As we so rightly stated here, selecting the albums that make up DrownedinSound.com’s Our 66 was no easy task. A great many long-players were considered for many a day and week, only to be cut from the team at the very final moment. Here, we present to you a selection (in no specific order) of some of the albums that only just fell short of a starting place, that were tripped but a few yards from the finishing line.
Our 66 continues properly later this week – in a change to previous advertisements, we’ll be counting down from umber 20 to number seven, leaving us with six truly special records to focus every ounce of our love and attention upon come next week (beginning October 30). By looking over the selection below, you can start second-guessing our top twenty in a fairly educated manner. Look: The Libertines, The Strokes and The White Stripes fail to make Our 66! Oh My Gosh!
But, since they’ve all released Pretty Damn Decent records during DiS’s six-year lifetime, we’ve included them here for your reading-and-viewing pleasure, alongside some truly magnificent albums dredged from absolutely indie waters and major label oceans alike. Read, enjoy, DiScuss ‘til your heart’s content…
(Fat Cat – released 2005)
A record that dared to stroll up to traditional indie-rock’s face and flob a sticky snotball into it, Feels manages to sound warmly immediate yet alienatingly impenetrable simultaneously. The thumpedy-thump ‘Grass’ is an early highlight, but the album’s less a collection of standalone songs, more a single journey through the scintillating soundwaves of crazily programmed musical minds. Although it missed Our 66, Feels is one of the most-recommended albums featured in this particular article.
(Touch & Go – released 2002)
NYC-bred but Philadelphia-based art-rockers Enon rarely adhered to the rules their particular pop could have been bound by, in a parallel dimension: accessibility they had in abundance, but so fuzzed-up and filthy were some of their riffs, and so twisted their lyrics and imagery, that your standard high-street pop-rocker allowed their attention to pass them by. Silly high-street pop-rocker: this album is freakin’ awesome, and although the Enon trio are peculiarly quiet of late, this is a must-have for sure.
Super Furry Animals
Rings Around The World (review)
(Epic – released 2001)
The DiS office has been near enough shaken to its very foundations by the arguments over the inclusion – or not, as the case has proven to be – of a Super Furry Animals album in Our 66. Eventually the naysayer crowd won the day, but we can’t conclude our run through of the site’s favourite albums of the last six years without mentioning this, perhaps SFA’s greatest-ever album. That’s what Colin Roberts reckons, anyway. He does like to drink, though…
Is This It (review)
(Rough Trade – released 2001)
The New York quintet’s debut split the more discerning critic, many of whom saw them as a bunch of well-financed pretty boys lacking a creative bone between their five bodies, but even the most sceptical of listener couldn’t resist Is This It’s charms for too long. The album’s singles were sublime, and in ‘Last Night’ the five-piece had unwittingly created one of the greatest indie-disco anthems, ever. Drop your indier-than-thou vibes at the door and get on down: all together, “Raaaassssshht niiiiite, sheeeee seeeeeed…”
The White Stripes
White Blood Cells (review)
(Sympathy For The Record Industry/XL – released 2001)
The Detroit duo’s UK breakthrough was a flurry of bombast and guitar hooks the size of basketball superstars’ sneakers: with ‘Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground’, ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’ and, of course, the irresistible ‘Hotel Yorba’, the Whites Jack and Meg burned their stripped-back music into the grey matter of punters nationwide. Their image, though strong, wasn’t even necessary to earn them an audience: these songs hold up brilliantly after half a decade, and should continue to do so.
The Dismemberment Plan
(Desoto – released 2001)
The Dismemberment Plan’s final album proper is a masterpiece of meticulously crafted indie-pop songs performed by some of the most accomplished musicians to grace a tiny venue’s stage. Never as big a deal as their albums should have made them, the D-Plan are nevertheless much loved at DiS – Change makes this list because of its release date, but 1999’s Emergency & I is just as sweetly moving. Effortlessly charming, the D-Plan’s recorded output deserves a place in the collection of any indie-rocker with a penchant for fantastic musicianship.
(Beggars Banquet – released 2002)
The fiery Scots’ debut emerged to slavering expectations and didn’t disappoint those turned on to the trio by singles ‘27’ and ‘57’; indeed, it left such an impression on DiS’s Sean Adams that he was almost moved to tears when a public vote (link) saw Deerhoof make the Our 66 cut ahead of them. Well cry not, Mr Adams: we like Biffy, and this is our way of saying so. Find joy in invention? Discover this! Get it? No? Okay… wasn’t a great ‘joke’ anyway. Just get this, if you’ve not already, and get off my case.
Up The Bracket
(Rough Trade – released 2002)
The Libertines’ debut is, according to Colin Roberts, “absolutely deserving of all the hype that surrounded it. It’s a great pop record.” Need we say any more than that? Well, yes: otherwise this wee blurb will be too wee, and that’ll just lead to a knock-on shortage of wee that’ll ultimately result in a total drying up of all wee as wee know it. Or. Something. Good record this, anyway; would have been better if the single-only ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ was on it, mind. The band’s best song, that is, says the DiS consensus.
( ) (review)
(Fat Cat – released 2002)
What? No Sigur Rós in the actual Our 66? Are we not geeky indie kids who love our heart melted by starry-eyed Icelandic types whose music really isn’t anything like the aural backdrop to some Lord Of The Rings scene, despite what the band’s most obvious peers might have thought back in the day? You could call this an oversight, or take it as a sign that the top twenty of Our 66 is pretty, well, amazing. Basically. I’d opt for the latter course of action, if only to save a little face. And speaking of those most obvious of peers…
Happy Songs For Happy People (review)
(Rock Action – released 2003)
Rarely acknowledged as anywhere near as excellent as its makers’ first two long-players, ‘97’s Young Team and ‘99’s Come On Die Young, Happy Songs… nevertheless restored many a Mogwai fan’s faith in the five-piece’s sonically-punishing yet stunningly beautiful music after the generally mediocre Rock Action album of ‘01. It’s an album rich in longevity, yet direct and immediate in a way that few Mogwai albums are: as an introductory record, first-timers could do a lot worse than pick this up.
