The Real Editors made a great radio station for the best albums of 2004. You'll hear music from Mosquitos, Prince, The Libertines, Ricky Fante, The Magnetic Fields, Air, Crown City Rockers, The Streets, Modest Mouse, Elliott Smith, Bjork, Grand National, Fiery Furnaces, TV on the Radio, and on and on, all the way through 2005.

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Madeleine Peyroux | Careless Love
Before there was Norah Jones, the retro-swinging Madeline Peyroux debuted big in 1996 with Dreamland and then promptly disappeared until 2004. Everything that converted fans the first time around is on Careless Love in spades: the sensual Lady Day-tinge of the vocals; the jaunty, country-blues/swing simmer of the band, and the mix of rock covers and classic tunes. Bob Dylan fans know where the album title comes from, the rest of you left your Blood on the Tracks, please skip directly to track 4 for a refresher. - Nick D.

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The Fiery Furnaces | Blueberry Boat
The Fiery Furnaces' second record, Blueberry Boat is a full-on prog rock album dressed up in indie rock rags. It's also totally brilliant. Antiquated synths squelch, tempos switch, and a story about pirates and berries unfolds. "1917" is the catchiest song of the week. The words fly fast until they turn into mere sounds; on "Chris Michaels," the result is completely amazing.
- Jon P.

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Medicine Hat
Will Bernard's debut album on Verve finds the guitarist deftly blurring the lines between '60s soul jazz, '70s funk, timeless blues and modern jam rock. Sharp Hammond B-3 organ work complements Bernard's ever-shifting guitar solos (which can go from jazz to electric blues to rock within a couple of bars). - Nick D.
[Release date Jan 13, 1998]

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Badly Drawn Boy | The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
I like to start the day with The Hour Of Bewilderbeast, it's really easy and draws you in as the day breaks and consciousness is regained. This low-key album received a huge amount of critical acclaim when it was released in 2000. The English singer combined a lo-fi approach with some modern studio tweakings and created a fine album of future folk. Tracks like "The Shining" and "Everybody's Stalking" provided a delicate balance between rustic and post-modern, the simple beauty of "Magic in the Air" is just gorgeous. Thanks to Henry for the recommendation. - TK

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Nada Surf | Live in Brussels
I've totally been digging on some Barsuk bands lately, came across this act called Nada Surf. Clicked on the live album, Live in Brussels and it's been growing on me. The hushed vocals and swarming guitars build an added anxiousness that make it impossible to turn away once you let yourself become engulfed in their music. Definitely some great songs on this record, check out "Blizzard of '77" and "Inside of Love" if you don't want to rock the whole thing. It's easy listening Noise Pop, if you need a genre. - TK

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Iron and Wine | Our Endless Numbered Days
You may only know Iron and Wine from their cover of "Such Great Heights" from the Garden State movie, but Sam Beam writes some quality songs here on Our Endless Numbered Days. The tracks here are just as intimate and memorable as anything he's done in the past (The Creek Drank the Cradle). The slight fingerpicking and subtle harmonies work with his Spartan sense of accompaniment, creating a lyrical and melodic oasis. - Jon P.

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Friends of Dean Martinez | A Place in the Sun
I loved them at SXSW last year, I can't believe it took ten months to search Rhapsody for Friends of Dean Martinez (Formerly Friends of Dean Martin until lawyers sent the cease and desist). The poetic, sometimes grotesque beauty of an early 20th-Century German expressionist film like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari comes to life in the 1926 silent screen classic's cardboard sets and painted shadows. Against this stark, impressionistic background, a nightmarish tale of madness spreads like an ever-widening pool of black ink that eventually engulfs the audience in its dark spell. A Place in the Sun, the fourth full-length from this Austin band, may profess to dwell in the sunlight, but rest assured, said orb rises and sets in the land of the midnight sun. FoDM has four albums in Rhapsody, get involved today! - Raoul Hernandez

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I really love this song by the late Elliot Smith from his new album
From A Basement On The Hill. It's called "Pretty (Ugly Before)" and it's just so sweet and tender and bittersweet that it makes me want to cry every time I hear it.

