Jan 30, 2005

as an update for this week's Slop From The Pops countdown, here's a list of what i did like in the charts over the past month. my top ten favorite UK Top 40 singles from January 2005:

10. "Four Kicks" - Kings of Leon
9. "Wires" - Athlete
8. "Sad and Lonely" - Secret Machines
7. "Cutt Off" - Kasabian
6. "Evil" - Interpol
5. "In a Funny Way" - Mercury Rev
4. "Goodies" - Ciara
3. "Breathe" - Erasure
2. "Somebody Told Me" - The Killers
1. "Filthy/Gorgeous" - Scissor Sisters
Slop From The Pops: UK Pop Charts 01.30.05
we're still in January so there's not a lot of exciting new songs hitting the charts and all that excitement about the 1000th UK number one is over, which means there's really nothing to get all hot and bothered over this week. unless the fact that Wes will no longer be hosting the countdown after this week means a lot to you... anyway, let's take a look and/or listen to what those wacky British were buying this past week.

40. "one night" - elvis presley (last week's position: 20)
39. "the number of the beast" - iron maiden (22)
38. "time is my everything" - ian brown (15)
37. "breathe" - erasure (25)

36. "what a lovely dance" - hal (new entry)
this is pretty bad, very bland Irish lite-rock. at least The Corrs made some catchy pop, this isn’t catchy at all. its all just a lot of attempting to be sweet and meaningful, but really not succeeding at either, instead being rather good at whining about her coming back or not. i’m not sure what this all has to do with having a lovely dance though. isn’t pop music supposed to be upbeat now and then? this just makes me want to slit my wrists – and not only because of the subject matter.

35. "i believe in you" - kylie minogue (30)
34. "you can do it" - ice cube f. mack 10 & ms. toi (23)

33. "ain't nothin' wrong" - houston (new entry)
it seems to be the week for bland new singles, as i’m really just not feeling this one tonight. he’s got a decent enough voice, but this subject matter has been totally covered by R. Kelly years ago (and much better at that). maybe i’d be more impressed if there was anything even remotely exciting about this beat. luckily we’ve got both Ciara and new Ashanti later this week to redeem the American r & b scene.

32. "the journey/don't stop knocking down the walls" - amsterdam/ricky (new entry)
we get the Ricky side of this double a-side single, and i’m already wishing we’d have gotten the other side. because it can’t possibly be as horrible as this is, really. his voice is god-awful, how are people like this still getting recording contracts? once you get past his voice, it doesn’t get any better as its just by-the-numbers AOR pop music. blech, next.

31. "live twice" - darius (19)
30. "if there's any justice" - lemar (24)
29. "what you waiting for" - gwen stefani (17)
28. "strings of life" - soul central f. kathy brown (13)
27. "against all odds" - steve brookstein (12)
26. "object of my desire" - dana rayne (16)
25. "tumble and fall" - feeder (5)
24. "filthy/gorgeous" - scissor sisters (18)

23. "attention" - commander tom (new entry)
a german dj, for some reason i’m thinking this isn’t going to be my favorite track of the week before i’ve even heard it. well, about a minute in to it now and i have to say that my gut instinct was correct. it’s not horribly bad, as it’s a little faster and feels a bit more rugged than your average dance chart his, but it’s still lacking any sort of real excitement. the part where it tones down to just the drumbeat and the cranky sound effects is kinda cool, but then the chick singing about “attention” kicks in and reminds me that this isn’t very good.

22. "take me away" - stonebridge f. therese (9)

21. "the shouty track" - lemon jelly (new entry)
this is the best new entry i’ve heard this week, but with this crop that’s surely not saying very much - its almost like saying this is my favorite pile of cat shit on the floor. this is pretty decent big-beat sort of techno thing that i thought was pretty much dead by now. it’s not as good as Fatboy Slim at his best or anything, but it’s tolerable. the underwater drum effect thing about halfway through is kinda cool, and makes the transition back to the main beat a little more interesting. but by the end, the handclaps and monotonous guitar line get a tad bit annoying, not sure exactly what made this deserve the “shouty” title as it certainly doesn't make me want to shout. except maybe at my computer speakers.

20. "a fool such as i" - elvis presley (2)

19. "strange love" - phixx (new entry)
i was hoping this would be a Depeche Mode cover by some new retro-rock dark guitar band, but no it’s a horrid boy band type thing. Phixx is a pretty cool name for a band, isn’t it? but much like all the cool names it’s been wasted on a shit band. yeah, basically this might be what the Backstreet Boys would sound like if they were still releasing records at the rate they were back in the late 1990’s and they’d run out of decent songwriters and producers to work with. in other words, this wouldn’t even have made the cut as one of their songs. it really is that bad. i’m getting quite disappointed in the new entries this week, nothing is really exciting me in the least.

18. "somebody told me" - the killers (7)
17. "numb/encore" - jay-z/linkin park (14)
16. "staring at the sun" - rooster (10)

15. "destroy rock and roll" - mylo (new entry)
this kicks off with an awesome sample from some religious speaker calling for the destruction of rock and roll, listing off all the artists he thinks are offensive. actually, i shouldn't say "kicks off" because that's pretty much the entire concept behind the song. which may sound awful, but it actually kinda works. the chorus (i use that term loosely) comes in when the voice keeps repeating “Duran Duran / Missing Persons” over and over again. it’s really pretty simple, but an entertaining track nonetheless. i’m surprised its taken this long for someone to do this kind of thing - sampling a wacko right-wing guy for the greater good of music. heh.

14. "boulevard of broken dreams" - green day (11)
13. "out of touch" - uniting nations (8)
12. "breathe in" - lucie silvas (6)

11. "la la" - ashlee simpson (new entry)
oh god, please make it stop. please, before my ears start to bleed. i can’t believe anyone ever thought this was a good idea for a song, “you make me wanna la la” has got to be the single worst lyric ever written in the history of pop music. someday archaeologists are going to unearth this song and pinpoint it as the beginning of the decline of Western civilization. i’m not even going to get into the part about her having no talent and not being deserving of a record contract in the least. this song pretty much sums up everything I hate about pop music at times.

