Mogwai – Happy Songs for Happy People
Scotland’s sons are still making the sounds of stars colliding.
download Hunted By a Freak (mp3)
Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism
Their most beautiful record yet. ‘Passenger Seat’ gets me every time.
download The New Year (mp3) / Title & Registration (mp3)
British Sea Power – The Decline of …
My second favorite discovery of 2003, beat out only by the next band…
listen to Remember Me (realaudio)
The Stills – Logic Will Break Your Heart
Some say they’re the New Order to Interpol’s Joy Division, but they’re more than just that. Catchy as hell, stand-out bass lines, chiming, melodic guitar parts, fronted by a great singer. A well-hit homerun of a debut record.
listen to the entire album (stream)
Pretty Girls Make Graves – The New Romance
Energetic, angular, meticulously arranged, driving dual guitars… all enough to pull me in. But it’s Andrea’s vocals that set them apart, put them right over the top. Buy it, jump ahead to ‘Teeth Collector’, and play it loud.
download Something Bigger, Something Brighter (mp3)
Twilight Singers – Blackberry Belle
The long-awaited return of Afghan Whig Greg Dulli. Not quite as rockin’ on record as the Whigs, more on the slow-burning side, but the songs take on a whole new weight after seeing them live. The guys he brings on the road are just amazing… do not miss ’em if they come near you this year.
sample some clips.
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak
Ted’s catchiest and most cohesive recording to date, ranking up there with the best his old band, Chisel, ever released. A genius guitar player, songwriter, and all-around rock star. Another live experience you’ve gotta have, either full-bandish or solo.
download Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone? (mp3)
The New Pornographers – Electric Version
The greatness of a few songs make up for the weakness of a couple others. A pure pop record that needed more Neko. But doesn’t everything?
download The New Face of Zero and One (mp3)
The Postal Service – Give Up
A total treat from start to finish. Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard brings brilliance to what could have been a simple new-wave-retrofest, his lyrics and vocal melodies revealing details in the tracks that could have easily been lost. This collaboration deservedly sits on many best-of-the-year lists, and here’s hoping a follow-up is planned.
download Such Great Heights (mp3)
American Analog Set – Promise of Love
Not as all-out amazing as some of their earlier stuff, but even lesser AmAnSet is so much better than the rest.
download Hard to Find (mp3)
Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
I’ll always be a sucker for Mark Kozelek’s songs, and while this is no Red House Painters, there’s enough magic inside to suffice. “Duk Koo Kim” is a masterpiece.
sample clips (amazon)
Nada Surf – Let Go
A super-solid pop album, full of hooks, ups n’ downs, and an occasional bit of beauty. A rare record that gets better in the second half. I never woulda thought I’d be so into the ‘Popular’ guys… that song screamed “one hit wonder” to some, but “Let Go” shows it just ain’t so.
check out audio clips and video (realplayer)