Lists of the Top 10 Albums in 2003 from Daily
Arts staffers

Todd Weiser

To see the complete 2003 Music Friday Focus, click here:
Top Ten Albums of 2003

Sean Dailey, Daily
Arts Writer

1. Cursive – The
Ugly Organ

Ohama’s best put out this
year’s finest. This is what a concept album should be.

2. Brand New – Deja

Brand New steps out of
Taking Back Sunday’s shadow with an impressive sophomore

3. Radiohead – Hail
to the Thief

Thank god these guys
rediscovered guitars. I was really starting to miss The

4. The Postal
Service – Give Up

The instantly catchy and
well-crafted side project of Ben Gibbard puts the latest Death Cab
to shame.

5. Idlewild – The
Remote Part

Idlewild’s third full
length proved the Brits can do indie just as well as the

6. OutKast –
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Even Wesley Clark is down
with Big Boi and Andre 3000. ICE COLD!

7. The White
Stripes – Elephant

The best “the” band
released another very solid album. Try getting “Seven Nation Army”
out of your head, I dare ya.

8. The Darkness –
Permission to Land

I don’t care if these guys
are serious or not. Alls I knows is they rock.

9. Alkaline Trio –
Good Mourning

The band’s latest is their
darkest yet. Yeah, it’s pretty damn dark.

10. Saves the Day –
In Reverie

So what if Chris can’t
sing all loud anymore, they’ve still got it.


Brandon Harig, Daily
Arts Writer


1. Damien Rice –

In a time where the singer/song-writer genre has seen much more
popularity, Rice’s debut album is capable of breaking the
mold and displays a complicated and brilliant sound which seasoned
music legends aspire for. 

2. Ryan Adams –
Rock N Roll 

The ever-moody Ryan Adams develops an album with an impressive mix
of guitar driven rock and thoughtful reflection, showing a musical
maturity that comes across in an impressive display of the various
sounds of rock ‘n’ roll. 

3. 50 Cent – Get
Rich or Die Tryin’

50 Cent got shot nine
times.  Then he created a really good album.  The
villagers rejoiced.

4. Radiohead – Hail
To The Thief

Slamming their electric
guitars into some of the most rock sounding songs they’ve
created, Radiohead pushes a political agenda with the name of their
album and a great record into the hands of their

5. Outkast –
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 

Will they or won’t they break up is not the question. 
The question is can Outkast ever top the amazing sound and
incredible production and musical prowess they do on the
duo’s two-disc album.

6. The White
Stripes – Elephant 

Made with as little production cost as Jack White could muster,
Elephant is proof the White Stripes are capable of topping their
previous album with each new project.

7. John Mayer –
Heavier Things 

 Lacing lessons of life in with unique sound, Heavier Things
shows Mayer capable of displaying a vast amount of maturity in his
lyrics which rival those artists the 25 year-old grew up

8. The Postal
Service – Give Up

Resounding with an
eclectic and pulsating electronic sound, Give Up is a unique album
in its ever-changing presence and themes, upon the themes of emo
without sounding too whiny

9. Brand New – Deja

A creative album from
upcoming band Deja Entendu turned heads and shows the success Brand
New had found up until this point was not a fluke

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” font-family: Times New Roman; font-size: 12.0pt;”> Warren Zevon –
The Wind 

Made during the last months of the late rock legend, The Wind is a
mix of acoustic soul and stands as a lasting meditation on the
meaning of life which listeners, no matter their age, can


Andrew Horowitz,
Daily Arts Writer

1. Outkast –
Speakerboxx/The Love Below

An obvious contender for
album of the year, Outkast embraced both the mainstream and avante
garde. Great; eclectic; a definite Outkast classic.

2. The Bad Plus –
These Are the Vistas

Never has jazz so
successfully embraced rock. Pianist Ethan Iverson’s self-proclaimed
“loudest trio ever” not only does justice to Nirvana, but also
collects some of the most memorable “jazz” tunes of the last few
years. This album is nothing short of revolutionary.

3. Radiohead – Hail
to the Thief

Radiohead’s latest was
basically a continuation of previous efforts, which is great
considering Thom Yorke’s unmatched vocals and the band’s complex
musical landscapes.