10. "penny and me" - hanson (new entry)
so the absolute horror of Ashlee is somewhat redeemed by this song, because it’s really not a bad pop tune in the least. yeah, i’m surprised as you are that Hanson is still recording and releasing new music - even more surprised that it’s not completely awful. it’s a decent little song about riding around with the special girl and enjoying those little moments that keep life interesting. a lot of bands could have fumbled a song like this pretty badly, but the brothers Hanson keep it simple and pretty peppy as it should be. no trying to turn this into a depressing song about losing Penny, just a moment of appreciation for the simple things. i kinda have to respect Hanson for that, as much as it pains me to admit liking one of their songs.

9. "hey now (mean muggin') - xzibit (new entry)
AKA that dude from Pimp My Ride. X to the Z has always been one of those second rate rappers that stayed in people’s minds thanks to his associations with the big names like Snoop and Dre. i’ve never really thought much of his vocal skills, he’s not bad in a guest spot but not too good at carrying a track on his own. this isn’t too bad though, mostly because Timbaland has provided one of his trademark hot beats for Xzibit to flow over. stuttered drums and all sorts of clicky sound effects keep this pretty interesting. this is definitely my favorite Xzibit song ever, but that’s really not saying too much.

8. "do this do that" - freefaller (new entry)
so this is a debut single by another British pop-punk band in the vein of Busted and McFly. it’s your typical rebellious teen single about not wanting to follow the rules and just wanting to rock with baggy pants and the Marshall amp turned to 10. it’s actually not too bad, i like it better than the aforementioned Busted or McFly. the only problem is that the vocals are mixed way too high, making it sound more like a boy band tune than the ROCK song it should be. as far as these things go, it’s not bad.

7. "wires" - athlete (4)

6. "shine" - lovefreekz (new entry)
this is the latest in that trend of reworking old classic rock tunes into new dancefloor fodder, ala the Elvis “A Little Less Conversation” from Junkie XL a couple years ago. except that this time the original artist being sampled is ELO, which is totally fucking awesome in and of itself. i mean, of all the classic rock artists you could rework today would you really pick ELO as your first choice? but beyond the brilliant choice of source material this makes for one semi-interesting listen, but I don’t see it being very exciting for any repeats.

5. "galvanize" - chemical brothers (3)

4. "grief never grows old" - one world project (new entry)
i really can’t be too cruel to this one, as it’s a charity single for the victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia. it really is truly horrible however, so i hope they aren’t counting on this single to raise a lot of money. it’s basically a bunch of really old guys getting together to croon a lot of schmaltz about grief over a waltz-like dirge. some nice harmonizing by Brian Wilson and the brothers Gibb, but that’s really the only positive thing I can find to say about it. seriously, this makes “We Are the World” look like one of the best songs ever written. good cause and all, but folks – don’t waste your money on this, instead donate directly to one of the many charitable organizations out there that won’t force you to listen to this crap first.

3. "goodies" - ciara (1)

2. "only u" - ashanti (new entry)
the intro to this song is fucking awesome, with the fuzzed out guitar dropping into the beat, it is moments like this that completely redeem modern pop from the pretenders like Ashlee. the beat for this one is pretty hot too, although I’m not sure who it’s done by – i’ll have to do a little research. i really like Ashanti’s voice, far more than the vast majority of female r & b singers out right now, but I have to admit that “Goodies” is a much hotter track. this one starts off really strong, but just sort of hits a plateau and stays that way for the rest of the song. a few more hooks or changes would have been nice.

1. "it's now or never" - elvis presley (new entry)
so Elvis has gotten back to number one after a week’s hiatus, this time with a mid-tempo shuffle. i swear the backing music for this one came from one of the presets on my old Casio SK-5 from back in the day, because it really is generic and horrible. i suppose this is the point where i start getting sick of these Elvis reissues, and we’ve only got 14 more to go! i’m glad it wasn’t that horrid tsunami track at number one though, i would have liked to have seen Ciara stay up here again.

Jan 27, 2005

2000-2004: via // chicago's top 50 albums
(part five // 10-1)
and so we come to the end of this first major feature of 2005, my absolute top ten favorite albums since last century...

10. Manitoba – Up in Flames (Domino, 2003)
This is probably the perfect summer album for the current batch of indie kids. I mean, we just can’t connect with the Beach Boys anymore… but a dude with a laptop and a shitload of talent? Now that’s something we can understand. But, understanding or not, this is an unbelievable album. Though this is definitely influenced by My Bloody Valentine, but certainly no slave to a pre-established formula, Up in Flames combines the shoegazing aesthetic with modern technology to beautiful result. Dan Snaith, the man behind the laptop, is able to perfectly capture all of the laziness and giddiness of an entire summer day over the course of one album. Doubt me? Just pop this in next July when you have a lazy afternoon and the sun is shining and there’s a slight breeze blowing through your open window. You won’t after that.

9. Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica (Epic, 2001)
Beloved indie band signs to a major label. That phrase alone can strike fear into the biggest fan of any indie band, justified or not. While some expected Isaac Brock to turn this into a bid for widespread commercial acceptance, he did the opposite and experimented by pulling the band in even more directions than before. You’ve got your noisy little two-minute rave-ups like “Wild Packs of Family Dogs” and you’ve got some of Brock’s moody, yet thought-provoking lyrical sense in “Dark Center of the Universe”. The songs that truly push this album dangerously close to the all-time classic zone, however, are the ethereal epics “The Cold Part” and “The Stars Are Projectors” both of which show a side of the band that was only hinted at in previous albums. This one didn’t get the mainstream success many were unjustly afraid of, but that doesn’t matter when you’ve created a timeless album that really matters.

8. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World (Sub Pop, 2001)
The first time I heard this album, I could have sworn it was a reissue of some long-forgotten psychedelic band from 1960’s London. I felt a little early Pink Floyd in there, but at the same time I felt something a little more poppy creeping underneath. I was definitely intrigued by the taste so I picked it up, put it on in the background a bunch of times, and promptly filed it away. End of story, right? Wrong. Turns out I had all these weird little melodies bouncing around in my head, but for the life of me I couldn’t place them. I frantically raced through my collection searching for the source, because it was obvious that they weren’t going to leave me alone. After days of fruitless searching I was about to give it up and resign myself to the onset of insanity. Luckily I randomly pulled this album off the shelf and brought it with me on a drive out to my parents. As each song slid by and connected with the synapses firing in my head, I fell hard for this album. And, as they say, the rest is history.

