Top 5 Albums of 2004

Another year is almost over (and considering where we’ve come, I can only hope the next four go as quickly… but I digress; besides, I’m still on political vacation). Time to review the sounds that made their way into my ears (or at least onto my iPod) this year…

5. BenoƮt Charest: The Triplets of Belleville (Soundtrack)
This brilliant soundtrack lifts from such diverse influences as Django Reinhardt and Curtis Mayfield, and works as perfectly as the animated feature itself. Everyone owes it to themselves to experience both the film and its music.
4. Wilco: A Ghost Is Born
I’ve only just begun to delve into this album but it seems to hold great potential. (Plus, Jeff Tweedy lives in my sister-in-law’s neighborhood in Chicago.)
3. Beastie Boys: To the 5 Boroughs
Dripping with ’80s pop culture references, the only question that remains is best spoken in the words of George McFly: “Do you really think I ought to swear?” The occasional expletives don’t detract, however, from such delights as “Think twice before you start flossin’ / I’ve been in your bathroom often,” or “Ad-Rock, a.k.a. sharp cheddar / my rhymes are better / What the Helen of Troy is that? / Did I hear you say my rhymes is whack?” (More on that here…)
2. U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
I was groovin’ on “Vertigo” for a couple of months (yes, cranked up to 14), and when the full album “dropped” (pardon the pun) I wasn’t the only one grabbing it from the rack at Target 10 minutes after they opened. This would easily win my best album of the year, were it not for…
1. Brian Wilson: Smile
Wow. Friggin’ holy crap, WOW. Perhaps not only the best album of the year, but of the past 37, since that’s when the former Beach Boy started working on it. No one (least of all Wilson himself) ever expected to see (and hear!) it finished, but here it is. And worth the wait.

Addendum: February 26, 2005

When I wrote this, I hadn’t yet checked out Green Day’s American Idiot. Having pretty much loathed the band before, I didn’t expect much, but this album really is quite amazing! If I were to revise the list above, I would probably put it at #2.