10:45 PM: Matthew's very late Best of 2003 Mix

End of the year 'best of' mixes. They're supposed to be completed some time in mid-December, but I've been busy. With...something. Probably. Ok, I just hadn't got around to doing it until now, but I spent a decent chunk of time compiling this list and writing about each song, so it's probably worth a read, even if you have no idea who most of these bands are. As always, if you would like a copy of the CD, ask me for one, and I'll make you one for $1 until I run out of CD's.

Hope you enjoy it:

1. Belle and Sebastian-Step into my office, baby

Forget '2+2=5,' 'Kissing the Lipless,' and 'Whatever Happened?' For my money, this is the best first track on any CD put out this year. It probably also helps that 'Dear Catastrophe' was one of my favorite CDs of the year. When Murdoch completely stops the song, and the proceeds to slowly build it back up to it's peak, it makes me a very happy person.

2. Zwan-Honestly

I know what you're thinking, but Zwan's first and only album, 'Mary, Star of the Sea' actually came out in January of 2003. If you think hard enough, you'll probably remember that this was one of the first big hits of 2003. For once, MTV got it right. This is definitely a song to be appreciated by the masses...don't even TRY to act like you didn't sing along to the chorus at least once this year (I feel love, HONESTLY!). Bloody brilliant.

3. The Flaming Lips-Assassination of the Sun

DEspite not putting out a full album this year, The Flaming Lips have had one of their most commercially successful years of their career. With the success of 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' spilling over well into 2003, as more and more people discovered the album, the best alernative album grammy nomination that The Flaming lips received for their EP (!) 'Fight Test,'' the commercial success of both the previously mentioned 'Fight Test' EP and the 'Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell' EP, and Wayne Coyne's Top 20 (overseas, at least) collaboration with the Chemical Brothers, 'The Golden Path' have all added up to one great year for one of the most critically acclaimed band of the last decade. What's the reason for all this mainstream success, you ask? The answer is simple: 15 years later, The Flaming Lips are still putting out quality songs like 'Assassination of the Sun.' Here's hoping for an even better 2004 for TFL.

4. Big Boi-Church

Andre's album (and hit single) was much more popular, but Big Boi quietly put out one of the best solo records of the last few years with 'Speakerboxx.' It may not be quite as eclectic, dyanmic, and critically worshipped as 'The Love Below,' but 'Speakerboxx' maintains a consistency that 'The Love Below' could only hope for. Unlike 'The Love Below,' you don't want to skip through a single song on this CD. If their record company knows how to properly manage this album, 'Church' will be one of the hits off of the album before it fades from the charts. Give it a listen, and take a lesson from Big Boi on making instantly accessible music with a message.

5. The Strokes-Under Control

The Strokes are back. They put out another great CD. This is one of the best tracks on the CD.
(I guess that's all I'm going to write, because everything that can be written about The Strokes probably already has been, numerous times).

6. Fountains of Wayne-Valley Winter Song

Before 'Stacy's Mom' came and ruined everything, Fountains of Wayne's 'Welcome Interstate Managers' was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, and many, many critics (ESPECIALLY Rolling Stone) were ejaculating all over this record. They couldn't shup up about it, and there's a reason why: It's a damn good CD, probably one of the 10 best of the year. 'Valley Winter Song' is a breezy, catchy, deceptively simple tune off of the CD that I feel really captures the essence of the record. Plus, it's one of my favorite songs of the year.

7. Broken Social Scene-Anthems for a seventeen year-old girl

This is one of those songs you hate the first time, then find somewhat tolerable, then obsess over. One of the weirdest songs of the year, this song demands at least a curious look whenever it is played. I can only describe it as "An Avril Lavigne song, if Avril Lavigne was good, and played bluegrass music instead of pop-punk." I know that sounds like a major turn off, but trust me, this is a great listen, if only for the novelty factor.

8. The Darkness-I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Here it is! The second most sung along to song of 2003! It's not only the funniest song of the year, but one of the fucking best glam rock songs I've heard, ever. Go ahead, sing along, you know you want to (I believe in a thing called love, just listen to the rhythm of my heart!).

9. The Shins-Mine’s Not A High Horse

The most ignored "single worthy" song off of 'Chutes Too Narrow' (an album FULL of singles, I might add), this song just doesn't get the credit it deserves. Lines like "They should've drowned you in holy water" and great hooks throughout this song, and the entire album, for that matter, further prove that The Shins are the great white hope of indie pop.

10. Andre 3000-Hey Ya

Don't even try to act like you're too cool for this song. 'Hey Ya' was THE song of 2003, and there's about 10 million brand new Outkast fans out there to prove it. If you didn't jam out to this song in your car, house, local retail store, special event, or party at least a couple of times this year, you're a lost cause when it comes to music. I even caught my dad singing this song to himself a few days ago, and the last decent album he bought was 'Thriller.' Ladies and gentlemen, we have a phenomenon on our hands. Now, it's time to give everyone what they want and release 'Roses' as their next single.
"Gimme some sugar...I AM your neighbor!"

