Fester’s Lucky 13: The Best Albums of 1999

Fester’s Lucky 13 — The Best Albums of 1999

Many expected the last year of the decade and the century to go out with a musical bang. Problem is, few artists were willing to put themselves on the line under such pressure. Aside from Stephen Merritt’s Magnetic Fields and Cafe Tacuba, no one really aimed higher than they knew they were capable of, and thus played it safe. Nevertheless, it was still a good year for listening to music. Even in playing it safe, Beck came out with a winner. The Flaming Lips and Moby took small production risks which paid off with the best albums of their careers. Tom Waits’ triumphant comeback and tour sealed his spot in history as one of our most beloved songwriter/performers. And Ibrahim Ferrer’s comeback was even more impressive, going from a forgotten Cuban singer who shines shoes for a living, to being a bigger international star than he ever imagined. New artists were not well represented, with one debut album, Sam Prekop (who is a veteran of The Sea And Cake), in the top 40. Relative newcomers did well with their sophomore efforts however, including Death In Vegas, Those Bastard Souls, Wheat, The Beta Band, Matmos, Archer Prewitt and The Aluminum Group. International artists were fairly well represented, with Natacha Atlas (Egypt), Cafe Tacuba (Mexico), Ibrahim (Cuba), Khaled (Algeria), Ali Farka Toure (Mali), Vinicius Cantuaria (Brazil), Caetano Veloso (Brazil), Cesaria Evora (Ivory Coast), Gustavo Cerati (Argentina), Carlinhos Brown (Brazil), Lenine (Brazil), Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (Argentina), Kalyanji V. & Anandji V. Shah (India), Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma (India), Cheikh Lo (Senegal) and Shakti (India). 1999 was probably the best year for hip-hop since it’s original glory years of ’87-’91, with impressive achievements from Prince Paul’s hip-hopera Prince Among Thieves and his collaboration with Dr. Octagaon’s The Automator (Handsome Boy Modeling School), The Roots, Goodie Mob, Mos Def (of Black Star), Kool Keith (and another album under his alias, Dr. Doom), Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Pharoahe Monch (of Organized Konfusion), Company Flow, Peanut Butter Wolf and Tricky (with DJ Muggs and Grease).

Electronica quietly evolved, but has so far failed to kill rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, it sounds more rock ‘n’ roll than ever with the big beat of the Chemical Brothers and the songwriting chops of Clinton, Moby and Death In Vegas. Talving Singh’s Asian Underground posse have left their mark in inspiring DJs to mix Asian and Indian Classical music with breakbeats and electronica, including Algerian via San Francisco dj Cheb i Sabbah and Joi (whose Haroon Shasmer sadly died in July). Mouse On Mars, The Beta Band, Matmos, Roni Size’s Breakbeat Era, Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra, Lamb, Banco de Gaia, Howie B and Orbital continued to astound with their creative visions, but most of the experimental music remains interesting, but not for repeated listening. Britpop bands were unexpectedly strong in 1999, with solid efforts by Gomez, Travis, Blur, The Auteurs, Boo Radleys, The Charlatans, Mansun, Stereophonics and Super Furry Animals. North America wasn’t a slouch in pop either, with a resurgence in power-pop (Wilco, Sloan, Fountains Of Wayne, Velvet Crush, The Chamber Strings, Gigolo Aunts, Matthew Sweet), Elephant 6 psychedelic pop (Olivia Tremor Control, The Apples In Stereo, Of Montreal, Elf Power) and the uncategorizable (Jim O’Rourke, Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, The Aluminum Group). If anything, heavy guitar rock does seem to be less relevant, with only Built To Spill, Rage Against the Machine, and a handful of cheesy but fun stoner-rock bands doing anything noteworthy.

