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Albums to Kill for from 2004

50 FOOT WAVE : 50 Foot Wave (Throwing Music USA/4AD Worldwide)
“Listening to the first blistering 50 Foot Wave songs, it’s clear:
this is still war, but now she’s winning. The music created by 50
Foot Wave is propelled by the racecar engine of Kristin’s guitar and
her explosive, feral vocals. Bernard’s bass, as always, is a muscle,
undulating through Kristin’s wall of sound. Ahlers drumming is
ferocious and unbridled, at once supporting and keeping pace with
Kristin’s driving and relentless sound. The trio are tight and
powerful, creating music that is precise, emotional and seemingly on
the edge of control.” –

RACHEL GOSWELL : Waves are Universal
“a lush string arrangement, backed with crickets and a summery nature
soundscape, swells in and leads … to its untimely exit.” –

“A folky haze envelops this collection as it reveals its unwinding
pleasures over repeated listenings, worming its way into your
consciousness with the beauty and seemingly effortless structure of
melody and musical embellishments.” –

ULRICH SCHNAUSS : A Strangely Isolated Place
“the instrumental ambience, textures, rhythmic interplay, minimal
drones, and soaring melodies pack enough sound into Isolated that each
moment is bursting with life and vivacity. Furthermore, the album
never looses touch with humanity, as the wall of sound that Schnauss
employs is always so warm and lush that you become enveloped in the
sonic atmosphere and find yourself getting lost in Isolated’s
breathtaking layers of sound…Blissful and celebratory, Ulrich
Schnauss has crafted a nearly flawless album that rests as the
soundtrack to the perfect summer.” –

“The beats are precise and the aural layers are as heavy as you’ll
find anywhere. As wonderful as his last album was, A Strangely
Isolated Place is a lot more focused and headstrong in its delivery.
This is daydream music at its finest.” –

THE KILLERS : Hot Fuss (Island)
“The album is dark, like a film noir, with tales of nocturnal dancing
and midnight shows sung atop lashings of black echoey synths and
shadowy guitar fuzz.” –

“A religious affection for Oasis and the by-gone era of 80’s
synth-rock combined with an unparalled ear for infectious melodies saw
this Las Vegas quartet stand head and shoulders above any other band
who released an album in the last 12 months.” –

TV ON THE RADIO : Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Touch and Go
USA/4AD worldwide)
“TV On The Radio makes music that’s rhythmic but not really danceable,
and harmonic without being hooky. The group plays haunted on “Dreams,”
tribal on “King Eternal,” and like some kind of skeletal barbershop
quartet on “Ambulance”; by placing those three songs in consecutive
order, it maps out a whole environment of primal community music
updated for the age of the terror alert.” –

“Parping sax, dense, bludgeoning industrial bass throbs, and a cracked
sleazy nursery gospel are just the first noises that hit your ears on
the opening seconds of TV On The Radio’s shimmering debut. With the
frisson of technicolour genre clashes, they concoct a tense, dramatic,
soulful post-rock, as Barbershop meets pseudo doo-wop harmonies on the
spiralling spooky-acapella of ‘Ambulance’, ‘Poppy’ sounds like a
bastard cross between Peter Gabriel’s Biko and The The’s Giant, as it
breaks down thrillingly from strident stomp of tribal march to
spiritual vocal and back up again – stronger, stranger and more
soulful than either of the reference points.” –

DYKEHOUSE : Midrange (Ghostly International)
“Mike Dykehouse’s long-awaited Midrange crosses the anthemic guitar
roar of classic shoegazing with New Wave electronic pop and does so,
remarkably, using only an iMac, a Fender guitar, and a cheap
microphone. Midrange steams along on a crest of wailing guitars,
thunderous drums, and breath-laden vocals, and in inimitable Ramones
style, fits fourteen songs into a perfect running time of forty
minutes. And why “Chain Smoking” isn’t atop every radio playlist in
the universe is simply baffling, as its four minutes of pop heaven put
to shame anything else heard in these parts in ages.” –

MATTHEW DEAR : Leave Luck to Heaven (Spectral/Ghostly International)
“The clicky beats, funky hooks, bass stabs and spooky atmospherics
have been used before, but never with a classy pop sensibility
bringing it all together, and never with his sleazy vocals. This is
the dark glamour queen to Electroclash’s cheap whore. Prepare to be
seduced.” –
“‘leave luck…’ is an artist album in every sense. With sleek minimal
techno lines, a pop sensibility and an ambient soul, it glides
effortlessly from start to finish, with enough charisma to open the
most closed “don’t like techno” minds.” –

