Brother Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000

Backslapping time. Well done us. We are fantastic.
User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 13 Sep 2013, 05:43

29. Labradford: Fixed: context

Image

Country: US
Artist: Trio
Career: recording since 1994
Language: Instrumental
Genre: Ambient / Post-rock

Maybe it’s a frequency thing. Labraford get into the top 100 on the strength of 20 minute opener ‘Twenty’, which fills half of this record. It fits neatly into the post-rock template – the 90s template that is, there’s no histrionic louder section here like Explosions in the sky or Mogwai would work up to. In its calm and focused, restrained instrumental noodling it puts me in mind of ‘DJed’ from Tortoise’s ‘Millions now living…’ – still my high point of the genre. In all honesty, not much happens in 20 minutes, but maybe it’s the chords, maybe it’s the amp settings. I love immersing myself in it. There’s literally not much to it, but I never tire of it. It’s mood music, and it always picks me up and leaves me refreshed at the end. It must be pitched exactly at the frequencies that work for me. I have no other explanation than that the sound vibrations feel physically good. In fact, after ‘Millions…’ I can’t name another post-rock album I enjoy this much. Side two is shorter snippets of the same – sounds unremarkable, but at that point I’m not in the mood for anything else. So, frequency scientists, it is.



At its best: Twenty

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 13 Sep 2013, 05:44

28. R.L. Burnside: Wish I was in heaven sitting down

Image

Country: US
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: recording since 1992
Language: English
Genre: Electric Blues

Awesome Burnside-ness. A voice that cuts through bullshit, telling his truth over righteous blues grooves. Some reviewers complained about the ‘modern’ production (sure, a little bit of scratching, a loop here or there, nothing that hasn’t been done for a couple of decades). I like it. Yeah, R.L. sounds as old as the hills, that doesn’t mean nothing can grow there anymore. The man sounds like he’s having a lot of fun in these grooves. (My copy has three bonus tracks showing the singer in a more natural, ‘live in studio’ setting, and well, they’re kinda boring. Stick with the original album.)
Burnside is not an evil blues singer, but he’s most definitely wicked and intent on getting it his way. A wicked old man having fun in a modern world, haven’t we learned from Dylan’s last couple of albums, that it’s a hell of a sound? In fact, a couple of these grooves (say, ‘Miss Maybelle’, ‘Too many ups’, ‘Bad luck city’) sound like they could easily have ended up on Dylan’s ‘Love & Theft’ the following year (without the scratching of course). In case you’re wondering, that’s a compliment. How a record with a truly unsettling story on it about the death of what sounds like most of R.L.’s relatives, can also end up one of the most irrepressibly fun albums of the year, I don’t know. That’s the blues for you. It sets you free.





At its best: Hard time killing floor, Got messed up, Miss Maybelle, Too many ups, Nothin’ man, R.L.’s story

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 13 Sep 2013, 05:45

27. Jimi Tenor: Out of nowhere

Image

Country: Finland
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: recording since 1994
Language: English
Genre: Psychedelic electronica

Tenor went out of his way to make what may be the ultimate freak record of the year. He hired the Polish Orchestra of the Great Theatre Lodz to fill in the colours of his nightmarish noir/lounge/’70s symphonic soul vision, which they do like rabid volunteers on a suicide mission. The record’s almost evenly divided between abstract, instrumental sound collages (that do work!) and great trips of songs called ‘Hypnotic drugstore’ and ‘Blood on Borscht’, which manage to sound exactly as mad as their titles make you hope. Not easy listening. ‘Nowhere’ sounds like a dangerous place to visit if these are the souvenirs.





