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I’m a huge Fiona Apple fan, and I’m sure she would have made the last column”¦if her album has been released. Help get it released by visiting here

Every year lots of albums are released. A few are great. Some really suck. But a lot are really solid efforts. Since last week was devoted to the great albums of 2004, this week I’m going to focus on the latter category.

Below are ten albums that, for some reason or another didn’t make it onto my Top Ten of ’04 list. If I can quantify their reason for not making the list, I’ll do my best to explain it.

(I know, I know, you read the teaser and thought, “oh man, that Mathan is going to rip into some really bad albums that came out last year. I can’t wait!” Well shame on you. How dare you think I would devote an entire column to criticizing someone’s work. What kind of bitter jaded columnist do you think I am?

Anyway here are;

Ten Albums That Almost Made The Last Column

Ryan AdamsLove is Hell

This album was originally released as two EPs in 2003 (with one song on kcoR n lloR also released in 2003. But Adams being the artist that he is, demanded that the album be re-released with the sequencing as he intended it. The result is a stellar, if terribly depressing album. Adams knack for songwriting is really showcased on this disc. The reason it didn’t make the Top Ten is because it’s really difficult to get into a depressing album when you live in Las Vegas and the sun is constantly shining.

Choice Cuts: This House is Not For Sale, English Girls Approximately, Wonderwall.

dead prezRBG

This is an album that everyone should have heard this year. In my dreams this album is the media darling that Kanye West was in reality. Stic and M1 manage to channel the spirit of BDP and Public Enemy in an era where that voice needs to rise up again. They even manage work wonder with their guests; Krayzie Bone sounds tolerable and Jay-Z sounds conscious.

Choice Cuts: hell yeah (pimp the system), w-4, d.o.w.n..

GhostfaceThe Pretty Toney Album

When has Ghostface not delivered? As much as I love ODB (R.I.P.), Tony Starks is the one that I look forward to the most. His Def Jam debut has all of the quality fans have come to expect. Even though Ghost is all over the place on the album (racing with himself, taking a bath, running from the police) he never misses his mark. As a matter of fact, I’ll admit it; I dug the skits and Tush. There, I said it! It missed the top ten because of the songs that didn’t make the album for whatever reason (peep the mixtape section of the column for more info.) Barely Missed The Top Ten

Choice Cuts: It’s Over, Holla, Be This Way.

P J HarveyUh Huh Her

Harvey’s last album was very well produced and sounded slick. On this album her sound has devolved. Her voice is feral and urgent. The stripped down production harkens back to her first few albums. A few track will have you scratching your head at their inclusion, but it’s still a solid effort.

Choice Cuts: Who the F*ck?, The Letter, It’s You.

Jimmy Eat WorldFutures

I fell in love with this band after The Sweetness but the lead off single from this album (Pain) turned me off. However I bought the album anyway (not too many people come from Arizona, so I’ve go to show my support when I get the chance) and I loved it. I enjoyed the slower “ballad” type songs most of all, the faster stuff didn’t do too much for me. But those ballads really took me for a ride.

Choice Cuts: Work, Night Drive, Polaris.

Norah JonesFeels Like Home

I didn’t really understand the allure of Norah Jones when she first came out (plus I got sick of Don’t Know Why.) But when I heard Sunrise, the lead off single from this album, I knew I had to have the album. That song was so soothing, it put me at ease, and I’m not a high-strung person. But the song still made me feel chill. The rest of the album is just a mellow. Call me “old” but I really dig it. It didn’t make the Top Ten because you can only get but so excited about a disc that makes you “chill.”

Choice Cuts: Sunrise, The Prettiest Thing, Toes .

The RootsThe Tipping Point

Maybe I just love The Roots too much. I couldn’t see why people didn’t like Phrenology and I don’t understand why some aren’t digging this one either.
The Roots are perhaps Hip Hop’s most consistently great group. The Tipping Point sounds like the most fun the group has had in years. This is a “head nod” album, as always the liner notes rock, and Dave Chappelle does a great Jay-Z impression. The problem, even with the bonus cuts, the album feels “short.” Barely Missed The Top Ten

Choice Cuts: Guns are Drawn, Stay Cool, Boom!

SpymobSitting Around Keeping Score

This band is probably better known as the backing band for N*E*R*D’s first album, and even then they aren’t too well known. But this under the radar album was pop music that you could respect, it had a “Steely Dan” sensibility to it. It’s a fun album, and while all the songs aren’t winners, it’s unique sound and voice make it worthy of attention and a spin or two. And you’ve got to love an album with songs from the perspectives of a loser who still live with is parents and a family dog.

Choice Cuts: It Gets Me Going, I Still Live At Home, On Pilot Mountain.

