Categories
Audioslave Belle & Sebastian British Sea Power Broadcast Cat Power Crooked Fingers Dead Meadow Idlewild Imaginary Scoop Kaito Martina Topley-Bird Mogwai Mojave 3 Nada Surf Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Outkast Radiohead Sleepy Jackson Sloan Smog Ted Leo & the Pharmacists The Bad Plus The Dears The Decemberists The Delgados The Divorce The Long Winters The Malinks The Mars Volta The Postal Service The Primate Five The Rapture The Shins The Strokes The White Stripes Wonderful

Best of 2003: Your #1 Album Picks of the Year

Although some folks couldn’t rank their lists {igChar}… which is fine… you know… if you just can’t bear to proclaim to the world, “THIS WAS THE BEST FUCKING ALBUM OF THE YEAR!!!” but some of us could. And albums that have such an exclamation bestowed on them deserve a special note. So here they are… the albums that our voters deemed “THE BEST FUCKING ALBUM OF THE YEAR!”

These albums all received at least one #1 vote:

  • Outkast, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” *
  • The Postal Service, “Give Up” *
  • Radiohead, “Hail To The Thief” *
  • The Strokes, “Room On Fire” *
  • The White Stripes, “Elephant” *
  • Wonderful, “God Bless Our Pad” *
  • Audioslave, “Audioslave”
  • The Bad Plus “These are the Vistas”
  • Belle & Sebastian, “Dear Catastrophe Waitress”
  • British Sea Power, “Decline of British Sea Power”
  • Broadcast “Haha Sound”
  • Cat Power, “You Are Free
  • Coil, “The Key to Joy is Disobedience (limited box set)”
  • Crooked Fingers, “Red Devil Dawn”
  • Dead Meadow, “Shivering King and Others”
  • The Dears, “No Cities Left”
  • The Decemberists, “Castaways and Cutouts”
  • The Delgados, “Hate”
  • The Divorce, “There Will Be Blood Tonight”
  • The Drive-By Truckers, “Decoration Day”
  • Eddie Izzard, “Circle (live)”
  • The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
  • Four Tet, “Rounds”
  • Holopaw, “Holopaw”
  • Idlewild, “The Remote Part”
  • Kaito, “Band-Red”
  • Led Zeppelin, DVD {This voter explains, “No album release came close to the monumental Zeppelin DVD package”}
  • The Long Winters, “When I Pretend To Fall”
  • The Malinks, “Can’t Shake Last Night”
  • The Mars Volta, “De-Loused in the Comatorium”
  • Martina Topley-Bird, Quixotic”
  • Mogwai, “Happy Songs for Happy People”
  • Mojave 3, “Spoon & Rafter”
  • Nada Surf , “Let Go”
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Nocturama”
  • The Primate Five, “1234567APE”
  • The Rapture, “Echoes”
  • The Shins, “Chutes Too Narrow”
  • Sleepy Jackson, “Lovers”
  • Sloan, “Action Pact”
  • Smog, “Supper”
  • Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, “Hearts of Oak”
  • The Thermals, “More Parts Per Million”
  • Triple R, “Friends”
  • Twilight Singers, “Blackberry Belle”
  • Visqueen, “King Me”
  • The Wrens, “The Meadowlands”

* Denotes more than one #1 rating received.

return to the full 2003 recap

Categories
Earlimart Live Show Review The Crocodile The Decemberists

The Decemberists, with Earlimart

There's something innately comforting about a band that doesn't feel the need to break new ground, but instead relishes the sublime pleasures in the exploration of familiar paths. They make music that just feels right; songs that, although you've never heard them, become immediately familiar, creating a sort of instantaneous nostalgia.

Upon first seeing and hearing California's Earlimart, I was immediately reminded of a carissa's wierd that has sought help, taken meds, and gone on to lead a normal, healthy life.

Although descriptions abound, they play what is best described as rock music. Of course, if you're going to play rock music, you have to brave the waters of those before you — the scales just aren't that big. And although I love the way that Earlimart makes music, the highlight of the show was their nod to the Pixies in the form of a cover of "distance equals rate times time" (which was prefaced by singer Aaron Espinoza's comment that, "We've been ripping off the Pixies for years, so we may as well just get it out in the open"), and it helped me realize the reason every indie rock band rips off the Pixies is not because of how different they were, but because of how same they were. Leave that groundbreaking stuff to jazz — I'll take my two chords and the truth, please.

But familiarity does not always arise from imitation, as was evidenced by the evening's headliners, Portland's The Decemberists. Singer Colin Meloy's lyrics hearken back to a past not quite defined, somewhere between the 17th and 19th Centuries.

