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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, March 2

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Andrew / January 9, 2004 10:43 AM

Andrew Bird -- Weather Systems
Enon -- Hokus Pokus

Outkast's "Hey Ya" has got to be the song of 2003.

sandor / January 9, 2004 10:49 AM

Ditto on Andrew Bird's Weather Systems.

New Pornographers -- Electric Version
Calexico -- Feast of Wire
Postal Service -- Give Up
Califone -- Quicksand/Cradlesnakes

kegz / January 9, 2004 10:55 AM

Electric Version - The New Pornographers
Song: The Laws Have Changed

Meadowlands - The Wrens
Song: Everyone Chooses Sides

Give Up - The Postal Service
Song: "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"

The Darkness - The Darkness

Agree on "Hey Ya", also loved the Junior Senior single, "Move your feet"

Ramsin / January 9, 2004 11:15 AM

I think your vote for Hey Ya for song of the year is due to the fact that it's still fresh in your mind. Because there's no way you can forget about The #1 Jam Of 2003, R. Kelly's Ignition (Remix), aka Remix To Ignition. That's it. That's the list.

Suzanne / January 9, 2004 11:19 AM

song: We Used To Be Friends- The Dandy Warhols

album: Welcome Interstate Managers- Fountains of Wayne

amyc / January 9, 2004 11:29 AM

Tallahassee -- The Mountain Goats
Movement -- The Gossip
Hot Shit -- Quasi

Sinead O'Connor's cover of "Chiquitita" on She Who Dwells...

"The Hardest Button to Button" by them White Stripes that the kids like so much.

"Going to Marrakesh" by the Extra Glenns, which is think was on a 2001 Ajax compilation, but I just heard it this year. How can you not love a song containing the line "Our love is like Jesus, but worse"?

Ian / January 9, 2004 11:34 AM

"Grace Days" off Grace Days by I Am Robot and Proud


"Absolutely Cuckoo" and "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits" off 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields

lacey / January 9, 2004 11:43 AM

I wasn't particularly ambitious with music in 2003, but I have enjoyed Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief" and The Postal Service's "Give Up" albums. Both are excellent.

Naz / January 9, 2004 11:48 AM

Album of the year >> This Beautiful Mess - temper the wind to the shorn lamb
Therapy? - High Anxiety
The Twilight Singers - Blackberry Belle
From Monument to Masses - The impossible leap in one hundred simple steps
Criteria - En Garde

Best songs of 2003 in order:
Gregor Samsa - ..
Outkast - Hey Ya
Cry Me a River - Justin Timberlake

Kenzo / January 9, 2004 12:25 PM

I thought this was a Chicago web-zine! No one mentioned "Slow Jamz" by our own Twista!

And what about the infectious (and creamy) "Milkshake" by the sultry, sexy, siren Kelis?

Jake / January 9, 2004 12:27 PM

I finally heard "Ignition - Remix" for the first time a couple weeks ago after reading many people I respect talk highly of it. It's true. It's the best song of the year. Hands down.

Sippin' on Coke and rum
I'm like, so what, I'm drunk
It's the freakin' weekend baby
I'm about to have me some fun

I never thought I could like R. Kelly after the whole "I Believe I Can Fly" atrocity combined with his apparent love of getting peed on by 12-year-old girls on videotape. But I'll be god damned if "Ignition - Remix" isn't just a fantastic song.

Also good:

Elliott Smith - Pretty (Ugly Before)/A Distorted Reality 7"
The Libertines - Up the Bracket (best rock and roll from England in about 12 years)
The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (better than their first one)

Craig / January 9, 2004 12:41 PM

A few Top Albums:

Sufjan Stevens - Michigan (Folk-BossaNova-fusion? Amazing tone poem about Michigan.)
Outhud - S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D. (electro dancepunk)
Decemberists - Her Majesty (most creative lyrics of the year) [see also: Decemberists - Castaways and Cutouts]
Shins - Chutes too Narrow (pop record of the year)
Manitoba - Up in Flames (My Bloody Valentine meets glitchy IDM)
Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway (Pure melancholy)
Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun (Rock like only YLT can do)
Four Tet - Rounds (organic trip-hop)
Postal Service - Give Up (a guilty pleasure)
Diverse - One A.M. (Hot Chicago hip-hop!)

