Readers' Top 10s

Gob - how far shallow takes you -- fearless (Gob are original and new,
     and Canadian. This is definitely their best album.)
Alkaline Trio - goddamnit -- asian man (Sometimes cheesy songs, but it
     doesn't matter cuz they are so good!)
Homer - the true spoken by it self -- punx without mohawx (You wanted 
  hardcore? You got it. Like nothing else out there.)
AFI - shut your mouth and open your eyes -- nitro (Amazing lyrics and 
    music and vocals, everything is just perfect. I think this is     
number 1.)
Adhesive - from left to right -- ampersand (Oh my! Melodic and
agressive      with great lyrics.)
Big Wig - unmerry melodies -- fearless (Funny and serious at once,
basic      punkrock with great vocals and back vocals.)
Straight Faced - conditioned -- epitaph (Anger=good. Great production 
Everyday Madness - preaching to the converted -- bad taste (Amazing   
      hardcore, with a girl singing/screaming too!)
At The Drive-In - in/casino/out -- fearless (Defies description.)
Link 80 - killing katie -- asian man (Short but great.)

Phil Lerman
Foo Fighters - Color and the Shape (Capitol) Second album from Dave Grohl & co. shows that maybe the drummer in Nirvana wasn't just the guy haning out with musicians, especially on "Everlong" Talk is Poison - s/t (Prank) Allegedly old-school sf-bay area folks doing the straight ahead 84-style hardcore thing. If Devoid of Faith recorded Poison Idea's War All the Time. Cursive - Such Blinding Stars (Crank) Most would dismiss it as run-of-the-mill emo. It's better. Listen to the way the first three songs build up. Method Man - Tical 2000: Judement Day (Def Jam) Long awaited second album from Wu Tang Clan main man was worth the wait. Not quite old-school and definitely not in the same league with Jay Z or a former Fugee. More like Middle School rap. Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty (Capitol) No disappointment from waht was the most anticipated album of the year for most. Tortoise - TNT (Thrill Jockey) Jazz? Minimalist electronica? Anti-punk? Whatever you call it, the 2nd or 3rd(?) album from this Chicago/Louisville project. Get High - s/t (Big Wheel) Boston post-hardcore band. Their earlier live sets made a bunch of otherwise-lame shows worth attending. Post hardcore from ex-members of Dive and Opposition. Rocket from the Crypt - RFTC (Interscope) Second major label album from the great san diego band doesn't disappoint, especially when you have Holly Golightly singing backups on a few songs. Dropkick Murhpys - Do or Die (Epitaph) Another local band, this one that tries to do for the Pogues what Rancid did for the Clash, at least that's what the press said. I like this for the same reasons I liked the 2nd and 3rd Rancid albums. Shai Hulud - Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion (Crisis) Also hardcore, but as different as possible from Talk is Poison. A good extention of the 88 youth crew sound that shows variety, innovation and power.

1. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of ... 2. Sleater Kinny - Dig Me Out 3. JSBX - ACME 4. Rock Stars Kill Comp and You've Got the Fucking Power Comp (On Digital Hardcore Label) 5. Heart's Greatest Hits 6. Cub - My Chinchilla song 7. Jimmy Hendrix Experience - Live at the BBC 8. The Make-Up -Destination Love: Live at Cold Rice 9. Julie Ruin - Self Titled 10. Los Tigres del Norte Greatest Hits special mention: Rigo TOvar, Vicente Fernandez, The Dog Pound and Busta Rhymes

Phil Huckelberry
1. Neutral Milk Hotel, _In The Aeroplane Over The Sea_ (Merge) - The only album of the year that actually made me think of music in an explicitly new light, it's alternately sad, reaffirming, challenging, bizarre, gleeful, and thousands of other adjectives not usually applied to music. Comparisons are futile. Psychedelia minus the drugs? Brian Wilson recreated thirty years after the fact whose young life was dominated by football? Who knows? Who cares? 