-from-Mars, and, upon inquiring who it was, being told "Vincent Gallo." I ran out and bought When, which I'd snubbed before because of Mr. Gallo's annoying personality. Just goes to show the art transcends the artist.

Laura Kavanaugh and Ian Birse at the LEM Festival: live electro-acoustics accompanied by real-time manipulations of video they shot flying over Mallorca at sunrise. The pictures were better music than the sounds.


Borrowing Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music from a friend and playing the 2nd disc, "Reggae Hit the Town" continuously.


Hearing Elvis Costello's "When I Was Cruel Pt. 2" on Delta flight 140. The album turns out to be surprisingly good, too.


Finding "Freedom Jazz Dance" by Keith Emerson, Mitch Mitchell et al. on Kazaa. Also revisiting '70s Top 40 singles to study their very inventive production. "That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be" by Carly Simon is The Ice Storm of pop. Other pleasant sur-/re-prises: "Spill the Wine" by War & Eric Burdon; "Montego Bay" by Bobby Bloom (I think that's a tuba playing the bass line); "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain") by Melanie; "Draggin' the Line" by Tommy James.

And of course, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, my Album of the Year.

From: Brent Burton

(published in Washington City Paper)

Heavy Lifting

Despite Ozzy's strange ascension to water-cooler topic, 2002 found metal still plenty sneered at by the musical establishment. No big shock there. The eye-opener of the year? Turning on the tube and seeing guitar acts--read: the White Stripes and the Strokes--pulling patented indie-rock maneuvers in front of huge audiences. It took about a decade, but, yeah, the underground alternative to grunge (remember that?) finally assumed its place in the mainstream. Even indie icon Pavement, which was once about as ?nventive and clever as semipopular rock got, was treated to an archival double-disc reissue--treatment usually reserved for long-gone acts from the LP era.

This revolution or institutionalization or whatever you want to call it coincided with my personal search for guitar-based idiosyncrasies outside the indie/punk community. Because if one thing was clear about the music scene this past year, it was this: Outsider rock moved further outside. Never before have I listened to, and enjoyed, more heavy stuff--so much so that my girlfriend recently instituted a "no-double-bass-drum" policy whenever she's within hearing range of the stereo. As far as 2002 goes, these metallic offerings provided the year's only reminders of what "indie" really means to me:

1. Sons of Northern Darkness, Immortal
File under classic: Ten months after its release, this sublime merger of thrash and black metal still lives in the CD player. And in a year when Lord of the Rings raked in millions and W. spieled about the Axis of Evil, the arctic-kingdoms-and-frost-demon lyrics make about as much sense as anything.

2. Remission, Mastodon
The only thing more insane than the vocalist-bassist's facial hair is the band's shape-shifting machinery of riffage and polyrhythm. While classic dual-ax harmonies keep things grounded, the drummer speeds around his kit the way Faulkner writes, never opting for a simple phrase when a complex one works even better.

3. Monumension, Enslaved
The Hammer of the Gods drives these wannabe Vikings to new lands: Dig the unforced fusion of corrosive black metal, arena-ready stupid-rock, analog-era psych, and misty-morning folk. The OK Computer of Nordic heaviness. (And so what if it came out in 2001? Only Web-dwelling nerds managed to pick up this late-in-the-year French import before February.)

4. Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope, Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Programming ridiculously fast blast-beats only a robot could play, Bethesda, Md.'s, Scott Hull uses a drum machine not as a surrogate for a flesh-and-blood rhythmist, but for its superhuman capabilities. It's a stroke of grindcore genius well-matched to thick, sticky guitars and a bevy of Hull pals growling juvenile (but not unfunny) satire.

5. Wages of Sin, Arch Enemy
Although embarrassingly slick at times (dig the Tubular Bells intro), the Swedish quintet's fourth studio disc transcends its low points with some of the most triumphant, fist-pumping morbidity this side of guitarist Michael Amott's old band Carcass. That new singer Angela Gossow could've been a Blue Crush extra is nothing but a plus.

6. 2nd 18/04 Norildivoth Crallos-Lomrixth Urthiln, Orthrelm
In a good-to-great year of hard rockin' art-tweakage (see: Flying Luttenbachers, Fucking Champs, Ruins, etc.), Orthrelm earns the top-10 nod for having the least comprehensible worldview. The D.C. instrumental duo's oeuvre all but defenestrates pop tradition in favor of constantly shifting streams of simultaneous guitar and drum solos.

7. Kylesa, Kylesa
Not much in the way of orthodoxy here: These Georgian punks populate their kind-of-sloppy-yet-technical debut with dulcimer, samples, and femme vox. If that doesn't sound headbangin' enough, the skeletons 'n' spears Pushead cover art should put your doubts to rest.

8. An Anthology of Dead Ends, Botch
These guys always gave better than they got, excelling at speedy, barbaric math rock that truly slays. Their low-stakes aesthetic--too indie to be metal, too metal to be indie--no doubt contributed to the posthumousness of this release.

9. Deliverance, Opeth
Determined to drag death metal out of One-Idea Land, these Swedes offer up two: godlike riffage and mellowed-out art-rock. Often a bit sissy for these ears, Opeth nonetheless wins this year's Sam Peckinpah Award for reviving an old genre (in this case prog) and giving it some teeth.

10. I Get Wet, Andrew W.K. This ex-Bulb Records party animal ain't exactly underground anymore. But the extreme beats-per-minute of his full-length Bat Out of Hell impersonation and his unhinged live presence almost make up for those and Coors Light commercials. Besides, this is without a doubt the loudest disc of the year.

From: Phil Locke

* the blood group - volunteers
* boyracer - to get a better hold you've got to loosen yr grip
* múm - finally we are no one
* guitar - sunkissed
* the breeders - title tk
* dirty power
* low - trust
* the delgados - hate (uk)
* mary lorson & saint low - tricks for dawn
* the cannanes with explosion robinson - trouble seemed so far away

From: Dan Koster

Favorite New Musickythings in 2002 (arranged in psychogeographical order)

v/a -- "Shutupalreadydamn! (The Prince Tribute Album)"
David Cross -- "Shut Up, You Fucking Baby!"
Kid606 -- "The Action-Packed Mentallist Brings You the Fucking Jams"
The Residents -- "Demons Dance Alone"
Jon Brion -- "Punch-Drunk Love" (soundtrack)
Future Bible Heroes -- "Eternal Youth"
Sparks -- "Lil' Beethoven"
David Baerwald -- "Here Comes the New Folk Underground" *
Afel Bocoum, Damon Albarn, -- "Mali Music"
XTC -- "Coat of Many Cupboards"

* feels like a cheat, since nearly every song is from 1999's internet-order-only "A Fine Mess"... but to 99% of the world, Baerwald's been MIA since "Triage" 10 years ago.

