Better Late - Best CDs of 2002

Just in time for the Grammy’s, here’s my top ten list for 2002. You won’t see many of these represented at Sunday night’s ceremonies except for Norah Jones - root for her, she’s nominated in many- categories.

1. Julia Fordham - Concrete Love (Vanguard). Triumphing over a record industry snafu that left her briefly with no label and held up this disc’s release for almost a year, this superb outing features the can’t miss combination of incredible songs and vocal performance by Julia, great session musicians, and superb production by Larry Klein, resulting in a perfect album, equalling Porcelain as her best ever.

2. Norah Jones - Come Away With Me (Blue Note). From New York’s Livingroom club to worldwide acclaim virtually overnight, in the process bucking all commercial trends with an album of understated jazz/blues/country/singer-songwriter excellence. The songwriting and session contributions of Jesse Harris (Once Blue) were icing on the cake.

3. Dougie MacLean - Who Am I (Dunkeld Import). Scotland’s answer to Jackson Browne and James Taylor surpasses both of their 2002 releases with this, his 17th album on which he does what he does best - songs about basic values such as love, family, tradition, honest work, and the history and natural beauty of Scotland. Dougie writes, sings, and plays a variety of instruments including guitar and some hauntingly beautiful fiddle. Cynics feel free to skip this one.

4. Del Amitri - Can You Do Me Good (A&M Import). 2002 was a tough year for this great Scottish band. Record industry consolidation left them without American or worldwide distribution, resulting in this their sixth album being released in Britain only. After a short but enthusiastically received U.K. tour and halfhearted label support, they were dropped entirely by year’s end and are currently on hiatus. They tried some new things on this album, and although it doesn’t come close to the level of thier masterpiece Twisted, this disc does sound better and better with each listen.

5. Garrison Starr - Songs From Take-Off to Landing (Back Porch). After a bad label experience with her first album Starr shook the record industry chip off her shoulder convincingly with this second album full of well written, well produced songs, all powered by her wonderful electric guitar.

6. Mark Knopfler - A Shot at Glory Soundtrack (Warner Brothers). It was almost a tough choice between this and The Ragpicker’s Dream, but this excellent soundtrack took the honors for me with more of the kind of music I enjoy hearing Knopfler play. There are several vocal tracks, including an unusually jazzy turn on “Say Too Much.”

7. Chris Isaak - Always Got Tonight (Reprise). I never paid much attention to this artist in the past, but after two seasons of watching his excellent Showtime series, I’ve developed a high appreciation for him, his band, and his music. This is a solid album with lots of great songs, including the theme song from the aforementioned television show.

8. Zero 7 - Simple Things (Quango/Palm). With a combination of instrumentals, male vocals and female vocals, well written, well performed, and well produced, this album was way better than the WXPN-single-track-airplay suggested. Keyboard trendy but not overly so. A keeper.

9. Kim Richey - Rise (Lost Highway). The pleasures of this disc were not totally evident on first listen; this music is much subtler than her previous work. However, with repeat listening, the quality of the songwriting, performance and production of this fine album became clear, and at the last minute it charged into the top ten, knocking out Nerissa & Katrina Nields’ excellent Love and China disc.

10. Shannon McNally - Jukebox Sparrows (Capitol). The songwriting may be uneven, but several great songs included here proved to be unstoppable, and her concert performance was even better with an excellent mix of American rock. She handles her Fender Stratocaster well too.

One Comment: I would never have imagined that there could be a time when new albums by previous personal icons such as Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, George Harrison, Santana, Carole King, Aimee Mann, Swing Out Sister, and Chris Rea, as well as more recent favorites such as the Dixie Chicks, Rebecca Martin, Mae Moore, and Grey Eye Glances would all leave me so unmoved that they wouldn’t even make a dent in my top ten, but such was 2002. I still can’t believe it. I should probably mention that although I did enjoy Springsteen’s resuscitation of the E Street Band, I just couldn’t get past the fact that all the songs on The Rising were about September 11th. The above notwithstanding, 2002 was a very good year. I know it’s late for this sort of thing, but I’d enjoy reading others’ best of lists. Cheers.

P.S. This is my first thread on SDMB. Hope you like it.

