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Volume 7, Issue 4                                    University of Houston

Gems of 2004 almost slipped through the cracks

<'>Stay Sick

Jason Gagnon

A few nights ago, ' was thinking about my favorite records from 2004 and realized many a good album didnít get the love it deserved. Reflecting on all the killer sounds of the past year -- and there were a lot of them -- ' want to offer up five overlooked gems from the last 12 months.

Tegan and Sara, <'>So Jealous (Sanctuary)

Iím an absolute sucker for a great pop record, and the latest album from Canadian twin sisters Tegan and Sara is simply fantastic. The songs on <'>So Jealous are doused with so much sweet pop honey that they stick to your brain like gum on the bottom of your shoe.

But itís not a bad thing at all. The twins have honed their songwriting skills so exquisitely that they know better than to heap on gratuitous production techniques to muddle their work. Everything is balanced perfectly, highlighting brilliant compositions like "Take Me Anywhere," "' Know ' Know ' Know," and "Walking with the Ghost" (which was named the Coolest Song of the Year by fans of Little Stevenís radio show).

After the first 30 seconds of the blissful opener "You Wouldnít Like Me," youíll be hooked. A truly excellent record.

Coachwhips, <'>Peanut Butter and Jelly Live at the Mint Ginge (Narnack)

Minimalism in rock Ďní roll is a beautiful thing. On <'>Peanut Butter and Jelly -- which isnít a live record, though it was essentially recorded live -- the Coachwhips unleash another blast of ferocious garage-rock goodness.

The album is a volatile mix of thunderous drumming (this guy must bust heads on an hourly basis), lean, raw and loud guitars, wicked-cool keyboards and distorted vocals masking some, uh, interesting lyrics.

You just canít go wrong with a record that starts off with "' wanna eat your brain." Itís just not possible. The Coachwhips are a great example of people making fun rock Ďní roll via thinking with their hips instead of their heads. Let the dance party begin!

Teenage Confidential, <'>Rock Ďní Roll Kiss (Wizard in Vinyl)

This might be a little harder to track down than the other records on my list, but itís worth the effort. The Japanese are masters of rock Ďní roll, and now they can add power pop to their list of achievements.

Teenage Confidentialís debut album, sung in English, is just what the title says -- a rock Ďní roll kiss. A wet, steamy, organic and passionate one that tastes like 1950s rock, Cheap Trick and lots of ephedrine.

"' Remember" is probably one of the best songs ' heard last year. ' canít wait to see what these guys come up with next.

Jeffie Genetic and His Clones, <'>Need a Wave (Dirtnap)

Dirtnap Records consistently delivered outstanding albums in 2004, and though Jeffie Geneticís isnít as good as offerings from the Ends or Marked Men, itís still stellar.

Letís face it, new wave is coming back -- and Iím not talking about that androgynous Numbers nightclub sound being put out by the Killers and their ilk. No, ' mean skinny tie, white sunglasses, geeky punk-tinged and weird-as-hell pop tunes like Josie Cotton and Devo used to make and the Epoxies are doing now.

Jeffie Genetic is actually a one-man band: Jeffie Pop of the New Town Animals. Here, he takes cues from British artists, making <'>Need a Wave a blast. Songs about being cloned, girls on scooters, the news and fast food abound, but the highlight is the lively title track, which cuts and pastes all sorts of new-wave song titles and references into a catchy tune about trends. ' love the line "Our friends broke the edge just to get some ass."

If my prediction is right, and new wave becomes the next retro trend, Iím all for it if half the records are as fun, imaginative and pogo-worthy as Jeffie Geneticís.

Reigning Sound, <'>Too Much Guitar (In the Red)

The Oblivians were one of the best of the 1990s garage rock revivalists, and fans can rejoice because Greg Oblivian is still churning out some of the most gut-wrenching rock tunes of his day.

<'>Too Much Guitar, the bandís second album (actually its third, but the first one sucked something awful, so Iím forgetting it ever happened), continues in Gregís raw Memphis rock songwriting, but with a much fuller production creating a wall of searing sonic action that just canít be beat.
 

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