GLONO’s Top Stuff of 2003


Year-end lists are second only to “Desert Island Discs” in the rockcrit book of clichés. So it goes. What can you do?

Here is the stuff that moved us in 2003. Our rules for inclusion aren’t as strict as some; actually, we don’t have any rules for inclusion. So if you see something that wasn’t actually released in 2003, or that isn’t actually a record, or isn’t actually very good, it’s okay…don’t be such a tight-ass.

Add your own faves in the comments.

Jake Brown

Johnny Loftus

Also see Johnny’s round up of 2003 as well as his highlights of 2002 and 2001.

Derek Phillips

  • Johnny Marr & the Healers – January 28, 2003 found me, Jake and Johnny catching the former Smith’s guitarist and current Healer’s front man at the Double Door in Chicago. (article)
  • Great White Rhode Island Tragedy – 100 people die in a smoke-filled, burning rock club. Our hearts go out to their families. (article)
  • Califone – Quicksand/Candlesnakes. My favorite Chicago band releases their best effort yet.
  • White Stripes – Elephant. Flash in a pan? Maybe, but it’s a big fucking pan and it’s burning white hot. Jack and Meg kick out an exciting, if uneven, album just when everyone thought it was over. (review)
  • The Dirty Stick – Jake’s online feud with Ryan Adams and his minions is classic Old Man Brown rabble rousing. We love Ryan and hope he makes another good record some day. (article)
  • Two Cow Garage – Sab and I were first on their tip and have since converted a couple more GLONO team members. This is a great band who genuinely appreciate your support. Give it to them and you’ll get ten-fold back. (article)
  • Evan Dando – Baby I’m Bored. Crackheads never get better. Or do they? Consumate problem-child Evan Dando finally gets it together and releases the album we all knew he had in him. We sure wish he’d talk to Ryan Adams. (article)
  • Liz Phair – Liz Phair. You don’t think fame and money (or the love of it) corrupts? What the fuck happened to Liz Phair? Jesus… (review)
  • Wilco Live at the Auditorium Theater – Sure, the talking “fans” got on my nerves and the view from my second upper balcony seats actually made me laugh, but Wilco is the finest band out there and their return home was note perfect. What made it better was how the band treated their hardcore fans to an after-show party and indulged their weirdness. (article)
  • Johnny Cash – The Man in Black was the conscience of music. He was the definition of integrity and is sorely, sorely missed. (article)
  • Warren Zevon – Talk about balls. Zevon faced down death and met it on his terms. I’ve never been a fan of his music, but Warren Zevon gets a tall salute from me at his final bow. (article)
  • Elliott Smith – There are few songwriters whose music affects me like Elliott Smith’s. His vulnerability was sometimes embarrassing in its frankness, and that’s what made him a hero to his fans. His sense of melody was truly and literally heartbreaking. Of all those who passed this year, I will miss Elliott Smith the most. (article)

Stephen Macaulay

  • Ozzy Osbourne’s School of Off-Road Estate Driving.
  • Elvis Costello/Diana Krall nuptials.
  • Britney’s spheres.
  • Ass-embroidered Gap jeans.
  • Rod Stewart on every lame-ass daytime TV talk show.
  • The Great American Songbook III (forthcoming).
  • “If you play music with passion and love and honesty, then it will nourish your soul, heal your wounds and make your life worth living.”—Sting, recipient of the Billboard Century Award.

