domingo, 31 de janeiro de 2010

Os Melhores Discos de 2001 - Pitchfork

As far as the musical world is concerned, 2001 wasn't exactly the space odyssey we'd hoped for. So many of rock's most promising and consistently rewarding artists disappointed, despite our anticipation of what could have been their best releases to date. Yet, underneath the bubbling hype that collected like lake scum on the surface of rock music, a wealth of new bands rose up to seize the crowns abandoned by the long-reigning champions. In fact, we're beginning to think now that there's no such thing as a "bad year for music." Every year has its groundbreaking records; sometimes you just have to dig for them.

We used a slightly different method of compiling our Top 20 list this year. Generally, we stick to releases that were specifically released in 2001, but this year, there was some question as to whether certain albums would qualify. For instance, the New Pornographers' Mass Romantic was technically released in October of 2000, but wasn't given any real promotion until February of this year. So, the new qualifier we decided to use was this: if Pitchfork reviewed it in 2001, it was eligible to make the list. (Reissues remained exempt.) You'll notice this more in our individual lists than in the general one, but we wanted to be upfront about our methods so we didn't get lots of e-mails from people correcting us on which year these records came out.
As for the actual compiling of the general list (the one directly beneath this paragraph), we did it the same way we always do: each reviewer assembled a list of their 20 favorite records of the year. Then, based on a points system, we tallied which records received the most votes. Thereby proving that democracy works. Take that, fascists!

20 Fugazi
The Argument

"That new Fugazi album sucks," or so I was told by a foolish high school friend when Steady Diet of Nothing came out in 1991. Ten years later, that friend probably doesn't know that they've released a new album, let alone one of their best. The Argument incorporates sounds found on each of Fugazi's past releases but presents them in fresher ways. Longtime fans might be surprised to hear multi-tracked vocals, a cellist, a second drummer, and digital effects, but the music is as intense, innovative, and intelligent as it's ever been. For a band that may be considered obsolete and past their prime, The Argument is just that: a statement that Fugazi still has something to say. And people better fucking listen. --Chip Chanko

19 Dntel
Life is Full of Possibilities
[Plug Research]

With Life Is Full of Possibilities, Dntel (aka Jimmy Tamborello) broke out of the IDM enclave that he'd languished in for two albums. Phoning up his old West Coast indie-rock chums, Tamborello persuaded them to allow him to distort and manipulate their contributions to his own gorgeous ends. Mia Doi Todd gives the performance of her career so far with the hazy dub-glitch ballad "Anywhere Anyone," and Rachel Haden's serene contribution to "Why I'm So Unhappy" is the killer track that Björk failed to write for Vespertine. But it's Death Cab for Cutie's Benjamin Gibbard who walks away with the big cash prize for his lovelorn, nostalgic contribution to this album's defining moment, "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan." When musicians of the highest caliber come together, whether they be guitarists or laptop programmers, brilliance happens. Life is truly full of possibilities. Make owning this album a certainty. --Paul Cooper

18 Beta Band
Hot Shots II

After establishing themselves as the proprietors of electronic neo-psychedelia with their Three EPs and self-titled studio album in 1999, the Beta Band came back in 2001 with an album that incorporated their rich, textured sounds and dense song structures into an elaborate yet intensely focused sophomore album. Switching from Wedding Present producer Chris Allison to hip-hopper Colin Emmanuel, the Betas backed their darkly melodic folk with tight beat programming, swells of multitracked vocals and orchestra samples. Frontman Steve Mason's reserved delivery blends the surreal with distorted political imagery, immersed in astral revery and chilling harmonies. The creative force behind the Beta Band is evident in their intricate cut-and-paste artwork designs, but their sound collage is where the talent really lies. --Ryan Schreiber

17 Cannibal Ox
The Cold Vein
[Def Jux]

Straight up: The Cold Vein is one of the best debuts in years. "Iron Galaxy" alone instantly converted thousands to the Cannibal Ox clan. Vast Aire's supremely confident flow dominates ("I'm not a bum, I'm a nomad/ Off-dome, thoughts have no home/ The page is ours to roam"), knee-deep in exploring all the riveting beats and bass pylons of El-P's industrial wasteland. Vordul Megilah may be overlooked as the weaker MC, but listen again and his freestyle tangents cook like Raekwon without the chef-like manners. Together, they devour battle raps and paint dystopian pictures without forgetting to tie their abstractions to the streets and the families they came from: "I lost my first wish/ But remember every detail of my first kiss/ That's that Bronx-tale bliss/ The holiest of holies, hip-hop/ It was '88, even at the age of ten phrases levitate." New York's bleeding right now, and I can only imagine Can Ox lapping it all up in order to spit venom right back. --Christopher Dare

