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My Top Ten for 2004

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  • steve@topsoil.net
    I actually bit the bullet and made my Top Ten an actual Top TEN this year. Usually my top ten can run upwards of 40 record. This time though I picked ten.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 26, 2003
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      I actually bit the bullet and made my Top Ten an actual Top TEN this year.
      Usually my top ten can run upwards of 40 record. This time though I picked
      ten. That's all. Not even honorable mentions or anything. Whew. It's
      amazing what one can do when he has no spare time.

      Happy New Year
      Steve Gardner

      New Albums
      10. Gerald Collier “Breakin’ Down” (Isota)
      [Gerald Collier, once again, wins the Most Underrated Artist of the Year
      award. Actually, he shares the title this year with Cory Branan. Both guys
      are world-class songwriters of the Cry-In-Your-Beer variety.]

      9. Cory Branan “The Hell You Say” (Madjack)
      [Cory not only writes powerful songs, but he loads them up with a bunch of
      pop culture references that tell me that not only do I get his
      songwriting, but we must also be the same age. His past seems to be my
      past. As a songwriter I’d place him somewhere in between Scott Miller and
      Rhett Miller.]

      8. Tommy Womack “Washington DC” (tommywomack.com)
      [Tommy Womack and his band walked into the XM Satellite studios and played
      live for one hour. When they were done with the performance, they were
      also done with their latest CD, this live disc recorded in Washington, DC.
      There were no overdubs, no second tries and no pitch fixes. The
      performance you heard on this disc is what people heard live on the radio,
      and what do you know, it’s Tommy’s best CD ever.]

      7. Thad Cockrell “Warmth and Beauty” (Yep Roc)
      [Thad Cockrell’s goal is to put the hurt back in country, and with this
      full-length debut, he does quite a number on country’s psyche. Each cut
      seems to be sadder than the last, and with weeping steel, Thad’s lonesome
      lyrics and John Teer’s unbeatable accompaniment, Warmth and Beauty easily
      is the best straight-up country record of 2003.]

      6. Kathleen Edwards “Failer” (Zoe)
      [Though Kathleen doesn’t really break any new ground on this album, Failer
      makes it into the top ten based on being a great album that is worth many
      listens. The songwriting is superb and no matter how many times I pop this
      CD in the player, I never seem to tire of it.]

      5. Decemberists “Castaways and Cutouts” (Kill Rock Stars)
      [The Decemberists released two CDs this year. Castaways and Cutouts
      actually came out on Hush Records in 2002, but most people, including me,
      heard it first when Kill Rock Stars reissued the debut earlier this year.
      Later in the year the Decemberists released their followup, Her Majesty
      The Decemberists but it lacked in the songs department when compared to
      this stellar debut.]

      4. Shins “Chutes Too Narrow” (Sub Pop)
      [Believe the hype on this band. The Shins clock in at #4 with their
      follow-up to their debut, Oh,Inverted World. This could have even made it
      up to #1 if only I knew what they were singing about half the time.
      Sometimes I find their lyrics baffling, but that might say more about me
      than them. Either way, it’s a great album that is worth many spins and a
      spot in the top 5 for 2003.]

      3. Virgil Shaw “Still Falling” (Future Farmer)
      [Virgil Shaw used to lead the San Francisco band, Dieselhed. I was never a
      huge fan of Dieselhed, and am not even that familiar with Virgil’s
      previous solo albums. However, this one has been in my player for almost a
      solid year now. The only problem with it is that with only nine songs on
      the album, including one cover, Still Falling sails by too quick.]

      2. Drive By Truckers “Decoration Day” (New West)
      [Easily, the best alt.country/roots rock album of the year, Decoration Day
      is a huge leap forward by a band that was already at the top of their
      pack. The addition of Jason Isbell as the band’s third singer and
      songwriter creates a monopoly of talent in rock and roll that is so unfair
      to the rest of the music world that it should probably be declared
      illegal.]

      1. Postal Service “Give Up” (Sub Pop)
      [Ben Gibbard, from Death Cab For Cutie, teamed up with Dntel from the
      world of electronica to create this album of indie pop songs. Seeing them
      live in concert last Spring sealed this as the #1 album for me. Ben and
      Jen Wood’s duet on the album’s high point, “Nothing Better” at this show
      was so good that I still remember every single move made in that 3 minutes
      and 45 seconds. This album goes well back to back with the new Death Cab
      For Cutie album, Transatlanticism.]

      Reissues
      5. Gang of 4 “Solid Gold/Hard” (Wounded Bird)
      [Solid Gold was finally released on CD this year by Wounded Bird. It was a
      cause for celebration. Too bad it was paired with the weak mid-80s effort
      Hard. And to add insult to injury it was stuck on the album after Hard.
      Were they saving the best for last, or were they just toying with us?]

      4. Screaming Tribesman “All Hail The Tribesman” (Raven)
      [The first of two reissues on my list this year from Raven Records in
      Australia. This one from the Screaming Tribesman, a band that never quite
      made much of a splash here, but were a big part of the garage rock
      resurgence that happened in Australia in the mid 80s.]

      3. Sly and the Family Stone “The Essential Sly and the Family Stone”
      (Epic-Legacy)
      [This isn’t loaded up with rarities or anything, but it is a terrific two
      CD set of music from this great band.]

      2. Guadalcanal Diary “Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man/Jamboree”
      (Collectables)
      [Finally! Someone has not only reissued the first two Guadalcanal Diary
      albums for the first time, but they even put them on a single disc.
      Hallelujah!]

      1. Lime Spiders “Nine Miles High: 1983-1990” (Raven)
      [I’ve been waiting for this one for years. In the mid-80s I, and many
      other college rock listeners, loved the Lime Spiders. For some reason,
      though, they’ve faded from non-com radio and you never ever seem to hear
      them anymore stateside. They’ve also never reissued their albums here, but
      thanks to Raven Records (and a favorable exchange rate) you can now import
      this album yourself from Australia at a good pice and hear some of these
      songs on CD for the first time.]

      by Steve Gardner
      Topsoil/Haywire on WXDU Durham NC Sundays Noon-3pm www.wxdu.org
      Clink Magazine www.clinkmagazine.com
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