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My Nostalgia – 2003

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Heading back to reflect on 2003 is going to be a difficult one.

    It’s arguably one of the most critical years in my musical journey, but that comes with some scars. This week we continue the trek by exploring the end of my sophomore year of college, that summer, and into the start of my junior year. AbsolutePunk has shed its fan-page skin and become a website for all the music I want to talk about, and it’s starting to see traffic on levels I never expected. I’m running it from my dorm room; I’m getting so much mail I get banned from the college post office, in class I’m sketching new ideas for what I want to do next with the website, between classes I’m updating it from the computer lab with news.

    Things are getting a little wild.

    And then, in the span of these next couple of years, the scene explodes like a thunderclap.

    It’s difficult to properly put this year in context because the albums coming out feel like rapid fire on reflection. There’s so many. And so many of them that had a massive influence on the music scene, and me personally, that it’s virtually impossible to talk about all of them. Albums like Thursday’s War All The Time and Further Seems Forever’s How to Start a Fire could be deconstructed in entire articles. I could tell stories about how I was convinced Matchbook Romance was about to blow up and late-night AIM chats with the band about signing to Epitaph and coming up with their new band name. This is the year of AFI’s Sing the Sorrow and The Ataris’ one dance in the spotlight with So Long, Astoria. It’s the year of Rufio’s inexplicably recorded vocals and MCMLXXV. And it’s the year of Ben Gibbard flexing with Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism and The Postal Service’s Give Up. I mean, get the fuck out of here with that Ben!

    I could write treatises about all of those albums and more. They all had an outsized impact on my life, who I became, and the kind of music I enjoy. But to really deconstruct my musical taste and the music scene’s trajectory as a whole, I need to focus on a specific five.

    First, we have the handoff of the pop-punk championship belt to a new class of bands. As we’ve explored in the past few weeks, Blink-182 is now one of the world’s largest bands and is gearing up for the release of their untitled album. It’s an album that is going to shift and change a generation’s musical taste. It’s an album that will signal, for many, a change in the very kind of music they’re exploring and listening to. It’s an album that explores the band’s creative side, cost an obscene amount of money to record, and will be for many, the band’s crown achievement. It’s also decidedly not a pop-punk album.

    But the next wave of pop-punk is coming. In May, Fall Out Boy release Take This to Your Grave. It’s an album that, within our community, is immediately a hit. I remember Pete Wentz sending me a burned CD with, I think, three or four songs from the sessions they were recording and thinking it was going to be massive. After hearing songs like “Homesick at Space Camp” and “Grand Theft Autumn,” I knew this would be the biggest band in the world. The first run of that album had a quote from me on the sticker that said something like that. It would take another couple of years for their sophomore release to prove me right. It’s a release that, while now lyrically tricky to sit with, incapsulated youthful angst that felt like a changing of the guard. For years pop-punk singers would mimic Jordan from New Found Glory and write lyrics like Blink-182. And as fast as your brain fills in the next part after “where is your boy tonight…” everyone wanted to sound like Patrick Stump and write one-liners like Pete Wentz. There was a gravitational certainty to their success, the perfect pairing of choir boy vocals and the sharp-tongued heartthrob.

    And as that train is beginning to gain unstoppable momentum, we had the summer of 2003, and one of the most memorable release dates ever: Yellowcard drop Ocean Avenue and Thrice release The Artist in the Ambulance. I’ve written often over the years of this summer. We were watching Yellowcard’s career go from our website to the top of the charts, and I was watching a band go from goofing around on my friend’s piano to platinum records and a number one video on TRL. It was absolutely wild. I didn’t appropriately appreciate it at the time. I was barely 20, stuck between life in California, life in Oregon, and this new burgeoning life online. Hearing a song like “Back Home” was like having a piece of my heart whipped at my head through the speakers.

    Another sunny day in California
    I'm sure back home they'd love to see it
    But they don't know that what you love is ripped away
    Before you get a chance to feel it

    And with Thrice came an awakening of a love for this new style of music. Aggressive, loud, fast, lyrically clever, and tackling topics beyond your usual affair. Combining this with Thursday's War All the Time and seeing these writers, not that much older than me, with such skill, would lead to hours pouring over the liner notes. Scouring every phrase, every line, in awe.

    In a year where Something Corporate releases North, John Mayer releases Heavier Things, and The Format release Interventions and Lullabies — three albums I consider among my favorites — it's still Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, and Thrice that define this year for me. That's the specific four that signal a cataclysmic shift in my musical taste and the music scene.

    Four? Shit, I said there were five, didn't I?

    Yeah. I did. [sigh] Well, I'm going to have to do this, aren't I?