16 Jim O'Rourke
[Drag City]

Jim O'Rourke begins Insignificance, one of the two records he's released in the last month, with "Don't believe a word I say," and I'm happy to take that caveat. It's been clear for years that O'Rourke has less interest in using his massive talents to communicate meaning through conventional signifiers than he has in playfully obscuring his musical ideas into sublime melodic arraignments, defiantly twisted piles of noise, or both. Insignificance, which was recorded in less than a month with help from Ken Vandermark, Jeff Tweedy, and Rob Mazurek, is O'Rourke's "rock album." The diversity and quantity of his catalogue might suggest that he takes on genres just to prove he can-- Insignificance alone calls on classic rock crunch, 70s orchestral pop, twang-tinged laments, and avant-garde soundscapes-- but the songwriting is just too good to be a game. Challenging, intimate, and as catchy as it needs to be; significance aside, O'Rourke's latest is addictive. --Kristin Sage Rockermann

15 Strokes
Is This It

Sons of privilege unabashedly copping VU and Pink Flag licks. Showered with praise in the UK before their first album was even released. Fed big-label dollars, but damping their sound to give the illusion that they're a garage band. There were plenty of reasons to hate the Strokes, but from the first notes of Is This It, it's clearly the kind of album you could imagine one day being regarded as a classic. Despite the conceits, it's hard to find fault with anything on the album. The arrangements are tight and lean, packed with hooks and peppered with attitude, the Strokes spit out proto-punk tunes like pre-fab homes. Twenty years from now, I'm betting 2001 will be remembered as the year the Strokes broke onto the scene. And if that pisses you off, chances are you're just jealous. --Nathan Rooney

14 Dismemberment Plan

October of 1999 brought the torrential brilliance of Emergency & I, Travis Morrison & Co.'s third record, which not only rocketed itself to the top of the 'Fork's year-end list, but also miraculously appeared at the #42 position on the best of the decade roster, weeks before its official release. Two years later, the Dismemberment Plan return with an air of sophistication that left many longing for the irrepressible break-dance zaniness of their earlier material. With Change, the Plan got older, sentimental, and introspective as Morrison contemplated his spiritual life in the album's opener, "Sentimental Man," and the nature of human experience on "Superpowers." Airport security would be optimal if it were as tight as this band is musically: Joe Easley exhibits his jungle-drumming prowess on "The Other Side," a track that had many fooled into believing it was only a sped-up recording, bassist Eric Axelson remains rooted while injecting his lines with an amazingly melodic sensibility, and Jason Caddell's vigorously insatiable guitar attack complements Morrison's emphatic delivery more than appropriately. They may not be as wacky as they once were, but the Dismemberment Plan has proven they are no ephemeral wonder. --Christopher F. Schiel

13 Les Savy Fav
Go Forth

I was converted three years ago. It was a basement show at my friend's place in Buffalo, where these Brooklyn-based savages had agreed to play in exchange for expenses and a keg of beer. Suffice to say, it was a typically extraordinary Les Savy Fav show, with frontman Tim Harrington at one point persuading the entire crowd (of about 50) to crouch and huddle on the moldy basement floor. With the releases of the stunning The Cat and the Cobra and the Rome EP, the band has garnered a handsome reputation among the East Coast's indie cognoscenti. With hallowed producer Phil Ek manning the sound boards, Les Savy Fav have thinned, refined and tightened their sound. "Crawling Can Be Beautiful" and "The Slip" see them flirting with Gang of Four-style post-punk while the anthemic arena-rock opener "Tragic Monsters" marks one of the brightest entries in LSF's oeuvre. Also, Tim Harrington looks like that guy with the big hands in John Carpenter's The Thing. --Malcolm Seymour III

12 Mouse on Mars
[Thrill Jockey]

The staggering variety of Idiology may have been too much for some people. You have to be after a certain kind of listening experience to sit down with a record that includes epic prog, hopped-up garage, Fahey-esque Americana, industrial ska, and a spoken word bit about some post-structuralist precept (and that's only about half the album). But once you tune in to Mouse on Mars' world of possibilities, Idiology emerges as arguably their best album. Here, the duo of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma took a page from every chapter of their story thus far and blew it up to Sunset Boulevard-billboard proportions. The noise got heavier, the layers got thicker, the grooves cut deeper, and the songs grew more tuneful. Idiology is the rare album that genuinely surprises. --Mark Richard-San