At its best: Hypnotic drugstore, Blood on Borscht, Spell

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 13 Sep 2013, 05:47

26. Giant sand: Chore of enchantment

Image

Country: US
Artist: Trio
Career: recording since 1985
Language: English
Genre: Inside out Country rock

Wayward talent, that’s Howe Gelb. Gelb and his men have been setting fire with their chaotic desert rock’n’roll since the early ‘80s. Gelb – the beatnik orator at full speed, never managing to fit his lines into metre or reason. His men, with casual disregard for notes and bars. The pulpit of absurdist theory.
Prior to ‘Chore of enchantment’ there was a long silence. They lost one of their men to cancer. Maybe that’s what accounts for the record’s concentration. They’re uncharacteristically sharp and on the ball. Granted, the ball is still chaos, but they’re on it. It might account also for the tone of reflection and strength. It takes time to decipher, or to get a grip on its absurd logic, but it’s a powerful statement. After this the long lasting configuration of the band, reduced here to Gelb and Calexico’s rhythm section (great!), fell apart. Gelb has been recording with/under various band names. But there was something special about these guys.
Wayward – I saw Gelb play solo a couple of months ago. He’d gotten himself a new old guitar effect, and he seemingly smitten with it. In short, when he hit it, the note he played would change to a random note by way of slides/slurs/whooshes of sound. He used it on every song, and told us the story of how he came by it. My girlfriend couldn’t take it. Wayward.





At its best: (well) Dusted (for the millennium), Raw, Shiver, Astonished (in Memphis), Satellite

User avatar
Moleskin
Posts: 13965
Joined: 18 Feb 2004, 12:38
Location: We began to notice that we could be free, And we moved together to the West.

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Moleskin » 13 Sep 2013, 11:32

Brother Spoon wrote:30. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci: The blue trees

Image

Country: UK
Artist: Band
Career: recording since 1994
Language: English
Genre: Gentle psych-folk pop

No slur, but this is nothing more than an extended single for ‘Face like summer’ to me. ‘Face like summer’ is a perfect song. I have played it, without exaggeration, on repeat for half an hour at a stretch. And even with tears in my eyes, it’s still a perfect song. No matter that it’s four verses and one endless chorus (they couldn’t quite find a way back from the chorus and I can’t blame ‘em). Love the clumsy piano at the start, the way the second keyboard adds support on verse two, the breakdown, verse three with acoustic guitar and backings, verse four with bass and then ‘I know that’s where it begins’ repeated endlessly without any musical changes or build up, just repeated like a mantra for all the fallible human beings for whom happiness is so hard to find and whose dreams so easily fade away.
(The other seven tracks, including three instrumentals, set you up for that song in the best possible way. Also check out the VU-esque ‘Fresher than the sweetness in water’.)





At its best: Face like summer, also: Fresher than the sweetness in water, The blue trees, Wrong turnings


Good lord, but that is a wonderful record, however short it may be.
@hewsim
-the artist formerly known as comrade moleskin-
-the unforgettable waldo jeffers-

Jug Band Music
my own music

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 14 Sep 2013, 06:35

25. Virginia Rodrigues: Nos

Image

Country: Brazil
Artist: Female solo artist
Career: recording since 1997, 2nd album
Language: Portuguese
Genre: Brazilian folk

A ballad disc that slowly creeps under your skin. Don’t be fooled by the introduction in which Rodrigues attempts some kind of musical invocation of the gods over a dry, unmelodic percussion track – that’s not where this is headed. From the first song on though, it’s flawless. A couple of songs have those killer chord changes that make the hairs on your neck stand up. What a singer. And these songs sound like they’re carved out of rock. I want to especially mention the gorgeous arrangements – a Caetana Veloso production if I’m not mistaken.





At its best: Uma historia de Ifa, Salvador nao Inerte, Oju oba, Mimar voce

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 14 Sep 2013, 06:36

24. Oscar Peterson: Trail of dreams – A Canadian suite

Image

Country: Canada
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: recording since 1945
Language: Instrumental
Genre: Jazz / Easy listening

When John Irving was confronted with the statement that in contemporary fiction plot was dead, he responded along the lines of ‘Just cause they can’t think of a story anymore…’ Quality of John Irving’s recent novels aside, that must be how Oscar Peterson feels about melody. Tacky but lovely cover and song titles aside, I don’t have a clue what this has to do with Canada or any country. It’s evocative of romance, of old Hollywood movies, of great old Disney soundtracks. In fact, if you can stomach the most gorgeously sentimental light orchestral (with strings!) mood music this side of the century, step right this way. There’s nothing better than this in 2000. There’s nothing else like this in 2000 either, but don’t let that stop you. Alright, I admit, it’s muzak. All this does is sit there and be absolutely beautiful. Ain’t that enough? I thought I could resist, but I just love the warm and sentimental feelings it gives me. Still can’t figure out what it has to do with Canada though.





