Top40: The Best of 2002 |
Top40-Charts presents the 40 best albums of 2002, both in our opinion as well as yours(after an extensive vote)!
A Rush of Blood to the Head
The No1 album for the review by Top 40 Charts. It was a few years ago that our friends told us to go and buy Parachutes, and we were completey blown away. Singer-songwriter Chris Martin revs up his dismay with a 3-D vigor, framed by cascades of piano and Jonny Buckland's high white spires of guitar in "Politik" and "God Put a Smile on Your Face."
After listening to this album for months wow, we haven't been disppointed.
Coldplay have exceeded our expectations, infact they have done even more. They have made a masterful album full of life, with warm, soulful, uplifting tracks of the highest quality. The heart rendering emotion displayed in 'The Scientist' will be nothing like you've heard this year. The amazing piano work on 'Clocks' is breathtaking. Just close your eyes and listen to 'Green Eyes' and you'll be transported to a beautiful place, and 'Warning Sign' with it's guitar compliments the lyrics perfectly.
Chris Martin puts every inch of his heart in to his songs and never leaves a stone unturned. 'God put smile on you face' and 'A rush of blood to the head' are louder but never lose their appeal and grace that Coldplay have firmly put in to place. Every song is great in its own right, and the soft 'Amersterdam' is a perfect album closer.
In this day and age many bands stuggle to find a grip in their music and more often than not produce inconsistent material with no real connection holding them together. Coldplay blend they're music consistently, with meaningful lyrics and above all music that touches the heart.
Putting aside suggestions made by Martin himself that this could be the last album, at this rate Coldplay can become the biggest band in the world.
Martin is no Bono onstage, but the rush of blood and hope on this record seals it:
Coldplay are our new U2!
2. Sigur Ros
"What the hell is on No2? We've never been heard it before..." The competition with Coldplay was
very strong for No1 spot. They have been very popular in Germany, Sweden, Canada, Australia
and western USA. Ofcourse they haven't charted ever but something like that happened in the begining for
today's supergroups as Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, U2 etc. If you haven't
heard them yet, the time has arrived.
Maybe, you are going to discover a supergroup of 2010!
Quiet simply...the album is amazing! There is just something that stays with you after you
heard this album for the first time. It's hard to explain, but you'll feel it! The vocals,
though free from actual words, allow listeners to create their own meaning - to make them
their own (something that is encouraged by the blank pages of the CD booklet). And though we'd like to avoid the cliche, we can't - it reaches out and touches you.
Iceland's Sigur Ros seems to be the saviors of 21st-century rock or true heirs to the silk-robed-and-platform-booted, pompous progressive rock of the '70s? On this years' album (third album - first for a major label), they are a little bit of both. The group continues to mix the most interesting aspects of U2 (the anthem), Low (the maximalist slow-mo thing), Radiohead (the utter lack of irony in the quest to make meaningful art for stadium crowds), and My Bloody Valentine (guitar as texture), while not sounding like anyone else on this planet. The average song length on the eight untitled tracks is eight minutes, with cascades of moaning, bowed guitars colliding with low-end keyboards while the lovely, alien-registered vocals of singer Jonsi float on top. Dynamics are employed spectacularly, but half of the album is spooky soundtrack music that never really goes anywhere.
As Brian Eno first did, Sigur Ros now continues the task of creating music that is heard but not listened to. Quite simply, these first four tracks are the soundtrack for our thoughts when we're not thinking. If the first half of the album is the innocence (Moody Blues infuences), the last represents the "dusk" or dark side
of our conscious. Though subtle in part, this half of the album carries listeners to the edge of their thoughts with elaborate builds and then, suddenly, sets them free with crashing crescendos, pulsating drums, and guitar work that continues where Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" left off. Not to slight the other members of the band, but it is in this half of the album that Jonsi's haunting vocals truly shine. So angelic yet emotional, his voice, his "words" are universal. All races, religions, and cultures can be and will be touched by this man's outpouring of emotion.
However, the actual songs on Two Sausages Kissing (or whatever you want to call it)-the third, sixth, eighth, and especially fourth tracks - are mind-blowers, spectacularly worth the price of admission. If this is your first trip to the mysterious country of Sigur Ros, their latest CD, whatever it may be called, is a good place to start. If they just stopped trying to reinvent the wheel all the time, Sigur Ros could really be a band for the ages!
We will dream to watch them live within next year as the support group on Coldplay's tour - or Jonsi together on stage with Bono...
