erasing clouds

Best of 2001?

by Sharon Marsh

2001. What a bizarre year. I don't think too many people will shed a tear as we wave it bye bye and head into the untapped potential of a palindromic 2002. But for a brief moment let's dwell on a few of the good things to come out of last year…

Top ten albums: In no particular order…

Kings of Convenience: Quiet is the New Loud

Ok, so 'twee' is probably an understatement. And yes, yes, I'm a complete mug for falling hook, line and sinker for the endearment factor of their liner notes and cute videos. But the acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies would have won me over in their own right. Don't tell anyone but their B-side cover of A-Ha's 'Manhattan Skyline' made me cry like a baby. Apparently part of a New Acoustic Movement. The world has needed a music revolution for some time and you know it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Unfortunately, they may have to start their records by yelling to attract everyone's attention…. Clearly one of the most skillfully crafted albums to have come out of last year. More of the same please.

Jimmy Eat World: Bleed American

Were we talking about endearing? Could these guys be more adorable if they tried? Bless. This album has a fantastic mix of energy and emotion. Why aren't they unbelievably huge? Is it possible for a band from Arizona to become unbelievably huge? Well, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series and no-one believed that was possible….I defy anyone to play the title track and not want to pogo round the room.

Unbelievable Truth: Misc. Music

It must be good for a collection of B-sides and leftovers to make the top ten. And it is. Oh, Andy Yorke, you of one of the most seductive voices in the music business, why did you decide to stop? The Truth were creators of songs it is physically impossible for me to ever get sick off. Even when it was someone else's song - the album is worth it for their version of 'Ciao! My Shining Star' alone. Sigh.

Super Furry Animals: Rings Around the World

Wow. How good is this album? Probably their best yet (Mwng misses out purely because I don't know enough Welsh to sing along). One of 3 Welsh bands in my list this year (and a notable mention to Gorky's Zygotic Mynci for their recent album 'How I long to feel that summer in my heart'). Was 2001 they year of the Welsh? It's a nice thought.

Feeder: Echo Park

Continuing with the Welsh then. Tinged with the tragic loss of drummer Jon Lee. Even sadder that he was responsible for an album that can raise a smile on the lousiest of days. Grant may not be the most poetic lyricist in the world but how can you resist the enthusiasm of 'Buck Rogers' and 'Seven Days in the Sun'? The loss to the music world is huge but of course, the deepest sympathy goes to Jon's family and friends.

Turin Brakes: The Optimist LP

Bizarrely, kept recommending this to me. I usually ignore them but in the end I caved. Another version of mellow (lots of that about last year). This album is a bizarre hybrid of Del Amitri and Ben and Jason. The results are surprisingly effective. Interestingly enough, the opening chords of Feeling Oblivion sound like the incidental music to the British children TV show of my youth, Bagpuss. Strange but true.

Ben and Jason: Ten Songs About You

I know they wrote songs for Martine McCutcheon but I can't help but love these guys. This is their best offering yet. The utterly superb 'The Wild Things' makes me want to sing along at the top of my voice. It's a shame I can't sing. It also reminds me, oddly, of ABC, and yes, that's a good thing (oh come on, don't even try and tell me you don't have a soft spot for Martin Fry in a gold lamé suit). This album is for the hopeless romantics out there, but only those with good taste and a penchant for string sections need apply.

The Strokes: Is this it

Yes. It is 'it'. Never mind the bollocks. If you can carve a path through the hype this is a cracking album. You should really forgive them the hype because well, isn't that what punk is all about? Also. I felt the need to break up the descent into melancholy my 'best of' is turning into. Interestingly, a friend put this and Ben and Jason back to back on a tape for me. A brain-frying stroke ( no pun intended) of pure genius. Americans will find shelling out for the import version well worth it. The song "New York City Cops" was removed from American versions because it was deemed insensitive. Evidently, post-punk punk bands are politically correct these days. Probably not a bad thing, but a shame that it affected the best song on the album.

Trembling Blue Stars: Alive to Every Smile

Back to mellow. This band won a permanent place in my heart with their last album by including a song about the Radio 4 shipping forecast. Despite the rather upbeat album title, the Stars work their magic on more songs about heartbreak and failed relationships with haunting melodies and vocals. Seriously yummy stuff.

Manic Street Preachers: Know Your Enemy

Finally, for those moments when nothing but an adrenaline rush will suffice. Put on, play loud and blow those cobwebs away.

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