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.
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)
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.