LUSINE : Serial Hodgepodge
(Ghostly International)
“(Serial Hodgepodge is) rife with kicking beats set against lush
melodies and deep grooves. The album’s more complex elements will
satisfy a lot of the nerds out there, but most tracks are permeated by
a definite edge, a funky dirty warehouse vibe that kicks you in the
face, softly. Throughout, Lusine can get pretty heavy and
in-your-face with the beats, but he keeps it balanced with deep
atmospherics and delicate instrumentation. It’s nice to hear
something refreshing from the world of IDM madness where it can
sometimes get mundane and overly complex. I would expect nothing less
from Ghostly International.” –

DAVID CROSS : It’s Not Funny
(Sup Pop)
“No one deserving is spared by David Cross’s stand-up comedy
flame-thrower in It’s Not Funny; he’s the enemy of hypocrisy and a
voice for all who lament the absence of truth in the world. The
co-star of HBO’s ‘Mr. Show’ and Fox’s ‘Arrested Development’,
left-wing hero Cross casts a sweeping net over the course of the 70+
minute set, recorded live in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. He
has an endless amount of ire for Republicans (“they’ve got some
awesome racists”), and left-wing conspiracy theorists (“it’s called
coincidence, you hippy freak”). The thorniest of barbs are reserved
for the Bush administration and their spreading of perpetual fear in
post-9/11 America. On the war on terrorism: “If the terrorists hated
freedom, then the Netherlands would be fuckin’ dust.” On Bush’s
proposal to put a man on the moon: “Let’s put a man in an apartment,
how about that?”. And America’s favorite, ‘The Simple Life”? “I saw
the ad for electric scissors during an episode of The Simple Life,
which is a show that glorifies these two rich, giggling cunts who have
no respect for anybody — just vile people, awful human beings who get
away with everything because they’re rich…and then the blonde one’ll
blow you, apparently. But here’s the thing: I saw that ad for electric
scissors during one of the highest-rated shows in America, about these
two rich fuckin’ mean pieces of shit, and I vowed that I’m gonna
retain that image every time I hear President Bush say ‘The terrorists
hate our freedom.’ You know what? I hate our freedom. Me. Little old
me, I’m an American (and) I fuckin’ hate it. We are assholes, man.”

BJORK : Medulla (Elektra)
“Where 2001’s Vespertine was erotic, Medulla is reflexive and
awestruck. A mingling of postpartum jealousy and joy. The
child-welcoming “Who Is It” nods to “world music” warmth with its
throat-sung yelps and Rhythm of the Saints bounce just before the cool
“Submarine,” penned with Robert Wyatt, retreats into chants that sound
like the Beach Boys caught in the magnetic field of Solaris. The
sensual ghost of Vespertine slides through an open window in the
beautiful “Desired Constellation,” which finds Björk pondering cosmic
justice over electro-cricket static. “Stars,” she croons ruefully, “I
throw them like dice.” –

“In the realm of pop music (which Björk still creates within even if
her brand of it seems outlandishly left-field) we are often left arms
crossed, waiting for the chorus to come and impress us enough to tap a
foot, or wiggle a hip. In that capacity it is often easy to forget
that the role of the artist is to, at best, push us crashing into
realms we’d overlooked or never imagined, and to offer us a glimpse
into an imagination that we, as unique individuals, would fail to
possess ourselves. In this respect, Björk has achieved this feat
brilliantly. Sometimes it’s an uneasy trip and one that might not be
undertaken again in the not so distant future. But the important thing
is the journey itself, allowing one to step inside something entirely
foreign, believing even for an instant in another’s completely native
actuality. You may not want to stay there long, but you’ll find
yourself experiencing things differently for ever after. It is,
without a doubt, Björk at her most adventurous, an achievement of no
small order (simply getting it released at all on a major label is
astounding), and one that will frustrate as many fans as it enchants.”