Favorite Musickythings that have been around for awhile, to which I finally twigged in 2002

Fred Frith -- "Gravity"
COH -- "Vox Tinnitus" EP
The Golden Palominos -- "Pure"
Terre Thaemlitz -- "Tranquilizer"
Ultramarine -- "United Kingdoms"
Black Box Recorder -- "England Made Me"
Randy Weston & African Rhythms -- "Khepera"
Bill Ding -- "Trust in God, But Tie Up Your Camel"
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum -- "Grand Opening and Closing"
Schlammpeitziger -- "Collected Simplesongs of My Temporary Past"

From: Dan Sharber

1. wilco - yankee hotel foxtrot
2. desaparecidos - read music/speak spanish
3. mountain goats - all hail west texas
4. josh rouse - under cold blue stars
5. Reindeer Section - Son of evil reindeer
6. bright eyes - lifted...
7. richard buckner - impasse
8. ugly casanova - sharpen your teeth
9. pedro the lion - control
10. luna - romantica

From: Dietmar Behrens

paul o'reilly - first thing in the morning
oboken - peace of mind
dead leaves rising - waking up on the wrong side of no one
neil halstead - sleeping on roads
byrne - slowly and gloriously
azure ray - november
acuarela songs
royal city - alone at the microphone
burd early - magnet mountain
sid hillman quartet - vol.2
beck - sea change
james yorkston - moving up country
kristopher astroem - northern blues
jay farrar - sebastopol
spokane - able bodies
convay savage - nothing broken
ai phoenix - lean that way forever
horse stories - travelling mercies
richard davies - barbarians
len brown society - it wasn`t the smoothest time
will oldham - several bootlegs

From: JH

My top 10 of '02 (the very abridged version)...

The Black Keys- The Big Come Up
The Arthurs- Walking in the Sunlight
Bevis Frond- What Did for the Dinosaurs
Chuck Prophet- No Other Love
Queens of the Stone Age- Songs For the Deaf
The Wondermints- Mind If We Make Love to You
Honeyrider- Sunshine Skyway
Reigning Sound- Time Bomb High School
Green Pajamas- Northern Gothic
V/A- Chains & Black Exhaust

honorable mentions

V/A- Booniay A Compilation of West African Funk
V/A- Turkish Delights
Elevator Music for Unrequited Lovers- James McDonald
A Rush of Blood to the Head- Coldplay
The Rising- Bruce Springsteen
Go-Betweens- Spring Hill Fair (reissue)
Bricats- Welcome To Bricatannia
Nicolai Dunger- Soul Rush
Dr. Frankenstein- The Psychotic Sounds of...
Woven Hand- s/t
Surf Report- Supersonic Salvation
Robert Johnson & the Punchdrunks- The Birdnest Years

From: Love Rosenstrom

Sharon's Last Party - Untitled Session 021026 CD-R (Unreleased)
Irgun Z'wai Leumi - Tracks That Lead Nowhere KZ (Hatband)
Institut - Live Like Traitors, Die Like Traitors CD-R (Upcoming on CMI)
Hanson, Sten - Text-Sound Gems & Trinkets CD (Firework)
Muslimgauze - Sarin Israel Nes Ziona CD (Staalplaat)
Mirror - Die Spiegelmanufaktur PIC LP (Die Stadt)
Brighter Death Now - Why 12" (Jinx)
Treriksroset - Sexregler KZ (Hatband)
Skin Area - New Skin CD (CMI)
Organum - Sphyx CD (Robot Records)
Ultra - Stain CD (Dom America)

From: Pam and Guy

Top picks of 2002 (alphabetical)

Bright Eyes-Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Saddle Creek)
Carissa's Wierd-Songs About Leaving
Julie Doiron-Heart and Crime (JagJaguwar)
Ida/ Elizabeth Mitchell-You Are My Sunshine (Last Affair)
JR Corduroy-I Don't Want to be Around When You're Gone for Good (Sealed Fate)
Logh-Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings (Deep Elm)
Lovers-Star Lit Sunken Ship (Orange Twin)
Malcolm Middleton-5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine (Chemikal Underground)
Nina Nastasia-The Blackened Air (Touch and Go)
Matt Pond Pa-The Green Fury/ The Nature of Maps (Polyvinyl)
Rosie Thomas-When We Were Small (Sub Pop)
Unbunny-Black Strawberries (Two-Ton Santa)
Warm Wires (Two-Ton Santa)

From: Jan Willem Broek/Senzor/Radio 100/Gonzo Circus

01. Encre - Encre - (Clapping Music)
02. The Notwist - Neon Golden - (Big Store/City Slang/Labels)
03. Timesbold - Timesbold - (Zeal/Tin Drum)
04. Laudanum - System:on - (Monopsone)
05. Sylvain Chauveau - Nocturne Impalpable - (Les Disques Du Soleil Et De L‚Acier)
06. Tara Fuki - Piosenki Do Snu - (Indies)
07. Dakota Suite - The Way I Am Sick - (Glitterhouse)
08. Tom Waits - Alice - (Anti)
09. Black Heart Procession - Amore Del Tropico - (Touch And Go)
10. Azure Ray - Burn & Shiver - (WARM)
11. Mum - Finally We‚Re No One - (Fat Cat)
12. Hypo - Karaoke A Cappella - (Active Suspension)
13. Jessica Bailiff - Jessica Bailiff - (Kranky)
14. Lucky Pierre - Hypnogogia - (Melodic)
15. Beth Gibbons & Rustin - Man Out Of Season - (Go Beat)
16. Ms. John Soda - No P. Or D. - (Morr Music)
17. Queens Of The Stoneage - Songs For The Deaf - (Interscope)
18. Johan Johannsson - Englaborn - (Touch)
19. Scenic - The Acid Gospel Experience - (Independent Project/Hidden Agenda/Emigre)
20. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Yanqui U.X.O. - (Constellation)

From: monster (from switzerland)

PAN AMERICAN - the river made no sound
IRON AND WINE - the creek drank the cradle
DEVENDRA BANHART - oh me oh my...
LOTUS EATERS - mind control for infants
KNUT - challenger
THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS - all the kings men
MOTORPSYCHO - it's a love cult
EL-P - fantastic damage

From: Juha Holmi

01. Isis - Oceanic
02. Circle - Sunrise
03. Boris - Heavy Rocks
04. Fleshpress - Bleak Emptiness (great new and only finnish sludge band)
05. Acid Mothers Temple - Univers zen ou de zero a zero
06. Ruins - Tzomborgha
07. Magyar Posse - We Will Carry You Over the Mountains
08. Tarantula Hawk - s/t (neurot)
09. Oxbow - An Evil Heat
10. Dunlavy - The Navigator Closes His Eyes

From: Chris Sienko

Hi sweeties one and all,

Good going on the faves of 2002! That's one of my favorite parts of a new year, reading what everyone was listening to this past year. As much a tradition as the ritualized finishing of mom's homemade peanut brittle and peanut butter fudge.

My faves of 2002:

- Head of Femur: Demo for "Ringodom or Proctor" EP (self-released CDR). Mark my words, it's gonna be all about Femur in '03. Just wait 'til they get a contract and an album out! Stand up for art rock, because space rock is over. For real this time!

- To Live and Shave In L.A.: The Wigmaker In Eighteenth Century Williamsburg 2CD (Menlo Park). Good Christ. When I first heard about the idea of "Musique Concrete," this is what I was hoping it sounded like. Glad there's at least one album that does. Best highway driving album...ever.

- Mammal: Fog Walkers LP (Scratch n' Sniff Entertainment). Stand up for right-beat, because wrong-beat is over! "Fog Face" is about as RIGHT as you can get. Bring a drool rag.

- Wolf Eyes: Dead Hills CD (Troubleman). Album after album of striving for it, Wolf Eyes have finally stepped firmly into Throbbing Gristle's long-abandoned shoes. Sonically, anyway.

- OHNE: 1 CD (Mego). This was great, but wait 'til '03, when the documents of the live OHNE juggernaut drop! That's when the magic really starts.

- Sudden Infant: Turntable Cookbook CDR (Gameboy Records). "They fuckin' grabbed me like this and they go hippie."

- MC Tracheotomy: With Love From Tahiti CD (Bulb). Always a pleasure, and with the added bonus this time of being able to hear what he's gibbering about at least 50% of the time. By the by, what ever happened to Anal Log Recordings?

- Nerve Net Noise: Meteor Circuit CD (Intransitive). Alive with pleasure! This makes me almost giggly with delight. BlowUp magazine's description of it as a "big shitty fraud" just sweetens the deal.

- Oh No, The Modulator: Semi-Formalizer CD (Liquid Death/Kill Frank Lentini). The gaping space left by Inca Eyeball was filled by robots. Who would have guessed?

- El-P: Fantastic Damage CD (Def Jux). Monstrous, and made all the better by seeing the guy live, and realizing that he's not just some crochety old nag. Def Jux tour trampled on Mush tour with the mightiest secret weapon of all: FUN!

Close calls: MX-80, Live at the Library; Dave Phillips, IIII; Olneyville Sound System: Efforts In Freedumb; Fat Day, IV; Joe Colley, Anthem: Static For Empty Live 3"; Waterbloop, Chimes at Midnight 3"; LoVid video.

From: Chris Muyres

Here is my Top Ten of 2002, sort of:

Jonathan Coleclough - Period
Damon & Naomi with Kurihara- Song to the Siren
v/a - 156 Strings
Jun Miyake - Innocent Bossa in the Mirror
Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Out of Season
DJ Drank - DJ Drank's Greatest Malt Liquor Hits
Nurse With Wound - The Man with the Woman Face
Destroyer - This Night
Johann Johannsson - Englaborn
Gyorgy Ligeti - The Ligeti Project II + III

From: John Parkinson


Jonathan Bepler - Cremaster 3 2CD (Jonathan Bepler)
The Bruces - War of the Bruces CD (Misra)
Franklin Bruno - A Cat May Look at a Queen CD (Absolutely Kosher)
Circle - Prospekt 2LP (Static Resonance)
Jonathan Coleclough - Period 2CD reissue (Anomalous)
Ekkehard Ehlers - Plays CD Compendium (Staubgold)
EST (Esbjorn Svensson Trio) - Strange Place for Snow CD (ACT)
Tom Heasley - On the Sensations of Tone CD (Innova)
K-Group/Omit - Storage LP (Fusetron)
Lugosi - ...Aluminium Lake CDR (CPsiP)
Mariza - Fado em Mim CD (World Connection)
MCMS - The womb that gives birth to itself CDR (CpsiP)
The Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas CD/Devil in the Shortwave 12"/Jam Eater Blues 7"/Ghana CD Comp./Tallahassee CD (Various)
The Necks - Athenaeum, Homebush, Quay & Raab 4CD (Fish of Milk)
Thuja - Ghost Plants, Thuja Museum #1 3"CDR, Thuja Museum #2 3"CDR (Also Steven R. Smith - Lineaments; Loren Chasse - Fantasy Apparition CDR)
Yann Tiersen - everything I can find.
Tweet - Oops 12" (& Southern Hummingbird CD)
The Tycho Brahe - This is The Tycho Brahe CD (Konstantin)

Three compilations to justify the continuing existence of compilations:

Electrically Induced Vibrations LP (Anomalous)
Painted Black CD (tUMULt)
Windswept Trees & Houses CDR (Jewelled Antler)

Live concerts:

Guapo - January 24.
EST - May 24.
The Mountain Goats:
- Sligo - October 8.
- Dublin - October 9.
- Amsterdam - December 7 (with Franklin Bruno, The Bruces and Graeme Jefferies)
The Necks - November 29. A single 82-minute track which drew all present into its amniotic world. Quite simply, I can't get enough of this band.

Disappointment of the year:

Stars of the Lid, live in London (Jan. 31st) - Samplers blowing up and guitarists getting electrocuted meant we were 'treated' to a raw 15 minute set from one of my favourite bands, having flown over from Dublin.

From: Barbara Duffield

Last year, I wrote this list because I was home-bound and cold-stricken. This year, I have no such excuse -- I just wrote it for fun. And I, um, got a bit carried away...

The following categories summarize my calendar year in music:

- Albums Released in 2002
- 2002 Re-issues or Compilations
- Albums that I Heard for the First Time in a Meaningful Way in 2002

In each of the three categories, there is very simple "rating" system:

** = Love
* = Really, Really, Really Like

And now, the disclaimers. First, I know shit about music, except what I like. I hope there is no pretense of objectivity in this list; it's part review, but mostly reminiscence. It's also quite long, due to the fact that I sank even deeper into music obsession this year. I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed (don't tell me).

Second disclaimer: the biggest category, like last year, is "liked okay." There are simply too many in this category to mention. So while this list is long, it represents less than 10% of what I actually purchased or acquired in 2002 (gasp).

Third disclaimer: there is still a very large pile of CDs at my feet that have not received proper attention (a friend just burned me a bunch of stuff, plus I had an end-of-the-year binge). Some of these likely will end up in next year's list.

Fourth, as with last year, the list is undoubtedly biased toward the latter months of the year. I suppose that's because the records I want to write about are the ones I'm currently listening to the most.

Finally, you'll notice that there are no negative categories. Oh, I had plenty of disappointments along the way... some of them fierce. But I figure there is enough negativity in the world. Besides, no one tops Pitchfork for scathing music commentary. Why try?

Okay. So here we go.... 2002!

-- 2002 Releases ----

* Aluminum Group -- "Happyness." Smooth lounge-y ornate pop, with a bit of Bacharach. Not all of these adjectives normally appeal to me, but when it comes to this album, they do. The biggest draws are the Navin brothers' vocals -- rich, sensual -- and an atmosphere steeped in late night urban melancholia. Perfect wistfulness for late fall/early winter.

** Devendra Banhart -- "Oh Me Oh My..." This is way too idiosyncratic to be "folk" in any traditional sense, but it is acoustic music -- just a boy and his guitar. Banhart's lyrics are surreal, vibrant, the children of a startling imagination. Moments of beauty, moments of anguish -- and I mean he freaks the fuck out -- they're all there. His singular voice has been compared to Marc Bolan, Syd Barrett, Daniel Johnston; I'm not sure what I hear. This is not music for the faint of heart, but it is intense and rewarding and I wouldn't be surprised if, before long, songs like "Pumpkin Seeds" or "Soon is Good" (both kill me...) become favorites for covers, and further down the road, tribute albums start sprouting up. Yup. It's that good.

** Canyon - "Empty Rooms." This album is such a guilty pleasure. Pleasure because it is big and beautiful, with great sing-along choruses and basic rock arrangements fleshed out with psych slide guitar, accordion, organ, harmonica.... and sleigh bells. Which is probably a good place to discuss the guilt. Canyon sound, unabashedly, like classic 70s stadium rock. The lead singer's voice is somewhere between Lindsey Buckingham, Neil Young, and maybe the guy from Molly Hatchet. The harmonies are occasionally reminiscent of... of... well, of Fleetwood Mac. But for those of us who spent our childhood listening to radio in the back seat of wood-paneled station wagons, that's just fine. For me, it's the country/psychedelia combination that puts it over the top -- if you like your Budweiser spiked with acid, this one's for you.

