Posts from September 2020

21
Sep 20

Omargeddon #16: Cizaña de los Amores

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I joined last.fm in 2007 because I’d seen some of my friends use it to tag their LiveJournal entries with the song they were currently listening to and thought this was a pretty boss idea. But I soon realised that as far as I was concerned, its primary feature was the radio stream (which has since either disappeared or has been made a premium feature). I’d play it solidly as work* background music and appreciated the mix of 95% stuff I knew and liked and 5% random shit. At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone being interested in viewing my profile and so had no hesitation in publicly sharing my listening data. Then, after many enthusiastic years of scrobbling, I logged out in the summer of 2018 and haven’t been back since. This is largely due to this project, because seeing in black and white how often I listened to the same albums over and over in a short span of time made me cringe.

I had a similar amount of embarrassment at the end of last year when Spotify generated a slideshow of 2019’s top artists/songs, and I genuinely worried that if someone were to analyse that information, they’d conclude that I should be placed in some kind of a home. This weird and pointless self-shaming has certainly motivated me to seek out more new music this year, but in my heart of hearts, I know I’ll always find a lot of comfort in a select playlist of firm favourites played incessantly. I’ve previously likened it to being a small child who wants to hear the same bedtime story for months on end, and now more than ever, I just want to know that the story ends if not happily ever after, then at least how I expect it to.

Cizaña de los Amores (“Love’s Tares” and “Love’s Darnel” have both been offered up by machine translations) was recorded in Clouds Hill Studios, a location much beloved by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez for many years now; his most recent release was also recorded there. With Ximena Sariñana on most lead vocals, an eerie digital collage album cover by artist Sonny Kay, and a psychedelic pop core, the similarities between it and Solar Gambling are fairly obvious. Both feature recurring lyrics and melodies that often blend into a continuous flow, and instrumental or near instrumental songs acting as codas, so the parallels between the two make me regard them together as an unofficial double album.

9
Sep 20

#16: Can’t you see I’m trying?

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The final bracket spotlights the great hopes of indie rock – at least as far as the NME was concerned – The Strokes. Googling magazine covers for the lead-in illustrations to the poll brought home a couple of points. The first is how quickly and heavily the NME went all-in for The Strokes. The second is how little else they had to talk about in the same breath – their natural tendency to roll a few acts up into a “scene” seems initially thwarted. That would change, fairly quickly, but it accounts for the way Detroit’s White Stripes, already on their 3rd LP, would be swept up and treated as a new band.

#15: Looks good, sounds good, looks good, feels good too

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It’s the electroclash bracket! Er… kind of. Maybe half the tracks here would have some claim on that hotly contested genre, but the vibe of this bracket is “what might have been played at a hipster club night?”. Did I go to hipster club nights in 2001? Ah, not really.

7
Sep 20

#14: Es swingt dich in die Knie, denn der Riddim is Hardcore

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For the fifth poll in a row – it’s become a tradition! – we have a bracket dedicated to non-English language pop. This started as simply a couple of groups in the People’s Pop Poll in May, but it’s grown as we’ve done the polls. In the 1990 poll there was almost enough for an entire bracket – in this one we had too many for one, and a certain amount of sleight of hand was needed to accommodate it all.

#13: Hey, must be the money!

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This is the mainstream hip-hop bracket, with a chunky three tracks each from the critical King and Queen of the genre in 2001, Jay-Z and Missy Elliott, and appearances from a host of other royals – Nelly, fresh off months at #1 with his Country Grammar LP; snarlers Ludacris and Mystikal; Outkast and Wu-Tang. Debutants too – the Timbaland-produced Bubba Sparxxx and kinda-conscious rappers City High.

6
Sep 20

#12: Every word seemed to date her

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Roots and Americana don’t make up much of my musical diet – too fibrous – but I’m delighted we’ve got enough for an entire bracket of them here: it gives us something a bit different in the tournament mix. And it’s also reflective of a real 2001 trend which you couldn’t miss even if you didn’t like it – the steady swell of interest in Americana, country and other acoustic musics which had crested at the turn of the millennium, partly thanks to O Brother, Where Art Thou?…

#11: Leave your situations at the door

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This bracket shares very porous boundaries with Bracket 5 – the pop/R&B one – since R&B was a driving creative force in 2001 and we easily had enough nominations to spill over brackets. In this group the emphasis is a little more on the singers: Mary J Blige, Aaliyah, and India.Arie get two songs each, there’s neo-soul from Sunshine Anderson and Angie Stone, veteran soul from Sade, and sitting atop it all, in popularity terms at least, Alicia Keys megaballad “Fallin’”.

5
Sep 20

#10: A secret code carved

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Inevitably when you’re sorting out 64 tracks marked as indie, you’re going to find some which don’t really fit anywhere else. That’s this bracket, a buffet of leftovers with maybe an arthouse and experimental thread running through the core of it. But not entirely – there’s also tracks here which are more indiepop than anything in the indiepop bracket (Saloon’s pretty “Free Fall”) and more proto-landfill than anything in the radio-friendly one (I won’t name names).

#9: Sunshine in a bag

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I’m not totally sure this bracket ‘works’, in that it’s likely to feel unfair to one or both of the two streams of music I’ve pushed together here. There’s the more big-room, commercial end of dance music, like Superman Lovers’ “Starlight” and Safri Duo’s “Played A-Live (The Bongo Song)”, but there’s also alternative music darlings making club or hip-hop or sampladelic music, like Gorillaz and The Avalanches. And sitting between both worlds, there’s Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx at the poppier end of their 2001 work. Mix in a few hits overflowing from other categories and you have our bracket.

4
Sep 20

#8: It’s got leather seats, it’s got a CD player

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We’ve already had a look at the scrappy, self-sufficient, grass-roots corner of indie. Of course that’s only part of the story. There’s also the parts of what used to be “indie” that were happening in, more or less, the mainstream. But that didn’t mean what it had even a few years before.