Wednesday, January 05, 2005

BEST CD’s of 2004


I bought a TON of music in 2004—lots of new and lots of used stuff. And there are some things that really stuck with me. Some of them didn’t leave the CD player for weeks at a time. This is a neat, little summary.

BEST CD's of 2004

10. American UsLos Mocosos: A fabulous, tasty, danceable blend of latin funk, jazz, pop, hip hop, with elements from several Latin American musical traditions mixed in, plus some pointed political and social commentary. Simply excellent.

9. The Impossible Dream—Patty Griffin: This would make the list simply because of the long awaited “official” recording of “Mother of God.” However, the rest of the CD is just as good.

8. LifelineIris DeMent: You don’t have to be a religious person to appreciate old time gospel hymns. In her liner notes, DeMent notes that she finds comfort in merely playing and singing these songs. This CD was released right after the election. I ended up playing it over and over and over. Then I realized I understood exactly what she was talking about.

7. WishbonesSlaid Cleaves: Every review I’ve read has remarked on the beefed up, muscular sound of this CD, and they were all right. This is a powerful, moving collection of songs.

6. No Depression: What It Sounds Like/This is Americana: Both of these compilations pull together eclectic collections of music and artists in an attempt to define two genres that seem to defy definition. Maybe the labels and definitions don’t matter and we should just start calling it all “good music.” If you're curious about alt-country or americana music, these are bot good places to start. If you're a fan of either genre, these are compilations of some of your favorites.

5. Van Lear RoseLoretta Lynn: This completely blew my socks off. It’s got a couple of weak moments, but the rest of the CD more than makes up for them. It’s about time the world realized that Lynn still has power in her pen and her voice. It’ll be interesting to see what she does next.

4. A Boot and A ShoeSam Phillips: Kind of like an intimate, personal cabaret, these short, compact songs offer tantalizing glimpses into Phillips and her life and then they haunt you.

3. The Revolution Starts NowSteve Earle: The political posturing is exactly what it needed to be: strong, strident, and urgent, but beyond that there’s also the best duet ever with Earle and Emmylou Harris. And they’ve done some great songs together.

2. Land of Milk and HoneyEliza Gilkyson: Of course the highlight of this CD is the recording of Woody Guthrie’s Peace Call with Iris Dement, Patty Griffin and Mary Chapin Carpenter, but the whole CD overflows with the personal, the political, and some of the best music you’ve ever heard.

1. East Nashville SkylineTodd Snider: Simply the best album of his career, from start to finish.


Universal United House of PrayerBuddy Miller: He did a lot of these songs when he opened for Emmylou Harris in Indianapolis. They are incredible and he is a musician’s musician.

Underdog VictoriousJill Sobule: One of my favorite singer-songwriters. I like her quirky, yet moving songs a lot.


MonumentsKate Campbell
Rosaryville—Kate Campbell

Campbell explores the spiritual side of life with her beautiful stories about people doing the best they can.

Drag Queens in LimousinesMary Gauthier

This was the object of a grand quest for me when I finally found it in an LGBT bookstore in Indianapolis. It was worth the effort. Gauthier tends to dwell on the darker side of life, but she does it with the most amazing songs.


All That We Let InIndigo Girls
LuckyMelissa Etheridge
Wayward AngelKasey Chambers

They’re all good albums, but they all sound like exactly what you would expect after listening to other works from these artists. In other words, there’s little to no growth on any of them and the songs feel pretty generic. Thankfully, generic for these three artists translates to “pretty good.” I listen to all of these CD’s quite a bit, but there’s not a lot on them that grabs me, shakes me, and makes my toes curl the way that most of the songs on any of the CD’s on the “Eddie’s Best” list do.


This should end up being a good year too, since there are new CD’s coming from a ton of great artists:

Mary Gauthier
Nanci Griffith
Kathleen Edwards
John Prine

Hopefully, that will also mean touring!


Some new artists who came into my musical collection after seeing them open for others in concert:

Girlyman: Tight harmonies, dreamy vocals, quirky instruments, and songs about love, life, and gender identity. What more do you need?

Greencards: A smoking hot bluegrass/newgrass trio from New Zealand. They play tight and intense and sign with gusto. They closed their set with a version of Bill Monroe’s Walls of Time that made my brain melt.

For another take on the music of 2004, check out what our local public radio station thought.

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