20 – Unwritten (Natasha Bedingfield) – She has the same annoying tendency as her brother to try and prove she can do all styles of music, but although there are a few misses on this album, the hits far outweigh them. If Natasha can cultivate a style of her own in the future, she should go far. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; These Words, I’m A Bomb, We’re All Mad.
19 – Love Thy Cup (Sons And Daughters) –I bought this seven track CD for two reasons. One, it was cheap, and two, it had a song called Johnny Cash on it. Oh, and three, it got good reviews. And boy am I glad I did get it. If The Man In Black had been Scottish, and half woman, he would have sounded like this. Truly outstanding stuff indeed. This is exhilarating music. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Johnny Cash, Broken Bones, La Lune.
18 – Noise From The Basement (Skye Sweetnam) – Ok, its dumb teen rock pop, but its damn fine dumb teen rock pop. And what’s more it refreshingly sticks to teen problems. None of the histrionic moaning that some stars have here, no, problems include not wanting to read Shakespeare in class, and not being asked to the prom by that hot guy. Actually I probably made that last one up, but it won’t be far off the mark. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Billy S, Heart Of Stone, Tangled Up In Me
17 - Grey Will Fade (Charlotte Hatherly) – We can safely say one thing; this is a damn sight better than anything Ash have ever done. The perfect soundtrack to the summer, this is light, fluffy and wonderfully melodic. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Kim Wilde, Summer, Bastardo
16 – Futures (Jimmy Eats World) – About the only bad thing you can say about this album is that it doesn’t quite live upto the guys’ last album, Bleed American. But then again, what rock album has in the three years since that classic? This is more of the same although it has more filler. When it’s good, it’s bloody good, but some songs do fail to hit the mark in quite the same way as their predecessors. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Pain, Work, Nothing Wrong
15 – Under My Skin (Avril Lavigne) – The pressure must have been on after the huge selling debut, and the temptation may have been to provide more of the same, but thankfully new producers were roped in and the result was a satisfying modern rock record. Great songs are dotted throughout and this is a step up from the last one lyrically too. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Forgotten, Slipped Away, Together
14 – Let’s Bottle Bohemia (The Thrills) – A strange one, in the sense that on first listen it’s nothing more than average, but once given a chance the tracks just imbed themselves in your brain and stay there. Lacks the out and out standout tracks of their debut, but also lacks the duff filler that that album had. Let’s hope there is more of the same from these guys in the future. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, The Irish Keep Gatecrashing
13 – Pawn Shoppe Heart (The Von Blondies) – Forget the Strokes, forget the Hives, forget Razorlight, this here is the greatest “Rock’n’roll” album of 2004. This is one of those “every track could be a single” albums and it makes a refreshing change from the usual pace to see the interplay here between male and female singers. You can keep the highly hyped rock bands, I’ll get my fix right here. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Broken Man, No Regrets, The Fever
12 - What Will The Neighbours Say? (Girls Aloud) – This is without doubt the greatest manufactured pop record since the Spice Girls, and arguably not since Phil Spector and The Ronnettes has a girl group/producer relationship produced such a fine piece of work. It’s all Xenonmania at work here, and the girls do lack individual character in their singing, but this is joyous pop and should at least see them right for a third album. If they’d knocked 3 or 4 tracks off the running time, this probably would have placed higher - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Wake Me Up, I Say A Prayer For You, The Show
11 – Gold Medal (The Donnas) – At first I was disappointed with this as it sees The Donna’s making a concerted effort to “mature” their sound. But once you get past the fact that it doesn’t really sound like their previous output, what you are left with is a strikingly good album that hits the right notes in all the right places. They still only have one lyrical style (all the songs are basically about sex) but this is a classy step up from the girls. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Revolver, Gold Medal, Is That All You Got?
10 – Mistaken Identity (Delta Goodrem) – The woman has had a hell of a lot to deal with over the past 18 months, but this album is something to be proud of for sure. Contemporary, without ever being derivative, this is goosebumps, hair’s rising on the back of the neck, music. It was easy to dismiss her as a soap star turned singer on her first album, but not any more. This proves she’s the real deal. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Out Of The Blue, Mistaken Identity, Miscommunication.
