The majority of my favorite musical acts were most active around 2003 and 2004. When I was in middle school. What does that say about me? Don’t answer that.
I spent a lot of time on my own in my early teens, lost in the world of my headphones. I spent my afternoons combing through iTunes, looking for my new favorite musical act. They couldn’t sound like the pop artists and emo bands the rest of the school was listening to, but they still had to be palatable for my 13-year-old brain. I was in a band with a group of awesome, tuned-in girls who would make me mix CDs and lend me copies of SPIN magazine, turning me on to the next big thing. I was far from cool, but at least my iTunes library didn’t suck.
I kept looking for new music as I got older, but I’d always come back to the indie hits of the early aughts. I still do. I hate to sound like an old fart but music was just so good then. The acts that debuted around then are also still active and making great stuff. I mean, have you heard the new Brandon Flowers album? It’s amazing.
In honor of my decidedly dated taste in music, here are some of the albums Middle School Charlotte was rocking out to from 2003 to 2006.
Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand (2003)
If my memory serves me, I believe I first heard Franz Ferdinand in the car with my dad, heading home from a day at Coney Island. I could just be combining formative memories here, but bear with me. “Take Me Out” was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, but still sounded so familiar. Between me and my friend group, this album got a ton of play. We giggled over “Darts of Pleasure,” danced like crazy to “This Ffffire,” and commiserated over all the boys and girls we hated to “The Dark of the Matinee.” I’ve since seen the Glasgow boys play four times in three different countries. My love for this band has outlasted a good portion of my relationships. Good choice, Middle School Charlotte.
The Killers, Sam’s Town (2006)
Technically, this album came out when I was in high school, but I hadn’t matured that much upon entering freshman year. We’ll count it. Sam’s Town was actually the first Killers album I bought and I drained my iPod battery more than once listening to it on repeat. At the time I really clung to the album’s strong theme of growing up in (and getting out of) a small town. Today, I love how big every song on this album sounds. I can’t really find a better way to describe it. Sam’s Town didn’t get great reviews when it first debuted, but now it’s popping up on all these “underrated album” lists. Welcome to the party, people. Glad you’re coming around. Have some guac.
Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)
I will never not love this album. If you told me today that Win Butler sacrificed a cage full of bunnies during the recording process, a) I wouldn’t be entirely surprised, and b) I would still be obsessed. Arcade Fire can write songs that are perfect for tiny basement hangs and huge stadium concerts at the same time. This has to be some kind of dark magic. Funeral totally blew my middle school mind, and I find something new every time I give it a listen.
It’s one thing for me to rave on about these tunes, but I’d rather just let you hear them for yourself. Check out the Spotify playlist below with some of my favorite indie jams of middle school. Share some of your favorites songs of yesteryear in the comments!