PopMatters Picks:

The Best Music of 2003

By PopMatters Music Critics

17 December 2003

1. Fruit Bats, Mouthfuls (Sub Pop)Eric Johnson and Gillian Lisee produced one of the most enjoyable records of the year, full of charm and wonder

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1. The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts (Kill Rock Stars)First released by Hush Records in 2002, the Kill Rock Stars reissue of Castaways and Cutouts managed to

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1. The Blood Brothers, Burn Piano Island, Burn (Artist Direct)Earlier this year, my friend gave me a piece of blank paper with the instructions, “I

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Booty Hops, Bionic Rappers and New Music from Planet Soul Brotha from the Lost Planet of Soul Anthony Hamilton, Comin’ From Where I’m From

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1. The White Stripes, Elephant (V2)We didn’t deserve this. The White Stripes were supposed to enjoy a few cheeky moments of notoriety, and then

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1. The National, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers (Brassland)While not the jaw-dropping reaction I had with the band’s debut album, this group still is

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1. Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers, (S-Curve/Virgin)Just brilliant. Pure pop perfection in every way: the perfect word in every rhyme, the perfect tone

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1. The New Pornographers, Electric Version (Matador)Whereas their debut, Mass Romantic, was a pastiche of solo snapshots from former Zumpano frontman Carl Newman and Destroyer

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1. Brand New, Deja Entendu (Razor & Tie)Brand New better not mess up. I like them too much to see their next album flop after

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In ranking these discs, I’ve made a concerted effort to only include new studio material on the list, avoiding box sets, greatest hits, and

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1. The Strokes, Room on Fire (RCA)With the crushing weight of expectation on the Strokes’ collective shoulders following the massively praised Is This It, plans

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1. Deerhoof, Apple’ O (Kill Rock Stars)Some of the best drumming on record, combined with imaginative guitar interplay and some unhinged Sesame Street singing from

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1. The Lucksmiths, Naturaliste (Drive-In) The Australian trio’s seventh proper full-length perfects the band’s gentle, acoustic-heavy sound. While still retaining the light-hearted charm of

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1. R. Kelly, Chocolate Factory (Jive)In spite of 50 Cent’s meteoric rise and Jay-Z and Beyoncé‘s constant radio presence, the album of the year

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1. Tiga, DJ-Kicks (!K7)!K7 Records’ DJ-Kicks series, which focuses on DJs who bend the boundaries of dance music by steering clear of the usual house/

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It’s impossible for me to express how hard it is to take a year’s worth of amazing music and cram it into a

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1. Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers (S-Curve/Virgin)For the mainstream, 2003 will no doubt be remembered as the year of “Stacy’s Mom”, but, despite

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Yes, this list is alt-country and garage-centric. And yes, I am aware that OutKast is the greatest band on the planet. You can read about

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1. I Muvrini, Pulifunie (Higher Octave)Pulifunie is the Corsican word for polyphony and in my opinion, I Muvrini are one of Corsica’s best interpreters

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1. The Midnight Evils, Straight ‘Til Morning (Estrus)Drunk Minnesotans fumble at the bra-strap of their Muse, with Jack Daniels on their breath and some Nazareth

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1. Broken Social Scene, You Forgot It in People (Arts & Crafts)I’m not entirely sure what to say about this collective that has not

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1. Elbow, Cast of Thousands (V2)It’s a shame that the best album of the year came out in August, but won’t reach the

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1. Led Zeppelin, How the West Was Won, (Atlantic)For a band as legendary as Led Zeppelin, the lack of a definitive live album in it’

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1. Blur, Think Tank (Virgin)The exotic inflections of Morocco compensate for the farewell (temporary or otherwise) to guitar stalwart Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn’s

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Well, another year in music has gone by. What have I learned? Well, if nothing else, I learned that the White Stripes apparently ruled everything

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Another year, another stressful round of trying to pick out the outstanding albums of the year. Stressful because, while 2003 was a good year for music

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1. Buck 65, Talkin’ Honky Blues (Warner Canada)Man, I love Buck 65 so much I should just marry him. Hearing “Roses and Blue Jays” live is the

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In my opinion, 2003 had some of the best music in years. Though I tried hard to listen to as much as possible, I realize there

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1. My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves (ATO)It’s a wonder I’m still moving after my first listen to this record, after coming face-to-face

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2003 produced more music that I enjoyed than any year since 2000, when Doves Lost Souls and Radiohead’s Kid A vied for the top spot on

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“Techniques That Freaks These Boys”: Top Hip-Hop CDs in 2003 Often surprising, ever shifting, hip-hop this year produced Jay-Z’s retirement, Tupac’s re-resurrection, André 3000’s

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1. El Gran Silencio, Super Riddim Internacional, Vol. 1 (EMI Latin) The best band in the world issues a cumbia/rock/reggae/rap manifesto from Monterrey, Mexico.

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The Aislers Set, How I Learned to Write Backwards (Suicide Squeeze)This third full-length by these San Francisco noise-popsters isn’t their best album, but

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1. The White Stripes, Elephant (V2)Hyped to the nines, Elephant was being called “The Best Record of the Year” before the year was even a

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That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 50. As in years past, we have top 10s from the whole crew of regular PopMatters music writers, but this year we're adding a twist. What you have before you is our mammoth list of the 50 best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

READ more

1. Manitoba, Up in Flames (Leaf/Domino)2003 has been a very fruitful year for great music, as many excellent albums have come out, but in my

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1. Blur Think Tank (Parlophone/Food)Being that Think Tank was an album that I was fully prepared to despise, I am as dumbfounded as anyone

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1. The White Stripes, Elephant (V2)Inexplicably endearing as ever, if a little more dark-bruise-smudged and wary, the White Stripes have still emerged victorious against the

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