Various ProducersThe Black Album Remixes

Some of the best music to come out in 2004 was just remixed stuff from a guy who retired in 2003. Every magazine seems to be jumping on the The Grey Album (which I actually reviewed, fulfilling my contractual obligation to submit at least one review per year) bandwagon. But there were other notable Black Album remixes. 9th Wonder’s Black is Back is more true to the spirit of the original album, yet doesn’t have the notoriety of Danger Mouse’s album. Kno and Kev Brown also offered up remixed albums with some stand out tracks. But those four producers did do the best of the bunch.

Choice Cuts 9th Wonder’s Lucifer & My 1st Song, Danger Mouse’s What More Can I Say & 99 Problems, Kev Brown’s Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Kno’s Allure.

Kanye WestThe College Dropout

Kanye was as inescapable as Paris Hilton last year, and more annoying. That said The College Dropout was a very good album. Lyrically it was refreshing and sonically it was irresistible. But even listening to the album one couldn’t help getting annoyed with Kanye. The skits were funny, but the album was too long, and some solid tracks didn’t make it on the album. The album got several demerits due to Kanye’s arrogance and it’s constant radio play.

Choice Cuts: Last Call, Get Em High, Two Words

But wait, that’s not all. Because I don’t really want to stretch this “2004” thing too much longer I’m also going to give you an added bonus.

Five Great Mixtapes of 2004

GhostfaceHidden Darts II

J-Love continues his Hidden Darts series with Ghostface tracks that ultimately appeared on albums by Method Man, De La Soul and of course Ghostface himself. This mix tape is full of songs that you probably haven’t heard. Pick it up, as its some of Ghost’s best gems.

Jadakiss The Champ is Here

Prior to releasing Kiss of Death (which would have been recognized either this week or last week if it weren’t for releasing that horrid song with Mariah Carey as the third single) Jadakiss hooked up with DJ Green Lantern and Big Mike to make an excellent mixtape. It’s full of freestyles where Jada spits fire. All of which makes his song with Mariah more disappointing.

Talib Kweli The Beautiful Mixtape I & II

As a way to tide fans over when The Beautiful Struggle was pushed back, Talib released The Beautiful Mixtape I featuring freestyles with Styles P, Fabolous, and Res. It was hosted by Dave Chappelle doing Rick James. After disappointing some fans with The Beautiful Struggle Talib tried to curry their favor again by releasing The Beautiful Mixtape II featuring freestyles with Wordsworth, Common and Ghostface. If you take the best of the three Beautiful discs you would have a classic album.

Little Brother The Chittlin Circuit

Little Brother released this to keep their fans from starving while the group worked on their major label debut (due to be released this year). It features B-sides and remixes. But for fans clamoring for more of this North Carolina trio’s music it’s more than enough.

Nick Salemi Mid 90s East Coast Hip Hop Mixtape

Now I don’t know if this Five Disc Epic is available for sale (I happen to know somebody who “knows somebody) but if you manage to get your hands on it, you won’t be disappointed. I can say without a doubt that it’s five discs full of The Goodnessâ„¢.

That’s it, I’m done. But if you still need to read, try these;

All Falls Down Featuring Lauryn Hill

Aaron reminds you of why he’s deserving of your vote of InsidePulse Music Staffer of the Year.

Jeff claims to have not been up on music last year. But he promises the Most Ridiculous News Items of 2004, so he balances out and barely deserves your vote for InsidePulse Music Staffer of the Year.

Gordi makes a claim for InsidePulse Music Staffer of the Year by giving his best albums of the year, Marty McFly style. He also has a touching tribute to music legend Artie Shaw.

Gloomchen usually writes a column that I can totally relate to. Except this week. Y’see I can’t drive. So I was a bit lost. I could still kind of relate. But she ended with a quote from one of the best albums of all time, so she’s equally deserving of your vote for InsidePulse Music Staffer of the Year.

Does Tom deserve your vote for InsidePulse Music Staffer of the Year? Hell yeah! He starts this year off with a bang, including his thoughts on a certain high profile reunion.

Shawn makes an impressive debut in 2005. Keep an eye on him, I suspect that I’ll suggest you vote for him this time next year.

Matthew Michael for InsidePulse Music Staffer of the Year? Sure, and I’m not just saying that because he’s here in Vegas holding my CD collection hostage until the votes are tallied and he’s declared the winner.

All Falls Down Featuring Syleena Johnson

The results are in from the doctor; Phil’s got Hate in his blood!

Jim looks toward the future, as opposed to dwelling on the past like me.

Double M has some great Kate Bush (she’s the only “Bush” I really care for) news!

Ian gives some props to Jerry Orbach. You’ve gotta respect that.

Five Albums That I Bought And Really Enjoyed In 2004, But Were Released Prior To That

1. Johnny Cash – Unearthed
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Burn
3. Various – Songs From The Street
4. Pharoahe Monch – Internal Affairs
5. Cheri Knight – The Northeast Kingdom

Five Writer Who Left Us In 2004 And Whose Columns I Still Miss Reading

1. Tom Cocozza
2. Trevor Presiloski
3. Phil McCann
4. Joe Posten
5. Ryan T. Murphy

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