The overrated album awards go to Nine Inch Nails and Fiona Apple. Both artists did their best to be ambitious, but came up way short. For all you critics who put them in your top 10s, what the f*@# were you thinking?!!! Runnerups are Basement Jaxx and Sleater-Kinney. While Jaxx’s Remedy is an enjoyable House-derived dance album, it is, after all, just House. Besides the conservative Chicago dance scene, who cares? Everyone cares about Sleater-Kinney, because they have done great things, and everyone hopes that they’ll be even better in the future. Newsflash — the songs on The Hot Rock are utterly boring. The band lost their hooks, and haven’t seemed to have practiced much in their time off. For the many chumps who put them in their top 10 lists, wishful thinking doesn’t count. Unfortunately, not many women ranked in the top 100. We had Natacha Atlas, Andrea Parker, Cesaria Evora, Beth Orton, Cibo Matto, Jessica Bailiff, Luscious Jackson, indie-country crooners Freakwater, Julie Miller, Kelly Willis and Mandy Barnett. And a handful of bands with female members (Sonic Youth, Stereolab, Low, Quasi, Everything But the Girl, Lamb, Bis, The Muffs, Gus Gus, The Donnas). While many hoped that Lauryn Hill signaled the dawn of a new era of soul divas, the albums by Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Macy Gray, Angie Stone and Me’Shell NdegeOcello were pretty pleasant, and pretty unremarkable. The best soul album was brother and sister team Melky Sedeck (siblings of the Fugees’ Wyclef Jean) . Tori Amos continued her downward spiral, and Ani DiFranco let us down with Up Up Up Up Up Up but slightly picked up the slack with To The Teeth. Bjork and PJ Harvey were sorely missed.

But not to worry kids, out of the minimum 150 albums I enjoyed to varying degrees, there are certainly at least a handful for y’all to sing your teeth into and enjoy. Regarding the mainstream, I would have to say that the trend of rap-lout-metal is hilarious but embarrassing. I am also probably expected to rant about all the boy bands and the bouncy teenage girl popsters. Here is my opinion — mostly harmless. Oh yeah, and one of the songs by Ricky Martin has a WICKED bass line!

  1. Magnetic Fields * 69 Love Songs (Merge/Touch & Go)

    Stephen Merritt is on fire. What better, more audacious way to close out the century than to challenge Irving Berlin and Cole Porter as the most prolific songwriter by recording a triple album of love songs! The small, unassuming man started out the decade with his little band and five modest indie-pop albums inspired by the minimalism of Young Marble Giants, the pop-bombast of ABBA, despair of Joy Division and European synth-pop. While Magnetic Fields was always a true band, it couldn’t quite contain Merritt’s force-of-nature songwriting personality, and his tunes soon spilled over into side projects such as the 6ths, Future Bible Heroes and Gothic Archies. Even the ambitious project of writing 69 love songs couldn’t contain his ballooning creativity, resulting in over 100 songs, many of which will end up in bed with his other bands. The result is 69 love songs about various objects of desire, people of undetermined gender, musical instruments, his dog, and genres of music. The fact that about 40 of these songs are truly great is astounding. Think about it, of the triple albums in the history of rock (of which there are frighteningly plenty of), no one else came close. The music rarely eclipses the lyrics, but nicely match the moods using everything from country to jazz. The characters experience nearly the entire range of feelings — forlorn, rejected, blissful, ecstatic, feisty and vengeful. For whatever occasion, this album has at least five songs to go along with it. It is impossible to pick fewer than a dozen favorites, but suffice to say that Merritt has transcended the comparisons to other famous songwriters like Burt Bacharach, Phil Spector and Brian Wilson and become a legend in his own right with one of the best albums of the 90s.

  2. The Flaming Lips * The Soft Bulletin (WEA)

    While few could have guessed how far the Flaming Lips would have progressed since their goofy garage-psych incarnation of the late 80s, the direction they have taken is not surprising. What is startling is how successful they are. 1997’s Zaireeka, the best joke played on a major label since Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, was a four CD set designed to be played on four different stereos simultaneously. The couple thousand people who actually bought it and followed through were rewarded with a lusciously psychedelic experience. Amidst rumors of psychological collapse, Wayne Coyne lead a series of “Parking Lot Experiments” with synchronized playback of cassette tapes in car stereos. This evolved into a small club tour called the “Boombox Experiment” which left fans entertained but worried — were the Flaming Lips giving up rock ‘n’ roll? The Soft Bulletin broadcast the answer loud and clear. Taking off from the orchestral grandeur of Mercury Rev’s (former Lips Jonathan Donahue’s band) 1998 Deserter’s Songs, the Lips were ten times more ambitious. The overwhelmingly meticulous sound sculptures could have collapsed into a meandering mess, but instead, zero in on the emotional theme of each surprisingly focused song. While old fans may miss the less frequent “rocking out” parts, the band continues to deliver as one of the best live bands around, and have closed a chapter of their career one lysergic kiss away from perfection.

