RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT 2002
It's been a difficult year, with American politicians - arguably the most important in the world - showing how easily they can scare the people into ignoring a failing economy, a cowboy president, and a spiraling into war. The current state in the United States reminds me of a quote from Julias Caesar which seems all too relevant, two millenia after it was originally said:
"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar." - Julius Caesar
Speaking of war, what about bin Laden? What happened to tracking him down, at any cost? I distinctly recall the president making that promise, but instead, the focus seems to have shifted to Saddam. And no surprise, no one cares. Al Gore, a week or so before he retired from politics told a little joke which seemed to explain the bin Laden/Saddam situation:
"The guy who lost his car keys, and he was looking for them on the street corner under the street lamp, and a friend came by, tried to help him, and said, "Where'd you last have them?" And he said, "When I got out of the car, over in that field across the street." And his friend said, "Well, why are you looking for 'em here?" and he said, "'Cause the light's better here.'"
So where does that leave the world going into 2003? Well, a quarter of the world is now involved in armed conflict, Bush and his republicans control the United States - so much for checks and balances - and civil liberties are out in the window. But thank god, Friends has been renewed for another season.
Well, now that I've said my piece, here's the top ten.
THE TOP TEN RECORDS OF 2002 ACCORDING TO AUBIN
These are in no particular order, each record has it's strengths, and these are just the more interesting, unique and memorable albums I listened to this year.
1. Time in Malta - A Second Engine (Equal Vision)
This one came completely out of nowhere. I had never heard of them, and had Equal Vision not sent me a copy, it's possible I wouldn't. A wholly original record, intense, melodic, and nearly flawless in execution. I have a longer review here.
2. Eighteen Visions - Vanity (Trustkill)
As a big fan of their previous recordings, Vanity was somewhat of a surprise to me. Downplaying their metal/hardcore sensibilities to add more melody and, well, calm, to the record was an unlikely path, but the band succeeded admirably. The intensity, heaviness, and schitzophrenic vocalizations were still there, but an ethereal sense seems to pervade the record. One of the most devastating, and simultaneously soothing records in recent memory.
3. Glassjaw - Worship and Tribute (Warner)
Like Eighteen Visions, Glassjaw moved into unfamiliar terrority with their second major label record. While not as flat out chaotic as Everything You Ever Wanted to Know..., Worship is a stunningly solid record, from one of the few major label metal/hardcore bands worth listening to.
4. As Friends Rust - A Young Trophy Band... (Equal Vision)
I know it's an EP, but the Rust once again demonstrated why they are one of my favourite bands; it's a bittersweet record, because vocalist Damien has left the band, choosing to end with one of his finest performances.
5. Jawbreaker - etc. (Blackball)
It's a rare thing for a B-sides album to make a list like this, to be honest, the majority of B-sides records are mostly curiousity fodder, more so than the daring, incredible collection was Etc. Of course, Jawbreaker is one of the most important and influential bands in this scene, so I'm not that surprised.
6. Lawrence Arms - Apathy and Exhaustion (Fat Wreck Chords)
After a few strong records, the Lawrence Arms makes their Fat debut one to remember. The dueling snotty/smooth vocals, the stellar production, and the memorable songwriting make for arguably the best record on Fat this year.
7. Consumed - Pistols at Dawn (Golf Records UK)
A major maturing for the formerly Fat, always British band. While not even released on this side of the ocean, which is our loss, Pistols at Dawn shows a powerful, darker side to the metal-tinged band. I hope that someone elects to release the album domestically, because it easily surpases their last full length, which was one of Fat's most memorable releases.
8. Killswitch Engage - Alive or Just Breathing (Roadrunner)
This is the other major label hardcore/metal band worth listening to.
9. Over It - Timing is Everything (Lobster)
Jordan from pastepunk.com reviewed this one, so check it out, because I couldn't say it better myself.
10. Thrice - The Illusion of Safety (Hopeless)
Everything good about hardcore, metal, punk and pop is in here. Everything bad isn't.