!!! : Louden Up Now (Touch and Go USA/Warp Records UK)
“its ten tracks are filled with fervor, hooks, passion, and power. And
unlike many of their peers, !!! have politics. Angry, righteous
politics. Antiwar, anti-Giuliani, anti-Bush and Blair, and proud of
it. It is like a blast of fresh retro air to have a band not just
updating the sound but carrying over similar ideals as well. That
being said, this is still a dance album. All the grooves are designed
to get you moving; the funky basslines, stuttering drums, flashing
percussion, and chattering guitars combine to be solid indie
dancefloor material. The vocals don’t get in the way of the groove;
even at their spikiest, they are built into the overall sound.
Louden Up Now is a modern-day agit-pop indie dance-rock classic. If
that is too narrow a slot to jam it into, then call it a modern-day
indie rock classic. Or just a classic.” –

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE : Together We’re Heavy (Hollywood Records)
“If you like your rock rough and ready or moody and introspective, the
‘Spree aren’t going to be your cup of tea. But if you’re looking for
something refreshingly new and different, willing to throw your
troubles away for a few minutes and embrace a bunch of happy Americans
in robes, then your musical road to Damascus may start right here.” –

“Ask a preschooler to draw a picture of a nice day and what would you
get? Likely a vibrant, Crayola-adorned image with flawless green
grass, powder-blue sky, cotton-white clouds and an unnaturally yellow
sun. The sophomore record by The Polyphonic Spree is a lot like that:
innocent, colourful and perfect happiness unashamedly strummed, picked
and thumped by some two-dozen or so robe-clad players who try to
recapture the great days of their youth by consuming lots of
sugar-coated cereal. Together We’re Heavy, is filled with un-ironic
rays of prog-orch-pop sunshine. But like the perma-smiles of
Pleasantville or the barren utopia of the Teletubbies, the picture
perfect world of the Spree seems a bit deluded and a bit creepy, a
feeling that’s compounded by their cult-like expression of collective
joy.” –

HOPE OF THE STATES : The Lost Riots (Sony)
“It’s a glorious, swirling state of the union address told with soul
and fierce intent. When the instrumental coda kicks in on ‘Black
Dollar Bills’, you realise you’re listening to this generation’s ‘I Am
The Resurrection’. Expansive, cinematic and full of majesty, it’s
breathtaking.” –

36 CRAZYFISTS : A Snow-Capped Romance (Roadrunner)
“Rather than differ tremendously from the style this Anchorage, Alaska
four-piece brought to surface on their debut album (2001’s ‘Bitterness
The Star’), ‘A Snow Capped Romance’ trades evolution for musical
refinement. When the guitars come in they kick strong; when the
melodies hit, they soar and swoop as if aided by a sense of dynamic
not yet felt by the band. The songs matter more than anything as far
as 36 Crazyfists is concerned, and that’s why they’ve cut an album
with a sense of individuality, aggressive beauty, and pure dynamics.
There are little bits and bobs here musically; from EMO to metal,
catching a sniff of hardcore on the way. It’s an intriguing and
satisfying amalgamation of modern styles, and the record’s gutsy mix
takes full advantage of the energy and vibrancy spawned from all the
songs.” –

COURTNEY LOVE : America’s Sweetheart (Virgin Records)
“Although you could never call Courtney Love’s atonal rasp beautiful,
it’s never less than compelling. Songs which are like sandpaper on the
ears first time round reveal a certain scary beauty, while the
blowsier side of Courtney’s repertoire becomes more convincing.
Compared to her soft rock icon, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac,
Courtney hollers like a workman, but there’s something heroic about
her inevitably doomed attempts to emulate her. This being Courtney,
there’s also an emotional rawness to ‘America’s Sweetheart’ which
you’ll either love or be repelled by. Though the production covers
everything in a superficial gloss, when Courtney sings about how she’s
got pills for every eventuality, or that “all the drugs in the world”
won’t shut her up, you know she’s singing from bitter experience.” –

SQUAREPUSHER : Ultravisitor (Warp Records)
” Tom Jenkinson, a.k.a. Squarepusher, is a musical genius. He can
play the bass like no other, has a mastery of the drums, and has a
grasp on computer sequencing that few possess. His skills and
knowledge are so intense that he approaches madness. Many tracks
combine heavy drum ‘n’ bass or jungle breaks with Jenkinson’s frantic
live bass, which draws heavily on his jazz background and fuses
together pre-programmed electronica and free-flowing live jazz. On
most tracks, the drum brakes and jazzy bass lines get layered between
computer-sequenced loops and samples and even crowd noises, producing
an intense catharsis and a schizophrenic feel. On Ultravisitor,
Squarepusher has used his musical genius and madman mind state to
create a record that is utterly intense, terrifying and beautiful.” –


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