  3. Beck * Midnite Vultures (DGC)

    Ever since 1996’s Odelay made Beck the critic’s darling, he has been plagued with other peoples’ “great expectations” to do no less than define the future of music with his next release. Instead, he shrugged off the pressure like a dirty shirt with the low-key Mutations to show he can write timeless songs without the cut ‘n’ paste gimmicks. Midnite Vultures is simply a classic party album in the tradition of Talking Head’s Speaking In Tongues, or The Tom Tom Club, surpassing them with a seamless incorporation of a slew of Black music, from the electro-funk of Rick James and Afrika Bambaataa, the pimp ‘n’ grind of Prince and the slo-jams of Barry White and contemporary R&B artists like R. Kelly. Beck’s small, moppety stature and boyishly young looks may have precluded him from becoming a sex symbol, but that’s not preventing him from pushin’ 30 and showing that he’s a man (m-a-n) who can get his mojo on better than the rest of the mack daddies. What makes it so easy to lose yourself in the sheer fun of this album is that no matter what influences may be lurking beneath the surface, even when he shocks you with a startling falsetto on the old live favorite “Debra,” he remains oh-so Beck.

  4. Arto Lindsay * Prize (Righteous Babe)

    With his fourth album to explore bossa-nova and its variations, one might suspect Arto Lindsay is at a creative plateau. But with the only higher plateaus found in upper Mongolia, that isn’t a bad place to be. While broadening the variety of instruments and recording techniques, Lindsay keeps his eyes on the prize (har!) and focuses the music tighter than a duck’s butt. While drum ‘n’ bass rhythms were sprinkled on his last couple albums like salt and pepper, Prize tattoos the breakbeats into its luminous, cool pale skin. While it lacks any surprising covers of Prince or Al Green, the album manages to build upon the classic bossa-nova songwriting mastery of Lindsay’s Brazillian predecessors Caetano Veloso and Vinicius Cantuaria and actually surpass their current albums. Underneath the near-perfect songs is a lot of tension. His ace band simmers with Melvin Gibbs’ spare funk bass, and a slew of acoustic percussion by Davi Moraes, until Lindsay’s jagged electric guitar sputters and breaks the surface for a while to remind you that he used to be one prickly downtown cat in the no-wave days. But soon all you hear is his dry, laconic tenor exuding the warm sensuality that is his personal brand of 90s bossa-nova, and remember the sparks as a half-forgotten bump in the dream.

  5. Clinton * Disco & The Half Way To Discontent (Meccico/Astralwerks)

    Clinton is the dance-y side project of Cornershop’s Tjinder Singh and Benedict Ayres. While it has been available in England since September, it doesn’t come out in the states until January 25th. The duo are influenced by many of the same electro-funk elements as Beck’s Midnite Vultures, but with a less dense sound. Clinton allows the beats more space, with a spare, comfortable sound of Kraftwerk bleeps and old-skool hip-hop scratching. Like Cornershop, they occasionally incorporate some Indian percussion such as on “G.T. Road,” which is spiced up by a slyly nearly-unnoticeable backdrop of a woman climaxing. Clinton cuts the awkard experiments that bogged Cornershop down and lopes along at a relaxed, James Brown funky-popcorn beat, exemplified by “The Hot For May Sound,” complete with 60s soul organs. Singh’s vocals are more smooth and tuneful than he’s ever been in the past. Every song is a winner, from the dance floor shuffle of “Buttoned Down Disco,” the bouncy “Hip Hop Bricks,” the waxing philosophical “Electric Ice Cream (Miami Jammies)” the mesmerizing melancholy of “Before The Fizz Is Gone” to the “oobie doo, ooh ooh” beat-crazy closing tune of “Welcome To Tokyo, Otis Clay.” While I’m not sure about the claim of Clinton’s Web site that they “move things on a few notches,” it is an unpretentious, playful, addictive album that I couldn’t stop playing over and over. It was definitely the most listened to album of the year in the house of Fast ‘n’ Bulbous.

