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2002 Year End Best Of

Minion Name:
Openign Commentary:
  Well, itís the end of another year, which means that Brendan wants a list. We Minions can make lists about many many things, but, since Iím one of the resident music geeks, Iím going to stick to just that: albums and concerts. Overall, it was a better year than 2001 on both fronts. I may have been laid up with a serious injury for a good part of the year, but I still found time to listen to more than my fair share of music. And hereís what I thought was good.  
Top 10 New Releases for 2002:
  1. Way Out! by The Possibilities. Their first release on Parasol records really reflects this band’s eclecticism. It’s a powerful album with great production values, which showcases their excellent harmonies, strong songwriting, and, most importantly, wonderful musicianship. Lots of fun to dance with and sing along to, and enjoyed by almost everyone I know.

  2. Day of the Ray by The Death Ray Davies. Supposedly 2002 was the year of “garage rock.” In my opinion, the best release in that genre was not The Strokes, The Hives, or anything like that, but instead this brilliantly executed release from Texas. Not the most innovative thing I’ve ever heard, but that’s not the point. Besides, they have some of the best song titles this side of Karl Hendricks.

  3. Four Kingdoms of Black Lipstick by Black Lipstick. Born from the remains of The Kiss Offs, this is the first EP of another band from Texas. It also gives a good indication of their overall direction: smart funny and literate rock that harkens back to the 60s, with a nice Texas Indie rock edge.

  4. New Everything by Big Lazy. This year’s winner of the “music I don’t normally listen to” category, this NY trio plays a strangely brilliant fusion of jazz and rockabilly. New Everything is more wide ranging than their previous release, and oftentimes sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a small-time independent movie.

  5. When the Moon Comes Up Wild by Tijuana Hercules. They’ve got cans! They’ve got a Sax. Led by ex-Atlantan John Forbes, Chicago’s Tijuana Hercules just released this album (which I will review at some point). Unlike some recordings, this is a fair representation of the energy of their live shows.

  6. Rockabillies Go Home by The Blue Flame Combo. O.K., this isn’t the best technical recording I’ve heard this year: the vocals are a bit too loud, and the drums are a little quiet. Nevertheless, the flaws can’t disguise the talent of this punkabilly band. Besides, their cover of The Smiths’ Ask in and of itself makes this album worthy of inclusion.

  7. Please Turn the Gas Back On by Two Cow Garage. As the best thing I’ve heard from Columbus, Ohio in a long time, this album is a straight-forward lo-fi "alt.country" attack. It’s also really accessible. Not only do I (Little Miss Indie Rocker) like it, but my Dad (who listens solely to Johnny Cash and The Kingston Trio) also thinks it’s pretty durn cool. Excellent showing from a very young band.

  8. The Symptom and the Sex by The Paper Lions. From my understanding, this is technically a 2003 release from Kindercore. However, I’ve had it for a while, and it’s a great rock album. Sure the recording reminds me a little of Jane’s Addiction, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, you know?

  9. Slippage by Slobberbone. Yet another Texas band on my list, Slobberbone’s newest release provides a more rocking version of the “alt.country” style. And rock it does. A very solid showcase for this band, and it was enough to convert several of my friends into fans.

  10. Crosspross Bells by Knife in the Water. So what’s going on in Texas? This is still another Texas release (and also the second release represented from Peekaboo records – see #3, above) that impressed me this year. I’ve heard Knife in the Water described as country, pop, and Pavement-esque. I personally think it’s a little more like a slightly twangy Luna. However, anyway you look at it, this 5 song EP bodes well for the future.
Top 10 Live Performances of 2002:
  Normally when I rate my live music experiences, I discuss the best overall concerts that I saw in the previous year. However, in this year, I saw some wonderful individual performances, so I’ll just talk about The Ten Most Enjoyable Live Performances I Saw in 2002:
  1. Rock*A*Teens on 1.Jan.02 at The Earl. Technically, the concert began on New Year's Eve, and perhaps should belong there. However, the RATs didn’t play til well after midnight, and it was (in my somewhat hazy memory) one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever seen, as I sung along to what could be considered a “Greatest Hits” setlist. So it belongs here, if only in tribute to my favorite band, who’s still MIA.