A few Top singles:

The Shins - "Mines Mot a High Horse"
!!! - "Me & Giuliani Down by the School Yard"
Outkast - "Hey Ya!"
Ted Leo/Pharmacists - "Where have all the rude boys gone?"

PS Ian-- "69 Love Songs" is actually a few years old, although those songs warrant being in top tens lists for the next decade.

Katie / January 9, 2004 12:48 PM

i'm so glad this isn't organized into the stifling "ten best" format.

my favorites of the year:
Mates of State: Team Boo
Lucinda Williams: World Without Tears
Erlend Oye: Unrest
The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow

For song, could it be anything other than Hey Ya? though my honorable mention goes to "Kissing the Lipless" from Chutes Too Narrow. and I have an extreme love/hate relationship with Ignition-Remix.

steve sleeve / January 9, 2004 1:56 PM

01 the shins "chutes too narrow"
02 atmosphere "seven's travels"
03 the postal service "give up"
04 the weakerthans "reconstruction site"
05 starlight mints "built on squares"
06 exploding hearts "guitar romantic"
07 fountains of wayne "welcome interstate managers"
08 the decemberists "her majesty the decemberists"
09 the notwist "neon golden"
10 the new pornographers "electric version"
11 belle & sebastian "dear catastrophe waitress"
12 ted leo/pharmacists "hearts of oak"
13 brother ali "shadows on the sun"
14 ween "quebec"
15 loose fur "loose fur"
16 mates of state "team boo"
17 broken social scene "you forgot it in people"
18 super furry animals "phantom power"
19 hieroglyphics "full circle"
20 motion city soundtrack "i am the movie"
21 sufjan stevens "michigan"
22 the bloodthirsty lovers "the bloodthirsty lovers"
23 dizzee rascal "boy in da corner"
24 aesop rock "bazooka tooth"
25 andrew w.k. "the wolf"

stephen / January 9, 2004 3:14 PM

oh, here we go, trying to out-indie each other again..

Jerry / January 9, 2004 3:45 PM

Things I played a lot in 2003, necessarily not published in 2003. Probably most definitely not ...

Steely Dan's Can't Buy a Thrill, Aja, & Pretzel Logic
The Band The Band (poor ol dixie ... )
The Ozark Mt. Daredevils It'll Shine When It Shines
Beck Sea Change
Jay Zs The Black Album
Casey Meeham Violet
The Johnson Big Band .. um, Love Taps & Soft Punches
everything by Req
everything by Alton Ellis
the Heptones
Stars As Eyes
This Heat peel sessions
gotta love Milkshake; sorry, pop culture ...
What else?

Pete / January 9, 2004 3:59 PM

I'll also have to stick to "best album purchased in 2003", since I buy so few these days that I'll rarely buy anything in the same year that it's released. In which case it's "End of Amnesia" by M. Ward.

? / January 9, 2004 5:20 PM

oh, here we go, trying to out-indie each other again..

Oh, here we go, getting insecure about the music we listen to...

Ramsin / January 9, 2004 6:34 PM

Hey, take it easy there question mark guy. Let's all play nice. It's just music. Besides, it's not really an argument--Remix To Ignition.

The best album release would have to be Randy Newman's Songbook Vol. 1. So, *that's* it, that's the List.

A lex / January 9, 2004 8:41 PM

Favorite albums of 2003:

- Cat Power "You are Free"
- Outkast "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below"
- The Thermals "More Parts Per Million"
- The Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Fever to Tell"

Favorite Song of 2003:
The Thermals "Goddamn the Light"

I was really disappointed with the new Radiohead and new Belle & Sebastian.

