The list continues …
eX-Girl, Back to the Mono Kero!
After this album, eX-Girl pretty was pretty much reduced to Kirilola and a revolving cast of players. But this final album featuring the original line-up of Kirilola, Fuzuki and Chihiro marked the height of eX-Girl’s avant-garde prowess. These three women created some incredibly angular rock, incorporating Bulgarian women’s choirs, Stravinsky-inspired rhythmic shifts and amateur operatic singing. But eX-Girl was always best seen live.
Café Tacvba, Cuatros Caminos
Café Tacvba somehow managed to heighten some of its hookiest songs with its strongest production on this album. Cuatros Caminos had a clarity that was sometimes sacrificed for the sake of eclecticism in the past. And yet somehow, this album still felt outside of its time.
Molotov, Dance and Dense Denso
After a blistering debut with 1997’s ¿Dónde Jugarán Las Niñas?, Molotov followed up with Apocalypshit in 1999. All the viscera was there but none of the heart. It took four years for Molotov to unleash Dance and Dense Denso, and it was worth the wait. I might go so far as to say it’s tighter than ¿Dónde Jugarán Las Niñas? A lot of what was called "Latin alternative" at the time was rap-rock capitalizing on Molotov’s cachet, but no one did it better.
SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, Shikakui Vision
Bassist Nakao Kentaro is pretty much the reason NUMBER GIRL broke up, and his own post-NUMBER GIRL project, SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, managed to eek out one album before imploding themselves. Shikakui Vision is probably the tightest and most tuneful of the albums to come in NUMBER GIRL’s wake.
… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Century of Self
After splitting up with label Interscope, … Trail of Dead went back to the old ways and bashed out an album every bit as hard as Madonna or Source Code & Tags. But the prog rock influences which surfaced during the band’s time in the majors was not redacted, instead seamlessly incorporated with what had gone before.
MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS
In the span of six songs, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS manage to traverse a number of punk sub-genres, sounding fierce on one track, tender on another, grand on one, freaked out by the end.
I didn’t realize ACO had essentially turned herself into a one-woman Sigur Rós for irony. (I wouldn’t join the Sigur Rós bandwagon till 2005’s Takk ….) Any hint that ACO started out as an idol singer was pretty much obliterated on this album. The dance beats were replaced with stuttering blips, and the gorgeous strings supplanted with ethereal, processed vocals.
Sasagawa Miwa, Jijitsu
Somehow, Sasagawa Miwa found the common ground between American spirtuals, traditional Japanese music and Celtic music, and she managed to cast those influences in a pop context. "Warai" sounds as if Scottish waulking songs were reincarnated as introspective Japanese pop.
Hatakeyama Miyuki, Diving into your mind
While everyone else shat in their pants over Norah Jones, I was digging Hatakeyama Miyuki. Her duo project with Kojima Daisuke, Port of Notes, gave off a strong Everything But the Girl vibe, which cast Hatakeyama as the Japanese parallel to Tracey Thorn. Her easy croon certainly gives that affinity credence, although Hatakeyama has a bit sunnier disposition. Subsequent albums would not capitalize on that talent as well as this one, but it’s a stunner.
Nico Muhly, Mothertongue
Trust the subtitle: "Three Large Vocal Works with Twitching". Muhly slowly pieces together the works on this album, shifting rhythms and harmonies till they almost create a whole, but he then tears apart to examine their inner workings. Sam Amidon gets unhinged on The Only Tune, while Abby Fischer literally sings a phone book and makes it sound beautiful.