THE FINEST RECORDS OF 2003,

AS CHOSEN BY SKYSCRAPER STAFFERS AND A FEW FRIENDS

GREGORY ADAMS
Contributing Photographer & Writer, Skyscraper; Singer, The Red Light Sting – Vancouver, British Columbia

01. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol) – It’s a solid record. That’s all I have to say.

02. THE BLOOD BROTHERS Burn Piano Island, Burn CD (ARTISTdirect) – Having been signed to a major label, many feared that the art-spazz of the Bros. would be a much tamer affair. Shining like phoenix’s above a derivative scene, Burn Piano Island, Burn left preconceptions smoldering in the ashes as they released the most challenging, yet poppy and infectious, album of their short career. The ultimate punk album of 2003.

03. TED LEO/PHARMACISTS Hearts of Oak CD (Lookout!) – A much more solid release than 2001’s Tyranny of Distance, and probably the tightest record he’s produced since Chisel’s 8 A.M. All Day. Leo’s falsetto remains in top form, and mild experimentation with the dance driven title track and the bass/percussion melee of “Ballad of a Sin Eater” keep old listeners on their toes. Plus, who can resist a gang of whistlers?

04. BEYONCE Dangerously in Love CD (Columbia) – Honestly, the album is a mishmash of mediocre R&B and sappy ballads, but I’ll be damned if “Crazy in Love” didn’t follow me around everywhere I went during the summer of 2003. I wouldn’t be surprised if that perfect slice of pop heaven, with it’s sultry, bootylicious vocals, Jay-Z breakdown, and smooth horns didn’t follow you around, too. “History in the Making: Part 2”? No, but at least it had the hook of the year.

05. EX MODELS Zoo Psychology CD (French Kiss) – I like blast beats. I like guys whose voices sound like Mark Mothersbaugh’s. I like frantic, disjointed music that sounds like The Monorchid or The Jesus Lizard. Ex Models give me all three on Zoo Psychology. P.S. – I’m most excited about the blast beats.

06. YEAH YEAH YEAHS Fever to Tell CD (Interscope) – The Brooklyn trio soar above their past work, two of the most abysmal and wretchedly overrated EPs, with this manic romp. Karen O’s shrieks and playful laments aren’t as sexy as some would have you believe, and that’s what’s good about them. An overall fun record.

07. RADIO BERLIN Glass CD (Action Driver) – The criminally overlooked Vancouver band’s third full-length album gives eight more thoughtful songs rooting themselves equally in Josef K and their post-hardcore roots. Glass finds Radio Berlin expanding on previous records with moodier, longer pieces and with electronic drums becoming a bit more prominent. Buy this record instead of another useless Interpol single.

08. Q AND NOT U Polynation 7” (Dischord) – Q and Not U aren’t re-inventing the wheel with this two-song single, but the songs are on par, if not better, than their previous work. Strong, bouncy modernist dance-punk with catchy trade-off vocals. ‘Nuff said.

09. PRETTY GRILS MAKE GRAVES The New Romance CD (Matador) – Disjointed layout aside, the second album by Seattle’s PGMG has the band exploring new sounds based around the melodies rather than dueling indie-riffery.

10. CHROMATICS Chrome Rats vs. Basement Rutz CD/LP (GSL) – The final release as a four piece, with members parting ways shortly after completing the record. It’s great, but the album works better on LP. The short, snotty punk bursts of Side One, mixing both the sassy boy and feminist-driven girl vocals, seem to be an entirely different album than the longer, minimalist pieces of Side Two. Flawed, but possessing enough charm to overcome those flaws.

11. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow CD (Load) – Not as good as 2001’s Ride the Skies, not even close. But the quality of the more classic rock via ava
nt-hardcore album still blows away most any other drum-and-bass duos out there, as well as any other loud, mathy band.

12. THE RAPTURE Echoes CD (Universal/DFA) – One can only hope that during the 2025 revival of dance influenced punk, hip DJs will be playing cuts like the revamped “Olio,” originally off their 1999 album Mirror, rather than “Damaged Goods.”

13. SOILED DOVES Soiled Life CD (GSL) – Originally recorded in 2001, the seemingly vaulted album has finally seen release on a permanent format… regardless of whether the kids interested in this record have probably had the songs on their computer for the better part of the past two years. The haunting beauty of the songs that make up Soiled Life, the band’s first and only record, are the gap in between earlier work as The Vogue and today’s work with The Blood Brothers, Chromatics, and Shoplifting.

14. ANTIOCH ARROW Gems of Masochism (Reissue) CD (Three One G) – While a re-release of the 1995 album may result in it losing it’s Holy Grail appeal, this album seems to fit more in today’s musical climate. This ahead-of-its-time record is an essential reference point for today’s art-punk bands.

15. THE STROKES “12:51” MP3 (www.thestrokes.com) – Room on Fire wasn’t released at the time this list had to be submitted, but the album’s first single is a fitting next step for America’s favorite garage band. A good blend of the pop that made Is This It a great record, with an almost Weezer-esque keyboard hook over toop.

16. PANTHERS Let’s Get Serious CDEP (Dim Mak) – Much better than their debut LP, this EP sees Panthers exploring the same rock structure and political overtones with more success.

17. SECRET MOMMY Babies That Hunt CD & Mammal Class CD (Orthlorn Musork) – Andy Dixon’s first album as Secret Mommy saw him delving deeper into the electronics that previous project The Epidemic hinted at, creating an interesting glitch/IDM record on par with others in the genre. Mammal Class sees him less interested in the dissonance and abrasiveness of Babies That Hunt, creating songs equally fucked up but a little more dance oriented.

18. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (Universal/GSL) – Completely over the top. Taking the formula they perfected in At the Drive-In with more prog and Latin flavors. As far as concept albums go, it went completely over my head, but it made me stoked to think that some people still listen to Yes.

19. BLACK EYES Black Eyes CD (Dischord) – Honest punk rock that mixes the political and personal. Two basses! Two drummers! Two singers! The high-pitched singer sounds like he’s one of the Beastie Boys… that’s awesome.

20. CAT POWER You Are Free CD (Matador) – The one song about the boy who did cocaine is truly awful, but the other 13 are tight. A good spring/summer record that saw me sitting on my back porch drinking bittersweet lemonade to Chan Marshall’s bittersweet vocals. Eddie Vedder backups had the eleven-year old kid in me super stoked… WOO WOO!