  6. Moby * Play (BMG/V2)

    Moby has always been a crotchety iconoclast who refuses to be pegged into any single genre. One wouldn’t expect anything less from a man who started his musical career in a hardcore band called The Vatican Commandos and spent a brief stint on vocals with the infamous Flipper before going on to kick-start 90s techno with the hit “Go.” Despite the critical acclaimed piled upon 1995’s Everything Is Wrong, Play is his first successful album from start to finish, giving a real sense of Moby’s truly rounded personality. It begins with samples of field blues and gospel shouting from old Smithsonian field recordings, Indian-wrestling the Chemical Brothers big beat sound right into the mud. “Porcelain” and “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” are lush Massive Attack-ish string-driven coasts through piano-driven beauty and melancholy. “Natural Blues” continues his mix of soulful Nina Simone vocals with dancefloor beats. After an industrial driven tune (“Machete”) and a catchy doo-wop pop number (“7”), Moby returns to his early 90s roots of orchestral, ambient techno. The tracks flow into each other gracefully, with sweepingly lovely, mesmerizing results. With the possible exception of Brazil’s Amon Tobin, Moby has no peer in the genre that he pioneered.

  7. Tom Waits * Mule Variations (Epitaph)

    “My little girl just loves your music. She puts you right up there with cherry bombs and clowns” read a fan letter to Tom Waits. Isn’t that the way it should be, all the children of middle-aged hipsters loving Tom Waits? Yet as the long anticipated release date approached, people still respond to the name of the beatnik-hobo-avant garde-junkyard-cabaret troubadour with a, “Tom who?” Despite his failure to become a household name, he did remarkably well in being absorbed into the public consciousness (Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Beck all paying homage).. Especially as he dropped out for six years, settling down to a rural homelife with a wife and a bunch of screaming children. Mule Variations is a more accessible album compared to the dark, theatrical Black Rider and brilliantly jagged Bone Machine, with the welcome return of his heartwrenching maudlin ballads, “Take It With Me” and “Hold On.” Some of the songs here sound familiar, like re-writes from Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs. This doesn’t make it a lesser album however. With the added spice of age, experience, a finely tuned taste for found sounds and the dirt and worms in the outdoor shack he recorded in, this is one of his best batches yet. He reunites with Joe Gore and Marc Ribot who contribute their gritty, spiky post-Beefheart guitar playing. The use of dobro, harp, pump organ, horns and reeds give the record the classic earthy Waits sound. That is, rich with alternatively horrifying and humorous imagery, such as a lurching, drunken carny pushing a lopsided ice cream cart containing empty, rattling whiskey bottles and a dead monkey. DJ M. Mark “The III Media” Retiman contributes samples that are subtly integrated throughout the album, but reminds you that it is indeed 1999. Not to be forgotten is the important contribution of his wife, playwrite Kathleen Brennan, who first helped revitalize his career with assistance on Swordfishtrombones. In a recent interview he commented, “I’m the prospector, she’s the cook. I bring home the flamingo, she beheads it; I drop it in the water, she takes off the feathers . . ..no-one wants to eat it.” Mule Variations is a 70-minute feast big enough to choke a horse, and it’s delicious. On the last song, Waits asks, “Does life seem nasty, brutish and short? Come on up to the house” sit down, eat up and have some fun with the Waits family.

