Best of 2000: Andy Argyrakis

Andy Argyrakis

The end of the year is the hardest time in a critic's job because that means they have to agonize over each and every choice to go into their "year in review" list. As if that wasn't hard enough, those same albums and concert tours have to be placed in the proper order as to what were the best that the year had to offer. This is the first best of list for this century, and as always, it's a mixed bag of commercially successful artists, bands on the verge of stardom, and the more obscure performers that deserve a break at the big time.

1. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (Interscope)
U2 finally seemed to have found what they were looking for on this brilliantly crafted, spiritually enriched, emotionally charged project. Bono and company went back to basics dipping back to their Joshua Tree days, honing in on a roots rock-based sound, rather than the overdubbed dance glitz and electronica glamour, as featured on their last few projects Pop and Zooropa. The lead off single, "Beautiful Day", will be one of the group's staples for years to come, in the vein of "Where the Streets Have No Name".

2. Jimmy Buffet, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays (Mailboat)
Straight from Margaritaville comes the latest dosage from the man with the parrot head following. All the hits, on one CD in a live setting make this disc a must have for any Buffet fan. It's sure to cure the wintertime weather blues and put listener's on the beach of a tropical island. Included is a fun cover of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl", along with the classic "Margaritaville", including the lost verse. It may not be the same as being at one of his concerts, but it's the next best thing until next summer rolls around.

3. Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits (Curb)
This leading country artist over the last decade was almost overdue for a best of collection. Greatest Hits includes the passionate duets with his wife Faith Hill, like "It's Your Love" and "Let's Make Love", to the more rock-styled "I Like It, I Love It" and "Indian Outlaw". The project culls material from his last five albums and also features McGraw's current single "My Next Thirty Years".

4. Radford, Radford (RCA)
Although the band never made a huge mark on the scene this year, they did make a starter splash with their two singles "Don't Stop" and "Closer to Myself". Radford did some major touring throughout the year with Vertical Horizon, and other sound-a-likes, giving them a solid fan base. Provided the group is given the opportunity to make a follow-up disc, fans should brace themselves for another action packed alternative rock set mixed in with two or three acoustic power ballads.

5. Michael W. Smith, The Acoustic Set (Reunion)
After a triumphant 1999 featuring an emotional tribute to the Columbine shooting victims with his This is Your Time album, the singer/songwriter and pianist/guitarist returned with a stunning live EP. Included on the disc are acoustic versions of jams like "Love Me Good" and "Secret Ambition". A greatest hits medley is a highlight, including tidbits of "Place in This World", "I Will Be Here for You", and "For You". The closing track is a tear jerking rendition of "This Is Your Time", minus the back pipe sequence as featured on the studio version.

6. The Juliana Theory, Emotion Is Dead (Tooth and Nail)
Emo rockers extraordinaire The Juliana Theory made a triumphant return to the indie scene this year with an amazing collection of high quality, passionate, rock-based jams minus the screeching vocals. Lead singer Bret Detar has obviously matured and his lyrics speak of deep meaning and honest reality. The band is on the same wavelength as The Get Up Kids, The Promise Ring, and Jimmy Eat World, and they are following in the footsteps of such underground favorites to become a national sensation.

7. Matchbox Twenty, Mad Season by Matchbox Twenty (Atlantic)
Matchbox Twenty broke the curse of follow-up disasters by cranking out a gem better than their first disc. It's been four years since the release of Yourself and Someone Like You and the time off provided Rob Thomas and company the chance to explore a bit of new ground and refresh. Hits like "Bent" and "If You're Gone" have driven the album's shelf life thus far and it's safe to say there's at least a few more singles on the way.

8. Stir, Holy Dogs (Capitol)
Stir's second major label release may not have shot straight off the charts, but was by far a step above their 1996 debut. Mixing a vibrant pop sound and a fresh rock sound, Holy Dogs foreshadows a bright future for this relatively young band. Their biggest challenge will be to stand out in the midst of other groups hoping to make similar waves, like Stoke 9, Splender, and Nine Days.

9. Roger Waters, In the Flesh (Columbia)
The legendary force behind Pink Floyd showcases the history shaping band's illustrious career as well as Waters' vast solo material. The project was recorded on his sold out US tour which played at mammoth theatres with an incredible stage show. Classics like "Wish You Were Here", "Money", and "Comfortably Numb" are re-interpreted with sheer exuberance and stellar musicianship. The closing track is a brand new anthem for Amnesty International called "Each Small Candle".

10. Underworld, Everything, Everything (JBO/V2)
Electronica at it's finest, all set to the beat of a live DJ, makes Underworld's latest helping a pulse pounding pleasure palace. Only eight tracks grace the set list, but many extend well into the 10 minute range offering the opportunity for the group to improvisationally interpret each tune with new arrangements. Of course, Underworld's staple from the Trainspotting soundtrack, "Born Slippy", is a standout track with the highest level of crowd reaction and visual imagery of a hyped up dance club.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.

20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta

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Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

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Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

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Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

In a staid city like Washington, D.C., too many concert programs still stick to the basics. An endless litany of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concerti clog the schedules and parades of overeager virtuosi seem unwilling to vary their repertoire for blasé D.C. concertgoers. But occasionally you encounter a concert that refreshes your perspective of the familiar. The works presented at The Kennedy Center on 25 October 2017 might be stalwarts of 20th century repertoire, but guest conductor Antonio Pappano, leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, reminded us how galvanizing the canonical can still be. Though grandiose executions of Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome were the main event, the sold-out crowd gathered to see Martha Argerich perform one of her showpieces, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

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