1. The Shins, Oh, Inverted World (Sub Pop). A dream that all of this might be worth believing.
2. Destroyer, Streethawk: a Seduction (Misra). New Pornographers' songwriter makes urgent, elegiac legends out of mere myths.
3. Les Savy Fav, Go Forth (Frenchkiss). Like watching a French film with Japanese subtitles, listening to a tragic opera, reading crime fiction, hydroplaning down a rainy interstate, and chewing gum all at the same time.
4. The White Stripes, White Blood Cells (Sympathy for the Record Industry). Nobody writes songs this good for their sister; that's all I'm saying.
5. Flaming Stars, Ginmill Perfume: The Story So Far 1995-2000 (Alternative Tentacles). What Elvis was to cool, what Shane McGowan is to drunken eloquence, what the barroom floor is to the garage door.
6. Love as Laughter, Sea to Shining Sea (Sub Pop). Ballsy and sprawling, or in other words, true to form. It could've just been called Destination 2001.
7. Clinic, Internal Wrangler (Domino). The soundtrack for deciding that you don't give a shit.
8. The New Year, Newness Ends (Touch and Go). Close your eyes and pretend that it's the follow-up to Seam's Pace is Glacial.
9. The Clean, Getaway (Merge). New Zealand's olde-time indie-pop zealots defy the odds of diminishing returns.
10. Love, Forever Changes—2001 deluxe edition original recording remastered with extra tracks (Rhino). "I could be in love with almost everyone" -Love, 1967.
1. Rocket from the Crypt, Group Sounds (Vagrant). Completely unforeseen, 180-degree turnaround for James Brown's bastard offspring.
2. Rainer Maria, A Better Version of Me (Polyvinyl). Criminally underrated trio has squeezed pretense out of poetry for years.
3. Thursday, Full Collapse (Victory). Perfect hardcore marriage of accessibility and discordance; it'll hurt when they blow up next year.
4. Curve, Gift (Hip-O/Universal). Toni Halliday's eye snot is sexier than anything about Shirley Manson.
5. New End Original, Thriller (Jade Tree). Aorta and ventricles all over the sleeves, but incredibly fun.
6. Minus The Bear, This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic EP (Suicide Squeeze). Anti-emo tribute to naughty tavern Betties, complete with staggering breakdowns.
7. Juno, A Future Lived in Past Tense (De Soto). More explosive short stories from a band that could kill you in a small room.
8. Vaz, Demonstrations in Micronesia (Load Records). Two-man Minnesota noise-core wrecking ball.
9. Tool, Lateralus (Volcano). Soundtrack to a state-pen shower room obliterates all mainstream metal challengers but can't trump Aenima.
10. Le Tigre, Feminist Sweepstakes (Mr. Lady). Kathleen Hanna's Lateralus; poignant disco swagger is so-so only among her own collection.
1. The Shins, Oh, Inverted World (Sub Pop). Simply perfect—or at least as close as anything got this year. If "New Slang" doesn't blow your socks off, you don't deserve to have ears, period. We will never doubt New Mexico's musical value again.
2. Sigur Ros, Aegatis Byrjun (Pias). Not quite the Second Coming it was deemed to be, but once the initial disappointment wears off, an album of shimmering, otherworldly beauty emerges, and dumb hyperbolists are forgiven.
3. Beta Band, Hot Shots II (Astralwerks). They seemed to have dropped off the cool radar since their 3 EPs glory days, but Hot Shots should have received way more attention for its ability to make tweaked-out folk-hop a viable genre.
4. White Stripes, White Blood Cells (Sympathy for the Record Industry). Resistance is futile. As visceral, heart-pounding, and hip-shaking as anything to come out of a Detroit garage (or proximity thereof) in who knows how long. Plus, they're even better live.
5. Club 8, Club 8 (Hidden Agenda). Salty tears never tasted sweeter. So quiet it's almost a whisper, this Swedish duo's heartbreaking collection is tailor-made for those with suicidal tendencies—and that's a compliment.
6. Trembling Blue Stars, Alive to Every Smile (Sub Pop). A companion piece to Club 8 (see above), except British. Not too many smiles to be had, but the frowns are so much better, you won't care.
7. Bj�/B>, Vespertine (Elektra). A slow grower. Its delicate, ice-crystal beauty took a while to seep in, but this most personal and subdued Bj�release yet is a quiet treasure.
8. Solex, Low Kick and Hard Bop (Matador). A total child's play beats fun house from the girl with the best record collection in Amsterdam. Not the deepest release of 2001, but proof that pastiche still has plenty of life in it.
9. Incredible Moses Leroy, Electric Pocket Radio (Ultimatum). Why did no one buy this record? Total pop/rock/electro/R&B abandon, without falling into any of the usual traps that follow rampant genre mixing. The most buoyant and goddamn catchy record since whenever, and you missed it.
10. For standout single, a four-way tie among Aaliyah's "We Need a Resolution (Aaliyah, Blackground); Daft Punk's "One More Time" (Discovery, Virgin); Outkast's "So Fresh So Clean'" (Stankonia, LaFace); and Ludacris' "Southern Hospitality" (from Back for the First Time, Def Jam).
