Duff’s Favorite Albums 2003

Oddly, at least to me, I really didn’t write that much about what I was listening to in 2003. Since I seem to sometimes spend entire weeks obsessing over new CDs, rearranging playlists in iTunes, and listening to certain songs over and over, I don’t know why I didn’t have more to say about it. Although when it comes to books, I definitely refer to my list as “Best” of the year, here I have to call these instead “Favorites” as I am much narrower in my listening than in my reading, and certainly not as up to date in this category either.
My Six Favorite Albums of 2003
Ryan Adams “Love Is Hell, Part 1”, “Rock ‘N Roll” and “Love Is Hell, Part 2”
When isn’t Ryan Adams one of my highlights for the year? (Although I will admit, the time I saw him live probably doesn’t make my Top 10 concert list, but at home on the stereo, he blows me away.) The boy came out with three albums: a 8-song EP, where I have to point out that 8 songs is a full album for some losers!!; the album his label was happier with; and a 7-song EP. Wow. It’s annoying to me that the label will make any money off the EPs since they rejected them as the official album and sent Adams back to the drawing board which is when Rock ‘N Roll came into being. “I See Monsters” (I play it over and over) and “English Girls Approximately” are my favorite songs off Part 2, and the “Wonderwall” cover on Part 1 is beautiful. I did enjoy Rock ‘N Roll as well, so I’m glad he put it out anyway. It’s a fun, guitar-playin’ drums-crashin’ rock record. But nothing on that album really drags me into it the way the EPs do.
Damien Rice “O”
Is there anyone left on earth who doesn’t already know how much I love this album? I’ve sent it to at least five people; I’ve quoted it on two web sites; I’ve emailed lyrics ’round the world… I don’t know what else I can do to convince you!! This won the 2003 Mercury Prize, if you need a recommendation other than mine. I just think the entire album is achingly beautiful; I listen to it over and over and over again. And thank God I’m not in the middle of a break-up or it’d probably be making me cry every time, and there’d come a day I wouldn’t be able to listen anymore for all the pain it was dredging back up. “Cannonball” has leaped into my all-time favorite songs list, amazing lyrics.
Jason Mraz “Waiting for My Rocket to Come” and “Live at Java Joe’s”
You’ve heard “The Remedy” or “Curbside Prophet” on the radio. Put this album on, and it’s virtually unstoppable, your finger will hit the ‘repeat’ key without you even noticing it! A little jazz, a little blues, a twang here and there, great guitar work, sassy lyrics, a boy and his band havin’ a good old time. Who could resist? I just start grinning whenever I’m listening to this. What’s up with M-R-A-Z? I saw him live in December and although he only had a six-song set, he was the highlight of the show pour moi. As I’ve seen others do in concert less successfully (C. Crows for one), he played new arrangements on almost all the songs; the boy has creativity just bursting out doesn’t he.
Albums I Like No Matter What Anyone Else Thinks
Evanescence “Fallen” For some reason, admitting to loving this album makes me feel like a teenage girl being found out by her folks. I know it’s “nu-metal”. I know the majority of their fans are at least, what, fifteen, if not twenty, years younger than me. I am so not into the black nail polish, goth image. But I can listen to this entire album without fast forwarding once. That’s not all that common.
Madonna “American Life” She’s not for everyone. That’s fine. But this album is better than anyone wants to give it credit for. I knew there’d be some backlash after all the critical acclaim of her last two releases, but I think she hurt herself most by yanking the awesome original video where she throws a grenade at Bush, but as his administration has done all along this past year he manages to turn it to his own sneaky advantage. “Intervention” and “Nothing Fails” both really grab me. A lot of the album sounds like a love letter to Guy Ritchie. Can you blame her?
Liz Phair “Liz Phair” She wrote a pop song. She wanted to be on the radio more. What? Are you kidding? The nerve!!! Yeah, I think the primary criticisms of this album (she sold out, she’s an Avril/Britney wanna-be, etc., etc.) are stupid bullshit and I could care less. I like the single, I LOVE “Why Can’t I” and I think all in all it’s a good album, certainly as good as some of her previous ones. On the other hand, she did annoy me at the Barenakeds/Jason Mraz concert I went to where she was supposed to be the middle headliner, but showed up with laryngitis. Why come, sing one unhearable song, and make us waste 1/2 hour of them setting up your set, when they could have just been setting up for BNL? Just cancel if you can’t sing, don’t show up and be the one boring downpoint of the entire evening. That aside, was it worth it to her to have a huge portion of her fan base turn on her new radio-friendly self? This album is worth listening to whether they like it or not!
Honorable Mentions
Laurel Canyon Soundtrack Great movie. Great tunes. Particularly the two sung by lead actor Alessandro Nivola. Somebody give him my phone number, please.
Flaming Lips (any album) I just got introduced to this group. Some songs, I think “is that Cat Stevens?”; others “Am I listening to CSNY?” Very melodic and fun. And very different than the punk-ass sound I was expecting due to their name!
Freaky Friday soundtrack An album of great covers: “What a Wonderful World” (Joey Ramone), “…Baby One More Time” (Bowling for Soup, this is sooo much better than the original!) “Happy Together” (Simple Plan), “What I Like About You” (Lilix). As a karaoke-loving fool, how could I not be down with this?
Lyrics Running Through My Head Tonight
Josh Rouse “Sunshine”: Come on lady, take this bum and make him right… Come on lady, give this bum a sense of pride…
Pete Yorn “Crystal Village”: Take my hand, come with me, into this crystal scenery, the way in to [???] the ticket. You will never have the time, I would love to change your mind, you were there and it was good in the beginning…
Pancho’s Lament “Promise Me This”: Lord, I’m tryin’, tryin’ to let you in… I’m learning how to begin again…
David Gray “Easy Way to Cry”: Faith, gone from your eyes, each word that flies, taking you further away, then come that day, there ain’t no easy way to cry…
Hopefully this year I’ll find the time to say more about what I’m listening to. Then again, maybe I’ll just be too busy listenin’!

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