Kristy Eldredge

  • Hearing Chan Marshall let go in a soul music medley, outside Castle Clinton, summer NYC. With her smoky, bluesy voice and interpretive skill, she’s confident and at ease in the songs of the great soul masters. When she launched into Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine,” it was transcendant. (review, article)
  • Hearing the Beatles’ Let It Be…Naked played on radio and store sound systems all over the city. The songs are fresh and irresistible—they haven’t aged at all, and the roughness that was filtered out by McCartney doesn’t matter when you’re getting the essence of the music in a Barnes and Noble. Who can study when “Because you’re sweet and lovely girl, I love you” is lilting away in the background? Who can sit still during “One After 909?” Not this shopper. (discussion)
  • The White Stripes’ pairing with Loretta Lynn, touring in support of Elephant. Jack White’s veneration of the country legend seemed genuine, and his rapport with her was affectionate and funny. In a year when we lost Johnny Cash, the homage extended to traditionalist trouper Lynn was to the Stripes’ credit. (review)
  • Pig Lib. This deceptively lighthearted album revealed exhilerating complexities after extended listens. I think it is Malkmus’s Abbey Road. The songs have a surface playfulness and boppy rhythms but are fleshed out by nuanced, emotional guitar lines. It gets better every time I hear it. Far better than Malkmus’s first solo effort. (article)
  • A Grown-Ass Man by Dump (James McNew). Poignant, pretty, lo-fi songs done with impeccable musicality and no-fuss production.
  • The King of France. Review forthcoming of this disarming, unusual pop record, with the warm vocals of Steve Salad alternately soaring and stuttering over Tom Siler’s faultless, funny piano lines and the rock-steady rhythms of drummer Michael Azzerad.
  • Jen Urban. An unexpected find at Williamsburg open mic. Jen Urban sings in a throaty, warm voice over well-played electric guitar. Her songs are lyrical, emotional, raw and melodic. It’s hard enough to find original melodies these days, but to include good lyrics and musicianship is a standout at any open mic.
  • Dawn Landes. Again, a strong, interesting voice and great, quirky songwriting. She plays an elderly little acoustic that sounds almost like an autoharp. Dawn Landes is funny, original and a wonderful singer.
  • I Feel Tractor. He did a record release show a week ago, which showcased his dextrous acoustic guitar playing and inventive lyrics. His voice is touching in the Will Oldham imprint, of being a somewhat weak voice seeking to triumph above its weakness. The songs are in the folk vein but the lyrics turn our eyes to strange subject matter.

Glorious Noise Reviewers

Tom Mantzouranis

Honorable Mention: Elephant, The White Stripes; Room on Fire, The Strokes; Pig Lib, Stephen Malkmus; It Still Moves, My Morning Jacket; Hearts of Oak, Ted Leo; More Like the Moon, Wilco; Ego Tripping, The Flaming Lips; Holopaw, Holopaw; The Lemon of Pink, The Books; Mouthfuls, Fruit Bats

Paul Robinson

Nick Latus

Tristan Loper

  • Califone – Quicksand/Cradlesnakes
  • Jimmy Cliff – The Harder They Come (Deluxe Edition)
  • Loose Fur – Loose Fur
  • Pat Metheny – One Quiet Night
  • Minus 5 – Down With Wilco
  • Neil Young – Greendale
  • The Album Leaf – December; North Star Bar, Philadelphia, PA
  • Blind Boys Of Alabama – May; Whitaker Center, Harrisburg, PA
  • Richard Thompson Band – June; Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, PA
  • Sonic Youth & Wilco – June; Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, PA
  • Steely Dan – August; Star Pavillion, Hershey, PA

Nathan Seltenrich

Judge for yourself how our opinions hold up. Check out the Glorious Noise 2002 roundup.

13 thoughts on “GLONO’s Top Stuff of 2003”

  1. I’ve known at least three different people who harbored fanatical, near-disturbing crushes on Diana Krall. I only recently heard about her marriage to Elvis, and Macaulay’s mention of it reminds me. I guess it’s a testament to she and Costello’s class that their marriage *wasn’t* a big deal; of course, she’s Canadian and he’s an Englishman, so maybe it was all helicopters and tabloids where they live. But I don’t really think so. Anyway, congratulations you crazy kids – I only hope your announcement didn’t cause those three guys I used to know *too* much emotional trauma.


  2. TOPs for 2k3

    REM Getting AnGry and Partying like it was 19888, releasing Bad Day and Animal and Vibrating at the speed of light

    Raveonettes Like COnan Obrian skit if The Jesus and mary Chain and ROxette Made it Then the Raveonettes would be the result!!!!!

    Fiery Furnaces Glorious noise indeed as their skewed blues and found sounds mixed perfectly with off kilter poetry to charm your ears and massage your frontal lobes

    Travis release a song called “Peace The Fuck Out” the track i would use to end Mix CD’s

    or at least the Soccer crowd chanting that phrase

    Biggest let downs

    the seeming Engless barrage of Strokety Strokes….Christ, release the exact same dispassionate dreck for lyrics and same ole same ole riffs and the world falls at your feet? Shame ON you ALL! I cant wait to read the reviews for their third album when all journo’s say, uh hang on second thought…

    The Exploding hearts tragedy. Great album…pity the loss of this band in a tragic accident claiming three of the Hearts

    Thats all folks!

