click for hi-res cover art

wtf?!:  these are the liner notes for the vanmega.com 2004 audio almanac disk. The images are hyperlinks to other related stuff. you are pretty.

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Track 01: Delays - Long Time Coming
From the album: "Faded Seaside Glamour" released May 2004

While the Dealys were brutal (read: drunken tone deaf Englishmen) live, their album was brilliant, a wonderful and lush synthy-rock-pop thing which borders on being dreamy at time.  Long Time Coming is a prime example.  The only crap thing is that other people 'caught on to this -this song was recently used as the music score for a crappy commercial for a jewelry store.  I LOVE when that  shit happens.

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Track 02: Stars - Elevator Love Letter
From the album: "Heart" released
Sept 2003

The Stars fall into that rare category of "bands which preserved my sanity whilst at school".  Whenever I'd get over-stressed as I tried to deal with a mountain of papers or a plethora of deadlines, I'd throw this track on the iPod, and take a quick stroll around Kits, down the hill and by the beach.  Yeah, I might sound like a bit of a sissy, but it worked.

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Track 03: k-os - Crucial
From the album: "Joyful Rebellion" released
Sept 2003

It's beyond me why all the critics got their underwear in knots talking about how Kanye West put out "the hip hop album of the year".  I'd tend to disagree, k-os put out the strongest hip hop disk of 2004.  Fun fact: I interviewed k-os in August '04 for Cord Magazine.  I ended up getting into a bit of a heated discussion (read: fight) with k-os when I attempted to play devil's advocate and questioned if the use of real instruments in hip hop was true to the genre.  Good times.  You can read the interview here.

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Track 04: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
From the album: "Fever to Tell" released
Sept 2003

When we all when to the Caribbean in February for Kate's wedding we stayed in at a fancy-pants resort which had satellite TV.  MTV was one of the few English stations which we could pick up.  While there, "Maps" was one of these 3 videos MTV had in rotation.  I heard the track over and over and over all while in a tropical sun-soaked perma-buzzed haze.  Because of this, I associate this song with the trip and my sisters wedding.  Despite the kinda dark moody tone of the song, I think all kinds of warm / happy / lovely thoughts when I hear it.  Fun fact: Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters wrote an article for the New York Times in which he called "Maps" the "Stairway to heaven" of the new millennium.  Uhhhh... what?!

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Track 05: Modest Mouse - Float On
From the album: "Good News For People Who Like Bad News" released April
2004

Happiest. Song. Ever.  Instant pick-me-up.

In an interview the band explained the background for the song:

"I was just kind of fed up with how bad shit had been going, and how dark everything was, with bad news coming from everywhere. Our president is just a fucking daily dose of bad news! Then you've got the well-intentioned scientists telling us that everything is fucked. I just want to feel good for a day. I'd had some friends die, and with Jeremy kind of losing it... After we got out of that dark spot with everything melting down with the band, I just wanted to make a positive record."

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Track 06: The Futureheads - A to B
From the album: "The Futureheads" released November
2004

The Futureheads put out the best CD of 2004.  I'm not just saying that because they took me out for lattes at Starbucks when their tour with Franz Ferdinand stopped in Vancouver.  What sets The Futureheads ahead of their peers is an ability to compose and perform songs with such complexity and precision.  They consistently pack razor sharp riffs and beats against an indie rock barbershop quartet style of harmonies... and do it all in less than 2 minutes a song.

Fun fact: You can read my "10 questions with The Futureheads" article here.  You can watch the video for "A to B" here.

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Track 07: The Futureheads - Meantime
From the album: "The Futureheads" released November
2004

Yup, more Futureheads, because they're just_that_good... and I can prove it too.  Granted, I'm a music dork, but when non-music dorks (read: normal people) fall for a band, it validates my gushing.  Penner and Wend came into Vancouver for a weekend in September and tore a strip off the city.  Messy stuff, indeed.  One evening, they knocked back rounds of Stoli as they got ready to go out on the town.  While doing this they cranked the Futureheads CD and played it cover to cover... 3 times!  The whole time they danced and gyrated around to the album of the year without even spilling a drop from their martini glasses. Classy. Fun fact: You can watch The Futureheads video for "Meantime" here.  It's good.