ANDREW BOTTOMLEY
Editor & Co-Publisher, Skyscraper – New York, NY

01. PARTY OF HELICOPTERS Please Believe It CD (Velocette)
02. MODEY LEMON Thunder and Lightning CD (Birdman)
03. THE BLOOD BROTHERS Burn Piano Island, Burn CD (ARTISTdirect)
04. BLACK EYES Black Eyes CD (Dischord)
05. THE LOCUST Plague Soundscapes CD (Anti-/Epitaph)
06. VAZ Dying to Meet You CD (GSL)
07. 400 BLOWS Black Rainbow CD (Rehash)
08. TURN PALE Kill the Lights CD (What Else?)
09. DEATH FROM ABOVE Heads Up CDEP (Ache)
10. PLEASURE FOREVER Alter CD (Sub Pop)
11. WATCHERS To the Rooftops CD (Gern Blandsten)
12. THE WHITE STRIPES Elephant CD (V2)
13. DANCE DISASTER MOVEMENT We Are From Nowhere CD (Dim Mak)
14. THE DARKNESS Permission to Land CD (Atlantic)
15. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow CD (Load)
16. TEN GRAND This is the Way to Rule CD (Southern)
17. XIU XIU A Promise CD (5RC)
18. SINGLE FRAME Burn Radio Airtest CDEP (Already Gone)
19. !!! Me and Guilani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story) 12” (Touch & Go)
20. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE Here Comes the Indian CD (Paw Tracks)

ROB BROWNING
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – New York, NY

01. DRIVE BY TRUCKERS Decoration Day CD (New West) – Three singers, a Skynrd archetype and some of the best songs you’ll hear all year. Boy, did Universal drop the ball on this one. Kudos to Peter Jesperson and New West for making it happen.

02. SUPERCHUNK Cup of Sand 2CD (Merge) – Two discs worth of criminally underappreciated gems from Chapel Hill’s finest. Sell three Vagrant records and buy this.

03. OBIE TRICE Cheers CD (Shady) – Thought that Em and Dre had shot their wad with 50? No sir. Best hip-hop record this year.

04. RISE AGAINST Revolutions Per Minute CD (Fat Wreck Chords) – Anthemic hardcore ala Gorilla Biscuits and Strike Anywhere. Got them signed to DreamWorks, for better or worse.

05. THE POSTAL SERVICE Give Up CD (Sub Pop) – I’ll be the first to tell you that the Eighties nostalgia is way overrated, but this is some great New Order-esque electro-pop. “Nothing Better” is 2003’s “Fairytale of NY.”

06. BOBBY BARE JR. OK, I’m Sorry CDEP (Bloodshot) – He always gets kicked into second place in the famous family sweepstakes, but Bare Jr. can rock or twang as well as Hank III, if not better. Live stuff, acoustic stuff, and great covers, too.

07. VARIOUS ARTISTS Oil: Chicago Punk Refined CD (Thick) – 19 bands, each of whom recorded and mixed their songs in one day in a working Chicago oil refinery. Has probably the best Alkaline Trio song yet and great stuff by the Ghost and Bob Nanna, too.

08. VAUX There Must Be Some Way to Stop Them CD (Volcom) – Wrong. There is no way to stop them. This makes me want to start fights, and I’m a big, skinny wimp.

09. THE WEAKERTHANS Reconstruction Site CD (Epitaph) – John K. Samson is one of the best songwriters around. Not as great as Left and Leaving, but better than most by a country mile (kilometer?).

10. KID DYNAMITE Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems CD (Jade Tree) – Why Jason left this band to do None More Black, I’ll never know. A sad posthumous reminder of what could have been.

11. JOSH ROUSE 1972 CD (Rykodisc) – Named after the year of his and his Telecaster’s birth. Josh Rouse takes a turn towards soul music, without getting all Michael Bolton on us.

12. DAVID BANNER Mississippi CD (Universal) – Easily as good as Outkast, or any of your favorite Southern crunkness, with half the publicity.

13. THAD COCKRELL Warmth and Beauty CD (Yep Roc) – Thad’s been percolating under the radar for a couple of years now, but this should give him the leg up that he needs.

14. RANDY NEWMAN Good Old Boys (Reissue) 2CD (Warner Bros.) – A great record made even better by adding a second disc with Newman’s song pitch for the record done solo. Amazing.

15. DILLINGER 4 Live (LSD) – The best punk band around, with the bonus of Paddy’s live banter. It gets no better.

16. BUBBA SPARXXX Deliverance CD (Interscope) – Thought he was an Eminem wanna-be? Not the case, backpacker. Soulful and deep, while still damn country.

17. ALKALINE TRIO Good Mourning CD (Vagrant) – Their best line-up yet, but with the eerie harbinger of a singer believing his own hype. Less production, better songs, please. Still better than most, though.

18. TEENAGE FANCLUB Four Thousand Seven Hundred Sixty Six Seconds CD (Jetset) – UK’s best band since The Beatles. Really. The new high-water mark for best-ofs, with three new tracks.
19. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (Universal/GSL) – I’d prefer to stop hearing about them, but this is one hell of a record. Punk’s OK Computer.

DAVE CLIFFORD
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper; Drummer, Pleasure Forever; Bassist, Lion Fever – Portland, OR

01. PLEASURE FOREVER Alter CD (Sub Pop/GSL)
02. THE WALKMEN Bows and Arrows (songs live)
03. THE WARLOCKS Phoenix CD (Birdman)
04. VERBENA La Musica Negra CD (Capitol)
05. THE STARVATIONS Get Well Soon CD (GSL)
06. DEVENDRA BANHART Oh Me Oh My... CD (Young God)
07. CAT POWER You Are Free CD (Matador)
08. NEUROSIS & JAROBE Neurosis & Jarobe CD (Neurot)
09. DEAD LOW TIDE Dead Low Tide CD (Tiger Style)
10. RYE COALITION Jersey Girls CDEP + Live (Tiger Style)
11. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE Songs for the Deaf CD (Interscope)
12. MARK LANEGAN BAND Here Comes That Weird Chill CDEP (Beggars Banquet)
13. DIMMU BORGIR Death Cult Armageddon CD (Nuclear Blast)
14. PANTHERS Let’s Get Serious CDEP (Dim Mak)
15. 90 DAY MEN Too Late or Too Dead CDEP (Southern)
16. THE VANITY SET Little Stabs of Happiness CD (Cargo UK)
17. MURDER CITY DEVILS R.I.P. CD (Sub Pop)
18. IRON & WINE The Sea & Ryhthm CDEP (Sub Pop)
19. THE STARLITE DESPERATION Demo (Capitol)
20. HINT HINT Sex is Everything CDEP (Cold Crush)

RAY CUMMINGS
Contributing Writer, Skyscrapermagazine.com – Owings Mills, MD

01. STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS Pig Lib CD (Matador)
02. SIGHTINGS Absolutes CD (Load)
03. NEIL MICHAEL HAGERTY The Howling Hex CD (Drag City)
04. THE MICROPHONES Mount Eerie CD (K)
05. CURSIVE The Ugly Organ CD (Saddle Creek)
06. THE BOOKS The Lemon of Pink CD (Tomlab)
07. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow CD (Load)
08. BLUR Think Tank CD (Virgin)
09. JEFF HANSON Son CD (Kill Rock Stars)
10. A GRAPE DOPE Missing Dragons CD (Galaxia)
11. THE BLOW The Concussive Caress CD (K)
12. BELLE & SEBASTIAN Dear Catastrophe Waitress CD (Rough Trade)
13. CALLA Televise CD (Arena Rock)
14. PALAXY TRACKS Cedarland CD (Peek-A-Boo)
15. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol)