4. Strokes – Room
on Fire

They seem to be the fad of
the moment, the coolest band around by far. But this collection of
songs sparkle with talent, solidifying the band’s popularity and
making them one of the best groups around.

5. Josh Rouse –

A highly overlooked
release from one of the best singer/songwriters around. Rouse’s
tunes are catchy and fun as hell, and this album may include the
best song of the year, the bouncy pop single “Love Vibrations.”
With this collection, Rouse has produced his most accessible album
to date.

6. Jay-Z – The
Black Album

His last? Doubtful, but at
this moment the publicity and buzz associated with such
proclamations have propelled Jay-Z to the status of rap god.
Coupled with the rhymes and beats this makes The Black Album a
memorable farewell and a worthy contender to Outkast for rap album
of the year.

7. Fountains of
Wayne – Welcome Interstate Managers

Yes, “Stacy’s Mom,” is the
song of the moment, but this New York-based band has finally gotten
the attention they deserve, as they continue creating memorable
melodies and catchy choruses. Pop enthusiasts, buy this

8. Van Morrison –
What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Van Morrison’s Blue Note
debut filters the blues through Celtic tradition and adds splashes
of old-school R&B and pop. All-in-all, a great

9. Various Artists
– Wig in a Box

Wow, what? Roster- The
Bens, Yoko Ono, Rufus Wainwright, Yo La Tengo, The Breeders,
Sleater-Kinney, Polyphonic Spree, They Might Be Giants…and that’s
just a few. So what inspired such artists to sign on for such a
tribute to the soundtrack to the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
The answer: these are some of the greatest songs ever written for a
musical. These songs deserve to be discovered, and with great
treatments that range from gloomy to kill-everything, this
collection contains songs both memorable and poignant, and affirms
the brilliance of songwriter Stephen Trask.

10. The Postal
Service – Give Up

A collaboration between
Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) that
proves there’s such a thing as techno-induced folk rock. If not one
of the year’s best, definitely one of the most original indie
albums that surfaced this year.


Alexandra Jones,
Daily Arts Writer

1. The Shins –
Chutes Too Narrow

Under the reverb that made
debut Oh, Inverted World! so gorgeous lies bright and honest sonic
beauty that surpasses the emotional intensity of any other record
this year.

2. Belle &
Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Near-legendary indie-pop
group somehow ditches the lameness that’s plagued them since The
Boy with the Arab Strap and drops one of the most eclectic, most
fun and ultimately addictive albums ever.

3. The New
Pornographers – Electric Version

If you can listen to “The
Laws Have Changed” or “Miss Teen Wordpower” without jumping up and
down in pure joy, you’re not human.

4. Decemberists –
Her Majesty the Decemberists

These crazy kids have
cemented themselves as masters of balladry and meticulous
characterization. Better than their first album, but just

5. Decemberists –
Castaways & Cutouts

KRS reissues Decemberists’
debut; lives change for the better. Hear “Califronia One/Youth and
Beauty Brigade” and be reborn.

6. Stephen Malkmus
& the Jicks – Pig Lib

Cutest band around
releases dark, sardonic “breakup album” that’s the best effort by a
former Pavement member yet. Take that, Preston School of

7. The Blow – The
Concussive Caress

Kaela Maricich combines
jaded sophistication, childlike naivete and thoughtful rhymes that
capture the nebulous K Records quality while sounding captivating
with her originality.

8. Lyrics Born –
Later That Day

Earth-shaking funk,
blazing vocals, and a cryptic name that no rock band would ever
dream of using. Is it cliche? Sure. But if any song can challenge
“Hey Ya” for single of the year, it’s “Bad Dreams.”

9. Cat Power – You
Are Free

So what if she’s an
unstable, bitchy performer? “He War” alone makes up for

10. OutKast –
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Big Boi and Andre 3000
create separate albums so culturally pervasive that even Gen.
Wasley Clark feels comfortable commenting on the state of their


Michelle Kijek,
Daily Arts Writer

1. Radiohead – Hail
to the Thief

The Brits will never stop
rockin’ our world. An artistically brilliant album that not only
wins album of the year, but also uses the best five-syllable word.
Myxamatosis anyone??

