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The Nine Coolest Albums of 2002

Want to be cool but don’t have the time? Get clued in here. But remember, in the world of indie-rock, what you actually listen to isn’t as important as what you claim to.

If there’s one thing I know about music it’s that you can never be too ahead of everyone else. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to say you knew about something before your friends and all the magazines did. It may scare everyone off at parties, but it’s still an exquisite, if solitary, feeling.

Sometimes, however, you have to go to extremes and find unknown stuff purely for the sake of it being unknown.

Which is why I’ve done the research and none of the listening for you, and have compiled a list of the nine coolest albums you can name-drop that, like, nobody’s heard of. Used properly, it will prevent you from buying the new Blur single and telling everyone how much you lo-o-o-o-o-ove it and instead scoff, ‘Um, yeah, I’ve mainly been listening to the new Gore Gore Girls. Sorry, I’m not really into that mainstream stuff.’ I’ve provided what you should say when spouting off about the music and some appropriate desultory comments (to be used at your discretion).

* * *

Black Keys, Big Come Up: ‘Just look at the name of the band. Look. See how it starts with the word ‘black?’ Find me a band that has the word ‘black’ in its name that doesn’t fucking rock and I’ll come over to your house and make some waffles from scratch. Forget about ‘white,’ ‘black’ is timeless, classy, and always cool. Enough about my wardrobe though. Black Keys are making the kind of soulful music that can only come from a couple of guys in their basement. Too bad you’re too scared to walk down a flight of stairs to hear it.’

Amalgamated Sons of Rest, Amalgamated Sons of Rest: ‘Will Oldham is The Indie God. So get on your knees and pray to a little side project of his. Anyone that considers themselves indie knows who Will Oldham is. Just because he didn’t write all of the songs on the album doesn’t mean a thing. He picked this project for a reason and who are you to question that reason? Just accept the fact that greatness is synonymous with Will Oldham. Will Oldham rules.’

Polmo Polpo, The Science of Breath: ‘Aside from having a cool name (that also looks great on a t-shirt), Polmo Polpo is responsible for some of the finest electronic music released in years, and real live guitars make some of this possible. Any electronic outfit worth listening to uses live instrumentation and not just a bunch of fucking knobs and keyboards. Let’s not forget that darkness, and I’m talking sit-in-the-corner-and-contemplate-slashing-your-wrists darkness, is always a good thing. Remember how I mentioned that black is timeless and all?’

Gore Gore Girls, Up All Night: ‘You’re going to feel real stupid after listening to this album and then figuring out it wasn’t The White Stripes that put Detroit back on the map. Oh, and it wasn’t Eminem either. Forget what you think you know about ‘garage rock.’ In fact, while you’re at it just erase that category from your vocabulary. (You’ll sound way cooler just calling everything ‘rock ‘n roll.’ And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?) Gore Gore Girls know all about being cool and playing rock ‘n roll. Enough said.’ (If anyone mentions the MC5, run away.)

Nightmare Tonight, Now It Begins: ‘This is one of those gems that you’re going to have to beg someone to part with. You may have to stab them and pry it from their hands.’ (Which is both cool and rock ‘n roll, so it’s very cool.) ‘There are only 1,524 people with copies of this album. If you’re one of the lucky ones, which I doubt you are, then you know that Nightmare Tonight is an impressive display of Curtis Mayfield meets Nirvana. Save up every penny you have, eat Stove Top Ramen for the next year, and comb eBay every day to get this album.’ (P.S., The A&R person who signs these guys owes me a finder’s fee.)

Mantronix, That’s My Beat: ‘You know nothing of electronic or old-skool hip-hop. Sure, you may be able to rattle off the early names, but you’ve never listened to them: you should know who Kurtis Mantronix is. Kurtis was doing big beat and coming up with some of the most familiar bass lines while the artists who would use them later on were still in diapers. Class is now in session and Kurtis Mantronix is about to drop some science on yo ass!’

Lorien, Under The Waves: ‘It doesn’t get any sweeter than this. Just stick the tap in the nearest tree in the Lorien forest and let it flow. What’s the Lorien forest, you ask? You suck. Personal attacks on your character aside, this album is the loudest quiet album of the year. Really, that’s all you need to know.’

Dyonisos, Western Sous La Neige: ‘If it weren’t for Dyonisos, I would probably insert some blanket statement to the tune of ‘French people embody snobbery in its purest form and the only good thing about France is that David Sedaris lives there.’ On second thought, David Sedaris and Dyonisos are the only two redeeming things about France. If you mention Jim Morrison’s grave, I will come over to your house and beat you to a pulp.’ (Note: verbal attacks on France should be reconsidered upon any impending resurgence of Francophilia.)

Bola, Fyuti: ‘IDM is alive and well. This album is the second coming for all of you smarty techno kids. For the rest of us, it’s the album that’s going to make you feel real silly for listening to all that Richard James stuff for the last year. Bleep-blip-beep-beep-blip-crash-blip-blip-beep. You know the rest…oh, wait, no you don’t.’