Perfect Sound Forever

2004's best music

Perfect Sound Forever staff
(January 2005)

Marianne Moro's Top Ten:

10. Beastie Boys: To the 5 Boroughs (Capitol) | Who would have guessed, after hearing "Fight for Your Right," that these guys would still be around, twenty-odd years later. The Boys maintain that edgy party vibe while tackling hard subjects – 9/11, the Bush presidency – with the same snotty, but ultimately forward-thinking aplomb. They've matured, but they haven't "Grown up."

9. William Shatner: Has Been (Shout Factory) | A work of surprising integrity and quality from the actor/Priceline pitchman/occasional recording artist whose first album The Transformed Man is the epitome of kitsch. Producer/collaborator Ben Folds helps Shatner on an audio memoir of sorts, one that traverses the sublime to the ridiculous with panache. "Hasn't Happened Yet" comes off like a prose poem and the hilarious rant "I Can't Get Behind That" (with Henry Rollins) is worth the price of the CD on its own.

8. Prince: Musicology (Sony) | On his first widely-touted album since the early '90s, Prince concentrates on funk and ballads, and turns down the salaciousness, though the songs still maintain an understated sex appeal. Prince is a Jehovah's Witness now. But Prince 2004 is no Born-Again wimp, as the funk-driven opening track "Musicology" demonstrates capably. The ballad "Call My Name" extols the virtues of wedded bliss. "Cinnamon Girl" sounds like it could have been included on Sign O' the Times.

7. Bees: Free the Bees (EMI) | It's retro, but it's escaped the damning over-hype saddling other young bands in the same genre. Add a little Beatles circa 1965 and psychedelic '60s soul like "Chicken Payback" and you've got an album that's fun and unpretentious. From the opener "These are the Ghosts" onward, the songs all have that crackly, authentic '60s AM radio vibe, sort of like Herman's Hermits with heavy guitars.

6. Elliot Smith: From a Basement on the Hill (anti) | Given Smith's untimely demise, the songs on From a Basement on the Hill demonstrate a poignancy that goes beyond sorrow. The rockin' chords and Revolver intro of "Coast to Coast" open the album in deceiving fashion: the acoustic guitar and piano ballads that follow chronicle his personal descent into severe depression and, ultimately, as far as we know, suicide. From a Basement on the Hill was compiled by Rob Schnapf , producer of Smith's XO, and musician Joanna Bolme (the Minders, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks).

5. Futureheads: Futureheads (Sire/Ada) | A retro art school band from the UK, not from the over-hyped Strokes/Hives league – yet. They also carry on the tradition of young male bands covering '80s female artists (Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love"). XTC, the Ramones, and the slightest dash of Britpop round out the Futureheads' debut.

4. Brian Wilson: Smile (Nonesuch) | Thirty-seven years after the Beach Boys' Smile LP was shelved, Brian Wilson returned to a recording studio, and recreated the original tracks with the help of Darian Sahanaja of the Wondermints. The final seventeen-track CD is a beautiful slice of '60s Americana. Although not quite the missing companion to Sgt. Pepper's, it comes awfully close.

3. Morrissey: You Are the Quarry (Sanctuary) | The best Morrissey album since the early '90s, You Are the Quarry actually rocks – no more of that weepy, pedantic stuff. Still, you can't find a better love song than "Let Me Kiss You." Only a true talent can take lyric like "You have never been in love until you've seen sunlight thrown over smashed human bone," and fit it comfortably into a hum-able pop song as Morrissey does in "First of the Gang to Die." The album is by no means cozy, though: witness his scathing indictment of British politics, "Irish Blood, English Heart."

2. Bjork: Medúlla (Elektra) | It seems every time I write a year end Top Ten list, Bjork's on it. Is it just because she's weird, my populist friends wonder? Well, weird doesn't always mean good, or compelling, but Bjork is one of the few artists who can be quirky and keep even the artistically challenged listener interested. No instruments, just her voice – this either/or proposition is one person's masterpiece and another's self-indulgent esoterica. Even without instruments, Bjork's voice (layered and re-sampled) creates a unique audio palette that keeps you listening for the next surprise, from the harmonies of "Vökur-" to its discordant punk rock counterpart "…ll Birtan."

1. Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose (Interscope) | Produced by Jack White of the White Stripes, Van Lear Rose is similar in modus operandi to the Rick Rubin/Johnny Cash pairing of a decade ago. While Van Lear Rose isn't as sparse or dark as American Recordings, Lynn teaches the youngsters a thing or two on cuts like "Portland, Oregon" (a duet with White) and the trenchant "Family Ties." At 70, Lynn is still in fine voice, and her lyrics are telling as ever. Though largely overlooked by country music purists, Van Lear Rose received five Grammy Nominations this year.

Daniel Varela's 10:

Hafler Trio: How to Slice a Loaf of Bread (Phonometrography) | Clearer drones, crystalline sound tapestries, prints/texts/diagrams, arcana.

Ellen Fullman & Konrad Sprenger: Ort (Choose) | "Partch- rock," just intonation, pulse-driven textures, Guthrie + Lomax Americana.

Alvin Curran: Maritime Rites (New World) | Music Circus, ship horns, radio art, instruments and total environment.

Bjork: Medúlla (One Little Indian) | Out of pop fashion, delicacy, new (post-Meredith Monk) traditions, detachment.

Klaus Lang: Sei-Jaku fur Streichquartett (Edition RZ) | Silence, stasis, subtle variations, introspection.

Daevid Allen & University of Errors: Jet Propelled Photographs (Cuneiform) | Psychedelia revisited, astonishing guitar work, Pataphysics...and guts.

Simeon Ten Holt: Highlights (Composers Voice, 11 CDs) | Three hour lullabies, Milhaud minimalism, "diagonal" post-tonality, soft rhythm machines.

Steve Peters: From Shelter (Cold Blue) | Melody rises again, breath-like music, simplicity, seduction.

Rolf Julius: Early Works Vol. 1 (Fringes Recordings) | Pioneering Sound Art, Small sounds, chamber loudspeaker music, experimental audio research.

Paul Timmermanns: White as Piano (P-Art DVD) | White sounds, images & prepared pianos, digital vs. low tech treatments, expression.

Kurt Hernon's 10:

The Solution: Communicate! (Psychout) | Scott Morgan is the ultimate true-believer: a believer in R&B, in soul, in the legacy of his home turf – Detroit – and in the spirit of rock and roll, forever. The exclamation point at the end of the title is absolutely necessary. Beautiful!

The Violents: Baby EP (self-released) | Three girls make like they stumbled onto a copy of New Day Rising and heard it for the pop record it truly is. On Baby they decipher their thoughts, and I've fallen in love again. This time, with three girls...where do we go from here?