9 – Finally Woken (Jem) – This woman will break through HUGE in 2005, mark my words. A more upbeat Dido, with an extra pinch of sex appeal, this is another of 2004’s albums that reminded the world that pop does not have to be targeted at pre-teen children. Warm, uplifting and danceable, believe you me, this time next year you will love this woman. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; They, Wish I, Falling For You.
8 – Flutterby (Butterfly Boucher) – Another criminally ignored record by the general public, but this is an album of undisputed class. From start to finish this is excellent stuff. She plays the majority of instruments on the record herself, but this is no exercise in ego, this is just a wonderful collection of pop-rock tunes that deserves a much wider audience than it got. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; I Can’t Make Me, A Beautiful Book, Life Is Short.
7 – Eye To The Telescope (KT Tunstall) – Damn this woman for releasing an album the week I’d completed my original Top 20 albums list. But having listened to this it had to get a spot in the best albums of the year, no doubt about it (and it meant that Gwen Stefani’s Love Angel Music Baby got shunted out of the number 20 spot). Unlike certain other female singer-songwriters on this list it’s debatable whether KT has that certain je ne sais qoui that makes for major mainstream success, but this is an outstanding album which, if there is any justice in the world will be a HUGE success. This is just beautiful stuff -RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Another Place To Fall, Suddenly I See, Minature Disasters.
6 – Because I Can (Katy Rose) – Avril may get the sales and the plaudits, but Katy Rose kicks her off the park in every way possible with this collection of songs. Occasional drifts into 6th Form poetry style lyrics can be forgiven when such an obvious passion is put into each and every track. Whilst other teen stars sing about other people’s problems and situations, all the way through this you get the feeling that Katy Rose is singing about her own. And the CD is all the better for that. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Vacation, I Like, Lemon
5 – Get Away From Me (Nellie McKay) – The artists Doris Day, Eminem, Noel Coward and Norah Jones don’t often get referenced together but elements of all can be found in this double album, which nevertheless easily retains an identity of it’s own throughout. 18 tracks and hardly a duff one between the two discs. This is like nothing I’ve ever heard before, and probably no other artist will ever come close. This may well become a sleeper hit of 2005. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; I Wanna Get Married, Sari, It’s A Pose.
4 – Anniemal (Annie) – It’s been a great year for pop, and many of its proponents have had huge sales and critical acclaim. This album on the other hand was almost universally ignored and it’s a damn pity as it a great example of perfectly formed pop. It says a lot that whilst Chewing Gum was one of my favourite singles of the year, it’s not even close to being the best song on this collection. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Me Plus One, Come Together, Greatest Hit
3 – A Grand Don’t Come For Free (The Streets) – It says a lot for the quality of 2004 as far as albums are concerned that any of the top three could have easily been comfortable choices for the number one spot. Even the brilliant singles don’t really do this album justice, as this is a collection that has to be listened to as a whole to really get the full feeling. Loosely the story of a man who loses, and convoluted finds, the “grand” in the title, this is modern day storytelling, set to urban beats. I don’t think anyone thought Mike Skinner had such an album in him, and I just wonder how he can ever live up to this again. RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Dry Your Eyes, What Is He Thinking?, Not Addicted.
2 – Scissor Sisters (Scissor Sisters) – The second of three that could have been number one, I only bought this originally because I needed another CD to take advantage of a special 2 for £18 offer or something, but boy am I glad I did. The opening four tracks are probably the best opening to an album this year and although there are one or two songs to follow that don’t quite reach these heights, most of them comfortably do. This is a pop record that isn’t afraid to be presented as such. If there is one word for this album, it should be fun. A great party record, with a real substance to it too.- RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Laura, Better Luck Next Time, Comfortably Numb
1 – Franz Ferdinand (Franz Ferdinand) – It was tough, and boy was it tough, but in the end this superb album has to just sneak album of the year accolades for me. Whilst there may be slightly too many times where you think you have heard a style somewhere before, the sheer wealth of reference points to be made make this an exhilarating experience from start to finish. Nothing quite matches the brilliance of Take Me Out, but at least seven of the other tracks come as close as damn it and this makes it that rarity of an album…one that makes the skip button obsolete and unemployed. Truly worth of the album of the year. - RECOMMENDED TRACKS; Take Me Out, 40’, This Fire.