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Like those hideous mesh trucker’s hats and vintage iron-on shirts that hipsters from NYC to LA have been sporting, this year saw the resurgence of another relic from the past we could have done without. A return of the rock—garage rock that is.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Stooges and the MC5 as much as the next guy, but for my money, that sound was much better the first time around. With the exception of The Detroit Cobras and The Mooney Suzuki, most of the other would-be rockers smack of parody rather than innovation. That’s just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions. That said, music, like most other art forms, is completely subjective. As such, rather than putting together a single all encompassing list of what we deem the best records of the year, we've opted to let the entire hybrid staff--or at least the ones who remembered to send their list--have their say as to what albums moved them this year. Not only would it be disingenuous not to let all the folks that make hybrid possible have their say, but all of our collective tastes are so disparate, we don't presume to think that a single list could speak for all of us. If you take the time to check out even a fraction of the albums we've listed, you'll be glad you did. Below you'll find some highlights of the records that flipped our wigs this year. — David Herrera, Editor-In-Chief

Click Here to read the individual lists compiled by the hybrid staff

THE ALBUMS THAT MOVED US IN 2002:

The Gloria Record
Start Here
Arena Rock Records

The soundtrack to a dream—that’s the way my best friend Jimmy described Start Here, The Gloria Record’s stunning debut full-length on Brooklyn’s Arena Rock Records. Start Here, an ambitious recording over two year’s in the making, is a career-defining masterpiece. TGR’s sound has evolved tenfold and Start Here is the sonic manifestation of that growth. Suffice to say, the band has fully realized all of the potential their 1998 eponymous E.P. promised—and then some. The befitting title itself suggests—albeit unwittingly—that longtime TGR fans, newcomers and detractors alike, dispense with any predisposition they may have held about the band's previous efforts and well, Start Here. The caliber of music TGR has delivered on Start Here is on par with more lionized and true arena rock artists like R.E.M., U2 and Radiohead. Start Here is arguably one of the finest records of 2002—bar none. — Dave Herrera


Coldplay
A Rush Of Blood To The Head
Capitol Records

Chris Martin returned to prominence with considerably more fanfare. Supposedly worn out and played out by the end of their touring in support of 2000's Parachutes, Coldplay were allegedly on the verge of quitting before they recorded "In My Place", this album's first single. Paeans to loves lost and found and lost again have never been quite so enthralling before. — Rich Wood

Despite a few throw-away tracks, this album has more beauty and complexity than most mainstream records. “The Scientist” is perfect, easily one of the best songs to appear on a rock record in the past few years. The radio singles (“In My Place”, “Clocks”) are catchy as hell, and rise above the mediocrity that bookends them on alternative playlists. — Matt Maggiacomo


KMFDM
Attak
Metropolis

There are some bands who have honed a place for themselves in the musical spectrum, consistently putting out records that sound like their previous work, yet they take it a step further with each outing.  KMFDM have done just that throughout their career.  Each record sounds slightly familiar, but head audio-terrorist Sasha Konietzko always adds a new twist to keep you intrigued (you know…the “what will he do next?” mentality).  Attak is a comfortable sweater, knitted from the barbed-wire yarn of one of my favorite bands.  — tom topkoff


Liars
someone threw us in a trench and stuck a monument on top
Mute

Strange music that revealed new layers each time I listened to it, someone threw us in a trench . . . was my favorite album of 2002. I felt, for lack of a better way to describe the music of the Liars, as if I were listening to a fractal. Each note opened up an infinite possibility to the next. Hyperbole? Maybe, yet this album had that effect on me. It rocks hard. It's psychedelic. It's avant-electronica. It's got punk roots. It has melody and precision. Now do you understand what I mean? The best album of the year. — Cyndi Ashley


The Boggs
We Are the Boggs We Are
Arena Rock Records

2002 seems to be the apex year for roots revivalism, spurred by the astonishing success of the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? The songs on this album are haunting and wry and fun and dour and all the other feelings one would expect a roots band to sound like. The recording was made to sound as if it's being played on a gramophone and it is, indeed, evocative of that folksy era. — Cyndi Ashley