AARON DEXTER
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Winter Park, FL

01. US MAPLE Purple On Time CD (Drag City) – Of all the “stupid/smart” bands slithering from under every rock these days, US Maple are still the lords of the loathing. On Time is their best record yet.
02. BARDO POND On the Eclipse CD (All Tomorrow’s Parties) – The Pond totally nail the slow motion stomp and harsh haze head nod to the ground. One of my all time faves, Bardo Pond graduate to unstoppable with this record.
03. !!! Me and Guilani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story) CDEP (Touch & Go) – If you’re not all about !!! by now, you’re not worth their time.
04. ONEIDA Each One Teach One 2CD (Jagjaguwar) – Like Big Black taking an organ grinder with force. Breathtaking.
05. NO NECK BLUES BAND Ever Borneo! LP+7” (Sound@one) – This record is so hot, it melted my turntable on contact. Comes with a seven-inch featuring members of Sunburned Hand of the Man. OUCH!

MATT FINK
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – New Bethlehem, PA

01. WOVEN HAND Woven Hand CD (Sounds Familyre)
02. CLEARLAKE Cedars CD (Domino)
03. SUFJAN STEVENS Michigan CD (Sounds Familyre)
04. THE MICROPHONES Mt. Erie CD (K)
05. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol)
06. THE AISLER’S SET How I Learned to Write Backwards CD (Suicide Squeeze)
07. TH DEADLY SNAKES Ode to Joy CD (In the Red)
08. CAT POWER You Are Here CD (Matador)
09. DEERHOOF Apple O’ CD (Kill Rock Stars)
10. THE WHITE STRIPES Elephant CD (V2)
11. BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE You Forget It In People CD (Paper Bag)
12. MANITOBA Up in Flames CD (Domino)
13. FROG EYES The Golden River CD (Animal World)
14. WRENS Meadowlands CD (Absolutely Kosher)
15. THE CONSTANTINES Shine a Light CD (Sub Pop)
16. GRANDADDY Sumday CD (V2)
17. THE EXPLODING HEARTS Guitar Romantic CD (Dirtnap)
18. SONGS: OHIA Magnolia Electric Co. CD (Secretly Canadian)
19. THE ROBOT ATE ME They Ate Themselves CD (Swim Slowly)
20. BEULAH Yoko CD (Velocette)

STEVE FIVE
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper; Singer/guitarist, Gold Circles – Kent, OH

01. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Want One CD (DreamWorks) – Calling cues from New York City sidewalks, particularly Broadway, Want One blends equally amazing amounts of orchestration, arrangement, songwriting, lyricism and production. This album is flawless, Rufus Wainwright has secured his position as an amazingly talented superstar.
02. COLDPLAY A Rush of Blood to the Head CD (Capitol) – This album… it almost took my slot for number one. What can I say? A Rush of Blood to the Head is just as perfect as their first album.
03. THE WHITE STRIPES Elephant CD (V2) – I was walking around thinking about this girl the other day, and I finally realized what the song “Seven Nation Army” was all about. The White Stripes have proven they will never again be everybody’s “next big thing.” They already are.
04. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (Universal/GSL) – I nominate De-Loused The Best Record to Jam Out With in 2003. Like a neon Stalin just dropped Carlos Santana’s version of “City of Lost Children” on my mind.
05. THE BLACK KEYS ThickFreakness CD (Fat Possum) – Neer de na Neer! Da Neer Neer Neer needler, neer! Neer da neer neer! Da neer neer neer needle neer!...
06. THE STROKES Room on Fire CD (RCA)
07. 50 Cent Get Rich or Die Tryin CD (Interscope)
08. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol)
09. THE PARTY OF HELICOPTERS Please Believe It CD (Velocette)
10. OTHER MEN MY AGE Imaginadium CDEP (Luminal)
11. SUPER FURRY ANIMALS Phantom Power CD (Beggars Banquet)
12. HELLA Bitches Ain’t Shit But Good People CDEP (Suicide Squeeze)
13. YEAH YEAH YEAHS Fever to Tell CD (Interscope)
14. EX MODELS Zoo Psychology CD (French Kiss)
15. GRANDADDY Sumday CD (V2)
16. THE BLOOD BROTHERS Burn Piano Island, Burn CD (ARTISTdirect)
17. TED LEO/PHARMACISTS Heats of Oak CD (Lookout!)
18. RED EYED LEGENDS The High I Feel When I’m Low 12” (GSL)
19. THE RAVEONETTES Chain Gang of Love CD (Sony/Columbia)
20. IDLEWILD The Remote Part CD (Capitol)

BRIAN FOLEY
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper; Bassist, The Faux – Boston, MA

01. THE JOGGERS Solid Guild CD (StarTime)
02. TED LEO/PHARMACISTS Hearts of Oak CD (Lookout!)
03. CROOKED FINGERS Red Devil Dawn CD (Merge)
04. DEAD LOW TIDE Dead Low Tide CD (Tiger Style)
05. EX MODELS Zoo Psychology CDEP (French Kiss)
06. THE NATURAL HISTORY Beat.Beat.Heartbeat CD (StarTime)
07. XIU XIU A Promise CD (5RC)
08. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (Universal/GSL)
09. JR EWING Ride Paranoia CD (GSL)
10. NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS Nocturama CD (Anti/Epitaph)

NOLAN GAWRON
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Cambridge, MA

01. SONGS: OHIA Magnolia Electric Co. CD (Secretly Canadian)
02. MY MORNING JACKET It Still Moves CD (ATO)
03. THE KILLS Keep On Your Mean Side CD (Rough Trade)
04. DAMIEN JURADO Where Shall You Take Me? CD (Secretly Canadian)
05. CALIFONE Quicksand/Cradlesnakes CD (Thrill Jockey)
06. WEEN Quebec CD (Sanctuary)
07. OFFICER MAY Smoking in A Minor CD (Ace Fu)
08. BONNIE PRINCE BILLY Master and Everyone CD (Drag City)
09. NEIL MICHAEL HAGERTY The Howling Hex CD (Drag City)
10. SPIRITUALIZED Amazing Grace CD (Sanctuary)
11. IRON AND WINE The Creek Drank the Cradle CD (Sub Pop)
12. HOLOPAW Holopaw CD (Sub Pop)
13. DIRTY THREE She Has No Strings Apollo CD (Touch & Go)
14. BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE And This is Our Music CD (Committee to Keep Music Evil)
15. FRUIT BATS Mouthfuls CD (Sub Pop)
16. EVAN DANDO Baby I’m Bored CD (Bar/None)
17. M. WARD Transfiguration of Vincent CD (Merge)
18. MOJAVE 3 Spoon and Rafter CD (4AD)
19. SCOUT NIBLETT I Am CD (Secretly Canadian)
20. NEIL YOUNG On the Beach (Reissue) CD (Reprise)

