We here at PropertyOfZack have had a lot of fun wandering down memory lane this year, exploring and celebrating some of our favorite records of all time that are enjoying their 10 year birthday with Decade. But, no one’s perfect, and it turns out that we missed a few – some of them entirely essential. So we enlisted team members Erik van Rheenen, Jesse Richman, Deanna Chapman, Brittany Oblak, and Adrienne Fisher to tell us all about some of their favorites from 2003 that they felt needed a proper heralding in our last weeks of 2013. Enjoy the read and reblog to let us know your thoughts – and stay tuned next year for more Decade celebrations to mark the golden age of 2004!
The Ataris – So Long Astoria – 3/4/2003
Before Kris Roe threw a drumset in Asbury Park, before the band promised a record called Graveyard of the Atlantic (the idea of which, incidentally, might be as dead as its name suggests), before Welcome the Night slashed the tires of the group’s youthful, bright-eyed optimism, The Ataris were the Boys of Summer. Cue a chorus of non-fans cupping their hands and shouting, “Their one hit was a cover. A COVER!” like so many echo chambers. And yeah, The Ataris’ spin on the Don Henley Standard went the way of Alien Ant Farm…at least commercially. Even the album title for their gold-achieving 2003 record, So Long, Astoria, is a pastiche to a pop cultural property that doesn’t belong to them — for those of you without an affinity for schmaltzy 80s flicks, it’s a nudge-nudge-wink-wink to The Goonies. It was The Ataris one-and-done shot on a major label, and if Metacritic’s analytics have something to say about So Long, Astoria, it’s nothing very nice: the album earned a middling 57 with a whole bunch of lukewarm reviews.
But goddamn, do I love this record. I might be letting my starry-eyed nostalgia for So Long, Astoria use me as its ventriloquist dummy (I got the album sleeve signed by Roe at the first concert I ever went to in Syracuse, and the CD was one of the first in a young Vandy Man’s collection), but I’m not sure that’s really the case. I still spin this album at a common clip, and every time I do, I keep falling in love with the innocence and resilience and coming of age that the record undergoes. I’ll probably never fail to sing along with “Takeoffs and Landings” when I find myself stuck at an airport, or mime playing guitar along with “My Reply,” or wishing I had more summers and sleepovers like “In This Diary.” Though the album establishes its milieu up on the Pacific Coast, So Long, Astoria weaves its way through the States like a pop-punk road map, and if there was a name for that sensation of traveling without having to move your ass out of a chair (get on it, Merriam-Webster), it’d be the perfect descriptor for the album. Life is only as good as the memories we make, and man, is this record full of memories for me. – Erik van Rheenen
The Blood Brothers - …Burn, Piano Island, Burn – 3/31/2003
A decade after Kurt Cobain stage dove through the walls separating punk, metal and pop by tempering ferocious, wounded-animal hooks with deeply vulnerable sensibilities and an empathy that matched his animus, fellow Seattleites the Blood Brothers took similar aim at the traditionally-macho hardcore, grindcore and noise scenes. …Burn, Piano Island, Burn remains, unquestionably, one of the weirdest, most adventurous albums ever released on a major label (the Richard Branson-founded V2, and produced by mook-metal paterfamilias Ross Robinson, natch), and though their sound was far too scabrous to afford them anything like mainstream success, it left an indelible imprint on hardcore. Mark Gadjahar’s barely-on-the-edge-of-control drumming serves as the perfectly rickety platform for bassist/keyboardist Morgan Henderson and (especially) guitarist Cody Votaloto to launch themselves through mathy, corkscrew takes on punk, funk and withering noise, with the dual-scream attack of co-vocalists Johnny Whitney (his is the banshee-being-torn-apart-by-wolves howl) and Jordan Blilie (the slightly-more-gruff snarler) chainsawing a gaping hole through the center of it all. Somehow, the chaos never completely swallows the melody — songs like “Fucking’s Greatest Hits” and the title track are unreasonably hooky in spite of themselves. …Burn, Piano Island, Burn is an utterly unique, and uniquely great work of damaged art, and it’s far more deserving of a celebration that most of the second-tier albums by third-tier acts that got one this year.