Not too many releases to speak of at the end of the year (which, y’know, par for the course at the time), which meant I spent most of my writing sessions listening to all the cds I’d accumulated over the past year or so. In retrospect, 2003 was indeed a stellar year for alternative and indie rock, even though it did kind of feel like a year of change…while there were very few mind-blowing albums or songs that sank deep into my psyche at the time, that’s not to say they weren’t bad per se. Just an interesting mix of bands and sounds changing and evolving. And I always think that’s a good thing, even if the sounds didn’t quite resonate with me.
I did spend a lot of the time listening to releases from 2002 as well — in particular, I’d gotten into Beck’s Sea Change a bit later than its release but it soon became one of my top writing session albums (and still is to this day). Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head was another that I got into quite late. I was very curious to see what the next year would bring.
Hooverphonic, Sit Down and Listen to Hooverphonic: The Live Theater Recordings, released 1 December 2003. I actually didn’t get around to acquiring this one for a while, which is surprising considering my love for this band, but I mention it here because all of their previous albums were still on heavy rotation in the Belfry, including most of the tracks found on this one. Still one of my favorite bands!
Various Artists/Soundtrack, Live Forever: The Best of Britpop, released 2 December 2003. If you’re curious about the Britpop movement of the 90s, this is a perfect collection to start off with. While some mixes lean heavily on obscurities or label-related releases, this one was inspired by the documentary Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop, which I highly recommend, and focuses more on several popular groups and bands at the time. This one still gets plays here in Spare Oom!
Mix CD, Re:Defined…The Best of 2003, created 30 December 2003. The second year in which my end-of-year compilation is CD-only — I’d bought a CD drive for my older PC late in 2002 and managed to somehow have enough hard drive space to rip songs from my collection then burn them. This was the first end-of-year mix using my new PC, and I think it shows that I’d gotten the hang of making a disc mix, after having made 45-minutes-a-side mixes for the last twenty or so years! I’m quite happy with how this one came out, actually.
So what would 2004 bring…? I’d continued my weekly runs to Newbury Comics and would continue to do so until further notice, and I’d start writing The Balance of Light soon enough — as well as a vampire novel idea that would pop into my head, serving as a secondary project when I’d started having trouble with TBoL. After three-plus years of writing the Bridgetown Trilogy, I was starting to burn out.
And then at some point during the summer, one of my close friends would hold a get-together with several friends from all around, during which I’d meet for the second time a friend of a friend from New Jersey…