I took my time in completing this goal. It was a good excuse to do some quality listening of the music I liked from 2004. Here is my top ten in alphabetical order by album title:
- Abattoir Blues / Lyre of Orpheus by Nick Cave
- Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts by M83
- Give by The Bad Plus
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Soundtrack) by Various Artists
- from a basement on the hill by Elliott Smith
- Funeral by Arcade Fire
- Margerine Eclipse by Stereolab
- Medúlla by Björk
- Ta Det Lugnt by Dungen
- Talkie Walkie by Air
An honorable mention goes to Sigur Rós for their EP Ba Ba / Ti Ki / Di Do. It didn’t receive a very warm welcome, but I liked it. I like a band that’s willing to take risks and go in directions the fans don’t expect (or want). The three tracks have a real dynamic quality. The percussive vocal loops in Di Do are especially thrilling.
So this is the tenth in my list of the top ten albums of 2004. I hesitated to put this one on my list because, well, it’s good but not great. But then I remembered that this was my list of what I think are the ten best of 2004 and I had only a limited amount of time and resources to sample the year’s music. So I recognize that there is a lot more really great music out there. I just didn’t get to listen to it all. Anyway…
Dead Cities appeals to me because the music reminds me of Tangerine Dream and all the time I spent as a young teenager listening to TD in the dark basement of my mom’s house. All that adolescent angst tempered by the rich fuzzy electronic sound of Moog synthesizers and drum machines. Total nostalgia trip.
Wow. I first heard this album last week and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. How to describe? Over on pitchforkmedia.com Brandon Stosuy writes, ”..vintage garage sound allows a definite space for ethereality in the form of funereal dew-drop strings, free jazz breakdowns, brief whiffs of AM radio tuning, flute minuets, lushly cascading pianos, prog time changes, florid medieval chimes, sky-melting freakouts, church organs, fuzz-guitar jousts, doubled mountain-top whistles, roaring six-string solos, and autumnal instrumental interludes.”
It’s been called Swedish psych- prog-rock. Whatever it is, it rocks! It definitely makes me want to play guitar in a really heavy band.
by The Bad Plus
For some reason I thought this album was released in 2003, but I was wrong. This is easily one of my favorite recordings of the year. The Bad Plus is a unique ensemble, mixing bebop, fusion, pop, and, yes, heavy metal (they cover Black Sabbath’s Iron Man) into their infectious kooky sound.
Take a peek at what the DJs at KEXP (Seattle) think are the top 10 albums of 2004.
Here’s Amanda Wilde’s list:
1. The Arcade Fire – Funeral (Merge)
2. Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News (Epic)
3. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (Domino)
4. Jim White – Drill A Hole In That Substrate and Tell Me What You See (Luaka Bop)
5. Elliott Smith – From A Basement On A Hill (Anti-)
6. The Beta Band – Heroes To Zeroes (Astralwerks)
7. The Finn Brothers – Everyone Is Here (Capitol)
8. Elbow – Cast of Thousands (V2)
9. Drive-by Truckers – Dirty South (New West)
10. The Mountain Goats – We Shall All Be Healed (4AD)
Ok, first let me say that I’ve never been much of a Björk fan. She’s too weird, right? However Medúlla cannot be dismissed as either too weird or, oddly, too mainstream (Björk is a world-wide mega-star). This album is really not to be believed. The vocal performances are astounding. Björk’s voice is a unique musical instrument and she uses it to great effect. Amazing.
I want to go to Iceland.
Jon Brion composed and performed the original material, which is tremendous, and the addition of Mr. Blue Sky by E.L.O. and an incredible cover of Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes by Beck make this the soundtrack of the year (of the film of the year.)
by Arcade Fire
The more I listen to this quirky album the more I like it. From the heavy downbeat rhythm to the “detuned” piano to the kooky accordian and strings, it just makes me smile. I hear that Arcade Fire (or is it The Arcade Fire?) puts on a great live show.
Amazing debut album.
Air just makes me feel good. The last song, Alone In Kyoto, was also included on the soundtrack to Lost in Translation (great movie, excellent soundtrack.)
by Nick Cave
These are two albums released together. Nick and The Bad Seeds just get better and better. The themes are still dark but he injects an occassional funny bit in when you least expect it:
Everything’s dissolving, babe, according to planThe sky is on fire, the dead are heaped across the landI went to bed last night and my moral code got jammedI woke up this morning with a Frappucino in my hand
And, as usual, the albums just plain rock.
See related goal: Shake hands with Nick Cave