Music

Best of 2000: John Schietinger

John Schietinger

1. Richard Ashcroft, Alone with Everybody (Virgin)
Ashcroft's work with The Verve solidified him as the single best songwriter of the 1990s; Alone with Everybody sets the bar for 21st century songwriting. Through a sublime combination of beautifully honest lyrics celebrating life and love and a heavenly blend of country, soul, and cosmic rock, Ashcroft created the most intelligent, poignant, and exuberant album since The Verve's own Urban Hymns.

2. Sigur Rós, Agætis Byrjun (Fat Cat/Bubblecore)
Superstars in their native Iceland, Sigur Rós are a haunting and captivating throw back to the ethereal space rock days of yore (i.e. early Verve, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine), yet they simultaneously maintain their own very forward-looking vision about the extents to which music can travel. An irresistible aura of enchantment floats over each of the 10 incredibly diverse tracks, proving that Sigur Rós is one of the most promising bands on Earth.

3. Primal Scream, Exterminator [XTRMNTR] (Astralwerks)
XTRMNTR is an album so angry, wrathful, and caustic that raw, unfiltered anarchy explodes from the speakers in a barge of white noise informed beats and bitter politically charged shrieks. It is not an album to dance to, but an album to rebel to, to revolt to.

4. Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (Kranky)
GYBE!'s second full-length album is a towering 87-minute tour de force, an epic in every possible sense. A nine piece Canadian instrumental collective, GYBE! construct striking compositions that move slowly toward an astounding climax in which heavenly delay-laden guitars, rich enveloping basses, thundering percussion, and screaming strings all jostle for space. Though the consistency of their profoundly moving music of cinematic grandeur is somewhat lessened by the presence of aimless sporadic noise bits and random tape loops, Lift Your Skinny Fists is nonetheless a powerful and emotive album; at its best, it is a legitimate soundtrack to the apocalypse.

5. Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (Matador)
With this their 11th album, Hoboken, New Jersey's Yo La Tengo drifted away from their former guitar-driven psychedelic noise pop, favoring an atmospheric tapestry of gently flowing guitar, waves of soothing organ, soft drum brushes, and the perfect harmony of soul mates Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley's voices. It is the American equivalent of Alone with Everybody: a smart and touching form of perfection.

6. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (Interscope)
With each successive album, U2 have simply gotten better and better. This trend culminated with 1992's Achtung Baby, and since then, U2 have released a series of excellent albums. All That You Can't Leave Behind is no exception. All of U2's patented best elements, Bono's soaring passionate vocals, Edge's crystalline guitar lines, and the rock steady rhythm section, coalesce perfectly here in a mood of total elation and joy. All That You Can't Leave Behind is so optimistic and exultant that if nothing else, it will bring a smile to your face: a smile that you simply can't leave behind.

7. Mojave 3, Excuses for Travellers (4AD)
One of the most consistent bands working today, England's Mojave 3, the remnants of legendary shoegazers Slowdive, put out their best record to date. A shimmering piece of exquisite neo-folk, Excuses for Travellers proves that there is still room for a nice pedal steel tinged melody or celebratory blast of horns in today's often sterile music landscape. In addition, "Return to Sender" is one of the year's two or three most beautiful songs.

8. Radiohead, Kid A (Capitol)
Faced with ungodly expectations and hype, Radiohead put one of the most satisfyingly experimental albums of the year. In spite of some brief uninspired lapses, Kid A holds together quite well as an exhilarating adventure in sound.

9. Lambchop, Nixon (Merge)
Lambchop are my pick for the year's most improved band. Nixon completely forgives them for their previous tired and bored dabblings with classic country music. Throughout Nixon, lush musical arrangements complement lead chop Kurt Wagner's intriguing lyrics and wholly unique vocals, but what really propels Nixon is the glorious presence of what Lambchop once sorely lacked: soul.

10. Oat, Hoof (self-released)
Oat, the unsigned solo project of Livonia, Michigan's Witlow Gordon, is the best of all Michigan bands right now. Random tape loops and samples glide gracefully through a serene swirl of delicate acoustic guitar strum and sumptuous keyboard; Hoof, a subtle concept album of sorts, also features the finest use of the digital delay pedal this year. Gordon's Dean Wareham-esque vocals emotively deliver lyrics laden with rich imagery, expressing the undeniable and universal effect that dreams and memory play in every moment of our lives.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

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 .

Books

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.

Music

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.

Film

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

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.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.