At its best: Open places, Morning in Newfoundland, The Okanagan valley, Dancetron, Banff the beautiful, Harcourt nights

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 14 Sep 2013, 06:37

23. Moloko: Things to make and do

Image

Country: UK
Artist: Duo
Career: recording since 1995
Language: English
Genre: Electronic pop

There’s no doubt ‘Pure pleasure seeker’, the opening track here, is one of the monster records of the year. A wild, exhausting, exhilarating ride, that’s completely mad and completely believable. It just feels awesome, the louder you turn it up the better it becomes. And the two other singles, ‘Indigo’ and ‘The time has come’ aren’t far behind in bringing you a mad rush. This is what Prince should’ve been doing in 2000 (and that’s high praise).
So, I’m putting this in on the strength of those 15 minutes, even though the record as it stands is not without problems. On some songs (‘Remain the same’, ‘Dumb inc’) they take the ‘in your face’ attitude a little too far, to the point of annoyance. Some songs are good but scattershot. The whole record is scattershot (or a mess). But listening to records is not an exact science. They’ve earned their place.

Edit: Still the same as before, except not annoyed anymore. Loving it.





At its best: Pure pleasure seeker, Indigo, The time has come, If you have a cross to bear you might as well use it as a crutch

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 14 Sep 2013, 06:38

22. Emiliana Torrini: Love in the time of science

Image

Country: Iceland
Artist: Female solo artist
Career: debut
Language: English
Genre: Pop

What Portishead should have done after their second album, or even first. Modern pop record expertly realized (slow and brooding pop anyway, torch songs perhaps). Craft and inspiration combined. Modern pop means there’s an immaculate shine to the recordings, everything about the performances and arrangements is so perfectly balanced and right, that it’s not natural. You can’t believe any of these recordings are performances captured that ever really happened, not like a ‘60s pop album (or even ‘70s) with people standing next to each other in a cramped studio space bringing a track to life. All of that happens in the head of the producer/artist now. That’s modern pop for you. And this record at least does it right. The songs are all there, the artist arrives fully formed and sings them to life, the arrangements support the songs, it’s very 2000 but so well done it could become timeless. Yes, I think it could.





At its best: To be free, Wednesday’s child, Baby blue, Easy, Summerbreeze

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 14 Sep 2013, 06:39

21. Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker

Image

Country: US
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: solo debut
Language: English
Genre: Singer-songwriter

For my next trick I might do something ambitious and listen to all of Ryan Adams’s records.

I had this record at the time, but when Adams turned out to be a self-destructive egghead (around 2001 or so – ‘Gold’ was truly a record like a damp soufflé), I felt like I’d been had and sold it. Now I feel like I’ve been had cause I could’ve been enjoying this great record all along. Cause it comes from the place where great records come from: when a talented musician suddenly hits the motherlode writing songs, finds the right band to play them and manages to record a great sounding record out of them. In this case, those three conditions were all met, and no personal feelings should detract from that.
He’s got the songs, they just roll over each other on this album, one after another like an endless supply of genre exercises, playful ditties, heartbreaking ballads, it feels like it’s never going to end. He’s got the band: I mean, you’ve got to hand it to Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Ethan Johns – they’ve got all the right moves, take on all the shades that the songs require and stay out of the way when the songs require nothing. And they made a great sounding record out of it. All the instruments sound really nice, and that’s no mean feat. I had listener friends who got turned off by how high the vocals are in the mix, but I think it’s just right. And the sequencing is excellent – like I said, the songs are just rolling by, one after another and when he hits on a really excellent one, say the reverie of ‘Amy’, or the almost mythical feeling of home in ‘Oh my sweet Carolina’, the 5am pensiveness of ‘Sweet lil gal’, it gets me, it really does. This record kicked Americana into a new gear at the beginning of the century, for better and worse. That’s the influence these kind of powerful records always have.