* Neko Case - "Blacklisted." Neko Case's voice is an amazing instrument. But she also wrote almost all of the songs, produced the album, and played many an instrument. And the music is sweeping and timeless. It sounds like it was recorded in a barn or a church, or maybe a church barn... very spacious. One of her biggest accomplishments may be to help people who would otherwise never recognize the soulfulness of country music to embrace it -- if only for the time it takes for the album to close.

* Charles Atlas - "Worsted Weight." Fantastic mind cinema music. Meditative and occasionally trippy, "Worsted Weight" is the perfect soundtrack for dreaming -- day or night, nightmare or fantasy. Blissed-out instrumentals recall the quieter and more subdued moments of Godspeed - piano, guitar, and a myriad other electronic/organic flourishes. Songs build slowly and reward your patience, not with a cliched climax, but with discovery of the new. You'll hear something different every time -- find a melody that was previously out of view, latch on to a layer that had been opaque, etc. Great late night/early morning listening.

* Consonant - s/t. Chris Conley....blah blah blah... Mission of Burma...blah blah blah. Okay, that's out of the way. This is a great rock album. Just the right combination of grit and melody. There's tension throughout -- dysfunction, darkness, abandon and light in all the right places. I don't need a paradigm shift every day, ya know?

* Golden Hotel - "The Silver Wilderness." I'm not sure I completely understand the use of the term "psych folk", except as acoustic music that expands and transports. Shimmering, subtle, plucked guitar with eerie effects, this is music that takes you outside of space and time. A reminder that sometimes the greatest emotional effect comes from the simplest of sounds.... repetition with soft shifts underneath. If I were forced to come up with my top songs of the year -- which would, of course, provoke a nervous breakdown -- "All My Girls Are Singing" would have to be among them. So beautiful.

** Interpol - "Turn on the Bright Lights." I feared that I would make myself sick of this album, and I nearly did. But no... I love it still. It's the overall sound that gets me -- every time. Had I written this in September, after seeing the band in Cleveland, I would have written exclusively about the rhythm -- the tight, explosive drum/bass interplay that made me slap my hip so hard I found bruises the next day. Writing this particular blurb one week after seeing them in DC, I want to emphasize the sadness, the quiet despair of the guitar wash on the slower songs... the art of angst. I suppose that the live show could be criticized for not deviating from the album, i.e. for the relatively straight delivery. I, too, love to see people scream their heads off, jump around, and basically lose their shit on stage -- we all need that. But for me, the Interpol live show was more powerful for its restraint. There was no release -- only tension, energy withheld and put into the music. Clenched jaw, grinding teeth, bruised hip.

** Iron & Wine - "The Creek Drank the Cradle." When I first heard this album, I sat on the couch into the wee hours, immobile and immersed. At first I thought that it sounded like something Elliott Smith might have done circa Roman Candle or self-titled -- if he were just sad, rather than depressed -- and if he had a wee bit more twang (i.e. made use of a banjo). In any case, this record kills me. It's almost too painful to listen all the way through. There is longing and ache and regret and an engulfing, unspecified nostalgia. I got this record while on the road in October, and I took it with me for most of my Fall travels, including a trip home to Michigan followed by Los Angeles. When I listen to it now, I see the Michigan landscape -- the weak light of almost-winter mornings, frost-kissed fields, a sky still trying to be blue. I hear my mother's incessant chatter, and the weight of her occasional silence, as we ride from engagement to engagement; I feel her arm under my head like a pillow, clinging to her in the lobby of the Los Angeles hospital where we waited to hear my twin sister's name called. "So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten/sons can be birds taken broken up to the mountain."

* David Kilgour - "Feather in the Engine." There's nothing earth-shatteringly innovative about this music -- just extraordinarily well-crafted, lush, memorable songs. I have not tired of them, not once in 11 months. While the instrumentals in particular are beautiful, "Today is Gonna Be Mine" is the hands-down winner. That song is an infectious, twirl-around-the-room-in-your-undies, sing-under-your-breath-in-the-metro bit of unadulterated joy.

** Landing - "Fade In, Fade Out." Glorious ambient bliss-out music, second only to "Auburn Lull" (see re-issues, below) in the genre this year. All of the images this record brings me are of sun or sky -- ripples of light, pulsing rays, glimmer of stars -- a grand celestial ballet. Oh wait, here's another image: in the software Photoshop, there is a feature called "liquify" that enables you to distort images by tugging and pulling at pixels in whatever direction or pattern you choose -- it has the feel of finger-painting. Another more basic feature allows you to adjust the saturation, or vibrancy, of the colors in an image. If one could liquify guitars, keyboards, and vocals into swirls that stretch for miles, and increase the saturation of sound way past the natural spectrum, one might arrive at this record. Digital manipulation worth its weight in gold.

** Liars - "We No Longer Knew Who We Were." I'll say more about the Liars in the blurb regarding their full-length (see re-issues, below). But of the two EPs released this year, this is my favorite. Righteous bass-heavy rawk, thick slabs o punk, and an edgy brilliance that makes me want to flail around spastically like a brain-damaged chimpanzee on crack.

** Lone Pigeon - "Concubine Rice." I'll go on record as saying that I have an unhealthy relationship with this record. If you value "cohesiveness," you'd best skip to the next blurb; this record is all over the place. Consisting of Beatles-y song snippets like half-thoughts, sometimes ending abruptly or drifting off into the next song, the record plays like the stream-of-consciousness of a person not entirely composed. But to me, each song is a precious snapshot, part of a melancholy travelogue with stops at all the major tourist attractions -- the city square, the circus, the waterfall, the planetarium. Moments of heart-wrenching beauty are seated next to narratives about insectiflies and ancient hubbard cows of bubbletoop. This is an album that I feel compelled to take care of -- I want to cradle it, tussle its hair, wipe its tears away, tell it that I'll love it no matter what it does or what other people think. I can imagine it looking up at me, uncomprehending, a soft mad smile on its face. I worry that I feel this way about a record, but what can I do? Mr. Anderson has touched me so.

* Doug Martsch - "Now You Know." I did not get this at first. I've long been a Built to Spill fan, so buying this album was a no brainer. But it took more than the usual number of listens for me to truly appreciate all its levels of greatness. Martsh's voice and slide guitar meld as one to carry the undulating melodies, a remarkable feat when you really listen to it. And the songs are stupendous, whether the acoustic jaunts through Martsch's Americana, or the fiery electric outbursts that are more familiar Built to Spill territory. Extra points, as to be expected, for the clever turns of phrase: "I hung around/like another pronoun/familiar but lacking a name."

* Ms. John Soda - "No P or D." This album, like the Notwist album that it strongly resembles, survives my electronica barrier because of its warmth. The warmth comes from the incorporation of organic instruments; the vocals (Stephanie Bohm's voice recalls the late Mary Hansen of Stereolab, RIP); and the emotional content. With these in place, the electronic elements are integrated into the whole, not as "gee-whiz-look-what-my-computer-can-do," but as fundamental instrumentation that add interest. This is a really beautiful album, at once sad and sparkling. It also has the most creative cover design I've seen this year.

