by Mike Corrigan, Sheri Boggs, Joe Preston, Leah Sottile, Clint Burgess, Miranda Hale and Joel Smith

Here we come, walkin' down the street. We get the funniest looks from everyone we meet. But hey, it's only because of the music we all listen to. Yet here we are once again at the end of another 12-month cycle with our annual offerings for best music of the year -- Inlander-style. Though our collective tastes were obviously all over the place in 2004 (more so than usual, it would seem), we nevertheless feel it is our sworn duty to anoint one album with the top prize. So we must. And so we shall. The Inlander staff's pick for album of the year 2004 is:

Interpol: Antics

Shaking off the second-album jitters and casually kicking them to the curb, the four lads from Interpol offered proof this year that the group's initial triumph was no fluke and that most if not all of the hyperbolic wordage it racked up in the wake of its 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, was justified.

With its deep atmospherics and smart, brooding lyricism, Antics (Matador) represents a continuation rather than a value shift. But the melodies are more developed here, a progression that lends welcomed buoyancy to subject matter that hovers just a few inches above desperation. The songwriting, though deeply emotional, is typically literate and sardonic, resulting in challenging constructions. The hymnal opener, "Next Exit," is a glorious and brash statement of purpose. "Evil" bears a ferocious tension-and-release dynamic coupled with singer Paul Banks' usual flair for high drama ("Rosemary, heaven restores you in life"). "Slow Hands" is dark but upbeat -- and ardently romantic: "You make me want to pick up the guitar / And celebrate the myriad ways that I love you".

These 10 vignettes are thick with references to isolation and frustration, yet within each can also be found a kernel of hope and a plea for communion. -- Mike Corrigan

The Lists

Sheri Boggs, Managing Editor

1. Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose (Interscope)

Both a delicious oddity and one of the most compelling releases of the year, Van Lear Rose is Loretta Lynn -- now 70 -- transmitted through the gritty lens of producer Jack White. For the first time in her lengthy career, the Coal Miner's Daughter wrote every song on this album and they're a varied, ambitious lot. Her duet with White, "Portland, Oregon" is a raw, boozy "come hither"; "Family Tree" is old school Loretta, still talking sass to the trailer park home-wrecker. Lynn's voice resonates with the hard-won wisdom of the married lady, the other woman and the honky-tonk angel, all at once.

2. Magnetic Fields: I (Nonesuch)

3. Madeleine Peyroux: Careless Love (Rounder)

4. Rilo Kiley: More Adventurous (Brute/Beaute)

5. Pink Martini: Hang On Little Tomato (Heinz Records)

6. Hem: Eveningland (Rounder)

7. David Byrne: Grown Backwards (Nonesuch)

8. Iron and Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days (Sub Pop)

9. The Delgados: Universal Audio (Chemikal Underground)

10. Neko Case: The Tigers Have Spoken (Anti)

Joe Preston, Graphic Designer

1. ISIS: Panopticon (Ipecac)

I hate to fly. From the moment the plane turns down the runway, wheezing and rumbling into a takeoff, my gut is somewhere below my knees and I prepare for yet another anxiety-ridden flight. My palms sweat, and I'm frozen, fearing that the slightest movement will cause us to crash. Just as I have convinced myself that this is the end, we level out, all is calm, the stewardess brings peanuts and ginger ale, and I am happy. ISIS has created the soundtrack for my experience. With Panopticon, their usual brutality is tastefully executed with breaths of ambient swells and clean guitar melodies. Through the travels of this record, ISIS flies through the turbulence, overcoming slight peaks and valleys, punctuating the electrifying buildup with epic riffs reminiscent of Mogwai. I'm no longer afraid to fly.

2. Phoenix: Alphabetical (Astralwerks)

3. Neurosis: Eye of Every Storm (Neurot)

4. Medeski, Martin & amp; Wood:

End of the World Party: Just In Case (Blue Note)

5. Karate: Pockets (Southern)

6. Seachange: Lay of the Land (Matador)

7. Air: Talkie Walkie (Astralwerks)

8. The Cardigans: Long Gone Before Daylight (Koch)

9. Trans Am: Liberation (Thrill Jockey)

10. The Melvins/Lustmord: Pigs of the Roman Empire (Ipecac)

Mike Corrigan, Staff Writer

1. Interpol: Antics (Matador)

2. P.J. Harvey: Uh Huh Her (Island)

3. Guided by Voices: Half Smiles of the Decomposed (Matador)

4. The Libertines: The Libertines (Sanctuary)

5. Ted Leo & amp; the Pharmacists: Shake the Sheets (Lookout)

6. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Abattoir Blues/ The Lyre of Orpheus (Anti)

7. Magnetic Fields: I (Nonesuch)

8. Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose (Interscope)

9. Xiu Xiu: Fabulous Muscles (5RC)

10. Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand (Sony)

Leah Sottile, Staff Writer

1. Zero 7: When It Falls (Elektra)

It was just one of those days: a rain-soaked March morning, dishwater coffee, flickering fluorescent lights, a mind-melting meeting. It was a day so ordinary, and perhaps that's what made hearing Zero 7's second album so arresting. When It Falls is the music that plays in your ears as you tromp through the cold, the sounds that you hear as you think about your life wasting away in a cubicle, the noise of freight train headaches and jackhammer coworkers; it's the soundtrack in your head that you don't even know is there. And slowly, because of its listenability, this album became a part of my everyday life: queued up in the morning, making an appearance on my headphones by day, singing me to sleep at night. Zero 7 makes mundane exhilarating, ordinary sexy and simple suddenly complex. And finding some other artist that can do that - well, I just don't want to try.

