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The top 15 albums of 2004

WOW.. Was 2004 quite a year for music.. Maybe the best year of music that we can recall since about 92’and 92 was a REALLY freakin good year! (Well it was no 67, 77 or 85 but heck it was good!) anyways.. This list before you has taken much time and turmoil to compile.. Under each review you will find our favorite single from that release for your downloading pleasure. highly encourages everyone to purchase these records if you like the songs that you hear. We hope you enjoy these albums as much as we do.. Ladies and Gentleman please welcome the top 15 albums of 2004.

(1) Brian Wilson:: Smile

37 years in the waiting.. Was it worth it.. YES.. I made the bold statement earlier in the year that nothing could top Van Lear Rose as album of the year.. Well.. Nothing expect Smile.. What can I write that hasn’t already been said. Brian Wilson’s Teenage Symphony to God.. Genius!! and our pick for Album of the year. (Surf’s Up MP3 Download)

(2) Loretta Lynn:: Van Lear Rose

Garage-rock hero Jack White producing honky-tonk legend Loretta Lynn? And Lynn comparing him to renowned Nashville producer Owen Bradley? Yes, we all know the world is rapidly shrinking, but now we’ve seen everything. Most stunning of all–they nailed it. For the first time, Lynn has written all of an album’s songs, and her lyrics are as cutting and incisive as ever. On the powerful, biting “Family Tree,” she brings her babies to the home of her husband’s mistress, so that they can see the “woman that’s burning down our family tree.” Throughout she cunningly tackles tried-and-true honky-tonk themes of love gone bad, drinkin’, cheatin’, and murder. Lynn even offers a compelling slice of theological fatalism (“God Makes No Mistakes”). White’s production–mostly stark and atmospheric–ranges from more-traditional country to straight-up White Stripes, with most tracks falling somewhere in between. White duets with Lynn on the rousing one-night-stand story “Portland, Oregon,” but he does not need to sing to leave his personal stamp. At 70, Lynn seems thoroughly engaged and delighted; at times she delivers some of the most emotionally potent singing of her career. A decade earlier, Johnny Cash turned to rock and rap producer Rick Rubin, and the move resuscitated Cash’s career. Now, Jack White has done the same for Loretta Lynn, another country legend whose music is simply too raw and honest for the contemporary country crowd. Van Lear Rose exceeds all expectations, a bold collaboration in which artists from two different musical universes forge a memorable work that neither could have created alone. (Portland Oregon MP3 Download)

(3) TV on the Radio:: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

If Peter Gabriel made a experimental doo-wop album it might sound something like this. TVOTR is a highly original group from Brooklyn, NY characterized by vocals that range from crazily high-pitched to group chanting and a pop-based sound that’s rampantly experimental but always melodic. Unlike their school-of-’78-in-’04 peers such as the Rapture and Interpol, TVOTR’s music is as rooted in blues, free jazz and gospel as it is the post-punk canon or contemporary electronic music. This makes Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes far more interesting, naturally; the purely vocal “Ambulance” is novel and exciting as anything by Björk, Spongehead Experience or Pere Ubu. With lyrics that impressively, and un-preachingly, tackle issues of race and war. This is killer stuff.. welcome to number 3 boys (Staring at the Sun MP3 Download)

(4) Modest Mouse:: Good News For People Who Love Bad News

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment Modest Mouse started sounding like a real band. For the longest time, singer-songwriter Isaac Brock seemed to exist solely to defy the established rules, forging forward on sheer momentum and ingenuity. Even Pavement looked relatively ordinary in comparison to the band’s early releases like 1996’s This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About and 1997’s The Lonesome Crowded West. But on Good News For People Who Love Bad News, the front man sounds like he’s finally touching the earth, and the band–minus founding member and drummer Jeremiah Green–follows suit. A relaxed mood prevails, not so much in volume but in attitude. On the follow-up to the group’s 2000 major label debut, The Moon & Antarctica, big sloppy melodies battle it out with brass on punky epics like “Float On” and “The Ocean Breathes Salty.” The lyrics are simpler, the arrangements tamer, but the vitality remains. The prevailing mood is that Modest Mouse has pulled off something extraordinary here: a well-rounded, lovable record that doesn’t sound anything like David Gray… and thank god for that!

