Sunday, 21 December 2003

The best albums of 2003

25. Evan Dando – Baby I'm Bored
The kind of shambling confessional that only Evan Dando could come up with.

Best track – Waking Up

24. Adam Green – Friends Of Mine
On first listen silly and goofy, Green's first 100 per cent studio album is actually much cleverer than you'd think. That he manages to mesh ballads with rockabilly and songs about Jessica Simpson just demonstrates his offbeat genius.

Best track - Bluebirds

23. Grandaddy – Sumday
As a snapshot of modern existence it falls short only of their 2000 masterpiece The Sophtware Slump.

Best track – I'm On Standby

22. Peaches - Fatherfucker
Filthy, low-budget fun that's actually as profound as it is profane.

Best track – Kick It

21. Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts Of The Great Highway
Mark Kozelek takes everything that was great about the Red House Painters and turns it up a notch or two. Moving, graceful and flat-out beautiful.

Best track – Carry Me Ohio

20. Mars Volta – De-Loused In The Comatorium
A brain-achingly ambitious, sprawling and audacious statement. Mesmerising, complex and cryptic, it raises the bar for any modern rockers wanting to try their hand at prog.

Best track - Televators

19. Radiohead – Hail To The Thief
Someway, somehow Radiohead have made five truly great albums in a row. Hail To The Thief is their darkest, most frenetic long-player yet but it gives little indication of where they're heading next.

Best track – There There

18. The Strokes – Room On Fire
At 32-minutes, Room On Fire is a blisteringly quick collection of precision perfect tunes that's just as sleek and sexy as their debut.

Best track - Reptilia

17. Outkast – Speakerboxxx / A Love Below
Okay, so it loses the incredible vocal chemistry between Andre 3000 and Big Boi, but that's no price to pay for hearing two of hip hop's most intrepid and imaginative sonic explorers wow us with their totally undiluted visions.

Best tracks – Ghetto Musick / Hey Ya!

16. Patrick Wolf – Lycanthropy
This scrawny, skinny and unfathomably posh teenager who's as accomplished with accordions, lutes, violins as he is a laptop made one of the year's best albums and had probably the year's best live show.

Best track – Bloodbeat

15. My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves
Only three albums into their career and My Morning Jacket are already showing all the hallmarks of true greatness.

Best track – Mahgeetah

14. Sufjan Stevens – Michigan
The start of Sufjan Stevens' 50 States project is a charming and depressing homage to his home state.

Best track – Flint (For The Unemployed And Underpaid)

13. Kings Of Leon – Youth & Young Manhood
A rollicking cocktail of rock, country and gospel that captures the sound of growing out and growing up as well as any band ever has.

Best track - Trani

12. Metallica – St Anger
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than some clowns would have you believe. So it's not Kill Em All or Ride The Lightning, it's a thunderously aggressive metal album that's as savage and visceral as any of their 80s masterpieces.

Best track – Frantic

11. King Geedorah – Take Me To Your Leader
Not content with rejuvenating hip hop with his MF Doom persona, Daniel Dumile has dropped a cold, murky and dense album that supersedes anything ninety-nine per cent of rappers will ever attempt.

Best track – No Snakes Alive

10. Greg Ashley – Medicine Fuck Dream
Ashley's solo debut is a masterclass in shaggy and rough acid-folk that wins extra points for being recorded in his parents' garage.

Best track – I Said "These Are Lonely Days"

9. Daniel Johnston – Fear Yourself
Like all of Daniel Johnston's albums, Fear Yourself is sad, pretty, funny and touching but it's Mark Linkous' production that gets the best any producer ever has out of Daniel.

Best track – Love Not Dead

8. Viktor Vaughn – Vaudeville Villain
Leaving production duties to his buddies like RJD2, Doom is able to spend the entire album delivering the most vital, twisted and focused verses of his career.

Best track – Vaudeville Villain

7. Jay-Z – The Black Album
Jigga's retirement album might have been forced to the sidelines by 50 Cent's ubiquitous debut but it was Jay-Z who released the best rap album from the US. Now, let's see how long he actually stays retired.

Best track – 99 Problems

6. Dizzee Rascal – Boy In Da Corner
Boy In Da Corner is the kind of once in a blue moon debut that makes every other British artist looks dull and uninteresting.

Best track – Fix Up, Look Sharp

5. Coachwhips – Bangers Vs. Fuckers
Like a supercharged White Stripes, Coachwhips strip rock n' roll down to its dirty, fuzzy, scuzzy core. Turn your speakers to 12 and enjoy.

Best track – Evil Son

4. Damien Jurado – Where Shall You Take Me?
Jurado's most accomplished album to date is a masterpiece of dark storytelling. This generation's Nebraska.

Best track - Abilene

3. The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site
This mature, literate, intelligent album is not only the highlight of John Samson's career but an effortlessly perfect collection of wonderfully poignant songs.

Best track – One Great City!

2. The White Stripes – Elephant
A truly phenomenal record that ensures Jack and Meg cement their status as honest to goodness rock n' roll gods.

Best track – The Hardest Button To Button

1. Rufus Wainwright – Want One
Camp, opulent and melodramatic, Want One was the lush and luxurious opus that Rufus always threatened to make. If it's sister album, Want Two, is half as good, then we already know what the best album of 2004 is.

Best track – Go Or Go Ahead

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