Writers top 10s
1. Jets To Brazil - Orange Rhyming Dictionary - I don't care what bands
people in this band have played in previously, it is still an amazing CD
standing on it's own two legs. Rock n' roll, plain as day. Plus some of
the best ballads I've ever heard. (Jade Tree)
2. Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty - The Beasties are back, and badder than
ever. With Mixmaster Mike added into the fray, this group seems unstoppable. (Grand Royal)
3. Braid - Frame & Canvas - Emo's present supergroup returns with some of
the catchiest songs you'll ever hear. Be prepared to see yourself humming
them all the time. (Polyvinyl)
4. Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come - I don't even own this CD and I
still love it. This freshly broken-up Swedish hardcore band rocks my ass
and has me begging for more. (Burning Heart)
5. Harvey Danger - Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone? - We've probably
all heard "Flagpole Sitta," better known as the "I'm not sick but I'm not
well" song. Well, these boys have more than a catchy tune, they have an
entire CD full of awesome "alternative" music to jam to. (Slash Records)
6. Mad Caddies - Duck and Cover - The Mad Caddies baffle me at how good
they can be on this CD when their last CD, for the most part, sucked ass.
Maybe Fat did something to them to make every song kick serious ass.
Punk-ska at it's finest. (Fat Wreck Chords)
7. Unwritten Law - Unwritten Law - Track after track of melodic punk, too
fast and acid-tongued to be a mainstream hit, but too refined to be popular
with the underground crowd. Well, I dig it. (Interscope
8. Jejune - This Afternoon's Malady - Indie rock at it's finest, with
female vocals to boot! I'm in love...(Big Wheel
9. Blue Meanies - A Sonic Documentation of Exibition and Banter - People
have said that the Blue Meanies can only be best experienced live, and
after listening to this CD, I can't imagine anything less. I don't even
know HOW to describe these guys, other than they must all be on crack, 24/7. (Asian Man)
10. The Offspring - Americana - The So-Cal Punksters are back, with a
vengance. Even though their sound has changed with major label
interference, their message stays the same: FSU (Fuck Shit Up). (Columbia)
10. cap n jazz - anthology cd, this barely gets on because i had most of it
already. (jade tree)
9. torches to rome - s/t lp, politically charged HC, very raw and powerful. (ebullition)
8. farewell bend - in passing lp, balls out emorock. you gotta see this band
7. locust - s/t lp, insane noise blasts cut up with keyboard craziness. (gsl)
6. american football - s/t ep, mike kinsella shows everyone which kinsella
brother has all the talent....beautiful. (polyvinyl)
5. refused - the shape of punk to come lp, best thing epitaph will ever and
has ever put out. period. (burning heart)
4. sunny day real estate - how it feels to be something on lp, what an amazing
lp. too bad theyre charging so much for their shows... (sub
3. jets to brazil - orange rhyming dictionary lp, brilliant comeback for blake
schwarzenbach. great lyrics paired with 80's tinged rock music. (jade tree)
2. antarctica - s/t ep, shoegazer MBV kinda stuff with a bit of the cure
thrown in. features the singer from christie front drive, probably my favorite
live act of the year... (file 13)
1. the lapse - betrayal! lp, socially and politically aware indie/punk. one
of the most varied and most interesting punk albums of the year. from the
mastermind behind the van pelt, this one ups the ante. (gern
1. refused - shape of punk to come -- hands down, the best album of the year. not too many bands
*try* to mix styles around as much as refused did, and none succeed quite as well. throw in some
very well-written political lyrics and you have a winner. (burning heart)
2. fugazi - end hits -- it's fugazi. this song has about 90% good tracks on here that will stick in
your head and keep you wondering just what the hell they're about. (dischord)
3. managra - modern day rememberance -- managra was the most amazing live band of 1998. six guys
who jumped, screamed, and flailed to get the point across. and this disc captures the feeling. (highwater records)
4. cap'n jazz - analphabetapolothology -- almost everything cap'n jazz recorded. can't go wrong
here. (jade tree)
5. jets to brazil - orange rhyming dictionary -- my friend phil called this album the emo version
of classic rock. i don't know that he's on the money there, but these songs are sure to become
classics. they're so damned poppy, this could really hit it big...(jade tree)
6. hum - downward is heavenward -- loud, heavy, and heartfelt. hum rule. (rca)
7. avail - over the james -- melodic hardcore at it's finest. i can't stop listening to this cd,
and i can't stop humming along to it, singing along, whatever. this is great. (lookout)
8. alkaline trio - goddamnit -- very pop-punk, but with a strong emotional influence. phrases
from the lyrics stick in my mind and i'm glad. (asian
9. archers of loaf - white trash heroes -- this is much better than the other archers album i have
(all the nations airports). there's a bad track or two on here, but the rest rock and roll and take
their toll. (alias)
10. arab strap - philophobia -- imagine pulp. now imagine them scottish. now imagine them drunk.
now imagine them singing depressing songs about love instead of slightly happy songs about love.
that is arab strap. (matador)
Pras: Ghetto Superstar
Great hip hop without the Advisory sticker. It's about time that MC's start
relying on content and quality as opposed to shock value. Pras deffinately
provides the pop/disco side of the Fugees but he does it so well.
