I can not fly an airplane
So, here I am, continuing the list of favourite 2004 albums that I began on Monday.
The Pillows - Good Dreams:
This Japanese rock band has experimented with a lot of other styles of music over the course of their careers, from jazz to lounge music to arena rock to thrashy punk to synth-laden pop. And in all honesty, most of these experiments have ended very, very badly. But forget all about the Pillows' disappointing attempts to expand their sound. This album is all about what the band does best: punchy pop-rock with catchy tunes and killer guitar riffs. And holy crap, it is actually getting an honest-to-god North American release in May of this year! This is a huge first for the band.
Highlights: XAVIER, Walking on the Spiral, Good Dreams.
The Futureheads - The Futureheads:
Imagine a nearly-shouting British barbershop quartet backed by some very loud, spastic guitar parts and you sort of have this album. The first time I heard it, I thought it was irritating as hell. But subsequent listens slowly changed my mind, to the point where I now think it's one of the best albums of the year. It's jarring at first, but the music is so creative and so bloody catchy that it's hard to stay mad.
Highlights: She Knows, Meantime, Robot.
AC Newman - The Slow Wonder:
AC Newman (of the New Pornographers) knows how to put together one hell of a power pop album. He and his touring band also know how to put on a kick ass live show... it was easily the best one that I saw in 2004. My lone beef with this mini-masterpiece of songwriting is the treble-heavy mixing that makes the whole album sound just a smidge too tinny to me. The Pornographers albums are the same way, so I guess it is intentional.
Highlights: Miracle Drug, Most of us Prizefighters, The Town Halo.
Slipknot - Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses:
Oh, Slipknot. Way too heavy for the nu metal kids, way too pop for the metal fans, these guys have still built up a huge middle-ground fanbase of angry, indignant, defensive fans used to being attacked from either side. And quite frankly, they had a lot to be defensive about, because Slipknot's early music was mostly pretty awful. But this, the band's third album, is unequivocally great. The musicianship is so much tighter, and the music so much more varied, that it practically sounds like a different group. Mind you, if you hate the genre, this album won't change your mind. But if you can enjoy metal-rock hybrids like "Reinventing the Steel"-era Pantera without thinking it is "too pop," or listen to a NIN CD without being too frustrated by the over-the-top angsty lyrics, then you can and probably will enjoy this CD. Scout's honour.
Highlights: Vermillion, The Blister Exists, Opium of the People.
(Also, Circle, if only for the sheer novelty of an accoustic ballad performed by Slipknot.)
Three more to go... and go they will, on Friday.