At its best: My winding wheel, Amy, Oh my sweet Carolina, In my time of need, Sweet lil gal (23rd/1st)

User avatar
Walk In My Shadow
Hello Laydeez
Posts: 36972
Joined: 23 Jul 2003, 20:02
Location: The Good, the Bad, both ugly
Contact:

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Walk In My Shadow » 14 Sep 2013, 07:18

Nice to see R.L.Burnside and Howe Gelb getting the nod of approval.
Beneluxfunkmeisterlurvegod


Image

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 15 Sep 2013, 06:16

20. Mudhoney: March to fuzz (1988-98)

Image

Country: US
Artist: Band
Career: recording since 1988
Language: English
Genre: Heavy rock

1988 was a little before my time, but I do wonder, when these guy appeared they must’ve blown away every other band in the country. Sure, those SST bands rocked, but none of them (not Husker Du, not the Minutemen, not Sonic Youth, not Meat Puppets) rocked like this. The keyword is sick, and from their monolithic early work (which stills sounds dauntingly primitive) to their surprisingly diverse and effective later work (I should check that stuff out!), it’s all here. Well, except for that one song from ‘Five dollar Bob’s mock cooter stew’ – what the hell is that all about?
You might say, how could any band from 2000 compete with 13 years of Mudhoney sickness? And – you’d be right. I’ve chosen some highlights but it’s futile. This is one uppercut after another, so precise and unerring in their dumb thrills – such conceptual concentration. I’d almost think there’s more sophistication there than perception betrays, except they’re so good at it, it can’t be, or is that part of the sophistication? Who knows? And when you can cue up ‘Into your shtik’, with its super swinging riff and demented second half which goes right off the rails, who cares? Not I.





At its best: Suck you dry, I have to laugh, Who you driving now?, Judgement rage retribution and thyme, Touch me I’m sick, Blinding sun, Into your shtik, Beneath the valley of the underdog

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 15 Sep 2013, 06:17

19. Moris Tepper: Big enough to disappear

Image

Country: US
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: debut (released several times between 1996 and 2000)
Language: English
Genre: Weird roots rock

You’re looking into the keyhole of a weird man.
You probably know all about this record, and are saying ‘Wait, isn’t that from 1996?’ Yeah, I guess, but it got shuttled between labels a couple of times, and my copy came out on Proper in 2000, and anyway, by the time I found out, it had found its place high up in the list, and I didn’t want to take it out.
This is Weird Roots RockTM, which is an established genre since ‘80s Tom Waits – but don’t run now. You know Tepper is Jeff Moris Tepper from the final incarnations of the Magic Band, and he’s got the Captain’s sense for word play and offhand philosophical wisdom. This walks the tightrope between mad dashes in the meadows of Eastern European country funk with tuba for bass and someone on hammers and spoons, and warm ‘Her eyes are a blue million miles’ – country cousins. I’m pretty devoted to it all.
Strike one for the original originals.

No Youtube.

At its best: Can’t stop cryin’, Bankshot, (If you really want to) Hurt somebody

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 15 Sep 2013, 06:18

18. Jim O’Rourke: Jim:Computer:Hotel

Image

Country: US
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: recording since ca. 1989
Language: Instrumental
Genre: Improvisation electronica

If you know me well, I may have shown you my Jim O’Rourke shrine. Jim is my God. Even his beard is divinely different from other people’s beards, a grizzled American primitive rather than a tonsured ‘amusement park USA’ weave.
He may be grumpy God – retreating from view for extended periods, making me wonder if he exists. A jealous God – guarding his gifts. A vengeful God – scrapping entire records because my offerings aren’t enough to pay for that orchestra he wanted. A capricious God – spending more time on perverse, chaotic work that’s probably improvised, than on considered, beautiful creations. But hey, what else is new?
So you know, I’m not going to let the fact that he didn’t really release any records in 2000 stop me from including one. This is a limited limited edition record which was part of a New York art exhibition and afterwards sold for charity (or something like that).
Yeah, I got it from the internet.