Tommy Stinson: Village Idiot Head (Sanctuary) | It's hard to tell whether this record is so damn good because all of Westerberg's are so damn bad or if it's holding up on its own merits. Either way Stinson wins: this is the best post-Replacements record to date

The Tubes: Now (Acadia) | Sure it's a mess, but it's a glorious, hilarious, beautiful, arty-as-hell mess. Long-ago deleted from the A&M catalog, this pretending - to - be - ambitious - because - we - aren't - at - all - ambitious - and - we - hope - this - masks - it reissue will force a smile through your wincing.

U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope) | Finally, a U2 record I can dig all the way through, and, at long last, a proper follow up to The Bends, which Radiohead were too frightened to deliver. This is pop music, Mr. Yorke.

The Ike Reilly Assassination: Sparkle in the Finish (RockRidge) | Hip-hop bastardizing, Dylan-wannabe-ing hipster? Sure as shit that's what he is, and he's damn near flawless. Prince: Musicology (NPG) | His live show was the musical event of my lifetime – for many reasons – and this just happens to be the record that came with the package.

Thelonious Monster: California Clam Chowder (Lakeshore) | Bob Forrest is a brilliant jackass. Then again, so am I – no wonder I love his "see the world through my eyes" posturing. Funny thing is he's spot on!

Todd Snider: East Nashville Skyline (Ohboy) | The most valid political record of this most political of years. This makes the list on the strength of one song, and one song only (all of them are wonderful, but...): "The Ballad of the Kingsmen" is simple, somewhat obvious, and needs to be said again and again.

The Mountain Goats: We Shall all Be Healed (4AD) | At first I thought I couldn't even listen to this stuff. Then I couldn't ever turn it off. Try it for your own damn self!

Collin Makamson's Ten:

The Teardrop Explodes: Zoology (Head Heritage)
Blue Ash: Around Again (Not Lame)
Sunnyboys: This is Real (Feel Presents)
Homosexuals: Astral Glamour (Hyped to Death/Morphius)
Zolar X: Timeless (Alternative Tentacles)
Glitterbest: 20 Pre-Punk 'N' Glam Terrace Stompers (RPM)
The Gun Club: Miami (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
Virgin Prunes: If I Die, I Die (Mute)
The Prefects: Amateur Wankers (Acute)
Designer Genes: Whenever their EP actually comes out...

Gary Gomes' Top Ten Reissues from 2004:

1. Soft Machine: Backwards (Cuneiform)
2. Soft Machine: Noisette (Cuneiform)
3. Gentle Giant: Octopus (Columbia)
4. Genesis: Nursery Cryme (Atlantic)
5. Genesis: Foxtrot (Atlantic)
6. Family: Live (United States Dist)
7. Ornette Coleman: The Skies of America (Columbia)
8. Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch (Blue Note)
9. Colloseum: The Time Machine (Castle)
10. Brotherhood of Breath: Traveling Somewhere (Cuneiform)

Kurt Wildermuth's Ten:

Rufus Wainwright: Want Two (Geffen) | If last year's Want One suggested the confessional-ism of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and the grandeur of All Things Must Pass, Two adds the range of the White Album; not cheery stuff, but the only good news I heard in November 2004.

Laura Veirs: Carbon Glacier (Nonesuch) | Pretty, abstract folk-pop art songs treated as eerie chamber music.

Tin Hat Trio: Book of Silk (Ropeadope) | Beautiful, abstract chamber music treated as heartbreaking folk-pop art songs.

Old 97's: Drag it Up (New West) | Older, sadder, slower, and searching, like a four-man Lucinda Williams without the mystique.

Nerissa and Katryna Nields: This Town is Wrong (Zoe) | Folk-pop-country-rock with ringing guitars and the sisters' soaring harmonies.

Modest Mouse: Good News for People Who Love Bad News (Epic) | Good news for people who like their rock restless and polymorphous.

Mission of Burma: OnOffOn (Matador) | Post-punk that picks up where they left off in 1983, with a few new tricks.

Minus 5: In Rock (Yep Roc) | Garage rock, not as nostalgia or arrested development, but as pure pop by smart people, tongues sincerely in cheek.

Firewater: Songs We Should Have Written (Jetset) | Treading water, but a covers collection that's as fun to hear as it must have been to make.

Chris Eckman: The Black Field (Glitterhouse) | Walkabouts leader's 2nd solo album; subdued, spare, enigmatic.

Kortney Jmaeff's Ten:

Motorhead: Inferno (Metal-Is)
Morrissey: You are the Quarry (Attack)
Dillinger Escape Plan: Miss Machine (Relapse)
Probot: Probot (Southern Lord)
Hayden: Elk-Lake Serenade (Badman)
Fantomas: Delerium Cordia (Ipepcac)
Leatherface: Dog Disco (Better Youth Organization)
Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse (Geffen)
Polyphonic Spree: Together We're Heavy (Hollywood)
Lou Reed: Animal Serenade (Live) (Warner Brothers)

Jorge Luis Fernández's Ten:

Arve Henriksen: Chiaroscuro (Rune Grammofon)
Jon Balke & Magnetic North Orchestra: Diverted Travels (ECM)
Loren Connors: The Departing of a Dream Vol. III: Juliet (Family Vineyard)
The Ivytree: Winged Leaves (Catsup Plate)
The Skygreen Leopards: One Thousand Bird Ceremony (Soft Abuse)
Black Dice: Creature Comforts (DFA)
David Thomas & Two Pale Boys: 18 Monkeys on a Dead Man's Chest (Glitterhouse)
Richard Youngs: River Through Howling Sky (JagJaguar)
Fennesz: Venice (Touch)
Oren Ambarchi: Grapes From the Estate (Touch)

This year, I finally get caught up in the network of Jewelled Antlers' deceptively simple outdoor recordings. Their music is bucolic and contemplative, but it's also surreal and challengingly new, like bulletins sent up from Tarkowski's InterZone. Besides, their beautiful drawings and layouts – an integral part of their materials – show the way to those who think that packaged music still matters. If neo-folk and free-folk are a back to basics riposte to glitch-delia, then Black Dice's increasingly cosmic music is a reckless leap into the future. However, my highest praise goes to the irresistible Balke and Henriksen's new recordings: glacial landscapes and virgin beauty.

D.C. Ruiz's Top Ten:

1. the primeTime sublime Community Orchestra: A Life in a Day of a Microorganism (Corporate Blob Records)
2. Eric Dolphy: Out There (Prestige)
3. Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost: Rare & Unissued Recordings (1962-1970) (9 CD box set; Revenant Records 213)
4. Ornette Coleman: Ornette (Rhino Records)
5. Jimi Hendrix: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (DVD; BMG Video)
6. Cecil Taylor Unit: One Two Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye (Hatology)
7. Peter Brotzmann: Medicina (Atavistic 149)
8. John Zorn: Magick (Tzadik)
9. Anita O'Day: Swings Rogers and Hart (VME)
10. Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings (1902-20) (Naxos Historical)

Christian Leduc's Ten:

I had quite a busy year, living in London for a while, going to Haiti as a journalist for a month, and now I am back in Canada, my home country. From Britpop to Haitian Kompa, my choices tend to reflect those movements in 2004.