Alison Moyet - Hometime

Great Big Sea - Sea of No Cares

As you can probably guess from my Grammys Thread, my two favorite albums last year were:

This Side by Nickel Creek and
Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age

Also high on my list are

Now Again - The Flatlanders
Poses - Rufus Wainwright

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

I bought it last summer, still listen to it at least once a day, haven’t gotten sick of it yet. It’s awesome.

Have to enthusiastically agree with you **Watcher of the Skies ** on the Julia Fordham!

“I’d take a bullet for you…” Wowzer.

I’d also add Patty Griffin’s 1000 Kisses.

Neko Case: Blacklisted
Stew: The Naked Dutch Painter
The Negro Problem: Welcome Black
The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

My listening moves slowly, so I’ll probably be discovering great 2002 albums through about 2005 or so.

Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” is simply wonderful, it is so much fun and nice to listen to. A great band. Saw them in concert in the summer and they are amazing.

Well, I had written a whole long spiel on my top five albums of 2002 and why I like them, but I guess I took too long to write it because when I was to post it, I had to re-login and lost everything I wrote.
5. Sonic Youth - Murray Street
4. Desaparecidos - Read Music/Speak Spanish
3. Badly Drawn Boy - The “About a Boy” soundtrack
2. Luna - Romantica

  1. Songs:Ohia - Didn’t It Rain

Runners up:
*Bright Eyes - Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
*Belle and Sebastian - Storytelling
*Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Two that you may not have heard on the left side of the Atlantic, but were nonetheless two of the best albums of 2002:

*Ms. Dynamite – A Little Deeper (just as good as, if not better than, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, I think)
*The Streets – Original Pirate Material (which includes the best UK single of the year, IMHO, “Don’t Mug Yourself”; admittedly not for everyone, but check it out)

Beck Sea Changes

Lots of good stuff came out last year, but my most recent discovery is Folklore by Sixteen Horsepower. I picked it up on a whim, and am so glad I did.

I’ll also echo the Flaming Lips vote, and though I haven’t heard storytelling, everything by Belle and Sebastian is sublime.

Jerry Cantrell - Degradation Trip

This was Jerry’s followup to Boggy Depot, and was actually released in two forms, a one-disc release in April, and in December the album was re-released in the two-disc form that Jerry intended. It’s a dark, twisted journey of a man who lost his friends, his band (Alice in Chains), and his record contract (Columbia dropped him.) Go buy this album. Please.

I’m sure I am forgetting a buttload of good albums – but the runners up on my list are as follows, in no particular order:

Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights
Beck, Sea Change
Sigur Ros, ( )
Pedro the Lion, Control
The Roots, Phrenology
Sparta, Wiretap Scars

And at this point I think my favorite record of last year was:
Amore del Tropico by The Black Heart Procession. Supposedly they’re working on a DVD release to compliment this album…needless to say I’m looking forward to it.

I own a record store that specializes in a lot of local music… consequently my best albums of 2002 list has a lot of people you would have to be Canadian or more appropriately Western Canadian, to ever have heard of. For the bigger time releases I would have to include:
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Welcome back to writing good albums guys.
Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Makes me wish I still dropped… nevermind
Neko Case - Black Listed
Great music for drinkin’, smokin’, dwelling upon the dark days and wishing it was Summer.
Spoon - Kill The Moonlight
Alt-Rock with an several experimental bones in it’s body.
Johnny Dowd - The Pawnbroker’s Wife
Tom Waits, only more psychotic, yet beautiful.

As for my favorite and more obscure Canadiana…
David P. Smith - Hurtin’ Dance Party
Butch Murphy & The Greasy Kings - Your Garage or Mine?
The Sadies - Stories Often Told
Old Reliable - Pulse of Light, Dark Landscape
Ronnie Hayward - Too Many Chiefs
Atomic 7 - Gowns By Edith Head
Carolyn Mark & Her Roommates - Terrible Hostess (She also vies for Best Live Show of 2002, but that’s another thread)

All great releases (bonus points if you’ve heard of any of them… bonus bonus points if you aren’t Canadian)

Tori Amos - Scarlet’s walk. Almost as good as her debut, and far superior to anything she has done inbetween.

Runner up: the soundtrack to The Two Towers. Which includes the song of the year (Gollums song).

Honorable mentions for Peter Gabriel, Coldplay and Tom Waits.

I hate doing bext ofs at the end of the year, because there are always so many great bands/albums that I haven’t heard enough of. Albums this year that fall under that category include the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Sigur Ros, Wilco, Talib Kweli, Blackalicious, The Roots and heaps more. Oh to be rich or a critic.