    As I've written about multiple times before, it's impossible for me to tell my musical journey, and the journey of this website, without mentioning Brand New. Their impact on my life, my musical taste, and in many ways how I listen to music and what I am interested in, is incalculable. They were my favorite band, and yet here today, even thinking about them breaks my heart. With that said, Deja Entendu was the most important album in my life. It's an album that I would forever change how I would judge all other music. It would become the standard by which every other band I listened to would be compared, from sound to emotional resonance, to scene impact. It's an album I've listened to more than any other. When I was happy; when I was devastatingly sad. It was the album I listened to when relationships crumbled, and when I lost my cousin. And it was the album I turned to on a random weekend night laying in the grass contemplating life. It was forever my go-to "favorite album." Directly said, there is no other album that has ever felt as stitched to my soul. It was also incredibly influential in our music scene. This dramatic change in style would be attempted, often with disastrous results, by many bands to come.

    Over the past three years, I've scrolled past the album in my Apple Music account many times, and even seeing the artwork pulls memories from my skin. But I've yet to hit play. These memories hurt. I still can't even articulate quite why, or how, or what I even want to do with them when they come rushing through my brain. I keep typing, hoping one day the right words will come. They don't. But I can't talk about 2003 without saying that this album's imprint on me, and on our musical world, was undeniable.

    And with that, here's the list of albums I most associate with 2003.

    • AFI - Sing the Sorrow
    • The Ataris - So Long Astoria
    • Anberlin - Blueprints for the Black Market
    • Blink-182 - Untitled
    • Boys Night Out - Make Yourself Sick
    • American Hi-Fi - The Art of Losing
    • Acceptance - Black Lines to Battlefields EP
    • Anti-Flag - The Terror State
    • Boysetsfire - Tomorrow Come Today
    • Brand New - Deja Entendu
    • Cauterize - So Far From Real
    • Coheed and Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth
    • Copeland - Beneath the Medicine Tree
    • Count the Stars - Never Be Taken Alive
    • Dashboard Confessional - A Mark A Mission A Brand A Scar
    • Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism
    • The Early November - The Room's Too Cold
    • Every Time I Die - Hot Damn!
    • Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
    • Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave
    • The Format - Interventions + Lullabies
    • Funeral For a Friend - Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation
    • Further Seems Forever - How to Start a Fire
    • GOB - Foot in Mouth Disease
    • Inspection 12 - Get Rad
    • JamisonParker - Notes and Photographs EP
    • John Mayer - Heavier Things
    • The Living End - Modern Artillery
    • Lucky Boys Confusion - Commitment
    • Limbeck - Hey, Everything's Great
    • Mae - Destination:Beautiful
    • Matchbook Romance - Stories and Alibis
    • The Movielife - Forty Hour Train Back to Penn
    • MxPx - Before Everything and After
    • Park - It Won't Snow Where You're Going
    • Pennywise - From the Ashes
    • The Postal Service - Give Up
    • Relient K - Two Lefts Don't Make a Right … But Three Do
    • Rise Against - Revolutions Per Minute
    • Rocky Votolato - Suicide Medicine
    • Rufio - MCMLXXV
    • Saves the Day - In Reverie
    • RX Bandits - The Resignation
    • Saosin - Translating The Name EP
    • Senses Fail - From the Depths of Dreams EP
    • Slick Shoes - Far from Nowhere
    • Something Corporate - North
    • Steel Train - For You My Dear EP
    • The Stills - Logic Will Break Your Heart
    • Story of the Year - Page Avenue
    • Straylight Run - Demo EP
    • Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance
    • Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue
    • Thursday - War All the Time
    • Watashi Wa - The Love of Life

    Honestly, it's almost too much to comprehend here. Drive-Thru Records is still right at the peak of their powers and is cranking out full-lengths and EPs, and there are the beginnings of some soon to be classics as well. John Nolan leaving Taking Back Sunday and forming Straylight Run was such a massive story for the year. It's hard to even put into context how much drama and debate there was around it. (I still really like all those Straylight Run songs, and it remains a fantastic band name.)

    Some other random memories from this year include: a friend driving down to my college to play me the instrumental Saosin songs and saying, "we're flying in someone to put some vocals over them in the next few weeks." The guys in Over It giving me an early copy of that Lucky Boys Confusion album and swearing me to secrecy. (I am still amazed that album didn't do better; it should have been huge.) And dropping the guys in Yellowcard off at a bar in Portland so they could watch their TV debut on "Pepsi Smash." There was no doubt in my mind after that performance that the band were going to be stars.

