23. The Bronx- s/t
22. Lucinda Williams- World Without Tears
21. Kings ofLeon- Youth and Young Manhood
20. Burnt by the Sim- Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
19. 0utkast- the Love Below/Speakerboxxx
18. Elvis Costello- North
17. Ryan Adams- Love is Hell part 2
16. My Morning Jacket- It Still Moves
15. The Strokes- Room on Fire
14. Coheed and Cambria- In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
13. The Shins- Chutes Too Narrow
12. The White Stripes – Elephant- hype leads to hope and with their fourth release many were hoping that the White Stripes would fall short and perhaps this “back to the garage” movement would finally end. Instead they delivered one of their finest collections yet and Jack White even learned how to accept the bass. Too bad Meg still hasn’t learned how to play drums.
11. Blood Brothers – Burn, Piano Island, Burn- intense and chaotic noise that falls into the vague genre of post-core and is coupled with helium soaked vocals that somehow work. Reminds listeners what it was like when guys with afros and guys without afros made music together instead of separately.
10. Every Time I Die – Hot Damn! – leaving their Converge complex in the dust (well, almost) ETID bring to the table ten tunes of loose blues, looser women and delusions of literary grandeur. Like a 300 level English class with bourbon breath breakdowns and no, I am not talking about Dr. Bort.
9. Aesop Rock – Bazooka Tooth- 70 minute hip-hop epic that busts open a Pandora’s box of paranoia, politics and unadulterated “word murdering.” Oh and you can dance to this shit too. Cins.
8. Postal Service – Give Up- Gibbard and Tamborello sway from their separate, cozy, indie niches for experimentation in synthesizers and to test post 9-11 mail reliability; a side project that deserves to be brought into center focus.
7. Fountains of Wayne – Welcome Interstate Managers- simple three chord pop that wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve and gets away with it due to the comical orchestration and sheer talent of songwriters Schlessinger and Collingwood. A release for those who don’t always want to think as hard as they say they do.
6. The Mars Volta – De-loused in the Comatorium- an exertion of originality laced with technical abandon that was conceived through the scope of four crazed eyes and 100 plus effects pedals that put Sparta to utter shame. Yes children, aliens do exist and they have amazing stage presence.
5. Radiohead – Hail to the Thief- not the return to the guitar focused rock that made them critical darlings but for every four or five laptop blips and bleeps, Radiohead treated us to a slice of the distorted euphoria that made us buy Pablo Honey in the first place.
4. Nada Surf- Let Go – written off as victims of Buzz Bin syndrome in 1996, Nada Surf proves that third time’s a commercial charm with the comeback, catch-rock record of 2003, Let Go. Haphazard lyrics, simple melodies and Beach Boy-esque harmonies help Nada Surfgeniusly crawl out from the Alternative Nation grave were we all hope Kennedy is still residing.
3. Iron and Wine – the Sea and the Rhythm EP – in the extended version of Almost Famous, Russell Hammond points out that good music is not so much about what you decide to put in as it is what you decide to leave out. With two sets of strings, dollar store production and one voice, Sam Beam proves Hammond’s theory perfectly producing five whispered tales that lie on the brink of a breakdown and express more with a sigh than most albums do with a single.
2. Chris Cubeta – Sugar Sky – hometown boy makes good with solo debut for his grass roots label, Galuminumfoil. With help from label mates Danny Lanzetta, John Passineau and a weathered sage by the name of Frank Carillo, Cubeta shines on every track with his honest blend of country inspired rock that represents a more than positive direction for the local singer/songwriter.
1. Ted Leo/Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak – most thirty something men living at home with their parents don’t have much to show for their lives. Then again, most men aren’t Ted Leo. Hailed by critics as the, “new Elvis Costello” Leo channels sarcasm, wit and charisma to produce an upbeat album that touches on everything from politics to hangovers. In a world gone mad. Hearts of Oak does not provide much solace but instead flashes a smart-alec grin in the direction of all ears open to it.
Shows of 2003
Built to Spill@Irving Plaza
The Mars Volta@North Six
J Mascis and the Fog@North Six
Galuminum Foil Showcase@the Rio
Elvis Costello@Central Park
Belle and Sebastian@ProspectPark
Lucinda Williams@Toads – where Lucinda showed her disgust for the great American pastime by flipping off the audience and leaving the stage after fans were caught paying more attention to game 5 of the BoSox vs. the A’s than they were to her encore. My kind of girl.
Movies of 2003
The Magdalene Sisters
Freddy vs. Jason
Kill Bill vol. I
Pieces of April
A Mighty Wind
Lost in Translation