Do a quick survey of Best Album lists in major rock magazines and you begin to realise why the world is in the clutches of a new imperialism — militarily, economically, politically and, yes, culturally.

All those lists have a horrible sameness, as if the interesting voices have been snuffed out. All those lists illustrate that huge sections of music have been pushed out of earshot, away from media coverage or chain store retail, simply because they lack corporate support or raise uncomfortable issues. All those lists suggest what we have all feared, that there are fewer critics out there that you can trust anymore.

But 2003 stands as the year when protest music made a big comeback, when artistes worth their salt took a stand, and meant it. As Rickie Lee Jones sang on her new album: "the depth of our democracy/is only as good as the voices of protest she protects."

We draw your attention to Rickie Lee Jones, Sam Shalabi, Robert Wyatt, Radiohead, The Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra and Massive Attack, who all protested against the war on Iraq and the hypocrisy that its claims of justice were based on.

Imagine. - Philip Cheah


1. Rickie Lee Jones
The Evening Of My Best Day (V2)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

2. Peaches
Fatherfucker (XL)
"some rawk magazines actually ranked Pink above Peaches. It just goes to show how fearsome Peaches truly is."
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

3. Robert Wyatt
Cuckooland
(Ryko)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

4. Radiohead
Hail To The Thief
(EMI)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

5. The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra &
Tra La La Band with Choir

"This is Our Punk Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing (Constellation)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

6. Prefuse 73
One Word Extinguisher
(Warp)
"picks up where DJ Shadow leaves off. Yet it astounds by being more fragmented with more grooving."

7. Massive Attack
100th Window
(EMI)
"one day, this album will get the critical re-assessment it deserves"
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

8. Califone
Quicksand/Candlesnakes
(Thrill Jockey)

9. The Webb Brothers
The Webb Brothers
(679 Recordings/Warner)
"who said great pop music is dead? The Webb Brothers testify to how deaf radio is."

10. Sam Shalabi
Osama
(Alien 8)
"the hardest album to find this year and the one that proves that extreme music about reconciliation is possible."
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

11. Blur
Think Tank
(EMI)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

12. Damien Jurado
Where Shall You Take Me?
(Secretly Canadian)
"the sons of Neil Young show that rust never sleeps"
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

13. Yo La Tengo
Summer Sun
(Matador)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

14. Gillian Welch
Soul Journey (Acony)
"is Gillian Welch happy or what?"
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

15. Early Day Miners
Jefferson At Rest
(Secretly Canadian)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]


16. Emmylou Harris
Stumble Into Grace
(Warner)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

17. Tindersticks
Waiting For The Moon
(Beggar's Banquet)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]


18. Elephant Micah
Your Dreams Are Feeding Back
(Blue Sanct)
"songwriting as weird free association through dreams"

[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

19. Spokane
Measurement
(Jagjaguwar)

20. The Observatory
Time Of Rebirth
(demo)
"where Everything But The Girl meets the Style Council and finds its own way"
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]




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