Twenty Years On: Songs from the Belfry 2003, Part IX

The days at Yankee Candle were already getting busier by October, the sign of Q4 starting with extended hours (aka ‘mandatory overtime’) and larger volume to move. This was the second year with heightened volume thanks to our recent acquisition of Bed Bath & Beyond as a seller. The downside was that YC’s hiring of seasonal help always started a month or so late (they’d come in November when we really needed them earlier), and by then we’d lost one or two members of our team for one reason or another.

And yet at the same time, I was kicking ass writing. I was just about wrapping up The Persistence of Memories and about to start in on Book 3 and I wasn’t about to take any time off in between and lose that momentum. Perhaps that wasn’t the best of ideas in hindsight, but at the time I felt it was better to just keep riding that high while I could.

Mono, One Step More and You Die, released 2 October 2003. This Japanese instrumental post-rock band was a critic favorite from the beginning, and while it took me a bit to warm up to them, I found their music perfect background for writing sessions.

Soundtrack, Lost in Translation, released 3 October 2003. Sofia Coppola’s second movie was a surprise hit and featured quite a few great bands on its quirky and unique soundtrack, including a few rare solo tracks from My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields.

Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, released 6 October 2003. These Glaswegians broke out of their bedroom twee sound with this perky and often funny bedsit pop record. The new style fit them really well and they’ve evolved in that direction ever since.

Living Colour, CollideĆøscope, released 7 October 2003. This band returned for their first record after their 1995 split, and while it’s not as heavy and funky as their previous records, it’s just as topical.

Jet, Get Born, released 7 October 2003. “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” was my favorite track of 2003, containing so much power, swagger and energy that was lacking in so many other songs and records of the day. The entire record is full of fun Stones-y rock with even a few forays into Beatlesque psych pop.

Paul Van Dyk, Reflections, released 7 October 2003. A name I knew for ages as a producer and remixer, his fourth album took him in interesting directions, showing that he wasn’t just knowledgeable in electronic music but in full-band rock.

Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism, released 7 October 2003. Their last album for indie Barsuk Records and a few years before their major-label breakthrough Plans, this album paves the way for their well-loved brand of intelligent, slightly quirky alternative rock, and is considered one of their best.

Laika, Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing, released 7 October 2003. This may have been their last album, but it doesn’t feel like it; instead it feels like what the band’s sound would have evolved into had they kept going. The twitchy electronics are still there but muted to reveal beautiful melodies just underneath.

Mixtape, Re:Defined 06, created 19 October 2003. This mix in particular got a lot of play in my car as well as its previous volume, containing quite a few of my favorite songs at the time.

The Strokes, Room on Fire, released 28 October 2003. I had a love/hate relationship with this band at the time; I thought their music was interesting and kind of fun, but at the same time I disliked the way Julian Casablancas’ voice always sounded tinny and mixed as if with zero bass whatsoever. I’ve come to appreciate their sounds over the ensuing years.

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Next up: one novel down, one more to go