Great Albums From The Last 20 Years: “2002”

Great albums from 2002 as we count down the last 20 years.

We’re two years deep in the 2000s now, and some bands that have already appeared on our list are starting to switch up their style to continue their success. Whether it’s Canadian indie rockers hardening their sound, a group of New Yorkers introducing themselves to the world, or a Californian man changing up the way he writes songs, it can all be found in the year 2002. These albums are in no particular order and are just a few of the great albums to come from 2002.

Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights

This is the debut record from New York’s Interpol, released on August 20th, 2002. The album was recorded at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut in late 2001. The groups original line up consisted of Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, Carlos Dengler and Greg Drudy, but Greg left before work on this album had even begun. Turn On the Bright Lights was released through independent label Matador Records, and spent 73 weeks on the Billboard chart for independent albums, peaking at number 5. The 4 singles from the LP were “PDA”, “NYC” , “Obstacle 1”, and “Say Hello to the Angels” – all of which helped the album become certified gold.

Hot Hot Heat – Make Up the Breakdown

On HHH’s debut LP, the BC band delivers catchy dance-able pop tracks. This was the band’s second effort following the release of the Knock Knock Knock EP. It was released on October 8, 2002 and was ranked the 20th best album of the year on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2002. The album produced two singles “Bandages” and “Talk to Me, Dance with Me”.

Bright Eyes – Lifted Or The Story Is In the Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground

This is the fourth album to come from Connor Oberst’s Bright Eyes and was made available August 13th, 2002. The band made their national television debut in support of the record, playing the non album track, “The Trees Get Wheeled Away”, on the Late Show with David Letterman. The LP was recorded in December of 2001 through January 2002 in Lincoln, Nebraska and was released through Saddle Creek Records. It’s known as a breakthrough record for the group and received praise from critics worldwide. Rolling Stone put the album as #4 on their list of the Best Albums of 2002 and Blender Magazine has it slotted as #52 on their 100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever list. The record is also referenced in Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom when the main characters attend a Bright Eyes concert during the “Lifted” tour.

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Another group whose fourth record was released in 2002 was Wilco, dropping Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on April 23rd of that year. The LP was completed in 2001 but Reprise Records refused to release it. Wilco then acquired the rights to their material and left the label. In September of 2001, Wilco streamed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in its entirety on their website, and then went on to sign with Nonesuch Records in November of the same year. It was the first release the group had with their new drummer Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett. The album was a commercial and critical success, selling over 500,000 copies in the U.S. alone. It reached #12 on the Billboard 200 chart and was named the 3rd best album of the 2000s by Rolling Stone.

Spoon – Kill The Moonlight

Yet another fourth record released in the year 2002 was Texan rockers Spoon’s critically acclaimed Kill the Moonlight, released August 20th, 2002. “The Way We Get By” was released as a single and was featured in many different TV shows and films including: Shameless, The OC, Hustle, Stranger Than Fiction, Mean Creek and more. Album cut “Johnathon Frisk” was based on a bully who singer Britt Daniel went to middle school with. According to the group, “Frisk” is a big fan of Spoon now and has been to quite a few shows. The album has sold over 150,000 copies world wide and was given the 19th slot on Pitchfork’s best albums of the 2000s.

Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf

Songs for the Deaf is the third studio album from “QOTSA” and was released on August 27th, 2002. The album features Dave Grohl as their guest drummer and he appears in the video for “No One Knows”. Grohl was only one of many guest musicians used on the record, a practice which became a signature of the band’s releases. It was the group’s first taste of gold certification in the United States, selling around 986,000 copies. The album also did very well in Europe selling over a million copies. The record is loosely considered a concept album, taking the listener on a drive from LA to Joshua Tree while tuning into different radio stations on the way. The album spawned two Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy nominations for “No One Knows” and “Go with the Flow”.

Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People

You Forgot It in People was released on October 15th, 2002 and is known as the group’s commercial breakthrough record. For this album, the band had expanded into an 11 piece collective, and changed their style from ambient instrumental to full out indie rock. Local hype surrounded the band and caused the original pressings of the LP to sell out, forcing ‘BSS‘ to reissue the record in 2003. Music videos were made for many different tracks including “Stars and Sons”, “Cause = Time”, “I’m Still Your Fag”, and more. The album was given a very high score of 9.2/10 by Pitchfork and won the band the 2003 Juno for Alternative Album of the Year.

Sonic Youth – Murray Street

This is the 10th studio album to come from noise rockers Sonic Youth and it was released on June 25th, 2002. The record got its title from the street where their studio at the time was located, and the cover features band members Thurston and Kim’s daughter. This was the album that gained some respect back to the group, as it has a better balance from start to finish than material put out in the past. Pitchfork has the album listed as #108 on their list of the 200 greatest albums of the 2000s.

Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head

This is the second album to come from Coldplay and it was released on August 26th, 2002. The use of electric guitar and piano is more prominent on this album compared to its predecessor, Parachutes. The hype around the record collected as its release date was pushed back an extra 2 months. A Rush of Blood to the Head continued where their previous record left off, topping the UK charts in its first week and becoming the 8th best selling album of the 21st century in the UK. The three big singles for the record included “Clocks”, “In My Place” and “The Scientist”. A Rush of Blood to the Head added two more Grammys the band’s collection: 2004’s Record of the Year (Clocks) and 2003’s Alternative Album of the Year.

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

This is the 10th studio album from the Flaming Lips and it was distributed through Warner Bros. Records on July 16th 2002. The album was received well both critically and commercially, breaking into the mainstream with their electro psychedelic sound. The record covers a diverse array of subject matter but focuses mostly on melancholic thoughts about love, morality, emotion and deception, all while telling the story of Yoshimi’s battle. Despite the storytelling that goes on throughout each song, frontman Wayne Coyne said that it’s not intended to be a concept album. The LP’s final track, “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Palintia)”, won the group a 2002 Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was adapted into a musical in 2012.

Beck – Sea Change

Sea Change was the 8th studio record released by Beck and was made available September 24th, 2002. Citing the break-up with his long-time girlfriend as a major influence, this album was a stylistic shift for Beck; trading irony for more sincere lyrical content about loneliness and heartbreak. The album peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200 and reached gold status in part to singles “Lost Cause” and “Guess I’m Doing Fine”. Rolling Stone has the LP slotted at #17 on their list of the 100 best albums of the 2000s.