After days of worry, hair pulling and general malaise, I have compiled my top 20 albums of the year. I was originally going to go with 10, but it simply does not suffice. This is merely a list of my favorite records, regardless of context or perceived cultural worth, so please keep that in mind.
20. Mirah – C’mon Miracle – K Girl Folk actually kind of worth listening to. Her voice is very sweet and the lyrics ain’t half bad. Truth be told the song Jerusalem is the only reason this is on the list.
19. Pan Sonic – KESTO (234:48:4) – Sound engineers gone wild! 4 CDs worth of fucked up electronics that covers a lot of ground. Possibly nominated more for the package than the music itself.
18. Dead Texan – Stars of the Lid member makes SOTLiddy music.
17. Mastodon – Leviathan – Thrash metal with a minimum of solos and retardedness. I have a few reservations about enjoying this, truth be told. Still though, it rocks quite hard.
16.Björk – Medulla – Not as solid as I’d hoped. The promise of an album composed entirely of voice is lost quickly as inventiveness gives way to rather standard electronic fair- with vocal samples instead of…other samples.
15.Fennesz – Venice – I just love the way this sounds. Its just the right combination of tweaked out melody and glitch buzz.
14.Plush – Underfed – Probably shouldn’t be here, as it is a compilation of demos for an album released a few years ago. But I love Liam Hayes’ melodic egocentricity! Some of these stripped down versions work out a little better than the lushly produced, overwrought versions that showed up on the Japan only Fed
13.Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days – A bit of a disappointment from Mr. Acoustic Whisper. However, the worst of Iron and Wine is still better than a lot of other stuff. I’m sure if Iron & Wine are just rehashing old forms, breathing new life into said forms, or is just a good songwriter who knows how to use biblical and bodily imagery in a resonant way. Or all three.
12.Air – Talkie Walkie – A disappointment to some, but this is straight up Air. Worth the price of admission for Surfing on a Rocket alone.
11. Deerhoof – Milk Man – Deerhoof’s albums are never 100% great, but Milk Man manages to do quite nicely. Nothing incredibly new here, just doing their melodic chaos quite nicely.
10.Sir Richard Bishop – Improvika – I’d been waiting for a new solo album by Sir Richard since his Revenant album years ago. While not as cohesive as Salvidor Kali, Improvika is still a great album of acoustic improv with an eastern flavor.
9. TV On the Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes – Fantastic for the first few songs alone. TV On The Radio manage to sound familiar yet very strange at the same time. Post punk funk for the 00’s. Not descriptive enough? Fuck you.
8. A.C. Newman – The Slow Wonder – Pure, perfect power pop from the New Pornographer.
7. Jack Rose – Raag Manifestoes – No longer channeling his heros and has really come into his own. A fantastic album of finger picking goodness.
6. Battles – I keep returning to the battles EPs because they sound great, they’re a bit challenging and they’re even a little funky. This is Storm & Stress with all the pretension but a lot more fun.
5. Annie – Anniemal – Chewing Gum or Me Plus One – One of them is the dance hit of the millennium.
4. Joanna Newsom – The Milk Eyed Mender – Rogue harpist with the sharp voice spinning yarns and tales. Old timey and startlingly new at the same time.
3. M.I.A. – Piracy Funds Terrorism – I can’t wait for M.I.A.’s album to drop. Worth it for Lady Killah alone. Diplo mashes up tons of familiar tunes to add some flavor to M.I.A.’s all over the map dance music. Londoner of Sri Lankan decent, she kicks dancehall reggae, hip hop and whatever else she can throw into the mix for a genuinely original sound. Arular is going to be the shiz.
2. Kanye West – College Dropout – Best hip-hop album I’ve heard in a while. To me, hip hop is topical, smart, braggy and fun. And Kanye fits that bill quite nicely, not to mention the trademark sped-up soul samples. Great for playing Burnout 2.
1. Animal Collective – Sung Tongs – I could not stop playing this all year, so it gets my number one. The Animal Collective did it just right on this album, letting the jams flow out and making them songs where it was right. The sense of fun and wonder here may well be self-conscious, but being genuine is highly overrated. Someday I’ll tell you why here in this very blog. If you haven’t heard this yet, you absolutely must.
As I said before, this is just like my opinion, man. I know there’s a lot I’ve missed, and undoubtedly there’s a lot that’s not really the best of 2004, but this is my list so blow me.