WILLIAM HALL
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Rutherford, NJ

01. AMERICAN ANALOG SET Promise of Love CD (Tiger Style) – No new ground has been broken since 2002’s Know By Heart, but they’re still creating some of the most mesmerizing pop music out there.
02. THE APES Oddeyesse CD (French Kiss) – A concept album about an ark, some floating brains, and the prerequisite wizard. It’s primitive and psychedelic. They don’t make enough of these records any more.
03. KARL BLAU Clothes Yr I’s CD (Knw-Yr-Own) – Son of the wind and rain on Samish Island, WA, and frequent collaborator with the Microphone’s Phil Elvrum, Karl is a “folkie” who writes patchwork pop songs with emotive vocals. This record showcases a songwriter with great potential.
04. THE BLOOD BROTHERS Burn Piano Island, Burn CD (ARTISTdirect) – Brutal amalgam of punk, math, and hard rock fueled by dueling snot-nosed vocalists. If you want to keep your parents out of your room, play this.
05. DEERHOOF Apple O’ CD (Kill Rock Stars) – Wow, what can I say about this album? Non-linear guitar lines, torrid drumming, haiku lyrics by a tiny Chinese woman with a singsong voice…. It’s simply the best record of 2003. An absolute must have.
06. THE EXPLODING HEARTS Guitar Romantic CDEP (Dirtnap) – This record was actually released in 2002, but should be on every year’s best list due to its timelessness. Really excellent power pop with punk attitude. Tragically, three of the four members were killed in a van accident while driving home from a gig – my thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends.
07. FOG Ether Teeth CD (Ninja Tune) – Ninja Tune’s publicist is adorable and Fog’s Andrew Broder writes spacious piano pieces interspersed with field recordings of birds. The lyrics can be juvenile but the music is sublime.
08. HIM Many In High Places Are Not Well CD (Fat Cat) – If you’re on a road trip and you’ve just finished smoking a joint, put this on! It’s full of percussive afro-Cuban rhythms and smooth soul.
09. MIRAH YOM TOV ZEITLYN / GINGER BROOKS TAKAHASHI & FRIENDS Songs From the Black Mountain Music Project (K) – Friends hole up in a house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for a month. Friends go stir crazy. Friends write several beautiful songs with traditional arrangements and moving lyrics.
10. THE SHINS Chutes Too Narrow CD (Sub Pop) – It’s like someone put the best pop music from the Sixties in a time capsule and sent it into space only to have it crash land right into our present-day ears. This might just be better than their debut, Oh, Inverted World.
11. SINGLE FRAME Wetheads Come Running CD (Already Gone) – Like The Doors, no bass. Unlike The Doors, no incoherent drunk is babbling about his lizard. They’re just three young Texans writing edgy synth-driven pop songs. Great debut album!
12. SUPERSILENT 6 CD (Rune Gramofon) – Whether exploring the alien landscapes of a foreboding planet or strolling down deserted streets on a rainy night, this fusion of sleepy jazz and creepy electronic music could provide the perfect soundtrack.

JULES HEAD
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Toronto, Ontario

01. !!! Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story) CDEP (Touch & Go) – It’s tight, it’s danceable and it’s full of good energy.
02. THE RAPTURE Echoes CD (Universal/DFA) – I’d been waiting for this album like Pavlov dogs, and it’s the soundtrack for my year.
03. GOGOGO AIRHEART Gogogo Airheart (Reissue) CD (GSL) – The reissuing of this album is giving it the respect it deserves.
04. VARIOUS ARTISTS Colette V.5 2CD (Discograph) – Disc Two is compiled by James Murphy – anything by the DFA turns to gold.
05. TV ON THE RADIO Young Liars CDEP (Touch & Go) – The last track is a barber shop quartet track – these guys have big balls and a big sound.
06. VARIOUS ARTISTS Sonic Mook Experiment 3 CD (Blast First/Mute) – All three Experiment’s are brilliant; this one won’t stop blowing me away.
07. DO MAKE SAY THINK Our Winter Hymn Country CD (Constellation) – They’ve done it again.
08. MOVING UNITS Moving Units CDEP/12” (Palm Pictures/Three One G) – When I get tired of listening to The Rapture, I listen to these guys dance around.
09. VARIOUS ARTISTS New York Noise: Dance Music From the Underground 1978-1982 CD (Soul Jazz)
10. UI Answers CD (Southern)
11. OUTKAST Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 2CD (La Face) – It’s all about Andre 3000.
12. CHICKS ON SPEED 99 Cents CD (Chicks On Speed) – Those cheeky girls have a party in my ears.
13. BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY Master and Everyone CD (Drag City) – Lovely, just lovely.
14. XIU XIU A Promise CD (5RC) – I’m always coming back for more.
15. VARIOUS ARTISTS Rough Trade Shops: Post-Punk 01 2CD (Mute) – With New York Noise, this compilation fills out the collection of all the best songs kicking around in the late Seventies/early Eighties.
16. ERASE ERATTA At Crystal Palace CD (Troubleman Unlimited)

ROBERT HORNING
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – New York, NY

01. DEERHOOF Apple O’ CD (Kill Rock Stars) – Finely orchestrated chaos, gleefully maniacal vocals in Japanglish, and the best drumming currently working in rock.
02. EVAN DANDO Baby I’m Bored CD (Bar/None) – No one has ever made not giving a shit sound so irresistible and so infectious.
03. (SMOG) Supper CD (Drag City) – Callahan consistently finds new ways to challenge his listeners into paying attention to his subtle, incisive tales.
04. CAT POWER You Are Free CD (Matador) – Spooky and vulnerable, Marshall gives a voice to the faces on milk cartons and post office walls.
05. BROADCAST Ha-ha Sound CD (Warp) – Triumphs over its dead-end experiments to be the year’s most successful Sixties-pop homage, transmuting its source material into trip-pop gold.
06. BELLE AND SEBASTIAN Dear Catastrophe Waitress CD (Sanctuary) – Trevor Horn’s production breathes new life into their stagnating formula, to the delight of dorm-room shut-ins everywhere.
07. DUMP A Grown-Ass Man CD (Shrimper) – The melodies are as comforting as a codependent’s boundary-less attention, seeming both to confirm and alleviate simultaneously whatever misery you might be feeling.
08. SEAN PAUL Dutty Rock CD (Atlantic) – I never heard the whole thing, but I heard cars rocking this shit down my block so many times, I’ll likely never forget it.
09. THE TIE REDS Holy Crap! It’s The Tie-Reds CD (The Tie Reds) – Punk rock from total unknowns who sound like they are trying to give Nikki and the Corvettes a run for their money.
10. OUTKAST Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 2CD (La Face) – That the forty-year-old white guys in my office are into this tells you everything you need to know about its remarkable crossover appeal.
11. BEULAH Yoko CD (Velocette) – Soothing, melancholy songcraft that will make you think breaking up isn’t so hard to do after all.
12. MY MORNING JACKET It Still Moves CD (ATO) – Not the masterpiece that 2001’s At Dawn was, but still enough to restore your faith in the otherwise moribund roots-rock genre.