2. The White
Stripes – Elephant

With vocals reminiscent of
The Rolling Stones, and guitar riffs and drum beats distinctive in
their own right, Meg and Jack deserve the Grammy they’re up

3. Rufus Wainwright
– Want One

The number one reason from
the long list of why no one should watch the Grammy’s: This album
wasn’t given a nod. This the craftsmanship of a musician at his

4. Jet – Get

You can never go wrong
with a set of pure rock n’ roll tracks, and these guys certainly
produced. Props to the woman who bore these kids; they were born to

5. OutKast –
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

This was an explosion of
talent that invited us back to the jazz impulse; the seed for a new
direction of rap music.

6.The Strokes –
Room on Fire

Another near immaculate
album that took some heat after descending from their first, but
Room is still sizzlin’.

7. Damion Rice –

An unmistakably beautiful
concoction of acoustic guitar and cello; this was the second best
gift ever to come from Ireland. The first being Guiness.

8. A Perfect Circle
– Thirteenth Step

With a man like Maynard
heading the project, the outcome can only be greatness. There is
such intense serenity to this album that it unzips the skin, and
just lets the mind and body free.

9. The Shins –
Chutes Too Narrow

A sophomore album that
blew the top off of their first one, even with such a simple
combination of keyboard and guitar. A superior road trip

10. Matt Nathanson
– Beneath These Fireworks

On his major label debut,
Matt lets no one down. He has been working so hard. for so long, to
ignite his singer/songwriter career, and this album has that


Matt Kivel, Daily
Arts Writer

1. The Strokes –
Room on Fire

The highly-anticipated
follow up album did not disappoint its listeners. Room perfectly
blends pop and rock n’ roll to create a thirty-minute masterpiece.
Filled with tasty hooks and catchy melodies, Room on Fire, is the
most addicting album of 2003.

2. The Thrills – So
Much for The City

The sunny sounds of
Southern California were brought back into our stereos by a band
hailing from Dublin? Somehow these guys got it just right; their
recipe for pop songs can be both lighthearted and

3. Travis – 12

Travis’ darkest work to
date is a unique departure from the love ballads that characterized
their previous works. The darker sounds and ideas that were
explored in 12 Memories have added a much-needed depth to the
Travis catalogue.

4. Aidan Smith – At
Home With Aidan Smith Volume 1 and 2

The most surprising act to
emerge from Manchester since Badly Drawn Boy, Aidan Smith writes
charming pop tunes that cross all genres and barriers. His two (UK
only) mini albums, both recorded at Aidan’s home, revealed a new
talent in the world of singer-songwriters. Be prepared to here from
Mr. Smith in the very near future as he is releasing his full
length debut in 2004.

5. The Libertines –
Up the Bracket

A sloppy group of London
street urchins tapped into the true meaning of rock n’ roll. The
album was recorded live and it sounds that way. Sometimes out of
control, but always hard rocking, Up the Bracket finds its way into
any rocker’s heart.

6. Ryan Adams –
Rock N’ Roll

The alt-country star
reaches into his arsenal and pulls out power rock tunes from the
1980’s. The chiming guitar sounds and frantic vocals showcase the
versatility of one of music’s biggest talents. Adams’ confidence
shines through in each of the songs and his songwriting prowess
never falters.

7. Outkast –
Speakerboxx/The Love Below

Never has a pair of
artists captured the national spotlight with as much integrity and
mass appeal as the boys of Outkast. “Hey Ya” is clearly the single
of the year. We can only hope that Big Boi and Andre 3000 can
resolve their differences and reunite for many more albums to

8. Radiohead – Hail
to the Thief

The band’s strongest album
since, Ok Computer. Filled with dark subject matter and brooding
melodies, Yorke exhibits his immense talents as a songwriter while
the rest of the band provide stellar musicianship. “There There” is
the one of 2003’s best songs, proving that Radiohead is still
capable of world domination.

9. Jet – Get

A hard-rocking debut from
the much hyped Aussie foursome. Borrowing from the likes of, AC/DC,
The Rolling Stones, and Oasis, Jet produces an album that helps us
to relive the glory days of rock.

