Tag: 2002

The Avett Brothers – Country Was

ARTIST: The Avett Brothers  Country_Was

TITLE:  Country Was




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you know these songs, you’re a superfan

LINEUP: Seth Avett, Scott Avett, Bob Crawford.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After the breakup of their punk band, Seth and Scott Avett make their move toward acoustic, down home music, and come out with a winner on first go-round.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After the breakup of Nemo, who released three albums before their demise, the Avett Brothers coalesced around a guitar (or piano), banjo and stand-up bass lineup for their first few recordings.

This album features some songs that are in a definite good-time back-porch mode, but what the real winner is how the Avetts and Crawford already are in sync with great harmonies and spirited playing.

It’s a short album (8 songs) but it sets the table for the Avetts to come.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first studio album (The Avett Bros.) was more of a Nemo album, and it’s disappeared. So has, unfortunately, their live album Live at the Double Door Inn.


GRADE: A-: A genuine, fun record.

Clinic – Walking with Thee

ARTIST: Clinic           220px-ClinicWalkingWithThee

TITLE:  Walking with Thee



SINGLES: Walking with Thee (#65 UK), Come into Our Room (#85 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not over in these parts

LINEUP: Ade Blackburn, Brian Campbell, Jonathan Hartley, Carl Turney.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK indie band reins in some of their oddities, which leaves the final product more mainstream, relatively, and not as loud.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting with a creepy sound that sounds like if Coldplay were led by a villain in a horror thriller, Clinic’s second full album reveals itself to be a somewhat quieter, more tuneful record.

Sometimes it works – on the aforemented “Harmony”, “The Equaliser” and the title cut. But at times, the new direction (kinda new direction) leads them into a sonic lull. There’s nothing compelling about some of the tracks, the melodies are backing are repetitive but not tense.

It’s good, and the highlights are probably some of the best stuff Clinic’s done to that point. It’s just that by moving directions they take away some of the edge that made them interesting.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Maybe some people in the US heard this, since it was nominated for a Grammy in 2003 for “Best Alternative Music Album” – losing to…Coldplay. Oh, Grammies.


GRADE: B: It’s not like the boring songs are bad, just not exciting. As a whole it’s a mixed bag, but the really good cuts are strong.


Coheed & Cambria – The Second Stage Turbine Blade

ARTIST: Coheed & Cambria 220px-CoheedAndCambriaSSTB

TITLE:  The Second Stage Turbine Blade



SINGLES: Devil in Jersey City

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you bought it, you know it.

LINEUP: Claudio Sanchez, Josh Eppard, Michael Todd, Travis Stever. Nate Kelly and Dr. Know helped on a couple of songs.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Part one of a four-part suite of albums telling a long-ass story. It’s ambitious, I’ll give ‘em that.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Concept albums will never die – even in the age of ripping, burning and streaming. Long, conceptual pieces won’t die either, as long as there are people who enjoy settling down for an album that tells a story that won’t be finished for years – kind of like the Game of Thrones or something.

This is quite ambitious, sure. Musically, there are chops galore. The guys can play. Sanchez has an interesting vocal range. But it leaves me cold and clammy most of the time. Where are the hooks? The memorable songs? Something that I can remember other than it’s a long album of long songs for a l-o-n-g story.

I’m going to stick it out as I appreciate the musicianship. But the story better make sense.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Coheed and Cambria are characters in the story, and the band took the name from them.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few bonus demos etc.

GRADE: B-: This is in the “B” range for the musicianship. But it’s long and only ¼ way done, and there’s nothing really memorable about any of the songs.

Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head

ARTIST: Coldplay 220px-A_Rush_of_Blood_to_the_Head

TITLE:  A Rush of Blood to the Head



SINGLES: In My Place (#117 US, #2 UK), The Scientist (#10 UK), Clocks (#29 US, #9 UK), God Put a Smile upon Your Face (#100 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That was it as far as airplay.

LINEUP: Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Chris martin, Will Champion

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Coldplay become stars with this decent, yet serious, pop album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Coldplay can never have fun it seems, but they can sound good by not having fun. This record has hooks, melodies and grandiose songs galore, and it struck a chord with their audience (and the world) in 2002.

