Best of 2000: David Starkey

David Starkey

1. Rancid, Rancid (Hellcat)
The first couple of listens are misleading. It sounds as though Rancid has abandoned the quest for irresistible hardcare hooks that made And Out Come the Wolves... and Life Won't Wait masterpieces. But if there's a serious gesture toward the band's thrash roots, truth is the good stuff is still there, though its buried beneath an angrier, more uncompromising surface.

2. Ultimate Fake Book, This Will Be Laughing Week (Sony/550)
Three nerd punks from Manhattan, Kansas, make music to drive your car by. Lots of catchy riffs and self-lacerating lyrics. "She called me a four-eyes / And my glasses weren't on." Indie's Not Dead.

3. Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Big One (Kill Rock Stars)
More accessible than last year's The Hot Rock. "You're No Rock and Roll Fun" is the best single of the year � too bad no one's ever heard it. Party on, girls.

4. Queens of the Stone Age, Rated R (Interscope)
MC5 returns from the dead, and not a moment too soon. It's crunch time. Is this heavy metal? I hope so.

5. PJ Harvey, Songs from the City, Songs from the Sea (Island)
Nothing here quite as earth-shattering as Rid of Me's title track, but the songs are angry and articulate, the way they ought to be. "There's no one to blame / Just hold on to me."

6. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (Interscopel)
Pop seems a million years ago now. The boys are packed and waiting in the airport for the world to begin again. "Grace makes beauty / Out of ugly things." Who says stadium rock doesn't rock?

7. Moby, Mobysongs: The Best Of Moby 1993-1998 (Elektra)
In the year of Moby, it seems only right to acknowledge this retrospective of his most mysterious moods. Suggested leisure activity: Spot the next corporate theme song before the corporate honchos do it themselves.

8. Mt. St. Helens, OnTime Always
The most obscure CD on my list is available at The last track is too long, but count on it: these kids from the western suburbs of Chicago know more about rock and roll than you do.

9. Steely Dan, Two Against Nature (Warner Bros.)
Sure, the music is so clean you wonder why they didn't just skip the musicians and go straight to computer. But that was always the way with the Dan, and there's more celebratory cynicism here than in any ten punk CDs you can name.

10. Radiohead, Kid A (Capitol)
It's true that this album grows on you. And no one wants to be the cretin who says the boys in the band can't be artistes. Still, Radiohead was always at its best as a pop-rock band. Take away the synthesizers, I say, and give them back their guitars.





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".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


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 .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

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