After the much anticipated check-in to ranking rehab, MEB staffers have composed themselves from the 2000 start-up and once again joined hands to discuss their top choices of 2001. Another year into the new millennium and another list of albums that helped mold our lives. So sit back and enjoy the latest chapter of MEB Ranks!
Jarrod Church’s #1 Album – Your Favorite Weapon by Brand New
I may receive some criticism for this remark, but 2001 was definitely “The Year of Averages.” Among the best of this moderate year was Brand New’s Your Favorite Weapon. This record definitely fit the mold of “post-breakup” music, but at the time I was introduced to it, it just seemed so right. Perhaps the reasoning is that I, myself was going through some of what vocalist Jesse Lacey was going through? Who knows? All I really know is that the album speaks to me; even today, many years later, the album still resonates. With all the changes that Brand New undertook over the past decade, the tracks seem to work wonders even after the fact that you’ve acknowledged all the hard work and progression. While the band has undoubtedly peaked into the stratosphere, Your Favorite Weapon still maintains a massive power over me each and every time I spin it.
Jason Gardner’s #1 Album – Full Collapse by Thursday
I felt at first that selecting Thursday’s post-hardcore masterpiece Full Collapse was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. How could it be though? It propelled the band upwards with jagged guitars, memorable songwriting and Geoff Rickly’s passionate vocal delivery. It honed in on the emotional state of Waiting and took it – and the genre – to another level, creating a legion of imitators looking to capture that same energy and cathartic nature in years to come. Thursday set their own stage for near superstardom, even so much as prompting some to consider them the next Nirvana. It was largely due to this record, putting on a display of songwriting that still hits just as hard to this day. An absolute essential to the genre, Full Collapse is a classic to our scene – regardless of where the band’s sound went after it.
Sebastian Fonseca’s #1 Album – Gorillaz by Gorillaz
The first record I ever bought came along at the perfect time with the perfect theme. Gorillaz were always more than just a band (for starters they weren’t); they were a project. Their visuals quickly captured my attention, but they had more than that. The music is a collection of different sounds that covered various genres of music. The sounds explored ranged from trip-hop (“New Genious”), to lo-fi (“Punk”), to Latin music (“Latin Simone”). To this day I return to this record and am amazed at how complex some of the tracks are, but most of all I’m amazed at how well everything is executed. It is music that could only come from a seasoned veteran, and Blur‘s Damon Albarn fit the role perfectly. If Radiohead‘s Kid A represented a sense of apprehension towards the new millennium, then Gorillaz represented those who took it head on. Happily complying with its excess, but never falling victim to it.
Landon Defever’s #1 Album – Room For Squares by John Mayer
I recently had the opportunity to re-listen to John Mayer’s Room for Squares on vinyl. You know what that means, music lovers: an entire reincarnation of the feelings that were originally bestowed during my first listen. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Room for Squares provided the groundwork for Mayer’s initial success with singles “No Such Thing” and “Your Body Is a Wonderland.” While those tracks are great on their own merits, it’s the vibe of the album as a whole that allows it to soar. Some of the album’s deep cuts, like “83,” “3×5” and personal favorite “St. Patrick’s Day” show a different side of Mayer: passionate, intimate and all around genuine. While Mayer’s music has changed over time, it’s his debut LP that will always stand above the rest. And that is what truly makes the artist worthwhile.
Jacob Testa’s #1 Album – Set This Circus Down by Tim McGraw
Growing up, country was the genre that I listened to most. While this has changed quite a bit over the past decade, I still listen to this record on a fairly regular basis, and consider it to be one of the best to ever come out of the genre. 14 tracks of excellent songwriting covering topics like love, heartbreak, sin, and more, this is a well-written album in all respects. “Angel Boy” has remained one of my favorite songs since its release as a single more than ten years ago. From the more restrained sound of tracks like opener “The Cowboy in Me” and “You Get Used to Somebody” to the bigger “Things Change,” this record has something for any mood. I know that country isn’t something most around MEB are familiar with, but this is the album that could change that if given a chance. In any case, it’s my favorite from 2001, and certainly one of the year’s best.
Tim Dodderidge’s #1 Album – Iowa by Slipknot
If Slipknot’s 1999 self-titled debut proved anything, it was that no one played metal as hostile or, just from seeing their horror flick-inspired appearance, as scarily. These eight natives of Des Moines, Iowa went where no other band could, or would dare to go. Two years later, they would prove that their self-titled album was practically a petty excuse for where they would find themselves in 2001. Iowa, the follow-up to their unrefined debut, is a dark, vicious, scalding musical slaughterhouse, butchering any instance of hope in sight and replacing it with pure anger. Dense tracks like “Disasterpiece” see vocalist Corey Taylor stutter his way past deep guitar slashes and death metal-like drum hits, while other tracks like “My Plague” and “The Heretic Anthem” somehow place melody into the band’s diabolical approach. The rage encapsulated within the 14 tracks of this record may never be matched again. Just ask the band themselves; they nearly died in the recording process. And boy, would that have been terrible.
