John Greak Poop 04

Mark insists I write one of these lists this year, demanding I throw SOMETHING out there to pacify the poop list masses. I ask myself “what would Johnny Damon do?” and know in my heart he would write a poop list. I wish I had something funny to write, but I am still suffering from post election withdrawal, Doug Brien shock and seasonal affected disorder. I may have something funny to say by April. Top 22, in some particular order…

saturday looks good to me - every night Buy from amazon
1. Saturday Looks Good To Me – “Every Night”
Influenced by Phil Spector and Motown as much as – if not more than – their indie rock contemporaries, SLGTM has produced a nostalgic lo-fi record that defies modern rock convention in favor of sugary pop orchestrations and bitterly whimsical ballads. Being miserable never sounded so lighthearted and fun…

green day - american idiot Buy from amazon
2. Green Day – “American Idiot”
Green Day doing what they do best: writing topical, catchy songs but throwing in the not so subtle twist of stringing them together to form one narrative. By the way, I hate the term “rock opera.” “Jesus Of Suburbia” is probably the best song they’ve ever written, and that’s saying something. It sucks they got nominated for so many Grammy’s as I hate being lockstep with the people in monkey suits.

elliot smith - from a basement on a hill Buy from amazon
3. Elliott Smith – “From A Basement On Hill”
It’s bizarre that this struck me as being Elliott’s most uplifting outing as his supposed suicide took place before the record was finished. That being said, it is still dark and languid, but the overall tenor of the record seems to point forward not backward…I don’t know, maybe I am being over analytical. It’s on as I write this and reminds me how stupid the world can be.

ted leo Buy from amazon
4. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Shake The Streets”
Ted has yet to disappoint in his career with The Pharmacists. Initially, I wasn’t keen on this outing as it’s very straightforward, Jam influenced, power trio rock and I had gotten used to the more expansive sound found on the two previous records. I let it sit for a while and revisited it and eventually couldn’t get it out of my CD player. Melodies and hooks that invade your soul abound, the best driving record of 2004!

tilly and the wall - wild like children Buy from amazon
5. Tilly & The Wall – “Wild Like Children”
Although I am not a big fan of a lot of that Midwestern indie rock out there, T&TW caught my ear with their distinct sound – their rhythm section consists of a tap dancer – and kept my attention with their sometimes embarrassingly earnest lyrics along with their search for what appear at times to be elusive melodies. It is really kind of wimpy and atypical of my tastes, but for some reason I listen to it over and over again. I have concluded it is that good…

william shatnet - has been Buy from amazon
6. William Shatner – “Has Been”
Okay, I admit it to loving those commercials. I also admit to loving this record. Ben Folds manages to produce a fun, lighthearted album which is biting, clever, and confessional in all the right places thanks to Kirk’s autobiographical lyrics and sound song contributions from Brad Paisley & Nick Hornby. The cover of Pulp’s “Common People” is rocking and the collaboration with Henry Rollins on “I Can’t Get Behind That” is a bit surreal.

mark lanegan - bubblegum Buy from amazon
7. Mark Lanegan – “Bubblegum”
Brooding and bluesy, Mark channels a fair share of his inner Waits on this album and manages to keep it in check enough to make the record all his own. The tracks with PJ Harvey are the best, as sometimes his low rumble can wear on you a bit. Once again, a record I keep listening to over and over again…a pleasant surprise as I was not a huge fan of his earlier solo outings.

neko case - tigers have spoken Buy from amazon
8. Neko Case – “The Tigers Have Spoken”
Legitimately released live records usually don’t do it for me, but this album is so good it is hard to not love it. Pitch perfect from beginning to end, Ms. Case keeps the “hits” coming and her cover of “Train From Kansas City” gets her extra kudos from me as I never knew that song and now I love it. Thanks Neko!

john vanderslice - cellar door Buy from amazon
9. John Vanderslice – “Cellar Door”
This started the year as an early favorite for number 1, but it kind of dragged on me a bit as the year went on and I found it less engaging than I had earlier. I popped it in yesterday when I pulled discs to write this thing up and it sounded better than it has in a while. “They Won’t Let Me Run” is great. Maybe it should have been higher…

gift of gab - 4th dimensional rocketships Buy from amazon
10. The Gift of Gab – “4th Dimensional Rocketships”
Hip hop was pretty thin this year, and this was the best of the bunch that I heard. Blackalicious never comes up short and Gift Of Gab’s solo debut is no different. The beats are subtle yet funky, the lyrics forward thinking and honest, and the songs flow like any good soul record should. If commercial rap was nearly as good as the “underground” stuff, the world would literally be a different place.

I will just list #’s 11- 22 to save you all the trouble of reading more of my less than poetic waxing.

11. Greg Dulli & The Twilight Singers – “…Present She Loves You”
12. Julian Hatfield – “In Exile Deo”
13. Pete Rock – “Soul Survivor II”
14. Wilco – “A Ghost Is Born”
15. Ken Stringfellow – “Soft Commands”
16. Bjork – “Medulla”
17. Guided By Voices – “Half Smiles Of The Decomposed”
18. PJ Harvey – “Uh Huh Her”
19. The Magnetic Fields- “I”
20. Steve Earle – “The Revolution Starts Now”
21. The Only Children – Change Of Living”
22. Old 97’s – “Drag It Up”

The best reissue I bought this year was “Midwest Funk: Funk 45’s from Tornado Alley”. Killer private press funk singles from the 70’s unearthed by crate diggers over the past decade finally found a proper release on this comp once again proving some of the best music ever made goes unheard by the masses.

Best live shows of 2004:
Pixies @ Hammerstein Ballroom
The Figgs @ Valentines in Albany
Wilco @ The Chance
Ted Leo @ Valentines
Cave In @ The Loft

I know I am leaving off records and shows….but the pressure on me to finish this thing is crushing me. have a good 2005…

john greak