Keane: Hopes and Fears (Interscope)
The Clash: London Calling (25th anniversary edition; Epic/Legacy)
Neulander: Smoke + Fire (Disko B)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus (Anti)
Michael Rother: Remember [The Great Adventure] (GanGo)
Mozayik: Rhythmic Reflections (Mozayik)
Émeline Michel: Rasin Kreyol (Times Square)
Jorane: The You and the Now (Aquarius)
Les Cowboys Fringants: La Grand-Messe (La Tribu)
Leonard Cohen: Dear Heather (Columbia)

John Dougan's Twelve:

As each year goes by, I get less enthused and motivated to compile a "best of" list. Since I left rock criticism for academia nearly a decade ago, I no longer get review copies and I'm back to being a consumer who buys, borrows, burns, and downloads (although I do the latter two rarely, so please don't send someone from the RIAA to arrest me in the middle of the night). Since the vast majority of the music I hear in a given year is purchased, financial realities dictate how much (or how little) I'm exposed to. I've never liked making ten (or in this case twelve) selections, because there are dozens of worthy records, and I change my mind a lot...

Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse (Geffen)
Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio: Complete Coral Recordings (Hip-O)
The Clash: London Calling (25th anniversary edition; Epic/Legacy)
Mott the Hoople: Live (30th anniversary edition; Columbia)
Brad Paisley with Alison Krauss: "Whiskey Lullaby" from Mud on the Tires (Arista)
Beastie Boys: To the 5 Boroughs (Capitol)
DNA: On DNA (No More Records)
Motorhead: "You Better Swim," soundtrack from the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (Sire)
Various Artists: Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970 (Lost Highway/Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)
Prince's Musicology Tour: May 6, 2004, Gaylord Entertainment Center, Nashville, TN
Jerry Springer the Opera: August 3, 2004, Earlham Theater, London

As for this year's choices, while I am indifferent to each new release by REM and U2 (and have been for a while), Sonic Youth releases one great record after another and Sonic Nurse is no exception. They are a truly great American band.

In case you weren't hep to the fact that Paul Burlison was one of great axe-slingers of the rockabilly era, Hip-O's breathtaking collection of his work as one-third of Johnny Burnette's rock and roll is all the proof you'll need. The reissued Clash and Mott LPs greatly serve each band's legacy. "Whiskey Lullaby" is the prettiest, saddest country song since Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing At All."

Choosing the Beastie Boys as my lone hip-hop selection isn't particularly brave or risky, but it's so ebulliently "old school" that it's irresistible. I didn't choose the DNA anthology to kiss up to its compiler, who is also the editor of this publication (take a bow, Jason): it's simply the best skronk anthology by America's greatest skronk band. It was great hearing Motorhead in the SpongeBob SquarePants movie (not to mention a wonderful father/son bonding moment), but why no speaking role for Lemmy? The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (and its curator Michael Gray) put together a superb exhibit documenting Nashville's R&B history and this spectacular two-disc set proves once and for all that Music City ain't only about country.

Prince's Musicology Tour reminded us that we can never take him for granted. Musical theater's not my thing, but Jerry Springer the Opera (currently enjoying a sold out run in London's West End and starring David Soul) is one of the funniest, most tasteless things I've ever enjoyed.

Efrén del Valle's Ten:

John Zorn: The Classic Guide to Strategy Volume Three (Tzadik)
Various Artists: Popular Electronics (Early Dutch Electronic Music from Philips Research Laboratories 1956-1963) (Basta)
Brian Wilson: Smile (Nonesuch)
Kaada & Mike Patton: Romances (Ipecac)
Ikue Mori/Zeena Parkins: The Phantom Orchard (Mego)
Fantomas: Delirium Cordia (Ipecac)
Secret Chiefs 3: Book of Horizons (Mimicry)
Tom Waits: Real Gone (Anti)
Master Musicians of Bukkake: The Invisible Sign of the Invisible Order (Abduction)
Harry Partch: The Harry Partch Collection Vols. I & II (New World)

It's always hard to trim your choices down to ten favorites, but this year, good, newly released stuff seemed to give me the slip (no, I'm not one of those pessimists who think good music ended in the '60s, it's just a question of taking aim). It was great for (re)discovering certain discographies though: Can, Sun City Girls, the Sublime Frequencies label, John Zorn's chamber/orchestral works, Keiji Haino, Anthony Braxton, the Beach Boys, part of the impressive Erstwhile catalog, Otomo Yoshihide, Lou Reed, etc. We also enjoyed some particularly good concerts here: Eyvind Kang + Jessica Kinney/Fantomas, Ken Vandermark's FME Ensemble, Ned Rothenberg solo, Tim Berne's Science Friction + guest Herb Robertson, Derek Bailey's intimate shows less often that we'd like, the No Spaghetti Edition Festival with some of Europe's improv luminaries – Rhodri Davies, Ingar Zach, Axel Dörner, Xavier Charles, Michel Doneda, et al We suffered the occasional disappointments – Sonic Youth's Sonic Nurse, the Arkestra show in September, and the sad, sad news of far too many losses, among them the unique Robert Quine.

Shane Jesse Christmass' Ten:

Reigning Sound: Too Much Guitar (In the Red)
Wayne McGhie & the Sounds Of Joy: S/T (Light in the Attic)
Armitage Shanks: Urinal Heap (Damaged Goods)
Egos: Fast Swimming (Dropkick)
The Ponys: Laced With Romance (In the Red)
Chrome: Anthology 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra)
The Lids: S/T (Rip Off)
Various Artists: Studio One Funk (Soul Jazz)
Catholic Boys: Psychic Voodoo Mind Control (Trickknee)
Beehive & The Barracudas: Cock Ready (Dollar)

I guess the Black Lips record and the new Hot Snakes could've squeezed usual it was a great year for music. I managed to escape pessimism by listening to more grand releases than bad ones. If you want to check out the various stuff I was listening to this year, head here.

Johan Kugelberg's Ten:

Dangerous Rhythm: Stray Cat Blues (7"; Odeon, 1979)
P.J. La Boy: Baya Latinos (12"; Etcetera, 1979)
Dungen: Ta Det Lugnt (Subliminal)
Danny and the Dressmakers: 200 Cancellations (cassette; Fuck Off, 1980)
The acetate of alternate, earlier versions of the tracks from the first Velvets album, found in Chelsea.
The Cramps, live at Irving Plaza
Diana Ross: Love Hangover (12"; bootleg repress of Motown promo-only)
V/A: Tighten Up Vol. 2 (Trojan)
Baden Powell: Afro Sambas (Vogue)
K Frimpong and his Cubano Fiestas: S/T (EMI)

Record re-mastering, crack pipe in hand
Kinks: The Village Green Preservation Society triple CD on Sanctuary | Jesus this sounds like shit. Track down the Castle/Essential version of yore and compare. Depressing.

