College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 34 and 33

mogwai rock
34. Mogwai, Rock Action

The Scottish band Mogwai is named after the critters in Joe Dante’s 1984 dark comedy Gremlins. It was intended to be a temporary name, but the band never switched it and it eventually took hold. Certainly, they were locked into it by the time their third album, Rock Action, was released. Mogwai had a reputation for ethereal, meditative music, largely delivered as instrumentals, although Rock Action featured guest vocals by the likes of Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals (singing in Welsh, no less) and David Pajo of Slint. Further demonstrating their fascination with bygone pop culture, the title of the album is derived from Iggy Pop’s nickname for Ron Asheton from back in the Stooges days. The guys in Mogwai clearly liked the name a great deal, as Rock Action Records is the name of the record label the eventually started together, launching with a Mogwai 7-inch before gradually taking on a few other acts.
33. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, No More Shall We Part

My true and proper introduction to Nick Cave came while I was working at the “new rock alternative” commercial radio station, an broadcast outlet that would absolutely never play any music from the mordantly brilliant Australian songwriter. However, the DJ who presided over the morning show was a fervent fan. He didn’t really push Cave all that much, but I trusted his taste (he was the first person I knew who talked about Werner Herzog with the appropriate mix of appreciation for the director’s artistry and the man’s offbeat, batty nature) so I started paying closer attention to the performer who’d previously only been on the very edges of my radar screen. My first opportunity to really do so came in 2001, which happened to be a pretty good time to start. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released No More Shall We Part in the spring, their first album in about four years, an atypically long span of time caused in part by Cave’s extensive efforts to shake off drug and alcohol addictions. I don’t know how much his new lucidity had to do with it, but Cave was reaching majestic new heights as a songwriter. From here on in, Cave’s discography is damn near flawless, even when he was bashing out cries from a rock ‘n’ roll id as a raw, lascivious lark.

An Introduction
50 and 49: Creeper Lagoon and Ryan Adams
48 and 47: The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
46 and 45: Spoon and Black Box Recorder
44 and 43: Rival Schools and Aphex Twin
42 and 41: Ben Folds and Superchunk
40 and 39: The Faint and Modest Mouse
38 and 37: The Shins and R.E.M.
36 and 35: Old 97’s and Red House Painters

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