Sparta
Wiretap Scars
Dreamworks

It’s on a major (Dreamworks), but damn if it doesn’t sound as good as Quicksand’s big league debut. This is mart rock with the guts to throttle the brain-washed radio listeners back to life. Wake up kids, this is better than Audioslave. — Sean Carrey


The Walkmen
Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
Startime

I hadn't listened to this in awhile and picked it up last week; it was even better than I remembered. "Wake Up" is great for drunken late-night karaoke; sub in profanity for all the lyrics you don't understand. — Jennifer Conrad


Beck
Sea Change
Interscope

Another metamorphosis for Beck, and this time the result is his most brilliant record to date. Beck proves himself a poet; this album feels like a purging of a lifetime of emotion, and is at once dark and warm, sparse and haunting. — Matt Maggiacomo


French Kicks
One Time Bells
Startime

I’m going to be lame again, and include Walkmen labelmates the French Kicks, even though StarTime has released like four albums.  I like this album more every time I hear it.  Also, I have this dream that when I write my first novel, the French Kicks will come play Jackson Five covers at the party.— Jennifer Conrad


Hank Williams III
Lovesick, Broke & Driftin’
Wea/Atlantic/Curb

Bocephus be damned!  His kid is harder, drunker and far more rowdy than you and all your rowdy friends.  From the big middle finger salute to Nashville on “Trashville” to the drunken swamp groove of “Mississippi Mud”, Hank III rocks with the best of them, while stayin’ true to his grand-pappy on the title track and “Walkin’ With Sorrow.”  Not a damn thing on this record misses.  Grab yer bottle and belly up to the bar (and don’t forget to bring the smoke!!) — tom topkoff


Flaming Lips
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Warner Brothers

This is no Soft Bulletin, but its thematic consistency and listenability make it one of their best records yet. The Flaming Lips have an obsession with the unknown future, and this is appropriate: each album they release  is an innovation, a good omen of what's to come in rock music. — Matt Maggiacomo


Rosie Thomas
When We Were Small
Sub Pop

From the first time I heard Seattle-based chanteuse Rosie Thomas perform on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, I was instantly captivated. Her voice is as delicate as it is powerful. When We Were Small is worth getting if only for the track “Wedding Day” in which Thomas explores the wanderlust of a post-breakup road-trip intent on “never letting anything pass her by, never ever again.” Mixing equal parts Blue-era Joni Mitchell and Harbinger-era Paula Cole (before she got all Dawson’s Creek on everyone) When We Were Small is an achingly beautiful album. — Dave Herrera


Low
Trust
Kranky

Low's version of depression is more complex, more contemplative than the average angsty rock band. This album will make you cry, but it'll do it in a way that's ironically uplifting: the innovation and beauty in Low's music is impossible to ignore, and Trust comes as a blessing in a time when most bands express negative emotions with grunts and power chords.— Matt Maggiacomo


Joseph Arthur
Redemption’s Son
Universal

Moody and unpredictable tend to be a given in Joseph Arthur’s past work, and Redemption’s Son is all that and more. Perhaps Bowie, in his most “stardustish” of costumes springs to mind in the grinding, evil landscape of “Nation Of Slaves” and the moody, reflective tapestry of choral arrangements and big chords throughout this masterpiece and do nothing to dis-sway the listener to the majestic emotional purging that is a Joseph Arthur song. “Let’s Embrace” seems to be the chosen single, but there’s much more to this album than this wall’o’pop delight, as Arthur continues changing the aural plane in mid-sway, opting to keep it interesting, unfamiliar, unstable, daring... Joseph Arthur is an artist whose illuminative sound is both profound and auspicious. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss him live on his current tour. 2001’s small club showcase amazed even those just there for the drinks. It truly was the most unbelievable one man shows I’ve ever seen! — Oscar


Various Artists
The Truth About Charlie Soundtrack
Sony

Perhaps better than the hip Parisian-set murder mystery it was produced for. An eclectic mix of cool world beats, from Sparklehorse to Transglobal Underground to Ted Demme. Michelle Fajkus

 