Delinquent Habbits: Here Come the Horns
The return of one of the most creative and infectious hip hop outfits. These
guys are the best west coast set out right now. Guest appearances by Big Pun
and veteran Mellow Man Ace didn't hurt either.
Willie Nelson: Teatro
Beyond words, just a feeling. Listen to it for yourself. This would probably
be my very top pick of the year.
Killah Priest: Heavy Mental
Wu Tang's spiritual soldier goes solo. If you are searching for good lyrics,
this is it, introspective and intelligent. Hopefully we will se more from the
Master P: Da Last Don
Is it a concept album? Intentional or not, listen to it all the way through
and you get a monarch questioning and attempting to justify the means and ways
of power. If you like'd MacBeth, you'll love Da Last done (maybe not but both
are well constructed poetic tales of tragic monarchs).
Great performances from great musicians, Pras, Wyclef, KRS-ONE, and a bunch of
others. It was a great preview for what was to come in hip hop that year. It
also saved me the trouble of buying Cappodonna's disc by showing that this man
had nothing to offer lyrically.
Dwight Yoakum: A Long Way Home
Standard Dwight quality. Great lyrics, great music, all Dwight.
"Return of the G" says everyting that needs to be said about gangster rappers.
The continued expansion of one of the most interesting groups out right now.
Dead or Alive: Nukleopatra
"You Spin Around Like a Record" remixed twice and 13 other gothic dance
tracks. A celebration of the party called life. It was the #1 best surprise
Bozzio Levins Stevens: Black Light Syndrome
Steve Stevens finally makes the guitar record we have been waiting for. Great
instrumental jammed out wonder guitar. It's on the progressive tip. If you
haven't figured it out, Terry Bozzio and Tony Levins round out this amazing
trio. If you miss shredding guitar work this album is your New Testament.
Albums that seem really good that might have made my list that I did not get
to listen to enough:
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Heard it once at Media Play and it sounded pretty good. It had the first new
recording done by Carlos Santana in years. The lyrics were refreshingly
fresh. I hope to pick it up soon, why don't you?
Keith Murray's new one
I heard this is his most introspective record yet. He did some good stuff
with Def Jam (he's my favorite of the three) and I'm sure his standard of
quality continues on his new album. I will deffinately check this one out
The idea of writing a bit about the best albums of 1998 doesn't work well for
me, because I'm not sure if I have bought 10 good albums copyrighted in that
year. I would much rather account for the year by detailing the various music,
reading material, and films that helped me to get through the horrible catastrophe
that was 1998. After all, when we think back to a particular year, do we think of
the great albums that came out that year, or just the great music that we heard?
I don't recall exactly what I was listening to the most at the beginning of 1998.
I was working at Media Play, I was single, and I was out on the town a lot. Ahh,
yes, it all comes back to me. The cold winter, the nights of driving down to Octane
to meet friends... in my stereo would have been Yamo: Time Pie, and/or The Apples in
Stereo: Tone Soul Evolution.
I bought Yamo because it was a fresh release by a former member of Kraftwerk.
That was, essentially, the only reason. The first few times I listened to it, I
didn't fully appreciate it. Track 5 on the album is very reminiscent of Kraftwerk's
_Autobahn_ period, and for a while was my favorite track. It was named "Guiding Ray"
and was the single from the album. And while that was a very good song, I probably
listened to it too much. Later I listened to the full album a few more times
through, and came to fully appreciate it. Tracks like #2, Mosquito, and Speech
Dancer, are two of the best and most innovative works I've heard in the realms of
electronic music. I forget the name of the man who is Yamo, but his expertise in
electronic composition and experience with pop music really come together to make
this album a masterpiece. I consider it one of my favorite albums of all time.
The Apples in Stereo was a frequent visitor to my CD players. They produce clean,
catchy, happy, and delicious indie-pop-rock. Very prone to sing-alongs. This was
definitely a wonderful complement to the beautiful time I had during the spring,
going to various parks on sunny days with my newly found, and, at the time, beautiful
I don't believe there has been a time this year that I haven't listened to NIL8.
