Laugh & Peace - soundtrack to Vib-Ribbon
Right. Now I'm sure you're thinking, has this insane woman finally flipped her wig totally? What the hell is this, including a Playstation game soundtrack in a playlist? Fear not, fine friends, my wig is not flipped. Laugh & Peace is a fairly well-respected J-pop duo, and they enlisted the help of Yoko Fujita, the squeakiest singer this side of Minnie Mouse, to make what is a completely awesome, catchy, pure bonkers mini-album for the game. The words are Japlish, the hooks are brain-bending, it is the cutest/maddest thing on the planet. Everything I always wanted J-pop to be.
Ghost - eponymous debut album from 1991
Gentle Japanese psyche-folk-rock with the occasional outbreak of Tuvan throat-singing. Melancholic, ethereal, totally loopy English-but-only-just lyrics, sublime as a summer shower. This is their first album and sets out the philosophy for all the rest in one beautiful, luscious, emotive recording. The perfect music for a walk in the woods in the sunshine.
Sigur Rós - Ágætis Byrjun
In the absence (as of yet this year) of a new Sigur Ros album, this one is staying in my chart for a second year running. The new material sounds wonderful, though, so hurry up and release it, please! ;)= Soaring, majestic, incandescent, timeless, heartachingly divine.
Frank Black and the Catholics - Pistolero
I had quite a time picking which one I was gonna plug for this year, but in the end I plumped for this little beauty. Songs like 'Western Star', 'Skeleton Man', 'Billy Radcliffe' and '85 Weeks' are true feel-bad masterpieces. Rock and weird punk and twisted-up stuff in a way that only Frank can make it all sound so right and evil and fun.
DAAU - Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung
You know, a lot of negative things have been said about this particular album. But after much consideration, I'm pretty sure this is my favourite of the back catalogue, despite its rather unflattering artwork. This appears to be the exact moment in time that DAAU said 'Oh sod this classical stuff, let's go all-out bonkers and do a little bit of everything', only on this one, they seem to have kept a quasi-mystical thread running through, unlike 'Life Transmission' which is a lot more straightforward.
Thin White Rope - Sack Full of Silver
... and again, after much consideration, this one definitely wins out in my favour. This at the time seemed like quite an uncharacteristic release from TWR - there were songs which were almost ballads, but not quite. And the whole flavour of the album is a very bitter one: just listen to my all-time favourite TWR track 'On The Floe' and you will see exactly what I mean. Guitars as cold as the Russian steppes and all topped off with that Guy Kyser voodoo growl, at once menacing and vulnerable. Sheer genius from one of the most unfairly overlooked bands ever.

dEUS - No More Video (DVD/VHS)
Yes, yes, OK, I know this one isn't actually an album at all, per se (although there is of course the compilation album 'No More Loud Music' as well) but hell's teeth, it's more than worth a very large recommendation on this here page. All the videos ever made by dEUS collected together in one very tasty little package, including a few that you've probably never seen if you live outside of Belgium. But what's with this water theme running through all the early vids?! Anyone got any idea? Mandi's favourite moment = Tom and Stef in the bath having a water-fight on 'Hotellounge' - very cute and very funny. Miss it at your peril.

System of a Down - Toxicity
Best album of 2002 without the shadow of a doubt. How the hell do you sum up this album? Armenian-flavoured nu-metal-punk with all kinds of Cardiacs-esque twists and bends and time-change mayhem with a snappy and unafraid political dynamic. Bizarre, inventive, creative, searingly furious and occasionally extremely funny (especially on the delirious 'Bounce', a paean to pogo sticks). It doesn't scan, it doesn't make any sense, it's nothing like anything you've ever heard before, and it's bloody brilliant.
Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
Fwiw, 'Universal Truths and Cycles' is growing on us slowly. But at the moment, I'm playing B000 a lot. This reminds of of every good reason I have ever pawned my granny to follow the mischievous old sods round the country. Hooks that become so embedded in your brain you will never again extricate them, quirky and clever lyrics, Bob Pollard's beautiful voice and truly superhuman songs. Essential listening for anyone who likes an intelligent, timeless, hook-laden guitar-pop song with a great choon.
Rammstein - Mutter
Now this might seem like an unlikely choice for one so deeply un-metal as myself. But this band are absobloodylutely awesome!!! ;D It's Teutonic, gloomy, doomy, stompy, shouty, gothy, industrial, loud, growly and clompy all at the same time. I know all my friends are going to laugh their asses off at me, but I think Rammstein are SO funny and SO brilliant. Flamethrowers, burning mic stands, burning suits and pseudo-sodomy with giant spurting phalluses - what's not to like? ;D
Kairo/Pulse (Japan, DVD/VCD, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)
(Yep, another Japanese film - so, it's still our site, and the Japanese film microsite I'm making is, erm, still under construction, possibly until about 2007 at this rate... :( )
This is a fantastic film delivered to me via Poker Industries (check our links list for details). A really, really creepy film involving a small town, a website featuring webcam pictures of dead people, mysterious disappearances, red-taped rooms, and odd black marks on walls; and yet at the heart of the film lies a profound philosophical discussion regarding the nature of loneliness and its effect on people. Beautifully shot, eerie, resonant, and may well have you keeping the lights on when you sleep for a few days after viewing.




Grandaddy - live in Bristol bootleg
no, you may not have a copy, unless you beg and send us something nice. A top boot, apart from the annoying students screaming at each other for half of it. BAH!

Guided By Voices - Isolation Drills
not the best GbV album in the world by a mile, but not the worst. Smells a little funny. A bit like my grandmother - a little pissy and rather confused.
Pixies - The Complete B sides
aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!! When Black Francis still knew how to scream.
Swearing At Motorists - Number Seven Uptown
Another Dayton band that's pretty hot, actually. So that makes about four in total, then. Dayton must be a little like Swindon. Not much to do, a pop band, a rock band, and a lot of people who think Britney is, like, rilly rilly HOT. They're wrong, you know.
The Willard Grant Conspiracy - Everything Is Fine
Last heard of playing a gig in Winford. That's a tiny little village near Bristol. No-one ever plays in Winford, unless they're a linedance combo. A little odd for an alt-country band, no?
Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift yr. Skinny Like Antennas To Heaven
not much good to listen to, but great accompaniment to silent movies. Not a huge recommendation in itself, but handy when the grating 80s soundtrack to the Moroder version of Metropolis gets just that little bit too teethscratching.
Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
like Suitcase, a little sprawling. It's taken a year to get to know this, but it's been worth the wait. Maybe not so good if you're down. And Love isn't just like Jazz, you know, Steven.
Labradford - Fixed::Context
Dreamy post-rockers make album with screechy noise supremo Steve Albini. Surprisingly, still dreamy. But LOUD dreamy, the sort of dream you might get if you fell asleep at a Manowar gig.
Sugar - Beaster
still the most savage thing ever recorded.

Mucilage - Tastes Like Honey
our man in Virginia, Deral Fenderson, pulls out another weirdo popfest once more.