1. Songs: Ohia The Lioness
2. King Cobb Steelie Mayday
3. The Dandy Warhols Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia
4. Richard Ashcroft Alone With Everybody
5. Sarah Harmer You Were Here
6. Mike O’Neill What Happens Now?
7. The Dears End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story
8. Elevator A Taste Of Complete Perspective
9. Fu Manchu King Of The Road
10. Dr. Dre 2001
This would be the year that my budding Jason Molina obsession officially took hold. I knew of the 1999 Songs: Ohia album Axxess & Ace and liked it, but The Lioness was a whole different ballgame. This album’s pretty much the most intense, all-consuming expression of love one can imagine. It’s not mealy, over-sentimental goop, but the raw stuff of the heart. More than 10 years later this record still resonates and I can still marvel that someone was able to combine those words, with that music, to create those songs.
I was totally at this show at the El Mocambo. Here’s “Lioness”:
How good was Mayday? Don’t know? OK, I’ll tell you — really good. This album and King Cobb Steelie’s prior record Junior Relaxer were two of the best, most fascinating albums produced in Canada over those years. They weren’t dance or dub, or punk or electronica, they were just these heavy, monstrous, uniquely groovy songs that were completely haunting.
King Cobb Steelie “Below The Stars:
Y’know how sometimes bands complain that record labels are horrible and controlling and demanding? And how these same artists complain non-stop about how their artistic instincts are being oppressed and it’s not until they get off said record label that they can find true freedom? Well, if the The Dandy Warhols’ Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia is the sound of them imprisoned by the system, the system was doing the right thing.
The Dandy Warhols’ “Godless”:
Until we reached #4 this list had been holding up remarkably well. Richard Ashcroft’s Alone With Everybody, however, does not deserve to be in this spot. Because it’s not very good. I know why I put it here — because The Verve’s Urban Hymns is one of the best albums of all time. And I was an intern when that album came out and therefore had no Top 10 list-making forum to express said view of that album. Then The Verve broke up and I was heartbroken, so I overcompensated by propping this album up. I’m wiser now.
I like my gal singers with a certain grit, a certain type of dark angst. I sense very little of that in earth mom Sarah Harmer, so logic would dictate I wouldn’t care very much for her — and I don’t. But sometimes there are songs that are undeniable. On You Were Here that lightning bolt moment is “Lodestar.” This song is close to the perfect representation of a certain specific type of Canadian experience and it’s the singular reason why this album hit #5 on my list.
Sarah Harmer “Lodestar”:
Man, forget the Arcade Fire Can-indie explosion years, by 2000 Canadian indie was already making power moves (in quality, if not in sales numbers and obvious “industry” markers). Mike O’Neill was a slept-on vet in post-Inbreds mode at this point, but What Happens Now? was proof he was still a vital foundation guy for the scene.
Speaking of foundations, if King Cobb Steelie were one of the best bands in Canada at the time, The Dears and their album End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story was right there behind them. The only reason why this album was that much lower than Mayday was because Hollywood truly couldn’t capture the absolute riveting intensity of the band’s live show at the time. I saw The Dears pretty religiously every time they came to Toronto around during this period and these remain some of the best shows I’ve seen by any band ever.
I wanted to play “This Is A Broadcast,” but couldn’t find a good version on youtube.
I love the idea of Elevator. Band leader Rick White is a particular sort of psychedelic outlaw I admire in part because I know I’ll never be able to “unhinge” in the way that he does artistically. He exists in a fantastical world that’s foreign to me. A Taste Of Complete Perspective is a “good” record, not a “great” record, so I’m pretty sure it got the bump into the Top 10 owing to the band’s general awesomeness and that Rick White out-there factor.
Fu Manchu King Of The Road. If you’re not down with the Fu you’re a wack ass bitch.