Dream Syndicate: The Days of Wine and Roses | My wife is not a music fanatic, hence the happy marriage and happy kids. We were listening to this in the car and she goes, "What the fuck – this record used to sound great!" True words: Worst Rhino mastering job ever/yet.

Reissue of 2004
Various Artists: Down in the Basement (Old Hat) | "New Call of the Freaks" on the popular compact disc format! Woo-Hoo!

When you tell me about new music, I tell you about old music
Why is there only one recording from 2004 on this list? Because, in the immortal words of Karl Marx, "When everyone is a hipster no one is hip." George W. Bush, who as everyone knows is a great record collector, started the war in Iraq just to give the urban-outfitter-hipster rock bands something real to complain about in hopes that the fear of the draft would make 'em write better songs. Hasn't worked as of yet.

Adam McGovern's Top Ten Songs:

10. Basya Schechter (with Alan Kushan): "Pashmina," from Queen's Dominion (Tzadik) | Jewish-Kurdish music for a delayed new millennium. As the din of Middle Eastern reality drones on, shut it out with a headphone-full of this and hear yourself dream.

9. Angelique Kidjo: "Bala Bala," from Oyaya! (Sony) | The rootsy cosmopolitan breaks more musical embargoes with this, and an album's worth of other addictive Cuban and Caribbean collaborations. Life-giving.

8. U2: "Vertigo," from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope) | The future still belongs to U2, because they can see it without blinking; the closest thing we have left to a consensual medium is commercials, so that's the pipeline they chose to run this irresistible Rock en Espanol football chant through. They got exposure and took no money on the iPod-ad deal (leave it to U2 to figure out how to sell out with purity), and if this is what it takes to ease some Third World debt and resuscitate what remains of rock, I'm in.

7. John Adams: "On the Transmigration of Souls;" from On the Transmigration of Souls (Nonesuch) | Apparently the statute of limitations on being charged with 9/11 exploitation is two years, but it should have been shorter in the case of this dignified and incandescently human elegy, premiered in 2002 and now, at last on disk, even more capable of belonging to everyone.

6. Usher: "Confessions, Pt. 2," from Confessions (La Face) | In these winner-take-all, with-us-or-against us times, we could use some high-profile humility, and it took an icon of hip-hop-nation manliness to bring it.

5. Horsebox: "Stupid Parts of Town" ( | "Year's best" metrics are confounded by this band's unfettered online hit factory; best-this-minute is more like it, so for now this dapper ditty of unquiet desperation gets the gold.

4. Morrissey: "I'm Not Sorry," from You Are the Quarry (Attack) | A spine-tingling ode to artistic and amorous hunger, haunting like some supernatural Johnny Ray single from five minutes after he died. Essential song, album and artist, no matter what ye of little attention span may say.

3. Carl Hancock Rux: "Apothecary Song," from Apothecary RX (Giant Step) | A sublime cyber-psalm from the artist second only to Me'Shell NdegéOcello in his ability to possess the studio and find the soul in the machine.

2. j. poet: "Southern Cross," from LSDOA (self-released)
1. Rasputina: "The Mayor," from Frustration Plantation (Instinct) | The anti-Bush songs that will last are the ones that don't mention him by name, tapping into an eternity of unfit leadership instead of tying themselves to one year's model. Rasputina's sly wit and j. poet's tragic sweep make for two classics of the sing-truth-to-power form.

Dominique Leone's Top Ten:

10. Erlend Øye: DJ Kicks | Erlend Øye made the perfect spring record in 2004, compiling songs that fit its returning green and leftover chill to a tee. In the process, he made a few new microhouse converts, and helped non-dance fans who otherwise wouldn't be caught dead humming along to Justus Kohncke records. More power to him. No, he didn't always match beats up perfectly (or at all), and yes, his singing sometimes left a little to be desired, but those things just make this entry in the DJ Kicks series seem all the more human and endearing. Plus, "Rubicon" sounds like a shiny silver suit.

9. Espers: S/T | There are lots of people out there playing hazy, lazy folk music. Espers are much sweeter than your average freak-folk unit, owing primarily to the clear, rich timbres of Greg Weeks and Meg Baird's vocals. Yes, there are plenty of psychedelic asides, and the songs tend to meander, but never at the expense of simple, pretty tunes. This is my favorite 2004 album to play in the car and zone out. But not on the highway. That much.

8. Magma: K.A. | To almost no fanfare, Magma returned with their first studio album in twenty years. And wow, did they ever return. This music was actually composed in the early '70s, during Magma's heyday, but had never been recorded until now. From the start, it's clear Christian Vander's band hasn't lost anything; in fact, the ending – with frantic odd-metered drums driving the hallelujahs of his vocal chorus – is about as intense and ecstatic as anything they ever did. I love this band.

7. Nellie McKay: Get Away From Me | It would have been pretty easy to miss this CD, because I never listen to NPR or take the suggestions from People magazine that seriously. It's not that I'm a snob, but...well, I can't figure out a way to finish that sentence. In any case, I would have been wrong to doubt the goofy, sharp appeal of McKay's debut. Her songs, musically speaking, are as accomplished as any you'll hear on the radio – and most that you won't – and lyrically, while she doesn't shy away from the cringe-worthy couplet, she's hardly embarrassing. In fact, she's pretty funny, and almost always clever. I'm betting on her getting better, but even if she doesn't, there's enough spark here to last a while.

6. Charalambides: Joy Shapes | Where Devendra Banhart and Espers call on rustic psychedelia and an amiable aura, Charalambides are still pretty spooky. It's not that Joy Shapes is a scary record, but it's disturbing, in the way that contemplating death and the beyond is. It can be deeply inspiring for the same reasons; maybe it comes down to how willing you are to teeter on the edge. They seem to love it. 5. Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing in the Hands | Like Animal Collective, Banhart's "scene" went through a few phases in 2004, from up-and-coming, to "hot" to "hipster alert," and like Animal Collective, his music sidesteps the buzz pretty effortlessly. "Freak-folk" doesn't do justice to the familiar, modest calm at the heart of Banhart's music; I needed lots of excuses to smile for no logical reason in 2004, and Rejoicing in the Hands was perfect for that.

4. Excepter: KA | Fusetron issued the originally vinyl-only KA on CD this year, tacking on the Vacation EP, which made all the difference. "Vacation" and "Forget Me" are marvels in chaotic, densely textured ambience. I spent many an afternoon letting them form spirals and fractal patterns in my head. My favorite freaky Brooklyn band at the moment.

