Here’s another list - my top 10 releases of 2001. No, that’s not a typo. I think it’s silly to be doing a top ten list for 2002 already, since the year’s not even over yet. Besides, I always take a while to catch up on new releases, so undoubtedly a top ten for 2002 will be much more accurate if I do it a year from now. Anyway - my favorite CDs released in 2001 were, in (very) rough order of kick-ass-ness:
- The Dismemberment Plan - Change
My favorite album of the year, no question. Great indie-rock, a little less energetic than its predecessor Emergency & I, but more melodic and still possessing some absolutely killer grooves.
- Magma - Theusz Hamtaakh Trilogie
Unbelievably good live set. Who would have thought that these guys could kick so much ass thirty years down the road? There’s so much energy here, and the band is so tight, that I’ll probably never listen to the studio versions again.
- Mogwai - Rock Action
Mogwai’s most beautiful album yet. Lacks the sheer power of some of their other material, but makes up for it in majesty. What’s more, it’s probably the most consistent Mogwai album yet in terms of quality all the way through.
- Krakatoa - Togetherness
Whimsical, eclectic, and utterly unique. Definitely the best original prog album of the year.
- Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Grand Opening and Closing
Again, utterly unique, and the best tracks on this album are just fucking awesome. The album as a whole is a bit inconsistent, but the sheer power of “Ambugaton” and “Powerless” alone sold me at first listen.
- The Beta Band - Hot Shots II
Sleepy and contemplative indie-rock that defies any further categorization, and that is transformed into incredibly energetic and groove-filled stuff in concert. The Beta Band just might be my favorite live band ever.
- Present - High Infidelity
A dark slab of accessible avant-prog. Best played at massive volumes!
- King Crimson - VROOOM VROOOM
Somehow King Crimson keeps releasing live albums, I keep buying them, and I keep loving them. This one doesn’t disappoint, even though I’ve already heard eight bajillion versions of all the songs on here already. It’s a testament either to the band’s brilliance or to my utter fanboyishness that I enjoy all their live material, even when it starts getting redundant to the tenth power.
- Tarentel - The Order of Things
Solid post-rock entry, although I preferred the debut album to this one. However, the first half is prime-time stuff.
- Avant Garden - Maelstrom
These guys have a seemingly unlimited reserve of energy. Ass-kickingly intense all the way through, sometimes to the point that it’s tough to get through it all in one sitting. Great debut nevertheless.
Some honorable mentions include Bob Drake’s Skull Mailbox, Explosions in the Sky’s Those Who Tell the Truth…, Radiohead’s Amnesiac, Silver Mt. Zion’s Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward, and After Crying’s Bootleg Symphony (which was a pleasant surprise, as I wasn’t expecting much at all). All in all it was a pretty good year, I think. Certainly I can rave on and on about the top five or six in that top ten list… and as with any year there are undoubtedly some undiscovered gems from 2001 that I haven’t gotten around to picking up yet.