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.
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.