OK, this is a blog entry that I’ve been trying to get my arse around to doing for ages now. I tried to do it last year as well, but I just couldn’t just quite manage it.
Yes, this is my ‘The best albums of 2004’ entry.
Anyway I finally managed it, so here in reverse order, are my top ten albums of 2004 and why I think they deserve that little accolade.
Ghosts of the Great Highway – Sun Kil Moon
This was the year that I was exposed to a load of new american indie label music through emusic. This where I found this album. It’s a new project from Mark Kozolek, the force behind The Red House Painters. It’s primarily melancholy music, but it’s even more preoccupied with broken relationships than Kozolek’s earlier stuff, with the occassional ruminations on more abstract things.
Good News For People Who Love Bad News – Modest Mouse
Apparently Modest Mouse had something of a chart breakthrough this year with the lead single from this album, Float On, in the US. Of course that didn’t translate over here. As a follow up to the remarkable Moon & Antartica it’s a bit of a disappointment. However taken on it’s own terms it’s a really enjoyable rambling journey through Modest Mouse’s brand of alternative rock.
We Shall All Be Healed – The Mountain Goats
I only discovered The Mountain Goats this year. John Darnielle is a very interesting guy, he writes really interesting lyrics and indeed increasingly writing memorable music. A bit too patchy to be in the same league as prior release Tallahasee it’s still a standout from this year’s releases.
Faded Seaside Glamour – The Delays
I swithered about including this album, as it’s essentially sunny nature seemed out of place at this time of year. So I gave the album a good listen to and you know what? It’s too damned good to be missing from this list. If you have any kind of weakness for good, sharp pop with a bit of a bitter edge then this is the stuff for you.
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
After seeing them support Interpol at the end of 2003, I was pretty certain that 2004 would be Franz Ferdinand’s year. The album is indeed very good, with very few weak points and with a verve and ambition that stands out on the British music scene. However, it’s fallen down a few places in the list in the last couple of months as over-saturation has robbed the music of some of it’s charm.
Milk-Eyed Mender – Joanna Newsom
This shit is strange. A part and apart from the weird folk music of Sufjan Stevens and Devendra Banhart that has appeared on the scene this year. This is the strangest – I mean twisty, girly voice and harp? And her choice of stuff to sing about? It remains really original and something you can listen to again and again
Antics – Interpol
Turn on the Bright Lights was my album of 2002. To such an extent that it took me months to warm up to this follow up. It’s not as of one mood as the first album, but once I got used the less claustrophobic nature of the piece several songs have started to shine.
Bubblegum – The Mark Lanegan Band
Mark Lanegan has one of my favourite voices of all time. Combined with a great band and some of the best material he’s gathered in a while it’s pretty irresistable to me. I do miss some of the psychedelic edge of his work with The Screaming Trees and the sheer hard direct rock of QotSA, this lies somewhere in the middle.
Her Majesty – The Decemberists
This band annoyed the first time I heard them. So affected, so overtly theatrical. Then ‘I was meant for the stage’ and ‘Los Angeles, I’m yours’ wormed their way into my brain and the next thing I know I really love the album.
Carbon Glacier – Laura Veirs
There was no contest this year for album of the year. This had it won after I had listened to it non-stop for a fortnight. It’s such a remarkable leap on from her earlier work. The music is so haunting, her voice is captivating to the extent that I can totally forgive the occasional lyrical annoyance. When the children’s voices appear on Snow Camping I still get goosebumps – even after all this time. That’s how good it is.