Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 2002
By Zach Patterson Friday, 28 May 2010

Ah, 2002. One of the finest years of music for the entire decade. Narrowing this down to 20 was brutal, and there were many albums that missed the cut that honestly did deserve some recognition. I probably spent more time editing this list of albums than any other year, and I still have second thoughts about if I truly picked the best of the best. With that said, what did make the cut is truly an exceptional round of albums that I am rather satisfied with. Take a look beyond for Good-Evil’s Top 20 of 2002…

Bad Religion – The Process of Belief

Why it’s on this list: The departure of Brett Gurewitz in 1994 left Bad Religion severely crippled, and the subsequent releases by the band over the next 8 years marked a rapidly accelerating downward spiral into cheesy mediocrity. Brett was not just a co-songwriter, -vocalist, and -guitarist, he was a critical element to BR’s sound and soul. My interest waned with “No Substance” and left me disgusted with the sappy vocals and poor writing of “The New America”, but I was enheartened to hear of Brett’s return to the band and participation, like the good old days, in the album writing process for “The Process of Belief” (this also marked the return to the Epitaph record label). The album explodes with “Supersonic”, a joint Graffin-Gurewitz creation much like “American Jesus” from “Recipe for Hate”, and flies through song after song with incredible power chord fueled speed. The intensity is broken up by the occasional slower song, like “Broken”, which still feels like Graffin’s appeal to a mainstream non-BR aficionado. Nonetheless, as is their style, Bad Religion tackles a variety of sociopolitical topics ranging from the precise (the Kyoto Treaty and environmentalism) to the broad (the superficiality garnered by purely materialist life) and does so with a wonderful layering of vocals, harmonies, and three guitars. What is particularly frustrating about the album, however, is that two phenomenal BR songs, “Shattered Faith” and “Who We Are”, are only included on special regional releases of the album, although this should not prove to be a problem given the proclivity of mp3s and online vendors on the internet. - Sherv Recommended Tracks: Supersonic Ephiphany (link) The Defense (link) Kyoto Now! (link)


Dalek – From Filthy Tongues of Gods and Griots

Why it’s on this list: Last October when I was still teaching English in the Japanese countryside, I helped plan a haunted house for a Halloween party aimed at Japanese kids aged

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3-12. The background music selected was “Black Smoke Rises” from this album. How’d it go? Scared the fuck out of ‘em, and creeped me out a little too! Anyways, Dalek are an oddball group that do for hip-hop what the Melvins did for rock, metaphorically speaking. They mix arrhythmic bursts of speaker fuzz, shoegazey guitar feedback, and vocal samples into slow, plodding beats. Often more spoken word than hip hop (but always lyrically brilliant) Dalek may not always be easily classifiable but they’re brilliant whatever you call them. Notably, just as shocking as the background noise can be at times, it is always matched by lyrics that are stunningly evocative. In “Black Smoke Rises,” for example, frontman MC Dalek recounts emotions of uncertainty and self doubt in a “spoken word” style that always feels genuine. Even the album’s best track, “Forever Close My Eyes,” remits the tale of a lost love that leads to suicide and is poetic and touching without ever coming across as whiny. Dalek will ultimately crush you, but not without making sure you’ve learned something first. - Matt Gburek Recommended Tracks: Forever Close my Eyes Speak Volumes (link)


DJ Shadow – The Private Press

Why it’s on this list: I must admit, after hearing DJ Shadow’s phenomenal Endtroducing album, I was a bit underwhelmed the first few times I listened to The Private Press. However, I kept listening to it every once in a while over the years and I eventually got why it’s another stellar piece of work from Mr. Davis. Whereas Endtroducing had a rather distinct focus on wild drum breaks and keeping a strange and haunting vibe throughout (perhaps it sounded that way to mimic the sonic feel of classic records), The Private Press is a lot more straight forward with more of a focus on songwriting and putting together great solid grooves. It’s an amazing album to kick back and do some roadtripping too, especially with some nice Pacific coast scenery. The album’s vibe is rather relaxed and each of the songs offers something new and different to the proceedings without being too different from each other. It’s a good stopgap between Endtroducing (which didn’t vary a whole lot in compositional style) and The Outsider (which varied a little too much in my opinion). This album (like many on my lists) has been rather influential to my own musical development, especially as of late with my Philistine on the Sidewalk project. I love the atmospheres and rhythms created on this album, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of listening to it. - Jason Vincion Recommended Tracks: Fixed Income Giving Up the Ghost (link) Six Days (link)


