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Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Mark Mordue's Fave Albums Of 2004

Nick Cave, Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus (Anti): The piano man comes out kicking arse, rockin' and rollin' again at last. In my opinion the best record of his career, after a period of gloomy struggle at the keys. This is a document of happiness at work, even if it is in the service of the devil he has always known.

Holly Throsby, On Night (Spunk): Australian songstress with literary depth of a novelist who looks into the eye of love and its social circles. Beautiful, restrained, right on target, so direct.

M Ward, Transfiguration of Vincent (Merge): I know it's been out a while, but this one lasted the whole year. Ward's records never grab me straight away — they take time, and then they GIVE time. The modern blues, on a whole other wavelength.

Black Cab, Altamont Diary (Interstate 40): Melbourne duo imagining their own trip in the dark mother of all festivals. Like taking a mind drive into history. You can practically feel the hum of the event, its cosmic wave coming through you just over the hill.

The National, Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers (Brassland): Yeah, they sound like Smog. But in their own secret way. Someone must have fucked someone, someone must have loved and lost. Deep adult rock 'n' roll for people who know what loss means.

Ryan Adams, Love Is Hell Parts 1 & 2 (Lost Highway): In Sydney he gave out beers to the entire audience who stayed the distance with him just coz he felt like rockin' on long after they tried to turn the lights on and send us home. On Love Is Hell Parts 1 & 2 he lets his heart pour right out. Cruel English girls, rivers and chemicals, the private, the political: Adams seems like the most porous risk-taker on the block today. And gee he can really sing so pretty too.

Wilco, A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch): Opening song "At Least That's What You Said" lets fly with a guitar lead that sounds like someone just threw kindling on a brewing. It just explodes. Elsewhere things get sonar. Jeff Tweedy's great rock 'n' roll dive into abstract sound paintings and poetry continues, unabated, migrainal, like a vision spinning with electrified dots of insight. Superb.

Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak (RCA): I knew when I saw them supporting The Strokes and they played three slow, slurred, bluesy and long songs in a row they were going to make a great second record. Looks like they met Eve and the snake on their tour round the world's groovy places. So much sex, so much hollow partaking. So many great songs to try and reconcile their souls with. Southern man, better keep your head.

The Saints, All Times Through Paradise (EMI): Monumental boxed set: three-CD recollection of Australia's premier punk band, The Saints, at their absolutely original and best. Calling them punk, however, does not do justice to their muscular power, from the first sarcastic moans of "I'm Stranded" to the dense brass lines of "Know Your Product" and the jazz primitivism (that means heavy sophistication) of the Prehistoric Sounds CD. All in two years. These guys were blowing like a hurricane.

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