The Best However-Many-It-Ends-Up-Being Albums of 2004

by Matt Cibula

28 December 2004


Okay, PopMatters, yr killin me here with this 10 jazz, that ain’t flyin for me, here are my favorite albums of the year (still workin on my song list) and some write-ups about ‘em and all that, in no order necessarily but kind of if you know what I mean.

Bersuit Vergarabat, La Argentinidad al Palo (Universal Latino)
Two discs of madness from Argentinaz most wanted, they sing about their country needing to get its collective wood on, they chant that its better to get laid than to be in love, they croon about loneliness and spin poems about Buenos Aires, they hit every single Latin/non-Latin style in the world (this pisses off proper Argentinans which makes me happy) and sometimes in the same song like in “Mariscal Tito”, its funny sad serious insanity, this might be one of my favorite records of all time even though I don’t even understand Spanish all that well. | buy in the PopShop

Allison Moorer, The Duel (Sugar Hill)
No offense to our guy Mitch Pugh, but I think his review is some straight-up hogwash. He gets in lots of sucker-punches, but misses the mark completely. This is not Moorer jumping on the bandwagon of alt-country like he says. She’s been going this way bit by bit every album. These songs are the soundtrack to someone walking away from the Omelas that is Nashville and Nashville is America right now and if you don’t know you better ask Robert Altman or George Bush. Moorer’s voice has never been lovelier as she sings songs about chickenshit chickenhawks and about losing faith in God and America. If you can think of a braver country album ever recorded or any American record this year that dared to stand up harder against the war machine and the new religious tyranny, then I’ll buy you a cigar.
   :. original PopMatters review | buy in the PopShop

Yolanda Perez, Aqui Me Tienes (Fonovisa)
This is the future of Latin music right here. This one with her songs about lying boyfriends and how daddy won’t give up the credit card because shes “La Reina del Mall” dammit, songs where she raps and songs where she hits it Zacatecas style over a full band. My wife laughed when I said this was the music waitin’ for me in heaven. She goes “you have tubas in yr heaven”. I said you’re god damned right I do. She’s sexy and funny and very very American when it comes down to it.

T.I., Urban Legend (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
No one balls like T.I.P. I’ve been waitin’ for this record all year. Finally it shows up now and maybe its not as ‘deep’ as Trap Muzik, but its shinier and harder. I swear to god this guy is the best songwriter in the USA right now. He constructs songs like “Prayin’ for Help” perfectly, and dont tell me “Bring Em Out” isnt kookoo bananas. He rides that beat like a rodeo gangsta.

The Ike Reilly Assassination, Sparkle in the Finish
Go read my review, nothing more to say here.
   :. original PopMatters review

Gretchen Wilson, Here for the Party (Sony)
Yeah, I know Kanye West is gonna score real high on the PopMatters year-end chart. Whatever. He got his ass kicked by this chick and then whined about it. I haven’t listened to College Dropout since. Anyway Gretchen’s album is probably better than his. It’s true… all Kanye’s got is that “oh poor me I’m singing about Jesus”. Dude, kill that shit. Gretchen’s too busy spitting mad fire about racing chariots in heaven while stoned with her grandfather (“Mama’s gonna kill me / if I get kicked out of the choir”). Now that is how you do a Jesus song. Also, she does some boring stuff that makes me just go ‘eh’ but mostly this is a wonderful country record and girl can flatout sing.

Teedra Moses, Complex Simplicity (TVT)
She is the new Smokey Robinson, except when she is being the new Jaguar Wright. Either way its all good in my book.
   :. original PopMatters review

Chingo Bling, The Tamale Kingpin (Big Chile Enterprises)
Dudez, if you dont know about Air Chingo, then where you at. This Houston guy is a hilarious comedy rapper and also gets gully when his partner Baby Bash is en la casa. But mostly he’s just funny haha. He has aliases like Naseem the Freestyle Dream (‘me and Osama / got the same baby mama’) and Jimmy Dean Moberry (‘oh baby I’ll pop yr tailgate’). Guys try to get him to sign up big and endorse their shoes but he sez “Fuck a Major Label”. When he gets elected president, he builds a plywood annex on the White House for his abuelita. You gotta hear this record.

Luiz Gayotto, Fragmentos de Música Livre e Espontânea (MCD World Music)
This is amazing stuff from Brasil—electronic pop and genre folk turned weird, avant-funk and Philip Glass samba-ing his white guy dead ass down the middle of Sao Paulo. “Hilária” loops people laughing into a great techno song. “Hipocrisia” and “Marvão” are impressive. The whole thing is impressive, but still smooth. Brazilians know how to have a good time.

Charlie Robison, Good Times (Dualtone)
I love me some Charlie Robison. This has too many songs by other people on it for my tastes, but they’re good songs too. Robison is smart and cool and understands the evil and good in a human soul. He’d probably punch my ass for saying that though. He’d be all like “hey guy just tell ‘em I write country songs and sing ‘em and that’s the end of that”. But that ain’t accurate here. In the middle of a song about Texas you find out one of the characters is a cross-dresser say, or the long folksong at the end from the perspective of a murdered woman or maybe its a man, or the one where his DixieChick wife cooks him food and he thinks its sex or vice versa. Curveballs and fastballs from this Texas bigleaguer gone small.

