Top 10 of 2003

Top 10 of 2003: Aubin's PicksAubin's Picks (2003)
staff picks

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: Aubin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

So here we are; another year has passed, and the muse of music has proven itself capable of both giving and taking. While we were given many unique, and unexpected recordings over the past year, it bears repeating how much has been lost. Personally importa.

So here we are; another year has passed, and the muse of music has proven itself capable of both giving and taking. While we were given many unique, and unexpected recordings over the past year, it bears repeating how much has been lost. Personally important artists took their leave of us this year, and while I could write paragraphs about the number of people that will be missed, I don't want to dwell too heavily on such sad things.

Of course, the so-called "punk" scene both grew and contracted this year, with the NOFX-clones of old being replaced by metalcore whose most notable quality was a clean, whiny singer. While the majority of people embraced this and accepted their bullet-belt wearing brethrin, a glance at the comment boards on this very site shows that not everyone was quite so inviting.

Like many of you, I did grow weary of this preponderance of one note wonders. I can be honest and say that if I hear one more half decent hardcore track ruined by a whiny, Chris Connely-esque "soft part" I am going to lose my fucking mind.

That aside, I could describe this year as the one where I stopped caring about the "punk" rules. Some of the most bland and commercial recordings of the year arrived on independent labels, while some truly exciting music was delivered on the majors.

The majors, however, have shown themselves to be both friends to the independent scene, but also as enemies to people who love music with their very public, and poorly executed attacks on children and the elderly. I'm hoping that 2004 will see an end to these cowardly tactics and more of an emphasis on opening an honest dialogue and communicating with consumers, be they obsessive CD junkies like myself, or devoted file sharers.

My Ten Favourite Records of 2003:

The Bled
Pass The Flask
Fiddler Records

An emotional and intense burst of rage and melancholy; lyrically driving and heavy as a Converge record.

Every Time I Die
Hot Damn!

Yes, Hot Damn does in fact rock. It reunites every element that makes Every Time I Die work, and pushes it further. It's heavy, fast, and chaotic. It's lyrically sarcastic, and vocally caustic. It's the most accessible and catchy record Every Time I Die has made, but it hasn't compromised anything that older fans care about.

The Lawrence Arms
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Fat Wreck Chords

A cleverly written concept record that combines Russian literature, pop culture references and gritty melodic punk. Not everyone "gets" the Lawrence Arms, but those who do understand why they're so special.

Darkest Hour
Hidden Hands of the Sadist Nation

Punk or hardcore only in ethic, but a stellar example of great strongwriting, and impressive musicianship.

Murder by Death
Who Will Survive And What Will Be Left Of Them

Probably the most unusual selection on my list. Combining vast instrumentation with thematic concepts from movie soundtracks, hardcore, and classical music, Murder By Death excels are providing unexpectedly compelling music.

Brand New
Deja Entendu
June 17 on Razor & Tie (Triple Crown)

Sure, they've gained a following of Taking Back Sunday and Good Charlotte fans, but Brand New offers far more depth and maturity then their defacto contemporaries. Taking classic moody indie rock the likes of which has rarely been seen since Johnny Marr and Morissey were still friends, and injecting it with a modern edge has pushed Brand New far above their promising but thin debut.

The Blood Brothers
‚?¶Burn, Piano Island, Burn
ARTIST Direct Records (BMG)

It's hard to put a down what makes the spazzy fusion of sounds of ‚?¶Burn, Piano Island, Burn so good, but suffice to say the combination of raging intensity, experimentation and balls out energy is as morbidly fascinating as it is darkly catchy.

Against Me!
as The Eternal Cowboy
November 4 on Fat Wreck Chords

Unequivocal proof that it will be almost impossible to pin down what makes a great punk record, except the proviso that you will know it when you hear it. And I knew it when I heard this.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
Hellcat Records (Epitaph)

As much as I loved and respect Joe Strummer, his solo work up to this point never seemed to work for me; of course, this was why this final work was so poignant. It was not the tragedy of his death that made this record, but the memory of his life that was so perfectly reflected.

En Garde

In spite of his background in Saddle Creek emo pioneers, Cursive, Stephen Pedersen turns in a raw and rocking record that ignores his pedigree and goes straight for the throat. Simple in concept, and wonderful in execution, En Garde was one of the most unexpected treats of this past excellent year.

Honorable Mentions



The new Blink 182 was pretty terrific. I confess that I expected very little from them, but was pleasently surprised by the rebirth of the band. Inspired by Bad Astronaut and Bright Eyes, the band turned in a dark, catchy and clever record from the least likely source.

Alkaline Trio
Good Mourning


I was a little hard on the band in my review back when the album was released, and I stand by my original criticisms, but in spite of flawed nature of this recording, it's flaws were only glaring because of how damn good these guys are. It might be my least favourite Trio recording, but considered independently of their previous output, it's still a great piece of plastic.

War All The Time


Thursday's much anticipated follow up to their breakthrough Full Collapse was both a success and a failure. The band took too long to record the record and many of the tracks don't seem as focused as they should be, but simultaneously, Thursday has forged ahead of the genre they helped popularize and seems to be moving into a style all their own. Like the Trio release, flawed, but when considered independently, a success nonetheless.

The 2003 Mixtape

Side A: Side B:
1 "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" by Nancy Sinatra
^ An eerie and haunting piece from the Kill Bill soundtrack..
2 "Blue Collar Lullaby" by Coalesce
3 "Busy" by Duvall
4 "Old School Reasons" by Alkaline Trio
^ does it seem that the Trio puts all their best stuff on comps?
5 "The Artist In The Ambulance" by Thrice 6 "Strangers" by Maxeen
7 "Down" by Blink 182
8 "Asleep In The Chapel" by Thursday
9 "Just Like Honey" by the Jesus and Mary Chain
^ A good song made infinitely more powerful by it's placement in Lost in Translation
10 "A Memory" by Statistics
1 "Porcelain Hearts And Hammers For Teeth" by The Bled
2 "Rev 101" by Burnt by the Sun
3 "Godspeed Us To Sea" by Every Time I Die
4 "The Great Red Shift" by Most Precious Blood
5 "Amber Changing" by Rise Against
6 "Ambulance vs. Ambulance" by The Blood Brothers
7 "Love Will Kill All" by Calico System
8 "Blaze" by Strike Anywhere
9 "Cavil" by A Life Once Lost
10 "Confession" by Salem

Albums that Made a Whooshing Sound as they Flew Over My Head

I don't want to be a jerk about this, but what the hell is with the love for the Mars Volta. I heard this kind of self-indulgent, consciously artistic stuff from bands like Jethro Tull and Dream Theater. The involvement of members of a critically acclaimed punk/indie act doesn't impress me.

