Best of 2004

Yes, it’s time for the ever-popular roundup of wonderful cultural products that I interacted with in 2004. All results final and subject to change. No recounts. No helpful links to Amazon to assist you with a one-click purchase.

Music:

Metal thrum: Just recently found these two items, which rock in a heavyish way without getting too silly.
Isis – “Panopticon”
Mastodon – “Leviathan”

Guitar Pop: these two California bands play good pop tunes, fast enough to keep me awake.
Green Day – “American Idiot”
The Donnas – “Gold Medal”

Never before available gem:
Notekillers – “Notekillers” (a Philadelphia band of the the late 70s/early 80s, whose only output at the time was a single, a record that burned in Thurston Moore’s brain for years, leading to this CD of old tapes)

Other music:
Marianne Faithfull – “Before the Poison” with songs & bands from PJ Harvey and Nick Cave
Tom Waits – “Real Gone” (I learned to love this one during a long plane flight home from London, where I listened to it over and over on Channel 13 of the in-flight audio system)
Brian Wilson – “Smile”
Lucas Ligeti – “Mystery System” (rhythm pieces composed in the last 8 years or so)
The Fiery Furnaces – “Gallowsbird’s Bark” (came out last year, but I only got it recently, and it’s mysterious. The new one I have yet to digest).
Stereolab – “Margarine Eclipse”
The Fall – “The Real New Fall LP”
Sonic Youth – “Sonic Nurse”
The Hang Ups – “It’s all there”
DNA – “DNA on DNA”

Best shows:
P.J. Harvey @ the Warfield, SF.
Blonde Redhead @ Emo’s, Austin, TX.

Books: These books that I read in 2004 are most likely to retain a place in my mind in the future.
“American Woman” by Susan Choi. Fictionalized story of Patty Hearst on the lam, narrated by one of her keepers.
“The Dream Life” by J. Hoberman. Archaeology of sixties and early seventies American film.
“Mind Wide Open” by Steven Johnson. Concerning the brain and mind.
“Magic Circles” by Devin McKinney. Re: the Beatles.
“Ivan Illich in Conversation” by David Cayley. Like talking to someone who died 700 years ago.
“Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville. Memorable imaginings.
“The Executioner’s Song” by Norman Mailer. Gary Gilmore’s life and death, a trainwreck.
“The Future and its Enemies” by Virginia Postrel. An optimistic attack on those who would control things.
“Chronicles, Vol 1” by Bob Dylan. On three turning points where he had to start over.
“On Intelligence” by Jeff Hawkins. Detecting and predicting patterns over time, that’s what it is.

Films & TV. I saw some things, don’t remember much of it. A few things I do remember:
“Six Feet Under” season 1 – Looking at death from many angles (and life too).
“Kinsey”
“Some Kind of Monster” on Metallica & the business of being a big band.

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