Music You Should Get

2004 has seen the release of several great albums. I’ve been meaning to review several of them, but never got the time to do so. Instead, here’s a compiled list of music released this year, which you should definitely consider taking a closer look at.

Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse

The nineteenth album from noise-rock band Sonic Youth is nothing less than fantastic. Tracks like “Pattern Recognition”, “Unmade Bed”, “The Dripping Dream” and the magnificent “Stones” not only carries the legacy of albums such as Goo and Dirty, but elevates it in the direction which the last album Murray Street took. “Stones” could in fact have been on Murray Street, in it’s rather clean and straight-forward, but unmistakably Sonic sound.

While I’m still leaning towards Murray Street with it’s “Rain On Tin” track, Sonic Nurse is definitely a worthy successor.

PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her

“No cymbals”, “English accent goddamn it!”, and “don’t be afraid to not”. The feverishly scribbled production notes of Polly Jean Harvey says it best. Uh Huh Her is not only a worthy successor to the all but legendary Stories from the City, Stories from the sea, but it’s an older PJ and a new direction for the music. Tracks such as “Shame”, “The Slow Drug” and “You Come Through” stand out as tracks with this newer, refined and almost modern sound, while still retaining the melancholy of past albums. “Who the fuck?”, “The Letter” and “It’s You” remind me slightly more of older albums, including To Bring You My Love. The combination of old and new, and the raw yet polished sound, makes up one of the best PJ Harvey albums yet.

The Cure – The Cure (Self-titled)

It came as a welcome surprise to Cure fans that the band was not done yet. Even more so when the band “self-titled” the new album, claiming it was one of their best. They didn’t lie. The Cure is the best album since Disintegration—but not better. The sound has evolved from the classic sound of Disintegration, through Wild Mood Swings and Bloodflowers to a more modern, but still instantly cure’ish sound.

Tracks like “Before Three”, and “The End of the World” are among the happiest Cure songs since “Love Song”. Combined with tracks like “Anniversary”, “Us or them” and “(I don’t know what’s going) on”, The Cure is a solid album.

Unfortunately it looks to be their last, as Robert Smith sings “I want this to be this to be the end, I don’t want to start again” on “Alt. End”. Then again, Disintegration was also supposed to be their last…

Jim White – Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See

After his fantastic debut The Mysterious Tale Of How I Shouted Wrong-eyed Jesus!, and the superb follow up No Such Place, country singer Jim White returns with his third album. While not as fantastic as its two predecessors, Drill A Hole is better produced and has more commercial breakthrough potential than ever before. For a singer/songwriter of this caliber, Jim White is way overdue for broad public notice.

“Static on the Radio”, co-sung by Aimee Mann, is a beautiful example of White’s skill with melodies and words. The deliciously produced result is a soft and gentle track that should catch everyones attention, should it ever be played on an actual radio. “Bluebird”, “The Girl From Brownsville Texas” and “Buzzards of Love” make up a great album that new-comers to White should get and love, but won’t quite topple the two predecessors to existing fans.

Lisa Ekdal – Olyckssyster

The cute Swedish singer/songwriter Lisa Ekdal returns to folk music after a long break of bossa and jazz. The result, Olyckssyster, is deliciously charming in its simple Swedish lyrics and gentle tunes.

Tracks like “Fr?mmande F?gel”, “Olyckssyster”, “Hon F?rtj?nar Hela Himmelen” and the beautiful “Den Stora Ensamheten” will repeat on your CD player for many moods, including that of a lazy Sunday or a that of genuine heart ache. It’ll serve you well as background music as well.

While the album got mixed reviews in the press, it is my favourite Ekdal album yet.

M?m – Summer Make Good

Icelandic M?m gained commercial recognition through their remix of Sigur R?s’ “Leit af lifi”, but with their latest Summer Make Good, they prove without a doubt that they can and should stand on their own.

Summer Make Good is one of the most original and well produced atmospheric albums of 2004, rivaled only by Sigur R?s’ ( ). Tracks like “Weeping Rock Rock”, “Nightly Cares”, “Sing Me Out The Window” and “The Island of Childrens Children” are beautiful and typically M?m. The references to past-time “Green Grass of Tunnel” and “On The Old Mountain Radio” are clear, but the sound is more earthy and alive than ever before.

M?m is worth following, and Summer Make Good is no exception.

Blonde Redhead – Misery Is A Butterfly

I am told that the art rock trio Blonde Redhead has been around for ages, and that they have never produced a bad album. Unfortunately, It was only this years Roskilde Festival that introduced me to them, with their latest album, Misery Is A Butterfly.

The music is unique, and every single track is melodic and interesting. Their very distinct kind of melancholic rock full of bells and whistles conjures up a sound I have not heard many times before. “Elephant Woman”, “Misery Is A Butterfly”, “Falling Man” and “Equus” stand out as my favourites.

