I hastily assembled a list of my favorite albums of 2003 for an online discussion group poll, so I thought I'd share it here. I didn't devote a lot of thought to the order past the top six. Yes, it's random. Yes, there are many albums I didn't hear, so it is by no means definitive. Yes, I'm too tired to devote much time to it now other than posting it. Check back at another time for possible insight into why I picked these albums.
1. Belle & Sebastian DEAR CATASTROPHE WAITRESS
2. The New Pornographers ELECTRIC VERSION
3. Kathleen Edwards FAILER
4. Radiohead HAIL TO THE THIEF
5. The Strokes ROOM ON FIRE
6. Fountains of Wayne WELCOME INTERSTATE MANAGERS
7. The Shins CHUTES TOO NARROW
8. Lucinda Williams WORLD WITHOUT TEARS
9. Outkast SPEAKERBOXXX/THE LOVE BELOW
10. Allison Moorer SHOW
11. Guided By Voices EARTHQUAKE GLUE
12. The Minus 5 DOWN WITH WILCO
13. Beulah YOKO
14. Gemma Hayes NIGHT ON MY SIDE
A special mention goes to Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison HAPPY HOLIDAYS, a self-released EP on which Willis displays a jazzier vocal style.
Speaking of Kelly Willis, I ended up watching Food Network's $40 A DAY at 2:00 a.m.--yes, I should have been sleeping--because the episode was set in Austin. Show host Rachael Ray, whose giggly persona can be irritating, opened the show with a stop at Waterloo Records. (Hey, I've been there!) Willis' most recent album EASY received a nice mention from a store employee. It was cool, and sort of strange, to stumble upon a plug for one of my favorite artists in a food show. Originally I thought one of the restaurants that Ray visits was a setting in WAKING LIFE, but I'm convinced that my first impression was incorrect. After all, how much could one show push my buttons?