Mike / January 10, 2004 12:02 AM

1) Dwele - "Subject"
2) Raphael Saadiq - "All Hits at the House of Blues"
3) Outkast - "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below"

"Hey Ya!" was definitely the song of the year. It'll certainly be included on the inevitable "Classics from the 2000s" mix.

LD / January 12, 2004 12:45 AM

cyndi lauper "at last" cover album
john mayer "heavier things" album
shelby lynn's new album

carolyn / January 12, 2004 8:25 AM

Damien Rice "O"
without a doubt.

stephen / January 12, 2004 9:57 AM

Oh hell, don't get me wrong, its quite cool to learn about some of the more obscure albums that don't get a lot of play. And I'm quite happy to see someone mention Damien Rice. Its just when we have music-type lists, people tend to fall over themselves to bring up some random band that hasn't gotten a record deal yet but just put out their own record on cd-r discs with songs in felt pen. But maybe I was just being grumpy. :)

Overall tho, Outkast just reestablished they are the coolest m*therf*ckers on the planet.

And is this Ignition song really the shiz? I haven't heard it yet.

Miranda / January 12, 2004 10:12 AM

Stars - 'Heart'
Bering Strait - 'Bering Strait'
Annie Lennox - 'Bare'
Robinella & the CC String Band

Naz / January 12, 2004 11:06 AM

I don't think there's a single band/artist here that isn't on a label. And what does obscure mean? Just because you've never heard of it, it doesn't mean a lot of people aren't listening. You can't claim anything if you don't know about it. What you're saying then is that the only music worth listening to is music you listen to. And seriously, most of the albums I've seen on top ten lists this year sucked. Compared to some of the non-piblicized, undermarketed more independent stuff, most of that stuff doesn't hold up well. I didn't think much of the top ten list artists this year are classics. I won't be playing much of this stuff down the line or will accompany me on a desert island.

ali / January 12, 2004 11:24 AM

My top 10 albums:
The Postal Service- Give Up
Erase Errata- At Crystal Palace
Ted Leo/Pharmacists- Hearts of Oak
Gossip- Movement
Hidden Cameras- The Smell of Our Own
Enon- Hocus Pocus
Outkast- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Fever to Tell
Essential Logic- Fanfare in the Garden (reissue but whatever...)

Honorable mentions to Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros- Streetcore (an amazing testament to Strummer's versatility and his abiltity so stay musically relevant up to his death) and also to Peaches- Fatherfucker.

miss ellen / January 12, 2004 11:31 AM

ok, i'll bite.

album: outkast - speakerboxx/the love below

(honorable mention to nelly furtado's new album, folklore; big ups to the new sound & bucking the formulaic trends).

song: ignition/remix; c'mon, you know you love it, right?

(honorable mention to "hey ya"; i mean, it *is* everywhere now, isn't it?)

and, you can be sure, i won't out-indie ANYONE on this list ;)

kegz / January 12, 2004 1:01 PM

I gave a listen to Ignition (Remix) because of the recommendations here. I listened to it about 6 times in a row immediately. I couldn't stop. Good tune.

stephen / January 12, 2004 2:53 PM

Naz, dude, chill. I was in no way saying that the music I listen to is the only music worth listening to. I listen to a fair amount of crap, actually, and quite like finding out about stuff I haven't heard yet. I mean I wouldn't have heard about the Postal Service (or at least not as early in the year) if a friend hadn't mentioned them. I'd take much more relevance in top tens I see here then in any publication, as there are things going on behind those scenes that make it about much more than a good album. I put no negative or positive connotation to obscurity, as definined by its relation to mainstream stuff. And now that indie acts are getting more exposure due to word of mouth and this internet thing, one can see a definite pattern in that too, in the same way one sees a pattern in top 40 radio when a label really throws money at a single.
My previous comments were in poor taste, certainly. I think you all have excellent taste and if I can find one bloody band that's good then its wonderful. I'd much rather discover this way than by drudging through eMpTyV.
So lets forget I said that bs and have ourselves a drink, eh?

