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  1. #26
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    Was listening to one last night that should have been on the list.

    Tied and Tickled Trio - Observing Systems has been a favorite of mine this year. It's a nice mish mash of jazz and electronics. Very interesting stuff that I've pulled out a lot since I picked it up.

  2. #27
    Forum Regular audiobill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Solsbury Hill

    Talking My Favourites of 2003...

    I haven't bought as many CDs this year, as I did in 2002; however, this may be due to purchasing DVD movies for our home theatre system.

    Nevertheless, these are the discs that have brought endless joy and contemplation to the audiobill abode:

    1. Mars Volta -- De-loused in the Crematorium -- This one just out and out rocks my world in 2003. Who would have ever guessed that the demise of At The Drive-in would bring about a classic, such as this.

    2. Sun Kil Moon -- Perhaps my "discovery" disc that has slipped most people's radar. You might want to do a "search" on this board and see what the lucky few who've discovered it have to say.

    3. The White Stripes -- Elephant -- Derivative?? Sure. But also very much a unique and fully independent album -- it never fails to elicit high speed driving in the car.

    4. Grandaddy -- Sumday -- A Psychedelic sleeper that always speaks to me in new ways each time I listen.

    5. Neil Young -- Greendale -- An American Gothic, as can only be delivered throught the eyes of a Canadian. Bears repeated listens for its clever puns and messages.

    6. Songs: Ohia -- The Magnolia Elecric Company -- Metaphors of menace and isolation brood beautifully each time I play this one.

    7. The Strokes -- Room On Fire -- Proof that these musicians are the real McCoy......... Crank it up.

    8. The Constantines -- Shine A Light -- Expansive and celebratory and Canadian. If it's not on your radar screen, it should be.

    That's it for now, RR folks.

    I must check out some of the others on your lists.

    Always a pleasure,

  3. #28
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    below the noise floor
    Doh! Can't believe I forgot Mars Volta, they're definitely in my Top 10. Probably Blue Man Group, also, as mentioned in another thread.
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
    I remain,
    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  4. #29
    Forum Regular audiobill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Solsbury Hill

    Angry Sorry for the Double Post (nt)

    Sorry for the double post. I'm still getting used to the new format.]

  5. #30
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    below the noise floor
    Quote Originally Posted by audiobill
    Sorry for the double post. I'm still getting used to the new format.
    Actually, I think you can even go back and delete it. Quick, try it, before anyone else sees.
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
    I remain,
    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  6. #31
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    In a dead sea of fluid mercury
    2003 generally speaking was an awesome year for me, probably because I bought, got, and listened to more than ever before. I have probably placed what will be my last order of the year and still regret not getting a chance to hear so much music.

    2003-The year that could have been:

    Joe Strummer-Street Core
    Cat Power-You Are Free
    Alphaville-Crazy Show
    Calexico-feast Of wire-(may still get this one!)
    Four Tet-Rounds
    Stereophonics-You Gotta Go there To Come Back
    Caesars-39 Minutes Of Bliss
    Constantines-Shine A Light
    Hybrid-Morning Sci-fi
    David Gahan's solo record

    I could go on and on but you get the picture.

    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  7. #32
    In perfect harmony DarrenH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Wolverine Country

    I've got a few things on order yet.

    But so far, here's the cream of the crop of 2003 for me. In no particular order.

    King Crimson - The Power To Believe
    Gov't Mule - The Deepest End
    Allman Brothers Band - Hittin' The Note
    Arena - Contagion
    Dead Soul Tribe - A Murder Of Crows
    O.S.I. - Office of Strategic Influence
    Mostly Autumn - Passengers
    Ian Anderson - Rupi's Dance
    Jethro Tull - Christmas Album
    Satellite - A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset
    Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power. I was in Best Buy and this song "Golden Retriever" starts playing. Cool song I thought. After the song was over they announced the band that played it. I immediately went over and grabbed it and I'm thrilled the rest ot that CD wasn't bad either. Sometimes buying a CD based on one song can be disastrous.

    If I had to choose a favorite from that list it would be that Gov't Mule release. Great value and just awesome music. The included DVD is fantastic.
    Let the midnight special shine a light on me.

  8. #33
    Forum Regular Grblgrbl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    New York
    My faves (in no order):

    Jayhawks: Rainy Day Music
    Richard Thompson: Old Kit Bag/More Guitar/Ducknapped
    Steely Dan: Everything Must Go
    Inner Visions: Street Corner Musicians
    Luciano: Serve Jah
    King Crimson: The Power to Believe
    Television: Live at the Old Waldorf 1978
    Roxy Music: Live
    Led Zeppelin: How the West Was Won
    The Thorns: s/t
    Warren Zevon: The Wind
    This is this. This ain't something else. This is this.

  9. #34
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    1. Damien Jurado - Where shall you take me?
    Wow, beautifully disturbing album. Opens with a murderer confessing "first came the screams and blood on the floor" and closes with a plea to "come save me from this fire". Not exactly what one would call a cheery evening of entertainment. But it's one of the hardest albums to stay away from in recent memory. Very compelling, for me. Abilene is surely one of the finest songs I've heard in recent times and the whole album is a gut wrencher. Many comparisons come easily to mind, most notably Springsteen's Nebraska. Or something more recent like Gillian Welch's excellent Time (The Revelator), but Jurado also evokes a Neil Young feel too, the ragged Neil Young that mourned for his lost friends on Tonight's the Night. More consistent than his Ghost of David album, but maybe not quite the severe emotional ups and downs and stellar highlights of songs like Medication and Great Today and Rosewood Casket from that one. And very short at only about 32 minutes. But nearly absent of anything I would consider a misstep as well. After a couple dozen listens, these songs just won't go away, so maybe it's wrong to say the highlights don't reach the same level as in the past. And where else could you get an unlimited number of therapy sessions for under $10? Indispensible. Not number one every day of the week, but it is today so that's why it's up here at the top.

    2. Califone Quicksand/Cradlesnakes
    Califone has probably been my favorite band for the last few years and on many days this would easily be my favorite album of the year. There was a label on the cover with a quote from the Chicago Tribune, "How the Flaming Lips might've interpreted Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music". Maybe, but The Flaming Lips have never come to my mind when listening to Califone, although more pop elements have been added to this release. They've also added a little more avant garde jazz feel to this one, kind of like they're moving beyond the Rolling Stone's Exile On Main Street blueprint for dirty folk-blues. Not that they've abandoned their original blend of electronically textured folk-blues, they've added to and extended it in new directions making for a more diverse album than their last one, the excellent Roomsound.

    The song "Michigan Girls" capsulizes much of the band's appeal for me. Outstanding guitar playing and song writing, with one of Tim Rutili's best vocals yet. He can really breathe life into what sometimes reads like a string of fractured images, like "dry white scratches on a sunburnt shin, don't give it a name", giving it color and body, yet he still manages to keep the images loosely tethered with his vocal shadings. Not that he has that great a voice, but like most good blues singers, he does know how to use what he has. Superb song, especially when it hits the chorus. Spacey percussion and piano sounds fill the background. Might be my song of the is the one I chose to represent the album on my Season's Greetings 2003 comp.

    3. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
    Toward the end of last year, You Forgot It In People was released on the little Arts and Crafts label in Canada and it almost immediately sold out due to the heavy buzz surrounding this band. So it didn't really get a "proper" release in Canada until a few months into 2003, and not until the summer in the US, which is why it will wind up on many 2003 top ten lists, even though technically it was first released in Canada in 2002. Strong and varied all the way through and gets better with each listen. A little bit like Death Cab For Cutie meets The Strokes at times, but the best of both. And then along comes a very cool instrumental or a nice horn and piano interlude. A little Belle & Sebastian sound at times. Clever and sophisticated experimental pop music without being too coy or cute. Being a Toronto collective formed from some other more epic sounding bands on the scene with the intent of making a pop music album, they do bring some of that Godspeed You Black Emperor type sound to it. But in shorter packages, nothing much over 6 minutes long. A little Spoon, but not quite as frenetic overall...maybe some Notwist, but not quite as electronic....and still some Kinks at the core like with the previously mentioned Strokes. It also has a couple of my favorite upbeat songs of the year in Almost Crimes and Cause=Time. Not a perfect album, but not very far from it either.

    4. Head of Femur - Ringodom or Proctor
    This one came out of nowhere this year for me, with lots of the same appeal as The Flaming Lips Soft Bulletin. But in this case, mostly with real instrumentation more akin to some of the Elephant 6 collective releases such as Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control. Very nice collection of songs with the usual nods to the Beach Boys and Love and the Beatles and other orchestrated pop bands, but also XTC and Talking Heads and the irrepressible Brian Eno in his madcap and often nonsensical pop persona from the mid 70s. They even do a playfully frenzied, but still faithful cover of his "The True Wheel" from Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). Brilliant stuff. You wonder what these guys could do with a big recording budget and a mainstream sounding singer, or at least maybe a stronger mixing of the vocals and some pitch work. But this kind of charming music doesn't exist outside of the little indie labels anymore, in this case Greyday Productions in Portland. Ever heard of Presto! Recording Studios in Nebraska? That's what I thought....unless you're already a big Bright Eyes fan or something. A couple of the concepts are a little underdeveloped, but that doesn't really detract much from the spell this album casts on me. One of those albums that I want to hear again as soon as it's over.