Wilco
Yankee Foxtrot Hotel
Nonesuch

Despite the anticipation and hyperbole surrounding this release—or maybe because of it—this record took me quite a while to get my head around and truly appreciate its quirky pop brilliance. From the first time I heard Yankee Foxtrot Hotel on the band's website, before it was even released, to the first few months after its release, I'll admit it, I was on the fence. It seems I was not alone. YHF polarized dyed-in-the-wool Wilco fans and critics alike. They either instantly loved it, or not. Ultimately though, after spending time with it, one can only come to a single conclusion: this is Wilco’s pinnacle record and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.— Dave Herrera


Jellyfish
Fan Club [Box Set]
Not Lame

All hail Not Lame Records for forging ahead with a wonderfully packaged and selected collection of a rare, timeless and far too short-lived band, Jellyfish. Their two releases, from 1990 (Bellybutton) and 1993 (Spilt Milk), have left fans with great songs like their first big hits “That Is Why” and “The King Is Half-Undressed” to “Calling Sarah” and “Glutton of Sympathy”, but with little more to chew on than some wonderful side projects by former members. There is a whole family tree of great releases by the Jellyfish family: The Gray’s and Jason Falkner solo works, the hilarious Moog Cookbook (a Roger Manning side project) along with Imperial Drag, and Umajets, just to name a few. But for old and new fans alike, this set establishes Jellyfish as the groundbreaking act that far too few pop fans were able to appreciate, especially live. Advanced orders for this labor of love helped Not Lame complete the four disks and provide a glimpse at one of the best vocal and instrumental bands to grace a stage, EVER. The packaging is awesome, with full discography, rare photos, and the story as told by insiders who were there when it was happening. The proof is inside the collection featuring unreleased demos that audiophiles will treasure and live recordings that establish Jellyfish as masters of the “live” craft. Andy Sturmers’ voice and drumming are incredible. Gems like Badfingers’ “No Matter What You Do” or Argents’ “Hold Your Head Up” seem to have been written for Jellyfish, the harmonies are to die for and the musicianship incredible. A MUST for all pop rock fans. “Those days are long since gone forever, but now a flame just fills every room” (from “She Still Loves Him”). This whole collection is like one big bubble bath. And this tub is filled to overflowing - ENJOY! — Oscar


Haven
Between the Senses
Virgin

This must be my best buy of the year. I had caught the tail end of a tiny interview clip with this band on the Canadian music station, including maybe 20 seconds of live footage. That piqued my interest, and I thought maybe I should be on the lookout. A few days later I was looking to drop some change on a few CD’s, and while scouring the shelves at the store, I saw this album, and immediately picked it up. I hadn’t heard anymore than that 20 seconds of live footage, and thought on the way home, “Geez, maybe that was a stupid move. I hope this album doesn’t bite bigtime.” And it sure doesn’t. I had hoped it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this fantastic. The whole thing is fairly mellowly-tempoed, but powerful. “Is This Bliss” will give you chills, “Say Something” will break your heart. It’s a loving album full of pining songs. Ahhhh. Originally from Cornwall, in my opinion, they are severely underrated on this continent. www.haven-online.com — Andy Scheffler


The Rocking Horse Winner
Horizon
Equal Vision Records

It took me a while to get to this record this year, but when I did, I could have shot myself for not picking it up sooner.  Jolie Lindholm (of Dashboard Confessional fame) has a sweet pop voice that gets nowhere near syrupy-sweet.  It’s the kind of guitar-pop-fronted-by-a-chick sort of thing that I have always loved.  I think this rates as my biggest surprise of the year. — tom topkoff


Queens of the Stone Age
Songs For The Deaf
Interscope

An amusing concept: The driver in a car is punching buttons for different radio stations and QOTSA provides commentary and music when the driver rests on a station. Dave Grohl's much-touted performance didn't enhance this album in my opinion; Rated R is exponentially better. That a mediocre album from Queens of the Stone Age can still make it onto my Ten Favorites list says something about the ingenuity and power of this band.— Cyndi Ashley


Sleater-Kinney
One Beat
Kill Rock Stars

Sleater-Kinney just seems to build on the sound of each successive album.  This album delves into themes that seem more personal to the band, yet they have an universal appeal. — Bridget Schultz

