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2004 Year End Best Of

Minion Name:

When i compile this list at the end of the year, i try to think, "In the future, when i go to my CD shelves to fetch something to listen to, which of the releases from this year will i want to listen to?" So this list is my attempt to figure out which albums have longevity. That said, here are the things i think i will still want to listen to years from now:

  1. Asobi Seksu by Asobi Seksu -- This is one of the best albums i have heard in a while. Noisy and poppy with irresistible songs.
  2. Faking the Books by Lali Puna -- Insanely catchy German electro-pop.
  3. Drowning Cupid by The Orphins -- This album is so catchy and complex that i adore it.
  4. You Are the Quarry by Morrissey -- I hope Moz's personal renaissance lasts a while.
  5. Coaster by Quantazelle -- This is complex, interesting electronica.
  6. Cast from the Platform by Auburn Lull -- Great ambient pop music.
  7. Russian Doll by Violet Indiana -- Robin Guthrie does it again. This music is rich, and works on so many levels.
  8. Ready? Ready! by La La Land -- Damned fine pop music from a mysterious band.
  9. Forget Yourself by The Church -- The latest classic album in a long and illustrious career.
  10. The Cost of Living by Sharks and Minnows -- The best pop album to come out of Atlanta in ... well, maybe forever.
  11. Antics by Interpol - Not as brilliant as their debut release, but catchy and solid nevertheless.
  12. Remain in Ether by Slow Jets - Really nice, quirky, indie rock album.

Great Albums with Ambiguous Release Dates:

It's not easy to decide if an album should go on the 2004 lists, especially if it's an import. That said:

  • A Strangely Isolated Place by Ulrich Schnauss -- Came out in June of 2003 in Europe, and i got an import at the tail of end of that year. Not released in America until 2004. A solid upbeat electro pop effort from Herr Schnauss at any rate.
  • Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts by M83 -- Came out in Europe at the end of 2003, and i got my copy a few months later, even though a US release came in July of this year. At any rate, this is good, proggy, mellow electronica.

I Define an EP as a release that is less than 30 minutes long. And there are some outstanding releases in this format:

  1. Flaxen by Bethany Curve -- One of the best releases i heard all year. These guys are the best shoegazer band currently at it.
  2. First of the Gang to Die by Morrissey -- 4 great tracks, including the Moz's catchiest song in years.
  3. Violet by The Birthday Massacre - Gothy, electro pop interspersed with odd ambient interludes. Very listenable.
  4. Snowden by Snowden -- Another band in the local post-punk renaissance. A great debut.
  5. No Particular Bar, No Particular Town by The Purrs -- Verve came to life again in this Seattle area band.
  6. Split EP by Casino vs. Japan and Freescha -- Two electronica acts release 7 songs worth of catchiness.
  7. Split 7" EP by Fuxa and Landing -- Great drone rock, for the psychedelic lover in you.
  8. On the Offensive by Poster Children -- P Kids get political and do covers. 'Cause we all are just "working for the clampdown"....
  9. Follow Through on Your Backhand by The High Strung -- Catchy, well done pub rock.
  10. Ailanthus Altissima by 302 Acid -- Weird, but very listenable, dub act.
          7" Singles

Even though i collect these, the 7" is hard to find. There is, however, one that really stands out from 2004, and that i will be listening to for years. It is Safe, at One b/w The Queen's Beasts (or suffer fools) by Atlanta act eNTERTAINME.nt. This is solid, vaguely gothy post-punk, and another stunning debut from a local act.