    5. Holopaw - Holopaw
    This is a very nice debut album from John Orth's main band (he was also one of the main parts of last year's Ugly Casanova, along with Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, Pall Jenkins of Black Heart Procession, and Tim Rutili and Brian Deck of Califone). If you're a fan of those bands, add this one to your list, especially if "Hotcha Girls" and "Cat Faces" were two of your favorites on the Ugly Casanova album. Those songs that Orth wrote and sang on the Ugly Casanova album were probably my favorites too, although I really liked that whole album. And sometimes on Ugly Casanova there isn't that big of a difference between the voices of Isaac Brock and John Orth, although it's apparent from the Holopaw album that he is the better singer, both technically and also in his ability to add subtle shades of emotion to a song.

    The song "Abraham Lincoln" leads off the album and in many ways summarizes all that I like about this band. It starts out as a somewhat traditional sounding country-folk song with little more than strummed acoustic guitars and Orth's fragile and twangy but emotion laden voice. But then some pedal steel and very subtle synth atmospherics begin to appear. And before you know it the whole background has become lit up with all manner of unique sounds and instruments and percussion loops and who knows what, almost like a dance of fireflies in the nighttime sky. I think both Holopaw and Califone have a vision similar to that of a good cinematographer, and when you add in the array of expertly played acoustic instruments, and the subtle electro-organic textures that add space and ambience, and the percussion that goes almost unnoticed at times, it all adds up to music with a real heart and soul. This is a highly engaging record and has remained a favorite for most of the year.

    6. Cat Power - You Are Free
    Very good album, especially if you liked Moon Pix. I don't think it has any songs that quite match the highlights on that one (or the one before, What Would The Community Think), but it does get pretty close at times. Kind of tough to rate it for me as I find it hard to be objective with her. I don't like it as much as Moon Pix and doubt I ever will since that album is very special to me, but this one is very listenable and some have even said it is her best. Essential for fans, that much is sure, but the lyrics on some of the songs are a letdown. Simple and incomplete thoughts sometimes replace a "real" set of lyrics. This has always been her biggest problem, but again her incredibly expressive voice saves her. Perhaps most of her demons were exorcised with the cathartic Moon Pix, leaving less to write about? Still, this caps an outstanding trilogy of albums (ignoring for the moment the covers album released between Moon Pix and You Are Free) by one of my favorite artists.

    7. British Sea Power - The Decline of British Sea Power
    Start with some Joy Division mixed with some David Bowie and Echo & The Bunnymen. Add lyrics that are heavily sprinkled with literary and historical references. What do you wind up with? Who knows what to call it but I like this one a lot and have been playing it endlessly for the last few months. Even sent out some copies as a mystery disc to a few folks here. Lots of great guitar parts and the singer does sound kind of like Ian Curtis at times. At other times more like Bowie. And even a touch of David Thomas of Pere Ubu fame (well, I guess Pere Ubu and fame don't have a lot in common :-)). But the music is still unique. And fun. And powerful. And emotional. It is quite an accomplished debut album, even with the couple minor missteps that inevitably creep in, although in this case they are very minor in my view, and the whole CD has a nice ebb and flow, fast and slow, soft and loud type of sequencing that seems well thought out and executed. It even starts with some Gregorian chanting before erupting into the second song, Apologies To Insect Life, which seems to take inspiration from (and name-checks) Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and his Notes from Underground, at least in relation to the lines about his attractiveness (or lack of it in the opening line of Dostoevsky's fictional diary) and the brothel scenes and all the talk of insect comparisons that runs through the diary. Very unique album and another big surprize this year.

    8. Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power
    The Welsh quintet cooks up another batch of quirky, inventive pop with influences running from The Beatles and XTC and Pink Floyd and the Kinks and the Beach Boys to modern day bands like Blur and Flaming Lips and Radiohead. Not as quirky as some of their earlier albums but not quite as glossy as the last one, Rings Around the World, either. Quite a few standout tracks. I think this one would appeal to many of the people that post here. Favorite track right now is called The Undefeated and comes near the end of the album. Sounds kinda like something from the Clash during their Sandinista dub period. Driven along by steel drums. Very cool. Even ends in a hail of bullets. It's the one I used on my year-end comp.

