Top 10 of 2004

Everybody has a list. And everybody has their own favorites. So why not us? Plug In asked a group of musicians and label owners for their top ten album picks of 2004. We've collected their picks so see what their favorites were this year! See what Nick Dye (Corporate MF, Mystechs), Crystal Brandt, Mike Quinn (No Quarter Records), Robert Cherry, Drivin By, Greg Polard (One Up), Gilligan (Fake Chapter Records) and Amun Ra think were the best of the best this year.

- Corinne

posted December 30, 2004

      Everybody has a list. And everybody has their own favorites. So why not us? Plug In asked a group of musicians and label owners for their top ten album picks of 2004. We've collected their picks so see what their favorites were this year!

:: Nick Dye (Corporate MF, Mystechs)
     DISCO! DISCO! DISCO! Some other stuff and DISCO!

01. Bobby Conn & The Glass Gypsies – Homeland: Dance your post election worries away with the greatest album of 2004. It’s packed with clever lyrics, political sarcasm, and DISCO!

02. Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News: I hated Modest Mouse until I heard their latest. Maybe I shouldn’t give them the number two because I ‘m sure they are in everyone’s top five, but hell… they deserve It, so why not? Another lyrically brilliant album released this year. Oh yeah, and DISCO!

03. Beastie Boys – To The 5 Burroughs: One the best albums ever released by the Beasties. Sure, we still get more of the same witty and humorous fun with a slight throwback to the sounds of their early days. But now we get politically relevant lyrics mixed in with a little DISCO!

04. VHS or Beta – Night On Fire: Can’t get enough of it! This album just feels so good to even bother listening to the lyrics. Not sure what it has to say other than “DANCE TO OUR ROCK DISCO!”

05. Scissor Sisters – S/T: This great new band is busting on the scene everywhere and scooping up new fans in mass quantities. Brilliant songwriting and craftsmanship reminiscent of the best songs Elton John ever had to offer. Sexy, sleazy rock n’ roll DISCO!

06. Franz Ferdinand – More proof that it’s okay to be gay because sex appeal knows no gender when it comes to the music of Franz Ferdinand. For a straight guy, I felt so guilty falling in love with the song “Michael”. I’ve seen many reviewers insist on calling it “indie” or “new new-wave” or “post post-punk”. [I’m chuckling to myself] Sometimes these genre descriptions make me bust a gut. Sure, it may be a little of this and that… Whatever! It’s DISCO!

07. The Faint – Wet From Birth: The Faint have certainly shown the ability to grow a bit musically with each new release, but we still get more of the same lyrics about sex, being in a band hanging out at the merch booth and putting on make up. But hey, what else would you have to write about when your ultra sexy? I don’t care because I want to dance… DISCO!

08. The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free: Okay so you can’t really dance to it, but The Streets are still the most innovative act in the realm of left field hip hop. It’s refreshing to take a break from all this disco dancing and relax to the off-beat rhyming of things more important than the typical booty shaking, bling blingin, ho-slappin, cap poppin thug rap.

09. Simple Kid – S/T: Interesting folk-tronic music that brings back what has been missed since Beck’s early work and fuses electronic beats with Dylan-esque lyrics that comment on today’s social scenarios while being DISCO enough to dance to.

10. Bjork – Medulla: Medulla wins the favorite disappointing album of 2004. Medulla is an interesting concept, but falls way short by refusing to have any real songs that can be listened to casually. It’s a forced listen and rests upon all of the most annoying of Bjork’s mannerisms. I never imagined Bjork could be more Bjork than Bjork. Medulla proves it.

Runner’s Up to the most disappointing album of 2004 (in no particular order):
Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse
Gwen Stefani – Love Angel Music Baby

:: Crystal Brandt
1. Ani Difranco - Educated Guess
2. Eagles of Death Metal - Peace, Love and Death Metal
3. Rachel Spektor - Soviet Kitsch
4. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
5. Man Man - Man in a Blue Turban With a Face
6. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose
7. Arcade Fire - Funeral
8. Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
8. Dirty Dozen Brass Band - Funeral for a Friend
9. Shannon Wright - Over the Sun

