ATN Critics' Picks: Kembrew McLeod's 1997 Top 10

This year we've asked some of our writers, editors and fave

musicians to tell us what they think kicked it for '97. Here's

Addicted To Noise Contributing Editor Kembrew McLeod's's Top 10:

1) (tie) Missy Elliot, Supa Dupa Fly, and Timbaland & Magoo,

Welcome to Our World: Totally fresh and original, these two

Timbaland-produced albums prove that innovation can translate

into great

party music and mainstream success. And Missy's presence pushes

everything over the edge. Puff Daddy should take notes ... Oh, that's

right, he has ... Just not very good ones.

2) Future Bible Heroes, Future Bible Heroes: Magnetic

Fields mastermind Stephen Merritt drops another pseudonymously titled


for those too cool to admit they like the Pet Shop Boys. Equal parts


melodies, low-rent techno-pop and sardonic lyrics.

3) Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope: Though I'm still not

convinced by her new "dark" S&M image, I was won over by the


house beat and hook of "Together Again" and the Joni Mitchell/Q-tip

collaboration on "Got til it's Gone." It's worth the price of admission

just to hear Q-tip say, "Joni Mitchell's in the house."

4) Steve Earle, El Corazon: It's refreshing to hear

an unabashedly leftist musician who can create a moving state of the

union address ("Christmas in Washington") and still know how to blow the

roof off the building with his electric guitar ("NYC").

5) Quasi, R&B Transmorgrifaction: This is the most flawed

of my

Top 10 selections, but it is also the most exciting. Current

Sleater-Kinney drummer, Janet Weiss, does double-duty with her


Sam Coomes of Heat Miser. If they get rid of some of the

indie-rock-noise-doo-doo and pump up the perfect pop-factor even more,

next time they'll have a flawless album. I can't wait.

6) KRS-ONE, I Got Next: Even with the Blastmaster's


fundamentalist sermons, KRS-ONE still makes the misguided search for

authenticity in hip-hop fun. Bare beats, booming bass and the best


of the year: "I'm number one. No, sorry I lied. I'm number one, two,

three, four and five."

7) Spiritualized, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in


Like all great mood music, this album can both function as

shallow, empty elevator music and gut-wrenching soul music that


straight to the heart.

8) Various Artists, Return of the DJ, vol. II: Admiring


turntable wizardry of contemporary DJs can easily become boring, akin to

experiencing an installation art piece at a Soho gallery. Fortunately,

these DJs throw out the pretensions, keep a steady beat, and just rock

the house.

9) Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole: For those of us

that don't get out much, Dig Your Own Hole works equally well as

great background music for writing and for dancing around the house like a


10) Chuck Eddy, The Accidental Evolution of Rock 'n' Roll: A

Misguided Tour Through Popular Music: Even when Eddy writes

something that makes me so mad that I want to crack his head open with

his own book, I can't because I'm either laughing too hard or I grudgingly

have to admit that he has a point. This is one of the few books on music in

which the excitement and energy of music translates convincingly into

the written word.