Honorable Mention: Built to Spill, Ancient Melodies of the Future; Spoon, Girls Can Tell; Alicia Keys, Songs in A Minor; the Strokes, Is This It; Carissa's Wierd, You Should Be at Home Here; Sparklehorse, It's a Wonderful Life; Zero 7, Simple Things; Destiny's Child, Survivor.
1. Kleenex/ Liliput, Kleenex/ Liliput (Kill Rock Stars). The reissue of the complete works of these underheard Swiss girl punks easily ranks as the year's happiest surprise.
2. The Strokes, Modern Age EP (Rough Trade). The hype doesn't makes sense if you listen to the poorly produced Is This It LP, but it made perfect sense when these three songs were all anyone knew.
3. Ladybug Transistor, Argyle Heir (Merge). Their live show was a snooze, but this is a studio band; orchestral pop doesn't get much lovelier than this record.
4. Ladytron, "604" (Emperor Norton). Ugly people rejoice! Here's the record that makes everyone feel like a runway model.
5. White Stripes, White Blood Cells (Sympathy for the Record Industry). No, they're not rock 'n' roll's saviors, but they sure are righteous.
6. Edith Frost, Wonder Wonder (Drag City). Frost's so charming that even her tales of heartbreak and woe elicit smiles.
7. The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious (Burning Heart) Sure, this came out at the end of 2000, but that doesn't stop it from being this year's best punk blast. God bless Sweden!
8. V/A, Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts From the British Empire and Beyond 1964-1969 (Rhino). The event of the year for obsessive record-collector types. Losers the world over are already clamoring for the Nuggets III set.
9. Detroit Cobras, Live Love & Leaving (Sympathy for the Record Industry). The only 2001 release I owned that my ex snatched when I moved out. I can't really blame her.
10. Clinic, Internal Wrangler (Domino). They may well be a one-trick pony, but it's a pretty nifty trick nonetheless.
1. Eddie Henderson, Oasis (Sirocco Jazz). A savior in the desert of jazz detachment, with progressive chops and feeling.
2. David S. Ware, Corridors & Parallels (AUM Fidelity). Matt Shipp abuses a '70s-era synthesizer while the tenor brawler pours out a free jazz rapture.
3. Marty Ehrlich, Song (Enja). Another chamber-jazz recital of graceful, deliberate power from Downtown's premier woodwind blower.
4. LAND, Road Movies (First World). Local electro-acoustic quintet takes its ambient grooves to the pavement, with killing results.
5. Marcus Miller, M2 (Telarc). A guilty pleasure worth paying the penance for, as the bass star gets jazz and funk doing the nasty like they were always meant to.
6. Don Byron, More Music for Six Musicians: You Are #6 (Blue Note). Latin-jazz receives an unexpected jolt from the chameleon clarinetist.
7. Craig Taborn Trio, Light Made Lighter (Thirsty Ear). Young sideman steps forward with a fiercely creative piano trio date, impatient with the tradition it respects, like all great jazz.
8. Aiko Shimada, Blue Marble (Tzadik). Stark, unreachable melodies and precise vocalizing from the Seattle-based outr魦olk talent, with startling colors from producer Eyvind Kang.
9. David Liebman, Unknown Jobim (GMN). Perennially undersung saxophonist swings mightily through some of Jobim's more obscure charts.
10. Henry Threadgill & Make a Move, Everybody's Mouth's a Book (Pi). Always high drama from the great modern improviser, especially with the ingenious Stomu on bass.
Mark D. Fefer
1. Cannibal Ox, The Cold Vein (Def Jux). Deep-space visions from the true seers of the underground, with scary beat assist from El-P.
2. Ghostface Killah, Bulletproof Wallets (Starks Industries/Epic). The wallabee champ returns with tales more numerous than Canterbury—and more frightening.
3. Aesop Rock, Labor Days (Def Jux). Aesop sees things in a way that few others do—deeply. So many layers of description that you'll still be doing the math the next morning.
4. Dungeon Family, Even in Darkness (Arista). The dirty dirty proves once again that all booties are crooked by nature, or can be made that way.
5. Petey Pablo, Diary of a Sinner, First Entry (Jive). Take your shirt off, twist it round your head, wave it like a helicopter.
6. Atmosphere, Atmosphere: The Lucy Ford EPs (Rhymesayers). Minimal beats, maximal rhymes—slug makes a case to be the best rapper ever, if only he could get past his self-loathing.
7. Bubba Sparxxx, Dark Days, Bright Nights (Beat Club/Interscope). A way nimble white rapper backed by a megaplatinum black producer who's not Eminem.
8. Missy Elliott, Miss E . . . So Addictive (Elektra). Responsible for two of the year's best singles, this album proved the bounce engulfed all things in its path.
9. Saul Williams, Amethyst Rock Star (American/Island Def Jam). The onetime slam champ (don't hold it against him) came with the best rock album of the year, except it's a hip-hop record shucking off its chains and reaching for new ground. Fooled ya.
10. Foxy Brown, Broken Silence (Def Jam). An introspective, street-savvy debut for Foxy, except it's six years too late and her third album, but whatever.