* My Morning Jacket - "Chocolate and Ice" EP and "Songs: Ohia" split EP. Jim James' voice. That, for me, is 80% of the draw. Amazingly powerful, so sweet and expressive. I saw them perform on the anniversary of Elvis' death, and the show started with James on stage alone, doing an a capella version of "Suspicious Minds." Crushing. Both EPs released this year are more mellow than their full-lengths, with the same amount of twang but more mildly psychedelic. "Sooner" might be among my top ten songs, if I believed in rank ordering and/or were capable of it. "Chocolate and Ice" is more eclectic, with a few odd moments, while the Songs:Ohia split is more consistent and rock-oriented (except for the one song contributed by Songs:Ohia). Both EPs are great introductions to this wonderfully versatile band.

* Noonday Underground - "Surface Noise." Very groovy, 60s inflected pop songs -- some whimsical, some soulful, some downright funky. This would be a great party record... even the more mellow songs maintain the groove -- they just slow it down a bit. ("Barcelona" is pleading to be put on a mix CD at the moment.) Guest vocalists add diversity and contribute to the soundtrack feel. So unique, it pains me that more people don't know this album.

** The Notwist - "Neon Golden." Take most of what I said about Ms. John Soda, copy it, amplify the gushing, and then add lots of drool. This is the essence of the form... the ideal of which all others in the genre are mere reflections. Organic and electronic instrumentation blur with grace, tickle your ears and meander through your nervous system. The sweep of strings, the ring of guitar, the tick-tock of the synthesizer -- all employed in the service of song. This is a gorgeous record. Melancholy melodies hover and dive, surfacing only to validate your alienation and make you feel less a tad less alone. "Fail with consequence/lose with eloquence/and smile."

** The Polyphonic Spree - "In the Beginning Stages Of..." Imagine a symphonic hippie marching band. From Texas. Tripping on the Holy Spirit (and maybe also other substances). Clearly this is not music for every day, but damn if it doesn't make me smile. 25-30 musicians, white robes, Brian Wilson-obsessed -- euphoric orchestral pop taken to the extreme. I really love this CD, in part because these guys are such weirdos. I figure all hope is not lost for this fucked up and increasingly fascist nation if pockets of freedom still exist where beautiful freaks such as these can exist and even flourish. On the right day, this is intensely joyful, lift-your-face-to-the-sky-and-grin-inanely music; on the wrong day, you'll want to shoot them. One image I have is of the Peanuts cartoons where Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, etc. are all dancing, with their faces upturned so that you see their wee little noses bobbing up and down, and their feet spinning circularly underneath them. That kind of contagious happiness.

* Radar Brothers - "And the Surrounding Mountains." At this point in this list, I'm beginning to overuse certain adjectives - "beautiful," "gorgeous," etc. Therein lies the problem of trying to use words to describe something that fundamentally defies description -- and/or of having a limited vocabulary. In any case, all of those preceding adjectives apply to this CD, plus two more: "majestic" and "epic." The whole album flows along like a luscious, slow moving river of sound, compelled by lilting piano and soaring guitar. I guess I can see the oft-made comparisons to Pink Floyd, but I hear so much more. I was thinking that this record is the musical equivalent of a national park located in say, Montana or Maine. In listening to it, you get a sense of scenery, of place. Thus, the title is not arbitrary -- you are elevated by the end, and the view is sublime.

** Radio 4 - "Gotham!" - This was a really important album for me this year (it still is). It brought me back to spastic, hyper rock, where bass and percussion reign supreme; and with that, the joy of dancing like a lunatic at a concert. This album also gets credit for my cardiovascular fitness while traveling this year (40 cities, 25 states, 69 flights). I wasn't able to take dance class while on the road, so I took up running, and this was my soundtrack. From Denver to Olympia to Phoenix to Houston, this album kept me moving. I have yet to fully investigate the crop of bands with which Radio Four are often lumped (Hot Hot Heat, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc.) but this one (along with Liars and The Rapture) helped make my year.

* Sodastream - "The Hill for Company." I've been a fan of this band for a while, but I think this is my favorite of their releases. Sodastream sound a bit like a stripped down, mellowed out Belle & Sebastian, more contemplative and way less bouncy. Centered around piano and string arrangements, most notably bowed bass and viola, this is delicate without being precious. Trumpet and trombone accent these subtle, moving songs. I hear more Nick Drake in this release, too ("Welcome Throw" especially). I can't figure out why this album didn't get more attention this year - it's really stunning. Sometimes drama works best when understated, and this is definitely one of those albums that quietly devastates.

* Sunshine Fix - "Age of the Sun." Super Beatles-y psych pop bliss. Along with David Kilgour and Jackson C. Frank, this helped get me through the winter. More accessible than last year's Circulatory System (which I marginally prefer, in the end), this is "retro" without being dated. It is uplifting and affirming in a non-annoying way; most songs seem to be a plea to a good friend to buck up and find the silver lining on whatever cloud just rolled overhead. Pretty and poppy and fun.

** Steven R. Smith - "Lineaments." Imagine a less bombastic Godspeed, murkier and less pretentious. That would get you most of the way there. This is spooky cinematic instrumental music, with plunky piano echoes, dark strings, and guitar work that reminds me of the only Loren Mazzacane Connors CD I have ("Crucible"). Very spidery stuff. It redeems my faith in post-rock, or whatever the genre is being called these days. "Lineaments" is music to wrap around you like a blanket; you can lose yourself in its layers and take refuge.

** Walkmen - "Everyone Who Ever Pretended to Like Me is Gone." I think this album deserves all the praise heaped upon it. It is arty, but I don't hear the self-consciousness that the critics have enjoyed hating. To my ears, the music has an underwater atmosphere; it sounds like it was recorded in a huge cavernous aquarium, water waves merging with sound waves to create a uniquely damp sound. A bonus is the music-box piano, all toy-like and subversive. Initially the lead singer's vocals were an obstacle for me, owing to their similarity to Bono, but now I hear them as a key ingredient -- I love how they stretch like taffy, vowels extended, held, and drawn out. I would really love to see this band live.

** Woven Hand - s/t. Listening to this right now, I'm fighting the urge to say that it is my favorite record of the year. I don't have favorites, damn it! No, really, I don't, because any of the two-star albums listed here could vie for the top spot. But oh, this one... A side project of 16 Horsepower front man David Eugene Edwards, this has a similar vibe to 16 Horsepower, but somehow even more soulful, more intricate, and more emotional. Biblical themes of sin and redemption don't detract from the universality of the music -- if anything, they add to its power and augment its already incredible imagery. If this music had a taste, it would be salt and blood -- as if you'd bitten your tongue or lip. Maybe only a damaged, fallen Catholic could see the attraction in that, but fear not, there is real beauty and depth here that I think have broader appeal. Genre-wise, "gothic Americana" might be the best short-hand for this music (mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar), yet even that phrase seems to cheapen what I hear as essentially timeless music. There's a totally creepy cover of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," too, which adds to the earthiness of the whole.

---- 2002 Re-issues or Compilations ----

* Aspera - "Sugar and Feathered." This band has been compared to Mercury Rev, and with good reason. Similar pastoral psychedelics and vocals -- less dramatic and orchestral, but still sweeping and grand in vision. I don't hear the depth of Mercury Rev in terms of lyrics or emotional content, but the wonderfully huge swirls of sound help make up for that. On the whole, it has a lighter, more whimsical feel, although I bet it's heavy and wild played live. I would recommend this to any Mercury Rev fan, or any fan of milder psychedelic rock music.

