End Of The Year - Mark Horan
My wife and I don't get out like we used to. This is mostly my 2-1/2 year old son's doing, but there are other "grown-up" reasons as well. Having moved from New York to Denmark, we just don't have access to things like we used to back in NY, and having to learn a new language and then get a full-time job where I have to actually use it has been
.well, exhausting really. No complaints though, as it's been quite a great experience. So, I know I should have films and tons of other stuff listed here, but I had to come to terms with the fact that I haven't had much time to check out anything but music this year. So
.please forgive my adherence to the traditional "Top 10 Albums" list. This was really a good year for long-players, and I'm happy to include some of my favorites here. Happy New Year to all!
1. The Album Leaf In A Safe Place
Yes Virginia, there is such a thing as soulful, electronic-based music. Jimmy Lavalle records at his Sigur Ros pals' studio in Iceland, and comes away with a masterpiece. I carried this cd with me for most of the year wherever I went. It became the soundtrack to my 2004. Also one of the best concerts I've been to in a long time.
2. Moonbabies The Orange Billboard
The second full-length from the Swedish duo of Ola Frick and Carina Johansson explores just about every genre under the sun, and amazingly it works. The reason? Great songwriting. I'm starting to think that Sweden has produced some of the best bands of recent memory. There must be something in the water there.
3. Aloha Here Comes Everyone
A huge step forward for this truly original band. The addition of T.J. Lipple is the not-so-secret ingredient here, as he contributes greatly to a more streamlined and focused Aloha. A landmark album.
4. Paul Westerberg Folker
This is the album Westerberg should have made after "Stereo/Mono." "As Far As I Know" is like a roughed-up "September Gurls" in reverse, and one of the best tracks he's ever written. A strong return to form from my generation's (or any generation for that matter) best songwriter
5. The Stereotypes 2
Remember when you used to be less cynical and would fall in love with albums like you were a 12 year old with a serious crush? The one-two punch of "New Situation" and "Stars" has got to be one of the best opening track sequences ever. It took me a long time before I stopped hitting the repeat button and listened to the rest of the cd. Look for "3" to be out in the next few months.
6. Brian Wilson Smile
Having been a longtime "Smile geek," I could hardly contain my enthusiasm that Wilson finally had given us THE lost album. That he re-recorded the album with The Wondermints does put a damper on the whole thing somewhat, though it's still amazing to hear the record in its entirety, as Wilson himself planned it. Honestly though, I still listen to my "Smile" bootlegs more than this.
7. Illumina Nightlight
This was the sleeper of the year for me. An unknown seven-piece musical collective from the suburbs of Philly records and releases an album all on its own, and guess what? It's fucking awesome!! This is amazing stuff from a band whose median age is barely 21. Certainly a group to watch in the future.
8. The Blue Nile High
When you only release four albums in twenty years, they better be good. "High" continues The Blue Nile's nearly flawless discography, with "Because Of Toledo" being the latest proof of Paul Buchanan's genius.
9. Matt Sharp Matt Sharp
Who would have ever thought that the former Weezer bassist and Rentals frontman could sound like this? Sharp moved to rural Tennessee and recruited ambient artist Josh Hager and ex-Cake guitarist Greg Brown for his full-length debut. The result is a record so dreamy that it would make even Nick Drake himself proud.
10. Jill Sobule Underdog Victorious
Why Jill Sobule is not a household name is beyond me. She has continually pumped out great records over the past decade, sadly with only a novelty hit ("I Kissed A Girl") to show for it. Sobule is sort of the Ying to E from Eels' Yang, as both share a similar style for crafting timeless pop gems with highly irreverent themes. She should be a superstar.
- Mark Horan | 2004-12-29