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Friday, December 31, 2004

My 2004 Music List

Tuck in, my friends, this might get long. First off, this list is only based on what I've heard this year. Realistically, It would take forever for me to see and hear everything that came out this year, and I might not see or hear my real favorites until 2028, but then again, I do assume that my tastes will probably have changed by then...or maybe not. Anyway...enough with the scary stuff (being 23 is scary enough)- here are my lists:

Nic's TOP 9 ALBUMS OF 2004

9. Me Without You- Catch for Us the Foxes- Haunting, heart-breaking, tear-inducing. Aaron Weiss's spoken/shouted word delivery has only grown more emotional, while his band has evolved by combining their spasmodic post-punk with beautiful early 80s art-rock. Imagine their first album combined with the textures from the first five tracks of U2's "War" album, or simply imagine a dying rocky field in the autumn, oak's dropping fading blue and red leaves, while a voice echoing somewhere over the dim misty hills shouts about the decaying nature of the world and mankind, and the absense and return of Jesus Christ. A tough listen at times, but wow, wow, wow. The definite standout here is "Carousels" a song so tough to bear, a box of tissues is neccessary. Highly recommended, but you may not feel good when it's over.

8. Interpol- Antics- So this second Interpol album is not nearly as good as their first album "Turn on the Bright Lights." Interpol screwed themselves by making their first album so good, they can probably never top it. This is still pretty good stuff, definately not as much of a downer as TOTBL, though for Interpol, that may not be a good thing. If you like to shake your booty, you are probably going to like this. You still get 80s influenced rock and roll, with keyboards and everyting, and you still get some great, well-written songs, but, I pity this band. I hope they don't pull a "Jars of Clay" by releasing an album everyone loves so much, then releasing consequent albums where the only parts people enjoy are the ones that sound like their first album, until all those parts are gone, and all that's left are empty seats. This is good, great even, but I sure hope Interpol can keep it up. I don't want them to clone their first album, but at the same time, I don't want them to become irrelevant, either.

7. Bjork- Medulla- All vocals, and no instruments (sparing one song)? Yes. Groundbreaking? I don't know. Good? Sometimes. Bjork has created something strange here. First, her voice is involved, so wow. Second, the arrangements are so non-traditional, I for one often feel lost trying to listen to them. Sometimes, when listening to "Desired Constellation" I want to cry because of the beauty. Then, the next song "Ancestors" makes me want to: A. Turn off my stereo, and B. Vomit at the grotesque gutteral barking vocals spinning around me. This is one of the most challenging albums I've ever heard. There is beauty, there is confusion, there is violence, there is wonderful dancing (particularly in "Who is It"), and there is repulsiveness. Enter at your own risk, and don't say I didn't warn you, but you might just have the time of your life.

6. The Album Leaf- In a Safe Place- For some reason I found myself loving albums a lot of people were unhappy with, and this is another one. Some people found the album to be too calm. Well, all I can say is, if you like beautiful sounds pooled together to create music, if you like to just sit down, breathe out your stress and aggression, and relax, then you will probably like this CD. Recorded in Iceland with guest appearances by ex-Mum member Gyda Valtysdottir on cello, and virtually every member of Sigur Ros (including Jonsi on vocals in the phenomenal, brain-explodingly beautiful "Over the Pond") there is so much to like about this CD, it would take a complete Nazi to absolutely hate it. Quietly beautiful.

5. Project 86- Songs to Burn Your Bridges By- The hard rock outfit does all the things they wanted to do on their last album while lashing out at the ones who ruined it (-cough-Atlantic Records). For anyone who hated "Truthless Heroes", but loved "Drawing Black Lines", you'll probably like this, and for anyone who liked "TH", well, there's a good chance you might like this, too. STBYBB sounds like Project 86, musically and lyrically (hard rock with shouted vocals, introspective lyrics, and a little back-up singing) from start to finish, while subtlely adding new elements of punk, classic rock, and experimentalism. MOST IMPORTANTLY, that sense of fun and reckless abandon is back, and better than ever, especially in songs like "The Spy Hunter", "Say Goodnight to the Badguy", and "3 Card". Go Project!

