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What's in iJamming! Music
Wed, Jul 7, 2004
From the Jamming! Archives:
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
The iJamming! interview:
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
The Best Of 2001
Tony Fletcher's Top Albums, Songs, Concerts, and Books
Strange Currencies:
R.E.M. at Carnegie Hall
In his room:
Brian Wilson at the Festival Hall
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
Latest album reviews
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
The full iJamming! Contents
Tony Fletcher's
BEST OF 2001
The Best of 2001: Albums Songs Concerts Books

During 2001 I listened to a lot of albums, I saw a fair amount of concerts - considerably more than most 37-year olds - and I wrote a lot of reviews and comments about both. But music, at least new music, didn't dominate my life the way it has done in previous years. For me, the first half of 2001 was more about getting on with my own projects, which included a period upstate working on Hedonism, where I listened primarily to instrumental music because it didn't interfere with the writing process; and where I shunned entirely the 'must-see' attitude that makes the New York City gig scene both enormous fun and thoroughly exhausting. As a result, I don't mind admitting to being behind the curve when it came to the buzz surrounding new acts like the Strokes, White Stripes, Starsailor, Peaches etc. And yet, while I agree that these acts all made exciting records that kept the underground bubbling nicely, I can't put hand on heart and claim they made the best records of the year. That said, 2002 is shaping up to be an interesting year, given the preponderance of 80s sounds that are showing up across the underground musical spectrum. Whether it's electro fueling Felix da Housecat and Luke Slater, synth pop as glorified by The Faint, or the scratchy post-punk guitar sound as revived by New York bands like Radio 4, there's a cheerful 'anything-goes' playfulness at work in new music right now

Still, much of that's in the future. For me, 2001 was a comforting year in that many of my most beloved acts returned, some after considerable absences and disappointing prior releases, with emphatically good albums. Though they may not be the most original records of the year, they still dominate my top 10. Familiarity, I accept, breeds content.

Tony Fletcher, February 5 2002.
(in alphabetical order)

THE AVALANCHES - Since I Left You (Modular/Sire)

My initial press copy arrived via the publicist's home burner, with five-second gaps between each song instead of the intended continually mixed format. Talk about losing the focus, because the real product was something else entirely: a mind blowing musical journey through every era and genre of sound from the last thirty years, sampled, cut up and re-compiled with the kind of inspired exuberance that you always hope a bunch of hip-hop fanatics from somewhere as remote as Melbourne, Australia might come up with. Much of it was humorous - 'Frontier Psychiatrist' in particular came close to novelty status - but it was all done with considerable love and great skill. For an album with barely an original note on it, this was the most innovative release of the year.

I love the Charlatans both on record and in concert, but some of my loyalty over the years has been driven by an over-riding love of the band as people; I certainly wouldn't claim that their every album has been a classic. 'Wonderland', however, comes damn close, finding the Madchester scene's lone survivors, a full decade on, at their most soulful and melodic, and yet still ready to rock out when the will takes them. 'Judas' and 'Love Is The Key' are a perfect balance of beats and balls, the instrumental 'The Bell and the Butterfly' would serve the Chemical Brothers proud, and 'A Man Needs to Be Told' and 'And If I Fall' are surely the two most tender songs they've ever composed. A group possibly still about to peak. Read my 'Post-9/11' review.
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN - Flowers (SpinArt USA, Cooking Vinyl UK)

As I've explained elsewhere on this site, I'd stopped expecting anything more than mediocrity from Mac and Will, given the disappointments of their individual and collective work throughout the nineties; imagine my surprise then to find their retreat to an indie label resulting in their best work since 'Ocean Rain.' It's neither immediately accessible nor typically confident - in fact, songs like 'Hide and Seek,' 'Buried Alive' and the title track are full of uncharacteristic regret - but 'Flowers' grows steadily until it blooms into a beautiful acceptance of middle age. There's life in these buggers yet.
MINT ROYALE - On The Ropes Universal

My year end list always needs a dumb dancefloor record to satisfy the neanderthal in me. Not to denigrate the considerable production skills of the Mint Royale duo, but for all that On The Ropes has its quality vocal compositions - the Dusty Springfield like feminine pop of 'Don't Falter' and the De La Soul-fronted throwback 'Show Me' - its greatest asset is its relentless booty-shaking, sample taking, genre-bending exuberance. The exhilarating mid-album run of 'Because I'm Worth It,' 'Take It Easy' and 'Shake Me' rivals any sequence by Fatboy Slim, the Wiseguys, Propellerheads and co. Its UK release was in '99, which might explain its inactivity in the States. The last of the great big beat albums? Read my full SonicNet review. (Warning: might crash Netscape!)
MOREL - Queen Of The Highway Yoshitoshi