It has held up a lot better than their debut – the songs seem to touch a universal theme, and the sounds are diverse. Yet the sounds also seem borrowed, a little Column A (U2), a little Column B (Muse). They distill those down to being…well…Coldplay.

At least here, they rise a bit above their influences. Some cuts linger too long and seem too derivative, but this is not boring and is an improvement for sure.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The song “Green Eyes” was written for two people – Buckland, the guitarist, and Gwynneth Paltrow (though Martin didn’t go right out and say it…)


GRADE: B+: I found myself enjoying this one, probably because I wasn’t bombarded with it in 2002. It’s derivative, but well done.

Hot Hot Heat – Knock Knock Knock

ARTIST: Hot Hot Heat       knockknockknock

TITLE:  Knock Knock Knock



SINGLES: It was a five-song EP


LINEUP: Steve Bays, Paul Hawley, Dante DeCaro, Dustin Hawthorne

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Teaser EP by Canadian band transitioning from punk rock toward a danceable indie-rock sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Hot Hot Heat’s vocals and songs always seem to me on the edge of insanity. There’s something frenetic about it, and that’s in evidence greatly in this five song EP released by Sup Pop as a teaser for their full-length debut.

Hot Hot Heat were on the forefront of the ‘dance punk’ or what I’d rather say is more of an indie-rock sound than punk. Other bands, like Interpol and the Rapture probably got more play than they did, but in 2002 or so Hot Hot Heat’s sound was new and refreshing.

It’s a decent introduction to them, and is a good companion piece for their later album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: At first, they were an electro-pop band, then punk and now this sound.


GRADE: B+: Five decent cuts that you should have if you are a fan of them or the dance-punk (dance indie, whatever) sound.

The Black Keys – The Big Come Up

ARTIST: The Black Keys 220px-The_Black_Keys_-_The_Big_Come_Up
TITLE: The Big Come Up
SINGLES: Leavin’ Trunk
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover She Said, She Said.
LINEUP: Dan Auerbach, Patrick Carney. Gabe Fulvimar plays moog bass on four tracks.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Blues-rock duo records first album in Carney’s basement. It sounded raw, but exciting all the same and got them a new record contract on a bigger label.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sometimes simplicity is the best thing. After forming as a duo because Auerbach’s backing band didn’t show for a demo session, the Black Keys recorded this debut album in Carney’s basement studio.

It’s a record that either covers the blues, or creates new variations on familiar blues riffs and tropes. The scuzzy sound helps the atmosphere of the record, which sounds like it’s recorded in the basement of a smoky club at about 2 in the morning for the true fanatics (or the drunks).

Since this was on a tiny label with little distribution, it only really served to get them gigs and a better record deal. For that, mission accomplished. It’s pretty enjoyable end to end, except the last track has a way too long silence before a hidden track, and “Heavy Soul” has a flown-in guitar part that sounds like it just came from Neptune out-of-sync and then just disappeared.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was recorded on an eight-track recorder.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The vinyl version has an extra track (a cover of the Stooges’ “No Fun”) and a different running order.

GRADE: B+: A couple of mis-steps but if you like scuzzy blues then pick this up.

Umphrey’s McGee – Local Band Does OK

ARTIST: Umphrey’s McGee Umphrey's_McGee-Local_Band_Does_OK
TITLE: Local Band Does OK
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably you’d only know these if you went to one of their shows – and you still may not know the title.
LINEUP: Brendan Bayliss, Jake Cinninger, Joel Cummings, Ryan Stasik, Mike Mirro, Andy Farag
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Midwestern (originally from South Bend – HOOSIERS!) jam band records first album with any kind of distribution and becomes one of the hot bands of the circuit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s the Dead, there’s Phish, and there’s a whole bunch of other bands in the jam band space. More of the bands really fall into the Phish variety – sound musicians that just love to play and show off their technique and theory and that just constantly play and jam together day after day to become a tight unit.

There’s nothing wrong with that, except that at times it can become tedious. I enjoy hearing the studio output of these bands because they’re usually the ‘shell’ of the songs that they go wheedly-wheedly-whee over AND they’re constrained (or used to be) by the length that an album could go. (Now with streaming, there’s technically no limit…)

Umphrey’s McGee is one of those ultra-proficient and tight bands that concentrate more on the mood and feel and less on the song itself. Here, it’s an enjoyable listen for the most part, and the long songs that stretch out don’t seem strained or long winded.

