(This post is part of Frequency’s coverage of the best music of the past decade. You can see all of that coverage in one place by clicking here. And be sure to tune in Dec. 18, when I’ll post “Near/Far,” our annual, downloadable MP3 compilation of the best music of 2009, to go along with our year-in-review package in that day’s GO! Magazine.)
If you’re looking for a pivotal year in the development of music in the 2000s, look no further than 2004. I don’t believe this is the decade’s strongest group of albums, but I do think there are a lot of records on this list that significantly shifted the musical landscape, or at least portended a coming shift. To wit:
-This was the year Kanye West took over the decade. He has not yet let go.
-The success of the Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” — released by the independent Merge Records label — opened a door to the mainstreaming of indie music and indie culture that would dominate the second half of the decade.
-DJ Danger Mouse, who blended Jay-Z with the Beatles, and DJ Diplo, who reconstituted what would soon become M.I.A.’s stunning debut album, introduced a wider world to mashups and mixtapes. It was a harbinger of things to come as the Internet evolved, first in hip-hop and then spreading to other genres.
Oh, and Brian Wilson got a 38-year-old monkey off his back by finally releasing “Smile,” Franz Ferdinand helped usher in a dance-rock revival, Arthur Magazine‘s “The Golden Apples of the Sun” comp shined a light on the freak-folk scene, and everyone liked Snow Patrol but no one could figure out why.
Arcade Fire, “Funeral”
Danger Mouse, “The Grey Album”
Eluvium, “An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death”
Franz Ferdinand, “Franz Ferdinand”
Helio Sequence, “Love and Distance”
Iron & Wine, “Our Endless Numbered Days”
Kings of Convenience, “Riot On An Empty Street”
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, “Shake the Sheets”
Ben Kweller, “On My Way”
M.I.A. and Diplo, “Piracy Funds Terrorism”
The Mountain Goats, “We Shall All Be Healed”
Rogue Wave, “Out of the Shadow”
Josh Rouse, “Rarities”
Snow Patrol, “Final Straw”
Sufjan Stevens, “Seven Swans”
The Thermals, “F–kin A”
Various Artists, “The Golden Apples of the Sun”
Kanye West, “The College Dropout”
Brian Wilson, “Smile”