"De-Loused in the Comatorium" definitely earns my "Those who forget history are doomed to hear it over and over again for seven minutes at a time" award.

The Future

As I write this, 2004 beckons us forward. Music from some of my all time favourites like the Descendents, Social Distortion, Green Day and Bad Religion are promised in the new year. I'm hoping for a new Desaparecidos record if Conor and Denver can find the time. Of course, the new Statistics and Circle Takes the Square records (though I've heard and enjoyed both)

I'm definitely anticipating the new Spider-Man movie written by one of my favourite modern writers, Michael Chabon, and the film version of Hellboy.

I'm also hoping that we'll be able to launch an updated version of the website engine. I worked on maintaining as much of the flow of the site as possible, while cleaning up the code and the design. We're aiming for proper CSS and full support for accessibility features for our seeing and mobility impaired users. You should expect a much faster and cleaner site, while hopefully delivering the content that you expect from us.

Thanks for another wonderful year working on this site, I love music, especially the music we talk about here, and the community of visitors who work on the site with us. I've said it before, but the best thing about working on this site is the contributers from all around the world who have opened my eyes to so much great music, and I hope we have done the same for a few of you.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (January 10, 2004)

Where is world/inferno live at hallowmas?

Anonymous (January 10, 2004)

"The turks have been broken up for quite a while, and im gonna go buy that new anthology thing they put out right quick."

"dont bother it sucks"

Okay kid, here is the fucking deal. Yeah, the last few Turks records have been all about "songwriting" and crap, but i'll wager that the worst Turks song is still fuckloads better than anything the Hives, Strokes, Hellacopers, Glucifer, or The Mummies have ever done. "Switchblade Tounges..." is pretty fucking rad, considering it is a collection of EP's and outtakes, yet still plays like a fully conceptualized studio album. How can you fucking argue with the cover of "chip away the stone" by Aerosmith? Perhaps the best cover I've heard in years.

Sure, the Turks have lost a bit of their sonic killing power over the last years, but 1/2 of the songs on each of their newer albums still fucking shred. "point A to Point Blank" is just one example. They still have it, and will go donw as one of the best bands of the 1990's no problem


Anonymous (January 9, 2004)

okay so i'm late and no one cares anyway but...

10. Small Brown Bike
9. The Bronx
8. Death By Stereo
7. Rise Against
6. Give Up The Ghost
5. AFI
4. Cursive
3. Strike Anywhere
2. Every Time I Die
1. Beloved

In case anybody was wondering Beloved shit all over everything this year...

Anonymous (January 8, 2004)

burn piano island is simply amazing, and ambulance vs ambulance isnt even the best song, amazing as it may be, cecilia, usa nails, and 6 nightmares are all a higher degree of amazing. i apologize for repeated use of the word amazing, it is simply the only one that i can think of that approximates the brilliance of this cd, both lyrically and musically.

aubin (January 7, 2004)

What I meant by "conciously artistic" was not a criticism of people who make art for it's own sake, but people who make art for the sake of being called artists.

My problem with the Mars Volta is that they aren't pushing things forward. Prog-Rock and it's ilk are old news, and is less about art then about saying "look what kind of great artists we are"

Great art doesn't need to be self-aware, it just exists in of itself. Like "Pinkerton" was progressive and artistic but developed organically, while "Deloused" seems painfully self-aware of how artistic and progressive it wants to be.

GreenVandal (January 7, 2004)

The Mars Volta is good. The haters just cant accept that they like a band that sounds even more like rush then C&C. And the Blood Brothers are way better then them anywho.

Anonymous (January 7, 2004)

It's funny how its cool to hate The Mars Volta now... but the comments i read from people expressing their hate for this band, more than often have nothing to do about the music, its always "they're pretentious and arrogrant" or " self-indulgent and consciously artistic" The last two are the most bizarre... if you replace the mars volta with a artist/painter.. well im sure you all get the point.

I personally like the mars volta... but do have some complaints, i think alot of their songs lack momentum and use too much spacey effects, although the effects do work brillantly at times. But the main reason why they get my personal tick of approval is for being self-indulgent and consciously artistic... because music simply would not progress unless people were doing this.

Anonymous (January 7, 2004)

It's about fucking time that someone else realizes that "The Mars Volta" FUCKING SUCKS!! I fucking can't take the fact that this insignificant garbage exists! How much more boring can music get than The Mars Volta? Well, Grateful Dead & Phish are pretty boring, but who can actually sit & listen to this? I don't even get the At the Drive In fascination! Sorry planet Earth, The Mars Volta is the new definition to the word: BORING!

Anonymous (January 6, 2004)

"The turks have been broken up for quite a while, and im gonna go buy that new anthology thing they put out right quick."

dont bother it sucks

Anonymous (January 6, 2004)

Punk isn't supposed to be "Artistic" that's about the one rule about punk there is, don't be an arrogant prick that thinks they're making "MUSIC"

Anonymous (January 5, 2004)

what's wrong with artists being concsiously artistic.It's their job. Mars Volta kick ass. That music is amazing

jwdanperci (January 5, 2004)

My god...I agree with this anonomous exactly...i think his top 10 picks kicked the shit out of all three ofscott, adam and aubins picks...*claps*

Anonymous (January 5, 2004)

not that it really matters but here are my fav albums of 2003

1. boy sets fire- tomorrow come today
2. thrice- artist in the ambulance
3. the bled- pass the flask
5. darkest hour- hidden hands of a sadist nation
6. the bronx- s/t
7. rise against- revolutions per minute
8. cursive- the ugly organ
9. strike anywhere- exit english
10.thursday- war all the time

the biggest disapointments of 2003
afi- sing the sorrow
alkaline trio- good mourning
boys night out- make yourself sick
poison the well- you come before you
lagwagon- blaze

Romeo (January 5, 2004)

note the many fuckings, that means youre picks fucking sucks by everyone on here. Even the posters that are subposting their top albums.

Romeo (January 5, 2004)

Fuck all you guys and all these picks by our loving gods that run this page. Streetlight Manifesto rules the fuck out of alot of those bands. BRAND NEW?? wtf dude, Maybe top 20 but over Streetlight? Did you guys even listen to the fucking cd. Those lyrics are fucking real music.

Anonymous (January 5, 2004)

I'm not a fan of many of these bands...but Brand New in a top ten of the year list? COME ON.

GreenVandal (January 4, 2004)

The turks have been broken up for quite a while, and im gonna go buy that new anthology thing they put out right quick.

PetroBPettson (January 4, 2004)

FUCK YES! "Destroy Oh Boy" isn't just one of the best punk albums ever, it's one of the best albums ever. period. A big chunky red/black period all over yer mom's ugly white sofa. If you don't own this mother fucker on vinyl, then you should just go swallow a shotgun right now. Damn kids and yer black hoodies with hardcore cursive writing on 'em.

Anonymous (January 3, 2004)

that guy way below is right about "Destroy, Oh Boy!", and I hope the Turks aren't breaking up

GreenVandal (January 3, 2004)

And by the way, that last person was me.

Anonymous (January 3, 2004)

Maybe he said that because the mars volta writes 8 minute songs that consist of nothing more but 3 parts and spacy sounds, where as the blood brothers use something I like to call "creativity" when they found the need to write long songs.

Sorry kids, mars volta isnt at the drive in, and they never will be.

Amd either way the bb are better then both could ever wish they were.

at_the_drive_in_21 (January 3, 2004)

Ironic that you rip on Mars Volta for being self indulgent, yet yo put Blood Brothers on your list...

GreenVandal (January 3, 2004)

This is my score for people who feel the need to post there top 10 lists on all 3 threads.

Dont do this.

Anonymous (January 3, 2004)

this score is for the blood brothers CD.
I don't get why anyone likes this crap. Oh and also they're really assholes.

greg6711 (January 3, 2004)

yeah Irish Joe, the ones i've heard would in fact be a better title. I'm just surprised no one has commented on the list.

Anonymous (January 3, 2004)

Observational question #4:

where would you have put most precious blood "our lady of annihilation" if not in your top 10?

(i ask too many questions)

boba_fett (January 3, 2004)

i feel 2003 was a pretty good year for music, not the greatest but reasonable. most of the bands that i checked out this year sounded pretty good. that score is for the music of 2003.

Anonymous (January 3, 2004)

I think that list is pretty rad. Several bands I don't know that much of.

The great thing about this year was that both the majors, major-minors and minors all put some great stuff out.

Here's my top 15, consisting of mainly mainstream releases.

-poor production aside, I think Skiba has written a fantastic album. Andriano's contributions are equally strong, can't wait for their next one.

-whoah!! I didn't expect this to be any good at all, but when Cold Cash, Colder Hearts started pumping through the speakers, I was hooked immediately. Love Mcternan's production to.

-okay, now this album reminded me of why I love Fat-style punk. fast drums, sing-a-long anthems, catchy riffage and political lyrics. You should own this already!

-fuck the haters, these guys rock out. Just listen to tunes like Eviction Article, Foundation to Burn, and High Wire Escape Artist. the superior production to ATE is a bonus to.

5. BRAND NEW- DEJA ENTENDU (triple crown)
-okay already, everyone loves this. So do I. Its just so damn good.

-I prefer this to SSTB. I think Claudio's voice is even better now, and the music is really catchy. Like SSTB the production is a little sub-par though, y'all gotta hear the hidden song. So damn good, I always think of LotR when i hear it for some reason.

-I listened to this solid for quite some time, and I kept finding new stuff I liked about it. It's a little dead to me now, but some tracks still make me rock out. God I loved ATDI.

-this cd didn't appeal to me at first for some strange reason, but then after seeing how awesome Chris Cheney is live, I had to rush out and get this. In short, it was well worth it. A little poppier then previous, but TLE's song writing is as good as ever.

9. AFI- SING THE SORROW (dreamworks)
-all I kept hearing was how crap this was by people who had the leaked version. Well, I don't think it is. For the haters, AFI were always going in this direction. I think it is their 4th best album, still good enough to make my top 10.

-semi-disappointing, but far from poor. It was a near-impossible task to follow up Full Collapse, but this was a pretty good attempt. I love the opener and the title track.

-great easy listening music. Samson is a really great song writer, I real surprise for me, but a pleasant one to say the least.

- this album gew on me in a big way, the Deftonesesque change is really great and the harder moments are harder then anything previous. Nothing short of the "m" word applies better here.

13. BLUELINE MEDIC- TEXT BOMB (fueled by ramen/ redline)
-okay Scott, this is yet another album i think you got it all wrong with in your review. great song writing and really original vocals make this a pleasure.

14. EVERY TIME I DIE- HOT DAMN! (ferret)
-someone described this as dirty rock'n'roll. I can do no better. The second best metal core album I have heard, KsE's "Alive or Just Breathing" being an admirable no. 1.

-My fav SE trck from Change is a Sound was chalkline. So obviously, Exit english was destined to be a hit with me when i find out the band chose to follow this slower tempo on most of Exit English's tracks. The second best melodicore album of the year.

Blood Brothers- Burn Piano Island, Burn
-wish i still had my $15. This is just too crazy, I like some songs, but others are way out of my musical taste ball park.