  1. Hitori and Kaiso 1998-2001 by Casino vs. Japan -- Outstanding collection of rarities and half-finished ideas from a great electronic artist.
  2. Flow by various Make Mine Music artists -- MMM is a very interesting collective in England, and i find that i like their artists. This is a very solid CD.
  3. Mass Transfer # 6 -- Another great compilation to go with this excellent 'zine.
  4. Pop Ambient 2005 by various Kompakt artists -- Just came out, but one preliminary listens it holds the standard of quality i have come to expect from Kompakt Records.
  5. Merry 6Mas by Yellow 6 -- Every year John Atwood, aka Yellow6, releases a CD of outtakes, alternate mixes, etc., basically wrapping up a ton of stuff he did that year that was never released. This year's CD includes some remixes and some new tracks. Good stuff, as always.
  6. Kompilation from Kranky Records -- Has it been 10 years already? This is a great compilation from across their catalog.
  7. Old Enough to Know Better from Merge Records -- For 15 years Mac and co. have been released great indie rock. This 3 CD set has so many good songs on it.
  8. Misplaced Pets -- A benefit CD for an animal shelter in the UK, this features unique songs from Hood, Portal, Yellow6, and others. Good stuff, and you feel good listening to it knowing that you helped the shelter out.
  1. BETHANY CURVE w/ Red Lily and Lisa Dewey and the Lotus Life at Basswerks on Fri.24.Sept -- So i was in LA, in a cool club, surrounded by other Cocteau Twins geeks, and these awesome bands played, including a shoegazer act i have loved for a few years now. And Bethany Curve were better in concert than i had ever imagined they could be.
  2. DAVE THOMAS AND THE 2 PALE BOYS w/ Hank Booker at The EARL on Sun.31.Oct -- Dave Thomas is the greatest frontman in all of music. Don't believe me? Go and see him perform, and then try to deny it. I dare you.
  3. BIG MOUTH STRIKES AGAIN w/ From The Ice Age at The Echo Lounge on Fri.18.June -- A Joy Division cover band (actually, locals eNTERTAINME.nt having a bit of fun) opens up for Athens' greatest Smiths tribute act. As my buddy PJ said, "I'm having so much fun, this has to be illegal."
  4. THE FUTUREHEADS w/ Deerhunter and Asobi Seksu at The EARL on Mon.8.Nov -- Asobi Seksu rocked! The Futureheads kicked ass! And, er, Deerhunter were weird and had technical difficulties! I think that, years from now, i will fondly look back on this night as my introduction to Asobi Seksu.
  5. THE BATTLE OF THE HASTILY ASSEMBLED BANDS at The EARL on Sat.18.Dec -- There were 6 bands, each with 5 musicians, each doing 5 songs, only one of which could be a cover. And somehow, it all came together and worked very well, and everyone had fun. I hope they do this again.
  6. THE ORPHINS w/ Sybris and The Liverhearts on Fri.15.July.04 -- The Orphins were "on" this night, proving they are one of Atlanta's best live rock acts. The other two acts, and the DJs, made this a completely enjoyable night.
  7. THE ROSEBUDS w/ The High Strung on Sat.10.July.04 -- Two great touring acts rock The EARL.
  8. SHARKS AND MINNOWS w/ Volcano I'm Still Excited and The Orphins at The EARL on Sat.21.Feb -- Sharks and Minnows at the height of their power, shortly before their sabbatical. A great show overall, most noticeable because this is the first time that The Orphins really blew me away, showing how truly great they can be in concert.
  9. BRITISH SEA POWER w/ Kaito and Tiger Tiger at The Echo Lounge on Wed.17.Mar -- So i almost ran over Kaito on the way to the show, but despite the fear my Saturn must have put into them, they still played loud and fast and brilliant. British Sea Power were excellent in concert as well.
  10. LANTERNA w/ Envie at Eyedrum on Sat.31.July -- A relaxing night at Eyedrum hanging out with friends and hearing ambient music. What's not to like?
            Some disappointments in 2004  
  1. Do Make Say Think live -- I love this band, but their live show just didn't do it for me. It wasn't awful, but i just sat there and realized i would rather listen to them from the comfort of my couch. Oh well.
  2. Morrissey plays The Tabernacle in Atlanta -- Of all the venues, why this one, oh Mozza? The show would have been better pretty much anyplace else. God i hate The Tabernacle!
  3. Bicycles and Tricycles by The Orb -- An Orb album that features rap and lots of generic sounding ravish stuff? What the heck is LX smoking these days, and can someone make him stop?
  4. High by The Blue Nile -- The jury's still out on this, but it hasn't grabbed me yet. Each of their other releases exerted a strong emotional hold on me from the very first listen, and High, well, it hasn't done that yet and i admit to being disappointed.
  5. OnOffOn by Mission of Burma -- Again, the jury's still out, but on first listen this album this really sounds like the follow up to their last album -- which was 15 years ago. I know the one guy lived in retirement for that time but i still expected ... well, i dunno what i expected. Some sort of progress. Some sign that Mission of Burma have listened to music in the last 15 years. Instead this sounds like they got together and finished the songs that they had half done 15 years ago. This is only mildly disappointing, but still!
  6. Sonic Nurse by Sonic Youth -- It's not a bad album, but it is an utterly generic Sonic Youth disc. It's not challenging, and i listen to Sonic Youth to be challenged.
  7. No new Superchunk album in 2004. Dammit.
  8. Spheres by Landing -- I actually like this album, but after the sheer majesty of their last two releases, this album is something of a let down. Oh, it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it just sounds like Landing are coasting. The sameness of this album worries me.
  9. Local bands say bye-bye: American Dream, Myssouri, The Paper Lions. You will be missed.
  10. The Echo Lounge getting shut down by the cops on the night that The Legendary Pink Dots were supposed to play there. I had been looking forward to this show, and then it got cancelled at the last minute. Dammit.
           Releases that i wish i could have more time to listen to in order to properly evaluate
         them for this list

Hey, i work, go to school, and still find time to write for EvilSponge. But there is more stuff to listen to than i have time for. Here are a few albums that i wish i had spent more time listening to:

  • Fabulous Muscles by Xiu Xiu -- Seems to be pushing boundaries like only Xiu Xiu can, but i have only had time for 2 listens as of this posting.
  • Leaves Leader by Grimble Grumble -- On first listen, i would say that this is the Platonic Form of psychedelic guitar post-rock, but i think i need to listen a few more times.
  • For Your Home or Office by Park Avenue Music -- The unholy fusion of Portishead and Stereolab. And damn that song How's Your 401K? is catchy.
  • The Black Meat parts 1 & 2 10" by Bark Psychosis -- Their stuff is insanely hard to find, but on first listen this is as exquisite as everything else they have done.
  • Satin Black by Paik -- This is sludgy and dark and sounds really cool on first listen.
  • American Idiot by Green Day -- Sounds excellent. If only i could figure out where i put the damned thing!
  • OnOffOn by Mission of Burma -- See above, under Disappointments.
  • High by The Blue Nile -- See above, under Disappointments.
  • Battersea Shield by The Orb vs. Meat Beat Manifesto -- Better than the new Orb album at any rate.
  • Greater Wrong of the Right by Skinny Puppy - S.P. are one of my guilty pleasures, and I just got their latest and have barely had time for one listen.
            Albums i wish i had heard in 2004  

There are more music releases, Horatio, than your checkbook can afford, aside from the time necessary to listen to it all. Here are a few albums i want to hear but that i just haven't shelled out the money for:

  • Venice by Fennesz
  • Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes by TV on the Radio
  • Codename-Dustsucker by Bark Psychosis
  • Scissor Sisters by Scissor Sisters
  • Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand

On the whole this was a great year for music. I heard lots of interesting stuff, and we also saw the beginning of a renaissance in the Atlanta rock scene. Let's hope it continues in 2005.

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