Okay, I'm a 27-year-old, half-Mexican, half-white straight/single woman and I do need a hook on this beat, thank you. 2003 was the year I began: 1. DJing, and 2. Blogging. As my friend Joe Gross put it, "Djing is the new playing bass in a shitty rock band." Writing for a weblog is obviously the new "starting a fanzine," except the two are so inextricably connected, along with 3. Downloading music, which made the DJs and the blogs so much better, archival, anthemic. More information is good, not bad. Downloading music would be the new "fucking the system," except the RIAA is already totally screwed.
My name is Nate and I live in St. Paul Minnesota and am 26 years old. I like sports cars and Rey Mysterio and girls and Drunken Master and convoluted portmanteaus. My favorite kind of music is a tie between the kind that uses notes and the kind that uses beats, though the kind that uses both is super and best. I write for City Pages (Mpls/St. Paul) and Seattle Weekly and Red Flag Media and a blog that lots of Googlers looking for the word "hipster" stumble into. I'm glad that rock is back because I look kind of stupid throwing devil horn hand signals at Aesop Rock shows. Oh, hell, I look kind of stupid no matter what.
St. Paul, Minnesota
I felt pretty lucky this year: the Bay Area music scene was politically charged, crazy-active, noisy and gossipy, even. I might have had something to do with the latter but I can't be held responsible for the rest of the lovable mess. Panic-rock poobahs wormed their way into Chinatown dice bars. Afterhours clubs throbbed like bad hangovers. Cross-disciplinary comminglings sexed up art galleries, warehouses, and house parties. Afterward everyone had a cigarette outside; I had a Diet Coke. I like to think it was all the happy, lingering fallout of the dot-com boom, which attracted creative types from all over the country a few eventful years agoand left a few with half a brain. And then there was the regular influx of short-timers. All were welcome and all united to back the Green Party's bass-playing mayoral candidate and everyday indie-boy Matt Gonzalez.
San Francisco, California
Madeline Adams (#3 album) is an 18-year-old girl from Athens, GA who barely anybody has heard of except for my friends and I (she's the younger sister of my buddy Carter) and Mike Mills of R.E.M., who allegedly tried to make out with her after one of her gigs. Madeline plays acoustic guitar and sings, and on this album, her friend Alex adds some percussion. Listening to her wide, innocent soprano, I realize why our culture is so obsessed with staying young: because youth can be so stunning, so full of hope, so capable of creating beauty.
I want to call my emo band Smash Your Head on the Dashboard. This is after me and my friend Amy Salit start our all-girl Jewish punk band Burning Bush and our all-girl Afghanistani band She-had.
The utter brattiness of "Stacy's Mom" makes it more fun than any of us should admit toand for women of a certain age, it can also add a little smugness as the freefall of age anxiety is foisted onto your plate. Rather than swallow, turn this baby up--and bite back.
I'm still a gay Caucasian male, now 36 and partnered, living and working in Seattle. I took a pretty big hit, in terms of (critical) writing gigs, in 2003, so in addition to my DJ career I now supplement my income with a part time job at an indie record store. My writing currently appears in No Depression, The Stranger, Time Out New York, Boston Pheonix, Flaunt, and The Advocate. I'm currently working on a new book proposal and a radio show pilothopefully 2004 is going to be a more prosperous year! Xoxox, El Toro
Kurt B. Reighley
Country Music Magazine senior editor from '99 to July '03, when it was closed by its corporate owners. Now freelancer, writes for Nashville Scene, L.A. Times, No Depression, Country Music Today, other magazines/weeklies. White male, 47, married, father of two.
I suspect in reading the winning Top 50, my eyes will glaze over in befuddlement. "I never heard of any of these motherfuckers."
I have grown old.
But I feel young.
I have to admit I spent many hours in the past year listening to dead white guys. No, I don't mean Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon (although I listened to them, too). I mean a little classical music there, kids. Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Stravinsky, Bartok: The last frontier for an aging rock critic. Of course, none of those guys had a new album out last year, at least as far as I know. So I did the next best thing: I tried to vote only for artists who were either already dead or older than me, and I am getting pretty old for this gig. Fela, Zevon, Waylon; gone, gone, gone. Emmylou, Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Crusaders, Ibrahim Ferrer; all eligible for membership in AARP, or getting really damn close. I did vote for Black Eyed Peas, which was too much fun to leave off (hey, I am not dead yet), and Roy Hargrove, who combines an old soul with a young mind.