Killswitch Engage- Alive or just Breathing

The Decendents, GreenDay, Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion, Hot water Music, Saosin, Strung Out

(happy new year)

TheOneTrueBill (January 3, 2004)

New Bomb Turks. Did they reall break up?

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

Um, I guess none of you heard that Crypt has re-released the debut album by the New Bomb Turks, "Destory Oh Boy!" on 180-gram vinyl. This belongs in the best punk albums of all time.

You should all rename your lists "top ten bad emo and screamy-wusscore records of 2003."

irish_joo (January 2, 2004)

more like top 100 albums in modern music(that ive heard)

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

He picked Darkest Hour!

Awesome, glad to see it's appreciated!

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

your list sucks.

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

I like the layout of how you guys put your top picks..... You all should try different layouts with the entire site.

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

well, haggard, i'll explain. i loved 'progress' but disliked the new bandits due to the near complete absence of ska. i know they were never a pure ska band, but they seemed to just move into the direction of , ya know, the whole 'screemo' or 'heartcore' or whatever. it was seemed to me to be a very pretentious album, like they're trying to make the listener feel guilty for the way they live their life if its not exactly the anti-materialist life their singer leads. to depressing , overbearing, pretentious and political, but stupid political, like the third song on the cd. i do remember liking track 5, i sold the cd, so i dont' remember names.

i like yellowcard, because i am a pop punker at heart. its my roots. i love old greenday, its what got me into punk. i find yellowcard to be one of the better new school pop punk bands, and i find the violin to add a dimension to them others dont' have, but i don't consider it a gimmick as some might. i think their album is strong, catchy and not too cheesy or all about chicks and shit. i think their singer has a powerful and ideal pop punk voice.

Haggard (January 2, 2004)

"Fuck Yellowcard, and give me the Black Keys over the White Stripes any day."

Couldn't agree more.


FortyMinutesWest (January 2, 2004)

Fuck Yellowcard, and give me the Black Keys over the White Stripes any day.

Haggard (January 2, 2004)

How can you make Yellowcard a honorable mention but call the new Rx Bandits a dissapointment?


Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

5.alkaline trio
7.blood bros
8.brand new
10.less than jake

honerable mentions-yellowcard, lucky boys confusion, mars volta, motion city sdntrk

guiltyest pleasure-allister (didnt get cd until this 03) and mxpx. sorry

biggest disappointments-rxbandits, dashboard, blink182,pennywise, nofx, boucing souls

thought it sucked, ended up loving-saves the day

thought it ruled, ended up hating-vendetta red


greg6711 (January 2, 2004)

Top 100 cds of modern music (my opinion)
I am not trying to say these are the best, only the best that I am aware of.

1. Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
2. Bob Dylan - The Essential Bob Dylan
3. Weakerthans - Left and Leaving
4. Bad Religion - No Control
5. Kid Dynamite - S/T
6. Hot Water Music - No Division
7. White Stripes - Elephant
8. Elliott Smith - Xo
9. Operation Ivy - Unity
10. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

11. Jawbreaker - Dear You
12. Radiohead - OK Computer
13. Bad Religion - Against the Grain
14. Catch-22 - Keasbey Nights
15. Rancid - And Out Come the Wolves
16. Mustard Plug - Pray For Mogo
17. Cursive - Domestica
18. Screeching Weasel - My Brain Hurts
19. Shins - Chuttes Too Narrow
20. Strike Anywhere - Change is a Sound

21. Rise Against - Revolutions Per Minute
22. Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely heart clubs Band
23. Lawrence Arms - Apathy and Exhaustion
24. Dead Kenendys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
25. Radiohead - kid A
26. Postal Service - Give Up
27. Flaming lips - Yoshimi Battles Pink robots
28. Anti-Flag - Die For Your Government
29. Elliott Smith - Roman Candle
30. Hot Water Music - Caution

31. Bad Religion - Stranger than Fiction
32. Randy - You Can't Keep a Good Band Down
33. Lawrence Arms - Ghost Stories
34. White Stripes - White Blood Cells
35. Clash - London Calling
36. Dropkick Murphys - Do Or Die
37. Jimi Hendrix - Smash Hits
38. Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview
39. Pearl Jam - Ten
40. Radiohead - The Bends

41. Bush - Sixteen Stones
42. Kid Dynamite - Shorter, Faster, Louder
43. Weezer - Blue Album
44. Hot Water Music - Forever and Counting
45. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy
46. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the infinite Sadness
47. Coheed and Cambria - Second Stage Turbine Blade
48. Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose
49. Strung Out - Twisted by Design
50. Nirvana - Nevermind

51. Flogging Molly - Swagger
52. Thursday - Full Collapse
53. Randy - Human Atom Bombs
54. Unseen - Lower Class Cruxifiction
55. Less Than jake - Pezcore
56. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
57. Thursday - War all The Time
58. No Use For a Name - Live in a Dive
59. Dropkick Murphy - Gang's All Here
60. Mustard Plug - Evildoers Beware

61. Anti-Flag - A New Kind of Army
62. Choking Victim - No Gods/No Managers
63. Dillinger Four - Midewestern Songs of America
64. Hot Water Music - Fuel for the Hate Game
65. Weezer - Pinkerton
66. Chinkees/Lawrence Arms - Present Day Memories
67. Slapstick - Discography
68. Alkaline Trio - S/T
69. Tiger Army - Power of Moonlight
70. Common Rider - This is Unity Music

71. Suicide Machines - Destruction by Defintion
72. Cursive - The Ugly Organ
73. Thrice - Illusion of Safety
74. Pearl Jam - VS
75. Saves the Day - Through Being Cool
76. Unseen - Anger and the Truth
77. International Noise Conspiracy - New Morning, Changing Weather
78. Randy - The Rest is Silence
79. Catch-22 - Alone in a Crowd
80. Thursday - Waiting

81. Rancid - Let's Go
82. Less Than jake - Losing Streak
83. Minor Theat - Discography
84. REM - Automatic for the People
85. Strung Out - Live in a Dive
86. Bad Religion - Suffer
87. Dead Kennedys - FrankenChrist
88. Metallica - black album
89. Weakerthans - Fallow