I will be following Blonde Redheads future intently, for now I’m enjoying their Misery.

Your Opinion

I consume music. I listen to it daily at work and I’m always on the look out for new music. I would love to hear your opinions, both on what caught your ears during 2004, but also your thoughts, likes and dislikes of the music I’ve mentioned here.

So speak up, and let me know what I should add to my playlist.

14 thoughts on “Music You Should Get”

  1. Are any of these bands electronica bands?

  2. Joen says:

    No, not really… M?m is in part electronic but not electronica per se.

    I enjoy Plaid and Aphex Twin as well, but that’s techno, isn’t it?

  3. Don’t know plaid, but Aphex Twin is what I consider electronica.

    I just noticed that all the music you had on there was either distortion-type music, or mellow/melancholic music.

    Personally, I like stuff that either has a very clean and simple sound (like a lot of electronica) or something that is a bit more upbeat.

    I don’t think we have very many CDs in common.

  4. Joen says:

    You may be right, but this list doesn’t do my entire scope of music taste justice at all. It is really just a list of music in 2004, that I thought worthy of honorable mention.

    Among electronica and music with a “clean and simple sound”, I enjoy Plaid (as mentioned—this is really great, check out ‘Rakimou’ or ‘Ralome’ for some samples), Bent (particularly the latest ‘The Everlasting Blink’), Air, Console, Depeche Mode, Emiliana Torrini, Frou Frou, New Order (although I think this is too sugary for your taste), Kraftwerk, Lamb, Massive Attack, Propellerheads, Ralph Myerz and Royksopp, to name a few. Surely something on that list must be commonplace? 🙂

  5. Del says:

    That Polly Harvey album is as usual absolutely fantastic.

    My opinion is still missing on whether the Cure comeback was a) good or b) necessary

  6. Joen says:

    To me, The Cure (as in the band) was never in need for a comeback, and The Cure (as in the latest album), wasn’t necessary.

    It was a surprise, but a welcome one, that they were in fact making a new album—and a good one at that! So I definitely think it was good.

  7. Chris says:

    Where is the Irish supergroup on your list? Pfft! Speh! And I’m not talking Echo and The Bunnymen, either.

  8. Joen says:

    Well, I did like U2 up until Pop (as you know), and was pretty disappointed in their whats-it-called stuck in a moment, beautiful day trip. Trust me, I’ll give them more than one chance of redeeming themselves with their atomic bomb.

    So it can still make this list…

  9. Fergus says:

    Trust me to post 5 months after this topic was created. Having only found the forum 2 days ago, I will give it a go nonetheless. Out of all the artists you mention, there are 2 that I will check out, Lisa Ekdal and Blonde Redhead as I usually like swedish female vocalists (Stina Nordenstam, Heather Nova, etc…)

    My suggestions for this year (if they are valid as I am not sure about the release date) would be:

    Toby Slater – London based songwriter who can be found at http://www.tobyslater.com where you can buy his album and/or listen to his songs

    The Appleseed cast – Not sure that fits into your taste but you can listen to their new album “two conversations” although it might be a bit too raw for people on this board

    The Weakerthans – their last album “de-construction site” is really good, all their songs tell a story, check the lyrics to ‘psalm of the Elks lodge’s last call’ to see what I mean

    K’s choice – the ever underrated belgian band, reminiscent of Kent really, should be huge everywhere but are dwarved by plastic pop sadly, no album for 2004 but I always mention them, their best album, in my opinion, is ‘Cocoon Crash’

    Mountain Men Anonymous – probably more up your street as they are reminiscent of Sigur Ros/Mogwai/Mum. Based in Cardiff (uk), I would recommend their album Krkonose although they are definitely better live

    They are probably others I have forgotten but there you go… I am mainly a ‘rock’ fan (whatever that means) and tend to stay away from electronica but there you go. Finally, I was recommended Marit Bergman recently and was wondering if anyone had any opinion on her?

  10. Joen says:

    Thanks Fergus, I will take each of those suggestions into consideration, I’m always on the lookout for new music.

    And don’t worry about commenting on old posts, it just adds value to what’s there.

  11. Nik says:

    I?m always on the lookout for new music.

    How about Jack Johnson? Good music while on the beach with a few beers watching the sun(rise/set).

  12. Joen says:

    Just checked out Jack Johnson. That’s great! Definitely something I’ll stock up on.

    Just recently I’ve been listening to Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers.

  13. I am now the proud owner of all of Jim White’s CDs, thanks to the movie Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus. The Handsome Family is next.

    An amazing talent–rare.

  14. scottm_usadj says:

    Marit Bergman: yet another Swedish artist we’ll never see over here in the States, along with Sophie Zelmani and Marit Larsen (Norway). Brilliant…nice shift from her punky beginnings to more sophisticated over her 3 releases. ‘No Party’ is great for Halloween. Anna Ternheim is another notable Swedish artist.

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