11 Autechre

People said it was unlistenable and obtuse. People said, "It sounds complex, but not like something I could listen to everyday." Well, maybe it is. And what's wrong with that? You see, for all of Rob Brown and Sean Booth's abstraction, they've managed to produce an album that's both challenging and entertaining, even if that entertainment is decidedly closer to the brainteaser than the word-search variety. Tunes like "VI Scose Poise" and "Cfern" are as uninviting as a lecture on biochemistry, and yet, if that's your thing, there are an infinite number of details to obsess over. These are the kinds of tracks that make undivided attention a prerequisite and headphones an absolute necessity. They're also the first two songs on the album, so it's not as if Autechre aren't giving you fair warning. Sometimes difficulty is good, and more times, broaching new horizons is great. --Dominique Leone

10 Prefuse 73
Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives

+87aZ{{skZixmZRJ+tbeatBY [:%?F&6&*;11)) !!kccZRR{{kkscc1î{cRRasmMRMJCACD?IE) W\7;.-4%&/, 51($$(6 ))$5'!=<0# 1="1.//,;[-7]"> MD<-66'40.F6 5-$,B:42-*56,3+&,) 72404&*+!"*&'$$,"'3# !!6:&&=&# -5&LBZQ2?9:5LR8+8LK-" @A **-@/0E/)2+.&/:41() #!'(YOdZM2ATY2-DD'72-7-%') '#"2F7)!+7*'+.-!MDD) *!!03LM/*09032)"(77857-5+bestrecordoftheyear. --Ethan P. 09 New Pornographers Mass Romantic [Mint] If the music of Vancouver's best and brightest had made its way to the ears of Jimmy Swaggart, the Christian televangelist would never have dubbed music "the "new pornography." Instead, he might have said something like, "Not a letter from an occupa-a-a-ant! Woo-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-wee-ooh-ooh-ooh-wee-ooh-ooh!" Mass Romantic is a direct challenge to those who would dare to suggest that good pop music is thing of the past. Energetic, smooth, and masterfully executed, Mass Romantic is the catchiest thing to come out in ages. And the unique combination of Carl Newman's Brian Wilson-esque arrangements, Neko Case's powerful wail, and Dan Bejar's unique, off-kilter songwriting make it the first great straightforward pop record of the new century. Mass Romantic is one of those rare albums that's easy to sing along to, but impossible to sing along to well. --Matt LeMay 08 White Stripes White Blood Cells [Sympahthy for the Record Industry] Coming off like an Exile on Main Street tour stop at CBGB's, the White Stripes strip blues-rock to the bone on White Blood Cells while maintaining the title of Most Consistently Color-Coordinated Rock Band in History. But while Jack and Meg White seem compulsive about their trademark red-and-white, there's nothing rigid about their brand of minimalist rock with one foot in southern tradition and the other in New York's gutters. For those of us who thought the downhome rock our dads used to listen to had met its end, the White Stripes reassured us there's still life in the old dog. And it howls. --Nathan Rooney 07 Múm Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK [Thule Iceland] While there's something to be said for the experimental spirit that drives the leading edge of the electronic music community, there are times when you simply want to relax to cozy sounds with a human touch. No band fit that bill this year better than Múm, a group from Iceland that drew ridiculous comparisons to Sigur Rós even before anyone had heard them, but actually excelled at what one astute observer dubbed "twee IDM." The Aphex-inspired beat programming was expert throughout, an overlooked quality that kept the music-box melodies from turning maudlin. Rather than creating sounds from scratch, Múm artfully blended their electronics with guitar, accordion, piano, horns, and, most memorably on "There is a Number of Small Things," the human voice. The la-la-la's that march in during the latter part of this song are the answer to the Tin Man's prayers: Múm's debut album is all heart. --Mark Richard-San 06 Radiohead Amnesiac [Capitol] Still dripping from Kid A's amniotic fluid, Amnesiac arrived in a pedestrian blur of commerce. Here, Radiohead shirked the pointillist perfection of OK Computer for a more liquid sound, rising in the orchestral swirls of "Pyramid Song" and ebbing in "Morning Bell"'s other half. The album alternately lulls and lashes out, and the depth-charge reverb adds a subtle cohesion. On "Knives Out," there's still a hint of a particularly British breed of melancholy, but increasingly, there are fewer borders and familiar landmarks, except when "Life in a Glasshouse" eavesdrops on a New Orleans funeral procession. There's a message in all the lyrical uncertainty and the artwork-- from the busy suits running back and forth to the sketch of a jubilant Steve Case, eyes elided for blank flesh-- but some prefer to forget. --Christopher Dare 05 Circulatory System Circulatory System [Cloud] With the release of Circulatory System, one of the greatest minds in pop music turned inward. Will Cullen Hart, who had explored the farthest reaches of chopped-up, texturally sophisticated pop music with the Olivia Tremor Control, brought a new level of emotion and beauty to his work, resulting in the most affecting album he's released to date. The beautiful, lush orchestration, inventive instrumentation, and fanatical attention to sonic nuance are still in full form, but now serve as extensions of Hart's inner quest to discover the nature of time, existence, and the