The Monthly Hitlist:
December 2002
5 ALBUMS

BLACK DICE – BEACHES & CANYONS (DFA)
Just because producers DFA have worked with Radio 4 and The Rapture, don't expect their latest protégés, Brooklyn's Black Dice, to show equal regard for the funk. Beaches & Canyons is some out there experimental shit, black-white noise that makes Liars sound like N-Sync. Do I like it? I'm not sure; I certainly couldn't ignore it.


KOUFAX – SOCIAL LIFE (Vagrant)
Four mid-westerners who openly cite Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello among their influences. Maybe it's just a sign of the times then that I can hear the sound of the Strokes more prominently – especially on the title track and 'Younger Body'. Most interesting though is a 'Love Cats'–like disregard for conventional tempos and rhythms, a Cure comparison which is emphasized by the very Robert Smith-ish vocal 'yelp' on 'Break It Off.'


MENTHOL – DANGER: ROCK SCIENCE! (Hidden Agenda)
The 80s revival has been in full swing in the dance scene all year long, but Menthol take the trend a step further, reviving the rockist pretentions of The Fixx and the arty doodlings of Thomas Dolby as well as the more visceral post-punk energy of The Psychedelic Furs. It seems a little belated an addition to the electroclash trend – until you find that Menthol originally recorded this album years ago for Capitol, who dropped them because, back then, new wave was old hat. Freed from their major label deal, but left without the masters, Menthol re-recorded Danger: Rock Science – at reputedly just 1% the cost of the original. Don't you love these stories?


SYBARITE – NONUMENT (4AD)
If Black Dice is too disconcerting for your taste (as it appears to be for mine), try fellow Brooklynite Xian Hawkins' debut album as Sybarite. It's hardly easy listening, but his jazz-tronic experimental cinematica is of a lower volume and at a more restive tempo. 'Water' even has a proper beat and actual vocals, while the Oliver Vaughan sleeve is more beautiful than most he's designed – and that's saying something.


THIRD DIMENSION – PROTECT US FROM WHAT WE WANT (Telegraph)
Does it matter that this album was first released in 1998 (but has been virtually unavailable until now)? No. And it reminds us that before garage rock took hold, Sweden was better known for bands like The Wannadies, who followed Abba's grand tradition of great pop. Third Dimension sound like they've been transported from the early days of baggy shoegazing Britpop, when Blur's first album was considered as good as it gets. (And it was good, too.) Throw in some classic sixties harmonies, the blistering guitars of 'Never In A Lifetime', the euphoric pop of 'Other Side Of Town,' the symphonic strings of 'Yes Equals No,' and add the fact that B Stegman's voice is an absolute ringer for Damon Albarn's, and this is not only perhaps the best Swedish rock album released in America in 2002, but it's a perfect substitute for the absence of good Blur records these days.

5 SONGS

FREEDOM - J. MASCIS (wish the album was all this good)
MAGAZINES – DUNCAN SHEIK (ditto)
LOVER I DON'T HAVE TO LOVE – BRIGHT EYES (
REAL LIFE – AUDIO BULLYS
CATCH – LEAVES

5 BEST-OFS

JOHN COLTRANE – LEGACY (Impulse)
The occasional perk of the job: a friend in high places who decides I have to own a beautifully packaged 4-CD box set, complete with copious sleeve notes, compiling much of the best music by one of the world's great jazz artists. Complain? Not me. His Sunday brunch version of 'My Favorite Things' aside, this is music I'll be listening to in my pensionable years – assuming I get that far.


LAIKA – LOST IN SPACE VOLUME ONE (1993-2002) (Beggars US)
With just three albums in ten years, you might wonder the need for a retrospective by one of the most delightfully indefinable bands out there (in space), but Laika get the balance right on this double pack. CD 1, presumably for the uninitiated, features selected episodes from the story so far, while CD 2 features rarities for the fans, of which the Jack Dangers mix of 'Looking for the Jackalope' and Peel session rendition of the haunting yet hilarious 'Badtimes' are just two highlights.


NIRVANA – NIRVANA (Geffen)
A no-brainer.


