2000: A year in Popular Music

A friend recently challenged me to name a list of my favorite albums from a year of his choice.  I accepted and the years chosen was 2000,  I cringed a bit, as I would just of assumed had a more classic year like 1969, or 1977 or whatever.  As I stated before, in my review of The Strokes’ “Is This It”, I tend to think of the late 90’s and early 2000, as this angst driven time in popular music, characterized by the rise of Nu Metal, Boy Bands, Pop Punk and Eminem.  As such I spent a good bit of my time during that period listening to stuff from other eras.  That said, I have realized that in the year since I have developed an appreciation for many releases from that year, that were largely below my radar at the time.  I selected the following as my top ten:

1.  Clutch: Jam Room
2.  Aesop Rock: Float
3.  Johnny Cash: American III Solitary Man
4.  Oukast: Stankonia
5.  RL Burnside: Wish I was in Heaven sitting Down
6.  Godspeed You Black Emperor!: Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven
7.  Eryka Badu: Moma’s Gun
8.  Sleater Kinney: All hands on the Bad One
9.  Gary Numan- Pure
10. PJ Harvey: Stories from the City Stories from the Sea

Leading the list is a seemingly impromptu release by punk/metal/stoner/blues pioneers Clutch that contains some of their weirder material (this choice may reflect my own affinity for this band, more that anything else).  It is followed by the first non-self-produced album by stream of consciousness rapper Aesop rock (though this release pales in comparison to it’s follow up Labor Days).  I also included a Johnny Cash collaboration with Rick Ruben, Outkast’s commercial break through, some filthy Mississippi blues, a classic post-rock album, a great neo-soul album, and a blistering riot grrl album.  This list is concluded with the third of a trilogy of Dark Heavy industrial releases by Gary Numan and PJ Harvey’s serene Stories from the City Stories from the Sea.  While this a solid list, I do suspect some of the may have not made the cut, in a stronger year.

I knew I would be given grief for not including Radio Head’s Kid A, A Perfect Circle’s Mers De Noms, and I was.  Though I consider these both excellent and important albums, that I am big fans of, they seemed like kind of obvious choices.  Additionally Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP was released that year, and I was listening to it at the time.  It is excellent and possibly his finest effort.  It was also brought to my attention that I missed No Strings Attached by N*SYNC, though I would not say I “missed it”.

Other contenders included:  Train of Thought from Talib Kweli’s Reflection Eternal, Renegades, a strong and popular collection of cover songs from Rage Against the Machine, ambient industrial pioneers Zoviet France’s The Decriminalization of Country Music (this album’s opening track Something Spooked the Horses, is quite beautiful and remains a favorite to this day), Deftone’s White Pony (which I simply did not find as strong as their previous efforts), King Crimson’s Construction of Light (I mainly just listen to the instrumentals on this one, which by the way are mind-blowing) and Pearl Jam’s Binaural.

Also considered were: Blonde Redhead’s Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, The Damage Manual’s self titled release, Dark Star’s Travelogue, Dead Voices on Air’s – Frankie Pett Presents, Download’s Effector, Elysian Fields – Queen of the Meadow, Lou Reed’s Ecstasy,  Morcheeba’s Fragments of Freedom,  Placebo’s Black Market Music,  Recoil’s Liquid, The Tear Garden’s Crystal Mass, Amon Tobin’s Supermodified, and The Legendary Pink Dots’, A Perfect Mystery.  Last but not Least is Za Shum Ushatar Uglakh by Za Frumi, which is a collection of Lord of the Rings Inspired orcish music and dialogue.

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