  8. Built To Spill * Keep It Like A Secret (WB)

    Built To Spill is almost a too-good-to-be-true success story. Unassuming band in Boise, Idaho release two indie albums full of sprawling nine minute-plus indie rock journeys of broken hearts and shredded guitar strings. They get signed to a major label, release an album that doesn’t sell out and isn’t even close to sucking. Now they have released their fourth and best album. They take the essence of the six to eight minute songs from 1997’s Perfect From Now On and distill them into more concise creation that still seem compress even more emotional impact. “The Plan” wastes no time in kicking off with great melodies and guitar hooks. Let’s talk about guitars. Guitars, guitars, guitars. I have not heard such a modern museum of tone-bending tricks since Walt Mink and Polvo broke up. On top of that, they have catchy melodies that rival, dare I say, er, Weezer. Not to worry, they don’t fall into such smirking vapidity. The lyrics are always satisfying, taking you ever further into the twisted lives and loves of founder/leader/ex-Treepeople Doug Martsch’s imagination.

  9. Natacha Atlas * Gedida (Beggars Banquet)

    Those who were drawn to Siouxsie Sioux’s more exotic songs, or Madonna’s recent faux-Middle-Eastern mysticism should check Gedida out for the real deal. Actually, Natacha Atlas has much in common with Madonna in that she is an elusive amalgamation of styles and cultures. Atlas just happens to be about ten times more interesting, having been born in the Arabic quarter of Brussels to a Sephardic Jewish/Muslim/Christian family with roots in Morocco and Egypt, and educated in England. After paying her dues singing and belly dancing in Arabic and Turkish nightclubs in Brussels, Atlas got her break collaborating with Jah Wobble and Apache Indian in the early 90’s. She has been a key member of Transglobal Underground, contributed to the soundtrack of John Carpenter’s Stargate and toured with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. While she sings mainly in Arabic, sometimes French, her voice is simply another instrument to absorb as part of the music. Gedida does not improve upon the Arabic/Asian fusion with dance rhythms that were perfected on her first two solo albums. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the majestic moments of strings straight from a Bollywood soundtrack. Previously downbeat Dead Can Dance arrangements are lightened up and more club friendly on this album. And perhaps inspired by Talvin Singh’s successful Anokha Asian Underground, she incorporates some tabla-heavy drum ‘n’ bass, and even some rap. The album closes with “One Brief Moment,” where she sounds just like Bjork, woo hoo! Everyone who is dying for the next Bjork joint put their hands in the air! For now, we can be placated by yet another indispensable undulating juggernaut from our favorite, er, second-favorite multiculti diva.

  10. The Dismemberment Plan * Emergency & I (De Soto)

    The Dismemberment Plan at first glimpse take elements the most annoying bands ever, like XTC, Shudder To Think, and Soul Coughing, and make something much more appealing. They’re a difficult listen at first, but by the the third track’s (“What Do You Want Me To Say?”) soaring choruses and crashing Mission Of Burma chords, I’m turning it up louder and louder. More appealing influences come to mind as the album plays on — the early skeletal funk of the Talking Heads and the Minutemen, and 70s prog time signatures tempered by Wire-like simplicity. If Devo would have stopped devolving and become a majestically loud post-punk band, they might have written a breakup song as powerful as “The City.” Just kidding. Only The Dismemberment Plan could have written that song, because it becomes clear that they often sound like no one else. They are a group of musician’s musicians, with a flair for melodic, original songwriting. The Dismemberment Plan have been kicking around since 1994, and have finally arrived.

  11. Cafe Tacuba * Reves/Yosoy (WEA)

    Mexico City’s Cafe Tacuba have been genre-hopping since 1992. Re was a critical favorite in 1995 for its mix of sambas, ballads, punk, ska and classic rock. Revés /Yosoy (“Backwards/I Am”) blows it away. The all-instrumental first disc is unprecedented — the last thing anyone expected from the figureheads of the “Rock En Espanol” movement is an avant-garde disc full of cinematic, ambient experiments, beautifully inventive guitar picking and smooth classical forays, including a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet. Just the first disc alone would give a band like Tortoise a run for their money. But then there’s another one! Yosoy concentrates on more traditional (bolero, ranchera, salsa) Latin vocal music, but with their typical on-the-fly energy, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. Propelled by his flexible rubber band, Rubén Albarrán’s voice nimbly oscillates between high, delicate crooning and forceful scats. Sadly, the poor packaging (an intentional sabotage by WEA?) and uncompromising music will sell them few copies, while they deserve to be worshipped as the baddest musical mavericks in Mexico.

