Top 23 Albums of 2002 Part 1

Brad Lindert

The year 2002 was a memorable one for its amazing, eclectic musical offerings. (Quick note: The Mountain Goats: Tallahassee and DJ Shadow: The Private Press both came to my attention too late in the year. Tallahasse should be in the 12 to 7 range, and Shadow’s should be in the 12 to 17 area.)

# 23 – Low: Trust

First off, I hate Low. They are boring. That said, Trust is a good album. On Trust we find fast beats and, at times, loud fuzzy guitars. This is an album full of great harmonies, even during the ungodly slow songs. Essential Track: “La La Song.”

# 22 – Sleater Kinney: One Beat

The dueling vocals of Carrie and Corin are amazing. They also wrote the two best reactions to 9-11, one about the shock (“Far Away”) and one about the pseudo-patriotism we have since shown (“Combat Rock”). Essential Track: “One Beat.”

# 21 – The Notwist: Neon Golden

I have only listened to this once, but it is amazing. All I have to say is this: electronic music with orchestrations and banjo! Now how can you go wrong? Pick this up when it gets released in the U.S. in February. Essential Track: “One Step Inside Doesn’t Mean You Understand.”

# 20 – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers: Sonoran Hope and Madness

Roger’s lyrics are amazing, with wit and a beautiful ability to tell a story. The Arizona landscape bleeds through the music and the country tinge makes you want to quit college and go become a cowboy. Essential Track: “Buffalo”

#19 – Tom Waits: Alice

The elder statesman of storytelling and heartbreaking melodies is at his top form, but his voice is almost too broken to listen to. But we don’t listen to Tom for his voice; we listen for the lyrics, right? Essential Track: “Fish & Bird.”

#18 – Neko Case: Blacklisted

The production on this album is its best asset. The album sounds like it was recorded in 1950; the lyrics suggest the same era. Neko’s voice makes her sound like Patsy Cline’s sister. Essential Track: “Tightly.”

#17 – Pretty Girls Make Graves: Good Health

PGMG are a mixture of Les Savy Fav and Sleater Kinney. The guy/girl vocal exchanges make this album what it is: an amazing, powerful, exciting listen. Essential Track: “Speakers Push the Air.”

#16 – Elvis Costello: When I Was Cruel

Elvis is back with a loud record. After working with Bert, he has decided to work with electric guitars. His lyrics are tight and witty, his voice is nicely weathered, and he can still hit the high notes. Elvis is back. Essential Track: “Tart.”

#15 – M£m: Finally We Are No One

Their first release was amazing, and with Finally, they do not let us down. M£m makes electronic music (which I usually find cold) beautiful. They make me smile; there is no other way to put it. Essential Track: “Green Grass of Tunnel.”

#14 – . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead: Source Tags & Codes

This was the first amazing record of 2002. But it got old; by October I had almost forgotten completely about it. Still, it is a darn fine rock record. Essential Track: “Relative Ways.”

#13 – MC Paul Barman: Paullelujah!

This rap record for a white boy from Jersey flows better than anybody on MTV. His is extremely intelligent, but he is also EXTREMELY childish (e.g., the song “Burping and Farting”). But all in all, this album is extremely entertaining, as long as you are not weak of heart. Essential Track: “Excuse You.”

#12 – The Streets: Original Pirate Material

The second rap album to make my list. On Original Pirate Material we find what street life is like in England: fighting, drinking, and doing drugs. His flow is slow, but it fits well with the lush background music, which usually consists of some stings and piano. That doesn’t mean that Mike forgot to use some nice bass and beats. Essential Track: “The Irony of it All.”

Next week: numbers 11-1.