Obviously, they made their bones on their live shows but this is a pretty good studio effort.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first studio efforts were mainly just sold at shows or to give to club owners saying they had released an album. This one was the largest selling CD at the first Bonnaroo.


GRADE: B+: It might not be for those who are allergic to long instrumentals and jams, but it’s really a pretty decent effort all in all.

Matt Mays – Matt Mays

ARTIST: Matt Mays MI0003536881
TITLE: Matt Mays
SINGLES: City of Lakes
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe if you’re Canadian, eh?
LINEUP: Matt Mays, Tim Baker, Charles Austin, Bob Egan, Dale Murray, Dave Marsh, Benn Ross
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pleasant alt-country and adult alternative songs from a Canadian artist that really is nothing special – a pedal steel here, a plaintive harmonica there, a sadness in the voice. You know the drill.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s OK not to have every album by an artist, or every album in a genre. The solo debut from Canadian Matt Mays is one that most everyone can take or leave.

There’s nothing really wrong with it. It is pleasant, well played and has a couple of decent tunes. “City of Lakes” being one. But most of it sounds plain. The production doesn’t help much either – it’s a bit muffled to my ears.

Mays would become a beloved figure in Canadian music. This album isn’t why.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He originally was in the Canadian band the Guthries before striking out on his own.


GRADE: B-: Not bad, and if you really really like alt-country you’ll want it. I’m exiling most of it. It’s just plain for the most part.


Kylesa – Kylesa

ARTIST: Kylesa Kylesa_self-titled_album_2002
TITLE: Kylesa
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Into Southern Doom / Stoner Metal? Maybe. Otherwise…
LINEUP: Phillip Cole, Laura Pleasants, Brian Duke, Christian Depken
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Savannah sludge-doom metal pioneers overcome personal tragedy to finish debut album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Kylesa’s first album is more doom / sludge metal than psychedelic sludge metal, even though there are some elements of that in there. But the real story is the story behind the record.

Three of the four members of Kylesa were in a previous band, and they changed into Kylesa and started to record their debut album. They played their first show as Kylesa in June, 2001 and four days later bass player Duke was dead from an epileptic seizure.

They pushed on to honor Duke and finished the record with a stand-in bass player. In 2002, it was released and their career in the sludge / psychedelic branch of doom metal took off.

There’s lots of good riffage here, which is what you want from bands like this. There’s not a lot of variety, but it’ll do to get your sludge on. It’s just incredible that they finished the record after what happened.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Cole, Duke and Depken were in Damad before mutating it into Kylesa.


GRADE: B-: It has some good riffs and good moments and considering everything else, it’s a good debut.

The Fiery Furnaces – Gallowsbird’s Bark

ARTIST: The Fiery Furnaces220px-Gallowsbirds_Bark_album_cover
TITLE: Gallowsbird’s Bark
SINGLES: Crystal Clear, Tropical Ice-Land
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: This music only gets on The Current (MN) or KEXP (Seattle) or other such stations.
LINEUP: Eleanor Friedberger, Matthew Friedberger, Ryan Sawyer
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Brother sister duo (with a hired drummer) construct an album of odd, off-kilter songs that borrow from post-punk, grunge, electronica, and Lord knows what else. It works!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Fiery Furnaces are at times too obtuse even for their fans. In this first album, though, they are pretty straight forward in their skewed musical universe.

Eleanor’s vocals and interesting (yeah, that’s the word) lyrics fit right over Matthew’s inventive, challenging and unique arrangements. A song like “Don’t Dance Her Down” has elements of funk, electro-pop and soul all blended together with a disjointed guitar.

“Two Fat Feet” was the song that turned me onto the Fiery Furnaces as anything more than just a weird novelty. The guitar in that song is strong, and the rhythm section chugs along (ok, Matthew mostly chugging along with himself). Then, there’s this piano that sounds like a nursery school piano!

NOTES & MINUTAE: “Don’t Dance Her Down” is loosely adapted from “Big Jim’s in Town”


GRADE: A-: I love challenging music that’s also memorable. This fits that description.