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Oops We Did it Again: The Best of Last Year (2004)

Posted by April 9th, 2005 No Comments »

#29 Futureheads2004 Year in Review
Favorite Albums
By NadaMucho.com Staff

In late October, 2004 we sent out our year-end ballot to pretty much every reader, musician, booker, club owner, label head and publicist we knew. We also made the ballot available on our message boards. The response was overwhelming by far the biggest sampling of music lovers we’ve had in compiling our year-end favorites in the eight years we’ve been around.

As has become our custom, we then proceeded to sit on the results for the entire first quarter of 2005, making this information so untimely it’s almost completely moot except to music dorks.

In hopes that you are one, we’ve decided to go ahead and post the results. At worst, it’s a trip down a not-to-distant memory lane and a reminder of some great music you may have missed in 2004.

30. The Faint Wet From Birth

29. Futureheads Futureheads
Angular, jarring and popping four part vocal harmonies accent an old school brit-pop sound on this debut release. The Futureheads present a catchy and impressive LP treading new ground with their unique vocal style while honoring an earlier punk sound. Highlights include "First Day," "He Knows," and a cover or Kate Bush’s "Hounds of Love." 


#29 Futureheads2004 Year in Review
Favorite Albums
By NadaMucho.com Staff

In late October, 2004 we sent out our year-end ballot to pretty much every reader, musician, booker, club owner, label head and publicist we knew. We also made the ballot available on our message boards. The response was overwhelming by far the biggest sampling of music lovers we’ve had in compiling our year-end favorites in the 8 years we’ve been around.

As has become our custom, we then proceeded to sit on the results for the entire first quarter of 2005, making this information so untimely it’s almost completely moot – except to music dorks.

In hopes that you are one, we’ve decided to go ahead and post the results. At worst, it’s a trip down a not-to-distant memory lane and a reminder of some great music you may have missed in 2004.

30. The Faint Wet From Birth

29. Futureheads Futureheads
Angular, jarring and popping four part vocal harmonies accent an old school brit-pop sound on this debut release. The Futureheads present a catchy and impressive LP treading new ground with their unique vocal style while honoring an earlier punk sound. Highlights include “First Day,” “He Knows,” and a cover or Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love.”

28. Hem  Eveningland
Brooklyn, New York’s Hem slapped us senseless a couple years ago with their debut Rabbit Songs, an album filled with lullabies, longing vocals and impressive orchestration. For an encore, Hem enlisted a Russian orchestra and almost saw the whole thing blow up in their faces. For some reason, ex-communists and New York songcrafters make for a volatile mix. Luckily, both parties understood the dreamlike compositions written by Dan Messe and the result is far from a sophomore slump. Hem never would have existed if not for a chance encounter with singer Sally Ellyson singing a Capella into a cheap tape recorder. With a full band behind her, weaving an arresting sonic tapestry, Hem will be around for a long, long time.

27. Eminem Encore

26. Brian Wilson Smile
Main Beach Boy Brian Wilson took over two decades to deliver the following to his ground-breaking pop masterpiece Pet Sounds, but Smile might just have been well worth the wait. Shimmering production, gorgeous pop melodies and an uplifting songs that should remind fans of indie-popsters like the Shins and Death Cab for Cutie that Mr. Wilson is owed an enormous debt for his influence on contemporary popular music.

25. Patty Griffin Impossible Dream
How do you follow up your artistic apex? If you’re Patty Griffin, you create a new album of emotionally unforgettable songs and receive even more critical acclaim. Impossible Dream may conjure too many images of failed relationships, or not enough depending on your taste, but it makes for a wonderful new chapter in Griffin’s formidable catalog. Griffin will remind you why you love music with just a few notes from her ethereal voice.

24. Air Talkie Walkie

23. U2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

22. Red Thread Tension Pins
About eight people were lucky enough to witness a late winter concert by San Francisco’s Red Thread at Ballard’s Sunset Tavern. Those happy few bore witness to a band that perfectly mixes sounds reminiscent of early Pink Floyd with high lonesome pedal steel. Tension Pins is the best album you didn’t hear in 2004. Look for main Thread Jason Lakis’ songs to greet a wider audience in the new year.

21. The Arcade Fire Funeral

20. Hot Snakes Audit In Progress
There are probably bands that kick more ass than the Hot Snakes without ever sounding even a little dumb, but I haven’t heard them yet. Faster and meaner than 2002’s Suicide Invoice, Audit In Progress doesn’t let up. Modern and brutal.

19. Garden State Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
If you ask most fans of Garden State, Zach Braff’s feature length screenwriting and directing debut, when they first became aware of the film, they would probably recall first seeing the trailer and noticing the music featured in the 60 second spot. Braff’s fingerprints are all over the soundtrack. New tracks from Coldplay, Iron and Wine, and Frou Frou mingle nicely with classic songs from the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, and former Man at Work Colin Hay. For those questioning the validity of a movie soundtrack on a list of best albums should be remiss to forget the triumph of 2001’s O, Brother Where Art Thou.