    Lots of Magical Mystery Tour mixed in the pot too. Quite a variety of styles and tempos with many layers of sound. The Piccolo Snare is an especially nice epic sounding bit of space rock ala Pink Floyd/Radiohead/Porcupine Tree (especialy PT as vocalist Gruff Rhys sounds a little like Steve Wilson here). Here's what Gruff says about it, "Piccolo Snare is a song about societies torn apart by war and the waste of human life for nothing, pawns in a worthless game. A lot of the vocabulary for that song comes from the Falklands War, the Malvinas War, whatever you want to call it: "Tumbledown" and "Skyhawks", etcetera. It could be about any war, but that was a war I remembered from when I was a kid where people from my area were dying, as the media tried to maintain some ridiculous degree of jingoism... Apart from using the vocabulary it's generally a song about people's misguided belief in flags. All flags are tarnished; they were only invented so that people wouldn't shoot their own side in the war. It's a song in at least three parts. It starts off folk rock in feel, and builds up to a cosmic funk coda!".

    I'd still list Radiator as their best work and probably career highlight because of it being so adventurous (not to mention one of my alltime favorite covers), but this is probably my choice for number two right now simply because it is so solid and well done. Songs are all well written and production is first rate without sounding like a video game.

    9. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
    Quite a bit different from their more immediately accessible debut, this one took a while to really sink in. And I think it still might have a ways to go before I fully appreciate all of its charms since it is my most recent acquisition on this list. I had intended to impose a one month listening/qualification period for any albums to be included on this list, but in the end decided to relax it to three weeks so I could include this one. And so it might be a bit higher on my list than it really should be given my somewhat limited exposure at this point. But I do like it a lot and the song "Young Pilgrims" is a big reason, due in no small part to the line that opens the second verse, "I fell into a winter slide / and ended up the kind of kid who goes down chutes too narrow". The lyrics throughout the album are very nice and fit well with the music. Another very solid and highly listenable album that I expect will age well in the coming months.

    10. Calexico - Feast of Wire
    Very sophisticated music and one very nice, extremely listenable album. It's kind of front loaded with vocal tracks followed by a preponderous of instumentals in the second half giving it a pretty mellow finish which can make it seem to drift off a little early, but I still really like it all the way through, you just have to pay a little more attention toward the end :-)

    Top 10 Honorable Mentions
    Okkervil River - Down the River of Golden Dreams
    Radiohead - Hail To The Thief
    Calla - Televise
    The Twilight Singers - Blackberry Belle
    Over the Rhine - Ohio
    Laika - Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing
    The Wrens - The Meadowlands
    Manitoba - Up In Flames
    My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves
    Fruit Bats - Mouthfuls

    EDIT: Oops! At some point while finalizing the list and writing descriptions, the Songs: Ohia Magnolia Electric Co got lost. It was sitting there at around #4 or #5 on the list so I guess I should stick it back in as sharing #5 with Holopaw. Or #6 with Cat Power. Or who really cares anymore
    Last edited by Davey.; 12-12-2003 at 05:11 PM.

  10. #35
    Rocket Surgeon Swish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    It appears that a lot of these have held up pretty well.

    Chutes Too Narrow remains my favorite Shins record, I'm going to dig out that Cala cd, the Wrens, Broken Social was a pretty good year.
    I call my bathroom Jim instead of John so I can tell people that I go to the Jim first thing every morning.

    If you say the word 'gullible' very slowly it sounds just like oranges.

  11. #36
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    on some faraway beach...
    Quote Originally Posted by Swish
    Chutes Too Narrow remains my favorite Shins record, I'm going to dig out that Cala cd, the Wrens, Broken Social was a pretty good year.
    Hey, wonder whatever happened to Davey-dot?

    Funny, I was just listening to the Cat Power "You Are Free" record this morning, and still really like it. Last thing she did that I do really like, though it still falls off in the second half. And Quicksand/Cradlesnakes, yea, always close at hand. Just listened last week, and even have a song in my signature. Songs:Ohia, just listened to Magnolia Electric Co last week too after a while without, great record.

    Just downloaded the 2-CD Caribou version of Up In Flames, along with the live All Tomorrow's Parties thing he did called Vibration Ensemble with a 4 piece horn section, 4 drummers and a choir and guests that include Marshall Allen (Sun Ra Arkestra leader and Arkestra member for over 50 years), Kieran Hebden (Four Tet/Fridge/Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid), Koushik (Stones Throw Records), John Schmersal (Enon, Brainiac), Kathryn Bint (One Little Plane), Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane) and more...pretty cool. Less and less to like (at least for me) each year since, but the early 2000s was a good time.

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