After seeing this heavy punk band play at The Pit about two years ago, I have not
heard anything quite like them. They are a wonderful band and create powerful rock
songs with interesting and motivated lyrics. Though John would disagree with me, I
believe that Doug and Hallelujah are their two best albums. They've been through a
sequence of lineup changes over the years, but at least they are in existence, which
makes me happy. They can be seen in concert at various venues throughout Illinois
and surrounding border cities. If you've been missing out on good ROCK lately,
definitely give an ear to NIL8 and be blown away.
One particular song that I hold dear after experiencing 1998 is UB40's "Red
Red Wine." I heard it a couple of times at a drunken graduation party while I was
in Germany (dozens of kegs of beer, held on school grounds), marking a wonderful
night and many memories. Then I heard it again while at Magic Waters with my (now
ex) girlfriend. It's an emotional song. And yes, I know it's a cover.
I made various visits to Champaign, IL, to prepare for my future career at its
university. Each time I checked out the music stores. Many times my purchases
turned out to be unwise, but one purchase that has definitely stuck with me was the
Can Anthology. This is a two-disc collection of songs spanning 25 years of the works
of the band Can and various solo spawnings. There are so many good songs on this
anthology, and they have such a sound of their own. Most would classify Can as a
"krautrock band", or "progressive rock" perhaps. I can say that whichever words are
used to describe Can, one idea that is always prevalent is how inspirational their
music has been to some of the most influential groups of today, like Sonic Youth, for
example. Some of their songs are mellow, some are funkrock, some are strange
world-music concoctions. But each song defies any such category and simply is Can.
Spending time at Octane Interlounge in Rockford in 1998 and schmoozing with those
of superior musical knowledge allowed me to expand my horizons and learn about new
groups. One of the groups I started listening to more due to heated conversations
about music would be XTC. I already owned an album or two of theirs, but speaking
with older folks about XTC inspired me to listen to them more and to pick up more
albums. I can say now that one of my favorite "pop" albums of all time would have to
be XTC's _Drums and Wires_. My taste for their mega-acclaimed _Oranges and Lemons_
grew a lot. Originally I hadn't much taste for it, but repeated listens allowed me
to get more into it.
I continued getting my fixes from some of the mainstays of my musical habits,
namely Meat Beat Manifesto, who released a new album in 1998; Kraftwerk, whose
concert I missed due to being in Germany and whose first album (Kraftwerk /
Organisation: _Tone Float_) I bought in Madison at B-Sides. Cabaret Voltaire's
albums _The Arm of the Lord_ and _Micro-Phonies_ helped me when I was down -- 80's
synthpop at its pure, inventive best.
I became enthralled in Fad Gadget after buying his Fireside Favourite album late
in the year. It's rather like Gary Numan, the Doors, and early Cabaret Voltaire all
combined into one gorgeous mass.
Two albums of distinction for late 98 would be _Acme_ from the Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion and _A Series of Sneaks_ by Spoon. These were purchases around the time that
I suffered the loss of my previously mentioned girlfriend. When I would walk to or
from the various coffee shops in Champaign, or anywhere else out-of-doors, one of
these would be the album I listened to. Or the Can anthology. Listening to Spoon
still makes me think of that time, which was not a good one, so sometimes it's kind
of challenging to hear it. But that Spoon album is seriously solid rock, maybe indie
rock, with a sound all its own. Mastery. Wonderful. Another album significant to
this breakup was Sebadoh's Bubble and Scrape, whose first two songs are uncannily
akin to the details of my breakup. Very very emotional. Strange that I should
happen to first hear the album when she and I began to date and hear it again when
our relationship was falling apart.
I'm going to stop there. 1998 also marked the time when I began to read books
again. When I wasn't playing with my newly purchased Macintosh, I was out drinking
coffee and reading books. I read a number of Vonnegut books, The Catcher in the Rye,
and some other stuff. I watched some movies I had been meaning to see, most notably
Blue Velvet, which turned out to be one of my favorite films of all time. I also saw
Basquiat, the true story about the New York graffitti artist destroyed by fame (and
in which David Bowie plays Andy Warhol).
From the start of 1999 until right now, my life is maintaining two distinct forks
-- the fork of pure good and the fork of pure evil. Each one is growing in power and
magnitude. Hopefully, eventually, they will either merge back into one normal strain
that will continue to get better, or the evil will die off and I'll just be left with
the good. We have yet to see. Who knows if we'll even be alive past this year?
OK, I can't just end the article with the mention of apocalypse. I'm looking
forward to the release of the new XTC album this year (2 disc set) and will probably
also buy the new Moby album. The Honey single is mmm-mmm-good. Adieu, mon peeps.