 


Bright Eyes
Lifted, or Keep Your Ear To The Ground, The Story Is In The Soil
Saddle Creek

Start with an unforgettable voice, add thoughtful and poetic lyrics, and then throw in an interesting cocktail of instruments both common and unusual, and you have an album that transcends the emo label its creator has been tagged with.  Simply stunning.— Emily Strong


Canyon
Empty Rooms
Gern Blandsten

Brandon Butler (Boy’s Life, The Farewell Bend) left the comfortable confines of the Kansas heartland for the bright lights and big city feel of "The District" years ago. However, if you listen to Canyon’s second release, Empty Rooms, it’s apparent the heartland never left him. Ex-hardcore kids trying their hand at alt-country/Americana, hardly a novel concept. Hell, if Scott Hobart (ex-Giant’s Chair) can metamorphis into a modern day Buck Owens with Rex Hobart and The Misery Boys, it’s hardly surprising that Butler has molded Canyon into Crazy Horse with a U2 fetish, without a twinge of pretense. Empty Rooms is an amazing record and probably one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year.— Dave Herrera


Mastodon
Remission
Relapse Records

Lacing old-fashioned Sabbath metal with minor math rock, these chameleons have created something new yet classic, in an amazing “I’ve never heard it done quite like that before” kind of way. — Sean Carrey


Doves
The Last Broadcast
Capitol

After the brooding, darkly beautiful melodies of Lost Souls, Doves returned in 2002 with a brighter, more optimistic sound. Thankfully, the lush arrangements and shoegazer-style symphonies in which they specialize went unaffected, making The Last Broadcast not only a masterpiece but, in this writer's opinion, the single best album of the year. “Words” blows away every other song I've heard since the mid-90s, with its trancelike, hypnotic guitar and defiant lyrical challenge, Words, they mean nothing / so you can't hurt me. The album could have piggybacked into my top five on the strength of this alone, but the Goodwin Bros. couldn't leave well enough alone. No, they had to go and include the anthemic “Pounding”, the uplifting “There Goes The Fear”, the gorgeous “Caught By The River” and eight other songs to soundtrack a night driving beneath the hazy blur of mercury streetlights.— Rich Wood


Neil Finn
One All
Nettwerk Records

Neil Finn has not reinvented the wheel with his new release, One All, but what he has done is to continue to grab the notes, available to all writers, and construct songs that continue to melt our emotional beings down into the liquid essence and extract of life’s trials and tribs. In “Last To Know”, there is something beautifully recognizable and calming about Finn’s voice, and the writing throughout is top-notch, as usual. As much as Finn doesn’t waver from previous formulas, the CD is strong and catchy, as most of his projects are. Listeners must recognize the depth of Finn’s collection of works over the years and the culmination of his sound is found here. Amazing, the ease at which the songs flow and move us, whatever part of the full-monty of Finn’s collection this release fits into, it is damn good and worth the sawbuck. — Oscar


The Soundtrack of Our Lives
Behind the Music
Universal

Pretty psychedelic pop? You bet. Top-40 Alterna-pop radio stations across the country have not picked up on Soundtrack of Our Lives, I think because this beautiful and well-crafted type of song-styling tends to appeal to a more adult listener. The songs on this album are lush and gorgeous, yet encapsulated within a traditional three-to-four minute pop-song length. This record is sweet and happy and recalls the days when pop/rock music was meant to be just that. — Cyndi Ashley


The Anniversary
Your Majesty
Vagrant Records

From the boom-boom-clack opening of “Sweet Marie”, the opening track on the Anniversary’s new album, Your Majesty, it’s evident these kids have adopted quite the musical pedegree over the last few years. This is no ordinary run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter shit. No sir, this is the real deal Lucille, complete with shimmering harmonies that embody all the swagger of E.L.O’s (Electric Light Orchestra, for you younger readers) women—both of them— the evil one and the sweet talking one, respectively. It’s no secret. These days few albums are considered truly ground breaking. Everyone is influenced by someone—even if they don’t cop to it; ask the Faint and the Strokes, if you doubt it. The Anniversary is no exception. However, what sets them apart from their emotaph/retro-loving brethren. While all the other would-be wunderkinds shamelessly aped last year’s crop of arpeggiated minor chord heroes or pillaged the garage punk sounds of yesteryear, these kids were busy interpreting the best sounds from the best classic rock albums in their parent’s record collection. The end result, a stunning— if not flawless—follow-up to 2000’s Designing A Nervous Breakdown. — Dave Herrera


