In the interests of providing content, and of hopping on the bandwagon of the rest of the blogosphere (not to mention pretty much every form of media, everywhere), this will be the week of Top 5s at Mingle Until Departure.

Today, the most cliched of all Top 5s - top 5 records of 2004.

5) Cake, Pressure Chief

Cake continues to frustrate the fuck out of me by -

-only making albums every 3-4 years
-making albums that are 10 songs and 35 minutes long, and
-never coming to D.C.

These are frustrating things because they all mean I don't get nearly as much Cake as I'd like.

4) U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

I know - a shock that this makes it onto the list, but it really is an amazing effort. It's an album in the style of All That You Can't Leave Behind, in that it's a series of excellent, excellent (some absolutely transcendent) songs of a common sound and theme - as opposed to the sometimes more mood-piece oriented albums of earlier in their career (though Pop also qualifies on these lines).

I'm not making a positive or negative judgement on that - it just is. And no, I'm not going to rank this album in the context of others. I will say that "City of Blinding Lights" is already in my Top 10 U2 Songs, which is saying something.

3) Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South

The only bad thing about this album is that it is so good that it will inevitably result in more idiots liking DBT, like the fucking drunk-ass underage fratboys (who played it real, real dumb when caught drinking) who were standing next to me at the show they played back in September.

That's about it, in terms of badness. Having listened to the album in the multiple, multiple dozens of times range, I can say that there's only one song on the whole thing that even thinks about getting a little worn - and that's only if it's the third time you've listened to the album that day.

It's a much darker album, top to bottom, than Decoration Day - which is saying something, as Decoration Day wasn't exactly puppies and happiness (incest and murder, yes). But it's a powerful album, and rocks hard, hard, hard.

2) Steve Earle, The Revolution Starts...Now

One of the best political albums, ever. Every song a gem, and it's over way too soon; "Home to Houston," "Rich Man's War," and "The Gringo's Tale" are among the best pop songs about war ever written.

I can't really say enough about this album - just, buy it.

1) Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News

A lot of my favorite bands came out with new albums this year - many of them very good. Nothing touches this album. I dunno who slipped the happy pills in Isaac Brock's Maypo, but whoever that is, I owe them a debt of gratitude.

It helps any album to have the year's absolutely best song on it ("Float On"), but the remarkable thing about Good News... is that "Float On" becomes the centrepiece not of the whole album but merely a peak of joyousness in a three-song suite. The whole effort is like that - it is all going in the same direction, but takes sideroads and meanderings to get there, several-song suites and changes in approach while staying within the tone of the album.

This album manages to maintain the basic Modest Mouse-ness of previous efforts, without quite so much screaming; the whole effort is a realization that, as was said of a previous Eels album, "Hope, at least, is not an impossibility."

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