Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Look Back in Anger #3

Look Back in Anger #3
by Christopher R. Weingarten

What would you do differently if you could do it all over again? The intention of this column is to go back in the ol’ time machine to examine the albums that we personally named the best of a given year and see if we still feel the same way about them. Did they age well? Do we still play them? Did we leave off an album that we’re now kicking ourselves over? These are the questions we will be asking ourselves in this WWIA? Series.

This week, Christopher R. Weingarten reexamines his 2003 Pazz & Jop ballot.



This was my first Pazz & Jop list ever.


1. Kaada - Thank You for Giving Me Your Valuable Time

2. Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow

3. Buck 65 - Talkin' Honky Blues

4. Tes - X2

5. The White Stripes - Elephant

6. Blood Brothers - Burn Piano Island, Burn

7. Bubba Sparxxx - Deliverance

8. David Banner - Mississippi: The Album

9. The Locust - Plague Soundscapes

10. Avenged Sevenfold - Waking the Fallen


I was young, eager, green, and mostly pumped beyond pumped that Voice music editor Chuck Eddy would even respond to one of my emails, let alone converse with me for days about Lil Jon in a manic back and forth. Fueled on No New York, Company Flow, Throbbing Gristle and Tenacious D, my 23-year-old self prided aesthetic style over substance. And while all of the albums on my 2003 Pazz and Jop ballot are all still pretty fantastic in my eyes (save Avenged Sevenfold), they were chosen by someone who was quicker to support a cool artistic decision than something that simply connects with people.

1. Kaada - Thank You for Giving Me Your Valuable Time

Totally slept-on at the time (I think I was the only writer to have it on my ballot) and pretty much slept-on now. Norwegian slicer-’n’-dicer John Erik Kaada made a mutant pop record that sounded kitschy and unique, weird and inviting. He recorded all the “samples” himself, looping trumpet sounds he made with his mouth, vocals recorded through his doorbell’s intercom, mixing doo-wop and Morricone. It was awesome—Prince Paul as Prince—but now I realize it’s maybe more brilliant in idea than execution. Still, I would never want to discourage anyone from checking out this incredible album. Start with “No You Don’t,” which is maybe the best link between old Portishead and new Portishead and maybe RZA somehow.

2. Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow

In 2003 it was hard not to think of Lightning Bolt as the band destined to be this generation’s Public Image Ltd. or Wire or Gang of Four, the guys that would launch a new era in art-punk, make a Daydream Nation, maybe even influence pop music. In the end all we really got was Timbaland saying he likes Black Dice, a bunch of unremarkable bands like Pocahaunted, and a Muse cover that people on message boards still like to LOL about. Whatever, Wonderful Rainbow is still a non-stop thrill ride, the exact moment where LB melded their jet-engine bluster with classic rock precision. Still a new classic to these ears.

3. Buck 65 - Talkin' Honky Blues

No regrets. It’s a shame other people didn’t latch on to this when they should have. Buck’s been in identity crisis mode and record label hell ever since. And he was never as gripping and heartfelt when he was telling other people’s stories over banjos and fake Tom Waits clang.

4. Tes - X2

At the time it was perfect post-911 underground hip-hop. Paranoid, post-apocalyptic, cooler than you, rebuilding from pieces of pop and dub and electronic, custom-made for hipster DJs when hipster DJs still spun OOIOO records, a nasal whine that was a sui generis cry from the rubble (and that rubble was being painted by Neck Face). Does it hold up? Can’t say I ever went back to it…

5. The White Stripes - Elephant

Best major label rock band of the decade, sure. But, really, look at their competition.

6. Blood Brothers - Burn Piano Island, Burn

Too many ideas, not enough songs. Still, amazing energy and spirit. Not the best album, but we need these guys more than ever right now.

7. Bubba Sparxxx - Deliverance

No regrets. Bubba cuts through the gimmick and gets to the heart of his environment. Big Boi/Andre was the story of the year but Timbaland/Organized Noise splitting duties is the secret winner.

8. David Banner - Mississippi: The Album

No regrets. I will never understand why this album isn’t spoken in the same breath as The Blueprint or The College Dropout. It’s absolutely everything a rap album should be: An MC vividly breaking down how he is a product of an environment that most people don’t see, songs full of focused rage juxtaposed with songs of celebratory nihilism, an auteur’s sense of vision (he produced the whole thing too), and—duh—tons of incredible beats. If nothing, it reminds me of Willie D’s 1989 album Controversy, which was also incredible and totally slept-on.

9. The Locust - Plague Soundscapes

Still their best. but I was mostly wowed by how “extreme” it was compared to their previous albums while still keeping true to a complicated aesthetic. This band is a great execution of a vision.

10. Avenged Sevenfold - Waking the Fallen

“Eternal Rest” sounded like Angel Dust-era Faith No More. This band is totally terrible now. They tricked me.


With five years distance, here is my new top 10. New picks are in bold.:

1. David Banner - Mississippi: The Album

2. Jay-Z – The Black Album

3. Buck 65 - Talkin' Honky Blues

4. Bubba Sparxxx - Deliverance

5. Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow

6. TV On The Radio – Young Liars EP

7. The White Stripes - Elephant

8. 50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Tryin’

9. Jaylib – Champion Sound

10. Killer Mike - Monster

Christopher R. Weingarten was the editor-in-chief of recently deceased music site Paper Thin Walls. His work has appeared in the Village Voice, Revolver, Spin, Rollingstone.com, Decibel, The Source, CMJ New Music Monthly, Relix, eMusic and probably some other places he’s forgetting. He’s slowly but steadily working on a 33 1/3 book about Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

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1 Comments:

Blogger hutlock said...

An honor and a privelege to have you here, Christopher! Shame we can't get a link on Paper Thin Walls now... :-)

September 25, 2008 at 12:49 PM  

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