** Auburn Lull - "Alone I Admire." To say that I am not a morning person is a gross understatement; I employ a series of small rewards to lure myself out of bed (coffee for literally getting out of bed; toast for walking to the metro; a banana for exiting the metro; yogurt for making it to the office). I am almost never at work before 10:00 am. Needless to say, I was challenged when I was asked to dance in a piece with rehearsals at 8:30am (the performance is in March, so this means five months of early mornings). "Alone I Admire" has been more than an aide to waking; it is an essential part of my mind/body preparation, and the ultimate morning music. Radiating waves of sound, a soft bath in iridescent tones, lulling melodies submerged but not invisible. On a proper stereo/speakers, you hear the exquisite detail that went into each piece, every one a minor symphonic epiphany. I can hear the color of the sky change, I swear I can. It's 6:59 am right now, and accompanied by this record, the sky went from midnight blue with a band of maroon at the horizon to periwinkle with a glowing orange-red circumference. A perfect choreography. The best reference point I can think of is Slowdive's "Pygmalion" -- that same kind of glorious wash. Now the sky is luminous, and the sun just made its spectacular entrance onto the sky's stage. I'm off to dance, wakened from the inside out by this tremendous record.

** The Impressions - "This is My Country" and "The Young Mods' Forgotten Story." 1968 and 1970 albums from Curtis Mayfield's band, re-issued. I wasn't sure how much I was going to like these, given my preference for funk over soul. But both of these albums are superb, the very tippy top of the form, classic soul. Best of all are the string/horn arrangements, so ecstatic and sinuous. Songs range from gospel-tinged ballads to bouncy ditties to soulful serenades. I cringe at some of the lyrics ("every sister is a breeder"!?! No wonder the revolution flopped on its hypocritical head.) But even I can overlook those moments as unfortunate signs of the times, and revel in all that is right, musically and emotionally, in these fantastic records.

** Karen Dalton - "It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best." 1969 re-issue. Another lost soul, Dalton was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in its heyday. This is, however, timeless music. For vocals, think Billie Holiday; for music, think blues covers, slow as molasses and hauntingly delivered. This album hits me like a ton of bricks. It is raw and intimate, emotionally and musically -- you feel as if she's playing in your head. I suppose her voice is an acquired taste, but it's worth acquiring. I took this record on the road with me in the Spring, and I can still hear "Ribbon Bow" echoing off the walls of my tiny hotel room in downtown Portland, Oregon; it was as if she possessed my laptop. Ms. Dalton warmed me through that long, grey, lonely weekend.

** Jackson C. Frank - s/t. 1965 recording from another troubled troubadour. This was a really important album for me this winter -- I think I played "Blues Run the Game" every morning for the entire month of February. Frank's honey voice carries the music above the traditional folk elements; it hypnotizes. Some artists sing songs about pain. Frank builds songs out of it -- pain is their very substance. I am generally not a fan of folk music, and most certainly not modern folk. But this album is the height of the genre, and may have cross-over appeal for that reason alone. If you own only one folk album, this should be it.

* The Golden Dawn - "Power Plant." 1968 re-issue. This is crunchy 60s psych pop that is VERY Nuggets-worthy, more British than American (although the band is from Texas). Oh, you'll hear the obvious influences, Byrds, Beatles, etc. But when it's done this well, I don't care how freaking derivative it is. A song like "Starvation" or "My Time" would have me on the dance floor in no time at all -- and fit nicely right next to The Easybeats or The Haunted. Time for go-go boots and minis, and joy, joy, joy!

** Liars - "They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top." I like I like I like I like I like I like! THIS is whatever happened to my rock and roll -- it came back and smacked me in the face, and I said, "Thanks! Can I have another?" And it said "yes," and I got two more EPs and a split with Oneida. Ha! All the metaphors that pop into my head are pretty violent, but when it comes to punk rock, or whatever you wanna call it, if it ain't violent, it ain't real. Bellowing bass, garbage-can drumming, see-saw guitars that slash and burn -- twisted anthems for our time. I'd almost be afraid to see them live, because if people didn't move, I'd have to do a running leap and jump on their heads and generally be very annoying. I'm going to be in great shape once this stuff makes it to my running mix. Very much a year-defining album for me, I'm all giddy listening to it now.

** The Rapture - "Mirror." Stupidly, last year's "Out of the Races and On to the Tracks" did not make it onto my list, though I got it and loved it back then. I'll blame the wicked cold I had when I wrote the list. Fortunately, I get to make up for that oversight because "Mirror," a 1999 release, was re-issued this year. The vocals are more Cure-like on this record, more goth in general. Like Radio 4 and Liars, this is the best of rock and roll these days, all frenzied and angular and foaming at the mouth. But there is more of a consistent dance groove to this record, even dub elements in a song like "Alienation." They make the punk/dance music connection more obvious, which is just fine for me, as long as the latter doesn't take over. I just ordered the "House of Jealous Lovers" 12", so I'll find out soon!

** V/A - "Black Chains and Exhaust." I'm on a string of hyper reviews, but it's all alphabetical, ya know. Not strictly a re-issue, this record is a compilation of 60s/70s funk from some crate-digging fools who listed absolutely nothing in the liner notes. This music is the perfect mix of funk and rock -- explosive and raunchy, with filthy fuzzed out guitar belching all over the place. Some instrumental, some vocals -- all soulful and nasty. I listen to this and I wonder why folks like DJ Shadow and RJD2 even bother; sure, I've liked some of their stuff, but basically they make Velveeta out of fine aged cheddar. There's an edge and a bite to this that a soporific hip hop beat will never improve upon. I think you'd have to be dead not to move to this music, and for all I know, the dust and bones of the departed would shake and rattle to these tunes. All together now: "Shooby dooby/bang bang/drummer's got a groovy thang... Now step on!"

---- Albums that I Heard for the First Time in a Meaningful Way in 2002 ----

This section proves how totally uncool I am (as if writing this list were not proof enough). What can I say? I didn't grow up in a cool place, and had very few cool friends, which accounts for the glaring gaps in the classic rock categories. As for the modern misses, there's only so much money and time, and sometimes, well, you just miss things. Also, sometimes you'll listen to an album, but you really won't HEAR it until much later. But used record stores, new friends, and web sites give second chances. I will remember 2002 as much by the music in this category as by new releases or re-issues, which makes these records essential in my listening retrospective.

** The Appleseed Cast - "Low Level Owl, Vols. I and II." Take the very best elements of Sunny Day Real Estate, Death Cab for Cutie, and Built to Spill; add a ferocious drummer; the best possible use of studio production to create atmosphere and extraordinary depth, and you have yourself this remarkable work of art. Attention to detail and overall craft lift this far above the fray, making a gorgeous sonic tapestry that more than merits the two discs it covers. Propulsive and glistening rock songs are glued together by lovely ambient passages, echo and static and ringing distortion. It plays as a continuous piece, track numbers and song names more as road markers than separate entities. If any of the above appeals to you, these are really worth tracking down -- the music won't leave you for a long, long time. (And by the way, there's absolutely nothing emo about this music, so ignore the label and band's geographical location.)