7. Radiohead – Kid A (Capitol, 2000)
Seriously, with the miles and miles of press written about this album I don’t think I could add much of anything more at this point. I’m not even going to try, I’m just going to say that yes this album was over-hyped – very much so in fact. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a damn amazing album. Sure, other producers and bands had done the laptop and other experiments before Yorke and crew took them on, but this album was able to combine a huge number of influences and combine them with the trademark Radiohead sound to create one of the best headphone masterpieces ever.

6. The Avalanches – Since I Left You (Modular, 2000)
This shit should have been advertised as the ultimate party in a box, all yours for less than twenty dollars. I’ve heard lots of DJ mixes in my life, but absolutely none have come even close to this one. The transitions are smooth, the samples are very well used, and the overall mood is one of complete and utter abandon. I’ve read that the guys used an insane number of albums to create this, and to be honest I don’t want to know anything else about how it was put together as it might spoil part of the mystique for me. You might remember the really cool single “Frontier Psychiatrist”, which was taken from this album. Understandable, because it was awesome. But that song is like my thirteenth favorite thing about this, that’s how damn good it is.

5. The Postal Service – Give Up (Sub Pop, 2003)
This was just one of those vanity side projects, you know that goes. Just a couple of dudes working on some cool jams when they had spare time, tossing ideas back and forth over mailed tapes. It’s not going to be anything special, just another creative outlet for a couple of talented guys. Little did anyone know that it would turn into the best thing that anyone involved had ever worked on. Jimmy Tamberello came up with some sublime beats that perfectly complimented some of the best lyrics that Ben Gibbard had ever committed to paper. This isn’t one of those albums that you kind of like, this is one of those albums that you fall in love with and fall in love to.

4. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch, 2002)
We all know the back story on this one – band records supposedly amazing album, band gets fucked over by record label, fans salivate, band resigns, and the album finally hits the streets after and excruciating wait. It’s not a new story in rock and roll at all, except this time there was no “supposedly” about it. This is an amazing album, and anyone dumb enough to take a pass on it should have their head examined. This could have been a sprawling, experimental mess if it weren’t for the superb production help from Jim O’Rourke and Jeff Tweedy’s way with melody and a string of words. They can get a little obtuse at times, but his lyrics perfectly captured a wide variety of feelings on this album – from nostalgia to loss to confusion to desperation. It was written well before September of 2001, but somehow this album became the perfect antidote for those confusing times that followed.

3. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun (Fatcat, 2000)
I really would just rather post a picture of a beautiful Icelandic landscape here, because that’s about as close as I could come to describing the perfection of this album. I’ve been staring at my screen for half an hour while this album has been playing, just trying to think of something to say about it but words continue to fail me. Let me try this – picture a delicate, pink rose floating on a serene lake as ice melts around the edges. A gentle, cold wind blows by but it somehow leaves the rose to peacefully float on. Overhead the clouds slowly drift to and fro as errant rays of sunshine strike the petals of the rose, just in time to refract on a drop of water. That’s about as close as I can get to describing how this album makes me feel, and I don’t think I’ve even done it an eighth of the justice it deserves.

2. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope, 2002)
This album broke Marshall into the mainstream big time, proving he went far beyond the funny singles “My Name Is” and “Guilty Conscience” from The Slim Shady LP. He kicked the hype off with a hot single that was about as catchy as a case of syphilis, but a lot better to dance with. Slowly though, another side of Em emerged, as this stunning tale of a deranged fan started to get rotation on the radio dial. Who would have ever expected a song sung with verses in written letter form about a psycho rap fan killing his girlfriend in the trunk of his car would be a radio smash? I don’t think anybody expected it to be as huge as it was, but it succeeded due to one simple fact – Eminem is a compelling storyteller with an amazing gift of flow and vocal skills. Very few rappers can work with words quite like him, and none of them have the engaging persona to pair it all with. From the psychotic (“Kill You”, “Kim”) to the pop culture bashing (“Marshall Mathers”) to the telling cultural critiques (“The Way I Am”, “Who Knew”), The Marshall Mathers LP showed off all sides of Em’s abilities and facets. It’s not just an amazing album, it’s the portrait of an artist who is one of the most enthralling entertainers of the last twenty years.

1. Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador, 2002)
How often do you come across an album that pretty much embodies everything you love about music? It’s not something that breaks tons of boundaries, or starts a revolution, or changes the musical landscape forever. No, it’s a little more simple than all of that – just something that you connect with on a personal level and engages you in every way that an album can. Lyrically, sonically, conceptually – everything just worked on this album for me, and quite a few other people judging by the rabid following the band now has. Interpol combined the best of dark guitar pop-rock from the past forty years into forty minutes of perfection. I can feel traces of everyone from Joy Division to The Cure to the Velvet Underground and to be honest, I don’t see a damn thing wrong with having obvious influences when something like this can come out of it. The band wasn’t just stealing bits and pieces of classic albums to create a modern-day Frankenstein on vinyl, instead they let an obvious love and passion for music pour through their fingers and mouths to create something wholly original and forward looking. It didn’t change the world by any means, but just changing mine was good enough.

Jan 26, 2005

2000-2004: via // chicago's top 50 albums
(part four // 20-11)

20. The Arcade Fire – Funeral (Merge, 2004)
If this album continues to grow on me the way it has the past four months, then there’s no telling how high it will be on my end of the decade list. It wasn’t my favorite album of 2004, but I think that’s only because I had three months to live with it as opposed to the nine I had to fall in love with Modest Mouse. All of that aside, this is truly one of those albums that comes out of nowhere and becomes pretty much a classic. Any album that is able to make me laugh, cry, smile, think, and feel like jumping up and down throughout its running time is something that I will love for years and years to come.

19. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker (Bloodshot, 2000)
So, yeah, I’m a sucker for Ryan Adams – despite how much of a prick the guy can come across as in interviews, he’s still an amazing songwriter. I’d been a fan since I picked up Stranger’s Almanac by his band Whiskeytown, but it wasn’t until I heard the solo debut that I knew just how much I liked him. I’m pretty sure a lot of my personal connection with this album had to do with my heart being steamrolled by a certain girl, and “Come Pick Me Up” just rang pretty true, I still think it’s the best song about loving that girl you shouldn’t ever. Toss in a beautiful duet with Emmylou Harris on “Oh, My Sweet Carolina” and the amazing “To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high”, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a debut album.