3. Björk: Medúlla | Bjork never fails to provoke and amaze, which doesn't always result in music that I want to listen to, but Medúlla is cool. I can't think of an individual musician who is so consistently interesting.

2. Animal Collective: Sung Tongs | 2004 began as I anticipated this record; when it arrived, I loved it and told anyone who would listen. By the end of the year, I couldn't help but notice cries of "overrated!" and "hipster!" Trends move like spilt milk over the internet. I don't think Sung Tongs is the best record I've ever heard; in fact, I wouldn't say it's my favorite Animal Collective record. But it is pretty great, and of all the records to come out of left field and get some mainstream props, I'm glad this one did.

1. Brian Wilson: Smile | I had lots of discussions with other writers about whether or not Wilson's Smile should really be considered a 2004 record. The release date isn't in question; the heart of the argument regards the spirit of the music. I can certainly see how Wilson's bizarre Americana and outmoded barbershop (which Jimi Hendrix called out way back in '67) doesn't exactly speak to "now" as well as it could, but I can't honestly say I heard "better" music this year than Smile.

Andy Cumming's Ten:

Though our house has throbbed to many things this year, from Sunn O))) to Lil' Jon, this list looks at the best and most interesting from Brazil this year which is going through an explosion of creativity enabled by the increasing number of indie labels.

Romulo Froes: Calado (Bizarre) | Sad, beautiful sambas, like Low meets Pixinguinha.

Arnaldo Baptista: Let it Bed (L & C Editora) | Not exactly a return to form from this cracked musical genius, but good to see him healthily embracing electronics.

Hurtmold: Mestro (Submarine) | Post-rockers release yet another sublime set.

Bojo & Maria Alcina: Agora (Outros Discos) | Indefinable electronic pop music and an inspired collaboration.

Chiar: O Panfletariado (Midsummer Madness) | Homemade effort surprises with some remarkable songwriting.

Nego Moçambique: S/T (Segundo Mundo) | Nonstop funk party produced by one of the best electronic live acts currently in Brazil.

Mtakara: S/T (Submarine) | Excellent set of dubby, casio-tinged soundscapes.

Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats (Essay) | I'll admit I had a helping hand in this lovingly-packaged compilation, but it really is the best overview of this long maligned sub-genre of a sub-genre.

Black Alien: Babylon by Gus Vol. 1 - O Ano do Macaco (DeckDisc) | So much great Brazilian hip hop this year, but this one wins out for sheer willful experimentation.

Elza Soares: Vivo Feliz (Reco-Head) | Take one legendary Samba diva, introduce her to a contemporary producer, and what do you get? One very funky album.

Mike Edwards' Top Ten:

10. U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
9. Chris Carter: Electronic Ambient Remixes Vol. 3
8. Any mash-up by Go Home Productions, the king of the old new wave, new pop mash up.
7. Franz Ferdinand: S/T
6. Throbbing Gristle: NOW
5. Brian Wilson: Smile
4. Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse
3. Wilco: A Ghost is Born
2. Black Keys: Rubber Factory
1. Secret Machines: Debut

Craig Breaden's Top Ten:

10. Echo and the Bunnymen: Heaven Up Here reissue (Rhino) | Hard to imagine the cognoscenti once considered this their weakest effort, but so it was. Between the band's penchant for the difficult and gorgeous, Heaven Up Here hugs a narrow line off which it never slips. Martial drumming and bell guitars, this is Northern England as Joy Division re-imagined it, but the gloom is tempered by warmth – Ian McCulloch probably didn't even have to sing for this album to be as good as it is, but his melodies cast an autumn light that came to full flower on Ocean Rain. The live bonus tracks make this already very worthwhile, crisp-sounding reissue indispensable.

9. Popol Vuh: In Den Garten Pharaohs (SPV Reissue) | PV's second album catches them between the Moog drift of Affenstunde and the devotional music they would so eloquently capture as the '70s unfolded. Bonus tracks are nice but lack info, continuing a frustrating trend in Krautrock reissues.

8. Popol Vuh: Affenstunde (SPV Reissue) | Popol Vuh's first album fit oddly, perfectly, and gently with the emerging German rock of 1970, with Florian Fricke's lovely and mysterious Moog hovering and glimmering effortlessly – the maiden voyage of a unique musician. The bonus track, "Train Through Time," is quite good, although no information is provided on it – the booklet is an overview of Fricke's career, and contains no track specific track data.

7. Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose (Interscope) | Van Lear Rose impressed me as a rock album, the way the best country does. Say what you will, teaming with Jack White was pure genius, and the fact that Lynn – nothing if not a journeying careerist – saw in him the spark she needed speaks volumes. In my book, when the best rock album of the year comes from a seventy year-old dame of country music, we should throw our arms out and praise the heavens.

6. Wovenhand: Consider the Birds (Sounds Familyre) | David Eugene Edwards' efforts outside of 16 Horsepower pay off with Consider the Birds, a medicine show of religious imagery, surprisingly big gothic Americana and spinning eastern melodies. Serious and sustained, the album is impressive for a song-oriented set. Edwards' voice reminds me of nothing so much as John Cameron Mitchell's in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, had that show been about a southern rainmaker at the turn of the century.

5. Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz: Draw Closer (Rounder) | If you found a trunk full of pristine, un-played hillbilly 78s from 1923, you'd be in for much the same type of listening experience contained on Draw Closer. Before radio separated the blues from the 'billy (just so they could be sewn back together again in the '50s), music like this was not uncommon. These are not young stars, or pretty rockers with a jones for Appalachia and old-time music; hearing Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz harmonize tips their hand: this is the real deal.

4. Ben Allison: Buzz (Palmetto) | I've been told this is avant-garde, but there's no ruler to measure what I've been told about jazz versus what I hear in it, and thankfully this album doesn't throw down the worn AG gauntlet the way I thought it might. What I hear is melodic bop that spirals and peaks like switchbacks up a mountain pass, from Allison and other stalwarts of the Jazz Collective. Good to hammer nails to, as well.

3. Gris Gris: S/T (Birdman) | Roky Erickson's legacy doesn't so much loom as catch fire occasionally, and here is where it's broken down and chopped up along with some of the best tendencies of Galaxie 500-style indie. Mostly this has Austin '66 writ large over it, a western acid-scape that makes for a grittier head trip than the bulk of retro-schlock. There is genuine yelping fear going on here.

2. Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing in the Hands (Young God) | I worry about Devendra Banhart. He may be the next doomed troubadour – Hardin, the Buckleys, Drake, Stevens, Denny, Neil, Spence, Lee, Smith – he shines like they did. His second record is a campfire folk set full of idiosyncrasy, false starts, and risky wordplay. It would be disastrous if it were not accompanied by assured delivery, lithe finger-picking, and a lyrical freedom that is not afraid of both open-hearted sentiment and darkness.