10. Kings of Leon –
Youth and Young Manhood

The southern-fried rock of
the brothers (and cousin) Followill brings a new and unique sound
to the current rock scene. The southern drawl of Caleb is the most
interesting rock n’ roll voice to emerge from 2003. The boys also
put on one hell of a live show.


Evan McGarvey, Daily
Arts Writer

1. The Neptunes –
The Neptunes Present … Clones

The untouchable production
duo of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams make the greatest hip-hop
album of all time. Their ridiculous talent for arrangement makes
even the middling rock bands on the album sound sweet.

2. Outkast –
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Combine the funk slathered
work of Big Boi and one of the best-crooned breakup albums of
all-time and you form the true irresistible force of 2003. “Hey
Ya!” will being playing at your granddaughter’s wedding.

3. Damien Rice –

Damien Rice makes
melancholy and unrequited love songs sting again. Haunting melodies
and searing lyrics put most other ‘confessional’ artists to

4. Anthony Hamilton
– Comin’ From Where I’m From.

Anthony Hamilton, the
one-time back-up singer for D’Angelo, seizes the reigns of modern
soul. His initial album sets him ups as the Bill Withers for our

5. My Morning
Jacket – It Still Moves

My Morning Jacket’s album
has found its way into thousands of kid’s stereos who swore they
would never listen to country. The ragged, “One Big Holiday”,
reaches heights of rock that the artier bands can only dream

6. Jay-Z – The
Black Album

The swan song for Jay-Z
has the giant of rap ushering himself into a glamorous sunset with
introspection, nostalgia, and the thunderous “99

7. The Shins –
Chutes Too Narrow

Hopefully enough of
America has caught on to what the owners of Oh! Inverted World have
known for years. Mysterious lyrics and hooks to spare make The
Shins sub-pop heroes.

8. Dizzee Rascal –
Boy In Da Corner

Britain’s Dizzee Rascal
continues the invasion that The Streets started. Dizzee Rascal’s
delirious raps over British two-step make most stateside rappers
sound like they are on respirators.

9. John Mayer –
Heavier Things

Though John Mayer’s second
album lacks the anthems of Room For Squares, it’s a consistent and
surprisingly dark exploration of a seemingly pleasant existence.
Ditch the preachy ‘Daughters’ and stick to ‘New Deep’.

10. Obie Trice –

The pure listen-ability of
Obie Trice’s debut album on the just proves that high-class
production and classy guest appearances can make the most mundane
of CD’s into platinum. Obie is the court jester sorely needed to
offset Em and Fiddy on the seemingly invincible Shady/Aftermath


James Pfent, Daily
Arts Writer

1. The White
Stripes – Elephant

Not just the Stripes’ best
album, Elephant will likely stand as the garage revival’s finest
hour. You’ll be hearing “Seven Nation Army” years from

2. Outkast –
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Yeah, Andre and Big Boi
pulled a K.I.S.S. and recorded separate solo records. But despite
being a bit long, it works. And how.

3. Rancid –

The title says it all.
After yet another excellent record from these veterans, it’s
impossible not to consider Rancid one of punk’s greatest

4. The Strokes –
Room on Fire

Rather than drown in the
endless sea of their own hype, The Strokes have treaded water long
enough to produce a sophomore album superior to their acclaimed

5. Radiohead – Hail
to the Thief

The most satisfying
Radiohead release since OK Computer, thanks to a little less
technology and a little more guitar.

6. Jay-Z – The
Black Album

Jay-Z drops great rhymes
on killer tracks from a score of producers, and somehow it all
works together. If Jay-Z really retires, he goes out on

7. Metallica – St.

The mighty Met once again
create controversy with their rawest, most brutal record to date.
Not bad for a bunch of sellouts.

8. The Mars Volta –
De-loused in the Comatorium

Two-fifths of At the
Drive-In returns with an epic concept album that twists and turns
with chaotic guitars and gravity-defying vocals.

9. A.F.I. – Sing
the Sorrow

Melancholic goth-punks. A
Fire Inside finally breaks through thanks to the undeniable hooks
of songs like “Girl’s Not Grey.”

10. Andrew W.K. –
The Wolf

Anyone who has screamed
every word of “Never Let Down” at the top of their lungs knows what
A-Dub is all about. Long live the party.

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