18. Beck – Sea Change (Geffen, 2002)
Speaking of breaking up, this is one of the greatest break-up albums by one of the most unlikely artists. Yeah, thanks to One Foot in the Grave we already knew Beck could do the acoustic thing, but I for one had no idea that he could make such an emotionally engaging album. It’s definitely a downer of an album, but sometimes that’s all any of us needs to get by. While Beck’s lyrics are busy breaking your heart all over again, the subtle production work from Nigel Godrich (Radiohead) keeps this from falling into the background.

17. White Stripes – Elephant (V2, 2003)
When an album kicks off with a bassline (guitar faked or not) like this, you just know it’s going to be really good. But by the time “Seven Nation Army” is over you are kicking your expectations up even higher. And I’ll be damned if this fourth album by the Whites doesn’t deliver and then some. You’ve got pretty much every aspect of a rock album you could ever desire on this one – from the sprawling blues epic of “Ball and Biscuit” to the two-minute raver “Hypnotize” to the sweetly twee group singalong “Well It’s True That We Love One Another”. Not to mention the surprisingly good vocal performance by Meg on “In the Cold, Cold Night”. The Stripes’ stock was already heading for the stratosphere with the last album, but Elephant proves they’ve got something that 90% of the big hype bands lack – real staying power.

16. Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News (Epic, 2004)
I wrote a little bit earlier this month about the fascinating experience I had with this album, the experience that propelled it to become my favorite album of 2004. But beyond even that, this is just a really, really well done all around rock album. Catchy hooks, excellent production, meaningful lyrics, and a few side trips into unfamiliar territory all combined to make this the most solid release of last year. I’m continually surprised at how every listen forces me to choose a new favorite song, even the ones that I initially disliked. Isaac Brock and the boys deserved every bit of mainstream love they got with this one.

15. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (Kranky, 2000)
Post-rock? Sound collage? Experimental? I really don’t care what adjectives or descriptors you want to throw at this band, because nothing is going to prepare a new listener for what they are about to hear. By the year 2000, the soft-to-loud slow build thing had been done a thousand times before, but never with this much intensity and emotion. One of the few double-disc albums of the last ten years that doesn’t have about 10-15 minutes worth that could have been excised. Every second and sound is a vital piece of this composition, working together and at odds with each other to create an exciting aural experience.

14. Outkast – Speakerboxx/The Love Below (LaFace, 2003)
One disc was one of the most solid hip-hop albums of 2003, while the other was one of the most intriguing rap-funk-r & b-techno-blues-jazz albums of all time. We all knew that Big Boi and Andre 3000 were more than capable of bringing a new twist to rap, but not to this insane level. Big Boi’s half featured top-notch guest spots from the likes of Jay-Z, Lil Jon, Killer Mike, and Ludacris for a damn-near five mic classic. That disc alone would have been enough to propel the set onto this list, but Andre’s half simply pushes it straight to the top half. Whether he’s funking around with a techno cover of “My Favorite Things” or dropping the greatest pop song of the last five years in “Hey Yeah” (straight up), Andre brought enough style, balls, and talent to make this a lasting classic.

13. The Strokes – Is This It? (RCA, 2001)
So let’s get it all out of the way first. Yes, The Strokes are a hip band full of even hipper rich boys who probably spend more time on their wardrobes and model/actress girlfriends than they do in the practice room. Yes, they were overhyped to the point of disgusting people months before the debut album even dropped. Yes, they were saviors of rock destined to destroy teen-pop and nu-metal, or at least NME and Rolling Stone would have you believe. But you wanna know something? They can get away with all of that when they manage to drop a perfect half-hour of rock and roll like they did with Is This It.

12. Jay-Z – The Blueprint (Rocafella, 2001)
After several years of slowly creeping up the charts and into American’s hearts, Jay-Z didn’t need to drop an album like this. He easily could have rested on his laurels and dropped a hot single now and then while his legions of fans ate up everything he released. Instead the Jigga man came up with the best album of his career, in my opinion even topping the classic debut Reasonable Doubt (mostly due to the lacking production values of the latter). Straight out of the box Jay teamed up with a little know producer by the name of Kanye West to drop the street anthem of the summer of 2001 in “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”. When the album itself came out, anthems like “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Hola Hovito” thumped out of speakers everywhere while “Song Cry” and “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” furthered the other, more sensitive side of Jigga’s persona. Top all this off with the killer Nas-baiting, Doors-sampling “Takeover” and a killer guest spot from Eminem on “Renegade” and you’ve got a classic hip-hop album.

11. The Streets – Original Pirate Material (Vice/Atlantic, 2003)
“Let me get this straight… this guy raps, right? And he’s a white kid from England? And the majority of his beats were slapped together from stuff around his house, like a Playstation? Right, I’ve just got to hear this trainwreck of an album.” At least that’s what I was saying before the first time I was able to hear “Let’s Push Things Forward” and I was set back on the right track. Mike Skinner wasn’t about to challenge the thrones of Jay-Z or Nas with his flow skills on this one, but he more than made up for his lack of lyrical skills with astounding knacks for both production and story-telling. It’s been a long time coming, waiting for the international reach of hip-hop to produce its first foreign superstar. But with results this outstanding, it was well worth the wait.

Jan 25, 2005

Slop From The Pops: UK Pop Chart 01.23.05
so last week we got the 1000th UK number one of all time, what do we get this week? oh.. i'm guessing some crappy dance tunes and some whiney Englishmen in there somewhere....

40. "call on me" - eric prydz (last week's position: 35)
39. "no more" - roni size f. beverley knight (26)

38. "alive and amplified" - mooney suzuki (new entry)
here we get some garage rock that has “trying way too hard” written all over it. the backing vocals are a nice touch, but really not enough to salvage this mediocre song. i really liked the first two Mooney Suzuki albums, but this just reeks of trying to become a huge mainstream success. problem is, they seem to have lost that little bit of an edge that made them so enjoyable before. it does have a nice little drum breakdown at the false ending sort of thing.

37. "unwritten" - natasha bedingfield (34)

36. "lover" - rachel mcfarlane (new entry)
here we go with another dance hit featuring a growly-voiced diva singing about love and shit. yawn. i say “growly-voiced” because Rachel is all about that dropping down to hit the low notes that almost sounds like a growl. Christina Aguilera does that a lot, but difference being that she can actually sing well and more importantly, gets an actual hot beat to sing over now and then.