90. Propagandhi - Who will Help me Bake This Bread?
91. Less Than Jake - Anthem
92. Atom and His Package - ReDefining Music
93. AFI - Black Sails and the Sunset
94. Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles
95. Bright Eyes - Lifted...
96. U2 - The Joshua Tree
97. Sick of it all - Live in a dive
98. Strike Anywhere - Exit English
99. Subhumans - The Day the Country Died
100. Rise Against - The Unraveling

greg6711 (January 2, 2004)

My Definitive Top 10 Cds of the 2003

10. Streelight Manifesto - Everything Goes Numb
I heard so much about this band that Ijust decided to buy this cd
right away.
This has got to be the best cd that Victory Records has released this
year. This features 3 memebers of Catch-22, including the lead singer Tom
The songs are longer than most Catch-22 songs, and like Keasbey Nights,
it is very catchy. Sometimes some songs drag on too long, making them
memorable, or making them unbearable. On a whole i think this was a great
purchase. This dark lyrical theme runs throughout the cd, not oppotomistic
however, very anti-suicidal themed. The best way to describe this is to say
that it has anthems about emotional threads of living. I don't think it's
groundbreaking, but it is in a sense a huge step for ska, considering
the void of great new ska musicians. Most people bought this for Catch-22
and it is what many people think, the way Catch-22 should sound today.

9. Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism
Ben Gibbard had a great year, first his sideproject, the Postal Service
amazed indie rock, but i'll talk about that later. Many people who like
DCFC, think this was the weakest of his 3 releases. This is my first cd
by him, but I think it was amazing. True,it's not upbeat, and it is
relaxing, but there is a need for music like that too. The amazing thing
about the way Gibbard writes is the way he writes in complete sentences.
Many songs do not fit by themselves, it is the accompanying songs around
the others that make it flow. When listening, it is like the cover of the
cd, it's like your a bird chirping to the sunset. It just has wonderful
imagery, and I know it will have much more time in my cd player

8. Strung Out - Live in A Dive
Fat Wreck Chords didn't make many good cds this year, with the exception
of Swingin utters, Ant-Flag, and Rise Against, but I think this one was
overlooked by many people. Strung Out, known for their live sound, bring
a unexcepted setlist to the floor, and I think many people excepted
their more well known material. Anyway, Strung out plays a mixture of
metal and speed punk. I think S.O. is amazing on their other cds, and
this compilation doesn't have all their best songs, but wow, it makes
me want to see them live. Live cds, I think showcast the band more than
the material. Like Fat Wreck's other cds, this is so well done. Pick up
No Use for a Name, or Sick of it All's live in a dive, if you like this.
Also, if you want an amazing cd, buy "Twisted by Design". It was Strung
Out's first, and my favorite.

7. Cursive - The Ugly Organ
This cd is strange. It's well done, but it's suppose to be alienating
to the audience in a way. It does sound ugly. It tries to be the anti-
thesis to modern music, and I think it succeeds and fails at the same
time. The concept of the Ugly Organ has many meanings. It means a) the
way mainstream music is ugly because it lacks artistic creativity.
It is not born from inspiration, it's mold because a studio wants to
make money. It's commericalised art, kinda like Warhol's soup cans. I
think the other ugly organ would have to be a dark heart. Perhaps, it's
Kosher's own dark heart that is prompting this departure from the
catchy "Domestica". I's open to much interpretation. It does have several
amazing songs that I find irresitiable, such as "Art is Hard", the "Recluse"
and "butcher the song". The concept is a good one, and Cursive does
a job that many could not do. Not easy to listen to all at once, but
certainly it pushes music as a social issue in itself

6. Strike Anywhere - Exit English
After changing Southern Hardcore with it's revolutionary "Change is
Sound", Strike Anywhere were alreadying headlinging shows with their new
cd. This is much slower that it's previous work, and I don't think it's
as good, but still it's got some brillant elements. With Rise against,
it contains messages of self-determinism, and self-reliance, and pushes
the envelope, not by telling people what to think, but still fearless to
say that changes for a better society should be strieved for. I think
this is a bold cd, but too often speaks in generalities. That would be
it's one weakness. it is not fatal weakeness though. This cd is powerful
because the vocals are so strong, and it's personal anthems, about
taking power in your life, and you can feel the powerful positive
message. As he says in one song, he "pledges his alligence to the world,
searching for vision, not invisibility." This band will certainly be
one of the most important punk bands of the 2000's.

5. Thursday - War All The Time
Originally, I passed off this cd, because I figured it would be like
"Full Collapse", and I love Full Collapse, but...well I bought it.
And wow, this guy can sing. I think it is has a bad flow, but I can listen
to all but two songs. Songs bring an awareness of how we live. Partically
post-911 feeling is involved. Jeff Geothe, I think that's his name, is
great at intertwining ideas together, such as the falling of a nation
on 911, and the breaking away of a relationship. Unlike the dismissal
of God by many punk bands, it does bring of the topic of religion on
"Standing Outside the Chapel". "For the Workforce drowing" is a metaphor
for the way life is wasted in cubicles and meaninglessness. I don't
wish to simply these ideas, and I am sure I am misguided on some of these
songs. This cd screams beauty. Pick it up, it lives up to the hype

4. Postal Service - Give Up
I didn't really get into this cd until Novemeber this year, but I liked
Death Cab for Cutie so much, so I inserted this back into my cd player.
This cd seemingly is perfect. It mixes indie rock with electronic music
to produce a perfection like sound. The great irony of this of course
is the song "Such Great Heights" which is about seeing relationships as
great from a distance, but when you see things up close, perfect is
non-existent. I think this cd plays innocently stupid. It can come off
as a petty song about a guy and his romantic troubles, and there is no
doubt that Gibbard is a romantic. Still, the genius of this work is the
simplicity of music and lyrics and the emotions it produces. I think
Gibbard plans to do anything cd with this sideproject, and let's hope so.
It is a cd that you can enjoy because of it's naturalistic
beauty, or just the harmonic vocals.