  12. Handsome Boy Modeling School * So…How’s Your Girl? (Tommy Boy)

    Hip hop has offered some stiff competition this year, with the impressive efforts by The Roots, Mos Def and Goodie Mob among others. But no one pushed the envelope of hip hop in ’99 as fearlessly as Prince Paul. Earlier in the year, he released the eccentric, completely uncommercial hip-hop opera, Prince Among Thieves. Now Paul (a.k.a. Chest Rockwell) teamed up with Dr. Octagon producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura (a.k.a. Nathaniel Merriweather) for the even more conceptually bizarre Handsome Boy Modeling School, based on an episode of Chris Elliott’s underrated sitcome “Get a Life.” Not everyone will get the humor (see “Look At this Face” for looped dialogue samples, “You must be another Handsome Boy graduate/Oh my god, they’re gorgeous!”), but if they did, it probably wouldn’t be that funny anyway. The album features a slew of guest stars, teaming Spain’s Josh Hayden with Father Guido Sarducci in a Nick Drake-ish “Sunshine” . . . I had to pause and contemplate that for a moment. Other students of the modeling school include DJ Shadow (on “Holy Calamity”), Alec Empire, Trugoy from De La Soul, Miho Hatori from Cibo Matto (on “Metaphysical”), Biz Markie and Kid Koala among many others. The Automator steals the show with his bottomless sonic hat tricks that keep the guest stars (and the listener) constantly off-balance. Prince Paul did for 90s hip-hop what Frank Zappa (with his Mothers Of Invention) did to 60s rock — ridicule and deflate the self-important poofs who forgot how to get weird and have some sick fun.

  13. Ibrahim Ferrer * Buena Vista Social Club Presents (Nonesuch)

    Ibrahim Ferrer was first introduced to the masses in Wim Wenders’ documentary, Buena Vista Social Club with Ry Cooder discovering the shoe-shine man who also happens to be “a Cuban Nat King Cole.” It is easy to see why Cooder would be so pleased to have found this neglected golden throat. Ferrer could have easily remained in obscurity, embittered by fate and a country that discarded its cultural heritage. The movie focuses on Cooder’s return to Cuba nearly two years after first recording the Buena Vista Social Club, this time to record a new album featuring Ferrer. The joy that he exudes while recording and performing is infectuous, and after getting intimate with the songs through the movie’s subtitles, the album is essential. His offbeat charisma transfers naturally from the movie to the album, where he fronts a 21-piece band. Concentrating on the country son style perfected by Arsenio Rodriguez in the 40s as well as 1950s big band arrangements, the 72 year-old singer’s gracefully sentimental vocals show that he is no amateur. The heart-wrenching “Silencio” is a duet with Omara Portuondo that will stay in your head for months, while “Herido de Sombras” and “Cienfuegos Tiene Su Guaguanco” are pure romantic ankle-grabbers. Pianist Ruben Gonzalez and the rest of the Social Club are in fine form throughout the rich yet restrained production. This is not a mere exercise in nostalgia, but rather elegant, timeless art.

1999 Breakdown

Rock & Pop

1. The Magnetic Fields * 69 Love Songs (Merge)
2. Beck * Midnite Vultures (DGC)
3. Built To Spill * Keep It Like A Secret (WB)
4. The Dismemberment Plan * Emergency & I (De Soto)
5. The White Stripes (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
6. Le Tigre (Mr. Lady)
7. Wilco * Summer Teeth (Reprise)
8. Sparklehorse * Good Morning Spider (Capitol)
9. Those Bastard Souls * Debt & Departure (V2)
10. Wheat * Hope And Adams (Sugar Free)
11. Super Furry Animals * Guerrilla (Flydaddy)
12. Burning Airlines * Mission Control (Desoto)
13. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion * Xtra Acme USA (Matador)

