Paul has his big ball of edam from the cheese club. I expect Paul to be round in shape next time I see him.
We went out last night and met up with Nick, Jo and Karl to exchange christmas presents. I got a game which is as Nick said, an outlet for my creativity. Yes! It shall be.
We also got more snackies to add to our already substantial pile. We’re going to be travelling around the country armed with snacks this Christmas.
Anyway, it was a nice night, Nick tried to give a rousing speech demanding the return of jingly-jangly indie, something I of course 100% agree with. I had some lovely booze as well – so nice after all these barren boozeless days.
The main reason of this edit though is to give a “BLOG EXCLUSIVE” look at my favourite ten CDs of 2003. I still haven’t managed to find my lists dating back to 1994, but the following are my tip tops of this year.
1. Herman Dune – Mas Cambios
I hadn’t heard of this band at the start of the year. Then we went to see Jeffrey Lewis in Manchester and he was supported by two blokes with beards. They looked a bit freaky, were dressed in a mixture of bikers glasses, hawaii garlands and hippyish clothes. I thought they were gonna be staggeringly shit but the next 45 minutes - as they played their songs, accompanied sometimes by a drummer, sometimes by lady vocalists and also on one occasion by half of the people in the Tmesis bar that night - were spellbinding. They blew away everyone else who played that night, including the guy we were there to see. As I left I picked up this album and it has been my favourite cd of the year. The two guys write alternate songs on it (6 each), and even though I personally prefer Andre’ Herman-Dunes work, the standard is really high throughout. It’s very gentle and melodic but packs more feeling, emotion and outright brilliance into twelve songs than pretty much anything else I’ve heard lately. Tracks 10-12 are a triple hit of melancholy beauty, the likes of which I’ve rarely heard. If you love music, and just fucking love great tunes than get this now. Go on!
2. Okkervil River – Down The River Of Golden Dreams
Another band who I’d heard nothing about at the start of the year. My friends all raved about them so I went to check them out. I saw them in Manchester and thought they were really immediate – the songs filled my head on the first listen. Again it’s melodic, and combined with genious shouty lyrics, can be genuinely thrilling. Jesus, even though there are noticeable differences, its noticeably similar to Herman Dune – if you love great tunes than get this record now. Again, I demand it.
3. Super Furry Animals – Phantom Power
Back to the UK and 2001s runners-up have come in one place lower this year. Doesn’t make this a worse album than Rings Around The World, they’re both equally amazing. Some fans have deserted the band as they think they’ve become soft and mainstream, a complete falsehood in my opinion. Okay, the songs are often more “epic” and gentle, yet there is more invention and experimentation in a single SFA song, than a dozen Strokes ones. And when they want to they can still give guitar based thrills. Another complete piece of work from The Furries – a band who get more consistently great with every record.
4. Muse – Absolution
To be honest, it was hard not to give Muse the album of year again. I gave them it in 2001, and this album is pretty much on a par with that. It maybe has one or two less peaks than Origin of Symmetry, yet it doesn’t have skippable tracks like I thought the previous album had. I think what cost them it is that I was expecting this to be great. Origin of Symmetry surprised me after the patchy first album, I just knew this would be bazzin. Absolution contains the euphoric tracks I love Muse for (Hysteria, Stockholm Syndrome), yet also has gentler, more refined beauty. It’s a very complete album and even shows signs of the band maturing. I think one day they’re gonna make an album that’ll cause peoples brains to implode. Okay, they’re often preposterous, but when it’s done so seriously, it’s hard not to pay attention.
5. Radiohead – Hail To The Thief
Yay! They won me back. Glennworld ™ was a darker place without Radiohead as one of my favourite bands. Due to circumstance I generally ignored this cd when it first came out. Then after being blown away by them when we went to see them live, I re-investigated. I haven’t listened to anything as much since. My tastes can be quite conservative, yet I love each and every experimental track on this cd, something which wasn’t the case with Kid A or Amnesiac. Oh yeah, and there are two of Radioheads finest guitar based tracks for several years, the head-fizzingly ace There There and 2+2=5.
6. Tom McRae – Just Like Blood
I’ve seen Tom McRae the most this year I think (3 times). Actually he may be in a tie with Malkmus
*shakes fist*. I must say, I don’t rate this album as highly as his debut, yet any album about death, despair and killing people can’t go very wrong with me. It’s even gentler stuff this time round, the music rarely rises above a whisper, but it’s done with such conviction and played so beautifully. I don’t understand why Tom isn’t a big star in this stupid country.
7. Snow Patrol – Final Straw
Where did they come from? I heard Spitting Games on MTV2 and thought it was a great slice of indie, yet I assumed the album it was off probably wouldn’t be up to much. It is though and I investigated – aided by seeing them live a couple of times. It’s amazingly consistent and may be one of the final attempts at a comeback by jingly-jangly indie guitarness. The forthcoming single Run is amazing and I hope pushes them into the higher regions of the charts. Come on lads, we can win this! © Russell Osman
8. Blur – Think Tank
Woo! Yay! It’s 1997 again, first Radiohead come back into my welcoming indie arms and then they’re followed by Blur. Now, my favourite Blur album is 13, not many other peoples favourite. I thought it was their most consistentework and I guess I still do, as it was my favourite record of 1999. This runs it pretty close and is all the more surprising for it as Graham has gone. Last seen making his fiftieth record of the year whilst skateboarding around Camden carrying his Pavement LPs, Graham is still missed slightly. There are times when Think Tank needs his edge, yet it is generally a quietly spoken work of greatness. Out of Time is beautiful.
9. White Stripes – Elephant
It still slightly disappoints me. On hearing 7 Nation Army, I thought the following album would be the greatest thing ever. It isn’t – I don’t even think its their best album- yet it’s still good enough and still has enough good tracks to make the top ten. If Jack isn’t in the nick writing songs about being someones bitch, I hope to see them in January. They were occasionally thrilling when I saw them in April – pretty much the same feeling I have listening to this album. Occasionally thrilling.
10. Grandaddy – Sumday
Lovely lovely grandaddy. Sumday doesn’t have a He’s Simple, He’s Dumb… to make me cry at gigs, yet is still full of the gentle, sweet songs that a bunch of hairy americans should not be making. Do Americans actually like them? They seem to be here all the time. Good, we should adopt them as an alternative SFA to cherish whilst the UK ones are in the toilet or something. Put this on when miserable for audioprozac.