Naz / January 12, 2004 3:44 PM

Stephen, I'm not taking offense to your remarks at all. I thought it was funny and that there is some truth to it. I do want to debate it though because I like discussing things and music is one of those things I'm passionate about. Sorry if it came off harsh, but I'm intrigued by the top tens of this year especially in the independent/indie genres.

I want to hear from other folks why they thought these bands were great. I'm not dissing them, I have those albums because lots of my friends told me this was good, etc. And I almost do want to like them, I mean all my friends (who share similar tastes in music) and all these other "critics" give these albums the thumbs up but man, these aren't classics. Yes, it's my opinion I suppose and I'm entitled to it as much as others are entitled to theirs, but I feel that there was so much more better music that came out this year that didn't get wide exposure that blew away these people on these top ten lists. I was pretty disappointed across the board with top tens this year. Absolutely predictable. Absolutely unexciting. There was only one band I'd say I share a top ten with and that's be The Postal Service but even that I begrudgingly do so. I dig them but not the entire album.

I'm pissed about the classic longplayer and it's rapid demise. It's rare to find an album that rocks from start to end, instead of just "singles" with filler in between.

Okay, okay, I'm in a righteous music mood. I will step off my soapbox.

P.S. Forgot about Damien Rice! He was on heavy rotation for the summer into the fall.

Jeff / January 12, 2004 3:56 PM

I wrote a thing on my top ten of '03 for a music zine. Rather than cut and paste it, I'll just plug it. Check with me on Thursday or so, and I'll have the link up on my site. My top 10 is one of several they'll be featuring on the facetiously named How to Be Hip.

Jeff / January 12, 2004 4:04 PM

One other thing though: how can we possibly be discussing song of the year when no one has mentioned "Under Control" by The Strokes? Like the VU covering Stax... crazy, crazy good.

Craig / January 12, 2004 4:22 PM

I think I understand where you are coming from, Naz. When I compare my top 10 from 2003 vs. my top 10 from 2002, last year seemed much stronger. I was underwhelmed overall this year, but there were some strong showings nonetheless. I'm curious-- which album(s) top-ten validity are you questioning?

Naz / January 12, 2004 5:10 PM

Craig, that's what I feel. I feel that it's getting weaker and weaker and picking are slim.

My number one absolutely WTF?! irk for top album is for The White Stripes' "Elephant". It has some decent songs but it's not a classic. Debatable of course but I doubt it'll be listened to years from now.

While I enjoyed The Shin's first album, I enjoyed the artwork for Chutes Too Narrow than I did the music. Sorry, many of my friends love that album. I do not.

Okay, I love Outkast. And double albums are a very very fine line to tread. But like I mentioned before, filler gets old real quick, especially the skits that rap/hip-hop albums seem to be full of now. Outkast's latest, like many double albums can be rearranged to be one superamazing album instead. In this day and age of digital music this is easily done but I hate the sort of unecessary posturing of excess that artists seem to revel in.

I miss good solid back to back albums of songs that don't let up, crafted exactly from start to finish. The one album that I think did that well was Cursive's "The Ugly Organ".

Despite that, I found myself thinking about what really stayed in my head at the end of the year. And seriously, there wasn't much that lasted more than two or three months.

I could of course be absolutely jaded by now by music, reaching some sort of critical mass as I tend to do every so often. But I really felt this year's releases across the board were underwhelming. Nothing came out and changed the musical landscape. Well, maybe TATU, for like a second.

I feel like I have musical ADD.

Kenan / January 13, 2004 7:42 AM

Basement Jaxx - Kish Kash. I was amazed and thrilled that Greg Kot picked this as one of his faves of '03. It's really just starting to hit. Look for songs on the "Best singles of '04" list.

Luomo - The Present Lover. Probably my favorite of the year. Elegant and elegiac house music.

The new Jay-Z isn't solid, but it has some great songs: "Allure," "My 1st Song," both of the Kanye West tracks. Spends more time in my player than it probably should.

"Hey Ya" and "Ignition (remix)" are BOTH the best single of the year. Let's not squabble.

