Saturday, May 28, 2005

Boone's Top Ten Albums of 2004

That's right, we ARE back! Patrick and I decided not to let our Top Ten Lists to overlap in order to allow more selections for readers. So as much as I love Elliott Smith's final album and the Arcade Fire, Pat had first dibs this year round. With that said...

1) Ryan Adams - Love Is Hell (Lost Highway) As Adams says in the album's opening track "Political Scientist," there's no guarantees. That's what I love about the guy; he keeps you on your toes. Real artists are fearless. They take risks. They are prepared to fall flat on their faces. Here's a guy who takes a lot of shit in the press for his erratic behavior and grandiose ambitions. But you throw any of his albums on and you'll immediately forget about the controversy often attached to his name. Stripped of his public persona, Ryan Adams has proven time and again to be an often brilliant and always passionate songwriter. In my opinion, he's one of the best musicians working today. Love Is Hell has a murky and probably exaggerated history. Adams turned in the finished album to Lost Highway, they balked at the dark and somber work and insisted Ryan record another album instead. He gave them last year's Rock N Roll and Lost Highway agreed to release Love Is Hell as two separate EPs. Apparently, they sold pretty well because Love Is Hell has finally been released as it was originally intended. Never shy about his affection for the Smiths, even discussing a Morrissey song in the studio banter on Heartbreaker's first track, it came as no surprise when Adams hired Smiths producer John Porter to oversee the recording of Hell. Unlike the glossy, candy coated rock of Roll, Hell finds Adams under dark skies recording brooding ballads, folksy Dylan inspired kiss offs, and 80s Brit pop. Those on medication for chemical imbalances should probably avoid it.

2) Animal Collective - Sung Tongs (Fat Cat) Whoa. Not sure what else to say about this one. It will make your head spin. As endlessly listenable as Broken Social Scene's You Forget It In People.

3) TV on the RadioDesperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Touch & Go) TV on the Radio, Brooklyn's bright shining hope, hit the scene last year with their debut EP Young Liars. The attention and praise they received based on those five magnificent songs was completely justified. Their full length hits like a bolt of lightning and never lets up. When Moses climbed up on Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments, the experience he had was probably a lot like hearing this album for the first time. Beautiful, terrifying, mysterious, sad, exhilarating. It's all these things and more.

4) The Elected - Me First (Sub Pop) Before his death, Elliott Smith was kind enough to lend Blake Sennett, co-singer/songwriter of Rilo Kiley, some free time in his New Monkey studios. There, Blake recorded a solo album with the help of Mike (Saddle Creek) Mogis and Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel. The result is one of the year's most stunning debut albums. Lush and beautiful, this collection of spaced out, country tinged, psychedelic, folk/rock ruminations on love, loss, and growing up is endlessly addictive.

5) The Comas - Conductor (Yep Roc) Andy Herod, lead singer and songwriter for the Chapel Hill, North Carolina band The Comas, dated Dawson's Creek's Michelle Williams for a couple years and this album is his very public examination of their relationship and breakup. Herod has shed the alt-country roots of the band's previous albums and crafted a staggering piece of work that manages to be both epic and intimate at the same time.

6) Melpo Mene - Holes (Imperial) An absolutely brilliant Swedish album for fans of Belle & Sebastian, Elliott Smith, and Nick Drake. Erik Mattiasson's gentle acoustic numbers will land you on cloud nine. You can listen to sound clips at

7) The Walkmen - Bows & Arrows (Record Collection) Who would have thought that these guys could top 2002's Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone? With an appearance on The O.C., The Walkmen have finally garnered some mainstream attention. Bows & Arrows shares similarities in sound design with Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, it's a shambling masterpiece that always sounds like it's on the verge of falling apart. There's something here for everyone, from hard rockers to barroom laments.

8) Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days (Sub Pop) Sam Beam's follow up to his critically acclaimed 2002 debut The Creek Drank the Cradle is yet another beautiful collection of rolling acoustic poems. This Florida cinematography teacher still records at home but has branched out and entered the studio for about half the tracks. Beam's tales of death, rebirth, and love are impossible to shake. You'll be hard pressed to find a lovelier album to listen to after dark.

9) Unbunny - Snow Tires (A Hidden Agenda Record) The best songwriters infuse their lyrics with intimate details that make the music so personal that it often comes across as cryptic to listeners. The harder it is to pin down, the easier it is to relate to. Unbunny's songs are so deeply felt that they cease to be about singer/songwriter Jarid del Deo and they become universal. Snow Tires is everyone's heartbreak. It's about everyone's ex, everyone's lives. It's a raw and honest meditation on regret, lost love, and despair. There's much in common here with Joni Mitchell's Blue, Jackson Browne's Late for the Sky, and Beck's Sea Change. This is confessional songwriting at its finest.

10) The Killers - Hot Fuss (Island) Too trendy to include? Too good not to include. The Smiths if Morrissey was actually tapping ass instead of claiming that the last person who had seen him naked was the doctor who brought him out of his mother's womb. If you have a nightlife, this is the soundtrack. Unfortunately, I don't. But if I did, this would be it.

Note: Some of these albums are imports and difficult to find. Check out They're a great online record store and carry every album on my list.

Honorable Mention...

No particular order here. Just as they're coming to mind.

Boy Omega - I Name You Isolation
Tiger Lou - Is My Head Still On?
Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News
Interpol - Antics
Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
Laakso - I Miss You, I'm Pregnant
Valet - Life On The Installment Plan
Peter, Bjorn and John - Falling Out
Kevin Tihista's Red Terror - Wake Up Captain
Dolorean - Violence in the Snowy Fields
David Fridlund - Amaterasu
Air: Talkie Walkie


Blogger TheKeenGuy said...

For the record, only half of us here at CTC are Ryan Adams fans.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Jdamen said...

Yep, the better half.

9:36 PM  

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