35. "cutt off" - kasabian (27)
34. "father and son" - ronan keating f. yusuf islam (30)

33. "colossal insight" - roots manuva (new entry)
this is a really trippy reggae/dancehall song right here, all kinds of cool synth squelches and squeals in the background. the bassline sounds like it's being muffled as it's walked upon by the descending synth line that kicks in during the second verse. lyrically it's really nothing exciting, but this really awesome beat more than makes up for it.

32. "serious" - pop (16)
31. "tilt ya head back" - nelly & christina aguilera (29)
30. "i believe in you" - kylie minogue (23)
29. "drop it like its hot" - snoop dogg f. pharrell williams (25)

28. "in a funny way" - mercury rev (new entry)
nice intro that almost sounds like it belongs in a Phil Spector-produced girl group song, then it kicks into a Flaming Lips/Beach Boys hybrid with some nice swirling strings and echo effects. the drums really propel this song along, as the vocals kind of float along down the river of sound. the mini-climax at the start of the chorus is fantastic, as are the minor sonic touches sprinkled throughout. this is a really great pop tune and in an ideal world we'd have a lot more of this stuff.

27. "e talking" - soulwax (new entry)
this sounds pretty exciting and interesting – for about the first ten seconds. the low-end fuzziness kicks things off like this could really go places, but you quickly realize that that's pretty much all we're going to get with this one. the lyrics aren't anything special and any kind of melody or hook is pretty much non-existant. it sounds like there could really have been a cool song made out of the sonic bed, but it all got squandered. oh well.

26. "empty souls" - manic street preachers (2)
25. "breathe" - erasure (14)
24. "if there's any justice" - lemar (21)
23. "you can do it" - ice cube f. mack 10 & ms. toi (19)
22. "the number of the beast" - iron maiden (8)

21. "lackey" - the others (new entry)
another song about not selling your soul out to the man, this time complete with horrifyingly bad forced “punk” vocals. not even the little “chika-chika-chika-OW” thrown in before the chorus can make up for that. the chunky guitar riff is half-decent, but those forced vocals are just destroying any interest i could find elsewhere in the song.

20. "one night" - elvis presley (1)
19. "live twice" - darius (7)
18. "filthy/gorgeous" - scissor sisters (12)
17. "what you waiting for" - gwen stefani (15)
16. "object of my desire" - dana rayne (11)

15. "time is my everything" - ian brown (new entry)
this one kicks off with a Latin-influenced horn intro before shifting into a electonic-tinged mid-tempo rock song. the shuffling beat and horns really don't seem to work too well together, but it does make for an interesting combination. Ian's voice has lost a lot since the Stone Roses days, but i still have a soft spot for him. these are more of his usual mystical lyrics, but it's really nothing more than a mediocre song by a once great vocalist. quite a shame, really.

14. "numb/encore" - jay-z/linkin park (17)
13. "strings of life" - soul central f. kathy brown (6)
12. "against all odds" - steve brookstein (4)
11. "boulevard of broken dreams" - green day (13)
10. "staring at the sun" - rooster (5)

9. "take me away" - stonebridge f. therese (new entry)
well this is a somewhat enjoyable dance tune, if only because the string sample seems actually well-placed and the vocalist isn't trying so hard to be something she's not. not that this makes it exactly my favorite single of the week, but enough to keep me from getting insanely annoyed. and at this point that's all i can ask of these dance tunes.

8. "out of touch" - uniting nations (9)
7. "somebody told me" - the killers (3)

6. "breathe in" - lucie silvas (new entry)
rather bland mid-tempo one here, sounds like it wouldn't be out of place as a musical montage for some Lifetime network movie. not that i know anything about that channel mind you, just that this is the sort of “woman overcoming obstacles and keepin' on” thing that i would expect to fit well with it's programming. nothing wrong with a song about keepin' on and overcoming, but let's try to breathe a little more life into it next time, eh?

5. "tumble and fall" - feeder (new entry)
so we move into full-on bland ballad mode here, despite how hard the crunching guitars prior to the chorus try to convince you otherwise. lots of nonsense about “drops of summer rain” and getting some girl to come back again, the kind of theme you've heard in a million songs before this one. thing is, this song is much the same – the kind of thing you've heard a million times before. it's your basisc 21st century Britpop mope-rock, nothing more and nothing less.

4. "wires" - athlete (new entry)
wow, this song really sounds like Coldplay here – but in the good kind of Coldplay sort of way. as much as i knock on generic mope-rock all the time, sometimes i actually do like some of it. A Rush of Blood to the Head was really solid, as are a couple of the Keane singles. yes, I'm serious. back on topic, this song actually keeps things sonically interesting with the faded in and out drum breaks and swelling string samples. lyrically, it's not as strong as Chris Martin at his best, but it's not too shabby. i'll take this over Rooster any day, that's for sure.

3. "galvanize" - chemical brothers f. q-tip (new entry)
right off the bat i have to say that this is how you should handle a guest spot from someone like Q-Tip, it's far better than his cameo on the latest R.E.M. album. as far as the newest from the brothers chemical, this is pretty hot. great “push the button” vocal sample shows up halfway through, as the stuttering beat builds up to what you think is going to be a huge climax – but then just ends up repeating the beginning of the song with more string hits. sounds like a disappointment, but it actually works well as its totally not what you are expecting. one thing i've always liked about the Chems is the way they know just when to throw a slight curveball into a song.

2. "a fool such as i" - elvis presley (new entry)
in a big surprise Elvis fails to make number one this week, meaning that his potential streak of 18 number one singles is crushed at a pathetic two. i like this, however, because it means the triumph of new music over the oldies being trotted out again. don't get me wrong, i've got nothing against the forefathers of modern rock and pop, but the current Top 40 chart is not where they belong. this is a decent little rock tune here, it shuffles right along as Elvis is accompanied by some subtle background vocals and decent guitar work. i have a feeling i'm going to like these Elvis singles less and less as the weeks go on, but for now I'm not finding these early ones to be bad at all. i think i might even start to enjoy hearing some Elvis songs.

1. "goodies" - ciara (new entry)
and this is the single that took down the King, not a shabby one to do such a deed. her vocals compliment the beat really well, and it's a really hot beat between the piercing whistle and the spy theme guitar funk. as with a lot of recent productions, this one is all about the space – the lack of samples or accents at expected points in the beat is exactly what makes this one tick. i also really like the fact that there is so much going on with all the different sound effects, yet it doesn't feel crowded in the least – leaving room for Ciara to work he magic over the top. i do have to tell you, though, that you should seek out the remix featuring Petey Pablo to hear this song in all its glory.