RIDE – OX4_THE BEST OF (The First Time)
They're back! (Perhaps: there's talk of a reunion and they collaborated on compiling this set.) They're back in vogue! (Maybe: The Story of Creation did much to bolster their forgotten reputation; then again, this double pack has emerged on a hitherto unknown American indie as opposed to former label Sire.) They sound better than ever! Ah, that much is indisputable. When, in launching iJamming! two years ago, I wrote about Ride's debut album Nowhere as a 'Forgotten Classic', I commented, "the production quality is clearly lacking". Maybe it was just the mastering at fault, because this Best Of features the same wonderful tracks as showed up on early Ride releases Smile and Nowhere (e.g. 'Vapour Trail', 'Chelsea Girl') but sounding unquestionably bigger and brighter - and certainly as enervating as ever. A bonus CD throws in four "unreleased" cuts of which the drum shuffle on 'She's So Fine' is worth isolating and sampling a la Stone Roses 'Fools Gold.' (Whoops, that was already isolated and sampled, from James Brown.) Those who've been curious about Ride all these years should just take the risk and put the money down: the occasional late-era disaster aside, this is music that's aged well. Superb sleeve notes by Andy Perry help make this a near perfect package.


U2 – THE BEST OF 1990-2000 (Interscope/Island)
You can't argue with some of their second-decade singles: 'Mysterious Ways,' 'Beautiful Day,' 'Numb' and 'Even Better Than The Real Thing' sound as vibrant as anything they recorded in their twenties. Still, new songs 'Electrical Storm' and 'The Hands That Built America' are but a patch on the last album All That You Can't Leave Behind, and new mixes of Pop's weaker moments do little to bolster them. One to burn the best of and leave the rest behind.

5 EPS

CHEMICAL BROTHERS – AMERICAN EP (Astralwerks)
'American' as in it's unavailable elsewhere (for once), this end-of-year EP rounds up five music tracks (including both an unreleased remix of 'Star Guitar' and a manic live version) and videos both for that song and 'The Test.' A stocking filler rather than an essential purchase.

FATBOY SLIM – ILLUMINATI/CAMBER SANDS/THE PIMP (Astralwerks)
Three EPs here in fact, each in imitation 45 RPM sleeves and with over 45 minutes of music, balancing one new track with five remixes from the Halfway Between The Gutter and the Stars album. Though the new tracks sound too much like leftovers from the studio sessions, the EPs still provide a user-friendly, low-budget option for those of us tired of hunting down 12" mixes in expensive import mode. My faves: 'Drop the Hate,' both by Santo and the, ahem, Rev H Libdo and The Progressive Baptist Choir of Stockholm, the Chemical Brothers remix of 'Song For Shelter,' and, closing out the Camber Sands EP (the best of the three), the instrumental version of 'Weapon Of Choice', which takes on a whole new dimension without Bootsy Collins' vocals - and Christopher Walken's moves.

HOTSOCKY – LOVE SICK (hotsocky.com)
The title track shows, yet again, how immense has been the influence of one particularly successful New York band on the rest of Gotham – and if you don't believe me, visit the band's site and download it for free.

THE RAVEONETTES – WHIP IT ON (Crunchy Frog)
Yet more Swedish garage punk? Yes, yet more Swedish garage punk. The duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo recall nothing so much as the Jesus and Mary Chain filtered through the Nuggets back catalogue. It isn't saying anything remotely new, but it says it with feedbacked, fuzzed-out charm all the same.

STELLASTARR* - SOMEWHERE ACROSS FOREVER (Tiswas)
Thankfully, the 3-song debut lives up to promise – while maintaining the exuberant chaos that marks the quartet's furious live sets. 'No Weather's' a winner on the dance floor too.

5 MIX CDS

ROB DA BANK – RDB 01 (TrustTheDj.Com)
Co-host of Radio 1's Saturday morning chill-out show The Blue Room, Rob compiles the kind of techno-influenced, dub-heavy, dream-hazy ambient dance album that Astralwerks was releasing in its infancy a decade ago. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. (Only available online.)


SVEN VATH and RICHIE HAWTIN – THE SOUND OF THE THIRD SYSTEM (Mute)
Read live review


MICKEY FINN – DRUM'N'BASS MIX (DMC)
Drum'n'bass is not my most favored genre, which means it took me a while to give this a spin. Once I did, I came to re-appreciate the music's technical imagination, and to give Mickey Finn due credit, he's trying to break the sound's barriers.


MISS BLISS - BREAKS FM
Miss Bliss is a New Yorker so devoted to the breaks scene she hosts her own Big-Apple-Breaks site, both to promote events and showcase talent. You can visit either that site or her own to get an idea of the friendly funk she puts down on this unreleased compilation. Matt Hanrahan of Kingsize-USA wanted to know a good wine for Miss Bliss and her breaks: I'd recommend a fresh and fruity and roughly-hewned New York blend, the Claret d'Alvah for a red, and Potato Barn for white.


