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Albums of 2002

After 2 solid weeks of squabbling, hair pulling and bribery, the workers of diskant have finally agreed upon what they believe to the Ten Best Albums of 2002 (By ‘agreed’, I obviously mean ‘democratically decided by majority decision’. As you’ll see, not all of the albums have been received favourably by everybody. Girls Against Boys, for example. Nobody seemed to like that, but it made the No.7 slot. It’s a crazy world).

Anyway, behold the elite of 2002… Your hosts: Simon Minter, Danny Cameron, Ollie Simpson, Hugues Mouton, John Coburn, Chris Haikney, Chris Summerlin and Marceline Smith.

* * *

Bilge Pump – Let Me Breathe

Mar-C: Skewed mentalist shouty jerkpop for geeks with sleeve art drawn on a MagnaDoodle. Thus best record of the year. YOU CAN TRUST US.

Chris S: Bilge Pump rule because they are a funky funky band. Their rhythms roll and gallop and are unstoppable and they make you dance. By adding an almost retro sounding swing to their step they rise above the hard edged inhuman math of their supposed contemporaries and Mark Simms’ engineering on this kids you that you’re missing the best gig ever heard.

Smint: Quite good, but I find it not crazy and disjointed enough for my increasingly crazy and disjointed tastes. Winning song titles, though!

* * *

Sonic Youth – Murray Street

Chris S: A right return to form. By finally realising what everyone knew – Sonic Youth write great songs – the Yoot change their sound subtly and do the business after the disappointing NYC Ghosts and Flowers. By putting Jim O’Rourke on bass, the pop sensibility of the band is harnessed in a tight rhythm section for the first time in their recorded history, allowing the new 3 guitar attack to hit melodies and hit noise alternately and at the same time to devastating but subtle effect. No other band could have made these songs work like this. Even if ‘Karen Revisited’ sounds like Summer In The City…

Mar-C: It’s like avant-garde never happened!

Smint: It’s Sonic Youth so it’s good, but I hate to say that I think they’re becoming slightly staid in their middle ages…

Danny: I didn’t bother with this record ….. I want the sound of young hearts!

* * *

I Am Spartacus – Forward!

Hugues: I got really confused the first time I heard about them, because I think another band at the time had released a record called I am Spartacus. As that band-of which I can’t remember the name-was more along the lines of a Gravity style post hardcore act, I quickly realised we weren’t talking of the same Spartacus. This one quietly juxtaposes guitar, bass, and violin to create some chilling, melancholic movie music-sounding melodies. And does it very well indeed.

ChrisH: Er, yeah I liked it. Remember thinking it sounded really good for something sold out a shoebox at a gig. Was expecting either less ambition or less success at whatever it was they were doing. I was wrong and very pleased to be.

Smint: Rrrrrrr forgot I had this, but I do! But I haven’t listened to it in months. As memory serves, it’s good (there’s a capsule review for you.)

* * *

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Source Tags & Codes

Mar-C: Defying all rumours of imminent Fred Durst collaborations, musical watering down and general corporate sellout, Trail of Dead’s major label debut was a triumph. Still TOD as we know and love them but with cash to spend on string sections, timpani, paying your best mate to paint pictures for elaborate sleeve art and going on jaunts to ancient pyramids. World domination now scheduled for next year.

Danny: After their tour with Mogwai, their album is a thousand times more impressive than seeing them live. Each gig, when they weren’t hell bent on destroying their stage, connected for five songs, but more often was lost in competing mania. Fo r those five songs each night though, they were shatteringly grand, just got to forget the staggering neglect…

* * *

Econoline – Music Is Stupid

Smint: A proper album, full and rounded, with a flow of songs from quiet to loud and fuzzy to smooth. This reminded me a lot of Boyracer, if you remember them, and that is a big compliment.

Mar-C: Indie rock with tunes and emotions and jangly guitars just like the good old days before Emo was an amusing stick to hit bands with. They don’t half walk slowly though.

* * *

Hella – Hold Your Horse Is

Ollie: Never standing still for a second, this album manages to be super-technical and very compelling at the same time. The stupidly complex rhythms will get into your head and rattle around for months.

Smint: Class. Some actual NEW music, like actual new music you haven’t heard before – totally original. There’s only two of them and that’s amazing, considering the noises here.

* * *

Girls Against Boys – You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See

Hugues: I don’t know if this album is any good, but I found them really quite boring live, once the surprise from the two bass heaviness gone. Actually I think they should have stopped after the Sexy Sam ep, which indeed is quite a while ago…

Mar-C: The Star Wars Episode Two of the music poll. Who voted for this? I haven’t heard it like but I bet it’s not that good. I didn’t even go see them live ‘cos it was EIGHT POUNDS. Still, I imagine they could show [insert crap new band the NME are hyping] a thing or two about dirty garage rock.

* * *

Reynolds – Love Songs

Mar-C: Not actually released til January so this makes us look really cliquey. Especially since one of them writes for diskant and one of our staff is releasing it. But this album’s so good you should be thanking us for bringing it to your attention early so you can get in straight away once it’s released. You’d be stupid not to.

Ollie: A great mix of the chunkier older-sounding stuff like ‘stopper’ with some slower meandering songs reminiscent of Dirty Three. Bold, brash and warmer than your average ‘art/post/whatever-rock’ record.

* * *

Sleater-Kinney – One Beat

Mar-C: Sleater-Kinney go POP! There’s tunes on here that you won’t ever be able to get out of your head and all so joyously played and sung that it can’t fail to cheer. I recommended it with great enthusiasm to Jason Reece and he told me amusing stories about meeting them in Olympia when they were hippie chicks. Nice. Carrie looks amazing in the cd booklet as well. Ahem.

* * *

Electro Group – A New Pacifica

Mar-C: It’s actually impossible to describe this album without sounding like you’re being insulting. “Like the best bits of Chapterhouse and Lush!”, “It’s like shoegazing never ended!”. So let’s just go with “It’s great”.

Smint: I had this in my car, but it’s gone missing……

* * *


the pAper cHase – Hide The Kitchen Knives
John C: Piano-tinged math-core that switches uneasily between disturbingly chaotic and eerily sparse. And John Congleton’s bleak vocals add to the schizophrenia that pervades this brilliant record. Mighty. The soundtrack to unrequited lust, crippling panic attacks and embittered blackened emotion.

Black Heart Procession – Amore del Tropico
Hugues: Lo-fi gloomy rock gone hi-fi gloomy rock. Which ever way, they’re great at being gloomy, especially when they add a bit of chachacha to it.

Mar-C: Previous albums had them drunkenly singing lovelorn winter ballads in Poland. This album sees them drunkenly singing lovelorn winter ballads in, er, Hawaii.

Nina Nastasia – The Blackened Air
Chris S: Why wasn’t this everyone’s number one? Nina slayed at ATP. When dropped into the cream of the singer/songwriter pile from the USA she rose to the top, matching if not bettering the likes of Will Oldham and Bill Callaghan. This album is a perfectly realised whole, she handles traditionally cliched topics of love, loss, regret and drug abuse (I think) with a spear-sharp approach that pierces your bullshit detector and goes straight through your heart. Her backing band are stars in their own right, viola player Dylan is the perfect foil and when accompanied by Jim White her live shows manage to teeter between an intimacy that is unique and a grand sense of scale that will knock you on your ass.

Our favourite films of 2002