2001 would see O’Rourke unleash two great records – the monumental song exploration ‘Insignificance’ and its dark, electronic sibling ‘I’m happy and I’m singing and a 1, 2, 3, 4’. That second record was a compilation of diverse live solo electronica improvisations, further adapted and bent into shape for the record. ‘Jim: computer: hotel’ – the title says it – is O’Rourke in a hotel room one day running through the basic material he used for those live improvisations. It’s a preliminary study for ‘I’m happy…’ – and I’m happy it exists. It’s a guide to the heart of the difficult but rewarding music it ended up as. But apart from that I’ve come to like it better than the finished music. It’s my chanced to hear his musical thoughts in real time.

The heart is the 25 minute 3rd track (no titles, but it ended up as ‘1, 2, 3, 4’), a piece of music like dark stormclouds passing overhead, unsettling and imposing, a force of nature, the work of God.

No Youtube.

At its best: 3.

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 15 Sep 2013, 06:19

17. Bebel Gilberto: Tanto tempo

Image

Country: US / Brazil
Artist: Female solo artist
Career: debut of 2nd career
Language: Portuguese / English
Genre: Bossa nova

I gotta tell you, I’m writing this from a position of great stress. F*cking work!

You might think ‘Oh, I know where this review is going’.
All wound up.
Let’s settle down with some coffee and the lovely daughter of Joao.
In fact bring me a table for that coffee.
Where was I?
Lovely…

None of that – I want to bust this fucking cd. Fuck these spindle. Fuck these tiny bits on the front part connecting the cover with the spine – they break so easily.
Yeah, I’ll bust that Spanish guitar too, mister.
And the sampler!

I’m not feeling it right now, but this is a great record. Not just the best bossa nova album of the year, but the best since a whole lot of years.
A classic.

Now where’s that Boris album?





At its best: Samba da Bencao, August day song, No return

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 15 Sep 2013, 06:19

16. Boris: Flood

Image

Country: Japan
Artist: Trio
Career: recording since 1996
Language: Unknown
Genre: Heavy rock

Reviews tell me this is Boris’s most ambient album (at least up until that point). Maybe that’s why I like it so much. When I hear the word ‘Flood’ I always think of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tape-song ‘Down in the flood’: ‘It’s gonna be the meanest flood anybody ever saw’. This one isn’t mean though. In fact listening to it I can easily place myself in that picture on the cover, submerged, at one with the tide of the water. So very different from how I’d imagined Boris: I thought it would be ragged and uncompromising and that it would sound more amateur (thin production, unsubtle artistic choices) than fans would care to admit.
It’s not. I love that this is a carefully considered, expertly shaped, beautifully sounding experience, crafted with all the attention and knowhow it deserves. Lo-fi purity can be a good thing, but not for this music. It’s really one 70 minute musical moment, no shortcuts, no songs. Only parts of it can really be described as performance (parts 2 and 3 and those are some awesome performances), it’s all about the experience of the listener. It fits in neatly with a lot of other records in this list in that way. A very ‘00s thing. And Boris are up there with the best, based on this record.
What does it sound like, you ask? You’re going to be sorry you asked that, as words will do a very bad job at describing how it feels. Part one is basically two guitars playing the same 3 second melody line moving slowly out of sync. That’s the first 10 minutes plus of the experience. 7 minutes in there’s a distorted sound like somebody dragging a bag of metal objects across the room. That turns into a wild tribal tom tom percussion segue. I admit the first time I heard it I thought I’d never listen to it again, but I’ve come to like it a lot, partly because of the way it sets up the second section, but partly also just as itself. It worms its way into your consciousness. Part two is a two chord (two beautiful chords) dirge with lyrical guitar solos, also about 15 minutes. The control of tone is stunning, long feedback notes that sound just like flutes. It’s mesmerizing, epic and thrilling for the duration. It makes me feel as many conflicting emotions as ‘Maggot brain’.
There has to come a climax after that, and what a fulfilling, proud, uplifting moment it is. Part three starts with lovely singing (usually the downfall of such groups, but not here, harmonies and everything) and goes through the heavy stuff that you’ve been building up to for the last half hour. It’s crushing, it’s loud, it’s celebratory. Part four zooms out for 20 minutes on the last two notes of the climax, repeating endlessly and sinking into oblivion subtly and engagingly.
There you go. You can bemoan the state of rock-as-it-was in the ‘00s or you can ride along with the new wave. The second option is looking better all the time.