** Boo Radleys - "Giant Steps." I did more used CD-shopping this year, and this was one of my finds -- a 1993 release. It's a diverse romp through styles, from crunchy rockers ("Upon 9th and Fairchild") to jangly pop ditties ("Wish I Was Skinny") to majestic and epic numbers ("Lazarus"). On this album, they threw the rock formula out the window, inventing each song with whatever structure or instrumentation best served their purpose: stop-start deliveries, dub/reggae elements, and horn lines that blow your head off. This creativity not only keeps you on your toes, it makes for an engaging and really beautiful listen. If anyone knows this band well and can recommend other of their releases that are as good as this one, I'd be super grateful.

** Blur - "13." Early in the year, I was accused of being a heathen because I had not a single Blur record in my collection. Fortunately, the accuser produced the goods, and I got to see the light. "13" is the one that sank its teeth into me and refused to let go. I'll admit that I've spent more time with it than the others (though self-titled and "Parklife" rate pretty high, too). But whatever. "13" has lots that I value in the genre -- furious rockers, pretty pop, sick spaced out numbers, considerable groove. It's like having all your favorite drugs in one; depending on the day, you simply reach in and ingest what you need (lately "Caramel" has been swishing through my veins). High marks for attitude, too -- from soul-baring vulnerability to wound-licking snarls. If you saw this album walking down the street, it would swagger and stop just long enough to look at you, expressionless, yet clearly in pain; it would take one long drag from the cigarette that had been dangling from its lips, pause, then blow the smoke straight into your eyes and continue on its way. You'd look after it, knowing you'd best leave it alone, yet be tempted to follow, despite the intense stinging. Um, well, that's what I would do...

** David Bowie - "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars;" "Hunky Dory." This is embarrassing, but you know, better late than never. Sure I had Bowie albums in the 80s. Sure I'd listened to parts of Ziggy before. But this summer, I got new speakers - the old ones were more than 15 years old. I got good ones, too, and I didn't know what album to try them out on. Something drew my hand toward Ziggy, I put it on, and proceeded to have one the most transforming listening experiences of my life. I do not exaggerate. If you, like me prior to this summer, have had only superficial listens to some or all of this album, put it back on. Buy it on vinyl. Totally captivating music, music as all-senses-engaged EXPERIENCE. "Soul Love" and "Moonage Daydream" push buttons I didn't even know I had; they send me reeling. The Ziggy episode launched a Bowie frenzy, and I got a bunch more albums. Of those, "Hunky Dory" is the one that comes closest to transporting me like Ziggy did. "Til there was rock, you only had God." Indeed.

** Love - "Forever Changes." Another embarrassing admission in the "better late than never" category. Ms. Z. gave me this to burn last summer, and I played it a few times... nothing. "Greatest rock album ever made" was the claim, and at that time, I thought it was lovely, but that's all. I was listening to the other 60s greats pilfered from her collection -- the Zombies, the Hollies, the Left Banke, Nuggets II -- this one fit right in, but didn't stand out. Flash forward to this summer -- the summer of Love. Again, something drew me toward the CD, and again, the rest is history. This is not music I can write about with ease, so I won't, other than to say that this is the kind of album that words like "classic" were made for, and for which any genre label is a disservice. In some ways, it's obvious how the decade in which it was created contributed to the grandness of vision, yet the album also sounds like it just dropped from heaven, timeless and perfect. I got the vinyl reissue this summer so I could hear it as it was meant to be heard... worth every penny.

** Love as Laughter -"Sea to Shining Sea." I got this album just days after it was released last year on the strength of reviews likening it to a fucked up and imploding 1970s Stones. I played it... nothing major clicked for me. This year, I'm looking for some balls-out rock to play loudly, pause while searching through the "L's," stick this in the CD player, and smile. Exactly what I was looking for! I think if this album had come out this year, it would have fared better commercially, what with the current appetite for garage and other variants of basic rock. For me, this is comfort rock and roll of the finest quality -- like gourmet oatmeal, it's the satisfying basics taken up a notch. I do hear the swagger of "Sticky Fingers"-era Stones, and a tad of Jane's Addiction owing to the vocals, but Love as Laughter are their own cat. And what a cool cat! Really great stuff.

** Stina Nordenstam - "People Are Strange." I bought her most recent record, "This Is," very early in the year, and I liked it a lot (it just narrowly missed being included in this list). So when I was browsing the shelves of my beloved Aquarius Records in San Francisco in June, and I came upon this 1998 release, I was pretty excited. This is the best covers record I own. Some of the covers are barely recognizable, others are recognizable, but given a new and improved life through Nordenstam's interpretation. She has a whispery little-girl voice, a la Rickie Lee Jones, which draws you close and adds a sense of wonder, even though the production makes her sound far away. The arrangements are the absolute highlight: naked piano, sultry strings, pristine flute, serpentine clarinet, and an occasional burst of electric guitar. She gives the songs an emotional make-over, too -- quiet yearning, down-cast eyes, the dim glow of city street lights on a foggy night.

** The Shins - "Oh, Inverted World." Another one that almost got away from me... I remember the glowing reviews when this came out last year, but for some reason, I was unmoved. Fortunately, a friend burned this for me, and into my life it bounded. In my opinion, this is the best of what indie pop can be -- understated but not amateurish, inventive and free. Playful ditties, exuberant arrangements, sweet harmonies, and melodies that hold your hand all day long. My only complaint is that it ends too soon -- as much as I love the last song, with its muted horns and gentle sonic eddies that tug and caress, I'm sad to hear it, for this is an album I never want to end.

* Swervedriver - "Meczel Head." Great big crunchy guitars - that's what does it for me on this album. Another used-CD find, this is a band I had heard about, but had not experienced until this CD. I suppose one could say that it sounds "dated," as in late 80s/early 90s shoegazing, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I wish more of this caliber had been released, or rather that I had access to it. I really dig the wall-of-sound, noise-tempered-by-melody, tidal wave effect. Recommendations of other albums by this band that are on a par with this record would be appreciated and put to good use. Anyone?

** Roxy Music - "For Your Pleasure;" "Stranded." Together, these CDs were the soundtrack to the excesses of the summer -- the week of vacation spent at home working on cover art for mix CDs; the road trip to Philadelphia to see the second Brian Jonestown Massacre show of the weekend; the pre-Interpol liquoring up in Cleveland. Fitting, too, since both records are over-the-top masterpieces of indulgence. Rock as theatre, rock as gospel, rock as perversion of every kind -- 1973 was a VERY good year for it. I hear these records now and remember the delightful dementia of those dwindling days before Fall arrived. "Satin teardrops on velvet nights/morning sickness on Friday nights/heaven knows what others I might bring/to you." This is the high art, people.

** The Television Personalities - "The Painted Word." Rip my heart out... that's what this record does. Softly psychedelic songs of loss and longing, each one worthy of gushing commentary. Like Lone Pigeon, you get a glimpse of a highly idiosyncratic mind teetering on the brink, but in this case, more peeking over than plummeting. And next to the profoundly personal is the political. Those songs sound particularly relevant these days, what with all the sabre-rattling of the Washington war machine ("Back to Vietnam" is flat out terrifying). I only have one other Television Personalities CD (the compilation "The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming"), but I think there will be more in my future.

From: Olivier Petitpas

I bought more old than new records this year again, so out of a limited selection, here's my 2002 top10. ...Wah, two emocore albums in there. And only American and Japanese artists... Pretty limited in genres too... Hmm hmm. Don't top 10s make you self-conscious too?