3. Rise Against - Revolutions Per Minute
I knew the first time I heard this, it would be on my top 10.
At that time though, I put it at number 1. Now i'll have to place it at
number 3. I saw these guys 4 times in 2003. Each time they blew me away
with their amazing stage presence. It is a similar sound to Strike A.
but the main difference, is that is really more central about strength
in ourselves. It's not to say it's anti-unity, but the RA message seems
to imply that you are more than what anyone else thinks of you, and you
should embrace yourself. Certainly a message I can identify with.
The best part of these cd is that all the songs are different sounding,
and they all capture the fury of the band, because in it's struggle,
there is beauty. This was the problem with the first cd, all the songs
sounded similar, kinda like a Good Riddance cd. This cd stands on it's
own, the best thing to come out of Fat Wreck this year. I think the
strongpoint of punk rock this year, was in these hardcore-punk bands.
Rise Against recently signed to Universal, and i'm sure they'll
keep rockin the ship their sailin.

2. Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
Too many bands follow a similar forumla for all their songs. Sure they
might sound different, but the structure is the same. Not so true for
the shins. This rainbow-covered, sophomore release, was the best thing
to come out of pop-indie this year. While I have only spinned this cd about
5 times altogether on my cd, every song sticks out with a huge imprint.
Excersing layered vocals, and unique guitar sounds, this cd is
an artistic masterpiece. It's not too preachy, but there is a lot of
emphasize on artistic integrity. Also, if you've seen the music video
for "So Say's I" with the animated penguin and such, and how the
penguins are searching in this modern world to be free from the chains
of big business and living/dying without artistic freedom. Happy
and rather optomistic, lyrically similar to the Flaming Lips, though
not nearly as experimental. Also, the best song mixes classical music
riffs with modern guitar and vocal humming, well, maybe I don't know
the term,s but to me that's what it is like. D/l "Saint Simon" and
you'll understand. Classic.

1. White Stripes - Elephant

2 People, Guitar and a Drum set, Wow. I don't think I can do justice to
this. It is the best thing i've heard in a long time.You can tell that
Jack White, just loves to rock out. And every song is beautiful
and every song is simple, and yet memorable.
Listen and you'll understand.

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

My meaningless voice will now point out that after reading all the "e-editor" reviews; none included TURBONEGRO. Re-releases of the classic Ass Cobra and Apocolypse Dudes, and the hard-hitting Scandinavian Leather has lifted the Norse Gods to "Denim Greatness." I bet HANK is pissed......

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

What the hell happened to Streetlight Manifesto and Paint It Black?


Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

awww the sad sad people and their misconceptions

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)


Very close runners up- The Bronx debut was awesome, Good Riddance turned in one of their best ever with very little hype for the record, The Unseen's new record rocked my socks off, the new TSOL album was a masterpeice...despite Jack's loss in the race for governor, hmmmm.....I'm also digging the Everytime I Die and Darkest Hour records. Joe's final hurrah was amazing and the Blood Brothers were great as well earlier on in the year. This year is gonna be great as well.....we've got new Amen, Descendents, Rollins, Converge, Jello Biafra & the Melvins (can' wait!!!), Propagandhi, Missing 23rd, hope Conspiracy, and hopefully a new Fugazi as well....one can only hope.

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

best shows of 2003:

Hot Water Music/Larry Arms ( except for A Static Lullaby...they can eat a fat one)
Good Riddance/River City Rebels/None More Black
Larry Arms/None More Black/Colossal
Sick of it All/Most Precious Blood/Inhuman
Rx Bandits/The Exit/Polysics
The Explosion/The Exit/Paint it Black
Anti-Flag/Rise Against/Against Me!/Larry Arms/None More Black
Ann Beretta/A Wilhelm Scream/Much The Same

well that's it for now...

(don't mix vodka with apple cider martini's, it'll be the blackout of 2003 all over)

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

ok no strike anywhere in all 3 top of 2003.. this is fucking ridiculous

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

here's my top 20, in no particular order

None More Black - File Under Black
Paint It Black - CVA
Good Riddance - Bound By The Ties of Blood And Affection
Rise Against - Revolutions Per Minute
Lagwagon - Blaze
Pipedown - Mental Weaponry
New Mexican Disaster Squad - S/T
Lawrence Arms - Greatest Story Ever Told
Thought Riot - Sketches of an Undying will
Against Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy
Comeback Kid - Turn It Around
Strike Anywhere - Exit English
Sick Of It All - Life On The Ropes
Less Than Jake - The Anthem
Anti-Flag - Terror State
The Methadones - Career Objectives
Squirt Gun - Fade To Bright
Alkaline Trio - Good Mourning
Destruction Made Simple - Terror Stricken Youth
NOFX - War On Errorism

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

i must say, i like the term "douche mongrel"

that is all

-el vaquero

Anonymous (January 2, 2004)

fuck all three of you, all three of you have some of the worst taste in music, who'd of thought that PUNK news would be run by a bunch of emo/poppy douche mongrels

rxbandito24 (January 1, 2004)

rxbandits wasn't mentioned on a single one of these top tens, oh well.

aubin (January 1, 2004)

REELPUNX4LIFE: "Bang Bang" is only a sort of 2003 song, because, well, I didn't hear it till 2003 on the Kill Bill soundtrack. I liked it a lot, and thought it would be a neat way to start the "slow" side of my mixtape.

As for Blink 182, I agree that the single is not exactly something I enjoyed. It's pretty weak, but the majority of record was interesting, and pretty different then what you'd expect. Tracks like "Down" and "Violence" just stuck with me, despite my previous hang ups with the band.

Anonymous Poster(s): Well, the majority of those records are hardly Epitaph pop-punk; the only Epitaph record is Streetcore, and I don't think those records could be classified as pop punk by any means.

You're right about one thing, I don't have a record player. I have a lot of records, but the player was twenty years old and broke. I can't afford a new one.

Over It Guy I like Over It a lot, in fact, they made my list last year when the record was released. I know it was re-released, but I think one list was good enough.

