Feature ·

Part 3

The Best Albums of 2004

 

[more:]




























































  Sara Farr

Staff Writer
 


Joss Stone

Mind, Body & Soul (S-Curve) Sept. 28, 2004
The teenage soul sensation from Devon, England, has delivered her
first album of original material after last year's astonishing Soul Sessions.
Here, you find more of the deep-throated soul balladeering that brings
back whispers of Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson and all the other
strong women of the Motown glory days. Stone's songwriting is mature
and full, under the guidance and help of Lamont and Beau Dozier,
proving not only= that she has a great voice, but that she's a great
writer as well. Bravo.
 


Trashcan Sinatras

Weightlifting (SpinArt) Aug. 31, 2004
It might be hard to keep it fresh after seventeet years, but
Glasgow's Trashcan Sinatras pull out one of the best records of their
career with the long-awaited Weightlifting.
This is melancholic pop drenched in strings, horns, beautiful melodies
and lovely harmonies. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to
listen to songs such as "All the Dark Horses" or "It's a Miracle" and
not feel simultaneously wistful and joyful.
 


The Hives

Tyrannosaurus Hives (Interscope) July 20, 2004
It's nice to see Interscope, former home of the Rev. Horton Heat,
take another gamble on a rollicking group of rock 'n' rollers,
especially some dorky-looking ones from Sweden, a country whose only
other pop-culture claim to fame is a bikini team. (Makes you wonder
where Nobel got it, doesn't it?) Anyway, Tyrannosaurus Hives
is the sophomore release from this garage-punk outfit, and here we find
a much more layered, polished sound -- without the loss of the frenetic
energy and driving bass that characterized Veni, Vidi, Vicious.
It's a shame garage rock has fallen off most everyone's radar, because
this is not only not specifically a garage album, it's one of the best
rock albums of the year.
 


Youssou N'Dour

Egypt (Nonesuch Records) June 8, 2004
It's interesting to see what the rest of the world regards as "pop"
music. N'Dour, a Senagalese singer, often blends Cuban and African
rhythms into his music for Western audiences, but on Egypt,
he adds the flutes and percussion of traditional Egyptian and Arabic
music. Make no mistake; this album is not the club-mix dumbed-down
Eastern pop you hear on Starbucks sampler CDs. It's the real deal. It
may sound cheesy or unsophisticated to Western ears, but the sentiments
expressed behind the language are still quite real and beautifully
delivered.
 


Federico Aubele

Gran Hotel Buenos Aires (ESL) Feb. 24, 2004
Argentinian tango run through electronic sensibilities, complete
with original stringed instruments such as the bandeon. Mmm, delicious.
I want more. It's always interesting to see how a native artist updates
a traditional musical form, and Aubele has blended the longing and
passion inherent in tango with the intrigue, excitement and throb of
modern electronic music. The mix finds traditional tango singers
sharing ground with the members of Thievery Corporation. Unfortunately,
the disc could easily be co-opted for upscale clothing boutiques and
overpriced European discotheques. C'est la vie. Even chowderheads
sometimes get lucky and like something with real merit.
 


Thievery Corporation

The Outernational Sound (ESL Music) June 29, 2004
These guys have been mixing and spinning for quite awhile, coming
up with some of the best club/lounge music that's out there. Virtually
everyone asks these guys to remix their stuff at one point or another,
and on The Outernational Sound,
it's easy to see why. This is a nineteen-song deejay set, spanning
everything from old Motown sounds to Indian music to reggae to
afro-beat. By the time it's done, you'll feel like you've gone 'round
the world in eighty minutes.
 


Danzig

Circle of Snakes (Evilive Records) Aug. 31, 2004
Glenn Danzig has one of the most distinctive voices in music. It's
one of those you-either-love-it-or-hate-it voices. Where Danzig excels
is his ability to blend the theatrical into heavy music without coming
across too cheesy or juvenile (someone want to send a copy of his
resume to Korn?). Some might disagree with that, but it's hard to argue
with a career that has outlasted two bands and spawned more than eight
solo records. On Circle of Snakes,
Danzig scales down the theatrics and opts for a more straightforward
sound, dropping his alt-metal mistakes of the past and delivering some
of the better music of his long and varied career. The atmosphere is
dark, the guitars are heavy, but there's also a great attention to
melody and song-craft.
 


Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand (Domino) March 9, 2004
There must be something in the water in Scotland. Not only did the
Trashcan Sinatras resurface with an awesome record, newcomers Franz
Ferdinand bust out of the gate with a self-titled debut that landed
them a song on the big extravaganza that was the first NFL game of the
season. It's quite a leap for a band of university art students. In
this case, the hype is justified. Songs like "The Dark of the Matinee"
are catchy and memorable, with the lyrics sticking with you long after
the song is over. That's a virtually unheard-of phenomenon for
indie-rock bands, which generally pride themselves on being so esoteric
even they cannot remember their songs. Other songs, such as "Michael,"
with its quirky reverse-gender roles, and "Tell Her Tonight," with its
radio-ready pop hooks and smart lyrics, are candy-pop gems. This is
perhaps the best feel-good record of the year.
 


Fantomas

Delirium Cordia (Ipecac) Jan. 27, 2004
This album is genius. Mike Patton is perhaps the only artist
working today besides John Zorn who can pull off a
nearly-eighty-minute-long song as an entire album and not lose his way
or annoy you as it plays. Delirium
takes you through all sorts of sensations, from slow and peaceful like
dripping water, to loud and crashing like a horror movie's climax. It
is quite an effort, and those who question Patton's sanity need look no
further than the fact that yes, he can even pull this off live.



Best of 2003
Best of 2004
Best of 2005
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