Best of 2000: Wes Long

Wes Long

1. Kevin Gilbert, The Shaming of the True
Musical wunderkind dies mysteriously at the age of 29. His tapes are pored over and something closely resembling the album he intended to release is finished and tossed out to mostly deaf ears. Oh well, no one took notice of him when he was alive either. The Shaming of the True is available only through the official Gilbert site,, and features virtuoso playing and lyrics that you'll catch yourself quoting to your friends in a voice fathoms below the quality of the man who delivered them to your eager ears. This Herculean effort marks the return of the rock opera and spins the yarn of a would be juke box hero named Johnny Virgil, who discovers the fame that eluded Kevin yet winds up sharing Gilbert's jaded views of the industry that failed to embrace him. The story of the man behind the music is as enthralling as the music itself and helps to make this not only the best-titled album but also the recording of the year.

2. XTC, Wasp Star (TVT)
They've been doing it right longer than most bands have been together and this year the Swindon duo returned to show all the youngsters how a flawless slab of pop is properly carved.

3. Elliott Smith, Figure 8 (Dreamworks)
Everyone jumped aboard this bandwagon when Elliott was nominated for an Oscar for his Good Will Hunting nominated song "Miss Misery". This year's sometimes Revolver-good effort proves that Elliott's not only quite capable of straddling the fence between indie angst and commercial success, he's also comfortable as hell doin' it.

4. Blonde Redhead, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (Touch & Go)
A Japanese girl happens upon a set of Italian twin brothers in a restaurant in New York and a cantankerous uncompromising and ruthlessly original band is born. How cliché. This is their fifth amazingly effective album in six years.

5. Michael Penn, MP4 (Epic)
What, a recurring theme? Oh, yes, I see what you mean. This is the fifth pick in a row of bands that deserve to be bigger than they are. Is that what you're getting at? No? Oh, now I see, like XTC and Elliott Smith, Michael Penn is capable of putting together Beatle-ish perfect tunes that will greedily bore into the musical portion of your brain where they'll feed hungrily until replaced by the next song on the disc. I couldn't agree more.

6. Crowded House, Afterglow (Capitol)
This collection of songs that failed to appear on past Crowded House releases is more potent than most artists starting lineup. Talk about a deep bench.

7. Jules Shear, Allow Me (ZOE)
Gritty-assed songs with lovely harmonies and razor sharp hooks. Ultra Vivid Scene creating lyrics coupled with a Tom Petty/Graham Parker/Van Morrison vibe.

8. Dirty Three, Whatever You Love You Are (Touch & Go)
This Australian instrumental threesome (guitar, drums and violin) continues to create minimalist music with maximum effect. This violin-saddened album reminds us that life is beautiful, but it's not perfect.

9. King Crimson, The Construkction of Light (Virgin)
It's no Discipline, but an infusion of new blood allows Robert Fripp's ever changing chameleon of a band to alter its colors once more. This is one of the more challenging Adrian Belew-era Crimson recordings and may help infuse a bit of life into the nearly rigid body of prog.

10. Jaco Pastorius, Jaco Pastorius (Epic)
Completely remastered, this re-release of Jaco's brilliant 1976 eponymous debut effortlessly incorporates jazz with enough styles to make your head swim. This is one of the better albums I know of and had it come out this year it would have easily been considered my album of the year.





Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

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If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

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Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

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Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


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 .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

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