Anyway, my top ten (in no particular order):

Death Cab For Cutie - The Photo Album

Officially released in 2001, but it wasn’t out it Australia til 2002, so I get to claim it here. Wonderful north-western indie rock. A little bit more upbeat than previous efforts, but still filled with the great songwriting and lyrical turns that DCFC are famous for.

Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights

This thing is great. Extra points for having a song called “Stella was a diver and she was always down.”

Machine Gun Fellatio - Paging Mr Strike

It had deep, personal lyrics, grinding funk and a song about going down, down, down to pussy town. What more could you want?

The Streets - Original Pirate Material

Totally warped everyone’s perception of hip-hop, introduced the world to the British notion of geezers and football fans and had rhymes to die for. From the upbeat garage bangers “Push Things Forward” and “Don’t Mug Yourself” to the more reflective “Has it come to this” or “It’s too late” this pushed the boundaries of music, regardless of style.

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags and Codes**

This year’s At The Drive In, and like their fellow Texans, they could rock hard. The early oughts are really looking to be the Texas years, what with AYWKUBTTOD, At The Drive In, Spoon and Mr George Walker Bush, and I wouldn’t give three of those four up for anything (fun game: guess which three!). Especially notable was the immediate hardcore of “Homage” and the arty rock of, well, everything else. Hail Texas!

Bluebottle Kiss - Revenge Is Slow**

These Sydneysiders made perfect emotive indie rock. “Gangsterland” was carried by its wonderful riff and drowned in its squalid feedback, while Hasten The Blows was one of the years best songs. Beautiful.

The Vines - Highly Evolved

What I love about this album is that you can listen to the first 3 songs in less time than you can listen to the first track of many other albums. “Highly Evolved,” “Autumn Shade” and “Outtatheway” blitz you, and then you’ve got the rest of the album to enjoy, from the contemplative “Homesick,” to the Smells Like Teen Spirit reincarnation, “Get Free.” Along the way, enjoy the ska-bounce of “Factory” and the drugged out trip of “Mary Jane” and end it all with mini-anthem “1969.” These guys are more than hype, and they’re even bigger than the backlash (yes, I have seen them live, twice, and they were great).

Chemical Brothers - Come With Us

One of the year’s early releases, this showed just how good big loud dumb dance music could be.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way

Mainstream release of the year. They might have mellowed a bit, but they haven’t lost anything as far as musicianship and songwriting goes. Very nice.

Jurassic Five - Power In Numbers

Showing that you don’t need to come from Detroit or rap in a whiny voice about how everyone hates you to make good hip-hop in '02, J5 even while adding Nelly Furtado to the mix in “Thin Line” kept their underground cred. Possibly not as good as “Quality Control,” but there were still some great moments on thsi album, especially “One of them,” “A day at the races,” and the aforementioned “Thin Line.”
Overrated Album of the year: Coldplay.

Nice enough, but nothing outstanding.

The one I keep playing over and over:

Candidate – Nuada. Acoustic & electronic British folk-pop inspired by (but not imitative of) the cult '73 movie “The Wicker Man”. Other influences (to my ear) include The Beta Band and Peter Blegvad. Very nice and quietly compelling.
Quite good or at least worth having:

The Sea and Cake – One Bedroom
Wilco – Yankee Foxtrot
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi… A step down from “The Soft Bulletin,” though.

Catching up:

David Byrne – Into the Eyeball (1991). For fans of his solo stuff – pretty good.

Wilco keeps coming up in post after post. I’ve been wanting to check that out ever since I saw those buildings in Chicago last summer. Yes, it’s true. I also want to check out ( ) by Sigur Ros before it gets too old. I thought I would like Badly Drawn Boy, but WXPN beat one song into the ground until it got really annoying to hear - the one where Madonna “took a shine to me…”. I guess I really shouldn’t complain - many cities probably don’t even have a station that would play Badly Drawn Boy. I do sort of like the Nickel Creek, and I didn’t realize Alison Moyet had something new - that’ll go on my list to check out.

Am I the only one who things Summerteeth is way better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot?

P.S. I’m glad to see the love for Spoon, one of my favorite bands. Again, however, I think their previous album, Girls Can Tell superior to this year’s release.

thinks Summerteeth is… :smack: