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2003 Year End Best Of
I found 2003 to be a very good year for music.
Well, i like ambient electronica and spacey rock, and i found
lots of stuff to enjoy, so it was easy for me to make a list
of The Top 10 Albums for 2003. Many of my favorite
bands released new albums, and i discovered a lot of stuff that
i had, for one reason or another, missed over the past few years.
So, overall, a good year.
I have a tie for "album of the year" simply due to the fact
that i have fallen in love with 2 albums, each for drastically
different reasons. Listed alphabetically, these are:
Through by Landing. This is a masterpiece, surely.
Landing have found a way to merge their exploratory psychedelia
and their slowcore pop into one sound, and still make it enjoyable.
- The Happiest Days of Our Lives by My Favorite.
My Favorite gather together their three most recent EPs, add
4 new songs, and arrange the whole thing so as to draw attention
to their thematic similarities. So, overarching thematic content
cleverly arranged, and you can dance to it as well! Good stuff.
Those two albums represent the disparate sides of my music
listening habits. One side loves complex meditative music, which
was fullfilled by Landing. The other side wants poppy sing along
stuff, and that side of me was more than happy with the latest
My Favorite record.
Now, if those 2 are tied at number 1, how does the rest of
my Top 10 Albums of 2003 turn out? Here you go.
Note that the actual placements are approximate -- all of these
are good albums, and the ordering more has to do with my current
mood than anything. (Perhaps i should not compile this list
while my mood is "bloated with tryptophan-laden turkey and assorted
sweet stuffs", but that is another matter entirely.)
by Robin Guthrie. An obvious choice if you have read me rant
about Cocteau Twins
and the genius of this man before, but really: this is a solid,
beautiful album, and non ambient fans have enjoyed it as well.
- New Found
Land by Yellow6, Rothko, and Landing. Music Fellowship
records really did a fine job with this album, drawing out
great performances from three talented bands, and arranging
the whole thing in a lovely fashion. This is simply stunning
by Portal. A band matures, and turns out a diverse album showing
a wide range of strengths, from New Wave dance pop to ambient
guitar work. Diverse, interesting, and lovely.
- The Stars at Saint Andrea By Devics. Another
band that seems to have "grown up" a lot with their latest
release. Devics have produced a melancholy masterpiece of
- The Decline Of by British Sea Power. A great
rock band with talent by the bucketful and great songwriting.
What's not to like?
At The Black Nail Polish Factory by The Deathray
Davies. I think this is simply a stunning work. Not as sheerly
poppy as their previous albums, but bold and experimental
and very deep. Listen on headphones -- they did an amazing
job of mixing this, and the love they poured into this album
- Send by Wire. This gathers together the songs
on the two Read and Burn EPs, along with 4 new
songs. Plus, if you were a geek like me and pre-ordered it
from the band, you got a free CD of Wire live in Chicago on
the last tour. This is some damned fine angry punk.
Has No Strings Apollo by The Dirty Three. I love
this band -- i can listen to them all day, and often do. This
is another fine outing by them.
Of course, not everything is albums of course. So my Top
4 EPs of 2003 are:
by French Toast. This is some awesome punk music, and i really
hope to see an LP by these boys in 2004.
by Schengen with Portal, Innerise, and Weyland. This is quality
music that spans the border between ambient guitarwork and
ambient electronica. Oh yeah!
- Headlong by The Frames. This is the closest
i got to seeing The Frames live this year, and it will have
to tide me over until Glen and the boys swing back down this
- 3D Concepts
by Miles Tilmann. This is probably the best ambient release,
heard by me, that was released this year. Of course, i probably
missed a few, but still this is some damned fine stuff.
This was also a good year for re-releases. Here are a few that
i thoroughly enjoyed.
by Cocteau Twins
Forever Breathes The Lonely Word by Felt
Marquee Moon by Television
Every Man and Woman is a Star by Ultramarine
Of course, there were also many compilations released this year,
CDs that gathered together the previous work of an artist into
a "convenient to carry in the car" form. Of these i recommend:
Wake by Dead Can Dance
Singles Compiled by Hood
Cup of Sand by Superchunk
Must I Paint You a Picture by Billy Bragg
Rost Posts by Mouse on Mars
No Thanks: The 70s Punk Rebellion, a 4 CD boxed
set from Rhino
If this was a good year for recorded music,
it was an even better one for live music! My Top 10 live
shows of 2004:
- Windy and Carl
at Eyedrum on Wed.23.April. I still can remember the unique
feeling of the overpowering drone that started their set,
the intensity of it, and the amazing calm which it imparted
to the listener. All i can say is, "Wow".
- Landing at Eyedrum
on Mon.24.Nov. Another stunning set of droning ambience.
- Bigmouth Strikes Again at The EARL on Sat.1.Nov. In Atlanta
we have a Halloween tradition wherein bands pretend to be
another band, and do covers. BSA are a Smiths tribute act,
apparently out of Athens. I have no idea what their "other"
band(s) is/are, but their performance this night was amazingly
fun. I am a pretty big Smiths fan, and this show delivered
what Johnny Marr
failed to deliver back in May. Tremendous fun, plus, they
did do What Difference Does It Make!
- Envie and Hubcap
City at Eyedrum on Sat.25.Jan. Two unique local bands
turning in performances that were classic for entirely different
reasons. Hubcap City made me laugh, and Envie made me gape
in awe at the beauty they created. Fun and enlightening --
what a night!
- Robert Rich,
Lanterna, and Envie at Eyedrum on Sat.14.June. Three great
sets of quirky ambience. I was, almost literally, in heaven
Audio at The EARL on Sat.15.Feb. It was their album release
show, and Davis and Flom were ON, man! Such amazing guitarwork...
- Joe Jackson
at The Roxy on Fri.15.Aug. The man is a great performer,
and even his new music sounded good live.
- Miles Tilmann at Eyedrum on Wed.2.July. Seeing Miles work
his magic live is a great thing. He put on a really fun set,
and scarily enough i was able to identify the new "versions"
tracks as he played them.
- Potomac Accord at The EARL on Sat.3.May. This band is so
excellent live. Why don't more people know about them?
- Karl Hendricks on Sun.28.Sept. There were 5 people in the
crowd, including Tracers, Malimus, and me. Yet Karl and his
band still played their little hearts out. Plus, he was really
nice when we talked with him.
Hmmm. Wow, looks like i really like Eyedrum, huh? Who knew?
I guess that Eyedrum is the only Atlanta venue really willing
to give ambient artists a show....
And finally, my Top 2 Cinematic Releases of 2003:
Why a Top 2? I only saw 2 (two) films in theatres this year,
and they were both "children's movies", meaning that there was
no swearing, gatuitous violence, or nudity. And i thoroughly
enjoyed them both. They were Holes and Finding
Nemo. Both were very fun movies, but if i had to pick
between them, i would say that Finding Nemo was
better than Holes. But really -- both were good.
||Okay, well, that about sums up 2003 from my perspective. And
2004 looks like it should be pretty good too, at least from this
very early perspective....
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