18. The Streets A Grand Don’t Come for Free

17. Razorlight Up All Night

16. The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me

15. Neko Case The Tigers Have Spoken
When was the last time you anticipated a live album? I mean, really looked forward to one. For Neko Case fans, The Tigers Have Spoken marks a taste of her first new songs since 2002’s Blacklisted. For this reason alone, we’ll forgive the criminally short album length and somewhat choppy production. For anyone who has attended a Case show in the last few years, The Tigers Have Spoken will conjure fond memories. For new fans, it gives just a taste of what’s to come. Look for her studio debut on superlabel Anti- early next year.

14. Snow Patrol Final Straw

13. Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand

12. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
A true return to form by Mr. Cave and his band of Ill-tempered ex-goth bandmates. Nobody does the paranoid preacher bit quite like Nick Cave. After two mediocre albums, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus marks the first time in several years that Cave has released a vital album, which is odd considering the departure of long time Seed Blixa Bargeld in early 2004.

11. TV on the Radio  Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes

10. Tom Waits  Real Gone
If you don’t like Tom Waits, go read another site. Seriously. This is Waits at his more rhythmc, creepy and eccentric, so it takes a few wallops with the human-vocal percussion tracks before you realize also how absurdly infectious much of it is. Well, for Tom Waits anyway.

9. Elliott Smith From a Basement on the Hill
Elliott Smith is dead now, and while this record does forecast that, it also reveals a Smith with an expanded sonic pallette and even keener ear for melody. The fact that this record is so damn good is salt in the wound of his loss. Fitting from someone so keenly aware of pain.

8. McLusky  The Difference Between You and Me is I’m Not on Fire
It’s hard to tell whether the recently laid-to-rest McLusky were a band of jokers with a hint of anger in their noise, or if the humor in titles like "Without MSG I am Nothing" or "Your Children are Waiting For You to Die" was just there to help the bitterness go down easier. This album was dark, noisy, angry and hilarious often within the same song, from the Jesus Lizard dirge of "You Should Be Ashamed, Seamus" to the chiming indie pop of sing-along favorite "She Will Only Bring You Happiness." Truths in jest.

7. Interpol Antics

6. Bobby Bare, Jr. From The End of Your Leash

5. Wilco A Ghost Is Born

4. Iron and Wine Our Endless Numbered Days
Nada Mucho offices were abuzz when Sam Beam, a.k.a. Iron and Wine, released his first true studio album. I’d be lying if I said we were confident that Our Endless Numbered Days would have the same jaw-dropping effect as his first two home-produced albums. To be honest, this one took a little getting used to. Gone were the trademark tape hiss, the solo guitar accompaniment, and the DIY charm. Instead we were treated with percussion and some slick production that meant that Beam was playing with the big boys now.

In the end, it’s the songs that make the lasting impression. If you’re a purist, forgive the transgression of recording in an actual studio (gasp!), and revel in the quiet beauty of one of the best songwriters around today.

Gems like “Sodom, South Georgia,” “Naked as We Came,” and “Free Until They Cut Me Down” are signals that Beam hasn’t let success go to his head. He’s still the same quiet bearded genius that made us sit up and take notice with his debut The Creek Drank the Cradle. We can only expect great things from here on out.

3. Loretta Lynn  Van Lear Rose
Would we be even talking about this album if Jack White wasn’t involved? Probably not, but the fact that the ghoulish White Stripes guitarist made sweet, sweet music with his idol, the near-forgotten Loretta Lynn, just means that we’re better for it.

She can’t quite hit the notes she used to, but there are more flashes of the Coal Miner’s Daughter on this record alone than there were in the entirety of the 80’s and 90’s. Lynn was given a shot of creative energy by collaborating with White and, much like Johnny Cash’s work with Rick Rubin near the end of his career, she is now rightfully ensconced in the minds of younger generations of music fans.

Van Lear Rose is chock full of Lynn’s homespun charm. Just listen to her spoken word track “Little Red Shoes” for that. In addition, we get to hear what the White Stripes might sound like with a full band. Van Lear Rose will go down in history as an essential country album for all the right reasons.

2. Drive-By Truckers The Dirty South
It was sometime in the third hour of the Truckers’ February concert at the Tractor when I realized how great their new record, The Dirty South, was going to be. Even though I was crammed in (by choice) the front row, and the P/A speakers were behind me, I knew that the 3 or 4 new songs they played that night were gold. This was before, during, and after Patterson Hood rocked my face at least 15 times.

The Dirty South is as diverse a record as the Truckers have released. In the past, the riff seemed to be the most important thing. First they club you in the head with an unforgettable lick, then later you might be able to process the lyrics. This time around, the songwriting is even stronger, and the songs feel a little more organic. The Rock will come. It does not need to be coerced.

The Dirty South also is remarkable for the changing dynamic within the group. Hood is still the most prolific songwriter, but this record is about quality over quantity. Jason Isbell is the best American songwriter under 30 in the game right now and Mike Cooley is content to focus on two or three great songs that set the pace for the album. Drive-By Truckers are the best American Rock n’ Roll band working today. Until they slip up, expect to see their name near the top of our lists.

1. Modest Mouse Good News For People Who Love Bad News
While this may be a pop album by Modest Mouse standards, it’s a Modest Mouse album by pop standards. With Isaac Brock’s unique ability to wrench poignancy from both life’s inane details and cosmic questions and the band’s skittery indie rock that’s as catchy as it is tightly wound, this is the best album you’ve heard on the radio in a long time. #1 Modest Mouse


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