|Musically speaking, 2001 was not exactly the
best year. There was lots of good, but not as much as one might hope for. Nevertheless,
many great albums were produced in the underground scene this year. Don't expect an
MTV-style list, or even a Splendid or Pitchfork-like list. This is a completely unbiased
list, with no distinction between proper cd releases and limited edition demo cassette
releases. If you're looking for something a bit more popular-oriented, go elsewhere.
20 Top Albums of 2001
20. Brett Scheiber's "Responsible To Reality" CDR (swsmusic) Criminally
overlooked. Ignored by pretty much everyone. Despite his lack of an expensive music
studio, Scheiber manages to produce a collection of crisp, cleanly recorded pop songs that
combine elements of electronica, alt. country, and, well, indie pop. There is no reason
that this isn't being played on radio stations worldwide. This would be farther up the
list, perhaps, but this seems to lack originality in places. This received an 89% by
19. Mouse on Mars' "Idiology" album (Thrill Jockey) Mmm... now, this is was a
great album. Mouse on Mars has had a pretty good history with music; none of his albums
could be called below average, or even average for that matter. "Idiology" is
another good album, this time encompassing an even larger variety of styles than any of
the previous releases have.
18. Paula Frazer's "Indoor Universe" album (Birdman) I am shocked by how this
release has been completely and utterly ignored by pretty much everyone. It is, simply, a
great collection of alternative country songs. Slightly reminiscent of some of Chris
Isaak's work, the opening piece is probably the best, setting a wonderful tone for a
17. Crippled Ninja Mix July 10th CDR (Crippled Ninja Productions) Ha! Who would have
thought this would have made the list?? I would, for one. This actually is a compilation,
featuring much of the Crippled Ninja owner's work under various monikers, but I am still
going to count it. Because it is all the work of one guy (with some collaborations). The
funniest aspect would have to be that only one copy of this was made, and it was for me.
But, don't fret, you can get most of the songs from the various releases on the CNP label.
This received an 87% by Indieville.
16. Woody Whatever's "Roar EP" (Ionik Records) I'm going to get criticized
for this. Many people would just dismiss this as "amateur" and
"incomplete," but to them I say PHOOIE. Also, they will claim that it's an EP
and thus it shouldn't be included on this list. Well, this has quite a few songs on it for
an EP, so I'm letting it go. I've listened to this a number of times, and it just keeps
getting better. Very lo-fi recording style, very amateur, and very promising. For
somebody's early bedroom diddlings to be this good... look out Guided By Voices! This
received an 82% by Indieville.
15. Huon's "Answers To Lucky" Album (Animal World Recordings) Mmmm... this is
a charming little album on the Animal World Recordings label. Featuring members from the
Cannanes and Cat's Miaow, you can't go wrong. There are sixteen tracks of twee bliss on
this, and it's just plain fun to listen to.
14. Gossett - A Guide Through the Casio Forest CDR Album (datawaslost) This is a very
limited edition CDR (50 copies were made) from the datawaslost label. Gossett is the
bassist from the band Swissfarlo, one of the most "hyped" bands of the
datawaslost roster. Along he comes, creating his debut solo album using only a Casio 1630
and his standard 12-string. And boy is it good! Clearly a masterwork of lo-fi recordings.
He could be the next Smog!
13. pulseprogramming - 1 of 2 in 1000 and 2 of 2 in 1000 Double 12" (Aesthetics)
Yummy. Minimalist electronica courtesy of veteran scenesters Pulseprogramming. Although
these are technically two 12 inch records, they come together well to make an entity just
like a full album. Throughly enjoyable and smile-worthy, you aren't likely to come across
anything as beautiful as the first piece here, "To the expert eye alone," for
awhile. This received an 84% by Indieville.
12. A Radio With Guts - Sugat in Eleven Parts CDR (Fort Hazel Magic) ARWG brings us
this excellent collection of bizarre, experimental pieces that combine elements of
electronica, indie rock, and even jazz. This is chock full of unique pieces, ranging from
completely inaccessable to much more traditional. Fort Hazel Magic delivers yet another
release that deserves wider recognition, but is guaranteed not to get it. This received an
80% by Indieville.