  2. Cinerama on 13.Oct.02 at The Echo Lounge. Let’s state this up front: I prefer the recorded output of The Wedding Present to the recorded output of Cinerama. However, on this night, I was totally entranced by David Gedge et al, even though I was perhaps too sick to be there. They did several songs by The Wedding Present (including my two favorites) and all the Cinerama songs translated well, despite the fact that the band didn’t have a keyboardist on tour with them.

  3. Billy Bragg on 24.Oct.02 at The Roxy. When I was a teenager, Billy was the ying to Shane MacGowan’s yang. And despite several disappointing concerts during the 90s, I still looked forward to this show. It was everything I hoped: just Billy and his guitar for most of the show, playing my old favorites, all while more or less holding a left wing political rally. A definite “reliving my misspent youth” moment.

  4. Potomac Accord on 7.Sept.02 at The Caledonia Lounge. Some people have religious experiences to Wire; I had mine with The Potomac Accord. With a blend of piano, bass, and drums, the ebb and flow sent chills up my spine and almost brought me to tears. At this show, they promised to release a new album. It hasn’t come out yet, and until it does I’m left with the memory of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.

  5. Sharks and Minnows on 1.Aug.02 in the sweltering basement hell of The Gravity Pub. Easily, this was the best demonstration of triumphing over adversity I saw in 2002. The basement must have been 120 degrees with no ventilation, but Sharks and Minnows managed to put on a lengthy, energetic, and spirited set that included both old and new songs. Besides, their cover of Tainted Love was to die for.

  6. The Frames on 14.Sept.02 at The Echo Lounge. I’m not as big a fan of the Frames as certain other minions; however, this show was quite amazing since Glen Hansard’s voice was more emotive than normal and the band was strong and funny. Furthermore, their set ended with a music highlight for me: members of Coldplay and Ash joining the band to sing my favorite Will Oldham tune, New Partner.

  7. The Possibilities on 28.Sept./02 at The Caledonia. This is perhaps the one show this year which had me grinning from the simple joy of watching music being played live. Lots of dancing, lots of singing, and lots of silly string. Not the most professional show I’ve ever seen, although the band’s proficiency was still quite evident. Clearly a show at which the band themselves were having a blast, and that goes a long long way.

  8. No. 13, Baby on 31.Oct.02 at The Earl. You can’t go wrong when a group of Atlanta (and ex-Atlanta) musicians decide to come together to play The Pixies’ Doolittle from end to end. And these guys managed to pull it off, sounding remarkably authentic. And once you add in the mayhem of The Earl on Halloween night, you’ve got one mother of a great time.

  9. Big Lazy on 1.May.02 at The Echo Lounge. For years, I’ve been talking up this band and their amazing live show. And after all that build up, it’s a tribute to their talent that they did not disappoint on this evening. Still much of the joy of this show came from watching Minions who had never experienced them before see my point about Big Lazy.

  10. Tijuana Hercules on 16.Mar.02 at Lenny’s. It’s a spotty venue that’s not for the faint hearted. That didn’t matter on this evening: Tijuana Hercules put on a great show in this dive, and their "Chicago Blues meets raunchy Rockabilly" sound combined with the smoke and the beer to make for an excellent concert experience.
Five (Semi-)Local Bands I discovered (or in certain case, re-discovered) in Concert this Year:
  1. The Blue Jays
  2. Envie
  3. Paper Lions
  4. The Eskimos
  5. The Clairvoyants
Related Links:
  Return to the End Of Year Lists menu.
Tracers' 2000 Year End Bests List.
Tracers' 2001 Year End Bests List.

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