And the music carries that same quality, as if they were playing songs from the Lost Archives of the true beginning of rock & roll. Channeling the storytelling of folk through the rhythm of the sea shanty and regularly incorporating instruments like the upright bass or the accordian, the Decemberists immediately fill the listener's head with images of history that seem as real as if they were happening today, and by adding a rock & roll sensibility (see Two Chords… Truth above); the anachronisms nestle comfortably into the 20th Century. And even though the themes of the songs eventually start to feel almost one-dimensional, the exquisite songwriting and impeccable musicianship of the band ensure that you maintain a jig throughout. It's music that just makes you feel good; good enough to stay out until two on a weeknight and not regret it in the morning.

Categories
Carissa's Wierd In Praise of Folly Live Show Review The Crocodile The Decemberists The Prom

Cupid Rhymes with Stupid

A Very Crocodile V-Day synopsis: four bands, two imaginary girls, 148 photographs, three drinks, five cigarettes, and one torn-in-half heart on the mend.

I’d like to start out with a reminder that "Cupid" rhymes with "stupid," which should give a clear picture as to how I really feel about Valentine’s Day. Or, at the very least, this year's 'holiday' compared to previous years. Am I bitter? Fuck yes, I am. Deal with it.

I had every inclination to drink myself into an alternate universe on Feb. 14, but with In Praise of Folly, The Decemberists, The Prom and Carissa’s Wierd playing at The Crocodile that evening I decided to forgo the alcohol-fueled self-loathing pity party and shoot some photos. I could always drink myself into a loveless stupor the following night, right?

The Decemberists. Photo by Ryan Schierling.I’d seen In Praise of Folly, The Prom and Carissa’s Wierd the previous week in Anacortes, a short side-trip on the way home from Bellingham to visit an old high-school crush. It may have been the venue (The Department of Safety), it may have been the crowd (all-ages) or it may have been the air of apathy that one hundred high-schoolers seated cross-legged on the floor seems to bring to a LIVE MUSIC SHOW, but I really didn’t enjoy myself. This isn’t a movie. You don’t have to be quiet. And you certainly don’t have to feign a coma through some great sets. Not to take anything away from the Anacortes performances, which, as with the Valentine’s Day show at The Croc, were excellent. I just didn’t get that tingly feeling that you associate with seeing bands for the first time. (That’s right, for me, the first time.)

So. Speaking of tingly feelings — back to Valentine’s Day.

The Prom. Photo by Ryan Schierling.I met igLiz and igDana out front as In Praise of Folly were beginning their set. We guest-listed it into the show and in our different ways, went to work.

The wonderful thing about photographing live music is, well, I get to photograph live music. The drawback is, I don’t really get to enjoy the set as a fan would — aurally. I’m busy focusing on 1/100 of what’s going on. Tiny, intense visual moments — a lead singer’s facial expression, the follow-through on a nasty guitar downstroke, a drummer biting his lip with a rock-and-roll sneer as he pounds the crap out of his kit, smoke from the keyboard player’s cigarette wafting up around his head, perfectly illuminated by a blue stage light. To listeners, they amplify stage presence. To me, they constitute fractions of seconds I’ve either visually captured or missed, picture postcards that no one else takes home with them.

Ask me for intellectual comments on what I thought of the set, and you’ll get a laundry list of visual cues that most audience members don’t catch on to.

Carissa's Wierd. Photo by Ryan Schierling.You want text, a review of the show? I leave that to igLiz and igDana. I just shoot the photos. You’ll get my thousands of words in the form of colored pixels.

Which, on this Valentine's Day, was a wonderful distraction from feeling a little low, partnerless and in want of female companionship. And, I did get that nice tingly feeling watching them all play this time (especially The Prom and Carissa’s Wierd).

Just in case you were wondering.

Categories
Live Show Review The Crocodile The Decemberists

The Decemberists

Another holiday at the Crocodile — this time, in the name of St. Valentine of Hallmark. The timing of the show worked out perfectly, as it served as an excellent gathering point for the imaginary posse, regardless of significant-other status.

Armed with many cocktails and charming companionship, we were ready for the stunning four band line-up of In Praise of Folly, The Decemberists, The Prom and Carissa's Wierd to play both cupid and counselor to our holiday festivies.

I was particularly eager to see Portland's The Decemberists. Ever since I'd heard a song or two of theirs on KEXP, I've been on the lookout for anything resembling a release of theirs. There was a strong possibility that their mix of Clem Snide, Starlight Mints the Mountain Goats and Neutral Milk Hotel might be the beginning of something special between me and the Decemberists. After all, it WAS Valentine's Day.