MICHAEL HUKIN
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Cowpens, SC

01. BRITISH SEA POWER The Decline of British Sea Power CD (Rough Trade)
02. LOS HALOS Leaving VA Cd (Loveless)
03. TEN GRAND This Is the Way to Rule CD (Southern)
04. THE DIVORCE There Will Be Blood Tonight CD (Fugitive)
05. HYPATIA LAKE Your Universe, Your Mind CD (Sad Robot)
06. THE WRENS Meadowlands CD (Absolutely Kosher)
07. MY MORNING JACKET It Still Moves CD (ATO)
08. PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES The New Romance (Matador)
09. THE COOPER TEMPLE CLAUSE Kick Up the Fire and Let the Flames Break CD (Columbia)
10. OCEANSIZE Effloresce CD (Beggars Banquet)
11. THE STROKES Room On Fire CD (RCA)
12. THE MIRANDA SOUND Engaged in Labor CD (Standard Recording Co.)
13. JETSCREAMER Starhead CD (Bella Union)
14. LOW SKIES The Bed CD (Flameshovel)

KONRAD JANDAVS
Contributing Writer & Photographer, Skyscraper – Winnipeg, Manitoba

01. DEERHOOF Apple O’ CD (Kill Rock Stars)
02. BROTHER ALI Shadows On the Sun CD (Rhymesayers)
03. VIKTOR VAUGHN Vaudeville Villain CD (Sound Ink)
04. SLEEP Dopesmoker CD (Tee Pee)
05. THE JAYHAWKS Rainy Day Music CD (American)
06. STEVE BURNS Songs for Dust Mites CD (Pias America)
07. THE RAPTURE Echoes CD (Universal/DFA)
08. DM & JEMINI Ghetto Pop Life CD (Lex)
09. VARIOUS ARTISTS Impact! CD (Soul Jazz)
10. GROWING The Sky’s Run Into Sea CD (Kranky)
11. ERASE ERRATA At Crystal Palace CD (Troubleman Unlimited)
12. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow CD (Load)
13. THEORETICAL GIRLS Theoretical Girls: 1978-1981 CD (Acute)
14. KING GHEEDORAH Take Me to Your Leader CD (Big Dada)
15. JAYLIB Champion Sound CD (Stones Throw)
16. JACKIE-O MOTHERFUCKER Change LP (Ecstatic Peace)
17. WILDCHILD Secondary Protocol CD (Stones Throw)
18. GANG STARR The Ownerz CD (Virgin)
19. FISCHERSPOONER #1 CD (Capitol)

CALIBAN JONES
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Columbus, OH

01. MOGWAI Happy Songs for Happy People CD (Matador)
02. CHRISTOPHER O’RILEY PLAYS RADIOHEAD True Love Waits CD (Sony)
03. SILVER MT. ZION This Is Our Punk Rock CD (Constellation)
04. ARVO PART Orient & Occident CD (ECM)
05. NEIL YOUNG On the Beach (Reissue) CD (Reprise)
06. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol)
07. WIRE Send CD (Pink Flag)
08. CONSONANT Love & Affliction CD (Fenway)
09. ELBOW Cast of Thousands CD (V2)
10. SONIC YOUTH Dirty: Deluxe Edition (Reissue) 2CD (Geffen)
11. FOUR TET Rounds CD (Domino)
12. AEREOGRAMME Sleep & Release CD (Matador)
13. A FIVE & DIME SHIP A Five & Dime Ship CD (AFDS)
14. EMMYLOU HARRIS Stumble Into Grace CD (Nonesuch)
15. ROBERT WYATT Cuckooland CD (Hannibal/Rykodisc)
16. JOHN CALE Hobosapien CD (Capitol)
17. STEREOLAB Instant O to the Universe CDEP (Elektra)
18. BASS PIGGY Box Set (Reissue) 3CD (Tarbox)
19. JEFF BUCKELY Live at Sin-e: Deluxe Edition (Reissue) 2CD (Columbia/Legacy)
20. KILLING JOKE Killing Joke CD (Red Ink/Epic)

MATT KOSLOFF
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper; Singer, The Ultimate Warriors; Owner, White Denim Records – Allentown, PA

01. A FRAMES 2 LP (S-S)
02. NICE NICE Chrome LP (Temporary Residence)
03. BLACK EYES Black Eyes LP (Dischord)
04. PEARLS AND BRASS Pearls and Brass CD (Doppelganger)
05. BARNACLED 6 CD (Corleone)
06. DEERHOOF Apple O’ CD (Kill Rock Stars)
07. VENETIAN SNARES The Chocolate Wheelchair 2LP (Planet Mu)
08. THE PARTY OF HELICOPTERS Please Believe It CD (Velocette)
09. VIBRACATHEDRAL ORCHESTRA The Queen of Guess CD (VHF)
10. PANICSVILLE Imperfection of the Organism LP (Scratch N Sniff)
11. BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Summer’s Seething Pulse CD (Mar/ino)
12. LA DRUGS LA Drugs LP (Twisted Village)
13. TAN AS FUCK (Sars)chasm CD-R (Audiobot)
14. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow LP (Load)
15. STREET TRASH Street Trash LP (Kapow)
16. OREN AMBARCHI, GUNTER MULLER, VOICE CRACK Oren Ambarchi, Gunter Muller, Voice Crack CD (Audiosphere)
17. SIGHTINGS Absolutes CD (Load)
18. SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN The Trickle Down Theory of Lord Knows What LP (Eclipse)
19. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE Here Comes the Indian LP (Pawtracks/Acute)
20. PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SOUND Flashing Open LP (Eclipse)

MICHAEL MEADE
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – San Francisco, CA

