Category Archives: Music

Best Albums of 2003, Part I

It’s time that I compiled, today and tomorrow, the best records of 2003, with handy-dandy links attached to each one. I listed to a lot of music this year, in part thanks to iTunes. I’m very aware that my taste in music has been super-conditioned by popular alternative opinion, but so be it — I stand 100% behind these recommendations.
The following is in no particular order because music, to me, doesn’t fit nicely in groups. Here is Part 1 of 2, however:
Lucinda Williams, World Without Tears
Soulful conjunctions of beautiful singing in various country-like styles
Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
Smartly written melodies
Be Good Tanyas, Chinatown
Beautiful Canadian soulful, southern music
The Strokes, Room on Fire
Overplayed but not overestimated, these young men are truly talented musicians
Lost in Translation, Kevin Shields and others
Beautiful, nonstop music lead by one of hte most important musicians of the 1990s
New Pornographers, Electric Version
Sweet harmonies that takes a long time to truly enjoy
The White Stripes, Elephant
Too smart, too cool, and too good not to play over and over again
Doves, The Last Broadcast
A surprising and ethereal album, with catchy strumming and fine lyrics
Interpol, Turn On the Bright Lights
A new old-time favorite, they sound better every time I hear them
The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
Not unlike the other new “The” bands like The Vines, but better
Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Hated the first listen, swooned during the second, laughed during the third
Stephen Malkmus, Pig Lib
Well-written redux solo act by Pavement funnyman and great song-writer

Better and Brown

I’m amazed that the more I listen to Elliot Smith’s albums such as Either/Or, the more I’m astounded at his range of talents, depth of feeling, and melodic smarts. I can’t get enough of the piercing truths popping out of that guitars of his.
His songs are colored in ranges of brown — goldwatch-brown, sunset-brown, tobacco-brown, bloodstained-brown, shit-brown, oldwoodencoin-brown, sweetdirtsmell-brown.
I’m a bit ashamed that I had many of his albums in my collection for a long time, that I wasn’t impressed, and that, only after he died, did I become a massive fan.


I picked up the new Strokes album and I’m disappointed. Not in the Strokes or in the music or in the originality of the tunes but in myself. See, I downloaded the album from Apple’s iTunes which I thought was the coolest thing since swiss bread, as I was dying to get my hands on the album and there’s nothing like getting it over the Net legally. But here’s the problem: I miss the album art. Sure, the music art’s gotten smaller and smaller over the past ten years – from LP to casssette to CD to a small icon in the bottom left of your MP3 player tray on your desktop. But I really want to see what they come up with visually to complement the album. I want to know what array of visual arcania the Strokes decided to put together to help us make sense of the tunes and they’re connection to us. And I won’t have that chance as the album is now burned on a boring, plain, 50-cent Sony CD-ROM, which, I might say, sounds quite delicious.

Moby, Michael, Mark and Missy

I haven’t checked Apple’s iTunes in a few weeks, in part because there is so very little to choose from. I mean, I don’t want to download the new Rod Stewart or Eagles albums, both of which are top-featured on their iTunes home page. BUT, what I find most interesting and innovative now is their Celebrity Playlists, which are basically mix tapes, set up and refined by folks like Moby, Michael Stipe, Mark Ronson, and Missy Elliott. The songs these artists pick and choose is as interesting as any other person’s and the cost is rather prohibitive — Mr. Stipe’s 31 songs costs $30.69. But one doesn’t have to purchase the entrie list and can simply “sample” the music on display. The extravagance of posting for-sale mixed playlists on the web does more damage, however, to the idea of the LP, the album-as-art, and the probability that records as we know them will be around five years hence.