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
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.)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
finally and it's good stuff, and I've got the new Golden Smog and am listening to it for the
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
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
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
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
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.