The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Why it’s on this list: While I can’t say for sure, I imagine this album is hated by long time fans of The Flaming Lips. Fans can easily be divided into those who have been fans well before this album and those who were made fans because of this album. I will fully admit to being in the latter camp, even though I loved the video for “She Don’t Use Jelly”. There is good and bad in being a fan of a band both pre and post success. As a post-success fan, I may have missed out on their earlier works in context of the times (and honsestly I have never listened to much pre-Soft Bulletin Flaming Lips) but I don’t have to listen to their recent output with jaded ears and a sense of resentment. And thankfully so. “Yoshimi” is a fantastic album revolving around futuristic sound and subject matter. At times zany and at other times gentle and delicate, the album is a great joy throughout. - Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: In the Morning of the Magicians Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (link) Do You Realize?? (link)


Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O.

Why it’s on this list: On what would be their last album (or will it??), GY!BE created their most brooding, dark, and evil sounding record. There are pieces of beauty scattered through out the various movements but overall the music contained in this album fits the imagery of the cover and the name it represents. Bombs bursting in air, but not to celebrate victory. No, the title Yanqui U.X.O. can be translated to “Yankee Unexploded Ordinance” and in usual fashion the album is a vaguely political statement against modern corporate and national interests. Listening to the album in this context makes perfect sense. The music is at times victorious in a completely bastardized meaning of the word. Part one of “09-15-00″ crescendos into an evil triumph, while part two is solemn and defeated. “Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls” continues this duality of victory and defeat. In the end I like to think that “Motherfucker=Redeemer” is the tale of an antihero exacting revenge on the evil from the first half of the album. The same feelings of triumph and victory are reprised, but the brooding evil is replaced with a sort of sinister, yet somehow good feeling. In the end I have no idea what the intentions of this album are, but the vague story I presented above is my interpretation. It is a jarring album, one that is full of emotion but rarely good ones. - Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls Part 2 (link)


Hella – Hold Your Horse Is

Why it’s on this list: Why it’s on this list: When I first heard about Hella from a friend of mine, I was prepared to dislike them based on the image they projected alone: “Here’s another post-rock band with a (supposedly “ironic”) stupid band name with equally stupid (and equally ironic!) song titles.” I’d change my mind before long. The first track on this album began with some weird electronic noodling that sounded straight out of an NES game and segued seamlessly into a song which featured more notes coming from one single guitar than I had ever though possible. And my god, the drums! Zack Hill is not a “machine,” but a wild animal capable of some of some beyond superhuman rhythms. Likewise, Spencer Seim manages to somehow cram a million prog rock hymnals into ten second bursts of pure virtuosity before changing direction entirely the next moment. The last track, “Better Get a Broom” leaves me stunned to this day. This album is relentlessly dynamic from beginning to end, always gratifying, and completely awesome. Hella would later expand their lineup and release more records, but have yet to make a record as good as this one. Oh well, I guess one album of awesome condensed prog is good enough. - Matt Gburek Recommended Tracks: Biblical Violence Better Get a Broom (link)


Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice

Why it’s on this list: “Automatic Midnight” set a wonderfully high bar concerning energy levels for Hot Snakes albums to come, so the comparatively muted pacing of “Suicide Invoice” may come as a surprise to the casual listener. It opens with a lethargic warbling guitar in “I Hate The Kids” but like a kick in the ass it picks up with “Gar Forgets His Insulin” and “XOX”, two tracks which fully complement the opener. Once again the doubleheaded Reis/Froberg combo has created anthemic choruses (such as in “XOX”, “Paid in Cigarettes”, and “LAX”) and fantastic imagery (“You’re sick in the mezzanine / upset by what you’ve seen”, “You wanna pair off like a couple of cops / All fucked up and bitten off at the waist”, and so on) charged with infectious riffs and piercing vocals. The album ends with the politically-charged (yet not obnoxiously so) song “Ben Gurion” addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict, much like Salton City, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve chanted the final eponymous line of the song, “Ben Gurion, Ben G” while pumping my fist. As those of you who know me realize, I feel that everything this band has put out is gold, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve included this on my list for 2002. - Sherv Recommended Tracks: LAX (live) XOX Ben Gurion


Isis – Oceanic

Why it’s on this list: Oceanic is meant to be digested in its’ entirety. It should be listened to, not heard. It’s the equivalent of watching or reading an epic so pull up a big comfy chair, get a glass of fine wine, take your dramamine and pay attention. Isis may have started out as a sort of knock off of Neurosis but through the years they’ve evolved tremendously. Oceanic is probably the peak of their career and a shift toward a more dynamic sound and songwriting style that they will adapt and perfect for albums to come. If Oceanic’s album title were anything else, you would still think Ocean. That’s because they do a wonderful job of recreating soundscapes you would hear while drifting through the sea, crashing waves and sirens calling out in the distance through a thick fog (see The Beginning and the End). The sonic imagery throughout the album tells a story using guitars, keys, drums, bass, synthesizers and of course Aaron Turner’s crushing vocals, which call out in desperation. Take the song Carry for example. It starts out like the calm before a storm and constantly builds to an epic climax that will shake you violently until you’re sea sick. It’s moments like these that are the flagship of Isis’ sound. It’s worth noting how apparent the ordering of the tracks was in a sense that it’s more like a play. When the curtain drops at the end of Act I, “Maritime” is a great time to get up and get a drink to brace yourself for Act II. The second half of the album starts off with “Weight” being a slow moving song with imagery of a stranded soul who has lost his vessel and is floating on the remains of a shipwreck. “Hym” and “From Sinking” are two extremely strong closers that bring resolve. It’s brilliant creativity, structure and storytelling that deserves the utmost attention. You will be greatly rewarded for the patience. - Matt Gulbrandsen Recommended Tracks: Carry The Beginning and the End (link) The Other (link) From Sinking (link)


Local H – Here Comes The Zoo

Why it’s on this list: I only had a passing interest in Local H prior to 2002, thanks to their couple of radio hits, and picking up As Good As Dead on the cheap on my weekly bargain album hunting excursions of the time. Here Comes The Zoo, however, made me a huge fan. From the opening epic opener in “Hands on the Bible”, I was hooked. The album never left the rotation in my car for years. Each of the ten tracks is great, and there really are no lulls. This album improved on everything that made Local H great on their earlier albums. The lyrics are more catchy, the writing is better (“Rock & Roll Professionals” is simply a brilliant song about corporate sellout rockers), the playing is tighter, and their sound was emerging as more than post-grunge semi-radio friendly rock ‘n roll. The album also see the band working with longer, more conceptual jams like “(Baby Wants To) Tame Me” which were rather different than anything else they had done before. Similarly, the album ends with “What Would You Have Me Do?” which, on top of being an awesome song, also slowly and masterfully devolves into a coda of all the other songs on the album as it reach double digits in length, making it the perfect end to what is one of my all time favorite modern rock records. The way they are able to mesh all the songs on the album together without it becoming a complete mess is a testament to great planning and songwriting, and to this day remains arguably their tightest and best album. - Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Hands on the Bible Rock & Roll Professionals (link) Half-Life (link) What Would You Have Me Do? (Baby Wants To) Tame Me


