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Thursday, November 10, 2005
Prince, Spoon And The Magic Of The Dead Stop

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The Truth About America

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Tryin' To Wash Us Away

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A Psyche-Folk Heat Wave In Western Massachusetts

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The SXSW Experience, Part 3: All Together Now

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The SXSW Experience, Part 2: Dr. Dog's Happy Chords

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The SXSW Experience, Part 1: Waiting, Waiting And More Waiting

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Final Day At SXSW's Charnel House

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Day Two In SXSW's Hall Of Mirrors

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Report #1: SXSW 2005 And Its Hall Of Mirrors

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Matt Landry's Fave Recordings Of 2004

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David Howie's 'Moments' From The Year 2004

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Lori Miller Barrett's Fave Recordings Of 2004

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Kevin John's Fave Albums Of 2004

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Music For Those Nights: Max Schaefer's Fave Recordings Of 2004

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Dave Renard's Fave Recordings Of 2004

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Johnny Walker (Black)'s Top 10 Of 2004

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Jennifer Przybylski's Fave Albums (And Book) Of 2004

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Mark Mordue's Fave Albums Of 2004

Monday, January 3, 2005
Lee Templeton's Fave Recordings Of 2004

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Dave Renard's Fave Recordings Of 2004

Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the Hands (Young God): Early in the fuzzy-headed morning with coffee on and slanted sunlight coming in the blinds, much too late at night when I can't go to sleep yet, I keep coming back to Rejoicing in the Hands. Childlike and worldly at the same time, Banhart's eccentric songs brim over with originality even as they're saturated with the folk, psych and blues traditions of the "old, weird America." See also: Joanna Newsom's The Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City) — handmade, whimsical, and intense.

Dungen, Ta Det Lugnt (Subliminal Sounds): This Swedish psych record must have fallen through a wormhole from 1968, because it sounds like a refugee from the Nuggets II box set. The guitar pedals are set on "lysergic," but the songs are so catchy you'll be singing along to the Swedish lyrics, which could be about getting righteously wasted or about hobbits dancing in a meadow — I really have no idea. When the music is this good, it doesn't matter.

The Hold Steady, ... Almost Killed Me (Frenchkiss): In total, I think I spent about three months of 2004 either obsessively deciphering the lyrics of Lifter Puller (Craig Finn's old band) or going to see the Hold Steady (his new one) rock out. First, start with Finn's free-associative storytelling: "My name's Rick Danko, baby, people call me One-Hour Photo/ I got some hazardous chemicals, so drive around to the window." Now combine that with balls-out classic rock and guess what, the Hold Steady pack more punch than roofies in yer jungle juice. Somehow their ballads ("Certain Songs," "Sketchy Metal") are their best songs.

Interpol, Antics (Matador): Late 2002, "NYC," reaction after one listen — "Ugh, Interpol, mopey, Joy Division-y, skinny-suit-wearing blah de blah blah." Mid-2003, "PDA," five listens — "Um, this is actually pretty good." Late 2004, "Evil," 25 listens — "Dude, Interpol! Atmospheric, Joy Division-y, best-of-the-year blah de blah blah ..."

Madvillain, Madvillainy (Stones Throw): MF Doom could justifiably stand accused of letting his quality control slip a bit this year, since he unleashed multiple albums and seemingly dozens of Special Herbs beat compilations. On Madvillainy, though, the Metal Fellow kills track after track of producer Madlib's fractured funk, playing verbal "Jeopardy!" and running up the score like Ken Jennings: "Groovy, dude, not to prove to be rude but this shit is like what you might put on movie food." (Um, what is jalapeños?) See also: De La Soul's "Rock Co.Kane Flow" — totally bonkers, and Doom has a guest verse.

M.I.A., Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1 (CD-R): The producer Diplo's new album, Florida (Ninja Tune), runs the gamut from psych-tinged downtempo to Dirty South and dancehall ("Diplo Rhythm"), but it's only his second-best release of 2004. He also put together Piracy Funds Terrorism, the excellent street-style mixtape by M.I.A., an MC from Sri Lanka by way of London. Omnivorous global funk, from Brazilian to "Big Pimpin'," provides the perfect backdrop for M.I.A.'s precise, singsong delivery, and Diplo sticks the landing on tons of segues that have no business working so well — like when the "yo-yo-yaaaayyyy" chant from M.I.A.'s "Galang" morphs into Baby's "What Happened to That Boy?"

Arthur Russell, The World of Arthur Russell (Soul Jazz): Music is constantly hurtling forward and backward at the same time, and 2004 wouldn't sound the same without the countless reissues and rediscoveries that came to the surface. One of the best was this Arthur Russell collection, surveying his genre-defying disco experiments ("Is It All Over My Face?") as well as his beautiful solo songs for cello and voice ("A Little Lost"). See also: the propulsive and druggy Black Devil Disco Club reissues (Rephlex) and the amateur-genius funk of Thrust by McNeal & Niles (Chocolate Industries).

TV on the Radio, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Touch and Go): "See, we'll have this kind of My Bloody Valentine, Pere Ubu/prog rock sound with a strong groove and barbershop harmonies, right? It'll be soulful — like a soulful version of Peter Gabriel — but also postmodern, with whitewash wall-of-noise guitars and all these samples and loops." Sounds terrible, right? Oops, no, it's awesome.

DFA 12-inch singles: This label's underground hits of 2002, the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" and LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge," became so inescapable that it seemed like DFA's expiration date might come up fast. But this year's models included no fewer than three extended-playing monsters: the acid-disco madness of LCD's "Yeah," Pixeltan's dubby-dancey-punk blast "Get Up/Say What," and the mesmerizing DFA remix of Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom's "Rise." The recently released DFA Compilation #2 puts it all on CD with some new tracks and a mix disc.

Biggest Disappointment

Absolutely loved the Fiery Furnaces' first album, Gallowsbird's Bark. Their follow-up, Blueberry Boat, is being billed as the second coming of Tommy, but it's more like 90 half-finished songs arranged somewhat randomly into 13 really LONG songs. Get these guys some Ritalin. Bonus disappointment: When they play live now, all their old songs sound like the new record.

Great Songs From Albums That Didn't Make The Cut

The Rogers Sisters, "Check Level"; Animal Collective, "Who Could Win a Rabbit?"; Kanye West, "All Falls Down" and "Jesus Walks"; Liars, "Broken Witch"; Franz Ferdinand, "Take Me Out" (anthem of 2004, hands down).

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