2002 top ten albums, or albums-that-were-released-in-japan-in-2002 anyway (no special order)

Asa-Chang & Junray - Tsuginepu - Hot-Cha
Zero Zero - Am Gold - Jade Tree
Marumari - The Remixes - Carpark
World Standard - Jump for Joy - Daisyworld
Ikara Colt - Chat and Business - Fantastic Plastic
Tenniscoats - Ending Theme - Noble
Cinq - Sketch - Noble
Desaparecidos - Read Music / Speak Spanish - Bad News
Yo la Tengo - The Sounds of the Sounds of Silence - Egon
Bikeride - Summer Winners Summer Losers - A Hidden Agenda

From: S. Glass / Bananafish

Astro - Resonance Universe CD (Tochnit Aleph)
Johannes Bergmark & Unn FahlstrŅm - Kiss of Life -- Mouth-to Mouth Method
CD (Firework Edition)
Burning Star Core LP (Thin Wrist)
Forcefield - Roggaboggas CD (Load)
Mattin and Rosy Parlane - Mendietan CD (w.m.o/r)
Nerve Net Noise - Meteor Circuit CD (Intransitive)
PXP - while(p){print"."," "x$ptt} CD (Wavetrap)
Volvox - The Bad Earth CD (Dual Plover / Freedom From / Spill)
Various - Feedback CD (LMC / Resonance magazine)
Erica Pomerance - You Used To Think LP (Get Back)

From: mark del lima*

in no order

Electralane - I Want to be the President (I want to be a girl)
the Notwist - Neon Golden (sweet and sad)
2 Many Djs: As heard on Radio Soulwax Vols. 1-3 (kickin')
The Future / The Human League - The Golden Hour of the Future (the human league anticipates cabaret voltaire— am I still on planet earth?!?)
Boards of Canada – Twoism / Geogaddi (breaking no new ground, but can they? funny how their earliest and latest release aren't all that different; still a great pleasure to listen to for all its fussiness)
Current 93/Thomas Ligotti – In a Foreign Town, In a Foreign Land (David Tibet keeping the faith)
Ladytron - Light and Magic (Miro Aroyo says, "Ladytron isn't a band—it's a way of life")
DJ Shadow "The Private Press" (long-awaited, gorgeous)
Philip Jeck "Stoke" (put on jeck, and fuck me)

From: Malcolm T

David Holmes introducing the Free Association COME GET IT I GOT IT (13 Amp)
Various Artists URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT (Chocolate Industries)
Boom Bip SEED TO SUN (lex Records)
rjd2 DEADRINGER (Def Jux)
DJ Rupture MINSWEEPER SUITE (Tigerbeat6)
Various Artists ANTIFOLK vol.1 (Rough Trade)
DJ Shadow PRIVATE PRESS (Universal Island Records)
Various Artists PEANUT BUTTER WOLF'S JUKEBOX 45s (Stone's Throw)
Various Artists THE FUNKY 16 CORNERS (Stone's Throw)
Various Artists CONSTANT ELEVATION (Astralwerks)

From: Benjamin Tinker

Windy & Carl - Introspection
Henry Flynt - Spindizzy
Alice Coltrane - Universal Consciousness
Vincent Gallo - Recordings For Film and Music
Black Dice - Beaches and Canyons
Six Organs of Admittance - Dark Noontide
Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble - On The Beach
BBC Radiophonic Music (1968)
Alice Coltrane - Eternity
The Incredible String Band - Liquid Acrobat as Regards the Air
The Incredible String Band - U
Giles, Giles & Fripp - The Brondesbury Tapes
Spunk - Filtered Through Freinds
Eliane Radigue - Geelriandre - Arthesis
Ruins - Tzomborgha
Tony, Caro & John - All On The First Day
The Cat

Haven't read it yet but excited and glad 2002 produced A domestic English language:

CAETANO VELOSO - Tropical Truth -- A Story of Music & Revolution In Brazil

From: Bill Cuevas -- Music Director KZSU Stanford

1) Eleni Mandell "Snakebite" Space Baby
2) Johnny Dowd "The Pawnbroker's Wife" Catamount
3) Various Artists "The Fire This Time" Hidden Art
4) People Like Us "Recyclopaedia Britannica" Mess
5) Massimo "Hello Dirty" Mego
6) Michael Gross "Telephone Solicitor's Nightmare" R
7) Kalibas "Product of Hard Living" Willowtip
9) Various Artists "Imposters"(Warlock Pinchers
Tribute) Braceface
10) Kevin Drumm "Sheer Hellish Miasma" Mego

Too many great releases in 2002 to list. I would also like to mention Tipsy, Matching Mole, Jenny Toomey, NON, Sex Hamster, Kirby Grips, Run For Cover Lovers, Jana McCall, Secret Machines, Isis, Lo-Hi, 20 Miles, and give a special nod to Joey Ramone who gave us a reason to miss him all the more, proving he was not done yet. So it goes.

From: Brian Eck

Here's my top ten (in order.)

1. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)
Evokes the sound of yesterday's faves without being an apish clone.

2. Dark Tranquillity - Damage Done (Century Media)
Melodic Swedish death metal that's brutal and technical, yet accessible.

3. The Mountain Goats - Tallahassee (4AD)
Irrefutable proof that sometimes more is more - as in more instrumentation and more production resulting in a lush, enveloping record that still packs plenty of emotional and lyrical punches.

4. All Girl Summer Fun Band - All Girl Summer Fun Band (K)
Perfect summertime listening - playful and sunny with a healthy appreciation for the 60's girl group sound.

5. Pretty Girls Make Graves - Good Health (Lookout!)
Cathartic, energetic punk rock. The last track is a swirling maelstrom that will have you hitting repeat.

6. Clinic - Walking With Thee (Domino)
Weird, fractured indie rock that channels more than a little Pink Floyd.

7. Various - Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs To Benefit The West
Memphis Three (Sanctuary)
Ordinarily there's no room for compilations in my top ten because they invariably are hit-and-miss. This one is no exception, but the hits are strong enough to carry the rest, not to mention the sheer power of the source material and the eminently worthy cause. The Iggy, Slayer, and Motorhead tracks are priceless.

8. Badly Drawn Boy - About A Boy OST (XL)
Unlike most soundtracks, this album can stand on its own. The instrumental interludes form a coherent shell around the pop gems inside.

9. Radio 4 - Gotham! (Gern Blandsten)
Every generation needs to (re)discover the Clash, and apparently this one likes to dance as well.

10. Dressy Bessy - Sound Go Round (Kindercore)
Catchy twee vocals over top of fuzzy guitars might not be the newest sound around, but the formula works really well here.

From: Ry Wharton

1. Deerhoof - Reveille
2. Mastodon - Remission
3. Rocket From The Tombs - Day The Earth Met...
4. High On Fire - Surrounded by Thieves
5. Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle
6. Acid Mothers Temple - Live in Japan
7. The Rapture - House of Jealous Lovers 12"
8. Kemialliset Ystavat - Kellari Juniversumi
9. Loren Chasse - Hedge of Nerves
10. Earache vinyl reissues (Napalm Death, Carcass, Entombed, etc.)

Runners up: Black Eyes/Early Humans split 7", Unholy Trinity Compilation, Larsen- Rever, Immortal- Sons of Northern Darkness, Black Keys- Big Come Up, Brotzmann reiussues, Q and not U - Different Damage

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