Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Year's Best Albums -- 2004

Now, when everyone else is releasing their top albums of 2005, I'm announcing my favorites from 2004. It takes a while to figure out the best albums of any year. Unless you're in the industry, a few good albums inevitably fall through the cracks, only for you to discover them the following year (or even later). Even many of the ones you get within the calendar year show up as gifts as year's end, when you've hardly had anytime to form a lasting impression. And of course some albums take a while to catch your ear, while others don't stand the test of time. It still might be a bit premature to post this list, as I'm certain there are still other albums to discover. Still, there's a certain symmetry in posting this list now, seeing as today marks one year of blogging, and my first post complained about the lack of good music in 2004.

I'm still not wowed by the music from 2004, but maybe that's because 2003 was such a rich year, and 2005 had a pretty decent crop as well. Still, despite my concerns, I did have to cull from the list several albums I enjoy. My favorite at this point is Shake the Sheets, by Ted Leo + The Pharmacists, but otherwise, I'm just keeping them in alphabetical order by artist.

Devendra Banhart -- Rejoicing in the Hands
The Beta Band -- Heroes to Zeros
Sarah Harmer -- All of Our Names
Ted Leo + The Pharmacists -- Shake the Sheets
Anaïs Mitchell -- Hymns for the Exiled
Old 97s -- Drag It Up
Richard Shindell -- Vuelta
Rogue Wave -- Out of the Shadows
Various Artists -- Public Displays of Affection: The Sounds of Independent Radio
Wilco -- A Ghost is Born

A couple of releases deserve mention for having a great song, but don't do it for me as albums. Rilo Kiley had the poppy "It's a Hit" from More Adventurous, that I really enjoyed. The Magnetic Fields, who released 69 Love Songs in 1999, had a love song better than any of those with "It's Only Time," off I. I also enjoyed numerous tunes from both Arcade Fire's Funeral and Modest Mouse's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, but each became somewhat monotonous when playing the whole album.