College Countdown: CMJ Top 50 Albums of 2001, 36 and 35

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36. Old 97’s, Satellite Rides

Last week I noted that Oh, Inverted World by the Shins was the first album in purchased in my new state of residence in the summer of 2001. Pleasantly enough, this week on the countdown brings what I do believe was the last new CD I bought before leaving Wisconsin. I had a lot of smart, trusted friend who were devotees of the “y’allternative” scene (though I’m certain none of them ever called it that), and I gladly followed them into the world of Wilco, but enough of the other bands dominating the burgeoning subgenre were terribly dull to me that I didn’t explore their various recommendations nearly as diligently as I should have. That was proved definitively when I finally figured out that Old 97’s, a band they’d been pushing on me for some time, was flat-out fantastic. Lead single “King of All the World” is one of those rare songs about love that is exuberant rather than drippy and schmaltzy, ““Rollerskate Skinny” is wildly catchy with an infectious gum-smack attitude and acoustic ballad “Question” is sweet and insightful enough that it’s rightfully taken on an enduring life of its own. And then there’s the yearning, lovelorn “Designs on You,” which I really could have used about ten years earlier. There may be better albums from 2001, but this one is probably my favorite. Yes, my friends, I should have listened to you.

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35. Red House Painters, Old Ramon

Red House Painters was a band I wasn’t at all familiar with when I landed at the station in the summer of 2001, but I feel like I should have been. After all, their first albums, on the not insignificant 4AD label, came out while I was still in college, and it was just the sort of quiet, ruminative, moody stuff that I loved to play when I was on during a stretch when I helped usher in the change from p.m. to a.m. (then again, it might have been a little too sedate for my taste). Old Ramon was the sixth and, as it turned out, final album released under the Red House Painters name. I remember hearing the song “Michigan” get played on the station and finding it completely arresting. I stopped what I was doing a listened intently to it, impressed by the beauty, care and evocative emotions in the songwriting. This may have been the last Red House Painters album, but since the band was largely a vehicle for Mark Kozelek’s creativity, the offerings of the next band he formed, Sun Kil Moon, are an extension of the established sound rather than some drastic reinvention.

Previously…
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.