    2003 was a transitional year. One that finds me between two places. Friends, relationships, and ties to my youth in Oregon, and the new life I was building in college in California. It's a year of watching my website grow beyond my wildest expectations, and the bands I've been writing about start to see real, tangible, mainstream success. And it's a year where I am trying to figure out what exactly life is going to look like after my final two years of college. I went to college thinking it would be the springboard to whatever career I would have, but I didn't feel like I was finding it. I dropped out of the computer science classes because they weren't teaching me the languages I wanted to learn. I switched to a Business Administration degree and started teaching myself how to program on the side. I hated my accounting classes and enjoyed marketing ones, but I really just wanted to spend my time in front of a computer learning more about code. I went to college thinking it would help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and in a weird way it was … because I was starting to see that what I wanted to do with my life involved this website. And that realization is about to lead to a very uncomfortable discussion with my parents. But that'll have to wait until next week.

    I’ve put together a playlist for Spotify and Apple Music containing some of my favorite music from 2002.

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  2. surgerone

    Regular Supporter

    2003-2005 are all just ridiculous years for music. This list in particular gave me goosebumps scrolling through it.

    (Also, appreciate the way this article handled Deja, just like the other brand new mentions over the past few months.)
  3. theasteriskera

    Regular Supporter

    Obviously the whole album is amazing, but I've always been super attached to "Back Home" as well. I have "Back Home" tattooed on the inside of my arm, & it's always my go to whenever I pick up a guitar. If anyone hasn't yet, throw on I Call Fives' song "Stuck in '03", it really was an incredible year for this scene.
    surgerone likes this.
  4. Bayside 182

    Wolverine Supporter

    Had a great time reading that. Looking at that list it’s crazy to believe that all of those great albums came out in 1 year.

    Also 2003 was my first warped tour and just insane to think how many incredible bands were on the tour that year.
  5. Fill Your Lungs Up

    Newbie Supporter

    What a year - that list takes me right back to spring freshman year/fall sophomore year of college. Agree with the first comment - I think that's the best way you could've handled writing about Deja.

    Only album not on the list that I also listened to a ton that year is Silverstein - When Broken is Easily Fixed.
  6. kielhauck @kielhauck

    I don't know how to explain it, but I actually got choked up scrolling through that list of albums. I cannot believe how many albums from this year hold such powerful and tangible memories in mind. Maybe it was just an especially formative period of my life. But so many of those albums are just undeniably classic and so influential to everything that came after.
  7. Pepetito

    Regular Supporter

    That list is just absurd. Blasted alot of them all day long in the dorms my freshman year of college lol.
  8. irthesteve

    formerly irthesteve Prestigious

    Yeah 2003 was ridiculously loaded, long live the scene. Many of my favorites line up with yours for this year, unsurprisingly. The top... 15 here are all legendary stone cold classics for me

    1. Brand New - Deja Entendu
    2. Blink-182 - (untitled)
    3. Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave
    4. Third Eye Blind - Out Of The Vein
    5. The Mars Volta - De-Loused In The Comatorium
    6. Limbeck - Hi, Everything's Great
    7. Something Corporate - North
    8. Coheed & Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
    9. The Early November - The Room's Too Cold
    10. The Format - Interventions & Lullabies
    11. RX Bandits - The Resignation
    12. Alkaline Trio - Good Mourning
    13. Dashboard - Confessional A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar
    14. Saves The Day - In Reverie
    15. Andre 3000 - The Love Below
    16. Relient K - Two Lefts Don't Make A Right... But Three Do
    17. Jay-z - The Black Album
    18. The Movielife - 40 Hour Train Back To Penn
    19. Gatsbys American Dream - Ribbons & Sugar
    20. American Hi-Fi - The Art of Losing
    disambigujason likes this.
  9. Pepetito

    Regular Supporter

    Throw in Mae-Destination Beautiful on that list.
    anonimito likes this.
  10. soggytime


    2003 is certainly a once in a lifetime year for an entire generation's musical journey. This was a transitional year as I graduated 5th grade and began Middle School - at 12 years old, it felt like the first big leap towards maturity (lol)

    Music still had not become an obsession for me yet, my family computer wasn't the best when it came to downloading music and browsing the web quite yet - it would be probably next year when we got an upgrade. But I do remember hearing of things happening from various friends with better internet connections, and CDs passing around - Eminem, 50 Cent, Linkin Park, and blink-182 still felt like the artists coming within my orbit at the time. Once I discovered the scene a couple years later, it's crazy how many 2003 albums were the ones that become the seminal ones for my taste without even realizing they were all from the same exact year.