Avant Rock & Out Pop

1. The Flaming Lips * The Soft Bulletin (WB)
2. Arto Lindsay * Prize (Righteous Babe)
3. Godspeed You Black Emperor! * Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP (Kranky)
4. Jim O’Rourke * Eureka (Drag City)
5. Sonic Youth * Goodbye 20th Century (Smells Like)
6. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci * Spanish Dance Troupe (Mantra/Beggars Banquet)
7. David Sylvian * Dead Bees on a Cake (Virgin)
8. Stereolab * Cobra and Phases Group Play “Voltage” in the Milky Night (Elektra)

9. The Beta Band * The Three EPs (Astralwerks) (Elektra)
10. Cul De Sac * Crashes to Light, Minutes to Its Fall (Thirsty Ear)

11. Royal Trux * Veterans of Disorder (Drag City)
12. The Angels Of Light * New Mother (Young God)
13. Olivia Tremor Control * Black Foliage Volume One (Flydaddy)

Hard Rock & Metal

1. Entombed * Black Juju (Man’s Ruin)
2. Electric Wizard * Come My Fanatics (The Music Cartel)
3. Alabama Thunder Pussy * River City Revival (Man’s Ruin)
4. Fu Manchu * Eatin’ Dust (Man’s Ruin)
5. Orange Goblin * Frequencies From Planet Ten (The Music Cartel)
6. Rage Against The Machine * The Battle Of Los Angeles (Epic)
7. The Atomic Bitchwax (Tee Pee)
8. ..And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead * Madonna (Merge/Touch & Go)
9. Godflesh * Us And Them (Earache)
10. The Hellacopters * Grande Rock (Sub Pop)
11. The Melvins * The Maggot (Ipecac)
12. Zen Guerilla * Trance Status In Tongues (Sub Pop)
13. Biohazard * New World Disorder (Mercury/Def Jam)

Wimp Pop

1. Sam Prekop (Thrill Jockey)
2. Pernice Brothers * The World Won’t End (Ashmont)
3. Archer Prewitt * White Sky (Carrot Top)
4. Tindersticks * Simple Pleasure (London)
5. The Aluminum Group * Pedals (Minty Fresh)
6. Arab Strap * Elephant Shoe (Go Beat)
7. Low * Secret Name (Kranky)
8. Everything But The Girl * Temperamental (Atlantic)
9. Quasi * Field Studies (Up)
10. Spain * She Haunts My Dreams (Restless)
11. Jessica Bailiff [& Low] * Hour of the Trace (Kranky)
12. Luna * The Days of Our Nights (Beggars Banquet)
13. Low * Christmas EP (Kranky)

Electronica, Techno & Dance

1. Clinton [Cornershop] * Disco & The Half Way To Discontent (Hut)
2. Moby * Play (V2)
3. Mouse On Mars * Niun Niggung (Domino/Thrill Jockey)
4. Death In Vegas * The Contino Sessions (Time Bomb)
5. Matmos * The West (Deluxe/Vague Terrain)
6. Tantalus * Another Failed Attempt (Fading Fantasy Failing)
7. Tom Zé * Postmodern Platos: Remixes (Luaka Bop)
8. Lamb * Fear of Fours (Mercury/Island)
9. Joi * One and One Is One (Real World/Astralwerks)
10. Badmarsh & Shri * Dancing Drums (Outcaste)
11. Breakbeat Era [Roni Size] * Ultra-Obscene (XL/A&M)
12. Andrea Parker * Kiss My Arp (Mo’Wax/Beggars Banquet)
13. Basement Jaxx * Remedy (Astralwerks)


1. Natacha Atlas * Gedida (Beggars Banquet)
2. Cafe Tacuba * Reves/Yosoy (WB)
3. Nitin Sawhney * Beyond Skin (Outcaste)
4. Ibrahim Ferrer * Buena Vista Social Club Presents (World Circuit/Nonesuch)
5. Khaled * Kenza (Barclay)
6. Lenine * Na Pressão (BMG Brasil)
7. Ali Farka Touré * Niafunke (Hannibal)
8. Fabulosos Cadillacs * La Marcha Del Golazo Solitario (BMG Latin)
9. Vinicius Cantuaria * Tucuma (Verve)
10. Cesaria Evora * Café Atlantico (BMG)
11. dj Cheb i Sabbah * Shri Durga (Six Degrees)
12. Carlinhos Brown * Omelete Man (Metro Blue)
13. Rizwan-Muazam Qawwali Group * Sacrifice To Love (Real World)

