Dave's Best of 2003
(See previous post for an explanation of what this post is.)
OK, I realize we're getting a little too deep into 2004 to still be throwing around Best of 2003 lists. But this is the list I had in mind when I came up with the idea for the music club … and it's the music that's still in heavy rotation on the iPod.
January's my biggest music month of the year. Being located in l'il ole Charlottetown, it's pretty difficult to stay in touch with the new music scene with Magic 93 and Truro's Big Dog as your primary sources. I do have other means of maintaining some degree of musical hipness through the year, but each January's publishing of Best-of lists is where I get to catch up; listen to the stuff that folks are saying is great but that I've either not heard or to which I've not paid enough attention.
The list isn't quite Dave's Best of 2003. Rather it's a sampler of music I discovered and came to like during this January ritual. I weeded out some stuff that is obviously among the best of 2003 (Outkast and the other usual suspects) in the interests of pointing the group to some stuff that they may not have heard or paid enough attention to. I also had to delete a few specific picks because Steven's already played them on AOV Radio.
A final note: By its nature, a list like this has little in common among the songs other than (hopefully) taste, quality and the space in time they share. Pardon the CD as it jumps from Hip Hop to Alt-Country to brooding singer-songwriter fare.
With that ... the list with links to All Music's listing for the album:
- Drive-By Truckers, Marry Me, Decoration Day
The Truckers are some good old southern (yes, redneck) rockers, but with some intelligence and irony thrown in (I think). With Marry Me, they channel the Rolling Stones ... and do it well. My other fave from the album is Outfit.
- Be Good Tanyas, Its Not Happening, Chinatown
Good Canadian girls. Sweet, haunting sounds. Amazing harmonies. All recorded and produced in some way that gives it an airy feeling that adds to the entire groove they've got going on. This entire album's a gem and includes two wonderful covers: House of the Rising Sun and Towne Van Zandt's Waiting Around to Die. By the way, I've got dibs on using their song, Rudy, for the Christmas CDs.
- Pernice Brothers, The Weakest Shade of Blue, Yours, Mine and Ours
I've had some Pernice Brothers sitting on my hard drive for a couple of years ... a gift from a friend in San Francisco who's a serious alt-country aficionado. I never gave it a real listen. Then Yours, Mine and Ours jumped onto my January radar. I love this entire album. Great pop music!
- Bubba Sparxxx, Deliverance, Deliverance
Southern redneck white-boy hip-hop. So good the sub-genre's got its own name: hick-hop. Deliverance is a good taste of this album. If you like his sound check out the rest. I like it a lot. Deliverance is produced by Timbaland who emerged from 2003 as a super-producer, able to create quality music and hits from a broad range of artists.
- The Weakerthans, One Great City!, Reconstruction Site
This album is one of my faves. I've had some Weakerthans playing for a year or so … ever since I heard Left or Leaving on CBC's DNTO. I would have selected Manifesto, but Steven played on AOV Radio. "I hate Winnipeg."
- The Shins, Gone For Good, Chutes Too Narrow
Fun song. Fun album.
- Damien Rice, Volcano, O
One of my favourite discoveries in a long while. All Music call him "a perfect cross between Ryan Adams and David Gray," and call this album a work of genius. This is great acoustic guitar folk, embellished with strings, an opera singer, and the amazing vocals of Lisa Hannigan. The end of Volcano features some neat vocal volleying between the two of them.
- Sun Kil Moon, Glenn Tipton, Ghosts Of The Great Highway
Mark Kozelek, from Red House Painters; haunting voice sounds like a cross between Neil Young and Nick Drake. Even creepier last verse.
- Death Cab For Cutie, Transatlanticism, Transatlanticism (with special mention to The Postal Service's Give Up)
This was on most of the hip, Best of lists, as was The Postal Service which is a side-project for Death Cab's frontman, Ben Gibbard. I like both albums a lot. Most striking is the degree to which they both recall 80s pop (The Cure, Human League, et al). I came of age musically in the 80s so I have a soft spot for this stuff. I also like my songs nice and long and this one clocks in at just under 8 minutes, as it subtly build and builds. Both album's are great turn-out-the-lights-turn-up-the-music-relax-and-listen affairs.
- The Thrills, Say It Aint So, So Much For The City
Brits with a serious jones for Southern California surf sounds. Breath of fresh air. If you had a convertible you'd want to play this on the way to the beach.
- Gillian Welch, Look at Miss Ohio, Soul Journey
She's one of the real deals and this is another great album from her. I picked this song because I can play it on my guitar.
- Fountains of Wayne, Hung Up On You, Welcome Interstate Managers
FoW got there share of press this year, including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Most of the attention was focused on Stacy' Mom, the de facto anthem of MILF-dom (Google it if you don't know; make sure the kiddies aren't around), but this album is as good as straight-ahead pop gets ... or needs to be. This song actually isn't indicative of the rest of the album. It's a send-up (I think) alt-country twanger.
- My Morning Jacket, Golden, It Still Moves
I can't say much here, as I'm still figuring out what and how I think about My Morning Jacket. I definitely like them - a lot - and they are the real deal. Muffled, signature sound that one reviewer said sounded like they recorded in an empty grain elevator.
- White Stripes, Ball And Biscuit, Elephant
Sure, lots of hype … but for a reason. Saviours of rock and roll? Maybe, maybe not. But who cares. This shit's good and the album's the best collection of loud guitar I've heard in a while. Seven Nation Army is an awesome song, but Ball and Biscuit gets my vote.
- Josh Rouse, Slaveship, 1972
I had been listening to this album some and liked it a lot. Then I saw Josh Rouse open for the Jayhawks at the Phoenix in Toronto, a month or so back, and now I love it. Awesome, fun, great. Rouse has been a solid folk artist for a few albums. With 1972 he takes his style and songwriting and overlays it with a 70s groove that is so incredibly infectious. And seeing him live seals the deal. Run out and grab this one.
- Jayhawks, Tailspin, Rainy Day Music
My favourite album of the year and an instant classic!! Toughest job here was picking a song for the list. I picked this one over Tampa to Tulsa. Tampa to Tulsa's my current fave on the album, but it's written and sung by Jayhawks drummer, Tim O'Reagan, so it doesn't quite sound like classic Jayhawks fare. Listen to this song … but go get the album.
Coming up with a playlist was a piece of cake for me. The hard part was keeping it to one CD. With that constraint, I had to leave some songs off, including the following. I urge you to go give these a listen as well.
- Yo La Tengo, Take Care, Summer Sun
- Dizzee Rascal, Sittin Here, Boy in da Corner
- The Strokes, What Ever Happened, Room on Fire
- Cat Power, Maybe Not, You Are Free
- New Pornographers, Electric Version
- The Postal Service, The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, Give Up
- Lucinda Williams, World Without Tears
What's up for the next round? Well, I reserve the right to change my mind, but in celebration of Bush's One Year Anniversary in Iraq I'm leaning towards a Songs of War & Protest playlist (don't worry, I don't mean Peter, Paul & Mary).