Rated | Alphabetical
| Highest Rated 2006
Ten Albums Worth Mentioning
From the First Half of 2002
Best of 2000-2004 |
Posted: July 18,
endings are a time of reflection and summation, a perfect time for assessing
all that's transpired in the previous twelve months and issuing Top 10 Year
in Review lists. That, however, is not what this is. With the first six
months of 2002 already a memory and still some time to go before the next
mile marker, we at Shaking Through thought it a good time to go back and
shine a light on musical releases we've found especially noteworthy so far.
Since this isn't a Best Of list, we've left out some albums we liked that
don't really need our help. Instead, we've simply chosen a handful of works
-- some already noted by the official hype machines of mainstream
publications, some not -- we find worthy of your consideration, or worthy of
a second look if you've already come across them in the record store racks
(or here on Shaking Through).
of Canada: Geogaddi (Warp)
Cut-and-paste electronica from a
Scottish duo that knows how to craft appealing yet sinister
soundscapes. One of the most adventurous, meditative and
meticulously assembled releases we've heard this year.
The Last Broadcast (Capitol)
More bracing brit-pop with hummable, sweet-tooth choruses and
swirling, psychedelic soundscapes? Perhaps. But don't expect the
callow, baby-fat trance-rock of a Coldplay, Starsailor or even
Travis. The Last Broadcast carries more heft under its belt than the
tired, trite and inevitable Radiohead comparisons would indicate,
and brims with a luminous melodicism doggedly reminiscent of one of
the biggest British bands of the 1980s.
In Our Gun (Hut/Virgin)
Building on the pop-blues formula that made their name, the lads
of Gomez put all the pieces together on their third release.
Bursting with memorable hooks, crackerjack musicianship and a wealth
of variety, In Our Gun establishes Gomez as a major player.
by Voices: Universal Truths and Cycles (Matador)
Bob Pollard, GBV's elegantly herky-jerky driving force and motley
fool, returns to the safety of indie stalwart Matador, scaling back
to the rough, chaotic beauty of his best work. But he's come back
from his brief stint in the major leagues with a renewed
songwriter's confidence: "Storm Vibrations" builds on the personal
explorations of 2001's excellent Isolation Drills, and "Cheyenne"
sports an indelible, irresistible melody that stands among his very
Lauderdale: The Hummingbirds (Dualtone)
An excellent collection that features Lauderdale doing what he
does best: offering up a diverse blend of country music styles and
making them sound both fresh and classic. Lauderdale may never make
the Top 10, but that's okay. His music will still be around long
after people have forgotten who or what was the flavor of the
Ndegeocello: Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape
One of the more challenging mainstream releases of the year.
Ndegeocello hasn't allowed success to subvert her agenda, be it
personal or political; Cookie is a flawed, but undeniably
intriguing, work from one of the most passionate artists working
In Search Of... (Virgin)
The Neptunes -- Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo -- have produced
hits for Britney, Jay-Z and scores of grateful artists, who must now
suspect that the ace production team has been holding out on them.
Williams, Hugo and pal Shay Thornton deliver an intriguing mélange
of taut funk-rock (courtesy of Spymob), lucid soul and insinuating
dance-floor hip-hop. In Search Of's first half is one of the
strongest in recent memory.
Vapor Trails (Atlantic)
Vapor Trails is informed, as ever, by drummer/lyricist Neil
Peart's unrelenting determinism. But that Ayn Rand-ian, "just do it"
philosophy feels less preachy than usual, given the unimaginable
tragedy that shaped one of the power trio's strongest albums to
date. "One Little Victory" (with its triumphant drum intro),
"Earthshine," "Secret Touch" and the unabashedly celebratory "Sweet
Miracle" are uplifting, lump-in-the-throat documents of faith and
healing, but this is no Wally Lamb, Oprah Book Club three-hanky
weeper; Vapor Trails is a joyous and flat-out rocking document of
Westerberg: Stereo/Mono (Vagrant)
A comfortable, if slight, double-set from the Replacements'
former drunken garage-rock savant, appealing in its disheveled
honesty and lack of consideration for its place in the current
climate. There's a bit of affect in the different discs'
delineation, and Westerberg's shabby delivery and jagged, jangly
musicianship are a bit too familiar in an old-favorite-shirt kind of
way. But these discs possess enough unpolished heart and chutzpah to
render such concerns irrelevant, at least for the time being.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch)
This received Shaking Through's highest rating, and with good
reason. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a thematically challenging,
musically adventurous album, exploring ideas of dissonance and
distance. Sonically examining how we communicate in an increasingly
complicated and impersonal world.
Halftime Report compiled by
Kevin Forest Moreau
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