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If there's one thing that's been negatively impacted by getting a mortgage, it's been the number of CDs that I buy. It's not just that I no longer make speculative purchases of things that look interesting but that I can't even buy all the albums I really want. As a result, I haven't heard, say, Blur's 'Think Tank', Ryan Adams' 'Rock N Roll', Goldfrapp's 'Black Cherry' or the new albums by The Strokes, Travis and Belle & Sebastian - all of which, in any other year, I would have bought. Still, I managed to pick up one or two things in the past twelve months.

With 'Youth And Young Manhood,' Kings of Leon produced an album that's more soulful than the Strokes, and has better tunes than the White Stripes. It's probably my favourite record of the year, although it's run damn close for sheer class of songwriting by Elbow's majestic 'Cast Of Thousands.' Radiohead did the sort of thing that Radiohead do best on 'Hail To The Thief' whilst the Cardigans shifted gears yet again to produce a beautiful album of frosted alt-country. Ed Harcourt produced a second album that topped his first; Turin Brakes did too, but lost my sympathy somewhat by re-releasing 'Ether Song' with an extra track only after I'd bought a copy. The ever-more-depleted Massive Attack released the disappointing '100th Window,' whilst Doves released a collection of B-sides that manages to match either of their first two albums for quality. The Bluetones' 'Luxembourg' was also a disappointment, but even a disappointment from the 'tones contains four top-notch indiepop gems. Alicia Keys did her superlative soul thing again, and Starsailor produced an album that always sounds half-finished yet never seems to leave my CD player. And both Athlete and The Thrills released summer debuts that carried a brace of outstanding singles but (despite Mercury nominations in both cases) remarkably little else. Capping off the year in which 'Gay Bar' was my most-heard single (closely followed by 'Maybe Tomorrow' by The Stereophonics and 'Hey Ya' by Outkast), the UK public exhibited an unprecedented display of en-masse good taste, denying The Darkness a Christmas number one and bestowing it instead on Gary Jules' lovely cover of 'Mad World.

2003 was also the year I became a full-fledged Radio 4 listener. I'd always dipped into it here and there, but now it's my default background noise an awful lot of the time. Next up: Jackets with leather elbow patches. I've already got the slippers.
 
 
 
 
 
 
What I've heard of Rock N' Roll sounds like Ryan Adams desperately trying to be The Strokes drunk on Tennessee whisky all on his own. Not inspiring, particularly as I've had Heartbreaker on the go recently, and the comparisons are not great.

The CD you seem to have missed in 2003 is, quite simply, You Are Free by Cat Power. Gorgeous in a way I wouldn't usually use the word. I think you might also enjoy Fionn Regan (it's a man), who recently toured with your (oddly) beloved Turin Brakes.
Not inspiring, particularly as I've had Heartbreaker on the go recently, and the comparisons are not great.

I've heard similar, which is one of the reasons I've delayed picking it up. On the other hand, this is the album his record company forced him to put out. I have higher hopes for the two EPs I have on order from Amazon...

You Are Free by Cat Power.

I'll keep an ear out.

I think you might also enjoy Fionn Regan

I'm almost certain I saw him at Truck festival this year. *checks* Yep.
I've heard good reports about the Love is Hell EPs. Am hoping to get soon.
I think the elbow patches would be a good look.

I notice that you completely forgot to mention who recommended the Kings of Leon to you ;p
Though saying that their album is more soulful than the strokes is a bit of a no-brainer for the strokes have no soul at all. Just three chords and a drum beat.

Think Tank and Black Cherry are definitely worth getting.
Though saying that their album is more soulful than the strokes is a bit of a no-brainer for the strokes have no soul at all.

So achingly, painfully true.
I notice that you completely forgot to mention who recommended the Kings of Leon to you

You dissed Alicia! You get no credit from me.

No, actually, you're right. I just forgot. Not forgot that you recommended it, forgot to credit you. Sorry.

And yes to the Strokes, but I like them anyway...