We’re tip-toeing into the 2000s and 2001 was another big year. Bands that would go on to have a huge impact in the music industry were just getting started. In this year a virtual band from Britain was born, there was a concept album from our robotic French friends, and one of the most successful debut records in a long time was released. These albums are in no particular order and are just a few of the great albums from 2001.
The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
White Blood Cells is the third studio album to come from The White Stripes and was released on July 3rd 2001. According Jack White, the entire LP was recorded in less than 4 days to try to keep it “as unorganized as possible.” Drummer Meg White was hesitant to go into the recording process because she thought the songs were “too new.” The production of the record was done by Jack and was mixed simply and quickly to capture their raw energy. The album’s short and sharp lead single “Fell In Love With A Girl” gained early commercial popularity and respect from critics. The record made an abundance of year-end lists and Rolling Stone named it the 19th Best Album of the Decade.
The Shins – Oh, Inverted World
This is the debut record from The Shins and it was released on June 19th, 2001. The entire LP was written and composed by frontman James Mercer, who is the creative force behind the band. The album didn’t sell millions of copies, but it helped the group gain a loyal fan base and respect from critics. The 2004 indie classic film Garden State included two Shins songs on the soundtrack: “New Slang” and “Caring Is Creepy”. It brought their music to a new audience that otherwise may have never experienced it. Oh, Inverted World made many different best-of lists for music magazines, but Pitchfork nailed them to #115 on the 200 Best Albums of the 2000s.
The Strokes – Is This It?
Another debut album to come in the year 2001 was The Strokes’ Is This It?, released on July 30th. The band was trying to keep their simple rock sound by avoiding over-production in the studio. The start of the recording process didn’t go as planned, however. After recording 3 full songs with Pixies producer Gil Norton, The Strokes found the songs to be “too clean” and “too pretentious.” They were eventually scrapped and they moved to a basement studio that was more in line with their style to work with Gordon Raphael. Most of the songs were recorded in one take and the production/mixing was done while the band was playing, as Raphael wanted to show the guys a final product by the time they were done playing. Their raw energy was captured and the album praised by critics, with 6 major publications naming it the best album of the year.
Daft Punk – Discovery
This is the second studio album to come the french electronic duo Daft Punk. The album was the soundtrack for the film Insterstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem which was a project between Daft Punk, Leiji Matsumoto and Toei Animation. All the music videos for the album cuts are segments from the aforementioned film which follows the story of a kidnapped extraterrestrial band. The LP was recorded in their own studio “Daft House” which is inside Thomas Bangalter’s home in Paris, France. It was a lengthy process that started in 1998, and the production lasted over two years. Some of the the biggest songs to come from the album were “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, “Aerodynamic”, “Digital Love” and “One More Time”. The album has sold over 2.6 million copies, and landed them #3 on Pitchfork’s top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
Gorillaz – Gorillaz
This is the first release to come from the British virtual group Gorillaz; the brain child of Blur’s Damon Albarn and English comic book artist and designer, Jamie Hewlett. The record was a surprise success reaching #3 on the UK charts, #14 in the US and selling over 5 million copies worldwide. They experiment with many different genres through the LP: Acid Jazz, Hip Hop, Rock, Punk, Dub and more. If there was a sound you were looking for, chances are you could find it on this album. The LP included an enhanced section with a bunch of extra goodies such as screen savers, wallpapers and access to a special section the group’s website. Aside from Rolling Stone, the album had very positive reviews and was named the 6th Best Album of the Year by Spin magazine.
Radiohead – Amnesiac
The often-ignored younger sister of Kid A, 2001’s Amnesiac is a very solid album. The album continued on the themes explored on Kid A: commerce, alienation and the media. Thom Yorke’s trademark croon is again wrapped in a digitally processed, but groovy, sound. Amnesiac is really the second chapter of Kid A and marks the completion of what is arguably Radiohead’s most important creative period.
Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American
This is the 4th studio album to come from Jimmy Eat World and was the 3rd to be produced by Mark Trombino. Out of concern that the title would be taken the wrong way following the September 11th attacks, the album was re-issued as a self-titled record with the former title track being re-named to “Salt Sweat Sugar”. It was band’s most successful album to date, both critically and commercially, receiving a large amount of airplay. The record spawned some of the most well known Jimmy Eat World tracks: “Sweetness”, “The Middle”, “Bleed American” and “A Praise Chorus”. Bleed American went platinum in both the US and Canada.
Ryan Adams – Gold
Gold is the Ryan Adams’ sophomore album and was released on September 25th. This is still the best selling record Adams has to date, going certified gold in the UK and selling just under 1 million copies worldwide. Adams noted “with Gold, I was trying to prove something to myself. I wanted to invent a modern classic.” Originally the album was intended to be a double album, but his record label Lost Highway condensed the material into a single disc. The record’s most commercially successful songs were “When the Stars Go Blue”, “Answering the Bell” and “New York, New York”. They all played a big part in the album receiving three Grammy nominations in 2002.
Cake – Comfort Eagle
This is the 4th studio album to come from eclectic rockers Cake, and it continued the group’s unique sound. In its opening week the record sold around 72,000 copies, debuting at number 12 on the Billboard top 200. It was their first LP to be released with Columbia Records and it was recorded in two different studios in California. The album only spawned one single, but it’s arguably the band’s most well known and loved song – “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”. Comfort Eagle received favourable reviews from critics and was certified gold in 2003.
Spoon – Girls Can Tell
Released on February 20th, 2001, Girls Cant Tell was the third studio record to be released from the band. This album was more of critics choice than a commercial success, selling slightly fewer than 100,000 copies. The LP consisted of 11 songs including a cover of the Sidehacker’s “Me and the Bean”. All songs, aside from the cover, were written by Britt Daniel and he played a big role in the production as well. The record continued to satisfy Spoon fans and landed at #96 on Pitchforks top 200 albums of the 2000s.
Microphones – The Glow, Pt. 2
Phil Elvrum is one of the most enigmatic musical artists working. With his many projects, Mount Eerie, Microphones, and others, Elvrum has made a career out of crafting his own brand of intricate “headphone music”. On The Glow, Pt. 2 Elvrum eschews digital production techniques for tape hiss and silence. The hugely ambitious 20 track album was very well received by Indie music critics and was give #1 status on Picthfork’s year-end list.
Dntel – Life is Full of Possibilities
Dntel is the brainchild of Jimmy Tamborello who broke out of the IDM scene to collaborate with a host of indie artists on this incredible record. The album’s importance is largely due to the progression of a genre of music that mixes electronic music with indie-pop vocals. The most notable collaboration on this album was with Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, which eventually led to Tamborello and Gibbard forming the highly successful Postal Service.