As I made my way through the set, I was torn between falling for the sultry swagger (accordian, cello and twang) and their smart tempting lyrical stylings (part straightforward storytelling, part poetically disjointed imagery). Within a half hour of being introduced, I knew that I was in trouble.

If only "Decemberist" were a shorter word, I would suggest that they have their name spelled out on pink Necco wafer candy hearts, alongside Be Mine and True Love.

Yes, I fell for them. And that is not just because the guitarist spelled out the word "Mojito" with sticker letters on his instrument… but for their ability to combine parts of four of my favorite bands into something that more than fills in the blanks, but creates a new landscape.

Categories
A-Frames Amy Blaschke Anna Oxygen Barsuk Blue Disguise Blue Sky Mile Bop Tart Capitol Damien Jurado Dandy Warhols Death Cab for Cutie Dolour Downpilot Fugitive Heather Duby I Can Lick Any SOB in the House Imaginary Scoop Kinski Menomena Ms. Led Slender Means Slomo Rabbit Kick Sub Pop Sushirobo The Dead Science The Decemberists The Divorce The Exploding Hearts The Fitness The Gossip The Joggers The Lights The Long Winters The Malinks The Postal Service The Ruby Doe The Shins The Thermals United State of Electronica Visqueen Wonderful

Best of 2003: Top 10 Local/Northwest Imaginary Albums of the Year

Since the top five on this list all also appear on our Top 10 overall imaginary albums of the year list, we’ve added some Honorable Mention local bands!

The Postal Service, Give Up#1 The Postal Service — Give Up (Sub Pop)
Winning our imaginary best of 2003 by overwhelming majority, the Postal Service gorgeously blend the electronic delicacy of Dntel with the effortless vocal bliss of Ben Gibbard (plus stellar girlie cameos from Jenny Lewis and Jen Wood).
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow#2 The Shins — Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)
The sophomore effort from James Mercer et al lived up to lofty expectations and was well worth the two-year wait for this crystaline, poppy, Kinks-esque songwriting masterpiece.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism#3 Death Cab for Cutie — Transatlanticism (Barsuk)
Oh that Ben Gibbard; look at him go, with two of the three top spots in our 2003 countdown! Death Cab offers yet another amazing blast of indie-pop perfection.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

The Long Winters, When I Pretend to Fall#4 The Long Winters — When I Pretend to Fall (Barsuk)
For the second year in a row, John Roderick has created a darkly hook-and-harmony laden disc of metaphorical, wisely dysfunctional romantics. Just like us.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

Her Majesty the Decemberists#5 The Decemberists — Her Majesty the Decemberists (Kill Rock Stars)
Their songs are the “Lost Archives of the true beginning of rock & roll.” They’ve created their own brand of songwriting that blends “the storytelling of folk through the rhythm of the sea shanty and regularly incorporating instruments like the upright bass or the accordian.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

The Divorce, There Will Be Blood Tonight#6 The Divorce — There Will Be Blood Tonight (Fugitive)
Not only can these fellows do killer buttrock karaoke and holiday cover songs, but the Divorce are also mature songsmiths in their own right. This, their debut album, rocks with edgy evolved melodies and catchy lyrical hooks, and their live performances makes us swoon. These guys are destined to be superstars.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

Visqueen, King Me#7 Visqueen — King Me (Blue Disguise)
Visqueen is an indie-rock braintrust: sassy, infectious Rachel on guitar and vocals. Iconic, superhero Kim Warnick on bass. Sweet, brainy Ben on drums. And together they create a powerpuff of perfect indie-rock that is exactly what the world needs now.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

The Thermals, More Parts Per Million#8 The Thermals — More Parts Per Million (Sub Pop)
The Thermals have united the traditionally battling East and West coasts in harmony. Combining the smartest parts of the recent New York retro revolution with the infectious evergreen Berkley punk chronicles, they’ve taken created an sum that is far greater than its parts.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

Dandy Warhols, Welcome to the Monkey House#9 The Dandy Warhols — Welcome To The Monkey House (Capitol)
Ok, ok… it doesn’t FEEL like they’re a local band, but “the best britpop band from Portland” is well, from Portland. Sure, they’re sexy, and wordly… and their most recent album was co-produced by Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran… but I am confident that they spend hours in Powell’s Books just like the rest of us.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

The Lights, Beautiful Bird#10 The Lights — Beautiful Bird (Bop Tart)
As one wise imaginary girl once said, “The Lights’ raw jangly antagostism broiled my ears, provoked my imagination, and moved my writing pen to metaphor.” This grindingly dissonant debut is a modern punk-garage-rock masterpiece.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