TREVOR JACKSON – PARTY MIX # 1 (Play Group, unreleased)
British DJ/producer/remixer Trevor Jackson compresses at least two tracks a minute into this one hour party CD, which would have made for such a headache attempting legal clearances that you can't blame him for keeping distribution private. (Though with CD burners so prevalent, it's equally unsurprising that a copy ended up in my hands.) Jackson's intention may be primarily to entertain, but there's a history lesson taking place here as well: by blending Grandmaster Flash and Tears for Fears, Chic and Fun Boy 3, Donna Summer and Delta 45, Pigbag and Spoonie Gee, B-52's and the Slits, Kraftwerk and Blondie, Yello and A Certain Ratio, he gathers up the various strands of the whole intercontinental post-punk funk-disco-electro-hip-hop scene, and ties it into a knot so tight that someone like me – who grew up loving some of the aforementioned artists, yet disparaging or unaware of others – finally gets the picture. Though not as anarchic as 2 Many DJs – blame the computerized segues and the Stars on 45 back beat – it lives up to title: guessing each track as it briefly appears is an ideal game for a late night soiree.

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What's new in iJamming!...
(Last updated
Wed, Feb 26, 2003 8:29 pm)

THE DECEMBER HITLIST:
5x5:
5 ALBUMS, EPs, MIX CDS, COMPILATIONS and SONGS to get you through the end of the year
the iJamming! Book Review
WHY TERRORISM WORKS
by Alan Dershowitz
CABERNET FRANC
The 'Other' Cabernet Grape Takes Root In New York
Part 1: The Basics/Regions
Part 2: New York Wines
Part 3: Loire Wines
Part 4: Conclusions
The November Hitlist
30 Albums 10 Songs
HOW MUCH WILL IT HURT?:
Ten tips for the marathon virgin.Or...How to enjoy an exercise in maoschism.
FEATURED ALBUM:
TOM PETTY/HEARTBREAKERS
The Last DJ
FEATURED WINE:
Château d'Oupia Minervois 20001
Featured Mix CD:
Mixed Live: 2nd Sessions by Carl Cox
From the Jamming! Archives: The Jam
Interviewed in 1979
The iJamming! Interview: UNDERWORLD
"I got it in my head that I was going to die in a cheesy hotel room covered in cat's piss." NOW WITH LIVE PHOTOS
Coming and Going
Chapter 3: The Palace
The iJamming! Interview
RICHARD BUTLER Part 2
From the Jamming! Archives: Adam Ant
Interviewed in 1978

REMARKS REMADE :
Available Now!
The introduction to the new edition of my R.E.M. biography is here.

A Decade In Dance
BT & BANCO DE GAIA
10 Years (Apiece)
The October Hitlist
30 Albums 10 Songs
HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT
The whole Bloody 1990s cataloge
Last of The Summer Rosês:
Goats Do Roam, Vin Gris de Cigare and Rose of Virginia.
DID BIN LADEN WIN?
10 Reasons To Fear The Worst
From the Jamming! Archives:
PAUL WELLER
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
LEVI'S STROKES EARS
New York's rock'n'roll rescuers play Lowlife - loudly
LUNA at SOUTHPAW
Local legends and international influence come home to party
THE AUGUST HITLIST:
28 Albums Rocking Our World
THE TWO ARE ALRIGHT:
The Who at Madison Square Garden
AREA 2:
A wash-out
24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE
The Movie
The Party
THE HOOTENANNY REVUE REVIEW:
Cedell Davis, Tuatara, and The Minus 5 atthe Knitting Factory
WILSON PICKETT:
Still 'A Man And A Half'
THE JULY HITLIST
30 Albums, 5 Songs, 5 books and a handful of movies
TIMOTHY WHITE
An obituary by Chris Charlesworth
The REZILLOS:
Back On The (Flying Saucer) Attack
THE JUNE HITLIST
30 Albums, 10 Songs, 5 books and a handful of movies.
MAY MUSINGS
Eight Days in A Week's Music:
Ed Harcourt, Vines, Candy Butchers, Timo Maas, Ashley Casselle & Adam Freeland, Aerial Love Feed, and enough little club nights to shake several sticks at.
LONDON MUSING
Tony's (lengthy) trip down nostalgia lane from his visit home at the end of April. Stop-offs include Death Disco, old Jamming! Magazines, life-long friendships, road trips to Brighton, Damilola Taylor and political frustration, Morrissey-Marr, Zeitgeist, Oasis, Dexys, Primal Scream, the current British music scene and more.
The iJamming! interview:
CARL COX
"'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.'"
GOLDEN SHOT
hostess 'Lee Patrick' recalls her time as Keith Moon's amour
HEDONISM:
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:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
The iJAMMING! interview:
DAVID SYLVIAN
"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:
MARK PERRY

"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
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
TRAVIS.
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:
LLOYD COLE
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"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."
The full iJamming! Contents