Husband-and-wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks explore some dark, wistful americana on their 2003 album Singing Bones. With its mandolin and trumpet, ‘Far From Any Road’ evokes dusty backcountry, far removed from The Handsome Family’s Chicago.
Yo La Tengo’s 2003 album Summer Sun is a slow burner. It was always going to be difficult to follow 2000’s brilliant And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, but the Georgia Hubley song ‘Today Is the Day’ reminds me of something earlier. I recollect ‘Shadows’ off I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, their equally sublime album from 1997.
My favourite songs of 2003 and in no particular order:
Honourable mentions also go to: Sun Kil Moon for ‘Carry Me Ohio‘; U.N.P.O.C. for ‘Amsterdam‘; The Postal Service for ‘Such Great Heights‘; Junior Senior for ‘Move Your Feet‘; The Weakerthans for ‘Plea From A Cat Named Virtute‘; and The Killers for ‘Mr. Brightside‘.
“I’m gonna fight ’em off/A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back…” The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ was released in 2003 as the lead single from their fourth album Elephant. The bassline riff was instantly recognisable and everything would be slightly different for evermore. Have a great week.
On the subject of self-imposed hiatuses, whatever happened to The Thrills? They may have been part of a mid-noughties trend for the ’60s, but their revivalisism was a satisfying blend. Clearly influenced by the West Coast sounds of The Beach Boys, Byrds and Neil Young, the jangly Dubliners produced two welcomed albums in 2003/04: So Much For The City and Let’s Bottle Bohemia. ‘One Horse Town’ features on the former.
Reconstruction Site was the third full LP from The Weakerthans. The album churns through the worlds of regret, shame, loss and hatred. But for all the grief and acidity, the melodies, power chords and singer-songwriter John K. Samson’s sense of humour shine through. A rocker to start the week, ‘Plea from a Cat Named Virtute’ is a song about cat view of its owner’s state of depression. Have a great week.
Mark Kozelek is a cheery looking soul. After the demise of the Red House Painters, singer-songwriter Kozelek began recording under the name Sun Kil Moon, in a nostalgic tribute to the boxer Sung-Kil Moon. Nostalgia is a theme throughout the subsequent album, Ghosts of the Great Highway. In this song, he sings about Ohio – the place, a girl – who knows? He could never care enough.
Non-believers in americana, please bear with me while I risk barely losing you. Off Richmond Fontaine’s 2003 long player Post To Wire, the second single on the album showcases Willy Vlautin as both singer and songwriter. So effectively simple, the song tells listeners of three days’ gambling in Reno. Vlautin narrative style with witsful slide guitar to match, wishing that we’ll never have to go back.
It seems that my excitement for starting the week with ‘Such Great Heights’ got the better of me yesterday. The premature post was this track from The Postal Service, an indie-alt-electronica supergroup. Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard had teamed up with electronica producer Jimmy Tamborello (aka Dntel) and Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis for the release of a single long player Give Up. For the band, the sum of the whole was certainly greater than the parts. The album is not like anything the main protagonists had produced with their own bands, and what’s more, this new wave of sound achieved much greater commercial success. The critics liked it too. Have a great week.