Inspection 12: I really liked Inspection 12's last record, but I emailed there online store to buy a copy (I'm in Canada) and they never got back to me and I guess I just forgot about it. They made my 2001 list.

All that aside, this was a great year for music, and I really liked Rise Against, Thrice andF-Minus and a lot of others, they just didn't have the kind of staying power in my record player that these selections did, but they were still all great, and inspired recordings and I'm glad I own them.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

why didnt anyone close their mix tape with "redemption song" by joe strummer? c'mon, thats one hell of a heartfelt closer.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

good list, but what about rise against and thrice?? also, im glad that you pointed out that although good mourning is not alkaline trio's best work, it is still a solid cd. but the new blink 182 is overrated.
as for me,
1. rise against- revolutions per minute
2. alkaline trio- good mourning
3. thrice- the artist in the ambulance
4. the lawrence arms- the greatest story ever told
5. afi- sing the sorrow

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Aubin, you're bad at listening to music. And also, why is "Bang Bang..." on a 2003 mix tape? Is it 1966 all over again? And am I the only one who realizes the laughability (Yeah, it's a made up word, big whoop, wanna fight about it?) of that new Blink 182 single? So many people who's musical taste I respect have someone fallen into that trap. "I'm feeling it!" And I don't see very many music videos but I've seen that one twice and it's surprisingly, uh... Godawful. This isn't some silly "BliNK 182 R PoZErZ N NT 4 PNX!!!" This is "Sweet lord, Blink 182 shouldn't be allowed to listen to those fucking emo records anymore because they're getting some really awful ideas."


GreenVandal (January 1, 2004)

Mars Volta is good.

Your list is the best, except that the Blink album REALLY DOES suck. im not even loking at it from a scenester stand point.

And did anyone notice that the blood brothers mad eit on to every list? booya

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

and i agree with the mars volta comment. who needs a band to put on your shirt so people think you're arty or in the know. i just want something worth listening to.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

this is def a good list. nice

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

its about fucking time someone mentioned alkalne trios album, I dont care what people say, I enjoy it as much as the other albums

Im glad you mentioned Darkest hour cuz there cds always blow my mind each time I listen


Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

The guy bellow is right, your lists suck.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

1) The F-Minus album wasn't on the list because that record blew HARD. where the hell does that band get off doing a 4 minute song? seriously!

2)Everyone's top lists seem to be comprised of nothing but bad epitaph pop-puke.

3)None of you own a record player.

4)Melt Banana's "CellScape" LP is better than every Locust record put together.

5)time to resume puking up last night's booze

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Top 10 Best (No Order)

Shins - shutes to narrow
Fm Knives - Useless and modern
Decemberists - castouts & cutaways
Decemberists - Her majesty
Exploding Hearts - Guitar romantic
Weakerthans - Reconstruction site
Rapture - Echos
Tv on the Radio - Young Liars
Grand Champeen - The one That brought you
Paul Westerberg - Come and Feel me tremble

Biggest Dissapointments
Elvis Costello - North
Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever told
Against me! - As the Eternal cowboy
Joan Of arc - So much staying alive and lovlessness

Best Compilation:
Dirtnap Across the Northwest

Best Split:
Fingers-cut, megamachine!/Curt vile 7"

MikeRiot (January 1, 2004)

streetcore is not that great. global a go-go is a much better and coherent record.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)


I'm a huge fan of both. I thought the new SAS CD was a little lacking. Staring Back's ON was RE-RELEASED this year with Yellowcard and Over It's previouses releases. If you take that into account, then where the fuck was that on anyone's list??

Park was not mentioned. Shai Hulud was not mentioned. Inspection 12 was not mentioned. And the great Zombie Apocalypse EP/album was not mentioned.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Yay, my turn... fuck the rediculous amounts of overhyping, RA still is the most influential album of the year.

1)Rise Against - Revolutions Per Minute
2)Suicide Machines - A Match and Some Gasoline
3)Every Time I Die - Hot Damn!
4)Streetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes Numb
5)Bouncing Souls - Anchors Aweigh
6)Street Dogs - Savin Hill
7)Comeback Kid - Turn It Around (Most underrated album of the year)
8)Strike Anywhere - Exit English
9)Paint It Black - CVA
10)Dropkick Murphys - Blackout (Time To Go makes it all worth it)

Biggest Dissapointment: Catch 22 - Dinosaur Sounds

The jury is still out: Rancid - Indestructible

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Aubin, I agree with you about bad metalcore, but not about the Mars Volta (which I find to be very emotionally compelling, while bands like Dream Theater are not)

cubaricho (January 1, 2004)

murder by death came out on eyeball records, but we won't tell anyone.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Top 5:
1.Alkaline Trio-Good Mourning
2.Blink182-"s/t", 3.Rancid "Indestructible"
4.Anti-Flag "The Terror State"
5. NOFX "War on errorism"

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

sorry to dissappoint you anti poppers, even though these bands arent all poppy, OVER IT (by far totally amazing), STARING BACK, RUFIO, YELLOWCARD, STRETCH ARMSTRONG, and maybe even Senses Fail (if you wanna count them) so yeah, eat it. a7x and lawrence arms too. mama. good riddace and anti flag wasnt bad either.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

RUFIO MOTHERFUCKERS!!! RUFIO! that was a brilliatn cd! strike anywhere!! SUM 41!? cmon! those were brilliant cd's! give some credit!

hubitcherkokov (January 1, 2004)

Oh shit yeah, and Break The Silence in February!

hubitcherkokov (January 1, 2004)

In no particular order (except AFI):
1. AFI - Sing the Sorrow
2. None More Black - File Under Black
3. Paint It Black - CVA
4. Avenged Sevenfold - Waking The Fallen
5. NOFX - The War on Errorism (In my opinion, the best NOFX album to date.)
6. The Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever Told
7. The Postal Service - Give Up
8. Streetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes Numb
9. Coheed and Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
10. The Suicide Machines - A Match and Some Gasoline

Honorable Mentions were: Blink182 and Vendetta Red, I'm sure others I can't think of at the moment.

