Albums of my years – 2001

Now that we’re back in the atmosphere with drops of Jupiter in our hair we can reflect on the year in which Travis wanted us to ‘sing, sing sing sing sing sing sing’, we got our freak on with Missy Elliott, Pink got the party started while Lifehouse were hanging by a moment (whatever the hell that means), we discovered that heaven is a halfpipe and Nelly wanted us to ride wit him. Yup; it’s 2001.

It’s that year the world got knocked off its axis in September and we’re still dealing with the fall out, the “War on Terror” began, an earthquake of massive proportions in India killed 20,000 people and Apple released iTunes. 

At the Drive-In, Cast, Catatonia, L7, Elastica, Ride, Sunny Day Real Estate (again),  and Anal Cunt all called it quits in 2001. Arcade Fire, Audioslave, The Dresden Dolls, Fall Out Boy, The Fire Theft, Jet, My Chemical Romance, M83, The Mars Volta and The Postal Service were amongst those bands forming this year. We also said goodbye to George Harrison in 2001. After fighting lung cancer, which had spread to his brain, George Harrison died at Paul McCartney’s house in LA on 29 November 2001. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in keeping with Hindu tradition. A concert – the Concert for George – would be held on the one year anniversary of his death as a celebration as his life and work.

So who released what? Any good albums arriving in 2001? Well, this was the year Jack Johnson released his first album, Brushfire Fairytales, John Frusciante revealed what it’s like To Record Only Water for 10 Days, Spoon released Girls Can Tell and Aerosmith released a bit of a stinker in Just Push Play

Semisonic released their brilliant third, Dashboard Confessional pushed emo twee to new lengths with The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (and, currently, final) album All About Chemisty, Ben Harper and Bruce Springsteen both released decent live albums (which don’t count on this list), Red House Painters released their last album Old Ramon and Neil Finn released his second solo album One Nil.

Colin Hay released his sixth solo album, Going Somewhere, Mogwai released the brilliant (there’s not a Mogwai album I don’t like) Rock Action and, sticking with post-rock, Explosions In The Sky released their second album Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever. Released on September 4th the album’s artwork became a bit of an issue very quickly and picked up media attention as the liner notes of contain a picture of an airplane and the text “This Plane Will Crash Tomorrow”. Oh, and The Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band may not have settled on the wording of their band’s name yet but released their second: Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward.

Mercury Rev released the superb All Is Dream, Bob Dylan continued his late-career comeback with Love and Theft, Ben Folds’s first solo album Rockin’ The Suberbs arrived in 2001 as did Tori Amos’ concept album Strange Little Girls, Eels’ Souljacker, Radiohead gave us the amazing Amnesiac, My Morning Jacket’s second At Dawn, Death Cab for Cutie’s The Photo Album, Bush’s lacklustre The Golden State and Incubus’ Morning View which contains the great lyric “the garbage truck beeps as it backs up and I start my day thinking about what I’ve thrown away”. 

The Shins released Oh, Inverted World, The White Stripes kicked into a new gear with White Blood Cells and Tool gave us the beast that is Laterlus. We got a couple of slabs of the good ‘pop-rock’ from Weezer with their green Weezer and Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American (which would soon be retitled).REM’s Reveal, the first point at which I went ‘meh’ with their studio albums, arrived in 2001 and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gave us the gorgeious No More Shall We Part and Sparklehorse the wonderful It’s a Wonderful Life.

When it comes to the albums released in 2001 that sit on my shelves, the one that’s probably been played the most and I think of as being of that year, it’s:

Ryan Adams – Gold

I know, I know; it’s both a pretty obvious choice and his name is somewhat… contentious these days, but Gold was an album that instantly made good on the promise of Heartbreaker and took him up a gear. It also contains a huge amount of cracking tunes. 

The thing about Gold… I wouldn’t even say it’s Adams’ finest but it’s easily his most unabashedly open and accessible (and best selling) set of tunes that just goes down so easy but there’s so much more at work behind what initially sound like a simple set of tunes: take ‘New York, New York’ (the timing of its release and video was pretty fateful) with it’s gorgeous organ fills and horn section that kicks in at the end:

It’s such a warm and lush sounding album, the production perfectly suiting Adams’ then writing style that moves away from the stripped back sound of his solo debut Heartbreaker and makes use of major-label clout and carte blanche to make an album rich in arrangements that nods to some of those most hallowed of his influences, predominantly of the 70’s rock variety, while remaining distinctly contemporary and keeping such flourishes in-check so they don’t over-power. I listen to ‘Rescue Blues’ (which was featured, oddly, in the Owen Wilson film ‘Behind Enemy Lines’) and hear those gorgeous ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ background singers:

Then there’s great songs like ‘La Cienega Just Smile’ which I’ve already highlighed, or ‘Firecracker’ or ‘Stars Go Blue’… it’s chock full of them.