1. Comets on Fire: The Blue Cathedral (Sub Pop) | A big sonic soup that finds its riffs swirling in the maelstrom of super-abused, echo-plexed sound, then exploits them until they fray at the edges and fall apart again. This is really one long song, to my way of thinking, interrupted, sure, by discrete tracks, but all of a piece. A Riff Monster. Blue Cathedral is where Comets on Fire really come together.

Michael Baker's 2004 Baker's Dozen

10. Johnny Dowd: Cemetery Shoes (Bongo Beat)
9. Castanets: Cathedral (Asthmatic Kitty)
8. Pan American: Quiet City (Kranky)
7. Ghost: Hypnotic Underworld (Drag City)
6. Badly Drawn Boy: One Plus One is One (Astralwerks)
5. The Arcade Fire: Funeral (Merge)
4. Sondre Lerche: Two Way Monologue (Astralwerks)
3a. Drive-By Truckers: Hidden South (New West)
3b. Mountain Goats: We Shall Be All Healed (4AD)
3c. Deerhoof: Milk Man (Kill Rock Stars)
3d. Guided By Voices: Half Smiles of the Decomposed (Matador)
3e. Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat (Rough Trade)
3f. Mr. Airplane Man: C'mon DJ (Sympathy for the Record Industry)

A great year, if lacking in monumental masterpieces. Wanna fight? Call my wife. Rules: No jazz, blues, R&B, classical, and reissues. What do Joe Strummer's outtakes have to do with last summer? I don't care how much lithium and duct tape used to prop up BW – Smile ain't new. Rules? Are you GD crazy?

Marc Philips' Top Ten:

10. Franz Ferdinand: S/T (Domino)
9. The Futureheads: S/T (679/Sire)
8. Ambulance Ltd.: LP (TVT)
7. Wilco: A Ghost is Born (Nonesuch)
6. Elliot Smith: From a Basement On the Hill (anti-)
5. Mission of Burma: OnOffOn (Matador)
4. Modest Mouse: Good News For People Who Like Bad News (Epic)
3. Sufjan Stevens: Seven Swans (Sounds Familyre)
2. Talking Heads: The Name of This Band is Talking Heads (reissue; Rhino)
1. The Clash: London Calling (25th anniversary edition; Epic/Legacy)

Tom Schulte's Ten:

Luis Garay Percussion World: Sacumba (Percumba)
Steve Hancoff: The Single Petal of a Rose (Out of Time)
Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/Apt. Q-258: Time is the Enemy (Bardo)
Hank Locklin: Generations in Song (Slewfoot)
Nellie McKay: Get Away from Me (Columbia)
Mudville: The Glory of Man is not in Vogue (Slurry)
Otis Taylor: Double V (Telarc)
Claudia Villela: Dreamtales (Adventure)
Tom Waits: Real Gone (anti-)
Rob Wasserman: Trilogy (Rounder)

Claudia Villela: Dreamtales (Adventure Music) | Béla Fleck characterized Claudia Villela as "pure music" and that was seems to flow effortlessly and naturally from her on this album of her wordless voice, backed by the piano of Kenny Werner. This CD is completely improvised: the pair went into the studio with no prepared material. It is also completely beautiful. The disembodied music unfettered and without prepared structure floats above and away and can thus transport the listener.

Tom Waits: Real Gone (anti-) | The Chinese finger trap is a toy made of straw that is a loosely woven into a tube about a half-inch in diameter and five inches long. A player inserts an index finger into each end. When the player tries to pull out his fingers the tube contracts and traps his fingers. The harder he pulls, the tighter the trap becomes. The only way to release the trapped fingers is to bring the hands together. The tube then expands enough for the fingers to be gently withdrawn. Tom Waits' unique, rough and apocalyptic stylism at ties threatens to be his own finger trap. The album opener "Top of the Hill" is so clamorous, primitive and dark as to be a threatening storm cloud of Waits' own destruction in the sound and fury of sonic nihilism. However, Tom quickly follows up that attention-getting overture to this American gothic opus with the gentle handclasp of melody and misery in the sea shanty-like "Hoist that Rag." "How's it Gonna End" is another superlative success as an eerie ode to hopeless destitution. Tom Waits generally avoids all social and topical commentary in his gritty little story songs but it is hard not to detect an exasperated currency in "Tomorrow," a song about a soldier writing home. It contains such reflective lines as "Trying to say is don't they pray/ To the same God that we do?/ And tell me how does God/ Choose, who's prayers does he/ Refuse..."

Luis Garay Percussion World: Sacumba (Percumba)| Luis Garay is a world percussion virtuoso that combines his talents with a playful spirit, resulting in unexpectedly joyful concoctions. For instance, take the Sino-African "Afro-Chin" with its exotic blend of tribal beats and Oriental allusions. This percussion quartet employs an entire spectrum of percussions instruments from kit drums to whistles and congas to chimes on this instrumental album.

Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/Apt. Q-258: Time is the Enemy (Bardo) | Time is the enemy. It caught up with guitar virtuoso Shawn Lane and he passed away in September 2003. This album is a collection of live performances from around the globe carefully selected and exquisitely produced. These adventurous post-fusion live jazz-rock albums Hellborg puts out are the You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore editions of '90s prog rock. The heavy, muscular approach recalls late-period King Crimson but there is a full, boundless sound and delicate intricacy that is unparalleled. This is an expertly remastered reissue of what was Hellborg and Lane's fourth album together. From here, explore the beautiful, esoteric mysteries of the companion live album featuring the pair, Temporal Analogues of Paradise.

Otis Taylor: Double V (Telarc) | Otis Taylor's Double V continues his legacy of potent blues story-songs where a striking narrative telegraphs over a direct, simple and blunt blues tune. This hypnotic, Delta-inspired trance accentuates the anger, mystery and warning of Taylor's message. Taylor sees the blues in modern society so poignantly that he really is one of the most compelling voices in modern blues. An elderly couple is driven to eat dog food ("Plastic Spoon") and Taylor gives us a history lesson in "He Never Raced on Sunday" as to how racist bicycle race promoters used Major Taylor's religious convictions against him. Listen to Taylor and come away awed and angered, moved and enlightened.

Mudville: The Glory of Man is not in Vogue (Slurry) | Be quick to judge and you will only broaden your Portishead-based definition of trip-hop to include this excellent opus featuring vocalist and wordsmith Marilyn Carino. Ruminate more on the layers of meaning that can be unraveled from the mysterious, timely title and you will find further treasures: vivid metaphor and sophisticated simile on such songs as "The Hero of the World" and "Othello." It is on "Othello" that Carino delivers in a lyric reminiscent of late-, jazz-period Joni Mitchell. However, the Annie Lennox solo recordings may be a better reference point for the rest of the album, for Carino shares with Lennox the potent, smoky voice of the pop mezzo that introduces a compelling mystery in depth to such striking images as "diamond backs of surfer girls," "flying bat-rat ponies," and other semi-surrealistic lines from this exquisite album. Julee Cruise comes to mind here, too. Do not call it "trip hop," call it a trip past the limits of pop.