01. LISA GERMANO Lullaby for Liquid Pig CD (Ineffable) – The raw scent of longing permeates this collection of torch songs to loss and substance abuse. And Germano delivers it all with a striking strength, if not quite hopefulness.
02. YOUNG TONGUE Air-In CDEP (Indiesnews) – This summery Japanese import band delivers their native noise scene with a cooling pop dreamsicle.
03. WEBB BROTHERS The Webb Brothers CD (679) – The boys finally get it dead on, and do Dad proud.
04. THE DELGADOS Hate CD (Mantra) – Opulent cinematic swells wash over riveting insight into everyone’s favorite pastime.
05. JOHN FAHEY + CD (Revenant) – Not his best work, but all the same a quite special goodbye.
06. JAY FARRAR Terroir Blues CD (Artemis) – His finest work since Uncle Tupelo, and twice as convincing as that last Wilco record.
07. THE ANGELS OF LIGHT Everything is Good Here, Please Come Home CD (Young God) – The title says it all, actually.
08. MOJAVE 3 Spoon and Rafter CD (4AD) – Brokenhearted beauty on the pavement of Abbey Road.
09. DAMIEN RICE O CD (Vector) – Bringing folk music into the 21st Century, Irishman Rice breathes new vitality into the old man.
10. CASS McCOMBS A CD (Monitor) – A New Yorker has a go at the folk revival, and reveals the genre to have mystery left.
11. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Want CD (DreamWorks) – Postmodern Broadway showstoppers from one of our most gifted songwriters. Want firmly establishes Wainwright’s mastery, if his first two records haven’t already.
12. VIC CHESNUTT Silver Lake CD (New West)
13. OWL & THE PUSSYCAT Owl & the Pussycat CD (Kill Rock Stars) – Certainly an uneven record, this contains some great old school indie-pop, and uses glorious harmonizing.
14. TERJE RYPDAL Lux Aeterna CD (ECM) – ECM jazzman pays homage to Ligeti. Mesmerizing results.
15. MOGWAI Happy Songs for Happy People CD (Matador) – Mogwai tames their beastly guitars, which makes for some sheer sonic bliss.
16. THE HIDDEN CAMERAS The Smell of Our Own CD (Rough Trade) – 21st Century diatribe on queer love, Christianity and pop buoyancy. Comparing them to The Polyphonic Spree compliments their sound, while selling its unique wonders far short.
17. GILLIAN WELCH Soul Journey CD (Acony) – Nouveau roots artist loosens up with a band, and makes an intensely personal statement.
18. PERNICE BROTHERS Yours, Mine and Ours CD (Ashmont)
19. MANITOBA Up in Flames CD (Leaf) – Do-It-Yourself cut-and-paster creates a musical pastiche that’s hard to turn away from.
20. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Transatlanticism CD (Barsuk)
Listed (more or less) in order of merit. Honorable mention to Blur for Think Tank (Virgin) and to Little Miss Cornshucks The Chronological Little Miss Cornshucks 1947-1951 CD (Classics).

RYAN POTTS
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Milwaukee, WI

01. THE BLOOD BROTHERS Burn Piano Island, Burn CD (ARTISTdirect)
02. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow CD (Load)
03. MOGWAI Happy Songs for Happy People CD (Matador)
04. SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME All Our Summer Songs CD (Polyvinyl)
05. DAUGHTERS Canada Songs CD (Robotic Empire)
06. EX MODELS Zoo Psychology CDEP (French Kiss)
07. M83 Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts CD (Gooom/Labels)
08. WIRE Send CD (Pink Flag)
09. COMETS ON FIRE Comets On Fire (Reissue) CD (Alternative Tentacles)
10. DOUBLE DAGGER Double Dagger CD (Hit-Dat)

CHRIS RICHARDS
Singer/Guitarist, Q And Not U – Washington, D.C.

2003: YEAR OF 13 AWESOME SONGS
13. SNOOP DOGG “Beautiful” – The summer anthem, a few months too early.
12. EAVES “Summer Gold” – They sound so comfortable in this song. Evocative, 4AD-ish, totally easy.
11. VIKTOR VAUGHN “Saliva” - I’m really cheering for MF Doom in 2004. I like to jog while listening to this song on repeat.
10. LUNGFISH “Love is Love” – Is what we needed this year.
09. DEERHOOF “Flower” – Boombastic damage lullaby for playpen.
08. ANTELOPE “Flocks” – A truly compelling jam about the difficulties of sheep life.
07. BLACK EYES “A Pack of Wolves” – Never thought of it as a companion song to “Flocks” until right now. Brilliant!
06. EL GUAPO “Fake French” – I heard this gem a million times and then almost wept when I heard in a record store. Like a haunting family secret made public.
05. ASA-CHANGE AND JUNRAY “Toremoro” – Stirring and stupefyingly complex. You can just feel your brain painfully growing.
04. ELLEN ALLIEN “Wish” – She sings “I wish there was a world with no wars, no cars, no wars, no cars, no wars. I wish it could be true”.
03. TIM HECKER “Radio Amor” – This is actually an album – and one so freshly and beautifully composed it feels like one big song – a lifetime and a moment all at once.
02. XIU XIU “Ian Curtis Wishlist” - Jamie’s songs are so beautiful and agonizingly confessional. He sounds completely uninhibited, totally free, and that’s what “hardcore” really means, right?
01. OUTKAST “Hey Ya” – The summer anthem, a few months too late. It’s so great to hear a song with this much urgency, but with no anger. Joy as a musical force for mass culture. Like The Beatles or something.

DOUG SIMPSON
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Pasadena, CA

01. JOHN FAHEY Red Cross CD (Revenant) – This collection of Fahey’s final recorded material ends his career on a high note, managing to encapsulate his disparate styles and influences in a haunting and beautifully conceived way. We miss you, John.
02. MILES DAVIS The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions 5CD Box Set (Colubmia/Legacy) – The first complete fusion of rock and jazz, years (decades even) ahead of its time. The groove is thick and heavy while John McLaughlin’s guitar theatrics are awe inspiring. Davis says it best: “That’s some raunchy shit, y’all.”
03. THE FLESHTONES Do You Swing? CD (Yep Roc) – The godfathers of garage rock have been doing their Super Rock for over a quarter of a century, but surprise, surprise, they can still do it better than the younger generation. Best thing the band has produced since the early Eighties.
04. LOREN CONNORS The Departing of a Dream, Vol. II CD (Family Vineyard) – Avant-garde guitarist Loren Connors virtually defines the term dreamscape on this slowly eddying ambient instrumental release.
05. ELENI MANDELL Country For True Lovers CD (Zedtone) – Los Angeles singer-songwriter releases an album worthy of the title, a slightly nourish tumble through classic honky tonk proving once again Nashville ain’t where the true country’s at anymore.
06. FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE Welcome Interstate Managers CD (S-Curve) – Another batch of infectious, charming pop tunes from Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger. It was even funnier to see them perform “Stacy’s Mom” on Leno.
07. CUL DE SAC Death of the Sun CD (Strange Attractors) – After too many years away from the studio, Cul de Sac returns with an eerie and entrancing mood album that marks a high point in the band’s career.
08. THE BELLRAYS Raw Collection CD (Vital Gesture) – An odds-and-ends compilation that proves one thing: in the right hands, there’s nothing as powerful as a simple backbeat, proto-punk guitar riffs, and some catchy choruses. Punk soul that slays any competitors. Nobody can match Lisa Kekaula’s wailing vocals.
09. THE GITS Frenching the Bully (Reissue) CD (Broken Rekids) – Punk with a feminist tinge, a long overdue reissue of a 1992 album and far superior to most things released this year that was labeled ‘punk.’
10. DRESSY BESSY Dressy Bessy CD (Kindercore) – Colorado’s sunniest pop band just keeps getting better and this time out they finally matched the energy and peppy spirit of their live show.
11. WAYNE SHORTER Alegria CD (Verve) – After too many years, saxophonist Wayne Shorter finally returns to an all-acoustic format with high marks for creativity and technical virtuosity.