(Ocean Breathes Salty MP3 Download)

(5) Arcade Fire:: Funeral

Montreal’s Arcade Fire brings a theatricality, an intensity, an insanity, and a penchant for amazing hooks to their debut full-length. You’ve never heard such energy, beauty, and emotion from such a young band. Fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, Broken Social Scene, and Roxy Music’s first two albums will have a new favorite band. (Neighborhood #2 (Laika) MP3 Download)

(6) Mastodon:: Leviathan

The sound on Leviathan seems bottomless and infinite in the best possible way: it’s not a dip in the pool; it’s a headlong cliff dive into deep waters. There are remarkable no-they-didn’t-yes-they-did changes littering Leviathan like chum in shark territory. A completely amazing record. Metal may never be the same. (Blood and Thunder MP3 Download)

(7) Beastie Boys:: To the 5 Boroughs

The hiatus is back off, again, for the Beastie Boys, and music lovers who will bob their heads with insuppressible glee. With its Nice & Smooth impersonations and shout outs to Brooklyn’s Albee Square Mall, To the 5 Boroughs, their first album in six years, harkens the return of the trio to the city that made them who they are today. It’s an up-tempo yet surprisingly homogenous assemblage of vintage electro-style party beats, and it’s a strictly Beastie affair: the Boys co-wrote and produced each track themselves, which means that it sports none of the sonic fripperies and quirky collaborations that distinguished previous classics such as Paul’s Boutique. Finally jelling after two years of on-again, off-again recording, To the 5 Boroughs will appeal to those fans old enough to remember the Licensed to Ill tour. Those old-schoolers are sure to appreciate the album’s mostly off-the-cuff lyrics and minimal-to-the-extreme musical landscape–even if its stripped-down sound may leave others longing for the days when the Boys were California dreamin’. (An open letter to NYC MP3 Download)

(8) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds:: Abattoir Blues / Lyre of Orpheus

Nick Cave still scares the hell out of us. This dark crooner can be caustic and creepy one minute and then turn around and be all romantic and swoony the next. He gets all beautiful on your ass for the Orpheus portion of this double-disc set, then explodes with a pounding intensity on Abattoir Blues that’ll knock your socks off. With the noticeable departure of Cave’s longtime partner in noise, Blixa Bargeld, the Bad Seeds seem freer to explore a variety of different sounds throughout both discs. And that’s great. Standouts like “Easy Money” combine stark piano, sweeping strings and the London Community Gospel Choir, while jams such as “Supernaturally” and “Hiding All Away” prove that Cave’s deep baritone has not gone soft. And, of course, a song like “Cannibal’s Hymn” suggests that his lyrics aren’t getting mushy, either. Great stuff. (Get Ready for Love MP3 Download)

(9) Iron & Wine:: Our Endless Numbered Days

Florida’s brilliant singer-songwriter Sam Beam expands Iron & Wine from solo project to a gaggle of friends and family on slide guitar, percussion, and backing vocals on his second album. Fans need not worry–the hushed immediacy and rich melodies remain the focus–but new flavors abound. For instance, the strange “Cinder And Smoke” sounds like a collaboration (with banjos of course) between America, Robert Wyatt and Low. Meanwhile, “On Your Wings,” “Free Until They Cut Me Down,” and “Teeth in the Grass” showcase a brooding, earthy, Southern-rock-on-laudanum side that the band had previously only demonstrated in concert. It’s rare when an artist who’s become known for bedroom recordings makes the transition to the studio to produce work that’s better–Daniel Johnston, Lou Barlow, and Liz Phair all made their defining moments crouched above a cassette recorder at home. But Beam is the exception to the rule, as he has easily bested himself on the second Iron & Wine album. (Naked as we came MP3 Download)