Nellie McKay: Get Away from Me (Columbia) | Nellie McKay is a nineteen-year-old jazz-pop genius with talent much beyond her years. Full of adult, colorful language and a swinging hot jazz vibe, her piano tunes are the hippest, wittiest jazz to show up on a major label in too long. Much has been made of the fact that McKay can stretch her sound spectrum to even include hip-hop, but note this: her fairly sophisticated music is not overly spiced with that overpowering flavor. What cannot be understated is that she has true songwriting, jazz singing and piano playing talent. This skill and style allows here eclecticism to transcend novelty and her cunning wit to rise above cheap humor.

Hank Locklin: Generations in Song (Slewfoot) | This new album from the legendary country tenor leads off with Hank and Dolly Parton in a duet on Hank's huge hit "Send me the Pillow you Dream On." Other featured guests on this album include Jett Williams (Hank Williams, daughter of Hank Williams Sr.), Vince Gill, Jeanne Pruett ("Satin Sheets"), Hank Williams Sr.'s grandchildren and more. Locklin felt no need to update his classic sound for his golden throat and the tasteful arrangements of strings, singer and guitars is a winning combination. With folks like Hank Locklin, quality never goes out of style. His musicians for this recording include legendary session guitarist Jimmy Capps ("The Gambler"), drummer Buddy Harmon (J.J. Cale, Jerry Lee Lewis), pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins (Patsy Cline, David Allen Coe) and Charlie McCoy on harmonica and vibes along with several others.

Steve Hancoff: The Single Petal of a Rose (Out of Time) | Subtitled "Duke Ellington for Solo Guitar, Vol. 2," this is the second excellent odyssey into the Ellington oeuvre Hancoff has made with the acoustic guitar. Hancoff has gotten right into Ellington's works and reincarnated them from the inside out, as elegant guitar pieces. This collection spans the chronological spectrum of Duke's work from early 1920's ("The Creeper", "Goin' to Town") through the darker realm of grieving over the loss of his mother in the 1935 ("I'm in Another World", "Gypsy Without a Song", etc.), on through the final period from 1951-1974 when trends left Ellington and Ellington turned to serious composition ("Serious Serenade", "Isfahan", etc.). This CD of beautiful instrumental guitar comes with a thick booklet of photographs and notes on the origins of each of the eighteen pieces presented. Interestingly, Hancoff never felt it necessary to record any of the obvious choices, such Ellington hits as "Sophisticated Lady", "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Take the 'A' Train" are not on either album.

Rob Wasserman: Trilogy (Rounder) | Über-bassist Rob Wasserman provided us with a rich, three-disc set exploring his output in solo, duet and trio configurations with one ensemble form per disc. Duets and Trios previously came out separately and earned Grammys. This set contains those two as well as Solo, a collection of acoustic bass pieces. Wasserman possesses a talent that can exist in a wide spectrum of styles. He had been a member of the Grateful Dead side project Ratdog for years as well as working long term with Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, and Van Morrison. Other than Van, all those associations are captured here along with (duets) Rickie Lee Jones, Stephane Grappelli, and Aaron Neville as well as (trios) Willie Dixon, Neil Young, and Marc Ribot. These three discs brought it all together; a thing of beauty.

Stewart Voegtlin's Ten:

Writing for several online music asylums allows me the privilege of penning my "top ten list" thrice over, and with so much good stuff issuing from imprints the world over, I need that number increased by twenty. Here's a painfully truncated accumulation of sonics I've been ear-muff'd w/ since year's begin...

John Fahey: The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick (Water)
Globe Unity Orchestra: Hamburg '74 (Atavistic)
DNA: DNA on DNA (No More)
Sightings: Arrived in Gold (Load)
Circle: Golem & Vesilirto (Kevytnostalgia)
Kevin Drumm: Impish Tyrant (Spite cassette)
Sunn O))): Cromonolitihic Remixes (Southern Lord)
Gert-Jan Prins: Risk (3" CD, Mego)
Mats Gustafsson: Solos for Contrabass Saxophone (12", Tote)
Morton Feldman: Patterns in a Chromatic Field (Tzadik)

Brad Laidman's Top Ten:

10. Jet: "Cold Hard Bitch". I don't care what Blender says.
9. The Surreal Life: Flavor Flav takes down a seven-foot drunk blonde and insists on driving.
8. Raspberries: Capitol Collector Series. Better reunion than the Pixies
7. Nirvana: "Ain't it a Shame". Mom: "Now he's part of that stupid club."
6. Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles
5. Bill Hicks: Love all the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines. The sanest voice on Iraq died in 1994.
4. Fiona Apple: "Extraordinary Machine". Not good enough to actually be released by Sony...
3. Jon Brion: "Knock Yourself Out". Says more in 2:10 than the movie it headlined did in a hour and a half.
2. Steve Earle: The Revolution Starts Now. If I were president, he'd be head of the FCC.
1. The Soundtrack of our Lives: Origin #1. Dick Clark rains on another parade, thus they're sadly known in the US as TSOOL.

Lowlight of 2004: Kevin Spacey in Beyond the Sea. Bobby Darin was such a genius that, instead of searching out his original recordings, you should spend your money on my "interpretations."

Joseph Larkin's Ten:

Amen: Death before Musick (eatURmusic/Columbia)
Burning Brides: Leave No Ashes (V2)
Clutch: Blast Tyrant (DRT)
Dillinger Escape Plan: Miss Machine (Relapse)
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress (Swami)
Ted Leo + the Pharmacists: Shake the Sheets (Lookout!)
Mastodon: Leviathan (Relapse)
Pleasure Club: The Fugitive Kind (Brash/Purified)
Sleeptytime Gorilla Museum: Of Natural History (Web of Mimicry)
Walking Concert: Run to be Born (Some)

Jason Gross's Ten (Plus):

Dollar Store: Dollar Store (Bloodshot)
Mendoza Line: Fortune (Cookling Vinyl)
Clouddead: Ten (Mush)
Hold Steady: The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me (French Kiss)
A.C. Newman: The Slow Wonder (Matador)
Patti Smith: Trampin' (Columbia)
Loretta Lynn: Van Leer Rose (Interscope)
Magnetic Fields: i (Nonesuch)
Silkworm: It'll Be Cool (Touch & Go)
The Futureheads: The Futureheads (Sire)


