Best of 2004
Okay we'll have to call this thing done. Lots of stuff I didn't get around to hearing or giving a fair listen to, but it's too late now. I'll start a page for '05 in a few weeks.
- Kanye West, College Dropout
- Dave Douglas, Strange Liberation
- The Streets, A Grand Don’t Come for Free
- R. Kelly, Happy People/U Saved Me
- Big & Rich, Horse of a Different Color
- Dizzee Rascal, Showtime
- Todd Snider, East Nashville Skyline
- Various Artists, Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats
- Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous
- World Saxophone Quartet, Experience
- Chris Potter Quartet, Lift: Live at the Village Vanguard
- Gretchen Wilson, Here for the Party
- Interpol, Antics
- Yolanda Perez, Aqui Me Tienes
- Dizzee Rascal, Boy In Da Corner
- Donald Harrison, Heroes
- Youssou N’Dour, Egypt
- Bobby Watson & Horizon, Horizon Reassembled
- Teedra Moses, Complex Simplicity
- PJ Harvey, Uh Huh, Her
- Los Tigres del Norte, Pacto De Sangre
- The Hives, Tyrannosaurus Hives
- Brandy, Afrodisiac
- Junior Boys, Last Exit
- Von Freeman, The Great Divide
- The Vandermark Five, Elements of Style...Exercises in Suprise
- MF Doom and Mad Lib/Madvillain, Madvillainy
- Sonic Youth, Sonic Nurse
- Bjork, Medulla
- Tom Waits, Real Gone
- Mulgrew Miller, Live at Yoshi's Volume One
- Brian Wilson, Presents Smile
- Ghostface, The Pretty Toney Album
- Angie Stone, Stone Love
- Joe Lovano, I'm All For You
- Ben Allison and Medicine Wheel, Buzz
- David Ball, Freewheeler
- Caetano Veloso, A Foreign Sound
- Cee-Lo, Cee-Lo Green Is the Soul Machine
- Charles Lloyd/Billy Higgins, Which Way Is East
(Listed in rough order of preference. Generally I've ranked the albums listed below in the ***/***1/2 range, using the Downbeat/Rolling Stone five-star scale. Some of the albums in the above Top 40 are ***1/2 star albums, too, but of course not all ***1/2 star album are created equally. Some of the albums below might move up as I listen to them more. Most are notably flawed or somehow fall short of being truly exceptional, but are nonetheless recommended to fans of a particular style or artist. I wouldn't consider selling any of these albums.)
The Bad Plus, Give
Willie Walker and the Butanes, Right Where I Belong
Bennie Wallace, The Nearness of You
Uri Caine Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard
The Brad Mehldau Trio, Anything Goes
The Magnetic Fields i
The Soviettes, II
Wiley, Treadin’ On Thin Ice
Chuck Prophet, Age of Miracles
Omar, Best by Far
Jessica Williams, Live at Yoshi's, Volume 1
Vincent Herring, Mr. Wizard
Marilyn Crispell, Storyteller
Alan Jackson, What I Do
Lhasa, The Living Road
Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts, Wake Up! (To What’s Happening)
David Murray & the Gwo-Ka Masters featuring Pharoah Sanders, Gwotet
James Carter, Live at Baker's Keyboard Lounge
Irv Williams, That's All?
Heavy Sleeper, The Gifted Curse
Los Lobos, Ride This--The Covers EP
- Big & Rich, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)”
- Angie Stone, "U-Haul"
- Britney Spears, “Toxic”
- Le Tigre, "New Kicks"
- Jennifer Lopez, “Baby I Love You!” (R. Kelly remix)
- R. Kelly, “Happy People”
- Twista featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, “Slow Jamz”
- Maroon 5, “This Love”
- The Owls, “Air”
- Gretchen Wilson, “Redneck Woman”
- Interpol, "Slow Hands"
- The Magnetic Fields, "It's Only Time"
- Kanye West, "Jesus Walks"
- Alicia Keys, “You Don’t Know My Name”
- Tim McGraw, "Back When"
- Kevin Lytlle, “Turn Me On”
- Big & Rich, “Wild West Show”
- Jay-Z, “99 Problems"
- J-Kwon, “Tipsy”
- Guerilla Black, "Compton"
- George Strait, "I Hate Everything"
- Ciara, “Goodies”
- John Fogerty, "Déjà vu All Over Again
- Lady Saw, "I've Got Your Man"
- Modest Mouse, "Float On"
- Anthony Hamilton, "Charlene"
- Sean Paul featuring Sasha, “I’m Still In Love With You”
- Jay-Z, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
- Usher, “Burn”
- Twista, “Overnight Celebrity”
- Kanye West featuring Syleena Johnson, “All Falls Down”
- Gretchen Wilson, “Here for the Party”
- Alan Jackson, "Monday Morning Church"
- LCD Soundsystem, “Yeah”
- Lonestar, “Mr. Mom”
- Sara Evans, “Suds in the Bucket”
- Brandy, "Who Is She 2 U"
- Los Lonely Boys, "Heaven"
- Petey Pablo, “Freak-A-Leek”
- David Lee Murphy, "Loco"
Lloyd Banks, “On Fire”
Brad Paisley, "Whiskey Lullaby"
Scissor Sisters, "Take Your Mama"
The Streets, "Fit But You Know It"
Eminem, "Just Lose It"
Black Eyed Peas, "Let's Get It Started"
Usher, "Confessions Part II"
Franz Ferdinand, "Take Me Out"
Nina Sky featuring Jabba, “Move Ya Body"
Finger Eleven, "One Thing"
Gretchen Wilson, "When I Think About Cheating"
Tracy Lawrence, “Paint Me a Birmingham"
Toby Keith, “Whiskey Girl”
Various Artists, Goodbye, Babylon
Arthur Russell, The World of Arthur Russell
Various Artists, Can't You Hear Me Callin'--Bluegrass: 80 Years of American Music
Talking Heads, The Name of this Band Is Talking Heads [expanded]
Big Mama Thornton, With the Muddy Waters Blues Band 1966 [expanded]
Various Artists, Crunk Classics (TVT)
I’m inclined to endorse, but should spend more time with:
Jean Grae, This Week
Paul Geremia, Love, Murder, and Mosquitos
Arcade Fire, Funeral
Jim Snidero, Close Up
Dead Cat Bounce, TK
Bill Charlap Trio, Somewhere
Van Hunt, Van Hunt
Maria Schneider, Concert in the Garden
Notable Album Cuts
(Note that I’ve also included a few praiseworthy album tracks in the above singles list, in cases in which the selection resembles a single in some only partly subjective way.)