3. The Streets
Original Pirate Material
From Birmingham, England, the town that gave us Black Sabbath, Electric Light Orchestra and the English Beat, here's another bizarro pop artifact: the Streets' Mike Skinner. It's no big deal to claim that he's the greatest British rapper ever - that's like being Switzerland's top sumo wrestler. But Mike Skinner is twenty-three, looks twelve, produces his own perky twerp-step beats and busts hysterically adolescent rhymes about geezers and birds and pints. Result: a great rap goof.
At first listen, the Birmingham-born Skinner's cheeky cockney affectations grate slightly. But for every line that makes you squirm, there are 20 that drop your jaw. "Has It Come to This?" is "A day in the life of a geezer," a seductive encapsulation of London lifestyle, presented raw as a bootleg, but bulging with sharp wit and feverish detail. "Stay Positive" weaves a fearful tale of heroin addiction, while "The Irony of It All" makes a beguiling case for legalization, presenting a fictional exchange between a beered-up, self-righteous lager lout and a fey student weed enthusiast.
Having listened to Original Pirate Material, we must say that we were taken aback. The way
we describe it is Prodigy cros-bred with Hip-Hop. The British accent and poetic approach
provide a steady lyrical flow that holds the album together. The beats are heavily synthesized
throughout the entire album, which as a drummer we absolutely despise.
However, the unique funk structure of the beats compensate for the monotonous synthesization. The music resembles Hip-Hop in its catchy simplicity for the most part, although times the band experiments with a pop-ish sound (we skip ahead of these tracks).
Overall, the band has a unique sound that does not really appeal to us. However, it seems like one of those wierd styles that grows on you after a few listenings and then becomes a constant resident in your stereo.
Original Pirate Material is a milestone, the real voice of British youth set down on record.
Don't miss it.
4. Red Hot Chilli Peppers
By The Way
When the Red Hot Chili Peppers first appeared smeared in neon body paint with socks dangling precariously from their wieners, even the most faithful funk-metal convert couldn't have conceived they would be around some 20 years later, carrying on in much the same fashion.
Despite a long history of tragedies and personnel upheavals, the California quartet's eighth
album is mostly business as usual - and business, as usual, is quite good.
The title track, "By the Way," is a powerful, bruised piece of slap-bass and intermediary white-boy rapping. "Universally Speaking" pays sweaty, soulful tribute to singer Anthony Kiedis's hometown of Detroit. And "Lemon Trees on Mercury" sounds eerily like it could have been lifted from 1984's Freaky Styley.
The band's reliable eclectic side, meanwhile, surfaces on the Latin-flavored "Cabron" and moody "Venice Queen." But the biggest surprise is "Tear," a masterful homage to the Beach Boys that suggests the Chili Peppers' perpetual state of arrested development may someday lift. The shift from their old, wild ways to a more melodic, introspective style reflects a newfound, and deeply welcome maturity. AK steals the show - his singing is better than ever, and the songwriting as matured by leaps and bounds.
Californication was a tentative step in this direction, but By The Way is a triumph.
You can tell they've really expanded their musical influences and have a very open-minded
approach to this album. We must say that 'By the Way' affects us in a much different way, but is by no means boring or not fun. Pick it up and listen to it at least twice before you pass judgment.
5. Bruce Springsteen
When we first bought this album we were a bit disappointed by what we heard... Our initial
impression was that it was just slightly better than average. But we kept listening and the album started to grow on us!
When you pay close attention to the lyrics and the images they convey, you can feel the emotion that these songs have. We think this is one of Springsteen's best albums (although with so many great songs to his name) and one of the best rock albums of the last few years.
After everything fell down on September 11th, 2001, Bruce Springsteen made the rock & roll record we needed most - fifteen songs about getting up again - with the greatest backing combo in the world, the E Street Band. This Reborn in the U.S.A. swings between extreme despair ("You're Missing") and Irish wake ("Mary's Place"). But in the grainy force of Springsteen's voice and the muscular exultation of the music, the power of ordinary men and women to build anew, atop so much loss, rings loud and true. What's more remarkable is how well The Rising works as epic rock & roll as it draws from rockabilly, soul, doo-wop hard rock, country, and even industrial.
Everyone points to the September 11th connection that this album has, which puts it on a completely different emotional level. But what is really interesting is that there is not a single direct reference to that horrific day. Springsteen is far too clever to be that obvious. These songs could just as easily be about the everyday struggle of people to overcome the challenges and tragedies of life.
To skewer a cliche, when The Rising is good, it's great. And even when it's not great, it's still awfully good. Overall, a fantastic album by one of the great American artists. Get it, listen to it, then listen again.
You will be very glad you did.