If you want to hear how the techno-house dance floor is incorporating the best of 80's new wave and disco, you could turn to Felix da Housecat's 'Kittenz and thee Glitz', but if you want that musical melange and some serious songwriting out of the modern/indie-rock school, then Morel's your man. Though he's a primarily a dancefloor artist, Morel understands the value of words, verse, structure and arrangements. As such, and given the absence of new albums by Moby, BT and Underworld in 2001, I thought 'Queen of the Highway' was certain to be a crossover hit. With its re-release in January 2002, hoping it still finds time.
NEW ORDER - Get Ready Warner Brothers

We had no reason to expect New Order's comeback after eight years in the wilderness to be this good. After all, the band has long made its money, the members are notoriously lazy, and besides, hadn't they actually split up after Republic? There, perhaps, you have the difference between New Order and their former northern peers (and touring partners) Echo & The Bunnymen: while the latter played havoc with their sacred band name (and the front man went solo), New Order hid their side-projects behind other monikers: Electronic, Monaco, The Other Two. When they returned to the studio after but modest success with these different entities, there was therefore nothing in the actual band's own past to be embarrassed about. Pounding the guitars harder and the synths quieter than at almost any point in 20+ years together, New Order are having fun on Get Ready, and they want you to know it. "I don't want the world to change, I like the way it is, just give me one more wish, I can't get enough of this," sings Bernard Sumner on 'Rock The Shack.' "We're having the time of our lives, we're lost in a cool paradise," he regales on 'Someone Like You,' and the closing words, from 'Run Wild,' should be written on the group's gravestone: "I'm going to live till I die. I'm going to live to get high." Compare these to the Bunnymen's maudlin acceptance of reduced status on Flowers and, though they're both fine albums and complement each other. it's clear which band is happier.
ORBITAL - The Altogether ffrr-London

For their sixth album, Phil and Paul Hartnoll loosened up considerably, got creative with samples (Tool, Ian Dury, the Cramps), brought in outside vocalists (David Gray for 'Illuminate', Naomi Bedford for 'Funny Break') and as much as anything, had some good old-fashioned fun (the 12-bar skiffle electro of 'Waving Not Drowning,' the overdue commitment to album of the Doctor Who theme). Personally I thought it was their most exciting and enjoyable album in years, but I seem to have been in the minority. Interestingly, Fatboy Slim took the opposite route in the year 2000, from frivolity to sincerity, and encountered an equally muted response. So much for allowing our artists creative freedom. Read my full SonicNet review
SIGUR RóS - Ágætis Byrjun PIAS

Though discovered by most critics soon after its 1999 release in Iceland, I only heard 'Ágætis Byrjun' upon its US unleashing in 2001, a loss that affected my enjoyment of it not one iota. Unbelievably mature for a band just entering their twenties, 'Ágætis Byrjun,' with its crests and valleys in lieu of verses and choruses, its orchestral accompaniments and tonal washes in place of conventional rhythms, and singer Jon Thor Birgisson's guttural intonations, (sometimes Icelandic, sometimes invented) in place of the usual English vocals, came closer to re-inventing the musical wheel than anything else I heard all year. In concert, Sigur Rós are dark and dour, funereal even, but I found I could write to this album, I could drive to this album, I could sing along to this album, I could jump up and down to it, and I could damn well cry to it too. I won't forget those glorious Friday evenings driving back down to New York City from Woodstock as the trees glistened under a setting sun, with the likes of 'Olsen Olsen' and 'Flugufelsarinn' blasting from the car speakers and everything seeming right with the world.
SPIRITUALIZED - Let It Come Down Arista

The album Jason Pierce has spent his whole life working towards, 'Let It Come Down' is that rare record that justifies the term 'epic'. As much as a triumph of scope and ambition, it is perfectly sequenced, commencing where the last album 'Ladies and Gentlemen' left off, in hefty space-rock mood, moving onto powerful psychedelia that allows for self-mocking couplets ("The only time I'm drink and drug free is when I get my drink and drugs for free" cracks me up every time), slowing down for some romantically painful ballads ('Didn't Mean To Hurt You,' 'Stop Your Crying') and finally seeking solace from above, aided by a full gospel choir and 100-piece orchestra for 'Won't Get To Heaven (The State I'm In)' and the phenomenal revision of Spacemen 3's 'Lord Can You Hear Me.' A majestic album in every sense and probably my record of the year.
SUGARCULT - Start Static Ultimatum

Start Static is not as original or deep an album as many of my also-rans, and I probably won't be listening to it in five years, but I like to include at least one pure power-pop album in my Top 10 Lists, if only because the genre brings me so much short-term pleasure. Los Angeles quartet Sugarcult's debut maintains a visceral joie de vivre from the 1 minute, 45 seconds blast of the opening 'You're The One' through the appropriate if inadvertently-worded chorus of 'Stuck In America,' the delightful Green Day-like 'Bouncing off The Walls' and on to its moody finale, 'I Changed My Name.' Some roughening round the edges and Sugarcult would surely be filed alongside the Strokes in more ways than alphabetical. Read my 'Post-9/11' review.
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