Everyone's a Critic

Or at least a handful of musicians and music-industry types are, for a few brief moments

Chris Penn, Good Records: Grandaddy, The Sophtware Slump: I have listened to this album more than anything else in 2000. Why? It is truly breathtaking at times. Simply listen to the song "Jed's Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)," and I think you will agree. At first listen this album makes you sad, until you realize they are talking about a fictional robot, Jeddy 3, and then you are still sad because the songs and the sounds are so good. I think one journalist wrote they were a cross between Radiohead and Jesus Christ. He who shall remain nameless wasn't too far off the mark.

Russell Lyday, The Show That Fell to Earth, KNTU-FM (88.1): Favorite Record of the Year (that no one owns but me): Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows (Food UK): Four-piece from Glasgow that make me tingle in all the right places. Amazing power-pop tunes that will stand the test of time. Proving that harmonies and energy are not mutually exclusive.

Kris Youmans, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios: I'm going to have to say that my favorite record of the year is probably the pAper chAse CD [Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know, Beatville Records]. It's fucking amazing, Congleton is God as a producer--it's just as simple as that. I know that they're local, but nothing else has really struck me as good in the last year. So that's my pick. Wait...I want to add the new Faraquet. Check out this record; it's great.

Whose favorite album was Boss Hog’s Whiteout? That’d be the Ridglea Theater’s Melissa Kirkendall.
Whose favorite album was Boss Hog’s Whiteout? That’d be the Ridglea Theater’s Melissa Kirkendall.
Chomsky’s Glen Reynolds thought At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command was the best “hard rock” album he’d heard in years. We agree.
Chomsky’s Glen Reynolds thought At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command was the best “hard rock” album he’d heard in years. We agree.

Doug McGrath, Curtain Club: Sunny Day Real Estate, The Rising Tide (Time Bomb Recordings) and Marilyn Manson, Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) (Nothing/Interscope): Holy Wood and The Rising Tide could not be more different (unless they were in different languages). Yet they are both near-perfect musical expressions, and both use supernatural imagery (SDRE: a WWI memorial statue of an angel and a soldier, MM: the crucified Manson) to convince you to make the purchase. If I were asked to bring two CDs to a party, these would be the two. Why? Because I could have fun convincing fans of heavy music that they have a reason to like Sunny Day (great guitars and a drummer good enough for the Foo Fighters). And I bet if I played the right tracks, I could convince some emo fans that there are things they should like and/or respect about heavier music like Manson's.

Bryce Avary, The Rocket Summer: Well, I was driving in my car on a Saturday morning listening to 88.7 The Choice when I heard the song "Yellow" by Coldplay. When it was over, I turned it to The Edge just to hear the exact same song being played at just about the exact same time. I remember thinking how great it was that a band could write a song so good that it would be "cool" enough for both college and mainstream radio. That song is totally sweet, and to me, that's one of the best songs of the year.

Melissa Kirkendall, Ridglea Theater: Boss Hog, Whiteout: Why? Well, first of all, I borrowed it from Tom Urquhart of KTCU's Good Show about nine months ago and simply refused to return it because I liked it so damn much! Seriously, I did borrow it from Tom, and I liked it so much he let me keep it, and I actually do play it on a regular basis up at the Ridglea. There is nothing like getting to hear a favorite song/album over a massive sound system. It is very Jon Spencer-ish, but I really dig him too, so I don't care. It's a fun, upbeat pop CD I truly enjoy.

Don Cento, Shibboleth/Chomsky/The Browsers: Best album of tha year: U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind: Call me a nostalgic sucker for the big-label music game, but this record really got me. It's U2, for crying out loud! Regardless of all the hullabaloo about the "return to classic form," the album stands up. It's a collection of great songs, performed with an almost casual passion that is rather hard to come by these days. And the video for "Beautiful Day"--who thought rocking at the end of a runway would look so cool and safe?

Tony Edwards, One Ton Records/Sub-Tronic Theatre: Pop Unknown, If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra (Deep Elm Records): If you you're looking for the best release of 2000, then you don't have to look farther than Austin. When members of Mineral and Feed Lucy regrouped to form Pop Unknown, they took the best parts of their souls to scream out whatever it is "emo" is supposed to stand for. Pop Unknown's latest release on Deep Elm Records, If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra, delivers an emotional ride through driving power-chord rhythms and surreal melodies to produce beautifully constructed pop incarnations. Reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World and The Get Up Kids with a strange, comforting hint of The Cure, this is the perfect album for any state of mind. "Half of Ninety" employs some of the most kick-ass harmonies I've ever heard, along with heartfelt guitar progressions that continue to build until the last note, while "An Offering" uses layers of ethereal and chiming guitars to deliver just one small lyric: "Trip to find an offering/You're all I know/Some familiar faces/Some familiar faces." And that's just the beginning.

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