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December 1, 2004

2004 Largehearted Favorite Albums or Davey Goes To Eleven

With the music year heading to a close, the time has come to reflect on the year's releases and my annual list of favorite albums. This year has been another great harvest of interesting music, and these albums represent what has graced my iPod the most. Included are legal downloads from the discs where available, so please give these artists a chance (if you haven't already).

The Milk-Eyed Mender

The Milk-Eyed Mender
Joanna Newsom

Joanna Newsom's Milk-Eyed Mender is my favorite album of the past several years. The classically-trained harpist's sparse arrangements and strong songwriting combine to produce otherworldly music with hints of her bluegrass and folk backgrounds. Her unique and strong voice is the final part of the wonderful puzzle that is her music.

"Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie" [mp3]

Blueberry Boat
Blueberry Boat
Fiery Furnaces

The Fiery Furnaces skip the sophomore slump with Blueberry Boat. Wonderfully diverse and quirky, this album challenges the listener.

"Straight Street" [mp3]
"Chris Michaels" [mp3]

A Grand Don't Come For Free
A Grand Don't Come For Free
The Streets

Mike Skinner follows up Original Pirate Material with a concept album, and the results are amazing. He takes chances (like the guitar-driven first single, "Fit But You Know It), and always wins.

We Shall All Be Healed
We Shall All Be Healed
The Mountain Goats

John Darnielle's second studio album offers the best songwriting yet from America's best tunesmith. John Vanderslice's production is a perfect match.

"Palmcorder Yajna" [mp3]
"Your Belgian Things" (live version) [mp3]
"The Young Thousands" (live version) [mp3]
"Slow West Vultures" (live version) [mp3]
"Mole" (live version) [mp3]
"Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The water, Triumph of" (live version) [mp3]
"Linda Blair Was Born Innocent" (live version) [mp3]
"Cotton" (live version) [mp3]
"Quito" (live version) [mp3]

Let It Die
Let It Die

Leslie Feist of Broken Social Scene breaks out with a solo album that runs the gamut of genres, but is filled with memorable lyrics and her soft, silky voice.

"Mushaboom" [mp3]
"Gatekeeper" [mp3]

Faded Seaside Glamour
Faded Seaside Glamour

The best hooks of the year belong to the Delays on this album. The "feel good" album of the year, hands down.

Cat Spectacular
Cat Spectacular

A friend gave me this album early this year, saying it would change my life. His exact words were that Bearsuit was like "Deerhoof crossed with Belle & Sebastian." My life didn't change, but my wallet did, as I tracked down as much Bearsuit as I could after the first couple of listens to Cat Spectacular.

"Itsuko Got Married" [mp3]


When MF Doom and Madlib combined for this project, my expectations were high. The resulting album is simply an amazing concept album, filled with Madlib's beats and the gravelly wonder that is MF Doom's rhymes.

"Money Folder" [mp3]
"Curls" [mp3]

Sung Tongs
Sung Tongs
Animal Collective

Though adventurous and experimental, the Animal Collective has made its most accessible album without compromising its artistic integrity. Combining folk and pop influences with acoustic guitars, this album is stellar.

"Leaf House" [mp3]

Get Away From Me
Get Away From Me
Nellie McKay

Newcomer Nellie McKay's solo album brims with talent and promise. Her energy and witty songwriting carry the album high, and her willingness to take artistic chances bode well for a successful and interesting career ahead.

"David" (live version) [mp3]
"Manhattan Avenue" (live version) [mp3]
"Sari" (live version) [mp3]
"Ding Dong" (live version) [mp3]
"Baby Watch Your Back" (live version) [mp3]
"Dog Song" (live version) [mp3]
"I Wanna Get Married" (live version) [mp3]
"Change The World" (live version) [mp3]
"It's a Pose" (live version) [mp3]
"Toto Dies" (live version) [mp3]
"Won't U Please B Nice" (live version) [mp3]
"Inner Peace" (live version) [mp3]
"Suitcase Song" (live version) [mp3]
"Work Song" (live version) [mp3]
"Clonie" (live version) [mp3]
"Respectable" (live version) [mp3]
"Really" (live version) [mp3]

Blue Cathedral
Blue Cathedral
Comets on Fire

A bit more polished than the band's last effort, Field Recording From the Sun, but that doesn't stop this record from still being the most rocking album of the year.

"Whiskey River" [mp3]