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NPR Stations: The Best Music of 2004

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From December 28, 2004:

The Best CDs: Listener Picks

Listen to All Songs Considered Listen to the best CDs (listener picks):
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New artists like Iron and Wine; a self-professed has-been with little music ability (William Shatner); old-school artists like Brian Wilson and favorites like Wilco and Interpol... you picked quite a list. Thanks to all participants and to all the musicians that made 2004 a great year for new music.

The year's best music:


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"William Shatner's recording captures the pure beauty of being a musician with a lot of heart, but not much talent. In an age of distorted voices and production magic, it is refreshing to hear a performer embrace his imperfections and truly put his whole heart and soul into a song. Like an open mic guitar solo, Shatner reaches for heights of musical expression he knows he probably can't reach. Though he misses often, when he hits, the failures only make the moment sweeter. Shatner is the Rudy of modern music, and for that I think he deserves our applause."

-- Justin in Louisiana (KDAQ)




10. Has Been

Artist: William Shatner (with Ben Folds)
Label: Shout! Factory
Released: October 5, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Common People" from Has Been



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"Interpol's music sounds like vampires having sex in a tornado. Sexy, brooding, and even a bit sappy at times, Antics should make us all salivate for more from this NYC band. 'Not Even Jail' and 'Evil' are stand-out tracks."

-- Sam in Washington, DC (WETA)


9. Antics

Artist: Interpol
Label: Matador
Released: September 28, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Slow Hands" from Antics



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"I'm bitterly disappointed to sound so square and conventional - almost middle of the road - to nominate U2, but this album is just so rich and nuanced. Like any great album it sounds interesting on first listen, but by the 10th it has completely seduced the listener - from the wry bombast of opener 'Vertigo' through often heartbreaking, sometimes heart-stopping songs of love, war and peace, and closing with the joyful innocence of 'Yahweh' U2 have delivered a remarkable album - at once accessible, whilst being mature and naive all at the same time."
-- Gavin in California (KAZU)


8. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

Artist: U2
Label: Interscope
Released: November 23, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Love and Peace or Else" from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb



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"This CD is the best for it's simplicity, and it's clarity. The instrumentation is very minimalistic and each word can be heard as clear as a bell. The lyrics are moving to the soul and mind, and they are wonderful songs to sing to throughout the day. "

-- Ruben in Massachusetts (WUMB)


7. Our Endless Numbered Days

Artist: Iron and Wine
Label: Sub Pop
Released: March 23, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "On Your Wings" from Our Endless Numbered Days



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"Fun retro sounds, danceable tunes, and songs that just get stuck in your head -- this cd has it all. Such a talked about CD, and for good reason!"

-- Jay in Virginia (WAMU)


6. Franz Ferdinand

Artist: Franz Ferdinand
Label: Epic
Released: April 20, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "40 Feet"



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"From love songs exploring the metaphoric 'Storms' that a struggling young couple face together to the father-son relationship 'In The Basement' to the wish that 'Mourning Flies' when a loved one passes on. From a bluegrass instrumental barnburner in the style of Bill Monroe, to a bluesy romp exploring the relationship of man to the earth, this album has something for everyone. This album has depth of song writing, musicianship, and vocal harmonizing that simply cannot be beat!"

-- Mitch in South Carolina (WSCI)


5. From a Basement on the Hill

Artist: Elliott Smith
Label: Anti
Released: October 19, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Coast to Coast" from From a Basement on the Hill



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"Very intimate and personal, yet quite accessible. Tragic and not. Rock 'n roll at its best."

-- Dwight in Oklahoma (KGOU)


4. Good News for People Who Love Bad News

Artist: Modest Mouse
Label: Epic
Released: April 6, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Float On" from Good News from People Who Love Bad News



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"This CD is very unique in everyway, from its history to the sound itself. Since I heard it, I couldn't pass a day without either listening to it or humming one of its tunes. It could have been the very first concept album if it was released prior to Sgt. Pepper's. Musically, it's mind-boggling and the lyrics are just as colorful/insightful. This album covers all aspect of music production."

-- Ramon in Massachusetts (WBUR)


3. Smile

Artist: Brian Wilson
Label: Nonesuch
Released: September 28, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Good Vibrations" from Smile

Hear Brian Wilson perform Smile live at Carnegie Hall.


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"Finally, a band that can tells stories while inspiring one to get up and dance (even if it is in front of the mirror in private). "

-- Brent in Massachusetts (WAMC)


2. Funeral

Artist: Arcade Fire
Label: Merge
Released: September 14, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" from Funeral



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"The combination of the warmth of the music, the brashness of the sounds, the beauty, the melodies, the lyrics, and the dissonance all combined in one package."

Tim in Texas (KUHF)


1. A Ghost is Born

Artist: Wilco
Label: Nonesuch
Released: June 22, 2004

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "At Least That's What You Said" from A Ghost is Born



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