GARY SMITH
Contributing Photographer, Skyscraper

01. VELLS Vells CDEP (Luckyhorse)
02. THE APES Oddeyesee CD (French Kiss)
03. DEVENDRA BANHART Black Babies CDEP (Young God)
04. BRAINBOMBS Obey CD (Igloo)
05. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow CD (Load)
06. A.R.E. WEAPONS A.R.E. Weapons CD (Rough Trade)
07. THE CHINESE STARS Turbo Mattress CD (Skin Graft)
08. BEEHIVE & THE BARRACUDAS In Dark Love CD (Swami)
09. YEAH YEAH YEAHS Fever to Tell CD (Interscope)
10. THE FITNESS Call Me for Together (Control Group)
11. HAWNAY TROOF Who Likes Ta CDEP (Retard Disco)
12. GLASS CANDY You Are the Fly CD (Glass Candy)
13. ERASE ERATTA At Crystal Palace CD (Troubleman)
14. DAN SARTAIN Dan Sartain vs. the Serpientes CD (Swami)
15. EX MODELS Zoo Psychology CD (French Kiss)
16. CHROMATICS Chrome Rats vs. Basement Rutz CD (GSL)
17. EVERYTIME I DIE Hot Damn CD (Ferret)
18. SCENE CREAMERS I Suck on That Emotion CD (Drag City)
19. BLACK EYES Black Eyes CD (Dischord)
20. FANNYPACK So Stylistic CD (Tommy Boy)
21. THE THERMALS More Parts Per Million CD (Sub Pop)
22. PEACHES Fatherfucker CD (Beggars Banquet/XL)
23. XIU XIU A Promise CD (5 Rue)
24. HINT HINT Sex Is Everything CDEP (Cold Crush)
25. CALLA Televise CD (Arena Rock)

J. STUART
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper; Singer/guitarist, The Cloud Room – New York, NY

01. PLUSH Fed CD (After Hours)
02. VARIOUS ARTISTS Miami Sound CD (Soul Jazz)
03. THE RAPTURE Echoes CD (Universal/DFA)
04. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol)
05. OUTKAST Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 2CD (La Face)
06. NEIL YOUNG On the Beach (Reissue) CD (Reprise)
07. THE SLEEPY JACKSON Lovers CD (Astralwerks)
08. DAVID BOWIE Reality CD (ISO/Columbia)
09. THE MICROPHONES Mt. Erie CD (K)
10. WIRE Send CD (Pink Flag)

ROBERT STRIBLEY
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Charlotte, NC

01. OUTKAST Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 2CD (La Face) – The boys from Atlanta throw a delicious rumpshaking smartbomb into the heart of hip-hop.
02. MASSIVE ATTACK 100th Window CD (Virgin) – Sinister, solitary sounds from the high priests of paranoia.
03. ARAB STRAP Monday at the Hug & Pint CD (Matador) – As lush and dark as ever.
04. THE POSTAL SERVICE Give Up CD (Sub Pop)
05. BRITTA PHILLIPS & DEAN WAREHAM L’Avventura CD (Jetset) – Pretty, witty pop songs.
06. NITIN SAWHNEY Human CD (V2)
07. JOHNNY CASH American IV: The Man Comes Around CD (American) – From late 2002, mainly in honor of the Man In Black’s passing.
08. VARIOUS ARTISTS Laurel Canyon CD (Hollywood) – Deftly selected tracks for this movie set in the California rock’n’roll scene.
09. JUANA MOLINA Segundo CD (Domino)
10. CLANN ZU Rua CD (G7 Welcoming Committee) – Irish-Aussie rockers blend rock, folk, even electronica with heaps of passion.
11. CAFÉ TACUBA Cuatro Caminos CD (MCA) – Consistently inventive rock en Espanol outta Mexico.
12. MINK LUNGS I’ll Take It CD (Arena Rock)
13. VARIOUS ARTISTS L’Auberge Espanol CD (Warner) – Groovy, eclectic soundtrack to the French movie, set in Barcelona.
14. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol) – Can’t really ignore ‘em, can I?
15. THE WHITE STRIPES Elephant CD (V2) – Guess you’re obliged to include the quasi-saviors of rock, too.
16. MC HONKY I Am the Messiah CD (spinART) – ‘Cos it sure is a lot of fun, folks.
17. NICK CAVE Nocturama CD (Anti/Epitaph) – The gravelly Aussie continues to quietly amass an outstanding oeuvre.
18. THE POLYPHONIC SPREE The Beginning Stages of… CD (Good/Hollywood) – Technically a 2002 release, too, but re-released this year in the U.S. with a bonus disc. Fun and joyful, if also ephemeral.

PETER SUDERMAN
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper – Niceville, FL

01. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Transatlanticism CD (Barsuk) – A perfect combination of sugary sweet pop and melancholy rock. Somber and joyful, subtle and grandiose, a truly mesmerizing record.
02. !!! Me and Guilani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story) CDEP (Touch & Go) – Nooo – nooo! Too funky! Too funky! AHHHH! Goddamit, I can’t shake the groove!
03. CURSIVE The Ugly Organ CD (Saddle Creek) – Tim Kasher strikes concept album gold. Again.
04. ATMOSPHERE Seven’s Travels CD (Epitaph/Rhymesayers) – Sly, witty, self-deprecating rhymes over an earth-shaking groove. This deserves to be huge.
05. THE POSTAL SERVICE Give Up CD (Sub Pop) – Score two for Mr. Gibbard.
06. THE BLOOD BROTHERS Burn Piano Island, Burn CD (ARTISTdirect) – Remember how At the Drive-In always felt like watching something explode? This feels like you swallowed a tub of plastic explosive and got blown across the room. Manic hardcore intensity at its finest.
07. TED LEO/PHARMACISTS Hearts of Oak CD (Lookout!) – Fuck the White Stripes. This is what guitar rock is about.
08. THE CONSTANTINES Shine a Light CD (Sub Pop) – Post-punk with the soul of blues and blessed with the Sub Pop seal of approval.
09. TV ON THE RADIO Young Liars CDEP (Touch & Go) – It’s almost creepy, but instead it’s just damn fine.
10. BROTHER ALI Shadows on the Sun CD (Rhymesayers) – With this and Seven’s Travels, Rhymesayers beatman Ant had a great year.
11. RJD2 Dead Ringer CD (Def Jux) – DJ Shadow who?
12. THE LOCUST Plague Landscapes CD (Anti/Epitaph) – I can only listen to it for about five minutes, but that’s, like, six songs and nearly a quarter of the entire album. A sci-fi grindcore classic that would make a really good soundtrack to getting attacked by a gazillion robotic bugs.
13. THE DISMEMBERMENT PLAN The People’s History of The Dismemberment Plan CD (DeSoto) – Not their finest hour, but still an exceptional release.
14. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (Universal/GSL) – Damn near as good as your old Yes and E.L.P. records.
15. THE NOTWIST Neon Golden CD (Domino) – Sure to spark an inevitable wave of laptronica glitch pop imitators, this feels like something cutting edge and something classic, all at the same time.
16. FROM MONUMENTS TO MASSES The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Simple Steps CD (Dim Mak) – Eat your heart out, Don Caballero. Your reunion tour doesn’t even include any original members except your drummer.
17. VARIOUS ARTISTS Saddle Creek 50 2CD (Saddle Creek) – An above average compilation, but who really cares about anything except that new Faint song, “Take Me to the Hospital”? Seriously, did you hear that track? HOLY SHIT.
18. JOAN OF ARC In Rape Fantasy and Terror Sex We Trust CD (Perishable) – Glorious, glorious pretension. A vital nutrient for arty music dweebs.

(A “Top 25 Albums of 2003” list was compiled from the above lists and more, and was published in Issue 15 of Skyscraper, now available in stores.)

JAMES JACKSON TOTH
Contributing Writer, Skyscraper; Musician, The Blood Group; Owner, Polyamory Records – Staten Island, NY

01. DRIVE BY TRUCKERS Decoration Day CD (New West) – With this record, the Truckers officially ended Royal Trux’s nine year reign as my all-time favorite band.
02. NEIL YOUNG Greendale CD+DVD (Reprise) – Fuck the haters, Uncle Neil is still king.
03. DIZZEE RASCAL Boy in Da Corner CD (XL/Beggars Banquet)
04. AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED Altered States of America 3” CD (Relapse)
05. HAIR POLICE Mortuary Servants 7” (Freedom From/Gods of Tundra) – The most visceral punk rock attack on the senses since Total Sex. Brilliant.
06. PAUL FLAHERTY Voices CD (Wet Paint)
07. TOXIC DRUNKS / RADIATION NATION Split 7” (DeArdia) – Controversial “bootleg” from ’98 of Harry Pussy and “affiliates,” recently unearthed. Those who know don’t say, those who say don’t know.
08. HELLA Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass CDEP (Narnack)
09. JACK ROSE Opium Musick LP (Eclipse)
10. NEIL MICHAEL HAGERTY The Howling Hex CD (Drag City)
11. ARTIMUS PYLE Civil Dead CD (Prank)
12. GENE CLARK No Other (Reissue) CD (WEA)
13. THE SHINS Chutes Too Narrow CD (Sub Pop)
14. MASTODON Remission (Reissue) CD (Relapse)
15. KEITH HUDSON Playing It Cool LP (Basic Replay)
16. THE FIERY FURNACES Gallowsbird’s Bark CD (Rough Trade)

AND… washing down natural peanut butter with diet root beer; bitter Canadian rockers with too much money/time on their hands elevating me to legendary status before my time; Dead Machines, Dream/Aktion Unit and Angelblood live; blackouts; Militia Babes calendars; wisteria; getting wasted with Nate Young; American Choppers; learning the ins and outs of table scoring and dumpster diving from Jarvis and Heidi; garage rock backlash; Degrassi: The Next Generation; Greensleeves = unabated; baffling dreams involving Wendy O. Williams brought on by Paxil withdrawal; Michigan.

JONATHAN D. WRIGHT
Contributing Writer & “The Beaten Path” Columnist, Skyscraper – Denver, CO

01. THE SLEEPY JACKSON Lovers CD (Astralwerks)
02. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (Universal/GSL)
03. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief CD (Capitol)
04. CURSIVE The Ugly Organ CD (Saddle Creek)
05. MY MORNING JACKET It Still Moves CD (ATO)
06. JESSE MALIN The Fine Art of Self-Destruction CD (Artemis)
07. THE DECEMBERISTS Her Majesty, The Decemberists CD (Kill Rock Stars)
08. JOSH ROUSE 1972 CD (Rykodisc)
09. THE WHITE STRIPES Elephant CD (V2)
10. GILLIAN WELCH Soul Journey CD (Acony)
11. THE MINUS 5 Down With Wilco CD (Yep Roc)
12. THE CONSTANTINES Shine a Light CD (Sup Pop)
13. DEAD MEADOW Shivering King and Others CD (Matador)
14. DRIVE BY TRUCKERS Decoration Day CD (New West)
15. EELS Shootenanny! CD (DreamWorks)
16. ED HARCOURT From Every Sphere CD (Astralwerks)
17. KILLING JOKE Killing Joke CD (Epic)
18. WATCHERS To the Rooftops CD (Gern Blandsten)
19. GRANDADDY Sumday CD (V2)
20. THE FIRE THEFT The Fire Theft CD (Rykodisc)

JUSTIN WRIGHT
Art Director, Skyscraper; Guitarist, Living Science Foundation – Los Angeles, CA

01. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (Universal/GSL)
02. THE MAGIC BAND Back to the Front CD (ATP)
03. RADIOHEAD Hail to the Theif CD (Capitol)
04. TROUM Sigquan CD (Relapse)
05. SUPERSILENT 6 CD (Runegrammofon)
06. YEAH YEAH YEAHS Fever to Tell CD (Interscope)
07. MIDNIGHT MOVIES Midnight Movies CDEP (Leftwing)
08. LIVING SCIENCE FOUNDATION Last Call for Nightfall CD (Second Nature)
09. SLEEP Dopesmoker CD (Tee Pee)
10. YEAR FUTURE Year Future CDEP (GSL)
11. DEAD MEADOW Shivering King and Others CD (Matador)
12. THE LOCUST Plague Soundscapes (Anti-/Epitaph)
13. ENTRANCE The Kingdom of Heaven Must be Taken by Storm CD (Tiger Style)
14. LIGHTNING BOLT Wonderful Rainbow CD (Load)
15. ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE / KINSKI Split CD (Sub Pop)

 

 

 


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