Meshuggah – Nothing

Why it’s on this list: This was the penultimate album in my collection for years. I was a huge Meshuggah fan at the time it came out in 2002 and even prepared myself to listen to it. I had pre-ordered it from CDNow (before they got engulfed by Amazon), and once I got it, I opened it up and checked out the booklet. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on and there weren’t any lyrics, so I turned out the lights, cranked up the stereo and prepared my ears for the polymetric assault. The instant I heard the stop/start riff of Stengah open up in the left speaker, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The guitars were so much heavier than they had been on Chaosphere (due to dropping down from a B flat to an F tuning) and the more mid-paced songs (as opposed to Chaosphere’s hyperspeed insanity) really pronounced that heaviness even more. The interplay between the guitars and drums was confusing and brilliant and they kept on topping themselves with all these pummeling grooves that were relentless. I could go on for a while talking about each song, but I’ll keep it short by saying that this album really changed the way I listened to how rhythms are put together and really affected my own music as well. - Jason Vincion Recommended Tracks: Rational Gaze Perpetual Black Second (link) Nebulous (link)


Pearl Jam – Riot Act

Why it’s on this list: By 2002, Pearl Jam had well established itself as one of the top modern rock acts in the US, but it had also clearly taken their own path, starting with No Code. They had become less radio-friendly, and while debatable, were likely better off for it, still occasionally showing up on radio with songs like “Do The Evolution” and “Last Kiss”. Their style that started at No Code and ran through Yield and Binaural came into full form on Riot Act. This is definitely my favorite Pearl Jam album, as it’s great from start to finish and kinda has a fuck-all attitude with songs like “Save You”, “Ghost”, “Get Right” and the politically charged “Bushleaguer”. This album also seems to have Vedder channelling his idol Neil Young more than any other album, which is certainly a good thing. His voice sounds fantastic throughout the entire album, as he croons with depth and emotion on songs like the touching finale “All or None”, speak-sings with a sneer through “Bushleaguer”, and rocks out and throws in some shouts and woos in more uptemp songs like “Save You”. More importantly, it sounds like the band is just really having fun on this album, whereas some of their other previous albums felt a little, well, sterile, at times. Pearl Jam’s catalog has always played better live than on the album, but this album really has its own refreshing energy to it, as the band feels re-energized and really puts a little extra into each track. While their output after this disappointingly fell into generic, singles-minded, and ill-fitting corporate radio rock that sounds more like a classic rock band trying to recapture their glory days, Riot Act remains a testament to the path less travelled that Pearl Jam took by doing things their own way. - Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Save You All or None (link) You Are (link) Love Boat Captain (link)


Pretty Girls Make Graves – Good Health

Why it’s on this list: “Do you remember what the music meant?”. Pretty Girls Make Graves pose a fine question on the opening track “Speakers Push The Air”. This is an anthem for anyone who is a music lover. It reminds us of the days of getting home with that new CD/Record from your favorite band and playing it on repeat until it wears out – the type of magic that gets lost when we become old and cynical. The guitars produce infectious angular riffs and their razor sharp delivery is the backdrop to Andrea Zollo’s snotty vocals which are perfect for the mix. Place these sheets over a steel bed frame made up of DeWitt’s spectacular drumming and Fudesco’s tasteful bass playing and you have a comfortable place to lay down and listen. “Bring it on Golden Pond” is a blast to sing along to with its’ thumping bass and “Ghosts in the Radio” is simply stunning. At just a hair under 40 minutes, it flies by way too fast like your favorite roller coaster only there’s no line to get on again and it’s just as exhilarating every successive ride through. PGMG had a solid formula and though many had used the same ingredients before them, they had mastered it. To quote Zollo’s lyrics, “nothing else matters when I turn it up loud”. That’s the frame of mind to be in when you listen to Good Health. - Matt Gulbrandsen Recommended Tracks: Speakers Push The Air If You Hate Your Friends (link) Ghosts In The Radio The Get Away


