Some albums that held my attention this year (in no particular order):
Non Prophets - Hope
Jack Johnson - On and On (Sample mp3 offline)
The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site (Sample mp3 offline)
The Long Winters - When I Pretend To Fall (Sample mp3s offline)
The Decemberists - Her Majesty (Sample mp3 offline)
Pretty Girls Make Graves - The New Romance (Sample mp3s offline)
Atmosphere - Sevens Travels
My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves
Viktor Vaughn - Vaudeville Villain
Manitoba - Up In Flames
People Under the Stairs - Or Stay Tuned
Buck 65 - Talkin Honky Blues
The Beatles - Let It Be Naked
For more end of year music fun:
The Morning News - Top 10 albums of 2003
Almost Cool - Top 20 albums of 2003
Almost Cool - Top albums of 2003 readers list
Pitchfork Media - Top 50 albums of 2003
Pitchfork Media - Top 50 single of 2003
From the Pitchfork top singles intro:
"[T]he effects of file-sharing on personal taste became unmistakably clear: the indie community's palettes-- and everyone else's-- have broadly diversified. Freed from the careful decision-making that comes with $12 purchases, we can now easily branch out beyond the genres we've always loved and discover the inherent worth in all of them. [...] The great thing about music right now is that listeners don't have to be "staunch" anymore. In an age when all music is free, dedicating yourself to just one specific genre or type only denies you the hedonistic musical bliss that is rightfully yours. Sure, we all still buy albums for their increased sound quality, tangibility, artwork and artist support, but let's be straight about one thing: singles are for downloading."
I mentioned Steven Johnson book Emergence in my post on complexity, emergence and collective Intelligence. I've now discovered that Steven has a blog and is coming out with a new book called Mind Wide Open.
Mr. Johnson has also written some interesting articles:
AI music modeled like swarming bees - A look at the Tim Blackwell's Artificial Improviser
Sociobiology and You - A review of The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
The Anti-Video Game - Games and biofeedback
Free music production tools:
Buzz Machines - "Buzz is not a Soft-Synth. Buzz is not a Tracker. Buzz is not a Sequencer. Buzz is all of these things and more."
Skale Tracker - A cross platform tracker based the old DOS tracker model.