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December 13, 2004

Another year, another couple o' billion dollars in the industry's pockets... by Tankboy

Okay, this was the hardest time I’ve ever had with compiling a list at the end of the year. Part of it is because, while there was lots of good music coming out in 2004, I don’t know how much of it was really exceptional. Also, this year was the first time I had to actually rank my choices. So after wracking my brain for a few days I decided to just write down a bunch of discs I personally enjoyed, try and number ‘em and say “fuck all” to the notion of these albums having to be artistic masterworks. Okay, they did have to be damn good, but the primary test they had to pass was that I liked them and found myself playing them over and over. For this reason you won’t see “Smile” or some other obvious “critic’s picks” on this list. So…

Tankboy’s Top Twenty(ish) For 2004

1. Green Day, “American Idiot”
This was beyond a doubt one of the most perfect rock and/or roll discs of the year. Also, I’m a sucker for the ol’ “rock opera” when it’s done well. This is done REALLY well. [visit/buy]

2. Ted Leo/Pharmacists, “Shake The Sheets”
This was a damn close second as far as perfectly realized albums go. Leo tightens up the tunes and outdoes last year’s excellent album to produce something really mind-blowing. [visit/buy]

3. The Killers, “Hot Fuss”
Franz Ferdinand, “Franz Ferdinand”
The Futureheads, “The Futureheads”

All of these bands make the girls dance when I DJ. Anything with guitars that makes girls dance is okay with me. Anything with guitars that makes girls dance AND sport impressive tunes that smack me up and down like a little girl myself is beyond okay with me. [visit The Killers/visit Franz Ferdinand/visit the Futureheads]

4. Light FM, “This Is The Beginning Of My Golden Age”
These Chicago boys write unbelievably terrific new-wave/pop/psychedelia and they’re not huge. How is that possible? [visit]

5. Graham Coxon, “Happiness In Magazines”
Okay, I wish Graham were back in Blur, but if his not being in the band means he’s going to write more pop albums that sound like tighter truncated versions of Blur’s own self-titled disc then I will learn to cope. [visit/buy]

6. The Arcade Fire, “Funeral”
Everyone loves this disc including me. They are this generation’s Talking Heads. [visit/buy]

7. Secret Machines, “Now Here Is Nowhere”
Foot-stompin’ and massive, this disc reminds me of The Flaming Lips when Drozd still killed his drums and guitars screamed through the beats. [visit/buy]

8. DFA, “DFA Compilation #2”
Once again, guitars that make girls dance. These singles deserve the big thumbs up with only one or two exceptions over three discs. Not too shabby. [visit/buy]

9. Tom Waits, “Real Gone”
Mark Lanegan, “Bubblegum”

Is it just me or is Mark Lanegan beginning to look more and more like Tom Waits? Despite their physical similarities, both men released discs that took them further down uncharted roads and left them as lone voices screaming into the night. Someone’s gotta do it and I’m glad it’s them. [visit Waits] [visit Lanegan]

10. Local H, “Whatever happened To P.J. Soles?”
Scott Lucas continues his reign as ruler of the blue collar Midwestern rock and/or roll with an album that finds him moving about a lot more and exploring ten minute tunes that don’t just repeat themselves aud nauseum or feature pointless feedback. His feedback ALWAYS has a point. [visit/buy]

11. Blues Explosion, “Damage”
Spencer and Company return to form after the flaccid “Plastic Fang.” More ghosts from the “Acme” era are raised to great effect and the band drops half its name in honor of it newly burnished sound. Or something like that. [visit/buy]

12. Annie, “Anniemal”
Disco-pop sweetness that hurts my teeth and shakes my hips. Why this doesn’t rule the airwaves and crush Gewn’s Harajuku fetish is beyond me. [visit]

