December 01, 2004
2004's Best Albums or Davey Goes To Eleven

With the music year heading to a close, the time has come to reflect on the year's releases and my annual list of favorite albums. This year has been another great harvest of interesting music, and these albums represent what has graced my iPod the most. Included are legal downloads from the discs where available, so please give these artists a chance (if you haven't already).

The Milk-Eyed Mender

The Milk-Eyed Mender
Joanna Newsom

Joanna Newsom's Milk-Eyed Mender is my favorite album of the past several years. The classically-trained harpist's sparse arrangements and strong songwriting combine to produce otherworldly music with hints of her bluegrass and folk backgrounds. Her unique and strong voice is the final part of the wonderful puzzle that is her music.

"Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" [mp3]


Blueberry Boat
Blueberry Boat
Fiery Furnaces

The Fiery Furnaces skip the sophomore slump with Blueberry Boat. Wonderfully diverse and quirky, this album challenges the listener.

"Straight Street" [mp3]
"Chris Michaels" [mp3]


A Grand Don't Come For Free
A Grand Don't Come For Free
The Streets

Mike Skinner follows up Original Pirate Material with a concept album, and the results are amazing. He takes chances (like the guitar-driven first single, "Fit But You Know It), and always wins.


We Shall All Be Healed
We Shall All Be Healed
The Mountain Goats

John Darnielle's second studio album offers the best songwriting yet from America's best tunesmith. John Vanderslice's production is a perfect match.

"Palmcorder Yajna" [mp3]
"Your Belgian Things" (live version) [mp3]
"The Young Thousands" (live version) [mp3]
"Slow West Vultures" (live version) [mp3]
"Mole" (live version) [mp3]
"Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The water, Triumph of" (live version) [mp3]
"Linda Blair Was Born Innocent" (live version) [mp3]
"Cotton" (live version) [mp3]
"Quito" (live version) [mp3]


Let It Die
Let It Die
Feist

Leslie Feist of Broken Social Scene breaks out with a solo album that runs the gamut of genres, but is filled with memorable lyrics and her soft, silky voice.

"Mushaboom" [mp3]
"Gatekeeper" [mp3]


Faded Seaside Glamour
Faded Seaside Glamour
Delays

The best hooks of the year belong to the Delays on this album. The "feel good" album of the year, hands down.


Cat Spectacular
Cat Spectacular
Bearsuit

A friend gave me this album early this year, saying it would change my life. His exact words were that Bearsuit was like "Deerhoof crossed with Belle & Sebastian." My life didn't change, but my wallet did, as I tracked down as much Bearsuit as I could after the first couple of listens to Cat Spectacular.

"Itsuko Got Married" [mp3]


Madvillainy
Madvillainy
Madvillain

When MF Doom and Madlib combined for this project, my expectations were high. The resulting album is simply an amazing concept album, filled with Madlib's beats and the gravelly wonder that is MF Doom's rhymes.

"Money Folder" [mp3]
"Curls" [mp3]


Sung Tongs
Sung Tongs
Animal Collective

Though adventurous and experimental, the Animal Collective has made its most accessible album without compromising its artistic integrity. Combining folk and pop influences with acoustic guitars, this album is stellar.

"Leaf House" [mp3]


Get Away From Me
Get Away From Me
Nellie McKay

Newcomer Nellie McKay's solo album brims with talent and promise. Her energy and witty songwriting carry the album high, and her willingness to take artistic chances bode well for a successful and interesting career ahead.

"David" (live version) [mp3]
"Manhattan Avenue" (live version) [mp3]
"Sari" (live version) [mp3]
"Ding Dong" (live version) [mp3]
"Baby Watch Your Back" (live version) [mp3]
"Dog Song" (live version) [mp3]
"I Wanna Get Married" (live version) [mp3]
"Change The World" (live version) [mp3]
"It's a Pose" (live version) [mp3]
"Toto Dies" (live version) [mp3]
"Won't U Please B Nice" (live version) [mp3]
"Inner Peace" (live version) [mp3]
"Suitcase Song" (live version) [mp3]
"Work Song" (live version) [mp3]
"Clonie" (live version) [mp3]
"Respectable" (live version) [mp3]
"Really" (live version) [mp3]


Blue Cathedral
Blue Cathedral
Comets on Fire

A bit more polished than the band's last effort, Field Recording From the Sun, but that doesn't stop this record from still being the most rocking album of the year.

"Whiskey River" [mp3]

Posted by david on December 01, 2004
Comments

Great post, David! Thanks for all these links. I love things like this at the end of the year where I get to find out about all the things I may have missed.

Posted by: Mickey on December 1, 2004 09:01 AM

David, I am a bit surpised you left out the Truckers.

Chad

Posted by: technoslacker on December 1, 2004 09:23 AM

Thanks for this list and for the great links letting us sample some tracks, David. I really love a lot of the Delays songs that I've heard, and I'm looking forward to listening to your other recommendations.

Posted by: Max on December 1, 2004 09:28 AM

I love the year-end lists, I read them to see what I may have missed.

The Dirty South was very good, and I thought Jason Isbell's tracks were stellar, but the rest of the album didn't merit my top eleven this year.

Max, you are always welcome. I'm sure I find more great music on your site than you could ever find on mine.

Posted by: david on December 1, 2004 09:34 AM

Between you and Stereogum, I'm all excited about Joanna Newsom now. I need to pick that up before I make my list.

Also, thank you for ignoring the Wilco album.

Posted by: Jeff on December 1, 2004 09:45 AM

If you don't have it already, go out and buy Puking And Crying by S. now. Yeah I loved most of those, too. Really have to check out Bearsuit now though.

Posted by: Marc on December 1, 2004 10:11 AM

Thanks for all the recommendations.

Posted by: Nick on December 1, 2004 11:03 AM

I would have included Fancey here. That record IS summer.

Posted by: Nick on December 1, 2004 11:15 AM

glad to see someone else out there likes bearsuit. i got it randomly to review, and although it doesn't make my top ten i was surprised at how good it was.

Posted by: jt on December 1, 2004 11:28 AM

No Rilo Kiley?

Posted by: TWM on December 1, 2004 12:25 PM

glad to see some love for Delays.

while the album has slipped out of my top 10 for the year, i still love the shit out of it. and you're right, best melodies/hooks of the year, hands down.

Posted by: solace on December 1, 2004 01:09 PM

also, those who are able to stomach Joanna's voice have much more willpower than i

:)

Posted by: solace on December 1, 2004 01:21 PM

Thanks to you I've been listening to the Joanna Newsom c.d. The music is v. pretty (good background music to work by.) I've got to admit her voice is - erm - "unique".

I'm always thankful for the musical horizons you open up for me.

Posted by: kelly on December 1, 2004 03:33 PM

Awesome to see the Delays on here, extremely great album & great album for a debut

Posted by: Apexa on December 1, 2004 03:52 PM

You have the best blog ever.

Posted by: jdog on December 1, 2004 05:14 PM

Joanna Newsom tops my list of most overrated release of 2004. Seriously, I just can't stand her voice.

Posted by: Mickey on December 1, 2004 05:57 PM

Proof of how effin' tired I am - I just giggled at the title of your post. :)

zzzzz

Posted by: kelly on December 1, 2004 06:52 PM

Too early! Then again, Finding Neverland just won Film of the Year from some group, so maybe 2005 has already begun :)

Posted by: Paul on December 1, 2004 09:08 PM

Dude, you forgot "the tain". best concept ep of the year, or ever... Other than that i couldn't agree with you more. You made the year by hosting the best MP3 site on the planet.

A Happy and healthy one to ya,
P.S.

oh yeah p.s - love the bittorent brunch. It's spectacular!

Posted by: PS on December 2, 2004 12:16 AM

I agree with at least three of these, which I imagine is gonna be a lot more than MOST year end lists.

Posted by: forksclovetofu on December 2, 2004 06:52 AM

Thanks for the recommendations. I figured that Joanna Newsome album would top the "love 'em or hate 'em" category. If you like her, may I also suggest Marianne Nowottny's "Illusions of the Sun" (Camera Obscura), which is pretty much in the same vein.

Also, you may want to check your source on John Darnielle and his Mountain Goats - "second studio album"???? I believe it's something closer to his dozenth. I count at least 16 on his website, but some of them may be live albums.

All the best!

Posted by: leapday on December 2, 2004 09:19 AM

i love these lists. looks like i've got some catching up to do! thanks for posting.

Posted by: rob on December 2, 2004 09:28 AM

this post could be candidated as top post of the year...

great job

Posted by: boss on December 2, 2004 09:45 AM

Leapday, if you count pressing the record button on a boombox and playing your songs a "studio" recording, then yes, David might be wrong about Darnielle's back catalogue.

Posted by: Paul on December 2, 2004 01:10 PM

Joanna Newsom is on the current issue of Venus, and they also have a bit on the Fiery Furnaces -- it involves a pizza recipe!

Posted by: annie on December 2, 2004 01:19 PM

how could you leave out the Arcade Fire. they probably had the best release of the year

Posted by: iggy on December 3, 2004 06:12 AM

agree about the arcade fire. must have funeral.

Posted by: zack on December 3, 2004 08:39 AM

Large One - Thanks for the list. I don't know any of these artists - what planet are you from?
Oh, and Joanna Newsom does NOT rock.

But I lurve those Bittorrent Brunches, buddy. Keep 'em up!

Posted by: Dfactor on December 3, 2004 02:38 PM

Delays have MADDENING levels of buzz. Great list.

Posted by: Uncle Grambo on December 3, 2004 03:47 PM

Forget the streets. But MF DOOM is the artist of the year.

Posted by: on December 3, 2004 11:02 PM

Forget the streets. But MF DOOM is the artist of the year.

Posted by: theJew on December 3, 2004 11:02 PM

Arcade Fire?

Posted by: thad on December 4, 2004 10:43 PM

MF Doom had a monster year.

I like the Arcade Fire release, but it probably wouldn't make my top 50.

The Tain is my favorite ep of the year, it made me wish the Decemberists new albumwould arrive sooner.

RK's More Adventurous lost some of its luster for me the more I listened. I like the record, but I loved it at first.

By the way, my wife can't get over Joanna Newsom's voice, either...

Posted by: david on December 5, 2004 06:51 PM

The best album of the year is The Greater Wrong of the Right By Skinny Puppy. It's so good these losers are boycotting it along with just about every college radio station in the US: http://www.pabaah.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=717

Posted by: SomeDude on December 5, 2004 09:04 PM

A little later than anyone else, but I was just catching up on my LHB reading, and gladly saw the Joanna Newsom album on the list. It's true that her voice is difficult to get over, but if Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie isn't one of the most incredibly beautiful songs ever, I don't know what. I love the rest of the album as well, but that song...good lord.

The Feist album sounds really great as well. Thanks so much for the recommendations, as always.

Posted by: Reid on December 6, 2004 04:33 PM

aa

Posted by: ziya on December 12, 2004 06:35 AM

I can't believe you've got a trendy, shallow band like Fiery Furnaces on your list, while bands with real substance and good song-writing, like Rilo Kiley and Palomar aren't up there.

I also agree that while Arcade Fire has some very good moments, I wouldn't place it in any "top" lists"

Posted by: Chuck on December 13, 2004 01:37 PM

You have to remember that these lists are subjective. "Trendy" and "shallow" are terms usually used with bands we don't respect, everyone has their own tastes. I loved the new Rilo Kiley when I first heard it, but it just didn't stand up to repeated listenings like the other albums in my list. I liked the Palomar record, too, it just didn't make my top eleven (like RK).

Posted by: david on December 13, 2004 04:20 PM

Check out my 2004 list on my blog.

Has *no* one heard the new Mark Lanegan album? Sheesh!

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