At its best: Flood II, Flood III

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 16 Sep 2013, 05:50

15. Link Wray: Barbed wire

Image

Country: US
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: recording since 1958
Language: English / Instrumental
Genre: Rock&Roll

How do we deal with veteran records as listeners? The grizzled old folks who started it all are out there releasing record after record, in an approximation of their original sound. Some get back into the public eye or never leave it (Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan), many more keep going, somewhere under the radar, and twice yearly in a town near where you live. Are we supposed to listen to their records? Have they done enough for us, that they deserve this reprieve while we ignore their new work? Is it even possible for them to create anything worthwhile inside the tradition they helped create once?
There’s two opinions, I’ve found. One is that an artist at some point creates the perfect embodiment of his ideas (‘Like a rolling stone’, ‘I walk the line’, ‘Rumble’, ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reggae’) and everything after is an uninteresting pale retreat. The other is that if we like an artist at one stop in his journey, we might enjoy seeing where inspiration takes him, even if the path leads through valleys and meadows. There’s no need to compare ‘Like a rolling stone’ to ‘Cold irons bound’ (to name just one track from ‘Time out of mind’), they can exist side by side very well. Philosophically, it’s either option A (talent gets used up) or option B (talent gets used/abused). You’ve probably guessed that I’m in the second group, and so old people are generously represented in this list.
Which brings us to Link Wray and this record. The tag line ‘newly recorded cd’ on the back cover is relative, none of this music is less than 3 years old, most is from 1995. Five years more or less, what does it matter in the life of a veteran? It’s a mess basically, roughly half of it from a session with his Danish rock quartet, five songs from an acoustic session with a bass player, two live tracks tacked at the end. Not the conditions to find greatness. And for the first nine songs, that’s where it stays. It veers back and forth between the rocking tracks and the acoustic songs – versions of riffs he’s done before and covers (‘Barbed wire’, ‘Tiger man’, ‘Jailhouse rock’, ‘Young and beautiful’…). (Side note: Link is not a great singer, he never was, he isn’t in 2000. I kinda like his singing, and you sort of listen around it. If you can’t, fair do). The more I listen to these first nine songs, the more I find to like in them. I enjoy it a lot, but there’s no way around it’s a nice stop through one of the valleys for Link Wray.
But the tables turn on the last 20 minutes and four tracks (all of the high points below). Nothing, and I mean nothing, from 2000 rocks as hard as these 20 minutes. ‘Spider Man’ is just the most groovy introduction to the rocking, but even here the instrumental part starting at about 1’45” is noise and madness and rockin’ groove. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always wanted to hear what would happen if a ‘50s rocker embraced ‘80s guitar noise, or if a recent guitar attack band could rock with the authority of a ‘50s master. I’ve found my answer. It doesn’t let up – and it doesn’t matter these are the umpteenth versions of these songs that Link or anyone has done. He’s blazing through them, rewiring them from the inside out, spitting out the verses to get them out of the way and get into the instrumental sections. There’s nothing like ‘Born to be wild’ on any other record from 2000 or most other years. This ain’t no valley. It’s either high up on a mountain range, or subterranean – and either way it’s a sight to hear. He’s using it like he’s trying to use it up.



At its best: Spider man, Rumble (Live ’97), Born to be wild, Fire (Live ’97)

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 16 Sep 2013, 05:51

14. Porcupine tree: Lightbulb sun

Image

Country: UK
Artist: Band
Career: recording since 1992
Language: English
Genre: Classic rock

I’d expected something pointy and hermetic, but Porcupine Tree is the return of classic rock. No genre is more popularly loved but critically reviled. I might not be as objective as I could be – finding myself submerged in the music of 2000 for months, no classic rock in sight – but I welcome it with open arms.
Though the reference points are all familiar (topics: waste of human souls, depletion of natural resources, resignation to living in a rainy climate – musical touchtones: DSOTM-Floyd, Quadrophenia-Who, probably some more bands I’ve only ever read about in Mojo like Marillion or Blue Oyster Cult – solos: I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I heard a wah-wah’ed guitar solo!) in the end there’s something uniquely their own in there. It’s so subtle I can’t tell you what it is.
More importantly it’s really good. Slightly doom-laden, but resigned melodies, mid-tempo meandering until they open up magically into thrilling, head-above the clouds, defiant climaxes. Lots of guitar solos, a keyboard player obviously at home in the sort of wall-of-keyboards arena setup so familiar in the ‘70s… Anyway, nothing you didn’t immediately think of when you read those two words ‘classic rock’.

I haven’t been selling this as well as I wanted to. It’s hard to find the right words for something so good, but seemingly so without reason to exist. Do we need more classic rock? So I’ll end with a little hyperbole: these days I probably prefer to play this record than any Floyd or Quadrophenia.
No, forget hyperbole, that much is true.





At its best: Lightbulb sun, Hatesong, Russia on ice, Feel so low

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 16 Sep 2013, 05:51

13. Queens of the stone age: Rated R

Image

Country: US
Artist: Band
Career: recording since 1998, 2nd album
Language: English
Genre: Hard rock

The story of how I missed my appointment with the QotSA.
It was that historical breeze, the flowery summer of 2000. The world was filled with college students and young people – just cause I happened to be both. The Gulf war was over if we wanted it. We were the future of the world and we didn’t even care about the future. There would be IT programming jobs for all of us. I think I’d just gotten on the internet in the last year!

Late june, finals over, I lost my equilibrium. Basically, I couldn’t stand up for falling down. Overworked, said the doctor. Lock yourself up in a darkened room with no noise for three days. (I hadn’t been without noise since I discovered Sonic Youth 7 years earlier!)
It wasn’t a major shock – I was just set to see Beck that night. Close call.
Anyway, my good friend visited me and brought along this new record, blue cover. ‘You’ve GOT to hear this!’ He put it on…

‘Nicotine valium…’

It hurt something awful. I told him it sounded fine and I’d definitely look into it.

And here we are…

It’s an undeniable record, rocks with precision and vision, these people are so focused on their simultaneously primal and fiercely intellectual goal, it can get scary.

Yeah.





At its best: The lost art of keeping a secret, Leg of lamb, Better living through chemistry

User avatar
Brother Spoon
Billy Crystal
Posts: 9725
Joined: 17 Jul 2003, 08:02
Location: at Yankee Stadium

Re: Spoon's 100 favourite records of 2000 (NOW TOP 100)

Postby Brother Spoon » 16 Sep 2013, 05:52

12. St Germain: Tourist

Image

Country: France
Artist: Male solo artist
Career: recording since 1994, 2nd album
Language: Instrumental
Genre: Jazz / House

The recipe is straightforward: loop a good backbeat to infinity and let an array of great soloists on different instruments loose on them. Who needs a theme or a melody, let’s groove. And so we get, in sequence, ‘Rose rouge’ (sampled voice and trumpet), ‘Montego bay spleen’ (Ernest Ranglin on guitar), ‘So flute’ (flute and piano), ‘Land of…’ (organ), ‘Latin note’ (percussion), ‘Sure thing’ (John Lee Hooker), and so on. Each track is a different shade of the same formula, an upgrade of ‘70s soul jazz in its most smoothly danceable form.
Make no mistake, for the first 6 tracks and 40 minutes, it works to perfection. Yeah, it’s unthreatening, it’s kinda glossy, you could put it on a coffee table, but it’s so good. There’s a reason ‘Sure thing’ (built up out of samples of Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker) was inescapable that year on the continent. Why is it great? The soloists. With nothing in the way of ‘song’ to restrain them, they let go on a deep groove, building ever longer, unwinding lines, carving out a way through the jungle. I’d guess Ludovic Navarre (who is St. Germain) edited the solos out of longer/multiple takes, building something with more direction and intent than your average one take solo would guarantee, always accentuating melody in the improvisations, melody the players didn’t always know was there, I bet.
The last third of the record drifts out of the window. He runs out of new instruments, and needs to fall back on variations and combinations (flute and saxophone,…). He also runs out of memorable backbeats, and it sort of meanders on – some nice flute on ‘La goutte d’or’ though. Quality control isn’t all that, but so what, he got the sequencing right – I’m grading this on the first 40 minutes.





At its best: Montego bay spleen, So flute, Sure thing