13. Bjork, “Medulla”
Okay, it’s not ALL voices that construct the instrumental tracks as some press breathlessly reported before this album's release, but this is a grandly experimental disc and it's a success that allows Bjork to continue her reign as “oddly attractive whack-a-doodle” for another year or two. [visit/buy]

14. Polyphonic Spree, “Together We’re Heavy”
Corny? Yes. But also majestic. And they've got a smashing live show. [visit/buy]

15. The Dears, “No Cities Left”
Pulp, Blur and Morrissey took the year off, so these guys stepped up the plate to fill their void. What? Morrissey DID release a disc? Oh yeah, I had forgotten about that… [visit/buy]

16. Dungen, “Ta Det Lugnt”
I don’t understand a word of this but it sounds like someone took both Nuggets boxed-sets and shoved them onto a single disc. How delicious. [visit/buy]

17. Moonbabies, “The Orange Billboard”
Bouncy, happy and a complete surprise. [visit/buy]

18. DJ Dangermouse, “The Grey Album”
The Kleptones, “A Night At The Hip-Hopera”
Odd that my two favorite hip-hop discs of the year should both be, um, “unreleased. Dangermouse’s disc is the more fully realized of the two, but The Kleptones is almost more fun to listen to. [visit Dangermouse] [visit Kleptones]

19. Loretta Lynn, “Van Lear Rose”
Rockit Girl, “Bright Lights"

Songs sung by women done wrong. Lynn is stripped by Jack White and Rockit Girl’s Gina Crosely is dressed up by distortion but I wouldn’t fuck with either of them if I were you. [visit Lynn] [visit Rockit Girl]

20. David Cross, “It’s Not Funny”
This was the most punk rock disc of the year. [visit/buy]


Esoterica

Album Everyone Loved That I Was Ambivalent About in 2004
Kanye West, “College Dropout”

I’ve listened to it and it’s pleasant but it just doesn’t hit me in the center of the heart where an album that gets this much praise should be smacking me.

Biggest Disappointments of 2004
Wilco, “A Ghost Is born”
Interpol, “Antics”

Yo, Tweedy, either get Bennet back or give Nels a whooole lot of influence over the next disc. And you NYC wet-heads? Love the suits, loved the debut, love the way you just completely fucked this disc up. Oh wait a minute, I don’t love that last part at all!

2004 Strong Starters That Didn’t Really Hold Up Under Repeated Plays
Rilo Kiley, “More Adventurous”
Modest Mouse, “Good News Blah Blah Blah”

A few great singles and really quite solid discs, but in retrospect neither is as great as they were upon first listen.

Surprising Single Of 2004
William Shatner, “Common People”

Really, just too perfect. And check out how strong Joe Jackson’s pipes still are! Jeez, I wish the guy’d write another rock and/or roll album.

Holy Shit, I Can’t Believe I Like These Albums That Came Out in 2004
The Music, “Welcome To the North”
My Chemical Romance, “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge”

I think the title says it all. You could file these under “guilty pleasures” only Im not feeling too guilty about enjoying either one!

The Demos Were Better
Scissor Sisters, “Scissor Sisters”

Okay, the demo album was much more fun than the actual debut. I still like the group, but wish people didn’t have to search out such great little tunes like “Backwoods Discoteque Pt. 2” on the b-side of an import single.

And finally, because I don’t want to end on a sour note…

A Few Other Chicago Albums From 2004 That Were Pretty Damn Good
Caviar, “The Thin Mercury Sound”
[visit]
Decibators, "Whiskey E.P" [visit]
Kiss-N-Ride, “Someone Killed My Generation” [visit]
The Like Young, “So Serious” [visit]
The Ponys, "Laced With Romance” [visit]
Kevin Tihista's Red Terror, "Wake Up Captain" [visit]
Rachael Yamagata, “Happenstance” [visit]

That's it! Happy Festivus everybody!

Tankboy writes the Chicago music column Lost in Guyville

Posted by tankboy at December 13, 2004 04:49 PM

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