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.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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