Best of 2000: David Fufkin

David Fufkin

It was almost impossible to narrow this list to 10 recordings. My sincere congratulations to all of the artists listed here. The recognition is truly deserved. To anyone viewing this list, any of these recordings are worthy investments of your money and time.

1. The Masticators, Masticate! (To M'Lou)
I said this early in 2000, and I will say it again: "The one sentence description is this: if a band had a frontperson who sounded like a combined Ronnie Spector, Sheryl Crow and Tracy Ullman and had a look that was sexy without insulting women; if a band could write songs of any pop variety and rock as hard as great bands such as The Pretenders, The Who, and Cheap Trick but had the taste and style of a late '70s Linda Ronstadt or rockin' Sheryl Crow; if the band had a killer live show; if the band had the whole package, AND could save rock 'n' roll from Boy Bands and Celine Dion, this would be The Masticators. One of the best releases of 2000." If I am forced to pick one CD, this is my pick for recording of the year.

2. Jupiter Affect, instructions for the two ways of becoming alice (EggBERT)
If you like power in your pop, if you like pitch perfect vocals (Michael Quercio, formerly of The Three O' Clock), and if you are interested in a recording that is equal parts Zombies (Odyssey and Oracle), Queen ("Bohemian Rhapsody") and the Beatles (Revolver), this one is for you. The songs are all rockin' melodic gems culled from the widest variety of influences. Michael Quercio is a master of the hook. A great recording.

3. Elliott Smith, Figure 8 (Dreamworks)
Figure 8 is a collection of excellent songs and great performances. Smith is a rare artist who can pen and perform songs with sparse instrumentation and pull it off. On Figure 8, I invite you to experience the phosphorescent brilliance of the bare songs "Somebody that I Used to Know", "I Better Be Quiet Now", and "Easy Way Out". But these tracks are not even the highlights. "Everything Reminds Me of Her" is a beautiful track that brings you into Smith's world. Simple heartfelt lyrics like: " if I seem a little out of it, sorry...but why should I lie...everything reminds me of her". It doesn't rhyme. It's not classically clever. Just real, like all of Smith's best stuff. A triumph for him, and another step in this artist's exponential growth.

4. Bettie Serveert, Private Suit (Parasol)
BS exploded onto the world music scene in 1992 with the absolutely classic Palomine, one of the '90s defining moments in music. Palomine resembles in part the sound on Private Suit: Ms. van Dijk, the lead singer, mesmerizes you into a hypnotic state with her understated, soulful vocal delivery, while Visser, the guitarist, provides a riffing, melodic guitar undertow that builds on almost every song to an aural climax. Indeed, that description is overtly sexual; however, this is a very sexy band. I challenge anyone to listen to any Bettie Serveert recording and conclude that they are not the alternative pop equivalent of Luther Vandross or Barry White. Private Suit puts you in the mood. BS is one of the greatest bands of the modern era, and this recording is part of that legacy. Hyperbole? Not to me.

5. Michael Carpenter, Hopefulness (Not Lame)
This recording is a heartfelt, melodic gem that is equal parts Sunflower-era Beach Boys, Beatles and other masters of the three minute hook. Carpenter, who hails from Australia, is one of the best kept secrets in the world. This recording is the unknown nugget of gold that you might want to unearth from my list.

6. Damon and Naomi, With Ghost (Sub Pop)
If you are intelligent, buy only the best recordings in the alternative pop genre, and you are not easily impressed, this CD is for you. And everybody else too. Majestic, swirling mellotron and strings fuel the simple acoustic guitars and piano arrangements on most of the tracks. The lyrics are the most literate of 2000. You could hold these lyrics up as significant poetry. The real stuff. You know...Whitman, Byron, Shelley. Not Pete, but Percy...the English guy from hundreds of years ago, not the guy from The Buzzcocks. Seriously, Sub Pop should submit the lyrics to whomever judges poetry as literature. This pair, along with their Japanese friends, Ghost, are writing lyrics in another league here. A superb recording.