The Mooney Suzuki
Electric Sweat
Gammon

Much has been hyped about the garage rock revival, but this record blew me away. "Oh Sweet Susanna" and "It's Not Easy" are eminently danceable tunes that prominently display their blues/punk underpinnings. Every song on this album is a hip-gyrating, aurally kinesthetic experience. — Cyndi Ashley


Idlewild
The Remote Part
EMI

Scottish punks Idlewild had a tough act to follow in 2000's 100 Broken Windows, which one influential music mag called The Best Album You’ll Never Hear This Year. Enlisting Manic Street Preachers producer Steve Eringa after canning Stephen Street (Blur, The Smiths), they give it their best shot with The Remote Part.  More up than down, it has a few dull moments that Broken Windows didn't possess, but makes up for it with powerful tunes like standout track "American English". A bona fide grower, the album sounds better after twenty listens than two. Maybe that's because the best tracks, "Out of Routine", "Stay the Same" and "Tell me Ten Words", are stashed away near the end. — Rich Wood

50 MUST HAVE ALBUMS FROM 2002

Each of the following 50 albums took up residence in all of our collective disc changers over the course of this past year. Some stayed only for a few days, some for a few months. All were equally as stellar in their own right; some of them more brilliant than others. Needless to say, we can fully endorse parting with your hard earned loot for any of these albums. As a matter of fact, do yourself a favor: if you don't already have these albums, print this list out and stick it in your wallet/purse. Next time you're at the record store, you won't need to ask the pretentious jackass behind the counter what's good, you'll already know.

  1. Aimee Mann – Lost In Space
  2. Neil Halstead – Sleeping On Roads
  3. Swearing At Motorists – This Flag Signals Goodbye
  4. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight
  5. The Polyphonic Spree – The Beginning Stages Of..
  6. The Walkmen – Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone
  7. The Roots – Phrenology
  8. RJD2 – Dead Ringer
  9. Girls Against Boys - You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See
  10. Neko Case – Blacklisted
  11. Sonic Youth – Murray Street
  12. Luna - Romantica
  13. Clinic - Walking With Thee
  14. Super Furry Animals - Rings Around The World
  15. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Code and Tags
  16. Mayday - Old Blood
  17. The Pleasure Club - Here Comes The Trick
  18. Q and Not U - Different Damage
  19. Pele - Enemies
  20. Flaming Lips - Yoshmi Battles The Pink Robots
  21. Beck - Sea Change
  22. Tom Waits – Blood Money
  23. The Black Sea - The Black Sea
  24. Damien Jurado – I Break Chairs
  25. Giant Sand – Cover Magazine
  26. Paul Westerberg – Stereo
  27. Q and Not U - Different Damage
  28. Ugly Casanova – Sharpen Your Teeth
  29. Jurassic 5 – Power In Numbers
  30. Doug Martsch – Now You Know
  31. Rhett Miller – The Instigator
  32. Sigur Ros - ()
  33. Haven - Between The Senses
  34. Pete Yorn – Musicforthemorningafter
  35. Promise Ring – Wood/Water
  36. Doves – The Last Broadcast
  37. El-P – Fantastic Damage
  38. Sleater-Kinney – One Beat
  39. Soundtrack Of Our Lives – Behind The Music
  40. Mum – Finally We Are No One
  41. Low – Trust
  42. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
  43. Liars – They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top
  44. Mooney Suzuki – Electric Sweat
  45. Bob Dylan - Live 1975 (The Bootleg Series: Vol. 5)
  46. Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf
  47. Boards Of Canada – Geogaddi
  48. Future Bible Heroes – Eternal Life
  49. Yellow-Second – Still Small
  50. Mountain Goats - Tallahassee

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