Q And Not U – Different Damage

Why it’s on this list: Q And Not U had a rather short career, and their highlight was their 2002 release, Different Damage. It’s a quirky indie album with of elements of punk, post-punk, dance punk, and rock that mesh together in what feels like a live, visceral record. It has an excellent interplay of melody and cacophony, with accompanying vocals that adjust accordingly to great effect. But the reason it is on here is just simply that the album is stacked with great songs

that great for multiple listens. The album starts off with a sweet falsetto spelling out the words of the title “Soft Pyramids”, and ends with one of the best indie rock songs of the decade “Recreation Myth”. In between are lots of other amazing songs that practically scream out “indie D.C. music scene” while also branching out into the growing indie dance scene, such as “So Many Animal Calls”, “Black Plastic Bag”, “This Are Flashes”, to name a few. The songwriting is tight, as are the musical dynamics, and at this point in 2002, Q And Not U looked like they were primed to break out. Unfortunately, after another okay album, they called it quits. However, this still stands talls as one of the best records of 2002 and one of the top indie records of the decade. - Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Recreation Myth Soft Pyramids (link) So Many Animal Calls (link) Black Plastic Bag


Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf

Why it’s on this list: A wonderful rhythm section, slashing and burning guitars and a variable (or varieties of) vocalists. That’s all I ask for. Thanks to Songs For The Deaf, it has been delivered – overnight 2nd day air style. This is an album that punches you in the gut, laughs in your face and then hands you a cold beer and gives you a couch to crash on while you recover. It careens between desert punk, stoner metal and surf rock, from the bellowing fury of Oliveri to the snide half-lipped sneering of Homme, backed up by a wonderful one-shot guest appearance of Dave Grohl on the drums. The indomitable Mark Lanegan contributes lead and backing vocals on a handful of tracks, and fits in magically with the myriad of other guest contributors to the album. It is well-written, well-arranged and well-produced, and a joy to listen to. Homme takes the wandering colossus of Kyuss and the menagerie of artists and ideas of the Desert Sessions and mashes them together into something better than the sum of its parts, which is an accomplishment unto itself. - Mike Callahan Recommended Tracks: You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire No One Knows (link) God Is In The Radio (link) Mosquito Song (link)


RJD2 – Deadringer

Why it’s on this list: RJD2’s debut album tips its cap to DJ Shadow’s seminal sampling masterpiece Endtroducing…., but it isn’t its spiritual successor. RJD2’s works and tunes his sample scratching and cutting to a T, but eschews the anthemic and sprawling for a rough, groovy, definitively urban feel. The songs with genuinely performed rapping fall a little short, notably in Final Frontier, which sounds like a half-baked Atmosphere c-side, with weak rhyming and clichéd subject manners (real rap is dead and we know it, “please stop rapping about guns and drugs guys!”). RJD2 shines on tracks with prominent soul sounds, with keen and soaring vocals drifting in and out over choppy horns and keys, and simple, gritty drums. - Mike Callahan Recommended Tracks: Ghostwriter Cut Out To FL (link) 2 More Dead (link) Work (link)


Sigur Ros – ()

Why it’s on this list: () is an album that has meant the world to me for ages. Bought on a whim after hearing they were like the Icelandic Radiohead, what I found instead was an amazing concept album full of lush production values and emotions that are portrayed through a complete nonsense language (seriously, all the words are made up). It’s a sprawling, intimate album that’s best taken in all at once with some good headphones. Sigur Ros often sounds foreign and even alien in some of their music, but on (), they really perfected their sound. It’s an incredibly relaxing album that oozes sexiness and feels like the musical equivalent of rolling across the covers of your bed with your significant other. It’s wonderfully composed and the piano work here, along with the almost inhumanly high vocals, create a great dynamic. The icing on the cake is the final song (all the tracks are untitled), which is a post-rock masterpiece, stretching out nearly 12 mins and boiling down everything that is so great about the album into one dynamic, epic song. If you ever need an album to clear your thoughts, or you need an album to peacefully drift off to sleep to, or just to set the mood with a special lady, this should be your first choice. An absolute masterpiece that I’ve likely listened to more than any album this past ten years. - Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Untitled 8 (slightly shortened) Untitled 4 (link) Untitled 1 (link)