The Eminem Show
Two in a row now, of making albums by rapping like no else, with premiere production values...and absolutely inflammatory lyrics, which never sound false. That's the strange thing.
Any lingering doubts as to the depth of Eminem's skills or his potential for raw yet compelling honesty are dispelled on The Eminem Show's first track. Armed with a quicksilver flow and a thundering rhythm track (the record was exec produced by longtime mentor and partner Dr. Dre), "White America" finds Eminem ferociously mauling the hand that feeds him, lambasting his critics, the industry, and the racism that, in many ways, helped make Marshall Mathers more than just another rapper. "Let's do the math," Em sneers, "If I was black I would have sold half/ I could be one of your kids/ Little Eric looks just like this." After the bombast of The Marshall Mathers LP and Eminem's well-noted use of sexual epithets, this kind of material is made more controversial because it actually rings true. From a brutal retort to his long-estranged and equally troubled mother ("Cleaning Out My Closet") to a surprisingly tender ode to his child ("Hailie's Song"), Eminem examines his life, loves, arrests, addictions, failures, and successes with surprising insight, making this a funk-drenched hip-hop confessional well worth the hype.
This time around, he's stepped up with some maddeningly catchy melodies, such that they are. The chorus of "Without Me" should come with an antiviral, 'cause once you've heard it, you're stuck with it. I couldn't get that sucker out of my head for weeks.
Also, the triumvirate of Mathers/Eminem/Shady blurs even further, like one person's
superego, ego and id. Now that we mention it, if we find out he took a psychology course and
planned this all along...folks, we clearly don't realize what we're dealing with. Look at "8 Mile."
You must admit, even if you are not interested in rap at all, this is a career to watch.
We can't wait to see what he does next...
7. Queens of the Stone Age
Songs for the Deaf
Despite the advent of the '00s, thoroughly blunted longhairs wearing three-quarter-length T-shirts still boot around the suburbs in painted vans listening to roaring metal. Fittingly, a whole new crop of post-Dazed and Confused-era stoner rockers - Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, and arguably the kings of them all, Queens of the Stone Age - provide a shredding contemporary score for righteous three-finger devil salutes.
On Songs for the Deaf, core members bassist Nick Oliveri and singer-guitarist Josh Homme (also see Kyuss) balance pure guitar-induced carnage with more complex, though no less aggressive, speed rock that whips by so fast it creates its own breeze. Opening with the 90-second "The Real Song for the Deaf" - a cheeky and amorphous bit of bloopy electronica quite possibly recorded at the bottom of a swimming pool - the disc explodes with track two, a toxic squall of power chords and now-classic Olivera death howls. It's here the album's recurring concept/conceit is introduced as a generic-sounding announcer from L.A.'s "Clone" radio spits out some psychobabble reinforcing the tired if true cliche that commercial radio stinks.
Similar mock broadcasts surface elsewhere, but they're easily forgivable, given the bounty on offer. Homme-powered tracks dominate--the lurching, weirdly springy "No One Knows" is a kind of "Monster Mash" for grownups; the vocal harmony-driven "The Sky Is Falling" is almost dreamy until a small army of guitars surges to the front lines to begin firing.
And a lyrically winking hidden track, "Mosquito Song," is either an in-joke of ridiculous proportions or a declarative statement about the level of musicianship lurking just beneath the quaking veneer of the Queens' sound. Either way, genuine excitement comes early and often on Songs for the Deaf. It's a remarkable achievement - a hard rock record so good that it immediately evokes a conspiratorial fervor that makes you want to tell everyone you can about it. Er, job done.
This is nirvana: the avant-1970s metallurgy of the Queens with Dave Grohl on thundersticks and the whiskey-soaked howl of Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan. The DJ skits wear thin fast; we all know that in commercial radio, FM stands for "fucking moronic." The desert-acid-trip buzz of "The Sky Is Fallin' " lasts longer, takes you further and will send you back to guitarist Josh Homme's library of work with Kyuss, ripe for serious reissue.
Queens of the Stone Age might be the best rock band active today. "Songs For the Deaf," the group's third album, is their finest to date. That in and of itself is no small feat, as both of Queens' previous efforts were excellent in their own right.
Dave Grohl (former Nirvana drummer, now Foo Fighters singer) plays drums on "Songs...," and his presence is most definitely felt. Homme and Oliveri, meanwhile, pieced together a record that works beginning to end.
Sounds like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, and Sonic Youth all mixed together. It came up in our recomendations and that song, "No One Knows" wouldn't leave your heads. We have not been disappointed.