Plague Soundscapes (review)
(Anti – released 2003)
There was no shitting way this beauty of a headfuck was gonna go unmentioned: clocking in at only twenty-something minutes, yet packing over twenty songs between its narrow sides, Plague Soundscapes is the most unashamedly brutal, mesmerising complex, and fantastically fucked album to not make the Our 66 cut. I’d have fought for it if the final 66 was based on silly song titles alone: this would have been number one with a bullet. Since we’ve no firearms at DiS, though, it resides here. In the offcuts. Which feels sort of appropriate…
Room On The 3rd Floor /
A Present For Everyone
(Island / MCA – released 2004/2003)
Yes, really: quite where DiS’s Colin Roberts would be without these albums in his life doesn’t even bear thinking about. He’d be a sad, lonely soul, wandering his way through the ghetto of indie-rock with no beacon of shimmering pop to guide him to the bright pastures of disposable thrills and quick-fix hits. Heck, even I’ve a soft spot for ‘Crashed The Wedding’, what with those weeoo-weeoo-weeoo bits. Plus, that Charlie fella: actually a lovely, lovely man. McFly, though? Make like a tree, and get outta here…
Sea Change (review)
(Geffen – released 2002)
The signs were all there in the ‘Lost Cause’ single: this was Beck stripped of his fiery flare and over-the-top showmanship, reduced to a Man With A Guitar, and a whole lot of hurt. Wrapped in warm production by Nigel Godrich – also responsible for Beck’s previous excursion into mellower waters, Mutations – Sea Change fast became a favourite at DiS; its understated reflections set to sparse and primarily acoustic arrangements receive many a play to this day at the homes of writers across the DiS board. We have a board!?
Lay Of The Land (review)
(Matador – released 2004)
Nottingham outfit Seachange’s debut album was a long-player rich in mysterious, fantastical imagery and instrumentation that spanned the history of popular rock music: a violin cut through savaged guitars like a brilliant sun ray after an afternoon’s gloom and hard rain. From murder to suicide to illicit love affairs and everything beyond and between, all aspects of youth and age and life is here: Lay Of The Land is a perfect snapshot of an adventurous band peaking at a time when many incie-rockers around them were relying on simplistic arrangements.
Death From Above 1979
You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine (review)
(679 – released 2005)
Death From Above 1979 are no more. They are dead, done, over, finished, like that big flightless bird thing that ran about some island or other before sailors ate ‘em all up. If you don’t own this album, the duo’s only album, then you’re missing out on one of the most brilliantly danceable LPs of the past six years: drop ‘Romantic Rights’ into an indie-disco set and the place will bounce itself to dust, guaranteed. One of ‘em is now half of MSTRKRFT; the other, we presume, is hanging around Toronto in his just pants.
Ghost Reveries (review)
(Roadrunner – released 2005)
DiS rarely awards an album a maximum ten-outta ten score, but Opeth’s Ghost Reveries is one such record (another will follow directly below it!). The “ultimate Swedish prog-doom merchants of recent years”, according to the aforementioned critique, Opeth’s masterpiece of technically superb and lusciously orchestrated modern metal only narrowly missed out on inclusion within the Our 66 list proper. “This ought to be the epic soundtrack to the bleakest, most mysterious fantasy fiction they never made a film of.” Need we say more, here?
For Hero: For Fool (review)
(Lex – released 2006)
Subtle’s second album assured the Oakland collective’s place in the pantheon of hip-hop greats: For Hero: For Fool is simply the most ambitious, dizzying, skyscrapingly surreal and wonderfully inventive record of its ilk that has passed by DiS’s ears in recent years. It may be brand new – it only came out this month – but its classic status is already beyond doubt. A ten-outta-ten from DiS was just one of many ridiculously positive appraisals to come the record’s way, and it deserved each and every one of them. Get this.
100 Broken Windows
(Food – released 2000)
Hooray for records that remind you of being younger, of leaping from pieces of university hall furniture and smashing your foot through paper-thin walls while binge-drinking cheap continental lager before a night out in Liverpool! That’s what this record means to this writer anyway; these are some of the memories that come flooding back, the tide unstoppable. A pop-rock record with real longevity, 100 Broken Windows is as brilliant-sounding now as it was in 2000; ‘Idea Track’ still makes me want to spin on a spot ‘til I puke.
(Rough Trade – released 2005)
Fluent in prose, soaked in instrumental dynamism and with enough of a soul to carry a story across the sea, Picaresque is a stroke of songwriting mastery and a must for anyone who values lyricism on a par with musicality. Colin Meloy, leader of the Portland-based troupe, carved the band an indie niche with previous efforts/Morrissey covers LPs and Picaresque cemented this past in incredibly stylish fashion. In other, more colloquial terms: this is pretty much The Mint. Mention Brian Dowling and you die. CR
Logic Will Break Your Heart (review)
(679 – released 2004)
Shimmering in some Canadian corner of New York where cute girls probably keep them as cool as Montreal with massive feathery fans, The Stills managed to make one of the most uplifting indie-pop albums of the past six years. Featuring the anthemic 'Lola' and the incapacitatingly brilliant 'Still in Love Song', this is an utterly lush album. The follow-up to this, Without Feathers, is due out in the spring of 2007. SA
Additional words and image work: Sean Adams (SA) and Colin Roberts (CR)