Mike Farley’s Top 10 Albums for 2004
by: Mike Farley
Be sure to check out Mike's
2004 iPod Mix!
Choosing 10 albums from hundreds that I listened to
over the past year is a very daunting task, but somehow I was able to narrow it
down. Keeping in mind that I am a publicist, and some of my clients are listed here,
it’s important to note that I decided not to set any boundaries. My favorites
are my favorites, based solely on the music itself and nothing else.
– Mine to Remember EP
This former Pete Yorn guitarist might sound like Yorn vocally, but he writes
songs that are as good, if not better. Mine to Remember is Waz’ first solo effort
since leaving Yorn’s band, and the songs here are so infectious, it’s almost a
sin that a label hasn’t snatched him up from the indie planet yet. “Nothing
Lasts Forever” and the title track are catchy, but “Summer Love” is pure pop
brilliance that could transcend generations.
9. The Kicks – Hello Hong Kong
Early in the year, I touted these guys as the best new band of the year. Maybe
that was a little premature, but they still make the top 10. Their TVT Records
debut, Hello Hong Kong, has the elements of garage rock, punk, and power pop all
rolled into one, but what makes it a great album are the songs themselves. With
this as their major label debut, these guys could be in it for the long haul.
8. Ari Hest – Someone to Tell
There comes a time in every music-loving person’s life when they have to put the
quirky Jason Mraz types back on the shelf and get back to honest, straight-ahead
songwriting. Ari Hest, whose major label debut, Someone To Tell, combines
percussive guitar, peanut-butter-on-the-roof-of-your-head melodies, and balanced
arrangements, can provide that kind of honesty. He also has a rich, powerful
voice that gives the overall package a nice rock edge.
7. Ingram Hill – June’s Picture Show
This Hollywood Records debut from Memphis-based quartet Ingram Hill is somewhat
of a throwback album. Either that or it’s a lesson to us all that through the
trends and over hyped flavors-of-the-month, bands that make good music are
always welcome to our senses. There are mostly hints of southern-fried post
grunge here, ala Better Than Ezra and Sister Hazel, but producer Rick Beato
(Billionaire, Flickerstick) simply lets the music come through in a compelling
debut. “On My Way” is one of my favorite songs of 2004.
6. Granian – On My Own Two Feet
Singer/songwriter Granian is not your typical guy with a guitar. Front man Garen
Gueyikian goes by Granian as a solo artist but in this case has a band to back
him up. On My Own Two Feet is filled with hooky, melodic, driving pop/rock that
just doesn’t quit, and with all but one of the 10 tracks on here under four
minutes, it’s clear that Granian is out to show the world he’s finally arrived
as the songs are neat little packages of radio-friendly gems.
5. Michael Tolcher
– I Am
Octone Records has a good track record after bringing us Maroon 5. In 2004 they
brought us Michael Tolcher, another artist with the potential to transcend
genres and generations. Tolcher’s debut has so many hooks he’s been projected to
follow a similar path to success as John Mayer, and as his year ended with lots
of radio support and television appearances, he’s well on his way. As far as the
album, there’s not a bad track on it, and Tolcher consistently sings his ass
4. ViV – Flawed
While the major labels keep merging and focusing on a select few artists, the
streets have become flooded with more great bands than ever, and ViV is one of
them. While there is a Pete-Yorn-meets-Foo-Fighters current running through
their 2004 release, Flawed, there is also a Brit-pop melodic sensibility and
feel-good factor that can’t be measured. There are artists like Norah Jones that
have come along in the last few years and made the jump from average Joe to pop
icon. With Flawed, ViV has that kind of potential.
3. Megan Slankard – Freaky Little Story
Northern California seems to be a hotbed for musical talent, and 2004 brought
us another young and incredibly talented singer/songwriter named Megan Slankard.
After appearing on The Learning Channel’s "What Not To Wear," Megan became one of
the top sellers on Amazon.com almost overnight. Fans’ hearing her music on the
show is what did it for them, and for me. With a smooth, bluesy voice rich
beyond her years, Megan’s got the edge of Alanis Morrisette, the rhythm of Ani
DiFranco, the soul of Patty Griffin and the cute girl-next-door voice of Lisa
Loeb. And “Dirty Wings” is another fave track of 2004.
2. Butch Walker – Letters
This former Marvelous 3 front man parted ways with Arista and his first release
on Epic is not surprisingly a little different than his 2002 solo debut, Left of
Self-centered. Gone are the walls of guitars and some of the gang harmonies, and
even the goofy bonus tracks. Lucky for all of us that with Butch, it is and
always has been about the songs. Letters is a stripped-down collection of the
same type of writing we’ve come to expect -- clever lyrics, tight arrangements and
production, and melodies that are as addictive as anything to come along in the
last several decades. Yes, I said decades.
1. Marc Broussard – Carencro
I knew from the moment I first heard this kid exercise his vocal chords that he
had a gift, and I’ve been a fan since. Not only does Broussard soulfully emulate
some of the greatest R&B singers like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, but he does
it in a radio-friendly acoustic pop/rock format. Carencro is proof that
Broussard has the songwriting chops to go along with that monster voice of his.
These are songs that instantly make your own life feel like a movie soundtrack,
and that alone makes this my pick for best album in 2004. Marc Broussard clearly
has a gift to offer music enthusiasts everywhere, and hopefully that gift will
be accepted by enough of them to give this incredible artist the long career he
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