I'm still loving Justin Timberlake (2002 oficially, but still hitting even now). Funny, everyone I know likes this album, and everyone I know thinks it's some secret guilty pleasure. The secret's out, guys.

And Britney! The Madonna match up was a dud, but try "Toxic." Niiiice.

Loved the Manitoba and Four Tet. Postal Service was pretty okay, but not top five or anything.

Wild card: Joe Henry - Tiny Voices.

Overrated: Electric Six, Junior Senior. Fun, sure. Not much staying power, though.

Worst: The Strokes - Room on Fire. Not outright bad so much as boring.

And The Rapture, which I can comfortably say I never ever want to hear ever again.

Kenan / January 13, 2004 7:52 AM

OH! How could I forget M83? Great, great record.

holden / January 13, 2004 7:58 AM

Wow, i was happily surprised to see Cursive mentioned on here. Its always fun to see a local midwest band (Nebraska) getting some pub.

I think another fun topic would be top 5 'local' Chicago bands...

miss ellen / January 13, 2004 8:38 AM

aw, shucks.

i'm finally coming to grips with the fact that i have to break down & buy "justified".

i mean, i'm sitting on a rock records gift certificate AND it's dollar-off-tuesdays.....this might be the prescription i need for the next two weeks of non-stop work!!

kegz / January 13, 2004 9:07 AM

I am so happy to hear someone dislike The Rapture as much as I do. Easily my disappointing blind buy of the year.

Naz, have you read Songbook by Nick Hornby? He makes an excellent point about the ephemeral nature of popular music. Some songs are wonderful when we first hear them, but we tire as we re-listen and "solve" them. Other songs stick with us for personal reasons or have a complexity that we're able to revisit time after time.

I don't know that either is better, they're different. In short, I don't believe that a song is crap just because you won't be listening to it 5 years from now.

That said, the only recent record I've listened to over and over again and will continue to do so is Source Tags & Codes by Trail of Dead. Solid with no filler. Released in 2002, so I can't count it on this year's list.

Kenan / January 13, 2004 10:21 AM

At the risk of sounding like a meathead, that records fucking rules.

Mike / January 13, 2004 10:44 AM

"Ignition" is cool, but I much preferred Dave Chappelle's "Piss on You" remix.

I will also admit to enjoying "Justified" and Britney's "In The Zone" ("Toxic" is excellent). Most of the CDs I listened to this year were actually released late in 2002. Talib Kweli's "Quality", Common's "Electric Circus" and The Roots "Phrenology", especially.

Craig / January 13, 2004 11:07 AM

Naz- I'm suprised you didn't like Chutes Too Narrow, especially if you liked their first record. I suppose the new one is a little less psychadelic and a little more pop influenced, but hot-damn it's infectuous. At least we can agree that the die-cut cover art was a nice suprise. Long live album art!

At the risk of sounding hipper-than-thou, I thought Source Tags & Codes was one of the most over-hyped and over-rated releases of 2002. What was the allure? I tried and I really didn't get it at all... yet all my friends loved it.

2002 seemed to have more exciting releases by more exciting bands than 2003... but I tend to discover most of my favorite records month or even years later... so maybe the best is yet to come?

Naz / January 13, 2004 11:10 AM

Top 5 local Chicago bands in no order:
90 Day Men
He Who Corrupts
Black Print
Dolorous Canter

(at this current moment, though 90 Day Men are not to be messed with - solid)

Kegz - I will have to take a gander at Songbook. I've shared familar thoughts when reading Hornby's musings on music. It's an issue for me, because I've long since forgotten what it feels like to be innocent to music. I play music, so I know how it "works" and thus de-constructing a song happens automatically which I hate. I can't just listen and not think "oh that drummer sucks" or "oh that bassline could be better", etc. But every so often, an album does come up and I do forget all about who's doing what when and how and just enjoy the music. Rare but it does happen.

I'm not saying that a song is crap if not a classic but I find more and more that music is not as vital.

