1) Beck, Odelay (DGC):
While it's not the second coming like most critics would have you believe, it's
still a work of genius complete with eclectic song writing, stream of
consciousness lyrics, and Fantastic Five samples.
2) Cibo Matto, Viva!
La Woman (Warner Brothers): More proof that the boundaries of musical
genres are rapidly crumbling as we approach the 21st century, and the women of
Cibo Matto are in the front lines, kicking them in. "World music" for a
3) DJ Shadow, Endtroducing (Mo Wax): Since his
ground breaking 20+ minute single "In/Flux" was released back in 1993, people
have been waiting for DJ Shadow's full length debut. The beats and atmospherics
are beautiful, creating constantly shifting moods and flavors that don't
4) Dr. Octagon, Dr. Octagon (Mo Wax): Hip Hop veteran
Kool Keith performs brain surgery with a rusty hatchet and a cattle prod. The
Automator and DJ Q-bert provide cloudy, claustrophobic beats we've come to
expect from Mo Wax.
5) Ghostface Killer, Ironman (Epic)/ Jeru the
Damaja, Wrath of the Math (Payday)/ Mobb Deep, Hell on Earth
(Loud) (Three-way tie): Producers The RZA, DJ Premier, and Havoc are creating a
new instrumental language for hip hop, which is built not on tired James Brown
or P-Funk samples, but instead on sonic innovation and paranoia. All three of
these albums are destined to be hip hop classics.
6) Willie Nelson,
Spirit (Island)/ Johnny Cash, Unchained (American) (Tie): OK, so
I couldn't make up my mind again. It's wonderful to hear Willie Nelson back in
top form, as no one's voice sounds quite like his. This time around he stripped
his music down much like Johnny Cash did for his American Recordings album a
couple years back. Cash follows up that album with a brilliant, more
7) The Queers, Don't Back Down (Lookout!):
Completely addictive Ramones-inspired power pop/punk. Hands down the best album
of this genre in a quite a while.
8) Scud Mountain Boys,
Massachusetts (Sub Pop): Perhaps the saddest sounding record of the
1990s. Unlike many bands that sport that low key country-tinged sound, Joe
Pernice actually writes phenomenal songs, and this album is filled with
9) Sun Ra, The Singles (Evidence): This collects the 45s Sun
Ra recorded from 1954 to 1981 under a variety of names and guises. Wanna hear
Sun Ra do blues, doo wop, dance music, and raunchy R&B in addition to his
wacked out jazz? If so, this one's for you.
10) Tricky, Pre-Millennium
Tension (Island): Tricky's official solo follow-up to his debut delivers
more than the first one even promised. Its mind-blowing production and menacing
textures make for the perfect soundtrack to social decay.
Reissue: Coyle & Sharpe, On the Loose (2.13.61): Recorded before Candid
Camera, the Jerky Boys and a dozen other covertly recorded "pranks," these two
masters of the surreal put-on made and distributed these albums in the early
1960s. You must hear them convince a pharmacist they are trying to buy
"supplies" from, that one of them is going to perform open-heart surgery on the
other in their station wagon parked outside. Hilarious.
*Best Live Show:
Yoko Ono/Cibo Matto/John Zorn - Central Park, 4th of July Weekend: This summit
meeting of three generations of the lower east side pop underground created
musical sparks and provided vindication for Yoko Ono, whose musical ideas have
finally been absorbed and accepted. Worth seeing just for the trance-inducing
jam with Yoko and Sean Ono-Lennon, Adam Yauch, Russell Simmins, Cibo Matto and