Wednesday, December 22, 2004

 

Still counting down

Number 8 Jay Z and DJ Dangermouse The Grey Album Listen to Encore (Go! Download the Rekkid!) Thank God for the damn lawyers. Hollywood Records' lawyers introduced me to The Kleptones and EMI's lawyers turned me on to what may well have been the best mash-up of 2004. As I've said before, Dangermouse and Eric Kleptone were responsible for two of the most innovative, creative and subversive recordings of 2004. The Grey Album comes out ahead solely because I've managed to spend more time with it. The saddest part is, now that D-mouse has managed to become a mainstream success, it's unlikely he'll have the chance to do anything without the record company's approval ever again. Thanks to the lawyers, you can't buy the Grey Album. You can however download it here. Number 7 The Streets A Grand Don't Come for Free Listen to Blinded by the Lights (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) If there's a better way of merging edgy club beats and tight, erudite rhymes; I haven't heard it. A Grand Don't Come for Free is a book of short stories you can dance to. That's worth number 7. Buy A Grand Don't Come for Free Number 6 Drive-By Truckers The Dirty South Listen to Aint Never Gonna Change (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Three records, three straight appearances on the top ten for the best musical export from Alabama since, well, Alabama. The Dirty South isn't the best record of the three (that'd be 2002's Southern Rock Opera) but it is a confirmation of a situation that was hinted at in last year's Decoration Day. Namely, that Jason Isbell is the best songwriter in a band featuring three of the most talented ones in rock. Buy The Dirty South Number 5 Wilco A Ghost Is Born Listen to At Least That's What You Said (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) It's gotta be hard to be Jeff Tweedy. Member, with Jay Farrar, of one of the greatest bands of all time. After they split, he records three, gradually more experimental albums with Wilco, before he begins to realize Rock and Roll's is just a little too small for him. With that thought in mind, he fires half of his band, gets together with Jim O'Rourke and a room full of microprocessors and makes last year's best record: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. After YHF, many Wilco fans (particularly us long-timers who actually LIKED it when Tweedy sounded like Gram Parsons) were left asking: What's next? The answer is a Ghost is Born, a record that mashes up Neil Young with a complete disrespect for the grand old convention of verse/chorus/verse. The problem with "Ghost" is that some of these tracks lean too far down the road towards experimental noodling. There are tracks with 3 minutes of noise and other tracks which feature guitar solos which sound like a perfectly good guitar falling down a flight of stairs. And yet, there is Tweedy, writing a track like At Least That's What You Said which celebrates it's length and sounds modern while still bringing more than enough guitar to bob your head to. It might be hard to be Jeff Tweedy. But watching him is still a treat. Buy A Ghost is Born
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