:: Mike Quinn (No Quarter Records)
Interpol "Antics"
Electrelane "The Power Out"
The Double "Palm Fronds"
Growing "Soul of the Rainbow, Harmony of Light"
Wilco "A Ghost is Born"
Juana Molina "Tres Cosas"
Walkmen "Bows and Arrows"
Circle "Forest"
Arcade Fire "Funeral"
Comets on Fire "Blue Cathedral"

:: Robert Cherry
Leviride, Nothing’s Getting Better (Northern Lights)
I had the pleasure of touring with these guys this past October. After witnessing the band perform a note-perfect rendition of Paul McCartney’s "Jet" at The Music Cafe in Columbia, MS, I declared Leviride my new favorite group. This debut bears out my (slightly drunken) enthusiasm. Ten compact hits of dramatic, melodic art-rock. And their new shit is even better.

Elefant, Sunlight Is Making Me Paranoid (Kemado)
This disc actually came out in 2003, but screw it--until The Tears release their debut (that’s the reunion of Suede members Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson), this bit of glammed-up melodrama will have to hold us over.

Isidore (Brash)
The Church’s Steve Kilbey teams up with Remy Zero’s Jeffrey Cain to record the best Church album since Starfish--or at least After Everything Now This Happens.

Daydream Nation, Bella Vendetta (Elephant Stone)
Pat Vaz’s tunes and vocals are reminiscent of early Swervedriver, while Hunter Crowley’s production recalls Be Here Now-era Oasis, minus the vitamin C-addled excess. Now if they’d only tour....

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass (Capitol)
The greatest album from a solo Beatle, this double-disc set suggested some of the texture and effect I was shooting for on my forthcoming album, The New Forever. (Bowie’s Hunky Dory and T. Rex’s Slider were the other big touchstones.) In an era that sucked just as hard as this one (Nixon, 'Nam, etc.), Harrison offered a lucid voice and big, warm tunes. Great ensemble work featuring Phil Spector’s kitchen-sink production plus weeping guitar work from pre-bland-out Eric Clapton.

Sophia, People Are Like Seasons (City Slang)
The most fully realized album from former God Machine vocalist Robin Proper-Sheppard shifts from blue to black moods before arriving at a semi-peaceful resolution on the sepia-toned "Another Trauma." There’s a first for everything.

The Blue Nile, High (Sanctuary)
This Scottish trio comes out with an album but once a decade, but the songs are always devastatingly gorgeous. The sparse, cinematic arrangements and Paul Buchanan’s world-weary voice will have you weeping relief on lines such as "Please do not throw confetti on me now."

Frausdots, Couture (Sub Pop)
I’m not the first or even the thousandth to point this out, but Sub Pop is back on some roll. Shins... Rogue Wave... Iron And Wine... all good stuff, but Frausdots really do it for me. Former Beachwood Sparks guy, Brent Rademaker, revisits his '80s roots (Echo And The Bunnymen allusions abound) and adds Beach Boys harmonies and Spector-esque production touches. The result is like a freak mix of sun and drizzle, but without any cheesy rainbow effect.

The Mice, For Almost Ever/Scooter (Scat)
The long overdue CD reissue of two albums by a great Cleveland band from the '80s. At a time when digital synthesizers and lousy production reigned, these young guys styled themselves after the Who, the Jam and the Buzzcocks and had the songwriting smarts of singer-guitarist Bill Fox to validate the comparisons. "Little Rage" is pure-pop ecstasy.

The Lovekill EP (Requisite)
This great young Cleveland quartet plays squalling jazz-punk with biting stream-of-consciousness slurred over top. I like 'em so much I released this, their first EP, on my label. (Plus they rehearse in my basement, so I couldn’t really avoid them.) Watch The Lovekill take over the indie world.

Band To Watch In 2005: Kasabian
In the coming year, this British quartet will render most rock groups obsolete. The band’s self-titled debut--already a huge hit in the U.K.--grabs the dance-rock torch from the Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Death In Vegas and Doves, and sprints with it in the general direction of greatness.