Honorable mentions…

Other amazing local bands who topped your lists…

  • Wonderful, “God Bless Our Pad”
  • Damien Jurado, “Where Shall You Take Me?”
  • Menomena, “I Am the Fun Blame Monster:
  • Exploding Hearts, “Guitar Romantic”
  • The Minus Five, “Down with Wilco”
  • Downpilot, “Leaving Not Arriving”
  • The Malinks, “Can’t Shake Last Night”
  • United State of Electronica, “Demo EP”
  • Anna Oxygen, “All Your Faded Things”
  • The Fitness, “Call Me For Together”
  • Heather Duby, “Come Across the River”
  • The Slender Means, “The Slender Means”
  • The Gossip, “Movement”
  • Heather Duby, “Come Across the River”
  • All Girl Summer Fun Band, “2”
  • Kinski, “Airs Above Your Station”
  • Amy Blaschke, “Self-Titled”
  • I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in The House, “Put Here to Bleed”
  • Ms. Led, “Afternoon in Central Park”
  • Blue Sky Mile, “Blue Sky Mile” EP
  • Dolour, Surburbiac
  • Slo-Mo Rabbit Kick, “Bass Monster Lives in the Bass Forest”
  • A-Frames, “2”
  • The Dead Science, “Submariner”
  • The Joggers, “Solid Guild”
  • The Ruby Doe, “Dream Engine Blue”
  • Sushirobo, “The Light Fingered Feeling of Sushirobo”

 

Categories
Barsuk Capitol Death Cab for Cutie Imaginary Scoop Interscope La Face Matador New Pornographers Outkast Radiohead Sub Pop The Decemberists The Long Winters The Postal Service The Shins The White Stripes V2 Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Best of 2003: Top 10 Imaginary Albums of the Year

The top ten releases of 2003 as voted on by you, our imaginary readers!

The Postal Service, Give Up#1 The Postal Service — Give Up (Sub Pop)
Winning our imaginary best of 2003 by overwhelming majority, the Postal Service gorgeously blend the electronic delicacy of Dntel with the effortless vocal bliss of Ben Gibbard (plus stellar girlie cameos from Jenny Lewis and Jen Wood).
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow#2 The Shins — Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)
The sophomore effort from James Mercer et al lived up to lofty expectations and was well worth the two-year wait for this crystaline, poppy, Kinks-esque songwriting masterpiece.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism#3 Death Cab for Cutie — Transatlanticism (Barsuk)
Oh that Ben Gibbard; look at him go, with two of the three top spots in our 2003 countdown! Death Cab offers yet another amazing blast of indie-pop perfection.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

 

Radiohead, Hail to the Thief#4 Radiohead — Hail to the Thief (Capitol)
Radiohead always evokes adjectives like “sonorous,” “transcendent,” “aware” and overtly in the case of their latest release, “politically infused.” We’re only sorry we don’t have a live review because we couldn’t bear to see them at the White River (Clear Channel) amphitheatre.
{official website} * {buy it}

Outkast -- The Love Below/Speakerboxxx#5 Outkast — The Love Below/Speakerboxxx (La Face)
As our wise friend Ollie Byrd said, “Outkast has a song out called “Hey Ya.” It’s the most exciting pop rock song since “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in 92, which was the most exciting pop rock song to come along since the sumptuous “Welcome to the Jungle” in 87.” Amen!
{official website} * {buy it}

 

The White Stripes, Elephant#6 The White Stripes — Elephant (V2)
Jack and Meg White have dazzled once again with their evolved blues-infused songwriting as well as their flawless peppermint aesthetics.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

 

The Long Winters, When I Pretend to Fall#7 The Long Winters — When I Pretend to Fall (Barsuk)
For the second year in a row, John Roderick has created a darkly hook-and-harmony laden disc of metaphorical, wisely dysfunctional romantics. Just like us.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell#8 Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Fever to Tell (Interscope)
Yeah Yeah Yeah’s blend the fashion focus of Dale Bozzio and the Cha Cha with a primordial yowl and that missing bass guitar, so key on so many trio releases this year.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

The New Pornographers, Electric Version#9 The New Pornographers — Electric Version (Matador)
Vancouver’s New Pornographers explode with infectious helium harmonies, catchy hooks, and Neko Case’s matchless vocals. Every track is a stand-alone hit for your 2003 mixtape.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}

 

Her Majesty the Decemberists#10 The Decemberists — Her Majesty the Decemberists (Kill Rock Stars)
Their songs are the “Lost Archives of the true beginning of rock & roll.” They’ve created their own brand of songwriting that blends “the storytelling of folk through the rhythm of the sea shanty and regularly incorporating instruments like the upright bass or the accordian.
{official website} * {buy it} * {tig review}