11. ooioo - Feather Float CD (Birdman) Mmm... it's another release by well-known
Japanese band ooioo. It's not a coincidence that they're on the same label as the new
Boredoms release, as ooioo is fronted by the percussionist from the legendary noise group.
The Japanese influences on this album are impossible to miss, but, believe me, that's a
good thing. This received an 88% from Indieville.
10. Furtips - When my baby smiles at me, I go to Rio CD (Animal World Recordings) This
is an excellent toss up of indie pop music from the always reliable Furtips. All of this
music is wonderfully catchy, and definitely worth checking out. What sets this aside from
the competition is the charming originality they bring to their craft. Definitely worth
9. What Would Jason Do? - Go and Do Likewise! Double CD (!ooT, eviLnaCskcuD) I'm not
sure whether to call this a compilation or an album, so I'm filing it into the album
category. It is, essentially, a remix album. WWJD? created a series of found sound-based
recordings, and then asked various musicians, both well-known and obscure, to remix - or
rather reconstruct - the pieces. Featuring deconstructions from such glitch wizards as
Kid606, V/Vm, DJ Speedranch, Atom Heart, Alejandra & Underwood, and many more, this is
qualitiy stuff. This received a 90% from Indieville.
8. Landing - Oceanless CD (Stange Attractors Audio House) Landing is a great band,
similar to Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Yume Bitsu, and Fly Pan Am. Although their
side-project, Surface of Eceon, released a (debatably) better album this year, this was
still a marvellous, atmospheric release. This received a 90% from Indieville.
7. Pocahontas and the Ribs Self-Titled CDR (Self-Released) "Beautiful, and unlike
anything I've heard in a while. I cannot comprehend why they aren't signed to a label yet,
I can only hypothesize that it is their choice." That is a quotation directly from
the Indieville review, and it is how I feel about this album. It recevied a 90% from
6. Clive Holden - Trains of Winnipeg CD (Endearing) Another quality album from
Endearing! This is a beautiful, cosmic mixture of music and spoken word. Despite what you
may think, spoken word can be played on top of an instrumental background without
clashing. Some of this is fun (members were borrowed from the Weakerthans), some of it is
relaxing, and some of it is unsettling. When Holden describes the shooting death of a
young girl in a suburban neighbourhood, you can't help but feel moved. This received an
88% by Indieville.
5. Square Root of Margaret - Endless Rotation CD (House of Bleen/Black Mountain Music)
Mmm... this is a juicy little tidbit from Chatham, Ontario's Square Root of Margaret. Very
cleanly recorded, and very nicely produced, this is just chock full of catchy (VERY
catchy) pop songs. It's definitely worth checking out. This received a 92% from
4. Hazard - Wind CD (Ash International) Wow, this was a great album. Released on Ash
International, Hazard takes field recordings of the wind and transforms them into organic,
ambient pieces that are sure to delight. Amazing! This received a 90% from Indieville.
3. Surface of Eceon - The King Beneath the Mountain CD (Strange Attractors Audio House)
Surface of Eceon is a collaboration between members of Landing and Yume Bitsu. You can bet
that it's breathtaking. This is sheer beauty, featuring crashing ambience and momentous
sound shifting. I was speechless after listening to this. This received a 94% from
2. Velcro One - Amateur Loops (datawaslost) Although this was, technically, and EP, it
was so good I am including it here. This is groundbreaking work for the lo-fi scene. Both
catchy and moving, this selection of songs continues to amaze me, even to this day.
Amateur? Yes. Needs work? Not at all. This received an 88% from Indieville.
1. A Northern Chorus - Before We All Go To Pieces This is the most beautiful album I've
heard in a while. It is moving, it is catchy, and it is breathtaking. This remind me of
Low, except better. Imagine that! This is a haunting, touching, and solemn record that I
will not soon forget. Amazing.