The Best CDs of 2004: Listeners' 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.

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The Best CDs of 2004: Listeners' Picks

Has Been

Common People

  • Artist: William Shatner
  • Album: Has Been
  • Song: Common People

"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)

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Song
Common People
Album
Has Been
Artist
William Shatner
Label
Shout! Factory

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Antics

Slow Hands

  • Artist: Interpol
  • Album: Antics
  • Song: Slow Hands

"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)

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Song
Slow Hands
Album
Antics
Artist
Interpol
Label
Matador

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How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

Love and Peace or Else

  • Artist: U2
  • Album: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
  • Song: Love and Peace or Else

"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)

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Song
Love and Peace or Else
Album
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Artist
U2

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Our Endless Numbered Days

On Your Wings

  • Artist: Iron & Wine
  • Album: Our Endless Numbered Days
  • Song: On Your Wings

"This CD is the best for its simplicity, and its 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)

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Song
On Your Wings
Album
Our Endless Numbered Days
Artist
Iron and Wine
Label
Sub Pop

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Franz Ferdinand

40'

  • Artist: Franz Ferdinand
  • Album: Franz Ferdinand
  • Song: 40'

"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)

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Song
40'
Album
Franz Ferdinand
Artist
Franz Ferdinand

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From a Basement on the Hill

Coast to Coast

  • Artist: Elliott Smith
  • Album: From a Basement on the Hill
  • Song: Coast to Coast

"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)

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Song
Coast to Coast
Album
From a Basement on the Hill
Artist
Elliott Smith
Label
Anti

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Good News for People Who Love Bad News

Float On

  • Artist: Modest Mouse
  • Album: Good News for People Who Love Bad News
  • Song: Float On

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

-- Dwight in Oklahoma (KGOU)

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Song
Float On
Album
Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Artist
Modest Mouse
Label
Epic

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Smile

Good Vibrations

  • Artist:
  • Album:
  • Song: Good Vibrations

"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)

Hear Brian Wilson perform Smile live at Carnegie Hall.

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Song
Good Vibrations
Album
Smile
Artist
Brian Wilson

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Funeral

Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

  • Artist: The Arcade Fire
  • Album: Funeral
  • Song: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

"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)

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Song
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Album
Funeral
Artist
The Arcade Fire
Label
Merge

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A Ghost Is Born

At Least That's What You Said

  • Artist: Wilco
  • Album: A Ghost Is Born
  • Song: At Least That's What You Said

"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)

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Song
At Least That's What You Said
Album
A Ghost Is Born
Artist
Wilco

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