Thursday, December 30, 2004

That Time of Year...

Yes, my top-10-albums-of-’04 list. But first, a word about these things...

Not too long ago, The New Yorker ran a profile of Quentin Tarantino, in which the director asserted that the films he loves most fall into one of two categories: films that are “good” and films that are “good enough.” The good films are such expert mixtures of craft and art as (my examples, not his) Citizen Kane or Raging Bull. The good enough encompass those imperfect, perhaps kitschy, works that contain a scene or performance or soundtrack or something that just makes it all worth it.

I’ve been fairly obsessed with this notion -- and how it relates to how I rate albums -- ever since that article came out. There are good albums and there are good enough albums. Sometimes, the good enough albums are better than the good ones: I’d often rather take an album with some amazing, risky highs coupled with some filler tracks over one that does nothing “wrong” because it doesn’t dare to fail or to be stupid.

All this is a rather labored attempt to explain that I do not believe the below ten albums to be flawless listening experiences. They are merely the ten best, or my ten favorite albums I heard this year.

Of course, that’s a problem too. I don’t possess nearly the amount of clout (or money) to hear a genuinely representative percentage of the rock/pop/etc. albums released this year. I can almost guarantee that in 2005 I will hear at least one 2004 album that should be on this list.

So this thing is imperfect. These list things are always imperfect. But I won’t deny that I enjoy putting them together. I usually start thinking about mine in April! My God!

1. Brian Wilson, Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE (Nonesuch)
2. The Delgados, Universal Audio (Chemikal Underground)
3. The Finn Brothers, Everyone is Here (Nettwerk)
4. Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News (Epic)
5. Sam Phillips, A Boot and a Shoe (Nonesuch)
6. Curtis Eller's American Circus, Taking up Serpents Again (self-released)
7. Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, Shake the Sheets (Lookout)
8. Bitter, bitter weeks, Revenge (My Pal God)
9. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (Mute/Anti)
10. Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous (Brute/Beaute)

City Paper’s year-in-rock survey is out this week. I wrote about my number seven here, and my number one here. Additionally, the above list is included with the lists of CP’s other music writers here; see for yourself how idiosyncratic or out-of-touch I am.

In February, the Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop poll of a whole mess of rock writers will be published and I promise to also include a hand-wringing essay here for that as well. For now, why not look at what I gave ‘em last year?

So goodbye to 2004. As for 2005, my album of the year so far is A Question of Temperature (Yep Roc) by The Chris Stamey Experience, which is basically the titular founding member of the dB’s backed by Yo La Tengo. It’s due out on Jan. 25. Happy New Year, everyone.


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