    Here is my 2003 list

    1. Brand New - Deja Entendu*
    blink-182 - blink-182
    3. Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism
    4. Streetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes Numb
    5. Less Than Jake - Anthem
    6. Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue
    7. Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance
    8. Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave
    9. AFI - Sing the Sorrow
    10. Linkin Park - Meteora
    11. The Postal Service - Give Up
    12. The Ataris - So Long, Astoria
    13. Motion City Soundtrack - I Am the Movie
    14. 50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Tryin
    15. Dashboard Confessional - A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar
    16. Lagwagon - Blaze
    17. Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
    18. The Early November - The Room's Too Cold
    19. Thursday - War All the Time
    20. Rancid - Indestructible
    21. John Mayer - Heavier Things
    22. Cursive - The Ugly Organ
    23. The Bouncing Souls - Anchors Aweigh
    24. Jay-Z - The Black Album
    25. Explosions in the Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
    anonimito likes this.
  11. surgerone

    Regular Supporter

    right there with you - literally just reading the titles of these albums, one right after the other, was an emotional experience
  12. JamesMichael

    Creative Developer Prestigious

    2003 was absolute fire :fire: some of my favourite releases ever came out then.
    anonimito and Jason Tate like this.
  13. losingawholeyear

    Newbie Supporter

    Loving these trips down memory lane, thank you for this.

    Also, did Rufio ever comment on that strange vocal sound? I always felt like that didn’t get talked about enough at the time...
    billyboatman and Jason Tate like this.
  14. billyboatman

    Just call me Billium

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Was my freshman year of HS. I listened to Deja every night for four years pretty much. What a time.
    Such a transitional period in my life, narrated by all the albums mentioned above and more over the next four years. Wowzers.
    surgerone and Jason Tate like this.
  15. As always, these articles are a great read. I feel 100% the exact same way about Deja. I just can't hit play.

    I was actually going through all of blink-182's discography yesterday and their Self-Titled still blows me away.
    Jason Tate and billyboatman like this.
  16. MJForumPoster


    I didn't even realize many of these came out in 2003 because I found them one, two, even five years later. What an incredible year of releases. I think you really nailed the transition and "handoff" that pop punk went through at that time.
    surgerone likes this.
  17. texasismyreason

    Newbie Supporter

    Thanks for doing these Jason. You are bringing back so many memories. I still remember those early days of your site. One of the few websites I have visited for nearly two decades.

    Time to become a supporting member.
  18. Thank you! I really appreciate that.
    anonimito likes this.
  19. popdisaster00

    I'm usually deluded Moderator

    The correct album title for Limbeck is Hi, Everything's Great
    irthesteve likes this.
  20. popdisaster00

    I'm usually deluded Moderator

    2003, no contest, is the most formative year in music for me. Vividly remember falling in love with a new record about every single week that year.
  21. billyboatman

    Just call me Billium

    How could I forget to mention TEN..

    “I just found a friend, in one of your lies..”

    The feels.
  22. RileyWitiw

    more like Supporter

    Your writing on all these nostalgia articles is really captivating. Beautiful article, honestly!
    Jason Tate and anonimito like this.
  23. The Lucky Moose

    I'm Emotional, I Hug the Block Prestigious

    My favourite albums back then:

    Jay Z - The Black Album
    Ja Rule - Blood In My Eye
    Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner
    Gang Starr - The Ownerz
    The Diplomats - Diplomatic Immunity
    Freeway – Philadelphia Freeway
    Ashanti - Chapter 2
    R. Kelly - Chocolate Factory (problematic artist)
    Outkast - Speakerboxx/The Love Below

    I do not think Elephunk by the Black Eyed Peas is a good album, but the singles were inescapable and definitely have a lot of nostalgia attached to them for me.

    I like Ocean Avenue now but it I didn't listen to that one until at least a decade after release.

    I liked some songs of the Less Than Jake album but never really listened to the full release back then.

    Overall 2004 was a bigger deal for me.
    irthesteve likes this.
  24. gbuffers


    Wow. Its incredible when you look back and see how many defining records were released that year. A large amount of these are still to this day absolute staples of my listening and also some of my favourites in the record collection - almost too many to mention.

    MCMLXXV is definitely one I am missing on vinyl. I have given up hope of ever getting a pressing. I remember there being a lot said about the vocal style but I love that album. I also can’t believe Sing The Sorrow only ever got one pressing.
  25. PaperthinHymn


    Thanks for writing these time capsules. 2003-2004 was my freshman year of high school and so many of these albums bring back such warm memories. Ocean Avenue especially, but the whole list is just incredible.
    MrAirplane and Jason Tate like this.