Hayden Childs

William Ham

Dana Knowles

Gary Mairs

Leonard Pierce

Michael Tomczyszyn

Scott Von Doviak

George Wu


The Algonquin Kids' Table

This Issue: 2003 Top Ten Lists

Gary Mairs - 10:31pm Feb 23, 2004 PST

Two words: McChesney Duntz. Why do the rest of us even bother?

Phil Nugent - 08:47am Feb 24, 2004 PST

Well, I only saw three of the movies on Von Doviak's ten-worst list, so I guess I had a good year. I know I got off easy, anyway.

Hayden - 09:35am Feb 24, 2004 PST

I think the mysterious man behind the McChesney Duntz article deserves a MacArthur Award grant.

So, after saturating myself with the Wrens over the last two months, I think Brent was right about putting their Meadowlands album in the #1 slot. I chose The Decemberists, who are a great, great band, and Her Majesty The Decemberists is a funny and smart album (y'know, I'm sick of the superficial comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel, and I know I'm guilty of them, too, but the album has much more in common with Richard & Linda Thompson's I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight than anything by NMH), but the Wrens have a level of subtlety that rewards listeners in new ways with each spin. Pulling off an album so complex and so emotionally resonant is the greater trick, and, despite the considerable offering from the Decemberists, the Wrens made a better album.

Leonard Pierce - 10:34am Feb 24, 2004 PST

I didn't get a chance to hear Her Majesty the Decembrists until I had already put my list together. I dunno if it would have changed my top pick, but if I'd made a top ten of music only, it surely would have been on there. It's a terrific album. Unfortunately, I haven't heard the Wrens, so I got nothin' in that regard.

Hayden - 10:49am Feb 24, 2004 PST

Yeah, I haven't heard either the Guster or the Weakerthans albums that you cited, although I mean to rectify that soon.

Incidentally, here is my final Top Ten album list for 2003:

1. The Wrens - The Meadowlands
2. The Decemberists - Her Majesty the Decemberists
3. New Pornographers - Electric Version
4. Go-Betweens - Bright Yellow Bright Orange
5. Knife in the Water - Cut the Cord
6. The Fiery Furnaces, Gallowsbird’s Bark
7. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - Hearts of Oak
8. Pernice Brothers - Yours, Mine, and Ours
9. Kaito - Band Red
10. Okkervil River - Down the River of Golden Dreams

I also quite liked the Notwist's Neon Golden, Yo La's Today Is the Day EP, Consonant's Love & Affliction, and Iron & Wine's The Sea & the Rhythm EP.

Jeff Vorndam - 11:05am Feb 24, 2004 PST

I thought the Decemberists album was pretty boring, with almost every song overstaying its welcome. I guess sea chantys aren't my thing. I did like "Song for Myla Goldberg" though. I do share one album with your top ten, Hayden --Ted Leo's infectious Hearts of Oak.

Dana, I'd love to read your expanded theories on Gerry. I liked the movie more in retrospect after I saw Elephant, but still feel that Gerry was the promise that Elephant fulfilled.

Leonard Pierce -11:05am Feb 24, 2004 PST

The New Pornographers album would definitely be in my top ten (though I actually preferred the previous album), as would the Pernice Brothers. I used to like the Scud Mountain Boys more than I did the Pernice Brothers, but they've really won me over.

Hayden - 11:09am Feb 24, 2004 PST

I like Electric Version more than Mass Romantic on the strength of "The Laws Have Changed" and "Testament to Youth in Verse," and I think that the Pernice Brothers have surpassed the Scud Mountain Boys (which I didn't previously think possible) by tapping that vein of surprisingly resonant mid-80s indie-pop.

I guess sea chantys aren't my thing.

No Mekons fan, you. I'm starting to think that Jonboy Langford has to get a chanty on every album.

Leonard Pierce - 11:11am Feb 24, 2004 PST

My own weakness for sea chanties explains why I think Grant Hart contributed so much to Husker Du.

"The last couple of years, it's felt to me as if the culture is in a holding pattern."--------------------------------------------------------->More on Page Two!