With all the changes that 2004 brought I didn’t get to nearly as many new records as I usually would, and I’m still trying to catch up so this list is very much in flux. But then, I’ve never written such a list without a disclaimer of some sort… This list is in a rough order, but not a fixed one. It also does not contain Julie Lee’s Stillhouse Road purely because I listened to it so much in 2003. For a more accurate picture of what I’ve actually been listening to this year, there’s audioscrobbler.
I came to this one a little later than I’d hoped but can’t stop hitting repeat. The inclusion of London Community Gospel Choir and a few production choices mean at times this has a bit of a ‘worship album’ feel, but every now and again that’s ok. Probably what a worship album ought to be.
Not my favourite Sam Phillips release (Martinis & Bikinis still takes that title) but the first one I’ve seen her tour. The lyrics are customarily intricate, the emotions a little less guarded than they’ve sometimes been, and the concert was little short of a revelation.
It’s been talked about to death, and my perception is probably once again coloured by seeing them live for the first time, but this really feels like the album on which Wilco begin to deliver on all that promise. On a drive to Traverse City in October we listened to all Wilco’s albums in sequence, realising that none of them have been as much of a departure as some critics would have us believe, but this one certainly does feel the most mature. Very carefully constructed/sequenced, its an album that brings out the old cliche ‘where will they go next?’
Long awaited etc. etc. etc. About as good as pop gets. The second time Van Dyke Parks’ work appears on this list.
They’d played most of these live before releasing the album, but it’s still great to hear them on record. The production lives up to the tunes in a way that the first album couldn’t, and the result is more fun than any album deserves to be.
We just kept playing this over and over.
Another recent acquisition and one that I haven’t yet given the time it deserves, but it’s a strong release from a man who doesn’t really make weak ones. I think everything I love about Tom Waits can be found here somewhere.
David Byrne was the soundtrack for about half of our summer (the Spree were the other half). I think I probably preferred “Into The Eyeball”, but this certainly demonstrates he still has an ear for a good song.
One of two double albums on the list, this one isn’t quite such a tight collection as Mr. Cave’s and still doesn’t quite top “Nixon” in the Lambchop album ratings, but Kurt Wagner demonstrates once again that strange knack for conjuring an intimate sound from a 14-or-so-piece band. Once I start this pair playing, they usually keep going for several days.
I’ve probably talked too much about the surprise I experienced when I spotted one of Sufjan’s singles in the Junction11 studio some months ago. He moved from being ‘that guy Denison is really into’ to ‘that guy every one seems to be into’ remarkably quickly. This album is more complex than “Michigan”, which was itself a good release, and shows there’s far more substance than you’d expect from his meteoric rise.
I’ve been a fan of 16 HorsepowerDavid Eugene Edwards’ main bandfor some time but despite being very taken with the first Woven Hand album never got round to buying it. On the strength of this (which I’ve written about in more details elsewhere) I’m going to have to.
One of those bands who’ve been discussed to death on many other blogs. A friend recommended them a few months ago, and that combined with a few clips on the web had me convinced. They’re one of those bands whose influences are at first far too apparent (when we first played the album in the car, I couldn’t help but comment on the influences apparent on each and every track) but it’s a real grower and those influences are better melded than it first appears.
A very long time in coming, but probably worth the wait.
Solid, but not really a development. I listened to this over and over in the week before its release (that online streaming thing) but by the time of release, as the reviews and other furore refused to abate, it felt like time for a break. I’m sure the tour will be great. There aren’t any surprises, but when the band is U2 that’s not all bad.
I’m not quite so taken with this as I was with Control, but it certainly showed that the band deserve the sell-out crowd that showed up when they played at Calvin in November. Dave Bazan’s storytelling is carefully layered, evocative and empathetic. And he upsets a lot of the CCM world, so that’s good too 🙂
The one or two standout tracks on here are what makes the album for me. The opening “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” and “Such Great Heights” stand tall above the rest of the songs, but it’s still a nice little album that belies its side-project status.