There’s an argument that it suffers from CD bloat at 16 tracks but that in itself is down to the start of what would be a long, drawn-out bone of contention between Adams and his new label Lost Highway: Gold was envisioned as a double but the label weren’t having that. For all the freedom they allowed him in making the album and its sound that was too much for them. They took some of the tracks intended for ‘LP2’ and made a single disc, with the remainder put on a limited ‘bonus disc’ edition. A move Ryan would describe as “Fucking my fans over and making them pay extra for a record I wanted to be a double album. They counted that as one record.”

It was the start of a strange relationship – when they heard his intended follow up Love Is Hell they rejected it as being too uncommercial. The result was that Adams would record Rock ‘n’ Roll in two weeks (it showed) and Love Is Hell would be split into two separate EPs. When these proved successful, Lost Highway stuck em back together into a single album. When his deal with Lost Highway was complete – no doubt sped up by Ryan Adams releasing three albums within a seven-month period in 2005 – he’d form his own and point out that despite an already heavy back catalogue, there were more still that the label had said no to releasing. 

However, all that (and a whole lot more) lay ahead. In 2001 Gold was the album that propelled Ryan Adams forward in his craft and into a lot more peoples’ record collection. It’s a great bunch of tunes that I still slip into the CD player nearly 20 years later and while its production soaks up cues from influences of decades prior and its lyrics remain universal, it has a very distinct 2001 feel to me.

16 thoughts on “Albums of my years – 2001

  1. Anal Cunt may have disbanded but I note that we are still rooting around down there with the release of an album called ‘Cunt’ by Aussie band Blood Duster. Album-wise, more or less a zero year for me. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what i was listening to. I do recall I got laid off on May 7, 2001, and whilst looking for work, 9/11 happened. So I spent some serious time not only in reflection and mourning but also in job-seeking.

    • I hear you, not always opportunity to tune in
      – and I though being laid off during Covid was a shitty time, it must’ve been a crap time to hunt in that aftermath

      • I worked then in IT, had a pretty good job and got a severance and unemploymnet. I started playing tennis and enjoyed the freedom for about two weeks till I got bored. But the job market sucked and then 9/11 just put an end to it. I actually wound up working at the post office one Christmas, sorting and (inadvertently) shredding mail. I eventually found work in 2003, so a long stretch of living off of savings and such. But now I am very happy in my night shift job working the fryolator at McDonald’s.

      • I got dropped at the start of the lockdown – furloughed and then the big R. Thankfully something awesome landed in my lap at just the right moment and I count my luck stars on the daily for it. I was looking at that fryolater..

      • Just reading an article about new (not unexpected) outbreaks in EU and here. People are tired of this and going out again. Coronavirus doesn’t give a fuck how we feel about it. Bring it, it says.

      • Well here we kinda begrudgingly accept it when it comes to restrictions – there’s a new tiered system in place and for the most part masks are worn everywhere they need to be. I know though that elsewhere in Europe – as we’re guttingly not part of the EU – there are both bigger outbreaks and it can be like herding cats in terms of getting restrictions followed. I’m reading about a ‘third wave’ in the states but given the way you’re currently being led by donkeys I’m sadly not surprised but very concerned

      • Early voting has started here and we voted yesterday. Assuming the polls are accurate and the Republican party doesn’t come up with even more clever ways to steal the election, Captain Shitstain will soon be on the dustbin of history.

      • Yes! I’ve been following this pretty intently. Hoping for a clean sweep for the blues next month. See that Trump is still using 2016’s playlist – mass rallies, trying to use Russian backed disinformation and falling back on the same messaging. I’m really hoping sense prevails

      • Well, you have more faith in the American people than i do. Nevertheless, in a way it doean’t matter. I have a cyanide pill just in case. And so, I’l be dead and it won’t be my probem any more.

      • Agreed. However, he has already done major damage over here. He has divided America and brought white supremacists sliterhing out from under their rocks. Also, by putting three justices on the Supreme Court and adding some 200 to the lower courts, he has cemented his legacy for decades to come. Goodbye Obamacare, Affirmative Action, abortion, etc. Many of us here would leave this country regardless of what happens to him. This place is fucked up. But it’s not that easy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s