4. U2- How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb- What to say that hasn't already been said? A throwback to some of their older stuff. Not their best album, but a good album by U2 is still great. They even rip off some guitar licks from their last album, but the results are so satisfying, who cares? U2 could release this type of album every three years until they die, and most of us would still be happy.

3. Mum- (Will the) Summer Make Good (For All of Our Sins?)- There has been a lot of division about the quality of this album. I love it. Many complaints state that this album is the opposite of their last (The insanely good "Finally We Are No One", one of my favorite albums of 2002). For those who don't know, Mum is an Icelandic electronic outfit with raspy, mewly female vocals, and some real instruments and organic sounds thrown in. While their last album sounded like the dreams of a child before waking, this album is the nightmare. The best description I can give is this: Listening to this album is like waking on a misty, craggy, deserted island and discovering it is populated by ghosts, ghosts full of regret, remorse, terrifying stories. Every now and then there is even an outburst of hope and joy. The lyrics are insane ramblings and tales that suddenly center themselves, and are sometimes gasp inducing. In "The Ghosts You Draw on My Back" singer Kristin Anna Valtysdottir whispers "The wind plays flute/ On the Cellar Door/ And on my windowsill/ Plays a sad old song/ I hope tonight/ You will touch my hair/ And draw ghosts on my back." The album runs the gamut of emotions and then ends in a sad, fog-filled, abandoned wharf, full of sunken tombstones in a land devoid of hope. I admit, this album IS NOT as satisfying as Mum's previous, but it is quite good at what it achieves. I can see the validity of the complaints against it, but rarely has an artist created such a complete musical world and maintained it for fourty-five minutes. Superb.

2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus- Wowsa! This album is a big step above Cave's last album Nocturama, and on par or better with just about all of his previous material (that I have heard). This double album goes from spiritual to perverse, to spiritual and perverse, to mindblowing. Cave is at the top of his game here. He's got a small gospel choir that sounds nothing like a gospel choir backing him most of the time, and his piano and backing band, going from full blast to moody and contemplative. Songs range from worship to a contemplation on money to meditations on nature and the seasons. This album is beautiful, but a warning to some: Cave still spouts off a few expletives, and stills throws out a few crude sexual metaphors, though most seem necessary (at least to me) in context. This is one of the most spiritual albums I've heard this year, and if not for the matter of musical taste (and a love for female vocalists) this bad boy would have been my numero uno.

1. The Cardigans-Long Gone Before Daylight- I know what some people are thinking- "WTF!? The Cardigans?" Yes. The Cardigans. Most people only know The Cardigans from their 1997 smash "Lovefool" which can apparently be heard in the background of a BH 90210 episode when two characters do it for the first time. Well, I think most fans of this song, like myself, realize that it has nothing to do with love. The album it was taken from, "First Band on the Moon", was okay, but not that great. The Cardigans next album, however, 1998's Gran Turismo, was incredible. I would describe it as dance pop from a dungeon, with a window that looks out to a sunny place, led by beautiful, but aching female vocals. Nina Persson's lyrics about screwed up relationships just plain hurt, and her backing band's arrangements were tired in the best way possible. The album ended on the beautiful notes of "Junk of the Hearts" and "Nil", and then the band completely disappeared from the face of the earth for six years. Well, they are back. This album is excellent. Apparently taking cues from singer songwriters like Neil Diamond/Young, this album has a country feel, and surprisingly it's not a bad thing. The band's ability to write great songs has not only improved, but the lyrics have moved ahead as well. There are still songs about painful relationship issues, and they are darned good, but Nina moves ahead with songs about grace ("A Good Horse"), and discovers something a lot of Christians would do well to learn in "Live and Learn." In this song, Nina sings about how no matter how much she tries to do right, she just keeps screwing up. She learns from her mistakes but makes them over and over again anyway, regrets it and admits it, which drives home a point that should be obvious, but somehow escapes us: we can do nothing on our own. "Feathers and Down" is just as beautiful as it sounds, a song to a lover who needs to drop the cares of this world and drown with the speaker in "Feathers and Down." As a bonus, if you buy the American version (the Swedish(their homeland) version dropped in 2003) you get three extra songs, AND a bonus DVD with the making of their album, three videos, and (YES!) three live songs. Shallow statement of the day that must be said: Nina is just as cute as you would think. At any price under 20 bucks this thing is a deal, and of all the albums released this year I've heard, this is my favorite.

Honorable Mentions-

Joanna Newsome- Milk-Eyed Mender- The only reason this isn't on my top ten (nine) list is that I haven't heard the whole album, but what I have heard is excellent. A twenty-something girl and her harp with crazy storybook style lyrics and vocals. Untraditional, but great stuff.

Blindside- About a Burning Fire- Unfortunately, this album is not as cohesive as the Swedish hard rocker's brilliant "Silence (2002)." AABF is all over the place stylistically, and unfortunately the songs don't fit together very well. At the same time, there really isn't a stinker song on the disc. "All of Us" may be their best (and certainly most haunting) song, yet, Shekina their most experimental and fun (it features female yodeling!), and "Roads" their most relaxed (It's like a jazz club song). This is definately a good album, but hopefully, in their next, Blindside can combine all of their styles together into something more cohesive and satisfying.

Relient K- Mmhmm- Relient K releases an album I actually like. There's still some grating immaturity i.e. "My Girl's ex-Boyfriend" which makes me want to throw the thing out the window, but for the most part, RK expounds on their more piano heavy tunes of the past, and turns up the maturity a surprising amount in the lyrics department. Also, vocalist Matt Thieson finally sounds like a MAN, even getting gritty and raspy at times. You go, man! Good stuff for recovering pop-punk addicts and the like.

Demon Hunter- Summer of Darkness- If you likes the metal with the postivity, then this is for you. Great growling, great screaming, good singing, good HEAVY songs, good ballads. They go from smashing your skull with "Beheaded" to putting it back together with the next song "My Heartstrings Come Undone", and then smashing it again. Good stuff.

Dead Poetic- New Medicines- These young hard rockers show growth on their second album, but they need to grow more, especially lyrically. Their lyrics are, for the most part, impossible to identify with anything, and if you are going to do that (ala Mars Volta), your music better be great. I say this, but when I listen to track seven "Glass in the Trees" my jaw drops. Here the band finds a style that is all their own, and if they can expound on this, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

And the time goes on. Due to lack of funds, and a refusal to download songs illegally, there were a lot of albums I wanted to hear, but didn't get the chance to, including A Silver Mt. Zion, Mute Math, and Roots of Orchis' new albums as well as many others. So, that's it for now. I just spent more than an hour doing this, so I am going to go eat a sandwich. I might make a movie list some other time, if I can get up the zest to do it. Thanks for reading, and have a happy New Year! Don't drink and drive. Don't set yourself on fire, unless you have the proper credentials to do so.
Stay Frosty!
Nicholas

12 comments:

jess said...

On the recommendation of an unknown blogger (you), I might have to check out Project 86 again. I loved "Drawing Black Lines" but was not so thrilled with "Truthless Heroes," especially given all the hype at the time.

Sooo...I had tuned them out but may return to see about this one. Thanks!

Nicholas said...

Your Welcome! Something I forgot to mention about the new Project album: It's actually possible to understand (and identify with) what (most) of Andrew's lyrics are refering to, again. For me, the lack of lyrical clarity was one of Truthless Heroes biggest problems (though, from some things I've read, this may not have been the band's fault).

Jon said...

wow, that was a helluva lot longer than i thoght it was going to be. i'm going to come back and read it tomorrow, i'm really tired right now.

Anonymous said...

Dude,
You totally forgot Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains - The Big Eyeball in the Sky. You don't even need to see the tagline to know who posted this. How can you not love an album with a song about GW featuring a refrain of "Yeehaw" and another song where the only lyrics are "Whatcha gonna do about it, huh?" and "dot da dot daa daa?" I really like Madonna, too. And the pizza that I ate last night was awesome.
-Jonathan

Nicholas said...

I remember you playing that "Yeehaw!" song for me in the Honda, and it was awesome, but I am way too jealous of Claypool's abilities to ever put him on a list with my name on it. I also have pizza... but it's cold :-(

Anonymous said...

That was really great Nic. I've heard most of the CD's and also enjoy Joanna Newsome but haven't heard her whole cd, but some of the Bands I haven't heard or heard of. Thanks for the heads up. As we usually agree on music, at least I thought so last time I checked, I'll most convincedly take your advice.

I loved the mewithoutYou CD. At frist I hated it and was terribly overcome with grief. Then I listened to it again and thought it was the best thing I had ever heard in my life...and was terribly overcome with grief.

-Jordan.

Nicholas said...

Whatup, Jordan?
Yeah, that mewithoutYou is really good. I still want to fight all of you for getting to go to that show while I stared at boring textbooks. Also, after I fight you all, we can join forces, and gather together for a torching march to Adam Herbert's place, for he gave Catch For Us the Foxes 0 out of 10 on his crazy PotterCore site. Death to him, I say!

Anonymous said...

Haha. Yeah I was gonna mention ol Hebert. I've hung out with him a fair amount lately. Crazy dorky kid, I love 'em. But yeah I can't set fire to his place because his dog is too cool.

Anyways, Yeah, bummer you couldn't go, but I'm ready for a fight anytime Nic-o-las.

I got a chance to hear some of Mum and The Album Leaf and Nick Cave and that Cardigans CD, all thanks to the cool guys at The Compact Disc Store over on jefferson near westdale middle. They let you open cd's and listen to them. That's how i've found some really great treasures this year. You should check that place out when you are in town.

Three of my most recommended albums would be (i'm not sure if they are at all clost to being made in the year 2004 but i'll keep it close and try not to mention Simon and Garfunkel) :

1. The Constantines - Shine A Light - Awesome raspy scratchy vocals with a backing band that goes gold - rockish, dancey, folkish at times, and bluesish; mostly rough edges that have been smoothed out. You've gotta hear 'em if you are are cool. Plus they are from Canada. Oddly enough their lyrics actually make sense as they create a real overwhelmed city atmosphere choking on it's own smog and ash. In "Young Lions" the lead men Steve Lambke or Bryan Webb (I'm not sure which one)flutter out "Make your love, too wild for words, stumbling thru the city with the ordinary birds. Loosen your collar, shake off the wires. Run like a river, Glow like a beacon fire." They have this odd but very innovative way of when the song is going steady they just kinda stop things, get quiet, and the singer just kind of softly sings until it doesnt quite crescendo but forms again into another being in the same vein. It's cool. Check 'em out. They don't curse.

2. Name Taken - Hold On - Your Christian California Punk band matured into something really incredible. They have all your obvious influences from punk and hardcore and probably even classical. Yet over the years i've followed these guys they've always had their own sound, and now it seems they've perfected it. The record sounds top notch and the replay value is over a million. I can't tell you how many times I listened to this Cd over and over again. That itself makes it a great buy for me. Check it out if you like just some good rock music with punk influences and catchy riffs and hooks and lyrics.

3. It's a Tie

The Constantines again with their released self titled album

or

Damien Rice who gives us O

O they are both sooo good.

Damien kind of loses it though near the end of the cd with some weird out of nowhere back up singers who sound way too operaish or just lumberjack. Seriously they kill two songs that could be great just with him and the girly singing. Oh well, You've still got Blower's Daughter and Canonball, not to mention the first Track Delicate and the Second Volcano (which I swear has someone saying Jesus briefly in the background for a second)

On the other here we have some earlier, rougher constantines that any fan of theirs should here. Their music just feels so needed and true. They don't seem to pound away a certain message, although politics are reaccuring themes, but rather display a lifestyle. It feels dirty, lost, abandoned, and enjoyable. One song they chant away about a girl's demise, with a catchy but saddening two singers repeating each other back to back in rhythm "O - V - E - R - D - O - S - E". This might sound kind of lame here but just wait to you hear them. Don't forget to check this one out either. Though if you can only buy one I'd go with Shine A Light and get this one later.

Runners Up:

Well I was going to mention mewithoutYou but you already had. They really would probably be my number 1. Others to think about are:

The Postal Service - Give Up - Yeah yeah yeah I know. EMOOOOOO. BEAAAATS. How queer huh to be listening to the ultimate white rap/ electronica with that misty voiced guy from Death Cab. But hey this album probably saved a million kids lives this year and prevented alot of suicides. The lyrics and the beats go real well and they just make you happy. good stuff.

Appleseed Cast - Two Conversations - Great Album. The guy's vocals have gotten a million times better. The replay is huge. The first track itself could satisfy me a whole CD's worth, "My Dearest Love". Get it. Love it.

one guy no one's probably heard of except Jon cuz I showed him this album:

M. Ward - The Transfiguration of Vincent -
Sweet mellow, low raspy vocals and at times high raspy vocals. Good good good acoustic stuff here you should definately find. He's on MERGE and "Undertaker" definately owns my heart right now.

anyways sorry for the long post but yeah I thought you might wanna know what i've been listening to.

Oh yeah and the Simonartfunkel beats all you suckas!

-Jordan.

Anonymous said...

Haha. Yeah I was gonna mention ol Hebert. I've hung out with him a fair amount lately. Crazy dorky kid, I love 'em. But yeah I can't set fire to his place because his dog is too cool.

Anyways, Yeah, bummer you couldn't go, but I'm ready for a fight anytime Nic-o-las.

I got a chance to hear some of Mum and The Album Leaf and Nick Cave and that Cardigans CD today, all thanks to the cool guys at The Compact Disc Store over on jefferson near westdale middle. They let you open cd's and listen to them. That's how i've found some really great treasures this year. You should check that place out when you are in town.

Three of my most recommended albums would be (i'm not sure if they are at all close to being made in the year 2004 but i'll keep it close and try not to mention Simon and Garfunkel) :

1. The Constantines - Shine A Light - Awesome raspy scratchy vocals with a backing band that goes gold - rockish, dancey, folkish at times, and bluesish; mostly sounds like rough edges that have been smoothed out. You've gotta hear 'em if you are are cool. Plus they are from Canada. Oddly enough their lyrics actually make sense as they create a real overwhelmed city atmosphere choking on it's own smog and ash. In "Young Lions" the lead men Steve Lambke or Bryan Webb (I'm not sure which one)flutter out "Make your love, too wild for words, stumbling thru the city with the ordinary birds. Loosen your collar, shake off the wires. Run like a river, Glow like a beacon fire." They have this odd but very innovative way of when the song is going steady they just kinda stop things, get quiet, and the singer just kind of softly sings until it doesnt quite crescendo but forms again into another being in the same vein. It's cool. Check 'em out. They don't curse.

2. Name Taken - Hold On - Your Christian California Punk band matured into something really incredible. They have all your obvious influences from punk and hardcore and probably even classical. Yet over the years i've followed these guys they've always had their own sound, and now it seems they've perfected it. The record sounds top notch and the replay value is over a million. I can't tell you how many times I listened to this Cd over and over again. That itself makes it a great buy for me. Check it out if you like just some good rock music with punk influences and catchy riffs and hooks and lyrics.

3. It's a Tie

The Constantines again with their re-released self titled album

or

Damien Rice who gives us - O

O they are both sooo good.

Damien kind of loses it though near the end of the cd with some weird out of nowhere back up singers who sound way too operaish or just lumberjack. Seriously they kill two songs that could be great just with him and the girly singing. Oh well, You've still got Blower's Daughter and Canonball, not to mention the first track Delicate and the Second Volcano (which I swear has someone saying Jesus briefly in the background for a second)

On the other here we have some earlier, rougher Constantines that any fan of theirs should hear. Their music just feels so needed and true. They don't seem to pound away a certain message, although politics are reaccuring themes, but rather display a lifestyle. It feels dirty, lost, abandoned, rebelious, worthy, and enjoyable. One song they chant away about a girl's drug addiction, with a catchy but saddening two singers repeating each other back to back in rhythm "O - V - E - R - D - O - S - E". This might sound kind of lame here but just wait to you hear them. Don't forget to check this one out either. Though if you can only buy one I'd go with Shine A Light and get this one later on if you like em that much like me cuz i'm cool.

Runners Up:

Well I was going to mention mewithoutYou but you already had. They really would probably be my number 1. Others to think about are:

The Postal Service - Give Up - Yeah yeah yeah I know. EMOOOOOO. BEAAAATS. How queer huh to be listening to the ultimate white rap/ electronica with that misty voiced guy from Death Cab. But hey this album probably saved a million kids lives this year and prevented alot of suicides. The lyrics and the beats go real well and they just make you happy. good stuff.

Appleseed Cast - Two Conversations - Great Album. The guy's vocals have gotten a million times better. The replay is huge. The first track itself could satisfy me a whole CD's worth, "My Dearest Love". Get it. Love it.

one guy no one's probably heard of except Jon cuz I showed him this album:

M. Ward - The Transfiguration of Vincent -
Sweet mellow, low raspy vocals and at times high raspy vocals. Good good good acoustic stuff here you should definately find. He's on MERGE and "Undertaker" definately owns my heart right now.

anyways sorry for the long post but yeah I thought you might wanna know what i've been listening to.

Oh yeah and the Simonartfunkel beats all you suckas!

-Jordan.

Anonymous said...

i'm so cool i posted that twice. (opps)

-Jordan.

Nicholas said...

Yo man. Cool list. I have heard of, but never heard the Constantines before. I will have to check them out.
I actually do go to the Compact Disc store every now and then. I like it a lot. The people there are nice, plus, they have that cool Bushisms calender, which reminds me of something:
Remember when Hail to the Thief came out, and I said I was reluctant to hear it because of its anti-Bushness? I don't remember if I ever elaborated that I just didn't like overly preachy political records that much (Which HTTT was not(Though, it's not my favorite Radiohead album of all time, either)). Just so you know I haven't become "a flip-flopping" wanker with my political beliefs or anything as of late. I have always been a bit antagonistic to the W., and that turned into loathing after his jocular, brainless assaults on Afghanistan post 9/11 (which worked out really well...not). Anyway, just wanted to tell you that, because you have a rocking memory and probably remembered hearing me say that (I usually keep my politics to myself (so I don't get shot)). Back to the music:
I would have put Two Conversations on my list (even though I was a little dissapointed with it-I miss the instrumentals and the parts where they go to outer space), but I was extremely anal in my selections. Two Cons' came out late 2003, which disqualified it from my list (wow, now I really sound like a nerdy Food Network casserole judge).
Anyway, thank you very much for your comments. I am very glad you are reading and commenting on my blog.
Take care,
Nicholas

Anonymous said...

I usually forget the most important things that happen in life, but I remember you saying that. (Thus rendering you unimportant haha!)

Yeah, I just thought all along you didn't feel right supporting an album that was anti-bush. I could have looked deeper into it, as I should have since it was Nic who said it. So yeah I coulda thought "Hey maybe he just doesnt want to support an ablum that is anti-bush because he doesnt like anti-political admin. albums."

but nooooooooo.

haha anyways yeah great to have been told about this site by Jon. Do have any sort of AIM still? if so my name is swallow origami on there if you wanna chat if you have time.

Cool,
CUCU
PEACE
-JO