Well, I’m late with my yearly round-up. I’ve enjoyed reading what other webloggers have written on 2003, and hopefully I’ve got something to offer. Here goes:
I won’t bore you with my theories of correlation between poor economic prospects and quality rock music—suffice to say, 2003 was a lousy year to look for work, but it was another excellent year for rock. Without any dominant “ism” (e.g., Alternative, Rap Metal, etc.) defining what was cool, smaller bands were given the chance to experiment.
- Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights —To be fair, I shouldn’t include Interpol in 2003, but this was a breakout year for them, and Turn On was never far from my CD player. We saw them play twice—once at the dreaded WBCN River Rave, and then later in the year at the more agreeable Avalon.
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell —Say what you want about Karen O., there is no denying she demands attention. Who would’ve guessed that the Art Star would’ve graduated to sweet love songs like Maps ?
- Stellastar, Stellastar —The 80s are back, and I’m thankful for it. But to dismiss Stellastar as a Gothic throwback would be a crime— Shawn Christensen’s voice is more a post-punk David Byrne, (and I love basist Amanda Tannen’s backup vocals). My Coco is a great tune.
- Blur, Think Tank —Ok, enough New York bands… Let’s talk about Blur. With their seminal guitarist Graham Coxon gone, and the Gorillaz side project behind him, Damon Albarn and crew turned out something no one expected—a melodic, measured, mature album, with some of the best album art by Banksy that I’ve seen. I miss the mod days of Modern Life, but this was a fitting evolution.
- Lost in Translation, Soundtrack —Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine contributed a few really good songs—it made me nostalgic for those shoe-gazing days. There were rumors of a reunion, but I’ve heard nothing since.
Summer movies still baffle me—I never saw The Hulk or X-Men 2—but there were a few interesting films sprinkled amongst the usual trash this past year. There were so many I missed this year, but here are a few worth considering:
- Lost in Translation—I started a new job this year, and I work closely with a Japanese girl, whose English skills are… well, limited. So, this film was my favorite in 2003. I was rolling on the Cinema floor laughing during the “why do they switch their Ls and Rs” conversation. I’d marry Scarlett Johansson tomorrow.
- Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King—Well, at least all this blood and gore isn’t the result of preemptive war… Aragon and company haven’t got a choice but to fight.
- In America—Jim Sheridan’s semi-autobio story of an Irish family moving to New York after the death of their son, was about as sweet and magical an experience as is possible at the movies. I hadn’t expected it to be so emotionally heavy, but there is redemption in the end.
- Pirates of the Caribbean—Johnny Depp as a pirate and Orlando Bloom with a dreadful moustache. What’s not to love?
- Angels in America—I’ve never seen the play, but this 2-part HBO movie was exhilarating, inventive, and gut-wrenching. This film tackles the big questions of faith, love and identity.
- Kill Bill—Uma and Quentin were back in 2003, and despite rumors that Kill Bill was going to suck, I really enjoyed watching Uma slice and dice her way through her addressbook. Part II is coming in 2004, so maybe we’ll find out who the hell Bill is anyway.
For those of you in late-primary states who might not be paying attention, there’s a presidential campaign underway. Never in my lifetime have the stakes been so high—2003 showed us terrorism, preemptive war, tax cuts, budget deficits, job loss, and gay marriage (one positive, at least).
- Howard Dean—Not only has Howard Dean single-handedly handed the Democrats their balls back, he’s re-written the campaign handbook and made blogging an important tool in reaching the Grass Roots. Silly establishment pundits are still dismissing him as the flavor-of-the-week (and weak), but I think he’s going to put up one hell of a fight, and he’ll be walking and talking a lot more like a traditional candidate after the primary.
- Nothing else good happened in 2003. sorry!