The top albums of 2004 |

The top albums of 2004

Staff Reports

As chosen by Matt F., who we trust in such mattersSend your own choices to tboyd@vailtrial.com1. Wilco A Ghost Is Born Nonesuch: How do you top Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or, for that matter, Being There, Summerteeth, the Guthrie albums and the entire revered Uncle Tupelo catalog? Somehow, Jeff Tweedy did it. After fifteen years of being one of rock’s finest songwriters and leading its best band (or bands) he still manages to innovate, to challenge and to craft simple, perfect melodies and lyrics filled with poetic grace.2. Ted Leo/Pharmacists Shake the Sheets Lookout Records: You just knew Ted Leo had this album in him. Thirty-five minutes of perfect rock ‘n roll, belted out with a passion and precision that’s a joy to hear.3. Guided By Voices Half Smiles of the Decomposed Matador Records:Their last and, strangely, most underrated album. Fans jaded by the so-so quality of GBV’s last two records seem to have not given Half Smiles the number of spins needed for its nostalgia-tinged melodies to sink in. Once they do, it’s clear that the album awash in acoustic guitar and supple pop hooks is their best since Isolation Drills. They will be missed.4. Velvet Crush Stereo Blues Action Musik: Easily the comeback of the year. Sure, they’ve been releasing records fairly regularly since the band stopped touring in the late ’90s, but Stereo Blues was the Crush’s first proper rock record since Heavy Changes and 2004 saw them play live for the first time in seven years. The album’s yet more proof that Paul Chastain writes hooks with the best of ’em.5. The Hang Ups The Hang Ups Trampoline Records: How is it that these Kinks and Zombies obsessives are barely known outside of their native Minneapolis? They write the kind of lovelorn, sad-guy pop tunes that are the aural equivalent of an Adrian Tomine graphic novel.6. Matthew Sweet Living Things / Kimi Ga Suki RacmRecords: After wasting the past two years with the syrupy Thorns, Sweet returns with two of the best albums of his career, the first a mostly acoustic, Van Dyke Parks-assisted effort and the second a full-on powerpop, guitar-fueled masterpiece. The Ocean In-Between may be the song of the year.7. Sondre Lerche Two Way Monolgue Astralwerks: The favorite young hunk of female bloggers everywhere, Lerche also released one of the year’s most literate records. Like Josh Rouse, he sounds like he could have been writing at the height of the late ’70s singer-songwriter era, with a dash of Go-Betweens-esque pop thrown in for good measure.8. The Delgados Universal Audio ChemikalUndergorund: After winning the title for best Dave Fridmann-produced album of the year on multiple occasions, Glasgow’s Delgados enlist a new producer, strip away the strings and overdubs and release their best album yet.9. Mission of Burma OnOffOn Matador Records: This should make every Williamsburg band want to packup their bags and go home. Scary that a band recording 20 years after they first called it a day can release an album that sounds so much more fresh than the majority of what passes for indie rock these days.10.Rough Trade Shops – indiepop vol. 1 EMI International: A compilation of mid 80s and contemporary indie pop, including out-of-print early Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine, Stereolab-precursor McCarthy, Josef K, Orange Juice, The Shop Assistants, The Pastels and seemingly ever Glasgow band that ever released a seven-inch.

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