  3. He releases a superior album just about every year, excepting the year before this last when he released two. Just the sort of stuff that should be popular with typical music geeks such as anyone reading or writing this right over here. And every year he’s ignored in the very same music geeks’ year end lists. He even lost some weight this year, which I thought would help, but noooo- not enough for you, was it?

    He seems like a nice guy, too. Its really a shame.

    You know of whom I write. Eventually, the great records will stop. You’ll be sorry then but don’t come crying to me.

  4. I thought it was obvious. I should let you ponder it for a while but what the fuck, its Hannukah. The man:

    Frank Black.

    Happy Holidaze, GloNo.

  5. For as much as I love the Pixies, and I still listen to them all the time, I’m surprised that I never even pick up Frank Black albums. I wonder why that is…

  6. christ… everyone’s putting out so much music at once.. frank black, tom waits, paul westerberg, ryan adams. what’s causing so much inspiration to throw every idea on tape? and it’s not only just putting out two albums at once… westerberg and black did two albums at once two years in a row. at least black had better results.

  7. I’m glad you asked. Well, I chose O.A.R.’s new album for a number of reasons: 1) The sheer pleasure of listening to it; 2) OAR started out as a college band who stuck it out, improved and expanded their music, and now many years later, are still together and putting out some solid stuff, both instrumentally and lyrically – I respect that; 3) It’s their best album to date, and I’m a fan; 4) Their blend of reggae, rock, and sunny pop is one of the best I’ve heard.

    I did not choose it because they are groundbreaking songwriters or virtuoso musicians or indie rock darlings or legends-to-be. In this instance, I am a fan, not a critic.

  8. best of lists… god bless ’em! time for me to chime in…

    1. the decembersits – her majesty – couldn’t ignore this album if i tried.

    2. the new pornographers – electric version – since i picked it up i couldn’t get the question out of my head, “will there be an ‘acoustic version’?” of course not.

    3. the pernice brothers – the world won’t end – enough to sastiate my poppy post smiths fetish.

    4. bonnie ‘prince’ billie – master and everyone – brooding, dark, and beautiful.

    5. anomoanon – asleep many years in the wood. every year they get better. worth it for the song “kick back” alone.

    6. slumber party – 3 – mix one part velvet underground, one part phil spector, and one part drug out go-go’s… voila!

    7. the jayhawks – rainy day music – i will always have a place in my heart for these minesotta boys.

    8. the darkness – permission to land – balls to the wall fun.

    9. songs:ohia – magnolia electric co. – i’d like to buy jason molina a drink sometime.

    10. lucinda williams – world without tears – plain and simple, just a beautiful album.

    also very important to me…

    the new year – newness ends – sure, it came out in 2001, but i only found them this year. makes me want to go out and buy up all the bedhead albums.

    spaceman 3 – forged perscription – do reissues count? if so, this double disc journey back to 1987 is pure heaven.

    pine valley cosmonauts – the executioner’s last song – god bless jon langford and the pine valley cosmonauts!

    loose fur – i didn’t want to like this ep. i was there at the record store the day it came out. i still don’t want to like it, but i do.

    the goldstars – gotta get out – if you slipped this under dick biondi’s nose, he wouldn’t know the difference.

    the millions – million dollar rock – one of the best pure rock albums to come out of chicago in 2003 that you’ll probably miss.

    riviera – broken hearted dreams – just for the song “friends in california” it’s worth it.

    town and country – 5 – hipster jazz? a great album to relax to.

    some important shows/discoveries…

    the millions @ nevin’s live in late 2003. the m show. three punk bands vs. one hard rock act. the millions killed them.

    the peelers @ beat kitchen – showed up for the goldstar’s record release party, left a die-hard peelers fan. pure adrenaline.

    wilco @ the auditorium theatre – i was just as much as a crumudgeon as our beloved mr. phillips, but i couldn’t resist the impact of this band at this show.

    quasar wut wut @ lily’s – it was sometime in the heart of this past summer. too hot. opressively so. though, the boys put on one hell of a show.

  9. 1. Jack White finally showing his sensitive feminine side

    2. Johnny Cash finally getting the chance to get to record with Jesus

    3. Finding all those Weapons of Mass Destruction after decimating a second-rate, third world, puppet dictatorship

    4. Iraqi Freedom Fries (only 87 billion dollars!!)

    5. Finally getting a DVD player

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