10. Wilco - A Ghost Is Born: A mediocre album from one of my favorite bands. Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 are good tracks that pick up where 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' left off. Of course, asking Wilco to top 'YHF' would be like asking the Beatles to top 'Sgt. Pepper's', a nearly impossible expectation. The rest of the album is hit or miss, and on track 11 "Less Than You Think", they hit a new low: 9 minutes of noise that is neither ironic nor artistic.
9. Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters: A fun blend of 80s rock, disco, and pop, including a BeeGees-ish cover of "Comfortably Numb" and the neo-country/funk tune "Take Your Mama".
8. The Killers - Hot Fuss: 80s New Wave interpreted Las Vegas style. Perhaps their sound is a bit too catchy and derivative of bands like The Cars, and their lyrics are underdeveloped. But songs like "Somebody Told Me" and "Smile Like You Mean It" are fun crowd-pleasers. I suspect that they will not have the versatility to develop their sound much and put together a successful follow-up album.
7. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand: More retro. As long as retro is in and as long as record companies are desperately searching for the next Strokes or White Stripes, bands will keep churning this stuff out. Well, at least Franz Ferdinand can write interesting lyrics to go along with their radio-friendly post-punk sound.
6. Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs: This album is a return to the classic Beasties sound. "Ch-check it out", "Triple Trouble", and "An Open Letter to NYC" are standouts. The beats and the rhymes aren't bad, but the album fails to innovate like its predecessors did.
5. U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb: U2's best album since Achtung Baby. "Vertigo", "City of Blinding Lights", "All Because of You", and "Original of the Species" are my favorite tracks. Though enjoyable overall, the album lacks the edge that made War, Joshua Tree, and Achtung Baby classics.
4. Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News: This is probably the MM album that is easiest on the ears of mainstream consumers. While it may be more appealing for the radio, diehard fans complain that they've lost some of their raw strangeness. Nevertheless, the lyrics are still eccentric enough for people looking to enjoy a little something different. "Float On", "Ocean Breathes Salty", "Bury Me With It", and "The View" are great songs.
3. Garden State Soundtrack: Thank goodness for this soundtrack...it introduced me to some of the indie talent that I was missing out on and brought back some old favorites. The tracks from The Shins, Thievery Corporation, Coldplay, Simon and Garfunkel, and Zero 7 are my favorites, but none of the songs are bad selections. However, I would have liked The Postal Service's original "Such Great Heights" included as well (although Iron and Wine's cover works well in the movie).
2. The Arcade Fire - Funeral: Review pending...
1. Ambulance LTD - Ambulance LTD: According to some of my sources, they are the it band on the local NYC rock scene (although my friend in a local band on the Lower East Side claims not to have heard of them). Anyway, since Thanksgiving, I have been unable to stop listening to this album. Their style is unique but each song has an eerie familiarity that is derived from their wide range of influences. Congleton (lead) has been influenced by blues, soul, punk, and jazz. Beckett (drums) and Lysaght (guitar) have backgrounds in jazz and rock. Dublin (bass) cites metal as a big influence. Their sound is reminiscent of Velvet Underground, the Kinks, early Stones, White Album era Beatles, and shoegazer rock (i.e. My Bloody Valentine). Their recent single was "Primitive (The Way I Treat You)" and their next single is "Heavy Lifting", but my favorite tracks are "Anecdote", "Ophelia", "Stay Where You Are", "Stay Tuned", and "Young Urban". Also, try to find the excellent b-side "Country Gentleman". They have been touring with The Killers and will be beginning a two month tour of England in 2005. They'd better swing by DC/Baltimore one of these days.
Elliott Smith - From a Basement on the Hill
Green Day - American Idiot
Dios - Dios
Music From The O.C. Vol. 1 and 2
Snow Patrol - Final Straw
Eminem - Encore
Snoop Dogg - Rhythm and Gangsta
Badly Drawn Boy - One Plus One Is One
Air - Talkie Walkie