(10) Elliott Smith:: from a basement on the hill

Elliott Smith’s music always had a scruffy beauty, but his passing last year has made these songs unbearably poignant. Compiled by a former girlfriend and longtime producer Rob Schnapf, basement sticks to the depths where the musician was most comfortable: troubled with love, drug use and dealing with death. He pushes himself in every way with the emotionally raw, telling and sonically daring work. So, whether he’s writing a twisted love song such as “Pretty (Ugly Before)” or putting a masterful production spin on his own Beatles-esque tunes (“Little One,” “A Passing Feeling”), Elliott’s captivating touch and open-book lyrics make every song sound like the most important one you’ll ever hear. Exquisite, angry, sad and personal, basement is a beautiful swan song of one of this generation’s best. (Coast to Coast MP3 Download)

(11) Guided by Voices:: Half Smiles of the Decomposed

And as such it’s a befitting epitaph for a career with many more high kicks than low ones. It’s GbV’s last call, and they made it a good one. Ignore the indie press and their calls of anger.. Yes this is not the next Alien Lanes and it was never intended to be that.. It’s just a really great rock record by one of the most important indie bands of all time.. Bob and the boys will be missed. (Gonna Never have to Die MP3 Download)

(12) The Hives:: Tyrannosaurus Hives

The Hives created their own universe on Veni Vidi Vicious, an album so fully-realized and near-perfectly executed that it ranks as the best album of the 21st century garage revival scene. Tyrannosaurus Hives lacks its predecessor’s cohesive vision, but it finds the band in excellent form, exploring universes beyond their own. One of the year’s best. (Abra Cadaver MP3 Download)

(13) DJ Danger Mouse:: The Grey Album

For what it is, for what it does, for what it represents and for exposing the idiocy of people who only care about ‘what it earns us’, then, a truly, TRULY great pop record. (99 Problems MP3 Download)

(14) Pedro the Lion:: Achilles Heel

Achilles’ Heel, Pedro the Lion’s fifth album, is a hallmark for the band, a culmination of their previous work, and — upon its release — their best album to date. Breaking down the linear narratives of The Only Reason I Feel Secure and Control into broader concepts and themes that rely far less on storytelling and more on topical personal politics turns out to be a winning approach. Walking through the emotional fray of America’s suburban ennui, David Bazan and company have built a beautiful and wavering mix of indie rock and country-folk. (Foregone Conclusions MP3 Download)

And then we have a tie…

(15 TIE) Kings of Leon:: Aha Shake Heartbreak

It is less malevolent than witless – the kind of thing you would expect from a bunch of rednecks that have suddenly found themselves rock stars, with all the attendant trappings. But the music on Aha Shake Heartbreak suggests something else entirely, a sophistication that belies their hick image and outstrips their contemporaries. No Sophomore slump here folks.. They left that to the Strokes. Ignore the lyric booklet and you have one of the more impressive albums of 2004. (Slow Night, So Long MP3 Download)

(15 TIE) These Arms Are Snakes:: Oxeneers Or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go

If the Jesus Lizard and At the Drive In got in a street fight it might sound something like this. Post hardcore at it’s finest. The highly anticipated debut record from this Seattle outfit.. This baby will just floor you.. (The Shit Sisters MP3 Download)

Albums in 2004 that almost made the list

Bad Religion:: The Empire Strikes First

Drive by Truckers:: The Dirty South

Pinback:: Summer in Abandon

Clinic:: Winchester Cathedral

Part Chimp:: Chart Pimp

Hot Snakes:: Audit in Progress

Green Day:: American Idiot

Albums in 2005 that are going to make us very happy

The High Strung:: Moxie Bravo

Low:: The Great Destroyer

Mercury Rev:: The Secret Migration

The biggest disappointments of 2004 (From bands that we love)

PJ Harvey ‘Uh Huh Her’

Sonic Youth ‘Sonic Nurse’

Interpol ‘Antics’

Wilco ‘A Ghost is Born’

Kingblind’s Top 15 albums of 2003