Nick Moffitt’s #1 Album – Lateralus by Tool
Amidst a hard blend of progressive, art, and math rock, Tool’s Lateralus is a masterpiece of intense proportions. Clocking in at just under 80 minutes and encompassing songs mostly over seven minutes, a listener has to be ready to experience this record. The band brings in the smart listener by using complex instrumentation, significant switches in time signatures and incredible prowess with songs that are essentially meditative thoughts through hard rock. An example of this is on the title track “Lateralus” as Tool use mathematical formulas to create a Fibonacci sequence to “spiral out” as vocalist Maynard James Keenan beckons to reach out for the infinity. Maynard continually writes about personal salvation and spirituality through the self by confronting deep thoughts and questions. Yet still, for someone uninterested in these things, Lateralus simply rocks. Danny Carey is one of the best drummers in the world and his strength here is unparalleled. The album has everything you could want with hard rock as it still transcends genres and breaks new ground in music history.
Kaitlin Nichols’ #1 Album – Discovery by Daft Punk
Discovery was Daft Punk’s 2001 sophomore follow-up to 1997’s debut Homework, a refreshing new blend of techno and house that helped to redefine electronic music. With the release of Discovery, many critics found it differed too much from Homework and dismissed it or even panned it. Years later, for retrospective reviews (such as this one), critics ate their words and praised Discovery in all its disco-robotic glory. For me, this album characterized the better part of my middle and high school years. I started off every morning with “One More Time” and ended every day with “Too Long,” while studying Calculus to “Aerodynamic” and “Veridis Quo” in between. This album is not track after track of the same old EDM; each song has a vastly different sound and feel. This is easily my favorite album of 2001, and has remained the album to which I compare all other electronic albums.
Megan Ammer #1 Album – All Killer, No Filler by Sum 41
All Killer, No Filler forced its way into the new millennium, shocking just about everyone. It wasted no time gaining commercial popularity, selling three million copies worldwide and securing a chart-topping hit, “Fat Lip.” This album made Sum 41 a household name and established their presence. However, the mentioned successes are not the reason this album holds my affection. Its ability to be blunt and descriptive is interesting and admirable. Their coverage on topics like society and self-hatred collided, creating something relatable and new. Their most important element allowed for the realization that they weren’t perfect, or anywhere near it, but established their lack of forgiveness. That fearless attitude in this album – and the nonexistence of privacy – continues to give fans something to look up to. I just think Sum 41 could not have picked a more creative – and angrier – way to make a debut.
Stephen Young’s #1 Album Choice: Jane Doe by Converge
In 2001, I was 9 years old. At the time, I listened to this really cool tape my parents got. It was songs about animals and them doing real human stuff. It was the best. Anyways, 11 years later, 2001’s second best album (after whatever that really rad animal album) is Converge‘s Jane Doe. Already a band with over a decade of experience behind them, during which they released cult favourites such as 1994’s Petitioning the Empty Sky and 1998’s When Forever Comes Crashing, Jane Doe is widely credited as being the band’s signature piece. But what is Jane Doe? It isn’t a metal album and it’s definitely not a hardcore record. It’s the perfect in-between, a classic metalcore album. “Nah dude, they’re mathcore”. Shut up. Just shut up, mathcore doesn’t exist. There’s a very short list of heavy songs that are more moving than the album’s title track, and an even shorter list of singers who can convey emotion like vocalist Jacob Bannon’s does when he’s singing out coming out on the wrong end of a relationship. It’s damn near one of the best breakup records ever recorded, and songs like Concubine, Phoenix in Flames and Bitter and Then Some are proof of that. Bitter, sad, angry and aggressive, Bannon’s vocals and lyrics are as spot on as could be. But like every Converge record, it would be nothing without extremely underrated guitarist Kurt Ballou’s single guitar assault. Using a plethora of amps, cabs and guitars to create a the signature “Converge sound”, Ballou’s fretwork is simply a step (or 5) above the rest of the hardcore scene. Simply put, if you listen to heavy music and you’ve never listened to Jane Doe, or you’ve listened and aren’t in love, then there’s simply something wrong with you.