Jan 24, 2005

np: "steam machine" - daft punk
so the new Daft Punk album (Human After All) has been leaked, and it's pretty hot. at least from what i'm hearing on my first listen. first single "Robot Rock" and the title track both jumped up and bitchslapped me to grab my attention, pretty damn impressive for someone who's usually not a huge fan of dance/electronic music.
anybody that's here hoping to see the latest Slop From The Pops UK chart rundown - you're going to have to wait an extra day or two. seems BBC Radio 1's website is updating thier streaming software so i was unable to listen today. i peeked at the results, though, and saw a nice surprise at number one. lots of enticing new entries as well, so look for that update later this week.
speaking of updates, i'll also have the top 20 for my 2000-04 album countdown coming later this week. aaaaand, if you're lucky (more, if i'm lucky and get my package from Saddle Creek*), you'll get my initial thoughts on the two new Bright Eyes albums. yeah, i know those have been leaked for awhile as well, but sometimes i do actually like to keep some suspense when it comes to favorite artists. so keep checking back, and there will be plenty of new content to keep you entertained.

* - while i'm (sorta) on the subject of Saddle Creek, allow me to air a minor bitching here. so i decided to support Conor and the label by ordering the new albums from the label's site direct. ok, this was mostly because i thought the $11 price would be cheaper than any shops around here. come to find out that Best Buy will be selling each disc for $8 a pop. for fuck's sake.

Jan 20, 2005

2000-2004: via // chicago's top 50 albums
(part three // 30-21)
still going...

30. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Warner Brothers, 2002)
Many were wondering just where Wayne Coyne would lead the Lips after the back-to-back excellence of Clouds Taste Metallic and The Soft Bulletin. What tricks would he pull out of the bag this time? A return to the psych-rock roots? More of the lush atmospherics of Bulletin? With the Lips you can never be quite sure, which is what made this album such a joy to listen to. Two perfect pop gems (“Fight Test” and “Do You Realize?”) anchored this sci-fi concept album about giant robots, Japanese girls with ninja skills, and death. Excellent production by the always on Dave Fridmann elevated this to a thing of pure beauty, pop-psych experiments and all.

29. Sonic Youth – Murray Street (Geffen, 2002)
This wasn’t so much a return to form for Sonic Youth as it was a rediscovery. The band managed to rediscover the jam, as evidenced by the many epics on this seven track album. All five members, including recent join Jim O’Rourke, were on fire with this album. It may or may not have been due to the proximity of the band’s practice space to Ground Zero, but there was definitely something that instilled such beauty and power into the music. This album proved that a band can age gracefully without losing an ounce of talent or inspiration. If only every band could put out music this breathtaking 20 plus years into their career.

28. M83 – Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts (Groom Disques, 2003)
This is a truly impossible album to pin down when trying to describe the sound, I’ve seen every influence from My Bloody Valentine to Air to Mogwai thrown at this band. But I don’t feel that any of that does them justice, as they’ve managed to incorporate everything wonderful about the above listed bands and create a listening experience that is at once intoxicating and soothing. From the majestic beauty of “On A White Lake, Near A Green Mountain” to the wall of synths in “Run Into Flowers”, M83 created a modern masterpiece that proves you still don’t need guitars to create music of true power and beauty.

27. Franz Ferdinand – S/T (Domino, 2004)
It’s been a long, long time since I can remember a guitar-oriented band packing the dance floor within the first twenty seconds of it’s single getting started. But I’ll be damned if “Take Me Out” doesn’t do the trick every single time the needle is dropped, which I think says a lot about these four Scottish lads. It’s one thing to put out an album that critics drool in anticipation over, but it’s another thing entirely to surpass those expectations and slam into the mainstream. Nobody saw this band getting as huge as it did, but with an entire album full of songs just as good as “Take Me Out”, if not better, how could it not? Let’s not forget the fact that these songs work just as well as an album full of intelligent pop, ones that you can enjoy even when not in a position to shake your ass.

26. Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump (V2, 2000)
One reason that I had traditionally stayed away from much synth pop over the years was that a lot of it sounded cold and distant to me, I couldn’t really connect with it. While I wouldn’t classify Grandaddy as a synth pop band at all, this album does feature heavy use of keyboards. It stands out, however, through the incorporation of them into dazzling tunes that are very warm and inviting. And if the music isn’t enough to suck you in, Jason Lytle’s often witty and engrossing lyrics will do the trick. Whether on the sprawling epic of “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot” or the poppy “The Crystal Lake”, Grandaddy combines the best of ‘70s power pop, ‘80s synth pop, and ‘90s indie rock to create an original style.

25. Boards of Canada – Geogaddi (Warp, 2002)
I’m no expert when it comes to electronic music, nor any of its subgenres and offshoots. I’ve checked out all kinds of hyped IDM and electronica from Aphex Twin to Squarepusher to Autechre, but none of it really clicked for me. So I was expecting more of the same when I sat down to listen to this album. I figured that as with most albums like this, that I would grow bored within 10 minutes and relegate this to background music, if I even avoided shutting it off outright. Neither of those were a choice though, since this album kept me engrossed all the way to the end. BoC put together the perfect mix of sampled sounds, processed beats, and synth lines to captivate me with its radiance and intelligence.

24. The Strokes – Room On Fire (RCA, 2003)
There was a whole hell of a lot riding on this sophomore album, it being one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2003. The Strokes had to know that they weren’t going to come anywhere near pleasing every fan and critic out there, so why bother? Instead they went back to the reliable formula that made Is This It so fantastic and tweaked it just enough to captivate all over again. Snaky guitar lines and mechanical drumbeats lay down a toe-tapping foundation for Julian Casablanca’s urban decadence lyrics. Not to mention the fact that these are all highlighted by some catchy as fuck riffs.

23. Sigur Ros – ( ) (MCA, 2002)
Seriously, Iceland has got to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I’ve never been there and I have nothing to base this assumption on except the music of this particular band. There must be some breathtaking views that can instill this kind of magic in mere mortals, allowing them to crank out music of this caliber. Nobody expected them to keep this pace up for a second album, but they did. By taking a step back and stripping down the sound, the band was able to slowly reveal the ethereal beauty within. It’s a longer build-up than you might be prepared for, but when this album hits – it does so in both the heart and the soul.