2. Nick Cave & amp; the Bad Seeds: Abattoir Blues/ The Lyre of Orpheus (Anti)

3. The Crystal Method: Legion of Boom (V2.)

4. The Cardigans: Long Gone Before Daylight (Koch)

5. Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse (Geffen)

6. Phoenix: Alphabetical (Astralwerks)

7. The Melvins/Lustmord: Pigs of the Roman Empire (Ipecac)

8. Bjork: Medulla (Elektra)

9. Harkonen/These Arms Are Snakes: Like A Virgin (Hydra Head)

10. Kings of Convenience:

Riot on an Empty Street (Astralwerks)

Clint Burgess, Contributing Writer

1. The Faint: Wet From Birth (Saddle Creek)

The Faint have the distinction of being the band that kicked Conor Oberst out of their ranks. It all worked out for everyone in the end. This band is post-nothing, neo-no-nonsense. Some critics lump them into the new wave category, but that doesn't work with these guys. This collection of envelope-pushers explore the instruments that first gave them life as a band. While synthesizers and beats are present, they're charismatically laid alongside acoustic guitar, buzz saw bass lines and even a sampled typewriter. There are plenty of tricks and gorgeous song craftsmanship on this album to keep curious listeners busy long into 2005.

2. Pedro the Lion: Achilles Heel (Jadetree)

3. These Arms Are Snakes: Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When It's Antelope Go Home (Jadetree)

4. John Frusciante & amp; Josh Klinghoffer:

A Sphere In The Heart Of Silence (Record Collection)

5. Interpol: Antics (Matador)

6. The Streets: A Grand Don't Come for Free (Vice/Atlantic)

7. Blonde Redhead: Misery Is a Butterfly (4AD)

8. Kings of Convenience: Riot on an Empty Street (Astralwerks)

9. Air: Talkie Walkie (Astralwerks)

10. Jonny Greenwood: Bodysong Soundtrack (Capitol)

Miranda Hale, Contributing Writer

1. Rilo Kiley: More Adventurous (Brute/Beaute)

Rilo Kiley has managed to involve itself with a major label (for distribution purposes) without losing any of the awareness, intellect, curiosity and heartbreaking sheer beauty of its earlier releases, a feat that very few bands or artists can claim. Lead singer Jenny Lewis's vocals and brainy, emotionally charged lyrics are at once lustful, wise, hopeful, sad, soulful and innocent. Guitarist Blake Sennett's musicianship is stellar. These factors, combined with a multitude of others, have helped Rilo Kiley make its best and most poignant album to date.

2. Interpol: Antics (Matador)

3. Le Tigre: This Island (Universal)

4. Ted Leo & amp; the Pharmacists: Shake the Sheets (Lookout)

5. Camera Obscura: Underachievers Please Try Harder (Merge)

6. Weird War: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Bite 'Em (Drag City)

7. Wilco: A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch)

8. Mirah: C'mon Miracle (K Records)

9. Tegan and Sara: So Jealous (Vapor Us)

10. Deerhoof: Milkman (Kill Rock Stars)

Joel Smith, Staff Writer

1. The Concretes: The Concretes (Astralwerks)

This Swedish octet finally puts to bed the myth that their motherland is all Ikea and bikini teams. The Concretes' self-titled, second full-length album is an astounding exercise in ragged urban beauty. Lead singer Victoria Bergsman warbles and keens, sometimes way out of tune, on a teetering foundation of horns and strings and fuzzed-out guitars. The result, especially on tracks like "Chico" and "This One's For You," is a little like waking from a morphine-induced haze to find yourself surrounded by floating, twirling dancers in the heart of the business district. The orchestra's doing Velvet Underground covers. And some of those dancers are monsters.

2. Patty Griffin: Impossible Dream (Ato)

3. The Gourds: The Blood of the Ram (Eleven Thirty)

4. Richard Shindell: Vuelta (Koch)

5. Todd Snider: East Nashville Skyline (Oh Boy)

6. Pink Martini: Hang On Little Tomato (Heinz)

7. Athlete: Vehicles and Animals (Astralwerks)

8. Modest Mouse:

Good News for People Who Love Bad News (Sony)

9. Hem: Eveningland (Rounder)

10. Youssou N'Dour: Egypt (Nonesuch)

Publication date: 12/30/04

Spokane Bike Swap @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Sat., June 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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