New Americana

1. Tom Waits * Mule Variations (Epitaph)
2. The Black Heart Procession * 2 (Touch & Go)
3. Joe Pernice * Shappaquiddick Skyline (Sub Pop)
4. Latin Playboys * Dose (WB)
5. Mick Turner * Marlan Rosa (Drag City)
6. Willard Grant Conspiracy * Mojave (Slow River)
7. Shannon Wright * Flightsafety (Quarterstick)
10. Mark Lanegan * I’ll Take Care Of You (Sub Pop)
11. Bonnie Prince Billie (Will Oldham) * I See A Darkness (Palace)
12. Various * Return of the Grievous Angel: Tribute to Gram Parsons (Almo)
13. Los Lobos * This Time (Hollywood)

Country & Folk

1. Freakwater * End Time (Thrill Jockey)
2. Buddy Miller * Cruel Moon (Hightone)
3. Beth Orton * Central Reservation (Arista)
4. Kelly Willis * What I Deserve (Rykodisc)
5. Julie Miller * Broken Things (Hightone)
6. Randy Newman * Bad Love (Dreamworks)
7. Ani DiFranco * To The Teeth (Righteous Babe)
8. Damien Jurado * Rehearsals For Departure (Sub Pop)
9. Mandy Barnett * I’ve Got a Right to Cry (Sire)
10. Waco Brothers * Wacoworld (Bloodshot)
11. Ani DiFranco * Up Up Up Up Up Up (Righteous Babe)
12. Sally Timms * Cowboy Sally’s Twilight Laments (For Lost Buckaroos) (Bloodshot)

Hip Hop & Rap

1. Handsome Boy Modeling School [Prince Paul & The Automator)] * So…How’s Your Girl?(Tommy Boy)
2. The Roots * Things Fall Apart (MCA)
3. Mos Def * Black On Both Sides (Rawkus)
4. Goodie Mob * World Party (LaFace)
5. Prince Paul * A Prince Among Thieves (Tommy Boy)
6. Pharoahe Monch * Internal Affairs (Rawkus)
7. The Roots * Come Alive (MCA)
8. Ol’ Dirty Bastard * Nigga Please (Elektra)
9. Kool Keith (Dr. Doom) * First Come, First Served (Funky Ass Records)
10. Dr. Isreal * Inna City Presure (Mutant Sound System)
11. Kool Keith * Black Elvis/Lost in Space (Ruffhouse/Columbia)
12. Peanut Butter Wolf * My Vinyl Weighs A Ton (Studio K7)
13. GZA/Genius * Beneath The Surface (MCA)

R&B & Soul

1. Angie Stone * Black Diamond (Arista)
2. Missy Elliott * Da Real World (EastWest)
3. Mary J. Blige * Mary (MCA)
4. Macy Gray * On How Life Is (Sony/Epic)
5. Melky Sedeck * Sister & Brother (MCA)
6. Me’Shell Ndegéocello * Bitter (Columbia)


  1. Being John Malkovich
  2. The Red Violin
  3. Y tu mamá también
  4. The Matrix
  5. Sleepy Hollow
  6. Sweet And Lowdown
  7. eXistenZ
  8. The Thirteenth Floor
  9. Eyes Wide Shut
  10. Run Lola Run
  11. SLC Punk!
  12. The Summer Of Sam
  13. Genghis Blues

Snow Falling On Cedars
The Insider
American Beauty
Better Than Chocolate
Girl, Interrupted
South Park
The Sixth Sense
Jamon Jamon
A Walk On The Moon
Mystery Men
Office Space
The Big Lebowski
10 Things I Hate About You
200 Cigarettes
Twin Falls, Idaho
Playing By Heart

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