favorite albums of 2002

20.Howie Day – Australia (Epic)

Make sure to at least listen to the beautiful “Disco”.

Favorite songs: She Says, So Sorry, Disco

Favorite lyric: “Another night is going out/It’s Saturday and now you’ve got the fever” from “Disco”

19.Eels – Souljacker (DreamWorks)

Not their best, but there are a couple of great tunes including “Fresh Feeling”, one of their most emotional.

Favorite songs: Fresh Feeling, Souljacker Part 1, Friendly Ghost

Favorite lyric: “You don’t have a clue what it is like to be next to you” from “Fresh Feeling”

18.Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel (Island)

Elvis comes back to the pop format with a bang.

Favorite songs: 45, Tear Off Your Own Head, Alibi

Favorite lyric: “Bass and treble heal every hurt/There’s a rebel with a nylon shirt/But the words are a mystery I’ve heard/’Til you turn it down to 33-1/3” from “45”

17.Hefner – Dead Media (Too Pure)

Fun electronic album from a talented band that no one’s heard of.

Favorite songs: Trouble Kid, When The Angels Play Their Drum Machines, Waking Up To You

Favorite lyric: “And I said, ‘Let me let you let me down again’/She said, ‘No'” from “When The Angels Play Their Drum Machines”

16.Pretenders – Loose Screw (Artemis)

Great new album. Chrissie Hynde still has one of the best voices in pop music.

Favorite songs: Time, Complex Person, Saving Grace

Favorite lyric: “I’m a very, very complex person/I try to improve but you see how I’ve worsened” from “Complex Person”

15.Playgroup – Playgroup (Astralwerks)

Great new dance group combining almost every form of dance music into a eclectic new format.

Favorite songs: Number One, Front 2 Back, Make It Happen

Favorite lyric: “Ask for what I’m missing/Drinking words on the telephone” from “Make It Happen”

14.Ok Go – Ok Go (Capitol)

Debut of the year. Fun rock/pop music with no deeper meaning than to make you sing along.

Favorite songs: Get Over It, Don’t Ask Me, The Fix Is In

Favorite lyric: “Lot of knots, lot of snags, lot of holes, lot of cracks, lot of crags, lot of naggin’ old hags” from “Get Over It”

13.Alison Moyet – Hometime (Sanctuary)

What an incredible voice. Finally after seven years she records a new one and it’s worth the wait. You’ll know what I mean if you listen to the soaring “You Don’t Have To Go”

Favorite songs: Say It, Do You Ever Wonder, You Don’t Have To Go

Favorite lyric: “And I’m missing you/Say you miss me, too/Say it, say it, say it, say it, say it, say it, say it” from (you guessed it) “Say It”

12.David Bowie – Heathen (ISO/Columbia)

Bowie’s first great album in years. There’s even a Pixies remake on here. He was incredible live at the Area 2 concert.

Favorite songs: Slip Away, 5:15 The Angels Have Gone, A Better Future

Favorite lyric: “We never talk anymore/Forever I will adore you” from “5:15 The Angels Have Gone”

11.Bryan Ferry – Frantic (Virgin)

After his well published bout with writer’s block, Bryan Ferry comes back full on with this pop extravaganza. Many of the songs were written and produced with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.

Favorite songs: Nobody Loves Me, A Fool For Love, One Way Love

Favorite lyric: “Your tortured sighs/They fall like rain” from “Nobody Loves Me”

10.Sheryl Crow – C’Mon C’Mon (A&M)

Probably Sheryl’s weakest album, but when you come off albums like her self-titled one or her masterpiece “The Globe Sessions” what can you do. She is obviously having fun with this one especially with last summer’s anthem, “Soak Up The Sun”.

Favorite songs: Steve McQueen, Soak Up The Sun, Over You

Favorite lyric: “We’ve got rock stars in the white/And all our pop stars look like porn” from “Steve McQueen”

09.Dolly Parton – Halos And Horns (Sugar Hill)

Dolly continues to explore her roots with Blue Grass and it’s just fantastic. Songs like “Sugar Hill” really feel down home while telling the story of teenagers exploring their sexuality with nothing but pure honesty.

Favorite songs: Sugar Hill, Shattered Image, What A Heartache

Favorite lyric: “Don’t open my closet if your own’s full of trash” from “Shattered Image”

08.Kylie Minogue – Fever (Capitol)

Gulity Pleasure Of The Year. Yeah, it’s nothing but cheesy, throw-away pop, but it’s GOOD cheesy, throw-away pop. There is no denying the Cathy Dennis penned “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”. It’s just too damn catchy.