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Track 08: The Walkmen - Little House of Savages
From the album: "Bows + Arrows" released Feb
2004

In September me, Tk, and Sock road tripped to the Bumbershoot music festival in Seattle.  There was something like 6 billion bands playing over 3 days (I'm rounding up here), we spent the night watching Public Enemy perform for a crowd of 40,000 people.  As we were walking back to the car we stumbled across a side stage where The Walkmen were performing to a crowd of less than 100 people.  This couldn't have been a more pleasing surprize.  We ended up staying at the side stage, and were treated to a performance which jumped between spazzy freak out songs and the most delicate and mellow of jams.  Fun fact: The Walkmen ended up appearing on an episode of The O.C performing "Little House of Savages".  Needless to say, I kinda freaked out.

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Track 09: The Shins - New Slang
From the album: "Garden State Soundtrack" released Aug 
2004

I'm no movie expert, but I can say without reservation that Garden State is the best movie I've seen since Swingers.  Not only does the movie have a great script executed by wonderful actors, it also has an amazing soundtrack... a who's who of indie and pop rock.  While most movie productions release a soundtrack simply as a additional revenue stream, the soundtrack for Garden State was key part of the movie and wove the story together like a Tennessee Williams novel (that's right I - of all people -  just made an obscure literary reference).  From my August 15, 2004 post:

"My favorite part in the movie (as trivial as it may have been) was when Natalie Portman gave Zack Branf her set of headphones to listen to [New Slang] by The Shins. The scene totally portrays the act of listening and absorbing music in this romantic and personally holistic way. It's the exact way I listen / introspectively freak out to my tunes."

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Track 10: Wil - Mad Sun
Unreleased

The Wil story rules.  Wil was a Calgary singer-songwriter who played pubs night after night.  A few years back, he decides it's do or die time, and independently records an album costing him almost as much as a starter home.  He then sells upwards of 10,000 copies out of the trunk of his car.  This year, the major labels took interest in his work and signed him.  He's now sold the album to EMI, has a video in rotation on muchmusic, and is a real life full time rock n roll musician touring North America opening for the likes of Matt Good.  And to think, we used to buy the guy jauger shots just to play cover songs for us.

Fun fact: This Wil related post was Casha's favorite vanmega post of 2004.  Also, I did a fairly exhaustive interview with Wil for Cord Magazine, you can read it here.

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Track 11: Iron and Wine - Cinders and Smoke
From the album: "Our Endless Numbered Days" released March
2004

Sam Beam is Iron and Wine.  He's a film school teacher who also plays music on the side.  He has a big-ass beard.  He crafts these tiny little gentle songs, with tiny guitar parts, and vocal harmonies that remind me of the Bee Gees (in a good way).  The "Endless Numbered Days" disk was one of the few CD's I own which my parents actually stole from me because they enjoyed it so much. I can't decide if that's flattering or just plain creepy.

Fun fact: Here's another Iron and Wine mp3 for download.

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Track 12: Frou Frou - Let Go
From the album: "Garden State Soundtrack" released Aug 
2004

More Garden State related goodness.  This was the track that was used in all the previews for the film.  Regardless, the tune stands out on it's own merits.  It's crispy good and electronic fresh. Basically Frou Frou sounds like earlier Dido, but without the suck.

Fun fact: You can watch the Garden State movie trailer here.

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Track 13: Scissor Sisters - Tits On The Radio
From the album: "Scissor Sisters" released July
2004

This really is Tk's band of the year.  Well maybe not year, but she did see the live show, and said it was marvelous and nothing short of a 3 ring circus, and equally as entertaining as The Arcade Fire's live show.  To me, the Scissor Sisters sound kinda like a modern day Elton John type thing... but much more gay.  That's right, I went there.