Lars Frederikson: Viking (Hellcat)
Green Day: American Idiot (Reprise)
Tom Waits: Real Gone (-anti)
The Arcade Fire: Funeral (Merge)
Kimya Dawson: Hidden Vigenda (K)
Various Artists: Rio Baile Funk Favela Booty Beats (Essay Recordings)
Mountain Goats: We Shall All Be Healed (4AD)
Le Tigre: This Island (Strummer/Universal)
Drive-By Truckers: The Dirty South (New West)
The Roots: Tipping Point (Geffen)
Seth P. Brundel: Devil's Pawn (Aesthetics)
Guided By Voices: Half Smiles of the Decomposed (Matador)
Viktor Vaughn: VV2: Venomous Villian (Insomniac)
Donnas: Gold Medal (Atlantic)
The Neville Brothers: Walkin' In the Shadows
DJ BC: dj BC presents The Beastles (no label)
Fatboy Slim: Palookaville (Astralwerks)
The Libertines: The Libertines (Rough Trade)
Eminem: Encore (Interscope)
The Kleptones: A Night at the Hip-Hopera (no label)
Chicago Underground Trio: Slon (Thrill Jockey)
Meat Purveyors: Pain By Numbers (Bloodshot)
Arto Lindsay: Salt (Righteous Babe)
Ellis Hooks: Uncomplicated (Artemis)
Various Artists: Quisquenya en el Hudson: Dominican Music In NYC (Smithsonian/Folkways)
Tarbox Ramblers: A Fix Back East (Rounder)
Lusine: Seriel Hodgepodge (Ghostly International)
Various Artists: Shake the Nations! A New Breed of Dub IV (Dubhead)
Burnt Sugar: Not Live In Paris (Trugoid)
Mos Def: The New Danger (Geffen)
Tift Merritt: Tambourine (Lost Highway)
Version City Rockers: Darker Roots (Antifaz)
Keren Ann: Not Going Anywhere (Capitol/Metro Blue)
Hoahio: Peek-Ara-Boo (Tzadik)
Dave Douglas/Louis Sclavis/Peggy Lee/Dylan Van Der Schyff: Bow River Falls (Premonition)
Reigning Sound: Too Much Guitar (In the Red)
The Real Tuesday Weld: I, Lucifer (Six Degrees)
Melonie Cannon: Melonie Cannon (Skaggs Family)
Tori Fixx: Marry Me (A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.)
The Aggrolites: Dirty Reggae (Axe)
The Quails: The Song is Love (Mr. Lady)
Special Pillow: Inside the Special Pillow (Zofko)
Mochipet: Combat (Violent Turd)
Coachwhips: Bangers Vs. Fuckers (Narnack)
Old Bombs: Audios (Soft Abuse)
Dave Douglas: Strange Liberation (RCA)
Anne McCue: Roll (Messanger)
Denise James: It's Not Enough to Love (Rainbow Quartz)
Hanzo Steel: Vol. 1 'Kill Bill' Mixes (Hanzo Steel)
The Waxwings: Let's Make Our Descent (Rainbow Quartz)
2/5 BZ: Ulonbay (Gozel)
Flogging Molly: Within A Mile of Home (Side One Dummy)

Wish I could like more: De La Soul, The Grind, Kanye West, High School Dropout, Madvillain, Madvillainy.

Nice try, but no stogey: the Notorious Cherry Bombs, Mario Wayans, Bjork, Steve Earle, Clinic, Dan Bern, M83, Strictly Kev.

Archives and Reissues of note:
Bob Dylan: Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall – Bootleg Series Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy)
The Fall: Live at the Witch Trials and Dragnet (Sanctuary)
Jimmy Martin: Don't Cry To Me (Thrill Jockey)
Blue Ash: Around Again (Not Lame)
Black Merda: The Folks from Mother's Mixer (Tuff City)
Polecats: Polecats are Go (Anagram)
Trouble Funk: Live and Early Singles (2.13.61)
Sonic Youth: Goo (DGC)
KMD: Best of KMD (Nature Sounds)
Pere Ubu: One Man Drives While the Other Man Screams (Hearthan)
Camper Van Beethoven: II & III (Spin Art)
Terry Allen: Juarez (Sugar Hill)
Anna Domino: Anna Domino (LTM)
Holy Modal Rounders: Bird Song: Live 1971 (Water)
Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Don't Look For a Heartache (Hightone)
Last Poets: Last Poets/This Is Madness (Light in the Attic)
Tunde Williams/Lekan Animashaun: Mr. Big Mouth / Low Profile (Honest Jons)
Cloud One: Atmosphere Strut (Octipi)
Edu: Lobo Edu (Dubas)
Milton Nascimento Maria Maria/Ultimo Trem (Far Out)
Blackbeard: I Wah Dub (More Cut)
The Homosexuals: The Homosexuals (ReR)
John Carter: A Rose by Any Other Name (Rev-Ola)
DNA: DNA on DNA (No More)
Insect Trust: Hoboken Saturday Night (Collector's Choice)
Various Artists: Indie Pop 1 (Mute)

Lazyboy: "Underwear Goes Inside the Pants" (Universal)
Yung Wun featuring DMX, Lil' Flip and David Banner: "Tear It Up"
M.I.A.: "Galang" (XL)
Ying Yang Twinz ft. Lil Jon-: "Salt Shaker" (TVT)
Kanye West: "Jesus Walks" (Roc-A-Fella)
Roosevelt Franklin: "New Jack City" (Third Ear)
Modest Mouse: "Float On" (Epic)
Pop Bastard: "Where 'The Streets' Have No Name" (bootleg remix)
J-Kwon: "Tipsy" (Arista)
Eric Idle: "The FCC Song" (
Notorious Cherry Bombs: "It's Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long" (Universal South)
Fiona Apple: "Extraordinary Machine" (Sony)
Zola: "Khokhovula" (Ghetto Ruff)
Memphis Bleek featuring Freeway: "Just Blaze, Bleek & Free" (Def Jam)
Shawna featuring Ludacris: "Shake Dat Shit" (Def Jam)
U2: "Veritgo" (Universal)
Big and Rich: "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)" (Warner Bros)
Mis-Teeq: "Scandalous" (Warner Bros)
Pixies: "Bam Thwok" (I-Tunes)
Willie Nelson/Toby Keith: "Midnight Rider" (Lost Highway)
Young Rome: "Freaky" (Universal)
N.E.R.D.: "She Wants to Move" (Virgin)
Terror Squad: "Lean Back" (Universal)
Sleepwalker featuring Pharoah Sanders: "The Voyage" (Especial)
Korn: "Y'All Want a Single" (Sony)
Eminem: "Mosh" (Interscope)
Beyonce featuring Sean Paul: "Baby Boy" (Sony)
Bowling For Soup: "1985" (Jive)
Terri Clarke: "Girls Lie Too" (Mercury Nashville)
The Roots: "Somebody's Gotta Do It" (Geffen)
Destiny's Child: "Lose My Breath" (Sony)
Murphy Lee: "What Da Hook Gon Be" (Universal)
Willie Nelson: ""Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth" (live recording)
Player: "Angel of Theft" (bootleg remix)
Busta Rhymes vs Max Sedgley: "Dangerously Happy" (bootleg remix)

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