Hate to admit this, and they are brilliant live, but ...Trail of Dead also don't do much for me. I like three songs off Source Tags and Codes but thought it was pretty okay overall, the other songs sounded like filler to me. And this is the same thing with most of the top tens this year. For me, I tend to never agree with what albums are on there, which just proves that it all comes down to personal tastes. Which is good. I don't dare fault anyone for what they like, I just want to try to understand why some music is more popular than others. I can even understand why some albums may appeal more to others (and not to me) but there are those few that have me in complete disbelief.

miss ellen / January 13, 2004 1:36 PM

wow, rock records discontinued "dollar-off-tuesdays" due to losing $$$$.

well, they probably just lost a customer & i'm sure i wasn't the only one to hit that deal up time & again.

it's too bad, and i wouldn't doubt they reinstate it when they realize how many customers they're going to lose....

Naz / January 13, 2004 2:24 PM

How much were they charging in the first place?

miss ellen / January 13, 2004 2:43 PM

Ok, I bought Justified with a Sale sticker price of $14.99. After tax, it was $16.30. (I had a $15 gift certificate, otherwise, I wouldn't have bought it). Amazon lists it at $13.49 + shipping.

The dollar-off was a great incentive to support the "little" guys. Now, there isn't much incentive, is there?

georgia / January 13, 2004 3:09 PM

As for my personal favorties of 2003...

Cat Power - You Are Free
Outkast - Speakerboxxx/Love Below
Ultimate Dolly Parton
Starflyer 59 - Old
The Colemans - 5*6*7*8 DANCE

Carlos / January 13, 2004 3:12 PM

Some of my favorite songs of 2003:

Gregor Samsa - .. from 27:36
Outkast - Hey Ya'
The Appleseed Cast - Fight Song
Alexis On Fire - Polaroids of Polar Bears

kegz / January 13, 2004 4:27 PM

I'm not saying that a song is crap if not a classic but I find more and more that music is not as vital.

A bit of the uncertainty principle at work here, I think. Because we're aging and changing, we can't have the same, consistent view of things around us (music in this case) as time goes on.

I think I've heard less classics recently because I'm less impressionable than I used to be, not because the music is worse or less affecting. At 18, tons of records blew me away, at 30, it's a much tougher trick.

laura / January 13, 2004 6:40 PM

my favorite new album of the year was the Dresden Dolls' self-titled debut. I got it the day it came out in Sept., and have listened to it at least once a week since then. I never get tired of this album. They're probably going to be touring in the midwest again sometime this spring.

Nick Hornby's Songbook is definitely worth checking out, but get the McSweeney's edition, not the paperback. Also there are several more essays on the McSweeney's site.

the new Outkast album annoyed me when it first came out, mostly because it was the only album I heard (on repeat) for about 4 days straight (constant play in the studios) but I've warmed up to it since, and really like Hey Ya.

Onid / January 13, 2004 6:40 PM

After working downtown for years and years I graduated college and found a job in the suburbs. Rock records is only one of the things that I miss.

Here are favorites:

Outkast (the latest one)

Blur Think Tank

Radiohead Hail to the Thief (I like it. So shoot me.)

That B-sides collection from Pearl Jam (Lost Dogs?). That second disc is the best PJ album I've ever heard.

And...I know it is degrading to women and the video is just short of porn but....that "Milkshake" song kicks ass.

Miranda / January 14, 2004 9:56 AM

Wow. Is this just the tech-savvy demographic at work here - or do bloggers really not like acoustic music? Even though I listen to music constantly, after reading everyone's Best o' 2003 lists here - I feel so out of touch! Maybe I'm just getting old...

? / January 14, 2004 10:44 AM

What do you mean by "acoustic music"?

Miranda / January 14, 2004 10:58 AM

I guess I mean a couple of things by 'acoustic' - which actually might not be strictly acoustic. But, you know - bluegrass, folk, country, singer-songwriter. Not trying to cast aspersions on anyone's choices (not at all!) - just finding it interesting that I'm so out of the loop on this stuff.

Jeff / January 18, 2004 1:22 AM

That aforementioned H2BH Best of 2003 list I'm part of is up at:

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