Bad Religion - The Process of Belief, Dillinger Escape Plan - Irony is a Dead Scene,
The Stereo - Rewind Record, Dillinger Four - Situationist Comedy, Common Rider - This
Is Unity Music, Mighty Mighty Bosstones - A Jackknife to a Swan, Sparta - Wiretap Scars,
Weezer - Maladroit
We also decided that there were a number of songs that we'd put on a mix tape, but which
were on albums which just weren't as perfect. Call this, Aubin's 2002 Mixtape.
1. Darkest Hour - An Epitaph (So Sedated So Secure)
2. Norma Jean - Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste (Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child)
3. Thursday - Jet Black New Year (Five Stories Falling)
4. You're So Last Summer - Taking Back Sunday (Tell All Your Friends)
5. Dillinger Four - Noble Stabbings (Situationist Comedy)
6. Get Up Kids - Overdue (On a Wire)
7. Common Rider - Firewall (This is Unity Music)
8. Lawrence Arms - Presenting the Dancing Machine (Uncontrollable Fatulence)
9. Dillinger Four - Noble Stabbings (Situationist Comedy)
10. Staring Back - Version 2.0 (On)
1. Jets to Brazil - You're The One I Want (Perfecting Loneliness)
2. Ben Kweller - Wasted and Ready (Sha Sha)
3. Weezer - Keep Fishin' (Maladroit)
4. All-American Rejects - The Last Song (Self-Titled)
5. Divit - William (Broadcaster)
6. Alkaline Trio - Queen of Pain (Alkaline Trio/Hot Water Music Split)
7. Brand New - Am I Wrong (Safety in Numbers Split)
8. Flogging Molly - What's Left Of This Flag (Drunken Lullabies)
9. Foo Fighters - All My Life (One By One)
10. The Stereo - Two Weeks Notice (Rewind Record)
TEAR-JERKING, PAINFUL, DISAPPOINTMENTS
Keep in mind that a disappointment doesn't necessarily mean a bad record, but that I had high hopes which sadly, weren't met by the record. (Well, Except for Gusto, which was in fact an awful record, for any band.)
1. Jets to Brazil - Perfecting Loneliness
2. IN*DK - Kill Whitey
3. Guttermouth - Gusto
4. Cave In - Tides of Tomorrow
5. Get Up Kids - On a Wire
To end the lists on a hopeful note, 2003 should be an incredible year, many, many new records to look forward to, including - but not limited to - NOFX, Thursday, The Weakerthans, Social Distortion, Rancid, The Descendents, Alkaline Trio, Further Seems Forever, Saves the Day, The International Noise Conspiracy. Let me just restress one of those. The Descendents are putting out another record.
JOE STRUMMER (1952-2002)
Finally, to end this piece, I wanted to write something about Joe Strummer. I wrote this bit five times. I usually don't have to scrap so many, but this is a staggeringly jarring and tragic event. In spite of the many great things that have happened, great music that has been released, and bands I was fortunate enough to see, this year will remain in my memory as the year Joe Strummer died.
Joe was the elder statesman of punk rock, while some of his contemporaries milked their past glories with every resurgence of punk into the mainstream, Joe was happy to leave the legacy of the Clash intact. He was content to write new music, move in new directions, and provide the kind of quiet dignity that we could only hope people would strive for. From his later work in the Clash, to his soundtracks, and his tracks with the Mescalaros, Joe was constantly moving in new directions, and pushing boundries.
As I sit here, listening to my copy of The Clash UK, I'm dumbfounded by how fresh, and new the music still sounds, even though everyone from Operation Ivy to Rancid to Kid Dynamite, to Alkaline Trio have taken inspiration from these songs. Even if you've never listened to the Clash, if you listen to this music, you've felt Joe's influence.
We have lost too many musicians these past years, Joey, Dee Dee, it goes on; the list is far too long. Thankfully, Joe left us a rich, dynamic body of work, and as bands decades from now quote the Clash as an influence, we'll still remember him fondly.