Best of 2000: Kevin Oliver

Kevin Oliver

1. Slaid Cleaves, Broke Down (Rounder)
A singer-songwriter with a folkie flair for the story song and simple, memorable tunes. A stunning album, full of the kind of songs that will bring tears even on repeated listens.

2. Bill Mallonee and Vigilantes of Love, Audible Sigh (Compass)
Proof that rock music made from a Christian perspective doesn't have to cater to the latest pop trends, Vigilantes of Love have been making great folk-rock masterpieces for a decade — this is arguably their best yet.

3. Jim Roll, Lunette (New West)
With production from Silos founder Walter Salas-Humara, the comparisons to that band's early records are easy to make, but Roll has the quality songs to make the familiar sounds worthwhile. Big city folk for city folks.

4. Joseph Arthur, Come to Where I'm From (EMD/Real World)
For his sophomore album, this Peter Gabriel discovery delves deep into the funkier corners of his folk and world music influences, emerging as some kind of holy trinity combination of David Bowie, Nick Drake, and Peter Gabriel.

5. Outkast, Stankonia (LaFace/Arista)
Rap's Mothership has arrived, and it carries the badass mofos of southern rap to new heights of funky lunacy. The single, "Mrs. Jackson", only hints at the groove this group latches onto. If only all rap was this inventive, and innovative.

6. Allison Moorer, The Hardest Part (MCA Nashville)
Probably the best country album on a major label this year, and worth it for the Lonesome Bob cameo vocal on "Next Time", alone. Moorer takes the southern soul influences she shares with sister Shelby Lynne and takes it to the country side.

7. Shelby Lynne, I Am Shelby Lynne (Island)
Leaving the country music to her sister Alison, Lynne revealed her true self on this liberating disc, the best gutsy girl-soul since Dusty Springfield left Memphis.

8. Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker (Bloodshot)
Without his band Whiskeytown around, Adams turns out a very Dylan-esque solo disc with suitably odd parenthetical titles. No extra emphasis is necessary for these gently rocking tunes, though.

9. Teddy Thompson, Teddy Thompson (EMD/Virgin)
Dad Richard is renowned more for his guitar playing than the many fine songs he has penned, but son Teddy appears ready to spearhead a one-man (two, if one counts Rufus Wainwright) resurgence of the sweet-voiced '70s singer-songwriter. In the grand romantic tradition of Harry Nilsson, this Teddy bears watching.

10. Chico Cesar, Chico Cesar (Putumayo)
From the music-rich country of Brazil, this oddball artist takes back the samba influences that David Byrne borrowed for a while and adds Talking Heads style bouncy pop and reggae to the mix for a genre-mixing good time.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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