RECORDS OF 2003,
AS CHOSEN BY SKYSCRAPER STAFFERS AND A FEW FRIENDS
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
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
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,
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
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
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!
& Co-Publisher, Skyscraper – New York, NY
01. PARTY OF HELICOPTERS Please Believe It
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
13. DIMMU BORGIR Death Cult Armageddon CD (Nuclear
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
17. MURDER CITY DEVILS R.I.P. CD (Sub Pop)
18. IRON & WINE The Sea & Ryhthm CDEP (Sub
19. THE STARLITE DESPERATION Demo (Capitol)
20. HINT HINT Sex is Everything CDEP (Cold Crush)
Writer, Skyscrapermagazine.com – Owings Mills, MD
01. STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS Pig Lib
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)
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!
Writer, Skyscraper – New Bethlehem, PA
01. WOVEN HAND Woven Hand CD (Sounds
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
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
19. THE ROBOT ATE ME They Ate Themselves CD (Swim Slowly)
20. BEULAH Yoko CD (Velocette)
Writer, Skyscraper; Singer/guitarist, Gold Circles – Kent,
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
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
19. THE RAVEONETTES Chain Gang of Love CD (Sony/Columbia)
20. IDLEWILD The Remote Part CD (Capitol)
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)
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
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
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
12. HOLOPAW Holopaw CD (Sub Pop)
13. DIRTY THREE She Has No Strings Apollo CD (Touch
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)
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.
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
13. JETSCREAMER Starhead CD (Bella Union)
14. LOW SKIES The Bed CD (Flameshovel)
Writer & Photographer, Skyscraper – Winnipeg, Manitoba
01. DEERHOOF Apple O’ CD (Kill
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
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)
Writer, Skyscraper – Columbus, OH
01. MOGWAI Happy Songs for Happy People
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
11. FOUR TET Rounds CD (Domino)
12. AEREOGRAMME Sleep & Release CD (Matador)
13. A FIVE & DIME SHIP A Five & Dime Ship CD
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)
20. KILLING JOKE Killing Joke CD (Red Ink/Epic)
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
08. THE PARTY OF HELICOPTERS Please Believe It CD (Velocette)
09. VIBRACATHEDRAL ORCHESTRA The Queen of Guess CD
10. PANICSVILLE Imperfection of the Organism LP (Scratch
11. BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Summer’s Seething Pulse
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)
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
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
07. THE ANGELS OF LIGHT Everything is Good Here, Please
Come Home CD (Young God) – The title says it all,
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
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
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).
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
05. DAUGHTERS Canada Songs CD (Robotic Empire)
06. EX MODELS Zoo Psychology CDEP (French Kiss)
07. M83 Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts CD
08. WIRE Send CD (Pink Flag)
09. COMETS ON FIRE Comets On Fire (Reissue) CD (Alternative
10. DOUBLE DAGGER Double Dagger CD (Hit-Dat)
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
10. LUNGFISH “Love is Love” – Is what we needed
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
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
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.
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”
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.
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
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)
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)
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
JONATHAN D. WRIGHT
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
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)
Director, Skyscraper; Guitarist, Living Science Foundation –
Los Angeles, CA
01. THE MARS VOLTA De-Loused in the Comatorium
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)