I often get a chance to listen to albums well well before they come out. The downside of this is that frequently I find myself at 1AM in a dusty club downtown listening to crap you wouldn't make your worst boss listen to if you could ever have gotten ten minutes alone with them. It's fucking ear bleedingly bad. The plus side is that when something is good, it’s generally great. Because I listen to music regularly, the chaff tends to separate itself. Distinctively. People often complain that there is no good music out there. What these short-sited (and generally too lazy to look) individuals are saying is there is no good popular music out there. Radio sucks. Yes. Both are true. Though there is definitely good popular music out there, it is harder to find, and the truly good stuff does not get radio play. But here are ten albums that anyone should flip over, my favorite releases of 2004 so far, in no particular order.
Elbow - Cast of Thousands (V2); Melodic, emotional, cool British hipster rock.
Aqualung - Still Life (B-Unique); What Paul McCartney would have been without John Lennon. In other words, pretty fucking good.
Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose (Interscope); Yes, I'm a wee bit tired of Jack White, but what he did with this album is amazing. Just a brilliant record. Her voice is unreal.
The Beta Band - Heroes to Zeros (Astralwerks); Paranoid and beautiful.
Courtney Love – America’s Sweetheart (Virgin); Ignore the hype, don't let her personality override this album. The good songs are great, and the album rocks hard.
Blonde Redhead – Misery is a Butterfly (4ad Records); Coolest release of the year. Give it a few listens, this album will work its one into you.
Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands (Young God Records); Real. Folk. Music. Is. Not. Dead.
Dangermouse – The Grey Album (Bootleg); Bootleg, only found on the streets, a mix of Jay-Z's Black Album and the Beatle's White Album.
Nina Nastasia – Dogs (Touch and Go); If you don't know who she is, go buy any album. Music for dark moods and dark places. She is a genius, ethereal voice and a cello.
Joanna Newsom – Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City); Similar to Nastasia. An eerie voice and a harp. Too cool.
Muse - Absolution (Warner Bros.) Reminiscent of Bends era Radiohead.
Bonus: The Gift – Portuguese band that sings in English. The lead singer has more charisma and power on stage than almost anyone out there. In voice and presence, she is remarkable. If they don't break in the States, it's our fault, not theirs. One of my favorite bands of the past few years.