Sonic Youth – Murray Street

Why it’s on this list: Sonic Youth had been leaning toward diminished value up until 2002. In 1998, A Thousand Leaves was full of hippy psychadelia and 2000′s NYC Ghosts & Flowers was littered with beat influence. Neither of these albums are necessarily bad but they were certainly departures from the noise punk leanings of previous SY albums. And then in 2002, Murray Street came on the scene with more psychadelia. But for some reason this album stuck. It certainly wasn’t like the noise punk SY of yesteryear, but it wasn’t overtly alienating to fans. A new era of Sonic Youth was introduced, one where fans didn’t need to heavily consider the artistic reachings of the artists to enjoy their albums. - Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: Rain on Tin


Ulver – Lyckantropen Themes

Why it’s on this list: Ulver’s Lyckantropen Themes is the soundtrack for a short Swedish film called Lyckantropen that’s 28 minutes long and has almost no dialogue. It’s a film that depicts emotional tension that a man finds himself facing in relation to himself and his family. The music that Ulver created for the film complements it extremely well, as it is very minimalistic through the use of ambient, glitch, and symphonic music elements. It’s also kind of amusing that the album is close to 10 minutes longer than the film, and I had no way of knowing which pieces were used where as the film was rather difficult to find when the album came out. Luckily, someone has put the film up on YouTube and I just had a chance to check it out – the music fits the movie rather well, but it’s used rather sparsely and cuts in and out erratically at times. It’s nice to have the soundtrack separate from the movie, as it stands up amazingly well on its own. It has moments that vary from rather caustic to absolutely beautiful. It might be far too sparse a listen for some, but if you’re a fan of modern minimalist music, this album is hard to top. It also works extremely well on a quiet, rainy day. - Jason Vincion Recommended Tracks: Theme III Theme VII (link) Theme VIII (link)


Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Why it’s on this list: The story behind “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is an interesting tale. It is the story of the ousting of Wilco co-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Jay Bennett, the introduction of Jim O’Rourke, and the struggle to find a label to release the album. Just like the changes in personell, the songs themselves reflect a change in Wilco’s demeanor. On YHF they have mostly shed the country leanings of Being There and the power pop of Summerteeth. Jim O’Rourke helped cultivate the eeriness and ambience that resides here. The opening track, “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” says it all. The alt. country and power pop is not all gone, it is just transformed into a strange new form. And the final track “Reservations” contains some of the greatest love song crooning. “I’ve got reservations/about so many things/but not about you” Quite a contrast to the opener. - Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart Reservations (link)


HONORABLE MENTIONS:
The Fucking Champs – V – This is my favorite Fucking Champs album yet for some reason most other FC fans don’t see eye to eye with me. It’s got some of the most brutal moments and none of the filler and fluff contained on III and IV. - Andrew
Listen: “I Am The Album Cover” link
Beck – Sea Change – Best known for his funky off the walls jams and fresh rhymes, Sea Change instead sees Beck completely open, melodic, somber, stripped down, and brutally serious with a full album slow rock and country songs. Aside from Odelay, it’s his best album, as it shows his range and proved he wasn’t just a wacky performer with no serious side to balance that out. - Zach
Listen: “The Golden Age” link

3 Responses to “Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 2002”

  1. Sherv Says:

    giod damn

    so godo

  2. Sherv Says:

    dudes

    its serously hewartwarmign to see so many algbus i fucking lve from this year…songs for the deatf…dalek…good heatlh,…

    m,tsu man, youre description of the roller coast broght a tear to my eysm, uts ecactly that an,,,,excacvtl that.

    do yoy remeber what the msuci smeant
    ?

  3. Zach Patterson Says:

    this is a fucking fantastic year for sure.

    and yes, i remember what this music meant.

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