96.) Aimee Mann - Bachelor No. 2 (2000)

Here's a record I don't feel the need to defend in any way, which is nice.

In 2000 Aimee Mann was a woman without a record label despite fronting one of the good so-called 80's bands and releasing two really great (and in one case close to perfect) solo records. Undeterred, Mann self-released Bachelor No. 2 and it became the biggest selling record of her career.

Bachelor No.2 certainly feels like somewhat of a companion piece to her work on the Magnolia soundtrack (a few of the songs can be found on both records) but if you're going to go with just one, Bachelor No. 2 would be the choice. I've always loved a good singer/songwriter and Mann is one of our generation's best and this is still her best record, her masterpiece, her Car Wheels on a Gravel Road if you will.

There's not a bad song on here, in fact there's no song here that isn't pretty goddamn great. Mann's post-Bachelor output has been spotty (though there are still some gems) and she's never managed to be this cohesive again. Bachelor No. 2 felt like a statement. She'd been wronged by the music business so she poured her heart into these songs and came to play and not just lyrically - there is some really nice production work here and the arrangements and melodies are a stand out which wasn't necessarily the case before.

I was 19 when Bachelor No. 2 came out and it was a big college record for me and in compiling the list I was nervous that I was including it for nostalgia reasons, but then I listened to it again...and again...and again and I proved myself wrong. It's still as compelling today as it was when I was listening to it on a Discman walking to Keating Hall. It's one of the forgotten gems, which is kind of Aimee Mann's style anyway.

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