Neile's Favourite Music of 2001


This is my list of top discs of 2001. Warning--it's very long.

Contents

Note: The links are all to The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music.


Neile's Top Favourites of 2001

(in alphabetical order because I'd hate to have to choose)

Bjork--Vespertine

An incredibly wonderful album. She just gets better and better. Homogenic knocked me over, but this one mighty fine and is perhaps even more creative and maybe in the long run will last even longer in my head. The stuff of obsession.

Halou--Wiser

If it's possible, this is an even better album than their debut (though it repeats a couple of tracks from it). The new songs are layered in interesting ways but also catchy and the vocals are hauntingly urgent. You'll find these songs in your head at unexpected times in a powerful way. Highly recommended for anyone who likes creative electronica or intriguing female vocals, or, especially, both together.

Veda Hille--Field Study

I was lucky enough to be one of the audience at the concert she recorded to make the basic tracks for this album, and the concert experience was a magical event that truly is reproduced on the album. Veda writes remarkable, beautiful songs: even when they're on the experimental edge they're melodic and catchy and compel me to listen again and again. This is a lovely album best served whole but each individual part is wonderful. There's no one like Veda.

Splashdown--Blueshift [CDR--never officially released]

A version of this is floating around the net as it was made available to people on their mailing list and some advance promos were sent out before it was cancelled. I have no idea if this album would have been a hit big enough to please Java/Capitol, but it certainly is a wonderful, powerful album and deserves to have seen the light of day. All the songs from the brilliant Redshift ep are here and many, many other great tracks that are just as strong. It's a lively kind of edgy, melodic rock that just sounds wonderful to me. The songwriting is so full of hooks it's scary and I adore Melissa Kaplan's voice here and the way the songs are put together. I've listened to this steadily for months and months and just can't get tired of it. This is the best album I've ever heard that was never released. It's a horrible shame.

Two Loons for Tea--Two Loons for Tea

I have utterly obsessed over this debut album. This is a wonderful combination of jazz, pop, trip hop, electronica, atmospheric guitar, and great raspy/rich vocals. I had been listening to their files at mp3.com for quite a while, but listening to the album as a whole was a revelation. There's something about their sound that is just what I want to hear so much of the time--the mix of smoothness with liveliness and depths of the flowing sound. And of course the great guitar and vocals. Heavenly.

Gabriel Yacoub--:yacoub:

I had to order this from a French online site with my very limited understanding of commercial French, but the disc arrived safely, and was absolutely worth the risk and cost. This is so wonderful. It's one of Yacoub's more acoustic, lower-key albums and is really lovely. Full of yearning tones and harmonies weaving around the main vocal lines that are beautiful enough to break your heart. Richard Shindell fans might be pleased to know that he covers "You Stay Here"--a gorgeous painful song (though I don't know the original to compare it with and he does omit the obnoxious, didactic verse about god thereby improving the song to my mind).

Other top albums

Bonfire Madigan--Saddle the Bridge

It took me a while to be able to hear this properly, but after a couple of plays it really clicked for me and I then I had to keep playing it. It's unusual and pushes the experimental edge and yet is also melodic and haunting. A really wonderful combination of sounds and highly recommended for anyone who likes the edgier side of things.

Kristin Hersh--Sunny Border Blue

Wait, did I say Sky Motel was my favourite Kristin Hersh solo album after Hips and Makers (which will always, I suspect, be first in my favourite)? No, it has to be this one. "Spain" and "White Suckers" stick in my head almost as much as "A Loon". Kristin Hersh just seems to continue being her wonderful self, and this is a pretty great Kristin disc. Really, this is a brilliant album.

Lamb--What Sound

Slightly more pop and less intense than their previous albums, especially lyrically, this is still a strong and wonderful album. Lamb just never disappoints me--their music is always strongly, obsessively listenable, full of fascinating sounds and Lou Rhodes' odd and lovely vocals. What a delight! I don't think it will catch up to how much I loved their first two albums, though.

Sarina Simoon--thread bone bare

Wow--this album has totally grown on me. The sound is a little odd and unexpected, dramatic, emotional and melodic but the tunes take odd and wonderful turns. Highly recommended for anyone who like the slightly unusual.

Suzanne Vega--Songs in Red and Gray

I haven't loved Suzanne Vega this much since her debut album. This was a real surprise to me and continues to be a delight.

Simon Wilcox--Mongrel of Love

I found this disc utterly addictive. It came in for review for The Ectophiles' Guide and I immediately had to get my own copy because I couldn't bear to let it out of my disc player. More than once I have found myself hitting repeat when the album ended, ready to hear it again immediately. It's one of those discs that is magically mood-altering for me--it always pulls me in. Simon Wilcox is wickedly talented and I can hardly wait to hear more from her (or play this album yet again).

Willow--sweet dark demon

Willow has more than exceeded the promise shown in her earlier recordings. This is an utterly haunting album--dark but also refreshing, and utterly individual. It's wonderful, a truly rich, dark, sensual, collection of songs. This is her second work with a band, and it shows both the strong simplicity of her songs but also ornaments them well. It's just a lovely, heart-felt, passionate, folkie/bluesy collection. And of course showcases her deep, evocative voice.

Kathleen Yearwood--Dog Logic

Kathleen Yearwood has this amazing talent for mixing the dissonant with the beautifully harmonic and this album does just that again. It's another step down her scary and beautiful road. She's always pushing the limits, both musically and lyrically. It's full of despair and hope, ugliness and beauty. Full of contradictions that together form something magnificent. Her music is unique and harsh and telling and beautiful. And an unforgettable experience.

Some other favourites


Also well worthy of mention


Disappointments


Best Debuts of 2001


Late discoveries


1995's favourite discs § 1996's favourite discs § 1997's favourite discs § 1998's favourite discs § 1999's favourite discs § 2001's favourite discs


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