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2004 Year End Best Of

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Around this time every year, I always hear cries of how the Atlanta/Athens music scene is dying and/or dead. In response to such statements, I'd like to submit that the following lists. Of my top ten albums, six are from local acts. And of my top ten concerts, leaving Corndogorama aside, 21 different bands are mentioned by name. Eleven of these come out of Atlanta/Athens as well.

To my mind, this suggests that the local music scene is alive and well and growing. And it all suggests that 2005 will be strong as well.

  1. The Cost of Living by Sharks and Minnows. This album is something of a revelation, primarily because it showed a side of this band which I hadn't seen before. Yeah I expected the rocking numbers like Cleopatra Song to be wonderful; however their more melodic and introspective songs were also amazingly pretty. Highly recommended.
  2. Every Night by Saturday Looks Good to Me. As a whole, Every Night isn't quite as earth-shattering as The Cost of Living. Despite this, it hasn't left my CD player since I got it. The production values are solid and show off SLGTM's wonderful songwriting and retro-pop melodies.
  3. Vamonos by Luigi. When I first heard this album, I thought it was but a pale reflection of the live shows. Upon further listening, I think it's a very solid nugget of crunchy Indie Rock that has energy to burn.
  4. Drowning Cupid by the Orphins. This album definitely isn't as good as their live shows, but it doesn't matter. Camp Cryotep is absolutely sublime, and songs like Devil Duck aren't far behind.
  6. Geographic Tongue by Black Love. It's not exactly the type of music I usually enjoy. Rich Hudson's voice can, at times, be a little droney and occasionally the skittering rhythms seem a bit odd. But taken as a whole, it's experimental jazz pop that should be heard.
  7. Rochester Fosgate by Rochester Fosgate. After a couple of months in my CD player, I still think this is cute. So what? It's a fun and accessible album that moves easily across genres.
  8. The Whistler by The Fairburn Royals. Up until now, I always thought The Fairburn Royals were a quirky Indie pop band. While that description still applies, The Whistler boasts strong production and enough jangle to make me happy.
  9. Hot Streets by Ceiling Fan. This long time Athens band finally released the material they've been playing live for years. Consequently, the songs are well written and performed, and show what a solid three piece can do with experience and talent under their belts.
  10. Trying to Never Catch Up by What Made Milwaukee Famous. Self-released but exceedingly well produced, this album is heavily influenced by the current wave of Indie Rock giants. Still, What Made Milwaukee Famous takes these reference points and then goes in a slightly different direction, as they turn to a slightly cold, more angular sound.
  11. More Than Happy by The Layaways. Technically, this was a 2003 release, but I didn't get it until 2004. On my first few listens, I thought this was great background music. Upon further reflection, I think it's a bit more complex than that, with layers on instruments that appear only when I focus.
          Concerts and/or Performances
  1. Dave Thomas and Two Pale Boys on 31.October. Utterly brilliant. Dave Thomas is the most charismatic and interesting performer I've ever seen, and this was the best show I've seen him put on.
  2. SHARKS AND MINNOWS w/ Volcano I'm Still Excited and The Orphins on 21.February. This was the album release show for Sharks and Minnows, and they shined. Plus, the two openers helped set the stage for the evening. Volcano, I'm Still Excited was a little silly, but I liked them. And this was the first time we'd ever run into The Orphins, who were quite good in their own right.
  3. British Sea Power and Kaito on 17.March. So, on the way to this show, Postlibyan almost ran over Kaito as they gathered shrubbery on the side of the road. Luckily he didn't, or else I wouldn't have seen their very solid set. With Kaito as an opener, I thought British Sea Power wouldn't stand up. I was very very wrong. They were superb.
  4. I CAN LICK ANY S.O.B. IN THE HOUSE w/ The Cogburns on 11.October. I really liked I Can Lick Any SOB in the House; they reminded me on the old Redneck Underground bands from back in the Star Bar's heyday. And this too was the first time I'd run into The Cogburns. I don't know what they used to sound like, but they are definitely a solid and talented rock band.
  5. THE ROSEBUDS w/ The High Strung on 10.July. Fact: I love The High Strung. I especially love their live shows, and this was a particularly good one as they debuted some new material. More importantly, I had never seen The Rosebuds before, and they managed to live up to the standard set by their opener.
  6. THE LIVERHEARTS w/ The Close, The Orphins and Eyes to Space on 28.August. One of the best, if oddest, combinations I saw in 2004. Eyes to Space recalled a combination of 80s motifs while The Orphins put on yet another strong performance. And then there was The Close, who were positively wonderful. And even The Liverhearts managed to impress, which was quite an achievement on this evening.
  7. LUIGI w/ Licentious Quartet and Ruvolo on 10.September. Luigi are primarily a live band, and this set showed a cohesion that begs the question of when they will record again. Next to them, the two new-ish bands on the bill held their own, especially Ruvolo, who survived some minor instrument malfunctions to get through their first show.
  8. Corndogorama on 25 and 26 of June. Normally I wouldn't put a collective show like this on my list. But the number of excellent bands who played and, significantly, played well was rather amazing. I don't remember how much it cost, but I know a better deal for the money was not had throughout the rest of 2004.
  9. Tenement Halls on 19.November. Tenement Halls opened for two bands, but their memory was blown out of my head by this band. Why? Well, Tenement Halls is the new band of Chris Lopez, former leader of my much beloved Rock*a*Teens. 'Nuff said.
  10. Nomo and Hot Young Priest on 27.May. Technically, Saturday Looks Good to Me headlined this show, but I was severely underwhelmed. However, the other two bands more than redeemed the evening. It was the first time I really got Hot Young Priest's sound and even though Nomo was not my normal type of music, I thought they were fabulous.
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