The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

Can we talk about how awesome a year 2002 was for indie music? — February 16, 2019

Can we talk about how awesome a year 2002 was for indie music?

By the time of my senior year of high school, class of 2000, I was desperately pinning away for a back to basics rock revival. By 1999 grunge and Brit Pop, my two biggest genre obsessions, were basically extinct. Hip Hop, Boy bands and a rap/metal hybrid were dominating the charts, the airwaves and the television. Basically my worst musical nightmare. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I finally began to see a beacon of hope. That hope was The Strokes. Seems cliche to write but they really were transcendent without really being overly revolutionary in September 2001. They helped kick the door down and were at the front of the march towards the rock revival over the next handful of years. Sure other bands might have been technically more advanced and ambitious but nobody looked cooler as they played good old fashioned rock n roll with killer melodies and lyrics. Finally, after many years waiting, the tides were beginning to turn. My prayers were about to be answered. 

When the calendar flipped to 2002 a whole new era of bands were emerging, getting tons of press, played across radio and television and most importantly inspiring people to pickup the guitar again as an instrument of art. Being a rocker was cool again it seemed. I knew a vast purple patch of great music was starting to take hold across the globe, I just didn’t realize fully at the time how tremendous the overall year of 2002 was. It really was an incredible time of new bands bubbling up (The Walkmen, Interpol, The Coral) and more established bands (Wilco, Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes) hitting their artistic apex all at the same moment. If anyone really wants to get a feel for the excitement of these times I highly suggest buying Lizzy Goodman’s book “Meet Me In The Bathroom” which focuses on the rock revival in New York City between 2001 and 2011. 

So in honor of the year 2002, I’ve decided to rank my Top 20 albums of that year and provide a killer playlist of outstanding tunes. Enjoy. 

Top 20 Albums of 2002

  1. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 
  2. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood To The Head
  3. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
  4. Sigur Ros – ( )
  5. Doves – The Last Broadcast
  6. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
  7. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi battles the pink robots part 1
  8. The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Behind The Music 
  9. The Walkmen – Everyone Who Pretended To Like Us Is Gone
  10. Bright Eyes – Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
  11. Beck – Sea Changes
  12. The Coral – The Coral
  13. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight
  14. Death In Vegas – Scorpio Rising
  15. The Notwist – Neon Golden
  16. Sonic Youth – Murray Street
  17. Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle
  18. Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow
  19. Trail of Dead – …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
  20. DJ Shadow – The Private Press

 

The Playlist

The Walkmen – “Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone”

Wilco – “Heavy Metal Drummer”

Doves – “There Goes The Fear”

Coldplay – “The Scientist”

Pearl Jam – “Down”

Oasis – “Songbird”

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – “Nevermore”

Iron & Wine – “Faded From Winter”

DJ Shadow – “You Can’t Go Home Again”

The Coral – “Dreaming of You”

Interpol – “PDA”

The Flaming Lips – “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1”

Broken Social Scene – “Cause = Time”

Bright Eyes – “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”

The Hives – “Hate To Say I Told You So”

Beck – “Lost Cause”

The Notwist – “Consequence”

British Sea Power – “Childhood Memories”

Moby – “We Are All Made of Stars”

Spoon – “The Way We Get By”

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – “Relative Ways”

U2 – “Electrical Storm” (William Orbit Mix)

Death In Vegas – “Scorpio Rising”

Damon Albarn – “Sunset Coming On”

Sigur Ros – “Untitled 4”

Ekkehard Ehlers – “Plays John Cassavetes 2”

Boards of Canada – “Dawn Chorus”

Blackalicious – “Blazing Arrow”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Bang”

Sonic Youth – “The Empty Page”

Badly Drawn Boy – “Silent Sigh”

LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Can’t Stop”

Bruce Springsteen – “The Fuse”

A Film Full of Dreams — November 21, 2018

A Film Full of Dreams

Hot on the heels of 2016’s excellent Supersonic documentary which covered the early years of Britpop legends Oasis, Mat Whitecross delivers A Head Full of Dreams on his former college friends Coldplay. The film is framed around their last album of the same name and how it has become the culmination of everything Coldplay were striving towards since 1999……or at least that is what Chris Martin believes. The film leans heavy on the early years pre 2005’s X&Y with some fantastic and very intimate footage of Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berrymore, Will Champion and the behind the scenes fifth band member Phil Harvey who comes out of the rock doc as the understated hero of the group who keeps it all together. Seeing the band in their late teenage years, in their dorms messing about on guitars and making bold proclamations is worth the price of admission alone. You just really never get to see material this innocent, candid and raw on most bands. When do you get to see rockstar baby faces full of braces, pimples and bad hair? Now it certainly helps that they had a film junkie classmate in Mat Whitecross who always was carrying a camera around campus recording what he sees. It also helps immensely that he went on to become a successful documentarian and Coldplay to global super star success. A perfect marriage for a project like this. 

As a fan of their earlier material, Parachutes to the end of the A Rush of Blood To The Head campaign, I found everything I saw fascinating and nostalgic for the first hour or so. The highlight of this film for me was seeing Chris in studio hitting the opening bars for “The Scientist”. It was obviously one of the earliest moments of him playing that song. Long before it would be adored by millions. A moment like that literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Another moving piece of the doc was seeing Chris in 1998 boasting into the camera about where the band is heading and will accomplish in the next 3-4 years and then seeing that juxtaposed with their headlining slot at Glastonbury in 2002. An epic moment. I truly loved the band’s initial image and musical direction of Bends era Radiohead meets Jeff Buckley. It was sad to see them leave that path following the blowback of X&Y despite the sonic pop flourishes of Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends in 2008. The biggest turning point in the band’s career thus far was Phil Harvey leaving the band temporarily during X&Y (he would later return in 2007) and the negative vibes surrounding that album/tour despite robust sales. Chris Martin and company basically decided they wanted to be liked and be liked by a vast majority of potential listeners across the world which translated to more pop infused songs (“Viva La Vida”, “Paradise”, “A Sky Full of Stars”) and mega star collaborations (Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Rihanna). There is no shame in that and whatever fans they lost in that transition they picked up legions more as they elevated themselves to U2 global status. Coldplay is no longer a band, they’ve become a brand. 

The film oddly enough sprints through the albums Viva La Vida, Mylo Xyloto and Ghost Stories during its second hour. The pace was too fast for albums that connected to wide audiences, generated massive hit singles and really could have benefitted from using more time to explore those phases of the band’s career. However, nobody wants a 3 to 4 hour film so tough choices needed to be made. This reminded me how for Oasis’ Supersonic documentary, Mat Whitecross wisely focused only on their debut Definitely Maybe and mega hit follow up (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory and now legendary gigs at Knebworth in August 1996. The framing of that film worked brilliantly for Oasis as it really got to the essence of what that band was all about. It was a roller coaster ride over a three year period. Coldplay on the other hand are a band still in progress which begs the question of why is this film being released now with what seems like a lot of meat still left on the Coldplay bone? I think a documentary of this subject matter would be better served years down the line when Coldplay is no more. The footage will always be there. The stories can only get more rich with the passage of time. Coldplay’s dream is still being lived.