Decade: 2 (2002-2003)
the unknown bomber, Baghdad, 2003
Ivor Cutler, Once a Fortnight.
The Mekons, Thee Olde Trip to Jerusalem.
The New Pornographers, The Laws Have Changed.
Auguries and imprecations: Ivor Cutler, the last eccentric: recorded in 2002, dead in 2006; Mekons on OOOH!, their best LP of the decade, 2002; New Pornographers on 2003's Electric Version ("What you have already lost, consider as totally lost").
Roberto Bolaño, near his death in July 2003
Matthew Shipp, Almighty Fortress Is Our God.
Jason Moran, Planet Rock.
Brad Mehldau Trio, Paranoid Android.
Jazz piano, 21st Century style: Matthew Shipp breaking down Martin Luther on the nearly-out-of-print Songs (recorded 18 November 2001, rel. 2002); Jason Moran speaking to Afrika Bambaataa (recorded 12 April 2002; on Modernistic); Brad Mehldau infatuated with Radiohead, on Largo, 2002.
D'Angelo schools Willis and Bodie
Mr. Lif, Live From the Plantation.
People Under the Stairs, The Dig.
Talib Kweli, Get By.
Scarface, On My Block.
The Blind Boys of Alabama, Way Down In the Hole.
I step into my work place with my work face: Mr. Lif on I Phantom; People Under the Stairs on OST; Talib Kweli on Quality; Scarface on The Fix; and finally, the best version of Tom Waits' "Down In the Hole," The Wire's theme song (soundtrack). All '02.
Jennifer Pastor, Stills from 'The Perfect Ride,' 2003.
Cassandra Wilson, You Gotta Move.
Norah Jones, Seven Years.
Neko Case, I Wish I Was the Moon.
Laura Cantrell, Rain Boy.
Voices: Wilson on Belly of the Sun (2002); Jones, whose backlash seems to be finally over, on her first album; Case's should-be standard is on '02's Blacklisted and Cantrell's version of Bruce Brakefield's "Rain Boy" was recorded at the late John Peel's studio in 2003 and is available on her website.
Christian Holstad, Mount Rushmore, 2003.
Richard Thompson, So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo.
Orchestra Baobab, Bul Ma Miin.
The Clientele, The Violet Hour.
Ekkehard Ehlers, Plays John Cassavetes 2.
Tall Dwarfs, Cascade.
Travels, time, stasis: Thompson's version of Orazio Vecchi's "So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo," "elliptically smutty" Renaissance pop, is from his 1000 Years of Popular Music; Orchestra Baobob, from Senegal, on 2002's Specialist In All Styles; The Clientele, title track of their fine 2003 LP; Ehlers on Plays, 2002 (fine use of the Beatles' "Good Night"); Dwarfs on The Sky Above, The Mud Below (2003).
Jonathan Monk, Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before, 2003.
The Exploding Hearts, Modern Kicks.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Ballad of the Sin Eater.
Rock & roll, straight up: the Exploding Hearts (horribly, 3/4ths of the band was killed in an auto accident in 2003) on Guitar Romantic; Leo's ode to his early band is on 2003's Hearts of Oak; Supergrass is on 2002's Life on Other Planets.
Medasyn with Lady Sovereign, Shystie, Frost P and Zuz Rock, The Battle.
N.E.R.D., Run to The Sun.
War, peace: The world meets one Louise Harman, AKA Lady Sovereign, all of 17 years old ("none of your words can 'urt me fool/none of your comebacks mean fook all!"), on Medasyn's 12" single "The Battle," 2003; N.E.R.D. on 2002's In Search Of.
Michaël Borremans, The German (Part 2), 2002.
Imperial Teen, Ivanka.
Dean and Britta, Night Nurse.
The Essex Green, The Late Great Cassiopia.
Pop: "Ivanka" leads off Imperial Teen's On; Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, the handsomest couple in rock music, start their first solo record L'Avventura (2003) with "Night Nurse"; Pinmonkey turns Sugar Ray's "Fly" into the bluegrass tune it apparently was always meant to be, on 2002's Pinmonkey; Essex Green on The Long Goodbye, 2003.
Ginuwine, Hell Yeah.
Drive-By Truckers, Marry Me.
OutKast, The Way You Move.
David Bowie, Baby Loves That Way.
Original Sinners, Whiskey For Supper.
Lust, gluttony, matrimony, general decadence: Ginuwine's 2003 single is on Hits; Drive-By Truckers' "Marry Me" on Decoration Day, 2003; OutKast on Speakerboxxx/Love Below; Bowie recorded this remake of his 1965 mod single for a stillborn, unreleased LP Toy, and eventually released the track on the "Everyone Says 'Hi'" EP in 2002; Exene Cervenka's Original Sinners rip through "Whiskey For Supper" on their first s/t record, 2002.
"MISSION-The primary mission of the Department is to--(A) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;(B) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism;(C) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States..."
Guided By Voices, The Best of Jill Hives.
Belle and Sebastian, I'm a Cuckoo.
Realities, rock and roll: "The Best of Jill Hives," the last great Guided by Voices song, sums up the GBV experience: greatest hits for a world that no longer needed them; "I'm a Cuckoo" is, in part, the story of the breakup of Isobel Campbell and Stuart Murdoch, the death of one band (the original Belle and Sebastian) and the start of another one; it's the sad liberation that comes when you realize your old dreams are over and done, and the sense of gratitude you have to the past, regardless of its pain. It was that sort of decade.
On Earthquake Glue and Dear Catastrophe Waitress, both 2003.
Liam Lynch, United States of Whatever.
Charlie Haden, America the Beautiful.
America!!!: Whatever, beautiful.