Favorite songs: Love At First Sight, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, Burning Up

Favorite lyric: “If you drink me up/I’m gonna quench your thirst” from “Burning Up”

07.Alanis Morissette – Under Rug Swept (Maverick)

This was a big surprise. Almost every song on the album is really good. It’s her still working through some problems, of course, but as long as it’s catchy psychobabble then you can forgive her.

Favorite songs: Narcissus, Hands Clean, So Unsexy

Favorite lyric: “I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful/So unloved for someone so fine/I can feel so boring for someone so interesting/So ignorant for someone of sound mind” from “So Unsexy”

06.George Harrison – Brainwashed (Capitol)

The second Beatle to leave us and this is his final album; finished right before he passed away. George was still searching the spiritual side of life even to the end and it shows through every lyric and note on Brainwashed. Expertly produced by Jeff Lynne (ELO) and George Harrison’s son.

Favorite songs: The Rising Sun, Run So Far, Never Get Over You

Favorite lyric: “And if you don’t know where you’re going/Any road’ll take you there” from “Any Road”

05.Pet Shop Boys – Release (Sanctuary)

Acoustic Pet Shop Boys? Yes. Is it any good? Hell yeah! Every song on here is a mid-tempo ballad (except one) about love, social economics, ironic twists… you know, the Pet Shop Boys at their best. There is even a sardonic poke at Eminem on “The Night I Fell In Love”.

Favorite songs: Home & Dry, I Get Along, London, Here

Favorite lyric: “Our father fought in Afghanistan/His widow’s pension ain’t worth a damn/My mother works and goes home to cry/I want to live before I die” from “London”

04.Imperial Teen – On (Merge)

You want a fun album? This is it. Nothing but pure, energetic pop brillance. The best part is all of the boy/girl backing vocals that swirl in and out of the lyrics as if they were channeling 50’s do-wap. This is their third album and arguably their best and a definite for the music library and parties.

Favorite songs: Ivanka, Baby, Our Time, Mr. & Mrs.

Favorite lyric: “The Goose and The Raisin/Were painting the town/Their quips and thier banter/Intensely profound/The radio spoon fed them ditties to hum” from “Mr. & Mrs.”

03.Paul Heaton – Fat Chance (Go!/Mercury) [IMPORT]

This is the voice behind The Housemartins and The Beautiful South and his first solo album. Heaton’s charm and his talent are the lyrics he writes that are so full of bitter humour as he dissects various relationships. His voice hasn’t the range he had during his younger years, but it’s still very moving to hear.

Favorite songs: 10 Lessons In Love, The Perfect Couple, Barstool, Poems

Favorite lyric: “Whilst other couples look for love/In a love so obviously dead/Ours still takes us by surprise/Like a barstool over the head” from “Barstool”

02.Aimee Mann – Lost In Space (SuperEgo)

Yeah, yeah. As I’ve been told, it won’t be my Top 20 unless Aimee showed up somewhere. Her latest is the second released on her own finger-to-the-recording-industry record label, SuperEgo. Mann has been described by many as one of the greatest songwriters of our time and rightfully so. Her songs are portraits of people and situations that most people run from much less base a career in music on. And THAT’S why I like her so much.

Favorite songs: Humpty Dumpty, Lost In Space, Pavlov’s Bell, Invisible Ink

Favorite lyric: “Nobody want to hear this tale/The plot is cliched, the jokes are stale/And, baby, we’ve all heard it all before” from “Invisible Ink”

01.Ed Harcourt – Here Be Monsters (Capitol)

Debut Of The Year. An album just dripping with emotion. It’s dark and atmoshperic, yet underneath it all is a hope that things will get better. Harcourt’s voice is the glue that brings all the songs together. It targets the emotions living inside the song and points them out to the listener whether they realize it or not. The best thing about the arrangements is the trumpet in almost all the songs. It’s shocking to hear in this era of music when everything is muddled with over-production. Side story: I went to see him live in Boulder and asked him to sign my CD liner notes. This is what he wrote: “Howard, The ducks are coming for me. Love, Ed Harcourt”

Favorite songs: Something In My Eye, God Protect Your Soul, She Fell Into My Arms, Hanging With The Wrong Crowd, Apple Of My Eye

Favorite lyric: “I can’t express myself ‘coz I’m not fully grown” from “God Protect Your Soul”

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