Travis Tritt, "Monkey Around," and "Circus Leaving Town," from the typically uneven and well-sung My Honky Tonk History
Jill Scott, "Bedda At Home," "Family Reunion," "Golden" and a few choice moments and lyrics from the mostly tiresome Beautifully Human
Jadakiss, The title track, "Bring You Down," and "Hot Sauce to Go," from the often moribund Kiss of Death
Mary Lou Lord, “The Wind Blew All Around Me” from Baby Blue
Fantasia, "Baby Mama" from Free Yourself
Handsome Boy Modeling School, "If It Wasn't For You" and a few others from White People
Frank Kimbraugh, title track and a few others from Lullabluebye
Lady Saw, "I've Got Your Man," "Thug Loving,' and "Dedicated to Mama" from Strip Tease
John Fogerty, title track and "Sugar-Sugar" from the otherwise unmemorable Déjà vu All Over Again
Steve Earle, "Condi, Condi," "Rich Man's War," and "I Thought You Should Know" from the largely slapdash The Revolution Starts...Now
Thievery Corporation, "The Heart's a Lonely Hunter" and a few others from the rarely out-of-this-world The Cosmic Game
Jonathan Rundman, "The Serious Kind," a sweet folk-rock tune from the sometimes precious Public Library
Prince, title track and a few others from the underwhelming Musicology
Tracy Lawrence, "Sawdust on Her Halo," from the sometimes weak Strong
Bill Frisell, "Who Was That Girl" from the ho-hum Unspeakable
Paul Westerberg, "As Far As I Know," and "$100 Groom" from the for-harcore-fans-only Folker
Animal Collective, "Who Would Win a Rabbit" from the mostly pretentious and inane Sung Tongs
I’m not entirely convinced by, am somewhat irritated by, or just stubbornly refuse to overlook the demerits of the following nonetheless notable and often good albums:
(In rough order of preference)
The Hold Steady, Almost Killed Me
Matthew Shipp, Harmony and Abyss
Steve Swallow-Ohad Talmor Sextet, L'histoire du Clochard (The Bum's Tale)
Eyedea & Abilities, E&A
I feel no pressing need to listen again to the following fairly likable albums:
Tracy Lawrence, Strong
Dr. Lonnie Smith, Too Damn Hot
Blake Shelton, Bar & Grill
Kylie Minogue, Body Language
TV on the Radio, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
Antibalas, Who Is This America?
Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow/Billy Drummond, The Lost Chords
I’m inclined to dismiss (mildly, harshly, it depends), but perhaps should spend more time with:
Craig Taborn, Junk Magic
Donald Harrison, Free Style (but remember his other '04 album, Heroes, is is very good)
Oliver Lake Steel Quartet, Dat Love
Roy Haynes, Fountain of Youth
Rokia Traoré, Bowmboi
Danny Zeitlin, Slick Rock
Brandford Marsalis, Eternal
Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand [but single has entered Honorable Mentions list]
Ron Sexsmith, Retriever
Joel Frahm with Brad Mehldau, Don't Explain
Rene Marie, Serene Renegade
Karen Ann, Not Going Anywhere
The Fever, Red Bedroom
(In rough order of relative preference. Many of these albums have redeeming qualities; stuff toward or at the bottom generally sucks.)
RJD2, Since We Last Spoke
Charlie Haden, Land of the Sun
Talib Kweli, The Beautiful Struggle
EL-P, High Water (Mark)
Kenny Chesney, When the Sun Goes Down
SHeDAISY, Sweet Right Here
The Flatlanders, Wheel of Fortune
Brian Wilson, Gettin' In Over My Head
Janet Jackson, Damita Jo