2. Spoon, _A Series of Sneaks_ (Elektra) - An album that inexplicably seemed to miss anyone else's top 10, even though it's such an obvious fit. Clear influences include the Pixies, Modern Lovers, and Cars, but Spoon goes above and beyond that. Sorry to Matt Cook, but Spoon is the best band out of Texas (Austin) these days, hands down. Short, sweet, tight, and awesome pop-rock. 3. Silver Jews, _American Water_ (Drag City) - Strangely, the last two Silver Jews albums have both been better than the last Pavement album - and although I have a hard time reconciling _American Water_ with _The Natural Bridge_, they're both fabulous. Though I get complaints at home about this being a "depressing" album, this is decidedly upbeat for David Berman, whose lyrics are damn near the best of any songwriter alive right now. 4. Alejandro Escovedo, _More Miles Than Money_ (Bloodshot) - The most stirring alt-country or contemporary folk or whatever album of the year, and one of the most impressive respresenations of live material I've ever heard. 5. Varnaline, _Sweet Life_ (Zero Hour) - Magnet explained this album a hell of a lot better than I can, so I'll just rip them off. The self-titled from last year nailed Neil Young as power-rocker. This one nails the melancholy of Neil Young - and how. (_Varnaline_ was #2 in 1997.) 6. Richard Buckner, _Since_ (MCA) - I have little to add to the discussion that hasn't already been added. _Devotion + Doubt_ changed the way I looked at music. _Since_ didn't, for a couple of reasons, but it's still one hell of an album. (_Devotion _ Doubt_ was #3 in 1997.) 7. Silkworm, _Blueblood_ (Touch & Go) - A disappointment to some, but linearly, about the finest representation of how developing songwriters can demonstrate their development not only as musicians but also as people. _Developer_ was bleak. _Blueblood_ is a representation of the sensation felt when you emerge from a long, dark tunnel and enter the light - but you're so unfamiliar with the light that it hurts your eyes, and even though you've emerged, you still can't see, and in some respects, it's almost worse because you're there, you've made it through the tunnel, and haven't learned a damned thing. (_Developer_ was #4 in 1997.) 8. Joel R. L. Phelps, _The Downer Trio: 3_ (Pacifico) - Joel just keeps on going and going. More standard songs, I think, but his voice remains among the most evocative on the planet. Alas, to have only seen the old Silkworm when Joel was still in the band... 9. Archers of Loaf, _White Trash Heroes_ (Alias) - Yeah, it goes everywhere and sometimes seems unfocused; but they've still got it. Please put out more albums and please, please don't break up for good, boys. 10. Anal Cunt, _Picnic of Love_ (Off The Records) - The most entertaining album of the year, but probably not at all funny unless you're familiar with typical Anal Cunt, which I would imagine most Postcarders are NOT. Just imagine an album of touching love songs from the premiere satirical death metal band on the planet. Others that I like that kind of belong up there maybe: Karl Hendricks Trio, _Declare Your Weapons_ (Merge) - indie-guitar-rock the way it should be. Dirty Three, _Ocean Songs_ (Touch & Go) - Same old D3. Not as immediate to me as _Horse Stories_, but still captiavting. Had I bought it and had it around to hear it more, it'd likely be in the top 10. Afghan Whigs, _1965_ (Columbia) - They never lost it, it's just that they don't hit me like they once did. _Black Love_ was my #1 record in 1996 and for damn good reason. Maybe if only I'd been on a Whigs kick recently... Hefner, _Breaking God's Heart_ (Too Pure/Beggars Banquet) - Cross between Belle & Sebastian and Yatsura? I only got this recently after rave reviews and I agree. Kind of like what the Buzzcocks might be like if they were straight, softer, and grew up twenty years later. Deformo, _Deformo_ (Gourmandizer) - My favorite quirk-rock disc of the year, these Minnesotans know how to make you dance by using weird chord sequences. June of '44, _Four Great Points_ (Quarterstick) - Solid post-rock that actually has some RAWK to it. Fugazi, _End Hits_ (Dischord) - I haven't heard it at all recently and I forget a lot, but I really enjoyed this album when I heard it. Punk can be progressive too. Sixteen Horsepower, _Low Estate_ (A&M) - Gothic country doesn't sound very interesting, but it sure as hell is. Halo Benders, _The Rebel's Not In_ (K) - I don't like Calvin Johnson's voice enough, I guess, but the interplay of Johnson and Doug Martsch is some great stuff. Probably would have been a top 10 pick if I were in a perkier mood. Don Caballero, _What Burns Never Returns_ (Touch & Go) - The most complicated math-rock ever conceived, just about, but Damon Che is one hell of a drummer and the album ceaselessly captivates. Clutch, _The Elephant Riders_ (Columbia) - Hard