College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 2 and 1

2. Weezer, Weezer Unlikely as it may have seemed that a band that had only released their debut album seven years earlier was in dire need of a comeback, that was exactly the situation Weezer was in when they released their third album in late spring of 2001. Following a surprising smash with the oddball pop of their self-titled debut in 1994, Weezer’s sophomore effort, 1996’s Pinkerton was widely seen as a failure, although admiration for the record has swelled in the years since. Rivers Cuomo, the main creative force behind the band, put Weezer on hiatus while he toyed … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 2 and 1

College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 4 and 3

4. Stephen Malkmus, Stephen Malkmus As has already been made clear, no doubt, in these past couple of weeks, the upper reaches of the 2001 CMJ album chart invites a fair amount of compare and contrast between my graduation from college radio as a student in the early-to-mid-nineteen-nineties and my return as an advisor at the launch of a new century. That’s remains true with the album at #4, the official solo debut of Stephen Malkmus. His most famous prior work, as a member of the band Pavement, was startling to take charge of the college charts in my final … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 4 and 3

College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 6 and 5

6. Stereolab, Sound-Dust Stereolab was just starting to rattle college radio’s proverbial cage at about the time I secured my undergraduate degree, a task undertook in concerted foot-dragging fashion, I assure you. The album Mars Audiac Quintet was released about a year after I graduated, its lead single, “Ping Pong,” nicely mapping out the new path noncommercial radio stations might take now that their profit-driven counterparts further up the dial had fully and completely appropriated grunge rock. The music was poppy and light but also archly different, introducing oddity through the casualness of its mildly disenchanted deconstruction of traditional songcraft. … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 6 and 5

College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 10 and 9

10. Death Cab For Cutie, The Photo Album As anyone who’s spent quality time with my Friday posts is probably well aware, I have extremely strong associations between the college radio station and certain songs and albums from the era when I was a student. There was a whole range of music that seemingly belonged primarily to us. No matter how many other college stations (or commercial stations, for that matter) were playing the same thing, they surely didn’t love it the way that we did. I assume this is a natural side effect of being a college kid who’s … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 10 and 9

College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 12 and 11

12. Low, Things We Lost in the Fire The first time I realized I may be falling out of step with the prevailing taste of college radio kids came fairly early in my post-collegiate years, when a breathless rave in the pages of CMJ New Music Monthly inspired me to go out and purchase The Biz, the third album by the Chicago band the Sea and the Cake. The jazz-inflected collection of languidly thoughtful songs was deemed smart, intricate and artistically challenging. It found it incredibly boring, maybe because I had inclinations towards neither bongs nor headphones. So it was … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 12 and 11

College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 14 and 13

14. The Beta Band, Hot Shots II Like a lot of people, I suppose, my first exposure to the Beta Band came in the single finest moment of the decent but disappointing 2000 film adaptation of Nick Horby’s novel High Fidelity. Unlike the predicted five patrons of movie character Rob Gordon’s store, hearing the excellent “Dry the Rain” didn’t inspire me to purchase the band’s The Three E.P.’s (though I happily had the song on the movie’s soundtrack), but it did lodge the Beta Band in my head as one of those acts that merited attention. Right around the time … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 14 and 13

College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 18 and 17

18. Travis, The Invisible Band I didn’t have a working familiarity with a lot of the artists on this list when 2001 began, even those that could reasonably claim to already be well-established in the realm of college. I certainly knew Travis, though, largely because I had completely bought into their brand of lush, emotive pop at the time. It was an understandable (and, I’d hazard, commonplace) position to hold at the time, collecting music crafted in the rhythmic aftershocks of The Verve’s Urban Hymns, the 1997 album that housed perhaps the most rapturously wonderful single of the decade. The … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 18 and 17

College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 20 and 19

20. Daft Punk, Discovery Daft Punk is comprised of French musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, but early editions of their 2001 sophomore release, Discovery, essentially welcomed all interested listeners into their unique, electronic beat-driven, border-free nation. The album came with a Daft Punk membership card that allowed online access to all sorts of material, including music that wouldn’t show up on proper releases for years. The robot helmets the band members wore gave the whole endeavor a futuristic, almost otherworldly sense, as if they’d slipped over from another timeline where the wildest futuristic predictions of the nineteen-fifties had … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 20 and 19