The Best Albums of 2004

1. K-OS, Joyful Rebellion — K-OS’s sophomore release Joyful Rebellion reflects the sounds from his live show and revels in the celebration of music. The record begins with the renegade romp of “Emcee Murdah” which is flavoured with Spanish guitar and poisonous raps about how “Hip-hop is not dead, it’s just really the mind of the Emcee.” On this record, K-OS has taken his vocal range to another level, especially on the soulful “Man I Used Be” and the earnest “Hallelujah.” Simply put, the diverse Joyful Rebellion is one of the most entertaining and thoughtful records of the year. (EMI)

2. Hayden, Elk Lake Serenade — Hayden’s remains loyal to his short little songs and subdued vibe. Elk Lake Serenade is full of compelling personal lyrics. On the standout track, “This Summer,” he sings about the loss of two loved ones, using his deep and fragile vocals to great effect. This gem from Hayden is smart, reflective and the first great album of 2004. (Hardwood/Universal)

3. Tom Waits, Real Gone — Real Gone is influenced by Jamaican rock-steady, rhythm and blues, and contains the occasional turntable scratch. Of course, on all the tracks, Waits’ trademark growl is in full force. Real Gone is another intense and energizing release from Waits’ already eclectic discography. (Anti)

4. Beastie Boys, To the 5 Boroughs — During a six-year hiatus, the Boys created To the 5 Boroughs, their most stripped-down record to date. But what makes this album a classic are the rhymes of Mike D, Ad Rock, and MCA. To the 5 Boroughs demonstrates the Beastie Boys skills as political and social lyricists. (Capitol)

5. Julie Doiron, Goodnight Nobody (Endearing)

6. Leonard Cohen, Dear Heather (Columbia)

7. Interpol, Antics (Matador)

8. R.E.M., Around The Sun (Warner Bros)

9. Bjork, Medulla (Elektra)

10. Projekter, Young Hearts Fail (Endearing)

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