Disappointing was: Rise Against and Less Than Jake

Looking forward to: Leftover Crack, Propagandhi, Alkaline Trio/One Man Army split, Against All Authority, Get Up Kids, Atreyu, Strung Out, and probably more I can't think of.

Peace and Happy New Year!

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

i am right with you on that critera album.


Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

wow and i thought i was the only one who liked the nancy sinatra song

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

mars volta owns a colostomy bag. they are shit.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Bad fuckin list the mars volta is twice as talented as any band on your pathetic list

mars volta fuckin owns all of you

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)


Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

1. and you went to absolutepunk because....?

2. mars volta=steaming pile of mad cow infested cow dung that indie hipsters, emo fags, and nme writers claim are geniuses to show how intelligent and in-the-know they are.

3. blink 182-jumping right off the pop punk bandwagon and onto emo's coattails......still a bit of surprise that some of their songs were half decent.

4. you forgot dag nasty has a new record coming out too.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

This list was three-thousand, million times better than absolutepunk's 'Best of 2003' list.

And I don't even agree with everything on the list, but at least you didn't just throw shit loads of generic pop punk emocore bands on there and call it gold.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

what the hell is "the coalesce"??

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Other things cool to watch for in 2004:

I'd throw in a possible/probable Pixies reunion tour as one of my most anticipated events to come in 2004.

Not to mention the Lagwagon Live in a Dive CD coming out...

But that's just me.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Just like honey has always been a classic, Lost in Translation or not. I think a Kevin Shields track would have been more appropriate

FortyMinutesWest (January 1, 2004)

My list, since you all care:

1.Paint it Black-CVA
2.Since by Man-We Sing The Body Electric
3.Shai Hulud-That Within Blood Ill-Tempered
4.Cursive-The Ugly Organ
5.The Avenging Disco Godfathers Of Soul-The Ultimate In Musical Usefulness And Authenticity
6.Blood Brothers-Burn, Piano Island, Burn
7.Death by Stereo-Into the Valley of the Death
8.Strike Anywhere-Exit English
9.From Ashes Rise-Nightmares
10.The Mars Volta-De-Loused In The Comatorium

Honorable mention:
Pseudo Heroes, As Hope Dies, Street Dogs, Murder by Death, The Mercury Switch, Sick of it All,Give Up The Ghost

Album that was good but not THAT good:
Rise Against-Revolutions Per Minute

Album that was better than I expected:
Pennywise-From The Ashes

Biggest disappointment:
Boy Sets Fire-Tomorrow Come Today

Best news of the year:
Count the Stars break up

Worst news of the year:
Kovalev trade

Most anticipated releases of 2004:
Bad Religion, Dag Nasty, 7 Seconds, Social D, Dillinger Escape Plan, Killswitch Engage, Crime in Stereo, Converge

Predictions for 2004:
AFI breaks up so that Davey may pursue his dream: the off Broadway production of "The Nanny: The Musical"

TheOneTrueBill (January 1, 2004)

top 10 albums
10) Sick of It All - Life on the Ropes
9) Give Up The Ghost - We're Down 'Till We're Underground
8) The Unseen - Explode!
7) Rancid - Indestructable
6) NOFX - The War on Errorism
5) Pennywise - From the Ashes
4) Down By Law - windwardtidesandwaywardsails
3) 311 - Evolver
2) Swingin' Utters - Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass and Bones
1) F-Minus - Wake Up Screaming

Honorable Mentions
The Locust - Plague Soundscapes, Andrew WK - The Wolf, Bouncing Souls - Anchors Aweigh, Pistol Grip - Another Round, TSOL - Divided We Stand, Iggy Pop - Skull Ring

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

aubin, maybe i should mention that if you find the time, fixing duplicate posts would be cool too... hehehehe...

-el vaquero
alcohol and lawrence arms ring in my new years....................

TheOneTrueBill (January 1, 2004)

no F-minus in any of them. wow.

And don't forget... new Dag Nasty album too!

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

aubin, maybe i should mention that if you find the time, maybe there should be more reviews visible per page than there are now, maybe 3/2 to 2x as many as there are now. oh, shit, there went 2003 and i didn't even notice... whojd

-el vaquero
ps hellboy looks like crap, even though the comic kicks ass.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

aubin, maybe i should mention that if you find the time, maybe there should be more reviews visible per page than there are now, maybe 3/2 to 2x as many as there are now. oh, shit, there went 2003 and i didn't even notice... whojd

-el vaquero
ps hellboy looks like crap, even though the comic kicks ass.

YourBloodyValentine (January 1, 2004)

My list:

1. Manitoba - Up In Flames
2. M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts
3. Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is not a Dead Cool Place
4. British Sea Power - The Decline of British Sea Power
5. Xiu Xiu - A Promise
6. Guided By Voices - Human Amusements at Hourly Rates
7. Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
8. Mogwai - Happy Songs for Happy People
9. Against Me! - As the Eternal Cowboy
10. Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic

Honorable Mention:

The Unicorns

Best EP:

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - S/T

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

where the hell is A7X on these lists

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

ok, i'll just type these up before i get too drunk...
since the computer i'm on doesn't support japanese characters, all the japanese titles are in english.
if you want to discuss or something... im me at thefighttolive

1. The Blood Brothers - Burn, Piano Island, Burn...

2. The Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever Told

3. Highway 61 - Best Of Highway 61

4. Cursive - The Ugly Organ

5. The Tossers - Purgatory

6. Death By Stereo - Into The Valley Of Death

7. GO!GO!7188 - Tategami

8. Thursday - War All The Time

9. The Back Horn - Ikiru Sainou

10. Dir En Grey - Vulgar

Honorable Mentions: Rise Against, Shai Hulud, Adventures Of Jet, Since By Man, The Mars Volta, The Planet Smashers

2003: A great year for sasscore, a bad year for musicians (especially Count The Stars, hehehehe)


-el vaquero

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

Your comment on Darkest Hour being punk in ethic pretty much is my definition of punk now. Punk is all about the ethic.

Anonymous (January 1, 2004)

God bless us, everyone!

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