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Track 14: Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer
From the album: "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" released April
2002

It appears that Sheri and her girls have brought the 1643 dream back to life.  Sheri and 3 of her prettiest homegirls ended up moving into a massive and old house, turning it into houseparty central.  They stay up all night, sleep all day, and encourage you to do the same.  Every time I went over to their house, I'd find about 20 people in the place going off doing crazy shit like fashioning crude beer bongs out of household items like a snorkel and an avocado.  On my final night before moving to Vancouver, I partied at Sheri's place one last time, and Heavy Metal Drummer randomly became the anthem of the night.  I must have heard that song played 15 times in a row, as half the party danced around in the living room.

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Track 15: The Album Leaf - The Outer Banks
From the album: "In A Safe Place" released June
2004

This Album Leaf track neatly ties into last track.  As I fell asleep on the floor at the end of the night this mellow little track played in the background.

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Track 16: Eagles Of Death Metal - Speaking in Tongues
From the album: "Peace Love and Death Metal" released
March 2004

Instant speeding ticket.  Play the EODM CD while driving and you're gonna feel compelled to be a bad-ass.  Eagles of Death Metal was a side project of Josh from Queens of The Stone Age and some dude with a moustache.  They made the blue print for all garage bands to live by.

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Track 17: Dirty Edmonton Whore - Leftnutt
From the album: "The White Album" released
Jan 2004

Speaking of garage bands... 2004 was a big year for Leftnutt.  In a matter of 12 moths they went from being zeros to the toast of the Edmonton indie-punk scene.  Realizing that it didn't really matter how well they performed but rather how excited they crowd became, they broke most rock and roll conventions and did thing like give CD's away and offer to play anywhere.  Now people stop them on the streets and kids wear homemade Leftnutt t-shirts (I kid you not).

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Track 18: Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day
From the album: "American Idiot" released Sept
2004

Who would have ever thought that a band who had done nothing of interest for years would step up and create a rock-opera concept album dealing with the current state of America!?  The American Idiot album is a master-piece - this is something I never though I'd say about a Green Day CD.  I could have chosen any song from the disk to put on the almanac, but chose Jesus of Suburbia because the track really has this bizzaro musical feel to it.

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Track 19: Take Me Anywhere - Tegan And Sara
From the album: "So Jealous" released Sept
2004

As Mully so eloquently put it, "in comparison to the last album, the new Tegan and Sara disk has more sing-singing and less talk-singing".  The So Jealous disk continues where If It Was You left off.  It's good good stuff... except this time they didn't invite the kids of vanmega to be in thier music video... so you know... we're kinda choked. (I kid, I kid)

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Track 20: Keep Me - The Black Keys
From the album: "Rubber Factory" released Sept
2004

Why did I not get into The Black Keys earlier?!  A 2 piece band that does the blues rock thing soooooooo fucking well.  Depending on how you look at it Keep Me sounds like a White Stripes tune with out the pretentiousness or like a live Wil tune
9 jauger shots into he evening.

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Track 20: Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
From the album: "Funeral" released Sept
2004

Believe the hype kids.  The Arcade Fire really do deserve the praise they've received in 2004.  Not even so much for the Funeral disk but the live show they deliver.  The band’s composition is of seven guys and girls, playing 10+ instruments, all of whom are these unique nerdy-hipster characters and clearly are too excited about what they’re doing to stand still. Their music and the delivery of it is pure celebration, every single person on stage it constantly moving screaming, singing, dancing, as if fully possessed – in a genuine and positive way - by every note they play from their setlist of acoustic-meets-disco-meets-rock-meets-classical-strings-meets-accordian-jams.

I wonder if they'll be able to top themselves in 2005.


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