Great albums of 2003 (so far)

I was just thinking about all the great albums that came out last year–Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Beck’s Sea Change, Aimee Mann’s Lost in Space, Trey Anastasio’s solo disc, Elvis Costello’s When I Was Cruel…as far as I’m concerned, it was a fantastic year for music.

I was also thinking about how few albums I’ve heard this year that rise to that caliber. Either they aren’t out there, I haven’t heard them, or I’m just not thinking about them.

So, what are your Great Albums of 2003 so far?

The one that jumps immediately to mind–Electric Version by the New Pornographers. If you haven’t heard this, you need to before the summer is officially over–it’s a great summer album.

I haven’t listened to the new Dandy Warhols disc enough for it to really take hold, but I think it will probably make the list as well.

What are the albums from this year (so far) that you think everyone needs to hear? Any big ones you’re anticipating?

Dr. J

I think the new Rancid record “Indestructible” is simply great. A lot of energy, great music, great lyrics, varied song structures. Tasty stuff.

Mars Volta’s “De-Loused in the Comatorium” was fantastic.

Radioheads Hail to the Thief

Oh my gosh thats all I can think of…
(And that is why File swapping was invented boys and girls.)

The Cramps new one, Fiends of Dope Island is my favorite of the year. The Fleshtones Do You Swing? comes in at a close second.


Fountains of Wayne’s Welcome Interstate Managers.

I still can’t believe I haven’t gotten the new Guster!

Cradle of Filth’s Damnation and a Day.

I’ll second the Mars Volta’s album.

Also Up in Flames by Manitoba and M83’s Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts were both most excellent.

Frank Black’s Show Me Your Tears is the best I’ve heard this year. (I know it just came out today, but a record-critic friend gave me his advance copy a few weeks ago.)

Fountains of Wayne - “Welcome Interstate Managers”
Warren Zevon - “The Wind”
The Jayhawks - “Rainy Day Music”
The White Stripes - “Elephant”
Coldplay - “A Rush of Blood to th Head”

A couple of those may have actually come out in 2002. I’m not sure.

Evanescence (or was that '02?) and Radiohead.

First one I thought of. I’ll add You Forgot It In People by Toronto collective Broken Social Scene. Lush, trippy, propulsive, and wistful - sometimes all in the same song.

Big seconds for:

The White Stripes - Elephant
Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers

Both amazing. I am thinking I need to buy the New Pornographers CD…

Norah Jones “Come Away With Me” is a good one.

My favorite has been “Awakening” by Iris.

Let’s face it; this hasn’t been the best year for music, at least compared to 2002. Still, there have been a couple of really sweet gems in the gravel.

So without further ado…

Best Albums of the First Three Quarters of 2003:

1) The Constantines - Shine A Light
The mixture of Fugazi style guitar interplay and a boozy Paul Westerberg rasp of a vocalist, elevates this album above anything else released so far this year. It invokes bleak images of drunken all nighters and huddling together in dark alleyways, during sudden rainfall with strangers, like you were long lost friends. I think I’ll be spending lots of time with this, curled up against the radiator, on the dark Norwegian winter nights to come. Probably bound to be criminally overlooked. Don’t be fooled by the generic sounding name, this isn’t a stupid garage rock band.

2) Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
What Treviathan said and then some.

3) Manitoba - Up In Flames
Often compared to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, this is pure shogazer bliss. The soundtrack to my summer.

4) Ted Leo and The Pharmacists - Hearts of Oak
Just a great rock and roll record, channeling the spirit of Phil Lynott afro and saluting old British Two-Tone ska bands (‘Where Have All The Rudeboys Gone’). I’m going to peddle this to my classic rock listening neighbor, ten to one he’s going to love it.

5) TV On The Radio - Young Liars (EP)
The brilliant second track ‘Staring At The Sun’ is wrestling with Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Maps’ for the contender of the best song of the year. With its vocal harmonies, fuzzy bass line and shimmering guitars it’s positively goose bump inducing, sounding unlike anything else in rock at the moment. The fifth and final track is a doo-wop (yes, you read that right) cover of The Pixie’s Mr. Grieves, complete with snapping fingers and handclaps. I’m drooling with anticipation for the full length.

Honorable Mentions:

M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
Cat Power – You Are Free
Sweet Trip – Velocity: Design: Comfort
(recommended if you like M83, I haven’t seen a single review of this album yet, even though it’s been out since July)
Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co.
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks – Pig Lib
(better than the last two Pavement albums IMHO)

Biggest Disapointment:

Mars Volta - De-Loused In The Comatorium
Being a big fan of At The Drive-In (I think I own four t-shirts, or something), I counted down the days to the release of this album. On the first listen it blew me away. On the second listen I was certain this was the best album in five years. On the third listen I dozed off. My friend described this album as spending an hour in a sensory deprivation tank, there is no point in having it on in the background while you read a book or surf the net, you have to give it your complete attention to get the full effect. Too bad then, that it’s so mind numbingly dull.

I rarely revisit it and it hasn’t left its jewel case for months, which reminds me that it wins the award for worst album cover of the year. But these guys are so immensely talented I seriously believe their next album is going to be a masterpiece. I’m rooting for them with all my heart.

Worst Record Of The Year:

Turbonegro – Scandinavian Leather
Barf. Fuck this band. Never again.

Beck – Seachange
Cat Power – You are Free
Ween’s – Quebec (just got it, but like it much better than their last few)
The Long Winters – When I Pretend to Fall
Calexico - Feast of Wire
McClusky – McClusky do Dallas
Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (2002?)
Pinback – Offcell EP
FWIW, I thought that New Pornographers’ album was really boring.

Mars Volta’s “De-Loused in the Comatorium” is just amazing IMO. By far the best this year.

The White Stripes - Elephant
Britta Philips and Dean Wareham - L’avventura

YES. Tremendous fun. Head-smacking, bone-crunching. Blistering. I love it.

I really don’t have anything original to say beyond that.

Oh yeah:

De-Loused in the Comatorium sucks mightily. The CD is entirely loud noodling. Awful.