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Rolling Stone Magazine - december, 2003
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Rolling Stone
Critics Top Albums of 2003

PAUL ROBICHEAU
1. Radiohead, Hail to the Thief (Capitol): Modern art-rock's great Brit hope splices abstract soundscapes with bleak political code and a return to accessible melodies.

2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Nocturama (Anti/Epitaph): Shifts from melancholy poetry to the fourteen-minute opus "Babe, I'm on Fire," a relentless rave of tongue-in-cheek testimony.

3. Rufus Wainwright, Want One (DreamWorks): A new high for Wainwright's opulent, ambitious pop, transcending his cabaret, Tin Pan Alley and operatic influences. Time for a musical.

4. The White Stripes, Elephant (V2): The bastard child of Zeppelin-esque blues and grunge, Jack White trades his duo's candy-cane minimalism for wide-screen wallop.

5. The Bad Plus, These are the Vistas (Columbia): A jazz piano trio that deconstructs offbeat covers and originals with punk-rock attitude, classical finesse and sly counterpoint.

6. Kings of Leon, Youth and Young Manhood (RCA): The South rises again when the scruffy sons of a Pentecostal preacher find salvation in Tom Petty and the Stones.

7. Ronald Isley and Burt Bacharach, Here I Am (Dreamworks): Soul legend Ronald Isley performs first-take magic, tenderly reinterpreting Burt Bacharach chestnuts with a live studio orchestra.

8. OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Arista): Andre 3000's "Hey Ya!" might be single of the year, but Big Boi's own funkadelic half is equally potent.

9. A.F.I., Sing the Sorrow (Dreamworks): Post-hardcore misfits whip their punk, metal and gothic ambitions into shape with dream-team producers Jerry Finn and Butch Vig.

10. The Dresden Dolls, The Dresden Dolls (Eight Foot): Boston's most original act in ages, a punk-cabaret duo in whiteface, exposes Amanda Palmer's theatrical songs of piano and pathos.

Reissue: Jeff Buckley, Live at Sin-e: Legacy Edition (Sony/Legacy): A gloriously indulgent free spirit lets it all hang out in this now-extended solo showcase.