The Best CDs of 2003

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Our picks for the best CDs of 2003.

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The Best CDs of 2003

Elephant

There's No Home for You Here

  • Artist: The White Stripes
  • Album: Elephant
  • Song: There's No Home for You Here

"This is their fourth album, but the first time Jack White has included guitar solos on his recordings. Hear him rage and you wonder why he ever made us wait."

-- ASC producer Robin Hilton

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Song
There's No Home for You Here
Album
Elephant
Artist
The White Stripes
Label
V2

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Mambo Sinuendo

Bodas de Oro

  • Artist: Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán
  • Album: Mambo Sinuendo
  • Song: Bodas de Oro

"I've lived with this CD for all of 2003. It is brilliantly played, full of imagination and soul. It's all soaked in a smoky sound from a time that never really was."

-- ASC host Bob Boilen

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Song
Bodas de Oro
Album
Mambo Sinuendo
Artist
Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán

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O

Volcano

  • Artist: Damien Rice
  • Album: O
  • Song: Volcano

"It's hard to pick a favorite song. When you put this Irish songwriters album into your cd player you'll take a journey through a collection of beautiful songs. Here's a couple of picks: 'Amie,' 'I Remember,' 'Cold Water,' 'Cannonball' and (the cut featured here) 'Volcano.'"

-- Morning Becomes Eclectic host Nic Harcourt

"For all the reasons to pick an album in the age of the downloaded song. It's coherent, has amazing emotional depth in every breath and when you are finished listening you immediately want to hear it again, but not too soon because you don't want to wear it out."

-- World Cafe host David Dye

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Song
Volcano
Album
O
Artist
Damien Rice
Label
14th Floor

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Transatlanticism

The Sound of Settling

  • Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
  • Album: Transatlanticism
  • Song: The Sound of Settling

"Being from Seattle, you don't get a lot of great pop records coming out every year, but THIS record proves Seattle has it in her. Deep, thoughtful and brilliant, Death Cab For Cutie is the best independent band in the country and this is one of the finest releases to ever come from the Pacific Northwest."-- KEXP morning music host John Richards

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Song
The Sound of Settling
Album
Transatlanticism
Artist
Death Cab for Cutie
Label
Barsuk

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You Are Free

Free

  • Artist: Cat Power
  • Album: You Are Free
  • Song: Free

You Are Free "is a beautifully sad recording about lost souls and soul loss that somehow wrestles itself into optimism, making the latter sentiment seem very earned. And I love the song 'Free,' because 1) it sort of sounds like something from Nirvana Unplugged, and 2) it tells us (I think) that the emotions triggered in us by art are ultimately more important than the artist or even the art -- a radical and refreshing thought in these celebrity-obsessed days."

-- NPR reviewer Will Hermes

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Song
Free
Album
You Are Free
Artist
Cat Power
Label
Matador

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Sumday

Now It's On

  • Artist: Grandaddy
  • Album: Sumday
  • Song: Now It's On

"If ever there was a song that implored you to turn off your tv, get off the couch, and get the hell out of the house, this is it. It's all guitar loops and synths and Jason Lytle's wavering alto suggesting a future caught in the past -- like the confusion of modernity is nothing more than a rusting appliance out somewhere in a field of wheat."

-- NPR reviewer Mikel Jollett

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Song
Now It's On
Album
Sumday
Artist
Grandaddy

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Chinatown

Ship Out on the Sea

  • Artist: The Be Good Tanyas
  • Album: Chinatown
  • Song: Ship Out on the Sea

"I didn't pay much attention to their first album, so this one really hit me. It has such a gentle sound that it's actually jarring. And without getting grossly new age about it, it's an organic-sounding record. It really feels homegrown, like the music is just sort of naturally springing from of these amazing women."

-- NPR reviewer Meredith Ochs

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Song
Ship Out on the Sea
Album
Chinatown
Artist
The Be Good Tanyas
Label
Nettwerk

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Changing Places

Song of Yearning

  • Artist: Tord Gustavsen Trio
  • Album: Changing Places
  • Song: Song of Yearning

"An achingly beautiful album, a wonderful marriage of intellect and emotion. Deliberate, sensitive, stately and quietly passionate. A stunning debut from a gifted pianist and promising composer from Oslo, Norway."

-- NPR reviewer Jim Fusilli

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Song
Song of Yearning
Album
Changing Places
Artist
Tord Gustavsen
Label
ECM

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Festival in the Desert

Buri Baalal

  • Artist: Various Artists
  • Album: Festival in the Desert
  • Song: Buri Baalal

"This 3-day music extravaganza in the dunes north of Timbuktu was extraordinary in every way, but the music on this CD alone conveys the most essential element-the grandeur and elegance of desert music. There are wailing voices, deeply sensual grooves, hypnotic string music (including lots of guitar), and palpable echoes of ancient blues history. The sampling here includes some international names, but mostly, the focus stays on the music of Mali's desert north, often neglected in all the buzz over Malian music."

-- NPR reviewer Banning Eyre

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Song
Buri Baalal
Album
Festival in the Desert
Artist
Afel Bocoum
Label
World Village

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Carnabailito

Sé Que No Vas a Volver

  • Artist: Gaby Kerpel
  • Album: Carnabailito
  • Song: Sé Que No Vas a Volver

Pick from NPR's Performance Today host, Fred Child

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Song
Sé Que No Vas a Volver
Album
Carnabailito
Artist
Gaby Kerpel
Label
Nonesuch

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Segundo

Mantra del Bicho Feo

  • Artist: Juana Molina
  • Album: Segundo
  • Song: Mantra del Bicho Feo

"Recorded late at night, in Juana Molina's home studio, Segundo represents a major step for Latin electronica -- it strikes an arresting balance between incessant chugging rhythm and languid, inward-looking vocals. This year it seemed many records, even the good ones, revealed their gifts within the first few spins; Segundo kept getting better and weirder each time I went back to it."

-- NPR reviewer Tom Moon

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Mantra del Bicho Feo
Album
Segundo
Artist
Juana Molina
Label
Domino

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Vivaldi: La Stravaganza

Allegro from Concerto in e minor, Opus 4, No. 2 (Vivaldi)

  • Artist: Rachel Podger
  • Album: Vivaldi: La Stravaganza
  • Song: Allegro from Concerto in e minor, Opus 4, No. 2 (Vivaldi)

"Rachel Podger is dancing this year with that light-stepping Italian Antonio Vivaldi. Vivaldi has always gotten a bad rap from the musical establishment for being a lightweight.' Well, Vivaldi's music may at times seem light, but that's the point. He was Italian, after all. And these spirited tracks from Ms. Podger and her Polish friends 'Arte Dei Suonatori' (yes, they play like Italians, but come from Poland!) makes for my favorite CD of the year. The key to Podger's Vivaldi isn't in her fingers (though she's nimble as ever with those magic digits!) but in her feet! Even the slow movements sound like she's stepping to the Baroque dance rhythms on which so much of the music from that era (1600-1750) is based. Podger dancing again beyond time and ego. Thank you, Rachel."

-- NPR reviewer Tom Manoff

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Allegro from Concerto in e minor, Opus 4, No. 2 (Vivaldi)
Album
Vivaldi: La Stravaganza
Artist
Rachel Podger
Label
Channel

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