7. Mark Johnson, Last Night on a Roller Coaster (Radio Ghost)
Johnson is a recently transplanted L.A. pop songwriter who gained a sizable reputation in New York with his release Twelve in a Room, a warm, personal scrapbook of material expressed mostly with basic guitar and vocals. This is a path few take because of the exposure laid to the bare structure of the songs. Like Twelve..., this release is done sparsely because the songs require nothing more than the melody, chords and vocal. Johnson is in the truly professional songwriting class of Jules Shear and Marshall Crenshaw, to give you a frame of reference. A unique, personal, touching recording by a songwriter's songwriter.

8. Myracle Brah, The Myracle Brah (Not Lame)
Do you remember how you you felt the first time you heard, "Strawberry Fields Forever"? How about "Baby Blue" by Badfinger? Or "Across the Universe"? Some pretty spine tingling material there. Andy Bopp, in essence, the heart of the band Myracle Brah, has the ability to capture the classic rock 'n' roll vibe. I won't use the word Lennon because expectations are a bitch, but Bopp is dog spelled backwards. Get this today.

9. Kasey Chambers, The Captain (Asylum)
Kasey Chambers sounds Old Nashville. This recording is a very impressive release by a young woman who may soon, along with Kelly Willis, hold the co-throne of queen of female country. Ms. Chambers, in all her pierced glory, writes and sings from her heart, a heart that seems as big as the areas of the Australian outback where she grew up. Her material is well written, and her lyrics point to a woman with a strong personality. She appears to have a certain self actualization uncommon for an artist this early in her career. My educated guess is that Chambers will be a star in America, and rightfully so, for all the correct reasons. A fine recording.

10. Riptones, Buckshot (Bloodshot)
Elvis may have been King, but his guitar player, Scotty Moore, was a major contributor to the kingdom. The "sound" of those classic Elvis singles catapulted his career, and the guitar sounds and chug-a-lug rythyms whipped the world into a frenzy. The Riptones: Buckshot sounds like an Elvis jam with Johnny Cash on lead vocals and Scotty Moore on guitar. Believe it or not, this recording has that airy, light Sun presence making Jeb Bonansinga and Company worthy heirs to the rockabilly/roots crown worn by Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and all the rest who used to hang out at 706 Union Avenue. The finest roots recording of 2000.




By the Book

Jack Halberstam's 'Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire' (excerpt)

Enjoy this excerpt of Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire, wherein Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which wildness has been associated with queerness and queer bodies throughout the 20th century.

Jack Halberstam

Sotto Voce's 'Your Husband, the Governor' Is Beautifully Twisted DIY Indie Folk-rock

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Gabos releases another odd, gorgeous home studio recording under the moniker Sotto Voce.


Numün's 'voyage au soleil' Is a Trippy, Ambient Ride and Ambitious Debut

Eclectic instrumental trio numün combine a wealth of influences to create a vibe that's both spacey and earthy on voyage au soleil.


L7's 'Smell the Magic' Is 30 and Packs a Feminist Punch

Abortion is under threat again, and there's a sex offender in the Oval Office. A fitting time, in short, to crank up the righteously angry vocals of feminist hard rock heavy hitters like L7.


Can Queer Studies Rescue American Universities?

Matt Brim's Poor Queer Studies underscores the impact of poorer disciplines and institutions, which often do more to translate and apply transformative intellectual ideas in the world than do their ivory-tower counterparts.


Jim White Offers a "Smart Ass Reply" (premiere)

Jesus and Alice Cooper are tighter than you think, but a young Jim White was taught to treat them as polar opposites. Then an eight-track saved his soul and maybe his life.


Ed Harcourt Paints From 'Monochrome to Colour'

British musician Ed Harcourt's instrumental music is full of turbulent swells and swirls that somehow maintain a dignified beauty on Monochrome to Colour.


West London's WheelUP Merges Broken Beat and Hip-Hop on "Stay For Long" (premiere)

West London producer WheelUP reached across the pond to Brint Story to bring some rapid-fire American hip-hop to his broken beat revival on "Stay For Long".


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Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".


Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.


Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.


The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.


Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.


For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

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Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".

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