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Nolan's Pop Culture Review--now in our third calendar year!
PCR # 94 (Vol. 3, No. 2) This edition is for the week of January 7--13, 2002.

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The Enlightenment by Terence Nuzum

     The Best of 2001

If you watch MTV you might need to check these albums out because you probably need help. Good music is out there people, but it's not on the radio.

Fugazi10. Fugazi: the Argument -- After 14 years of playing their unique style of alt-garage punk, Fugazi finally discover melody, resulting in not only their finest album, but their most shocking. They are still the only band today that pre-pays $5 off their albums so they can only charge you $10. Any store that you see charging more than $10 for a Fugazi album, tell them to stop!!!!!!!!!

Nat'l Skyline9. National Skyline: This=Everything -- This is what Radiohead couldve sounded like on last years Kid A if they would have taken more time and not put out an album of experiments (great it was though. it ranked last year as no.1 with me). This=everything=jangly pop, New Order beats, avant garde electro pops & crackles.

The Strokes8. The Strokes: Is this it? -- No band since Nirvana has had as much hype put on them in one year. But unlike Nirvana, New York's The Strokes deserve it. On first listen they sound like a clone of The Velvet Underground, Television, and just about every other art-punk band coming out of the Big Apple in the late 70's. But on repeated listens, the genius shines. Pure fuzz-box, lo-fi rock. They are the first band in recent memory that ape a past sound and yet seem as if they are being sincere. A classic.

New Order7. New Order: Get Ready -- After deterioating into synth-dance icons in the 80's, New Order springs back to life with guitar driven Euro-pop, reclaiming their old Joy Division sound. The only 80's comeback album to have any value, U2 failed in 2000 with "All That You Can't Leave Behind", Depeche Mode sounded shabby, trite, and tired with this year's "Exciter". Only the Cure's "Blood Flowers" in 2000 can compete. New Order still lives.

Stereolab6. Stereolab: Sound-Dust -- Stereolab Mach one: Velvet Underground clone. Stereolab Mach two: Autechre meets Nico filtered through Nue!. Stereolab Mach three: Stereolab. They finally found their sound. Latiea Sadliers dreamy vocals spout Marxists views while Tim Ganes slide guitars produce 60's french pop cheese. Fashioning their best album, the groop (as they're called) dropped their trademark 8-minute epics here and, in turn, gave us their pop smarts.

The White Stripes5. The White Stripes: Whitebloodcells -- The saviours of rock n' roll? Maybe. The sister brother? Ex-husband/wife? (don't ask--the controversy and mystery continue) duo of Meg and Jack White produce unrefined raw garage rock ala The Kinks, even mixing in some Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath guitar riffs. Favorite lyric, "I'm not interested in oil wells, shipping, or real estate/ what do I want to be?/ everything you hate!"

Spoon4. Spoon: Girls can tell -- Simple, three-chord garage-rock in the vein of the White Stripes and The Strokes. Spoon triumphs over the latter two bands by sheer momentum. Unlike the other two bands' albums, none of this album sounds forced. Funky, yet rockin' kinda like the "Louie, Louie" album for the hip generation. But you won't hear it on MTV.

The Microphones3. The Microphones: The Glow pt.2 -- Hushed vocals, lo-fi production, and eerie confessional lyrics make this close to being the best album of the year, alas, it was beaten out. The Microphones production on the album is the real charm. Sounding like no other, you feel like you are locked in a small closet with the singer while the band plays outside. An experience.

Radiohead2. Radiohead: Amnesiac -- Radiohead follow up last year's Kid A with a "Kid B" of sorts. Culled from outtakes of the Kid A sessions, Amnesiac is more accessible, but just as difficult in places. From the Smiths-inspired dream pop of "Knives Out", to the all electro-bleep fest of "Pulk/Pull revolving doors", Amnesiac again proves that Radiohead is the only rock band that matters. Pushing the envelope of what can be done with electro-pop and showing how far a now mainstream band can go to number one in the U.S. and U.K. and still remain true to their artistic roots. Pink Floyd's only true heir.

Mogwai1. Mogwai: Rock Action -- Rock Action? Well, not like you think anyway. The most rocking done on this album is a drum freak-out at the end of a song. Instead, we get instrumentals with sparse vocals. Emotional rather than lyrical, Mogwais' greatest triumph takes you to the land of the sonic folk and ambient instrumentals. While Limp Bizkit, Creed, and all those other crap U.S. rock/rap bands were giving us heavy metal retreads mixed with lame white-boy rap, Brittain's Mogwai showed us that Rock Action can sometimes be of the quietest kind. A masterpiece and best album of 2001.


The movies that turned out to be great for me this year were mostly low-key affairs and character pieces. Considering Hollywood is still putting out crap, some directors are holding the torch and proving that special effects do not make a good movie.

The Royal Tenenbaums6. The Royal Tenenbaums -- Dark comedy-drama that explores families and their eccentricities. Highlighted by its great performances and directing techniques. These kinds of shots and editing you will never see in a serious movie nowadays, unfortunately, so enjoy them here.

The Man Who Wasn't There5. The Man Who Wasn't There -- The Coen's once again deliver an excellent period-piece reminiscent of an old 40's domestic crime paperback. The only movie that Billy Bob Thorton doesn't suck in.

From Hell4.From Hell -- Alan Moore's stiff biography comic based on the White Chapel Ripper Murders gets a first-rate adaptation. The Hughs Brothers' clever direction and editing effects bring London's underbelly to life.

Mulholland Drive3. Mulholland Drive -- David Lynch's dream-like style and surrealistic metaphors finally find a place. A great mystery, love story, and a haunting portrait of the evil of Hollywood. His best since Blue Velvet.

2. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings
Part one of Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's mammoth saga, fulfills every fantasy-fan's dream. The perfect fantasy movie in every sense. Peter Jackson captures all of Tolkien's world, excellent performances from actors I had little or no faith in, and a magic feeling that is usually missing from today's fantasy films.

1. Ghost World -- I could go on and on or you could read my review in PCR #80. I highly recommend this movie. This film manages to capture reality and humanize characters in a way that few, if any, do. Just pray and hope Zwigoff and Clowes get their next collaboration off the ground.

Ghost World

To hell with you all,
Terence Nuzum
Viddywell Productions

"The Enlightenment" is ©2002 by Terence Nuzum.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  Contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review is ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova.