Brad's Best of 2004, Part 2
6. Dizzee Rascal - Showtime (XL) What can I say...I like this guy! While the domestic release of Boy in da Corner was delayed, Showtime was released in conjunction with the UK schedule, so stateside fans were treated with two Rascit rekids in the same year. I have a feeling that Showtime may have more lasting value, but because Boy in da...was my introduction to Dizzee, I'll probably always be a little partial to it. That being said, Showtime is still a brilliant record and would've been number 1 on my list in any other year. (full disclosure: this may well have even been my second favorite record this year, but I avoided listing Dizzee #1 and #2 on my list so that I wouldn't look like a complete fanboy) 7. Air - Talkie Walkie (Astralwerks) What can I say, I'm a sucker for these guys too. They'll probably never be able to top Moon Safari (see introduction rule above) , and this release probably isn't even as good as their last record, 10,000 Hz. Legend. However, it's still Air and it's still a damn good album. Even if the rest of the songs sucked, "Run" alone would have probably secured this record in my top 10. 8. Tom Waits - Real Gone (Anti) I picked this one up on a whim without even hearing a single track, and god damn...Waits has still got it! Dark, edgy and stark, this is a great album and a great sounding recording. (if you have any doubts that analog really does sound better than digital, listen to this record on a good turntable) I don't know how he still does it, but if I'm a third as cool as Waits when I'm 55, I'll be happy. 9. Wilco - A Ghost is Born (Nonesuch) As much as it was "cool" to declare Yankee Hotel Foxtrot your favorite album of 2002, it seems to be just as "cool" this year to declare that A Ghost...is a dud. I don't know, I guessed I missed that memo from the cool police or something, because I thought A Ghost was a great record. More great songwriting, more avant-pop blips and bleeps and new-and-improved Verlaine-inspired guitar solos. Was Yankee a better record? Maybe, but it's hard to objectively judge that one because of all the hype that surrounded it. But really...what f^%$n' difference does it make, anyway? A Ghost is a good record and a fine addition to the already solid Wilco repertoire. 10.Loscil - First Narrows (Kranky) Another great record put out by Chicago's Kranky and another great release from Vancouver's Loscil, aka Scott Morgan. Warm atmospheric beats and ambient soundscapes, this is essential listening for anyone digs ambient and/or downtempo electronic music. 11. Madvillain - Madvillainy (Stones Throw) America's most blunted, indeed! This collaboration between producer Madlib and the MC known as MF Doom has been touted by many as the best underground hip hop record of the year, if not of the past 5 years. I say screw the "underground" label, this is just a damn good hip hop record, period. Madlib's insane production skills and Doom's flawless (and always entertaining) rhymes are about as good as it gets in hip hop. My only complaint about the record, (and the reason why it didn't chart higher on my list) is that it suffers a bit from ADD. It seems like just as soon as Doom gets a good flow going and I really start to feel the groove of the song, the Madvillain switches things up and hits another joint. But I guess that's really the point of the record, innit? 12. Brian Wilson - Smile (Nonesuch) Like Madvillain, this too is a brilliant record that seems to have got robbed on my list. However, the real genius of the record was laid down in 1967, so really it was one of the top records of that year, not 2004...so it seemed that I should knock it down a few notches on my list. Also, in reality, it's not nearly as genius as pop historians had mysticized that it would be (then again, I don't think any album could be) and it's probably a slight step behind Pet Sounds in terms of overall artistic achievement. That being said...and all pretensions and technicalities aside, this is still a damn fine recording that was one of my favorites of the year. Somehow, Wilson was able to make "Good Vibrations" just as good, if not better than the original and the updated "Heroes and Villains" squashes the Smiley Smile version, at least in this reporter's opinion. 2004's Smile is truly a great accomplishment for Wilson and a real treat for orchestral pop fans of all ages. Other Favorites: -Lars Horveth - Pooka (Smalltown Supersound) -Elliott Smith - From a Basement on the Hill (Anti) -Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans (Sounds Familyre) -Various Artists - Tales From the Oxygen Den (Radical Turf) -Vast Aire - Look Mom, No Hands (Chocolate Industries) -DM + Jemini - Ghetto Pop Life
-Belle & Sebastian - "Your Cover's Blown"
-Diverse - "Big Game"