11. The Postal Service-The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Every detached indie youth worth their weight in conceitedness has worshipped The Postal Service since they released their first (and possibly, only) album this year, 'Give Up.' If you listen to most people, they will tell you that 'Such Great Heights' is the song to download off of the album, but it simply doesn't hold up as well to repeated listenings as this song. When Gibbard sings "DCSleeps Alone Tonight" I still sing along in all my embarassing "hey, emo isn't so bad..." glory.

12. Radiohead-A Wolf at the Door

Even if you hated 'Hail To the Thief' or were (justifiably) disappointed at it's overall quality, compared with Radiohead's other work, you have to admit that 'A Wolf at the Door' is, and will be for quite a while, a stone cold Radiohead classic. If they would get their heads out of their asses and started giving a shit what their fans want again, they would have released 'AWATD' as the first single off of 'HttT' instead of the mind numbingly boring 'There, There.' Even if it's never released to the mainstream as a single, the song should be a staple at Radiohead concert for many years to come.

13. The Shins-Kissing the Lipless

Not to take anyway from 'Mine's Not A High Horse,' but 'Kissing the Lipless' is, without a doubt, the best song that The Shins have recorded. Yes, I'm talking about 'Oh, Inverted World' as well. It also has one of the most memorable lines of the year: "Secretly, I want to bury in the yard all the gray remains of a friendship scarred."

14. The Bens-Just Pretend

"After all, in the end, just pretend"

When I first read about 'The Bens' on Ben Folds' website, I wasn't sure what to think. Sure, I was super excited that Ben Folds, Ben Kweller, and Ben Lee would be collaborating with each other, even if only for an EP, but with three established musicians having to work together in one studio, egos could get out of hand, and lead to shitty music. Fortunately, all the Bens got along famously, and put out a five song EP that was generally overlooked at the end of the year by most critics, but still a damn fine album. 'Just Pretend' is the most cohesive song on the CD. You can actually hear all three musicians' influence in the song.

15. Warren Zevon-Keep Me In Your Heart

If only because of Zevon's death from cancer this year, I really enjoyed his last studio album, 'The Wind.' You can tell that he put all the energy that he had left into this album, and it's easy to get emotional when listening to the tracks, especially his musical "goodbye" to his family, 'Keep Me In Your Heart.' Call me old fashioned, but I'm pretty sure you're allowed to be overly sentimental when you're dying of cancer. If this song doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you just might not have a heart. Asshole.

16. Elefant-Misfit

Everybody seems to hate Elefant. I don't. Listen to this song to see why.

17. The Delgados-All You Need is Hate

Yes, this song is a reference to the beatles classic 'All You Need is Love,' and, in my opinion, comes close to stacking up with the catchiness of that song, even if it isn't nearly as relevant as 'love.' A pop song about embracing hate is one of the most catchy songs of the year. Who would have guessed? You'll just have to experience it for yourself.

18. The Beatles-I Me Mine

I got this song on the record on a technicality. Yes, this song may have been recorded an released in 1970, but a redone version of it recently appeared on this year's ' Let it Be...Naked.' You may not be able to notice a difference between this version and the original recording (I know I don't), but it hasn't lost any of it's luster in the 30+ years since it's original release. Three cheers for The Beatles.

19. The Unicorns-Ready To Die

The weirdest album of the year is also one of the very best: The Unicorn's first LP album, 'Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?' may not be a commercial success, but it's been one of the most acclaimed albums of the year in the underground/indie scene. You can't quite classify them as pop, experimental, or dance...all that you can classify them as are Canadians goofballs. Thank god their using their weird Canadian sense of humor for good instead of evil (see the new Barenaked Ladies album). 'Ready to die' is a good indicator, if you want to see if this brilliant new sound is for you, or just too damn weird.

20. . The Wrens-Faster Gun

Many respected critics proclaimed 'The Wren's' new album 'The Meadowlands' the best album of the year, and why I completely disagree (it's good, but not nearly THAT good), I can see why people would think so highly of them when they write a song like 'Faster Gun.' One of the rockinest songs on the album, and probably the best, it shows just how much promise 'The Wrens' have. Give them two years to work on their next album, and they could come out of the studio with a masterpiece.

21. Andre 3000-Spread

Everyone who got a copy of my Christmas mix knows how I feel about this delightfully perverse song. When I see Sean Abrahams singing and dancing to the song, in public no less, I know that it's just not me imaging things: This song could very well have been as big as 'Hey Ya,' if it had been released as the album's first single. Just don't listen to it in front of your parents.

22. Blur-Out of Time

Why all of you fools were going into convulsions over 'Crazy Beat,' 'Out of Time' sits alone in the corner, bringing back memories of the old Blur that we all know and love. It's an easy thing to forget: Long before Blur crashlanded onto the American music scence via every sports venue in the country with "Song 2," they were releasing, relevant, meaningful material like 'Girls and Boys,' 'Universal,' and 'To the End.' Here's hoping they don't end up in any more car commercials any time soon...

SO there it is. Love it or hate it, those are probably 20 of my 25 favorite songs of the year (I know I probably forgot a few). Feel free to argue with me about it, anytime, at home or school.

/birdman out.