Best Music of 2003

This one was a tough decision. There was lots of music that came out this year that pleasantly surprised me. As the radio gets worse, it seems that underground music swells. I smell a changing of the guard in popular music on the horizon, as today's stale pop music won't last.

Regardless, here's what I felt were the best albums of 2003.

#3: Deftones (Deftones)

Not the type of band that likes to push out an album as quickly as possible, the Deftones took their time on their fourth album, and the hard work shows. The latest offering is much harder than 2000's "White Pony," but at the same time it keeps the melodic nature of the previous album.

"Deftones," like the three albums before it, is its own entity and shows a lot of growth in the band's sound. Many of the tracks seem like a homage to one of the great metal innovators of the 90's, Helmet. This isn't the Deftones' best album, but it is nonetheless a record worthy of its predecessors.

#2: Rob Dougan (Furious Angels)

After a big club hit with 1999's "Clubbed to Death," it took four long years for Rob Dougan's first album to hit stateside. Fans in the U.S. were treated to a two-disc set of songs and instrumentals by Dougan. The result is a mind-blowing album that feels as though the best is yet to come from Dougan.

A mix of techno and orchestra with Dougan's gruff and sometimes haunting vocals makes this album very hard to categorize. Dougan's work as a conductor, his vocal skills, and the beats he's created come together in quite a beautiful fashion. Here's hoping that Dougan takes it up a notch with his next album.

The best album of 2003: Minus (Halldor Laxness)

From the get-go on Minus' follow-up to "Jesus Christ Bobby," you can tell that this album is going to defy any sort of description or label you might try to pin on it. Therein lies the beauty of Minus' second offering, "Halldor Laxness."

The next big thing out of Iceland following Sigur Ros, Minus has been the recipient of much overseas critical acclaim, and with good reason. "Halldor Laxness" is a melodic-yet-chaotic explosion of sound that might not be for everyone, but is undeniably a special album.

Most Disappointing Music of 2003

Keep in mind, I'm not saying these albums are bad... I just don't think they lived up to expectation...

And they suck a bit.

Metallica (St. Anger)

We all heard the buzz. "Metallica is going back to its roots!"


Oddly enough, the singles off of St. Anger (St. Anger and Frantic) are the best tracks off the CD... and they're also the first two songs on the CD. By the end of this nearly 75 minute CD, you're just tired of it. Better than "Load" or "Re-Load," but this is no "Ride the Lightning."

Metallica picked up the old Suicidal Tendencies bassist, but that was after the album was recorded. I look forward to seeing what kind of influence he'll have on Metallica's inevitable next album.

Thursday (War All the Time)

Following the release of "Full Collapse," the buzz surrounding this band was deafening. "Full Collapse" was indeed a solid album, but it doesn't seem to have aged well over time.

This is the biggest problem with "War All the Time." Every song on the album sounds like it could have fit right into place on "Full Collapse." I realize Thursday has found a successful formula and is sticking to it, but I'd like to see some change and evolution in a band's sound. While Thursday may have squandered its potential on this album, here's hoping the next offering shows change.

In the end...

I'll put in some honorable mentions that were edged out of the top three: "Think Tank" by Blur (GREAT album), "MFZB" by Zebrahead, "Permission to Land" by The Darkness, Ima Robot's self-titled debut, "La Musica Negra" by Verbena, and "The Wolf" by Andrew WK. Overall, it was a good year in music.

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2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes