March 16, 2010

2003

I have a lot of great memories from 2003. Jenn and I had been dating since the previous year; she moved down to Oklahoma City to go to college which was inspired in no small part by her desire to be with me. We went to concerts, I played in a band (Google "Cessation Bustle" and see what happens), and lots of music came out that made 2003 feel like a great fucking year.

The Rapture came out with Echoes, but I still think it's overrated. The Strokes disappointed America with Room on Fire. Radiohead released Hail to the Thief, which while one of their weaker albums is still better than 95% of what's released. And for some fucking reason, everybody thought the Darkness was this awesome, ironic, kitschy band that was really a terribly cheesy piece of shit. Oh yeah, and that Iraq war thing was going down. Dude, if we could be fooled into thinking the Darkness's "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" was a great song, then the Bush Administration convincing the country that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction was a sure thing. We had nobody to blame but ourselves.

There are some serious contenders for 2003's personal album of the year. Sufjan Stevens came flying out with Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State. That thing was monumental. Find a mid 20 something who fancies themselves a music fan and ask them if they had that album. If they didn't, they're a phony. Speakerboxx/Love Below made white suburban kids feel they were that much closer to being urban. Cursive's The Ugly Organ came out and showed us that Domestica was a one off. It pains me to say that. The Ugly Organ was good, but it was no Domestica. Beulah's Yoko released a terrific break up album.

But it's been established I'm a fairly lame dork. I remember making out to The Postal Service's Give Up and the emotions attached to this album give it a checkmark for 2003. Yeah, the lyrics display trademark Gibbardisms, but Jimmy Tamborello's production and Ben Gibbard's singing make up for the occasional lyrical disaster. The Postal Service's Give Up was clearly about seven years ahead of it's time because that little poof from Minnesota, Owl City, has blown the hell up by basically taking Ben Gibbard's vocal styling and throwing it on his own similar electronic bleeps and bips that Tamborello did with the Postal Service. The Postal Service was saccharine sweet but the toothache was worth it.

March 6, 2010

2002

I know when you do one of these online blog things you're supposed to work at it and not wait nearly three months between posts. You lose readers; any momentum you had built up is squandered because life got in the way. Some people do this for a living. And if I were getting paid to share my opinions on music with a swath of the population who are probably just criticizing what I'm writing anyway, I'm sure I'd find the time to post daily. Jenn is the real music writer on this thing.

But I hate leaving the Oughts undone. I left 2002 unaccounted for, along with the remainder of the decade.

It's funny to look back on a year-end review from a month after the year's end. According to Spin's 2002 review, the album of the year was White Stripes then rereleased White Blood Cells. Looking back on it, nearly everyone agrees that 2002 was the year of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

The thing about that is I thought it was shit. I couldn't listen to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for two years without wanting to kill my ears with a q-tip. This guy was rocking the hell out of Coheed and Cambria's debut Second Stage Turbine Blade and discussing the intricacies of Control by Pedro the Lion. I couldn't see the fuss about YHF... and hated the hell out of the "sell-out" On a Wire by the Get Up Kids.

So 2002 wasn't a fully fleshed out year of good musical decisions. But, living in Oklahoma City at the time, I think it was inevitable that I, and probably most everybody else listening to radio that wasn't Staind or Puddle of Mudd, was drawn in to the Flaming Lips's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It was and is a big, weird, fuzzy pop freakout, tripping balls on acid. The Soft Bulletin was a great album and lesser bands who gave a shit about things like "expectations" and "pressure" would have likely played things a bit more conservatively on the follow up, maybe doing more of the same, tightening up in spots but still being solid. The Flaming Lips I don't even think care if they really move any units or make their label money. So pressure was non-existent.
The Lips took electronics and combined it with their brand of pop-rock and found a way to add spirit to the music. Electronics usually get used to take the humanity out of the music (I'm looking at you, industrial). It's just all so sublime and understated without being minimalist. The lyrics are playful and absurd without being pretentious. The album as a whole set the bar even higher for the expectations heaped on the Flaming Lips, as well as for how fucking weird you have to be to get the hell out of Oklahoma City's convoluted, inbred music scene. Yep, I went there.