:: Matt, Nick D. & Nick O. of Drivin By
Matt's Picks:
Hot Snakes - Audit in Progress
Elliot Smith - From a Basement On The Hill

Nick D.'s Picks:
Against Me - The Eternal Cowboy
Atmoshpere - Seven Travels
Thrice - Artist in the Ambulance

Nick O.'s Picks:
Jets to Brazil - Perfecting Lonliness
Rilo Kiley - more adventurous
Zolof The Rock n Roll Destroyer - The popsicle E/P

Drivin By's Picks:
Deep enough to die- my city of ruin
Nancy- the fall of the roman empire

:: Greg Polard (One Up)
(in no order)
1. Green Day “American Idiot”
2. Jimmy Eat World “Futures”
3. My Chemical Romance “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge”
4. Bayside “Sirens and Condolences”
5. Eighteen Visions “Obsession”
6. Interpol “Antics”
7. The Killers “Hot Fuss”
8. U2 “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb”
9. With Honor “Heart Means Everything”
10. Brian Wilson “Smile”

:: Gilligan (Fake Chapter Records)
10. The Sixfifteens "Let's Not Think About It" (fake chapter) - I'm not bias!
9. Om Trio "Globalpositioningrecord" (black beauty)
8. Bela Fleck & Edgar Meyer "Music For Two" (sony)
7. Flogging Molly "Within A Mile Of Home" (side one dummy)
6. Jesse Malin "The Heat" (artemis)
5. The House Lights "This Town Is Murder" (fake chapter) - again, I'm not bias!
4. Wilco "Ghost Is Born" (nonesuch)
3. Ben Kweller "On My Way" (rca)
2. The Libertines "The Libertines" (rough trade)
1. Loveless "Gift To The World" (q division)

:: Amun Ra
In no particular order...
Wilco....A Ghost is Born. Even more adventuresome than the acclaimed 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot', this album is truly a concept from start to finish. Frazzled, psychedelic, and soulful. Not as immediately accessable as '...Foxtrot' , but after repeated listen the work reveals itself in a sweet onion. Produced by the studio genius, Jim 'O Rouke, the arrangements and complexities present themselves like your favorite slippers.....warm and fuzzy.

The Shins....Chutes Too Narrow. The breakout album from this New Mexico band goes from energetic pop-infused cuts to reflective acoustic numbers. Hookfilled melodies lack the pretention, or neccessity of 'indie-cred', and bullshit emo bands. Truly a standout in this year of somewhat lackluster releases. More eclectic and better engineered and produced than their first, 'Oh, Inverted World', the Shins remind me of pre-70's Who, the Beach Boys, as well as early 90's Meat Puppets. I will buy everything they create.

Bjork - Medulla :: I shall never tire of the wee icelandic pixie. Not much radio friendly here, left me feeling thrilled and confused. Yet, always wanting more.

Nelly McKay - Get Away From Me :: This double-disk debut is nearly perfect. Heavily jazz influenced vocals deliver dangerously warped satire. Each song carries a succinct message with a striking lack of generic sentiment. A seeming exploration of genres on her part, though it works as a cohesive whole. Steering clear of vocal acrobatics, she sticks to simple smooth, melodies, letting embellishments come in the production (produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick). Most intoxicating though, is a distinct refusal to take herself too seriously. Hot.

Pete Miser -- Camouflage is Relative (Ho-Made Media) :: A great and uncompromising hip-hop record. The flow is intelligent without being self-indulgent, and the beats just don't let up.

Scissor Sisters -- Scissor Sisters (Universal) :: The ultimate guilty pleasure: Elton John meets Jamiroquai meets glam covering Pink Floyd in a falcetto disco style. That takes big brass balls. If there was a time for a straight man to admin to owning a pair of sparkling red shoes, it is now! Hellooooooooo, nurse!!!

Hamell On Trial -- Tough Love (Righteous Babe) :: Unique. There is nothing like Hamell On Trial. The world can be divided into two very unequal parts: those who love his music and those who don't know anything about him. Tough Love is the latest and best offering from Hamell.

DJ Hatcha -- Dubstep Allstars Vol. 1 (Tempa Records) :: a DJ mix featuring some of the most unique UK garage beats, breaks, rhythms and sounds i've come across. mixed seamlessly! this album will make your head spin for hours & the vibes will soak through your skin, into your bloodstream.

Diplo -- Florida (Ninja Tune) :: creatively produced album laced with vintage soul samples and fresh unique sounds. all very memorable. a variety of emotions within; full of surprises from start to finish.