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Best 10 Records of 2001 (in order)

Gorillaz - Gorillaz
Mercury Rev - All Is Dream
Bjork - Vespertine
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - BRMC
The Strokes - Is This It
Spiritualized - Let It Come Down
Sparklehorse - It's A Wonderful Life
Ladytron - 604
The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
Daft Punk - Discovery

When I returned this past year to San Francisco, I noticed a few changes. Not only with the bleak rise and fall of dot coms, the absence of revolution, the death of punk, but really in the look of the people. Every third person I ran into resembled a member of Oasis or Blur. This was not the case five years ago in the actual time of high Brit-Pop. But whatever the case, there is many interesting things now taking place in the Bay Area, and they have little to do with DJs and computers. There are bands that have real feelings again.

The glam-punk combo Vue originally formed in 1997 as the Audience, issuing a self-titled LP on the Hymnal Sound label before conflicts with The Audience UK (the indie posh, Sophie Ellis Bextor) forced the switch. The return the guitar is something very welcome. Vue has a sense of blues and rock that is very interesting and recalls often overlooked groups like The Stooges and Gun Club. This is the second album from Vue and they seem very comfortable contributing to this "return to rock" that other groups like The Strokes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have seized our imaginations this year.

In the first moments of this record with all its feedback and harmonica, one may think that we have here like The White Stripes with a few extra members. But Vue seem to be doing something else, something much darker. Often in Vue's soundscape, any idea of the pop song is absent, lacking any firm commitment to the love song. "Do You Think of Him Still?" has the most potential in this area. Vue is more interested in feeling and noise, which they are entitled to. Most of us just want a buzz going through our veins, and they can surely provide it.

Pop Music this is not. Hooks, thrills, and pills are not what Vue is about. They are like a Blues band wanting to go the distance. Many of these bands are better when experienced live. Subpop, by the way, has definitely moved on from ten years ago, when Nirvana was king. Subpop can do whatever it wants. They may be supportive to a whole new groups of musicians who are unimpressed with the last few years of pop and techno and who have been working in the vacuum of the indie ghetto, whatever that means. There are people still that want to rock. Those people are okay. Vue is fine.

-- Alexander Laurence


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