rock with a decidedly odd twist that our new station manager at WESN forced down our throats - and for good reason! Billy Bragg & Wilco, _Mermaid Avenue_ (Elektra) - I'll admit it - I never bought it, and not because I didn't want it. I just never grabbed it. I only heard it a couple of times and did like it. It's one of that huge backlog of stuff I still need to get. Albums I intend to get because of rave reviews from somebody somewhere or because I know they'll be good: Marah, godspeed you black emperor!, Number One Cup (can't find it anywhere!!!), Sloan (likewise!), Golden Smog (just ain't grabbed it yet). Also recent purchases I haven't totally digested include Bottle Rockets and You Am I. (As of now I've got the new Number One Cup, and it's pretty damn weird, and I've got the new Gourds finally and it's good stuff, and I've got the new Golden Smog and am listening to it for the first time and it's good stuff too.) Favorite albums by guys I know or guys who guys I know know: The Bass Turd, _Oscar and Larry for President and Vice-P_ (Stone Cold Shit) - A concept album about two morons ruling the world by a true performer, The Bass Turd. Catch him the next time you're through Iowa City. Astrodome, _Scarlet_ (Protein Power!/Stone Cold Shit) - Iowa City guys that kind of define what would have happened if Pavement had been born ten years later, had Robert Pollard for a fourth-grade teacher, and loved Motown. Carwax Kings, _Live and Down Your Throat, Whore_ (Ver Ver Tasty) - Best live album I've ever been a part of! My favorite concerts that I was not a part of, in no order: Silkworm (Empty Bottle, Chicago, March) - Hands down the best concert of the year. Silkworm is still the best goddamn band in the country and I don't care who argues with me. Silkworm (Euclid Tavern, Cleveland, September) - Still fabulous. Bottle Rockets (Lizard's Lounge, Bloomington, June) - awesome. What more can you say? Guitar Wolf (The Gallery, Normal, June) - The Ramones are still alive in the bodies of three out-of-control Japanese fellas. Mike Watt (Little Brother's, Columbus, October?) - Holy shit, am I glad I saw the opera before they put it to bed. Watt and Cline shredded like I've never seen before. Archers of Loaf (Little Brother's, Columbus, October?) - If I never get to see them again, I'm glad I caught this extraordinary set. Everything off of vs. GOAT! Varnaline (Newport opening for Bob Mould and Bernie's, both Columbus, September? and December) - A band you will not miss unless you are warped in the head or out of gasoline. Strong rock, upright bass... yowza! Swervedriver/Spoon (Mabel's, Champaign, June) - Both were fantastic. Spoon stripped-fown straight-forward pop-rock; Swervedriver blending loud wild shoegazer pop-rock - great bill. Superchunk/Neutral Milk Hotel (Mabel's, Champaign, February) - Superchunk was high-energy and loads of fun; NMH was brilliant but I was so sleep-deprived it was practically trance-inducing! Apples In Stereo (Metro, Chicago, March?) - Fantastic live set, energetic, pop-pop-rock at its finest. Blew Luna away. Wilco (outdoors, Columbus, August?) - Fourth time I'd seen them (first time I'd seen ANY band four times) and they haven't disappointed yet. Don Caballero (Mabel's, Champaign, June) - I've never seen a man drum like that. Number One Cup and Promise Ring (Blind Pig, Champaign, April) - Both were fantastic. Number One Cup should be about the biggest damn thing going. Shows I liked that I was involved in: Sweep The Leg Johnny (I booked them in Bloomington in April) - sort of emo but with a sharp saxophone that can't be ignored. Also them in Chicago in June where they blew Braid away - that's kind of hard to do. Pave The Rocket (I booked them in Bloomington in May) - emo-core that oughtn't be missed. About the best thing to come of St. Louis in, oh, a few years... Randy Herman and the Sceptre of Benevolence / The Bass Turd / Carwax Kings / Asyncdrone / Late (Gabe's, Iowa City, July) - the strangest show I've ever been a performer in. Randy's drummer got into a fight with Matthew from Late (Pave-lister extraordinare), we played a sizzling 20-minute set, Asyncdrone was fantastic... weird. Music-related lows of 1998 Silkworm and the Archers of Loaf are both in "hiatus". I'm not a Music Director anymore. The new Girls Against Boys pretty much stunk. Wide Swing Tremolo. I've decided that the production is the culprit here.