universe. Rather than addressing these topics with far-reaching metaphors and generalizations, Hart shares his observations candidly and gracefully, resulting in an album every bit as sincere as it is profound. --Matt LeMay 04 Unwound Leaves Turn Inside You [Kill Rock Stars] The Olympia trio went and got themselves their own recording facilities and changed into something damn near unrecognizable. A double album of dark semi-psychedelic epics (replete with cartoons and video art files) resulted from their long period of sequestration at the self-built Magrecone studios, with nary a rocker in sight. Verdict: afuckingmazing. While the kinetic attack and Borges-like math-riddle feel of older albums like The Future of What and Repetition are rarely explored here, Unwound has proven that dramatic tone shifts don't have to spell the end for a band. Their new, reserved demeanor and orchestral feel allow Unwound to open up sides of their music previously only hinted at or altogether hidden from sight. Or to put it another way, if you like tripping on cough syrup, you'll love this album. --Camilo Arturo Leslie 03 Avalanches Since I Left You [XL] Party mix can be nasty business. For starters, some jerk always swipes the pretzels before you can get to the bowl. And there's always that one unwanted ingredient-- the wheat Chex or month-old Cheerios-- that prevents you from just grabbing a handful of the stuff and devouring it. At its core, Since I Left You, the debut album from Australian DJs the Avalanches, is a party mix. Built from over 900 samples of old R&B, funk, and soul records, as well as newer pop albums, Since I Left You manages to encompass all the best party music of decades past while still maintaining a distinctive flavor all its own. Kind of like putting Cheetos, pretzels, chips, and salsa into a blender and winding up with a finished product that actually tastes awesome. Since I Left You is perhaps the first of its kind: a party mix you can sink your teeth into without ever having to worry about hitting something stale or sour. --Matt LeMay 02 Fennesz Endless Summer [Mego] Like the Boredoms, Christian Fennesz is an artist with a background in heavy dissonance trying to see how much beauty he can squeeze into his new music. After the dense sonic assault of Plus Forty Seven Degrees 56' 37", Fennesz tipped his hand with the Plays single, spinning out lyrical (and liberal) interpretations of "Paint It Black" and "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)." That oddly tuneful outing still didn't prepare me for Endless Summer, an album that had Fennesz laying coats of glossy guitar melody over a foundation of Powerbook noise and static. The genius in this record lies in the deft mix. Thick swirls of sonic debris always lie beneath the tunes, rewarding many hours of focused attention, but it's as easy to lose yourself in the pretty chord changes on top. In a 1998 interview with e.x.p. magazine, Fennesz said he wanted to "create something that is 'euphoric' without being melodramatic. I have a deep interest in both digital noise, and simple, touching melodies." Endless Summer is a brilliant integration of the disparate. --Mark Richard-San 01 Microphones The Glow, Pt. 2 [K] I first tuned into the Microphones two years ago with the release of their feedback-laden K Records debut Don't Wake Me Up. It was tough to get into, but after spending time with it, I discovered inviting pop songs buried beneath the layers of white noise and radio static. Then came 2000's It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water. In a year's time, head Microphone Phil Elvrum had seemingly mastered it all. The album was an incredibly intricate collage in which unidentifiable instrumentation weaved throughout complex pop structures and deeply evocative, dreamlike lyrical imagery. But the album's most stunning trait lay in the way the sound was captured. Elvrum preferred to rely on old-world recording techniques, foregoing the digital trickery so prevalent in modern production for the warm comfort of analog tape and handmade effects. Now, with The Glow, Pt. 2-- the album title itself a reference to It Was Hot's brilliant centerpiece-- Elvrum makes a serious case for those archaic methods of sound reproduction. The Glow, Pt. 2 is the year's most beautiful release, without ever resorting to rock's tired orchestras or stuttering glitchcraft. The Microphones create space by liberally applying silence and tape hiss to their transparent stratum of guitars, drums and tape-manipulated strains. And atop it all floats Elvrum's boyish vocals which, rather than telling stories or singing of lost love, paints vivid imagery of the Pacific Northwest and wonders how he fits into the picture. Best of all, the Microphones have managed all this without pretense. If there's anything that could ruin this kind of music, it's self-consciously "arty" indulgence. But Elvrum's world is one of ecological harmony and generosity; he seems more likely to hang with Washington's rural expanse than with Olympia's scenester elite. And this record is all the better for it. In all its homemade sublimity, its heart on its sleeve and its execution so human, The Glow, Pt. 2 is to big-budget rock epics what camcorded home movies are to sci-fi Hollywood blockbusters: infinitely more affecting and sincerely moving. --Ryan Schreiber 20/12/2008

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