8. DJ Shadow
The Private Press
DJ Shadow is back with a follow-up that is every bit as impressive as his debut, albeit in a different way. Once again, the producer has pushed his sampler to the limits, but this time he's brought with it a deeper, hungrier, more bad-ass spirit that's rarely found in modern dance music. There's a fabulous '80s vibe throughout (principally on tracks like "Monosylabik" and "You Can't Go Home Again"), along with the expected forays into b-boy culture (check the growling, massive "Treach Battle Break" and the funky-ass "Mashin' on the Motorway"). While it's identifiably Shadow, it ain't Endtroducing...Part 2. It is, however, a worthy and imaginative follow-up, with humor, wisdom, and musical understanding aplenty.
DJ Shadow's second proper solo CD veers off in dizzying directions: Police-style jamming, old-school breakbeats, King Crimson-esque prog rock and assorted symphonies of samples. But it's the vocal summits of "Six Days" and "Blood on the Motorway" that build on Shadow's core patchwork of down-tempo uneasy listening, with heaping helpings of existential sorrow.
The reason it took this influential California DJ five years to make this experimental opus must've been because he grew bored with one style every time he laid a new track. From hip-hop that's freakier than the N.E.R.D. album to Chemicalized dance romps to moody techno folk, it's a rambunctious gem.
People immediately loved this entire album on the first listen. Dj Shadow did prove to us that his music is worthy of all the critical acclaim. Maybe you aren't a big fan of sampling but what Dj Shadow does in his music greatly impressed you.
"Private Press" definitely earns a spot in our best of 2002 list.
9. Craig Armstrong
As If to Nothing
The impressive skills and epic ambition that arranger-composer Craig Armstrong brought to the 'Moulin Rouge' soundtrack come to his aid again on As If to Nothing, making for a cohesive work that is at once beautiful and bleak. Given the dark orchestral flavor Armstrong has provided for artists like Massive Attack, U2, and Madonna, it's no surprise to find a sterling guest list (including Bono, David McAlmont, and Evan Dando) to help Armstrong articulate his world-weary musings.
Photek adds vibrating beats to the rumbling "Hymn 2," the only dance-oriented track on the album. Moving back in time, Armstrong revamps King Crimson's classic ode to melancholy, "Starless," on "Starless II," adding elegant accompaniment of woozy strings and subtle piano. Dando's remorseful performance on "Wake Up in New York" is a ringer for pain merchant Mark Eitzel; Bono's lackluster performance is less revealing. But by then Armstrong has already worked his solemn, majestic procession to full effect.
The music has it all,it is emotional, dramatic and melodic without coming off weepy and drippy like Yanni and John Tesh. The listener is transported to a whole 'nother world while listening to the album. We can virtually hear Craig's talents as a film composer shine through the entire album. We were deeply moved by the enchanting music on this album. Simply an amazing album to say the very least.
Definitely one of the best electronic albums we have heard this year. We look forward to hearing more of Craig's music!
10. Flaming Lips
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
As these dimpled moptops from Oklahoma grow pepper-bearded and transform into wizened elder statesmen of sonic adventuring, the heartfelt candy of their loving bubblegum stretches ever longer into echoing soundscapes.
The music is still as complex as ever, and the tracks are so layered with accoustic guitars, strings, synths and random noises that one can't help but find something new to listen for each time. Yet two noticeable differences set this album apart from prior Flaming Lips releases. Most obviously, 'Yoshimi' undeniably has more of a trip-hop feel than its predecessor, but this only adds to it's atmospheric feel and is never distracting.
If Radiohead are halfway to becoming U2, the Flaming Lips are nine-tenths of the way to pop nirvana. Hardly a song on Yoshimi isn't resonated, echoed, and reverberated - floating the listener higher until they have the ultimate bird's eye view of what makes a great band tick. As with any album by the band, it's hard not to imagine parades and a sky filled with helium balloons while you listen to any of it - in this case, the party is enhanced brilliantly by digital filters and silver shimmering asides.
It's the lyrics that set this album apart from the rest, however. Whereas past releases have found the band singing throwaway silly spacey lyrics, 'Yoshimi's songs actually express a great deal of emotion and vulnerability. The first single "Do You Realize??" is a sincere, straight forward song about mortality and (who would have thought?) love. Even on songs less straight forward the listener starts to get the feeling that, for the first time, the robots and weirdness Wayne Coyne are singing about may actually be metaphorical.
Finally, the Flaming Lips have managed to find lyrics as beautiful as their music. The result is one of the best albums released in years.
The best of the best for 2002 without music frontiers:
| 1-10 | | 11-20 | | 21-30 | | 31-40 |