Daby Toure, Diam (RealWorld)
This Mauritanian/Senegalese guy has been in African-sounding bands for a long time, but had to walk away from them because they didn’t let him grow. His solo record is very African yes, but so much more—reggae and Europop and textures you can’t make with just your hands. There’s songs about respecting your family and about leaving home and all that, but with the most astonishingly beautiful voice in the world perhaps and a real sense of how to sell a song to the listener. Perhaps a genius right here among us. Wow, wow, love this one.

Ely Guerra, Sweet & Sour, Hot y Spicy (Higher Octave)
Rock en español the way it should be—sexy and humid and impassioned. Guerra was a little too Mexican-art-rocker the last time out but this is her ‘I am a woman dammit’ album and we are all better off for that. Hubba hubba on “Mi Playa” and the song where she’s all like “I am a stalker for you and everyone knows it”. Jeezus what are you tryin to do to me. Ely, I am a married man and I can’t just run down to Monterrey after you.

Daniela Mercury, Carnaval Eletronico
Oh, my girl done did it now. Axé star Daniela goes and finds all of Brazil’s new up-and-comer DJs and has them hit her up with some crazy house and club and bossatech beats. Then she puts it all together. Dig how she pulls in Lenine and Gilberto Gil. Also, dig how her natural ‘hey its samba time get your asses on the floor’ persona sounds great in this context.

Los Tigres del Norte, Pacto de Sangre (Fonovisa)
Great old dudes come through again. Awesome band I love.
   :. original PopMatters review

Dani Siciliano, Likes… (!K7)
Get out of my head Dani, or stay forever, your choice.
   :. original PopMatters review

Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boyz, Crunk Juice (TVT)
Oh snap this record is some serious mayhem, don’t tell me you don’t feel Lil’ Jon or I will have to ask you to leave my country and never come back. It’s so aggro and metal (Rick Rubin! Bad Brains!) and so cynical (Chris Rock with a NASTY intro right before the smooth soft slow Usher/Luda song) and so brilliant electronically. No one works harder than Lil Jon and it shows, but there are even naysayers here on this site. Fine everyone has a right to an opinion, but sometimes those people are working too damn hard to hate, no one ever danced to no Anti-Pop Consortium. That shit is boring and this shit rocks. Jon is on some meticulous nitro-burnin revolutionary shenaniganz from the ATL. Accept it before it destroys you, and get this in the deluxe edition so you get the DVD. It’s totally worth it.
   :. original PopMatters review

Paulina Rubio, Pau-latina (Universal Latino)
I loved this record, but I always forget about it when it’s list time. So I pulled it out today and once again was struck by how completely insane this chica is. Good lord, every song is a huge huge hit—candy-coated cherry bombs that explode in my groin but in a good way. “Perros” should have been a big hit, but “Algo Tienes” is amazing and she wears nothing but yellow caution tape in the video. “Dame Otro Tequila” is incredible and everyone is drinking salaciously. “Te Quise Tanto” was the all-time greatest monster on MTVEspañol, wherein my daughter and I scientifically determined it was the greatest video of all time. This is fractured fairytale pop from some dimension where everyone gets laid all the time and no one is ever sad. Can I live there, please, pleeeeeaaaazzzzee?

Tanya Stephens, Gangsta Blues (V.P.)
Oh man, don’t get me started on this one. It’s the most rockist album ever because she’s all about the authenticity at first, but then it changes as she gets into the sex rhymes. Boys are toys to her as they give her “Good Ride” or they disappoint her by being perfect except in bed. She steals a guy and in a later song gives him back because he isn’t good enough. Very nice of her, I thought. She sings “I Am Woman”, but then there she is in the title track loadin’ her man’s weapon so he can take care of business. Between her and Erykah Badu’s latest joint, you have enough material for a whole women’s studies thesis. Anyway, I just like Tanya’s songs. She’s a songwriter, but not in a bad way.

Big and Rich, Horse of a Different Color (Warner Bros.)
This year’s winner of the ‘I can’t believe PopMatters didn’t review this record at all’ award. What the eff people, do I have to do everything around here. These guys are more than just the gimmick of ‘country with rap guy and glam guitars and big attitude’. Hell, that could be anyone these days. Naw mang, they’re more. They have balls and teeth, but also smarts and soul. Oooh, that makes em sound corny. Hell, sometimes they are corny. Big deal, this would probably be top 10 without the two or three endless “I found Jesus” songs ho-hum, and if they didnt do that ‘Democrats and Republicans should all just get along’. Screw that, the knives are out, their boy J-money should have told them ‘I came not to send peace but a sword’, whatever that meant. Anyway, they’re most fun when throwing TVs out of windows and wondering ‘why does everybody want to kick my ass?’. Well, duh, cause they’re behind you. (Editor’s note: It would have helped if Warner Bros. had sent us a copy.)

Probably more but I’m tired now, holler at you laterzzzzzzz.

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