22. El-P – Fantastic Damage (Def Jux, 2002)
This is a sprawling epic of anger and dysfunction, but not in that Staind and Korn kind of way. Instead El-P wraps his spitfire lyrics around head-warping beats that attack from all angles, knocking out one of the most mind-blowing hip-hop albums in years. This isn’t music for riding in your whip, this is more like music for crawling through the seedy underbelly of the grimy streets – watching your back for the silent assassin sneaking up on you. This album was like a guillotine – guaranteed to leave your head hanging after blowing your mind.

21. The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop, 2003)
This album is pure joy, simple as that. Surreal lyrics, insane hooks, catchy melodies – this is the stuff that indie-pop dreams are made of. The Shins know when to pile on all the lush instrumentation to create a pop nugget, but they also know when to scale things back and let a simple guitar line do all the work. I can only describe this as one of the bounciest albums I’ve ever heard, one that never fails to bring a smile to my face. More pop music should aspire to be this insanely enjoyable.

Jan 19, 2005

2000-2004: via //chicago's top 50 albums
(part two // 40-31)
and the countdown continues...

40. Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein (Def Jux, 2001)
While Timbaland and Just Blaze were busy blowing up the charts, one of hip-hop’s most consistent producers was working with emcees Vast Aire and Vordul Megilah to create one of the first true masterpieces of the new millennium. Def Jux man El-P created some of the most dark and dense sonic beds since the Wu-Tang debut almost a decade prior. Meanwhile Vast and Vordul drop some fierce rhymes that may come across as utter nonsense on first listen, but over time they reveal intricacies and turns of phrase that will drop your jaw. Few albums in rap history have been able to combine this type of lyrical and production innovation on a full-length of this caliber, this shit was real.

39. Radiohead – Hail to the Thief (Capitol, 2003)
This was supposed to be the return to straightforward rock after the detours of Kid A and Amnesiac, but that wasn’t what we got. Nor was it simply another extension of the paths explored on those albums either. Instead, this album was sort of a conglomeration of everything Radiohead had been up that point while still staking out some new territory. From the slow lethargy of “Sail to the Moon” to the relative rave-up of “Myxomatosis”, this album proved that Radiohead was never going to give you what you were hoping for but at the same time never leaving you wanting for solid songs.

38. Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle (Sub Pop, 2002)
Sam Beam floated into my life completely unannounced one lazy Saturday afternoon, as I laid on the couch with a soft breeze blowing in the patio door and a streaming internet station playing. I don’t remember which track it was now, but immediately I was struck with how quickly his voice pulled me in and grabbed my attention. Some may question the validity of Beam’s take on folk, but authenticity doesn’t matter when you can create simple yet elegant melodies like these.

37. Bright Eyes – Fevers and Mirrors (Saddle Creek, 2000)
Conor Oberst has yet to create the start-to-finish masterpiece that I know he’s very capable of, but this album comes damn close. I could live without the album opening and ending skits that threaten to create a conceptual mess of it, but hauntingly beautiful songs like “The Calendar Hung Itself” and “When the Curious Girl Realizes She is Under Glass” more than earn this album a spot on my list. Few songwriters today are able to spin a tale into a captivating song the way Conor can, and until that masterpiece drops this album will get many repeated spins.

36. Eminem – The Eminem Show (Interscope, 2002)
Em had nothing left to prove to the world when it came time for this album to drop, as The Marshall Mathers LP had already exceeded expectations and created a monster. Maybe that’s what enabled him to take off in as many directions as he did on this one and succeed nicely in almost every one. He dropped his best political jam to date (“White America”), his best club jam ever (“Without Me”), and more of his touching yet heartbreaking family dramas (“Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, “Hallie’s Song”). But Em didn’t stop there, he managed to come up with one of the best misunderstood youth anthems of the hip-hop generation by sampling Aerosmith for “Sing For the Moment”.

35. White Stripes – White Blood Cells (Sympathy for the Record Industry, 2001)
This is the album that initially broke the exes White to the mainstream, and with very good reason – it’s an amazingly solid rock and roll album that revels in its simplicity. There was nothing pretentious about this album, nothing manufactured – just a talented duo cranking out timeless rock and roll that drifted all over the map. Whether slowly strumming about walking to school or rocking out an epic like “The Union Forever”, the Stripes tamed an elusive beast – the blues based rock album that sounded both refreshing and inspiring in a time when rock had been declared dead for almost a decade.

34. Liars – They Threw Us All in a Trench and Put a Monument on Top (Mute, 2002)
Now this band had major fucking balls, man. I mean, just being a pluralized band from New York in 2002 was a bold enough move, what with the press heaping unwarranted praise and expectations on every group from the five boroughs. Next thing you know these fuckers are releasing a single, “Mr, Your On Fire Mr”, that managed to throttle necks while shaking asses up and down both coasts. That shit was red hot, yo. To top all that, they finish off this album with a 30 minute looped epic that was sure to test the patience on anyone who had been shimmying along up to that point. This one quickly proved that the Liars couldn’t be simply dismissed as “just another garage rock” band, hell no – this was a band with attitude, beats, intensity, and huge fucking balls.

33. Jets to Brazil – Perfecting Loneliness (Jade Tree, 2002)
This album really had absolutely no chance of winning many hearts, did it? I mean, anyone who was outside of the emo/punk scene in 2002 couldn’t care less about what that dude from Jawbreaker was up to. And the band’s slow maturation away from the emo by numbers of the first two albums wasn’t going to keep the punk kids happy either. Well, sorry to be harsh here, but fuck ‘em – it’s their loss and my gain. Blake Schwarzenbach created an album full of rickety piano-driven epics that constantly teeter on the edge of complete collapse, but are held together by delicate melodies and charming lyrics. Maybe the kids didn’t like this album because Blake offered optimism and bold resolve in between his heartbreaking ballads, creating an album that rebuilds your soul as it tears your heart apart.

32. Spoon – Kill the Moonlight (Merge, 2002)
So, yeah, I completely was clueless about Spoon when I first heard this album. I didn’t know anything about the failed major label relationship or the string of beautiful pop nuggets they had previously created. All of which just served to make this one of the most pleasant musical surprises I’ve had in years. Everyone needs an album like this, one that they can crank up with the windows down as they flee from the city and into nature for a long weekend. It’s chock full of pop gem after pop gem with just enough sonic experimentation and crisp production to keep it fresh and invigorating.

