The Dunce Cap, Vol. 17: The room is on fire as she’s fixing her hair. (listen to mix via 8tracks)
1. “If You Find Yourself Caught In Love” – Belle & Sebastian
2. “Congratulations Smack and Katy” – Reggie and the Full Effect
3. “I Met a Girl” – Wheat
4. “Spitting Games” – Snow Patrol
5. “Down” – Blink-182
6. “Reptilia” – The Strokes
7. “Naive” – The Jealous Sound
8. “So Says I” – The Shins
9. “Amsterdam” – Guster
10. “Chicago is so Two Years Ago” – Fall Out Boy
11. “California Waiting” – Kings of Leon
12. “Mexican Wine” – Fountains of Wayne
13. “The Sound of Settling” – Death Cab for Cutie
14. “Shiny” – The Decemberists
15. “Toxic” – Britney Spears
16. “My Favorite Accident” – Motion City Soundtrack
17. “Shakin’” – Rooney
18. “Such Great Heights” – The Postal Service
19. “So Long, Astoria” – The Ataris
20. “My Coco” – stellastarr*
Four score & seven years ago…
The year is 2003. Ariel Sharon is the newly elected Prime Minister of Israel. I am only nominally Jewish. The war in Iraq has just begun. 100 people have lost their lives in The Station night club fire, as pyrotechnics from Great White’s stage show set the insulation foam ceiling alight. The O.C. premieres on Fox.
I am in seventh grade. I no longer have braces, and my hair is just growing out of its yield sign phase. I carry a tin Weezer lunchbox to school, and I still listen to Good Charlotte mostly unabashedly. This is the summer of my musical discontent, and it is, in response, the spring of my musical awakening.
Seven years ago, I was in seventh grade. I had just recently discovered that all music did not come from boy bands and teen queens, and I had also become incredibly engrossed in Josh Schwartz‘s The O.C. I was obsessed with Weezer. My taste in music was rapidly expanding, and 2003 was certainly the year my music repertoire really took shape. It was the heyday of pop-punk and my real transition into indie. In the hopes of avoiding sounding even sappier than I do now, this should suffice: 2003 was the first year I really, truly started to love music. Music by musicians with musical talent. And, man, the new material that came out of 2003 continues to astound me and occupy my iPod with some regularity. It may be a bit melodramatic to say that 2003 was the year I came into myself, as that’s an exaggeration, but it was certainly the year I began a great passion for music.
I started to make mixtapes for friends and boys, and these artists really became staples of my playlists. There was The Postal Service’s Give Up, Belle and Sebastian’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Death Cab’s gorgeously lush Transatlanticism, The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow. There was the catchier-than-the-common-cold Yellowcard, a maturing Fall Out Boy, an aging Chris Carrabba in Dashboard and an Alkaline Trio album that was just melodious enough to shout out loud. There were two hilarious videos for Motion City Soundtrack’s “The Future Freaks Me Out” and Reggie and the Full Effect’s “Congratulations, Smack and Katy.”
There was a White Stripes album that nearly overshadowed the brilliance their fans had come to expect with De Stijl and White Blood Cells. There was a disappointing Saves the Day follow-up to an album (Stay What You Are) as they drifted away from a record label, Vagrant, that would come to define my early interactions with music. That’s not to mention The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Stills, The Long Winters’ brilliant photograph of adolescence, When I Pretend to Fall, or even The All-American Rejects eponymous first album, a CD I bought the day it was released.
The Long Winters, “The Sound of Coming Down”
So much of who I was in school was defined by my ownership of these and other albums. I had a fervent passion for music, and 2003 was really the year that fueled my musical ravenousness. So this is an epic tribute to the year 2003, to seven years ago, to the music of the year and the efforts that would come subsequently.
Not as interactive as the last Dunce Cap, certainly, but a fair tribute to a year that changed music – for me, at least.
And I’ve still got that Weezer lunchbox.