Sunshine, been keeping me up for days
There is no night time, it's only a passing phase
And I feel pretty, pretty enough for you
I felt so ugly before, I didn't know what to do

Sometimes is all I feel up to now
But it's not worth it to you
Cos you gotta get high somehow
Is it destruction that you require to feel?
Like somebody wants you, someone that's more for real

Sunshine, been keeping me up for days
There is no night time, only a passing phase
And I'll feel pretty, another hour or two

I felt so ugly before, I didn't know what to do
I felt so ugly before, I didn't know what to do
I felt so ugly before, I didn't know what to do
Ugly before

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I was a bit dumbfounded when I heard that Dimebag (or Diamond as he was first known) Darrell from Pantera had been gunned down on stage. I haven't listened to Pantera since I was 16 and looking for heavy intense but still melodic guitar slingers to obsess over, Dimebag was the perfect next hero after Randy Rhodes and Zack Wylde. Dimebag could play the grittiest and cleanest solos at the same time. He was one of the best metal guitarists to not only play notes but make a statement with his solo. I haven't listened to Pantera for 10 years now and it is probably a little to heavy for most of you (and me now), but to get a sense of Pantera, check out Vulgar Display of Power, the first three tracks are especially good. "When I channel my hate to productive, I don't find it hard to impress." - Pantera, "Mouth for War". Unfortunately the outlet that Pantera provided for the anger of disenfranchised youth ended up killing one of them. RIP Dimebag. - G$love

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Joe Strummer | Streetcore
If you loved the Clash, you loved Joe Strummer, and if you loved Joe, you'd love his final solo album no matter what. But Streetcore gives you many more reasons to worship it: pitch-perfect rockers, groovy dub explorations, and typically brilliant lyrics. He's still got the strong political message, I strongly recommend checking this record out, most of the songs are quite good, the dub just oozes at points. Standout tracks are "Burnin' Streets," "Get Down Moses," "Midnight Jam" and a powerful acoustic cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." Thanks to Henry for this recommendation. - TK (with adjectives by Tim Q.)

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Kyle Hollingsworth | Never Even or Odd
The debut album from the String Cheese Incident's key-man, Rhoni writes from Asheville that the recored is "incredible! It's jazzy, funky, smooth and intricate, flowing across a wide variety of musical styles, and performed by a cast of all-star musicians including Joshua Redman (saxophone), Robert Randolph (pedal steel guitar) and Michael Kang (electric mandolin). And of course, for my money, you just can't beat Kyle tickling the ivories."

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Big Head Todd and the Monsters | Midnight Radio
Still one of my top ten albums of all time, Midnight Radio is by far the best effort of this Colorado trio. Even after twelve years of regular listens, this record continues to shine brightly like "city burning like a dream" or like the light from a tower in the distance, just "broadcasting it's resistance through the rain and through the night."

There is an intimacy in the way Midnight Radio was recorded, live and in the raw, achieving an unique ambience by being recorded with so little production, most of it on just two tracks. Makes you firmly believe that "yes indeed, there is a paradise...and a band is playing there."

Todd Park Mohr's bluesy voice and exceedingly shreddy guitar riffs will definately leave a lasting imprint. You can feel the loneliness in driving far from home, you can feel the honesty of playing your heart out in front of nobody. If you don't have time for the whole record, start at "Love Betsy" and listen to the whole second half. Preferably while you're "driving far from home, reckless and alone, on a long black road..." - TMK

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Lemon Jelly | Lost Horizons
Nick Franglen and Fred Deakin blend light atmospherics with shimmering instrumentation and grin-inducing samples to create some of the most inspired chill-out grooves on either side of the pond. "Spacewalk" and "Nice Weather for Ducks" are two fine examples of how this duo skillfully crafts its downtempo music. - Linda R.

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We are really loving THIS ALBUM this week. It's called Joyful Rebellion by K-OS and I have no idea who they are or where they came from but it's great! - SuperDee

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North Mississippi Allstars | Hill Country Revue
Hill Country Revue is the first live album from the NMA's, and was recorded live at last year's Bonnaroo and featured guests like Duwayne Burnside, Chris Robinson, Jojo Hermann, the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, and the Dickinson brothers' old man, Jim Dickinson. For a more comprehensive album review, be sure to read Sam Katz's entire JamBase Review.

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