31. Death Cab for Cutie – We Have the Facts (Barsuk, 2000)
After finishing grad school and moving into an apartment by myself for the first time ever, I found myself spending more time than I had ever expected on my own. A combination of things led to this, being in an unfamiliar city and a recent breakup being two of the main contributing factors. The post-college fund shortage also led to me purchasing a record low number of albums that year, but this was one of the few I managed to pick up during that period. And let me just say that because of all the above, Death Cab rapidly became a constant companion for me. Ben Gibbard’s heartfelt and honest lyrics struck many chords within me, but it was the excellent production and lush instrumentation that made me fall head over heels. Loneliness and isolation never sounded this damn good.

Jan 18, 2005

2000-2004: via // chicago's top 50 albums
(part one // 50-41)
with the first decade of the 21st century having reached its halfway point, we have a wonderful chance to go back and take a look at the music that moved us over the past five years. sit back, think about your own choices, and have a look at what excited me aurally since last millennium.

50. Junior Senior – D-D-Don’t Stop the Beat (Atlantic / Crunchy Frog, 2003)
When I picked up this album I could just picture it sitting on the shelf gathering dust for years until I felt in a silly mood and wanted to hear “Move Your Feet”. Everything about this just screamed “one listen wonder” to me – from the gaudy cover art on down, but this thing ended up in my car stereo for a solid week before it finally came out. It sat on a shelf for a couple months, but got pulled back out after hearing “Shake Your Coconuts” at a club. This thing is just far too infectious to ignore.

49. The Microphones – The Glow, Pt. 2 (K, 2002)
This was one of the first (and only) albums that I bought solely on the recommendation of Pitchfork. Hardly a good way to go about your record shopping, but I had just read the glowing review and was feeling adventurous that day. After the first two listens I felt like I had been ripped off, a feeling which didn’t exactly go away the more I replayed the disc. But the thing was, I kept replaying it again and again because something was drawing me back to it. I’m still not sure what that “it” was or is, but I have a feeling it’s the little things that crawl out of the woodwork and into my ear every time I spin it.

48. Outkast – Stankonia (LaFace / Arista, 2000)
Outkast is a band that I can honestly claim to have been in on since day one. Back in my days of reading The Source on a regular basis I picked up the debut and really dug the southern drawl vibe of Big Boi and Dre. So it was with no hesitation whatsoever that I followed them on each and every release as they explored new twists and turns. But nothing prepared me for the full-on assault of Stankonia and lead single “B.O.B.”, my head was absolutely blown. Top this off with two of the most head-nodding singles of all time (“Ms. Jackson” and “So Fresh So Clean”), and you have a hip-hop album not to be fucked with.

47. Prefuse 73 – One Word Extinguisher (Warp, 2003)
This is one of those really difficult to describe albums for me, it feels like nothing I say about it does nearly half the amount of justice it should. To put it as simply as possible, this album is a fantastic mix of phat beats and sound collages that I’ve come nowhere near growing tired of. Proof that hip-hop really can be enthralling with next to no vocals.

46. Sleater-Kinney – One Beat (Kill Rock Stars, 2002)
Forget Bruce Springsteen, the women of Sleater-Kinney are the real musicians that America needed after 9/11. While Springsteen pandered with schmaltz and patriotism, S-K provided us with the most sincere and honest reflection of the whole bunch. Anger, sadness, confusion, and loss all rolled up into a sonically enticing mix. These three have always had a way with words, but it hits even harder when they’ve got a good reason to talk. You best listen.

45. The Rapture – Echoes (Strummer / Universal, 2003)
We all know by now that this wasn’t the second coming, that dance-punk was not the next big thing to sweep the mainstream, and that The Rapture was certainly not fucking Nirvana. None of that can take away from the fact that they made a fantastic fucking album, one that seems both out of place and timeless all at once. Yeah, they pretty much bite on every era of musical history through the course of the disc, but that doesn’t stop my from dancing and singing my heart out whenever I listen to it.

44. Jay-Z – The Black Album (Roc-A-Fella, 2003)
It certainly wasn’t another Reasonable Doubt, but it was also far from being another Blueprint 2.0. Jigga’s farewell disc was an ambitious affair and a rather brave one in today’s hip-hop climate, especially his choice to forego all guest stars. It turns out, however, that the best choice he made was to spread the love to a multitude of producers – several of which churn out their hottest beats in years (come back Rick, the game needs you). This album would almost deserve a spot on this list for the remixing mania around it alone, but the hot singles clinch it.

43. The Decemberists – Her Majesty (Kill Rock Stars, 2003)
I was so not expecting this one to hit me like it did. There was no way that this pretentious as shit band was going to pull me into their foul clutches. I’d read the interviews and heard about the lyrics, there was no way I was going to enjoy this sort of thing. It was either way too cute, or too smart, for its own good. There’s just not going to be an enjoyable album in all of that. Boy was I fucking wrong, and damn glad to be so. This is exactly how intelligent pop music is done right. You can keep your Magnetic Fields, leave me here with my Decemberists.

42. Kanye West – The College Dropout (Roc-A-Fella, 2004)
Yeah, I’ve witnessed the backlash hit hard for this poor guy. “Overrated”, “tired beats”, “weak rhymes” – fuck that noise. This is still one of the most refreshing rap albums in years, one that entertains consistently over its entire running time without resorting to clich├ęs or tired formulas (but yeah, we didn’t need all of those “School Spirit” skits, we get it dawg). The thing that makes this record special is exactly the fact that Kanye can’t flow like Jigga or create a hot beat quite like Timbaland. Instead he excels in all areas of the game, creating a great album that will still be entertaining as hell in five years when the other monthly flavas have come and gone.

41. Lightning Bolt – Wonderful Rainbow (Load, 2003)
I suppose I should mention here that I’m not exactly what you would call a connoisseur of noise music in the least, what I’ve heard of it in the past did little for me. But when I heard this in a local record store while shopping, I was struck immediately about how embracing the album was. Yeah it was mostly loud and abrasive noise, but for some reason I was drawn in rather than repulsed. I still don’t know why this works so well for me, but for a guy who’s really not into much noise music this has gotten a fucking lot of playing time.