BEST ALBUM: U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Yes, they may be getting on a bit and produce albums with rather unwieldy titles but HTDAAB was a sharp reminder that there’s no better songwriters in the world.
Vertigo fizzed with energy, Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own was a tear-stained anthem, City Of Blinding Lights was just sky-scrapingly glorious.
Each and every song produced something different in fact, and U2 were back where they belonged, right up on top of the pile.
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
They were the new Scottish gentry they boasted, and they ruled 2004. The most exciting debut album in years.
Embrace – Out Of Nowhere
Admit it, you thought they were dead and buried. With a little help from their friends (namely Chris Martin), the McNamara brothers returned with their best stuff yet.
BEST SINGLE: Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
There was only ever one contender for single of the year. Back in January, the Glaswegian boys announced themselves to the world with this mighty slab of what could only be described as disco-funk-rock.
It starts off ordinarily enough but then, less a minute into the song, everything becomes turned on its head as one of the mightiest guitar riffs you’ll ever hear cranks into being. The most exciting sound of the year.
The Streets – Dry Your Eyes
Where Mike Skinner moved from annoying Chav-like figure to bruised and battered romantic poet of our age. Has anyone else written so eloquently about the pain, frustration and sheer unfairness of a relationship break-up?
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Nature Boy
The best lyrics of the year, set to a melody that blatantly nods and winks to Cockney Rebel. Only Nick Cave can get away with this. Sheer genius.
BEST LIVE PERFORMANCE: Ani DiFranco @ The Lowry, Manchester 6 November 2004
She’s been touring this acoustic show almost non-stop for a couple of years now, but with the simple addition of a double bassist, Ms DiFranco enhanced her sound even more.
Sitting in a beautifully intimate venue, watching one of the most talented songwriters of her generation…it just didn’t get much better than this in 2004.
Mark Lanegan Band @ Leadmill, Sheffield 30 November 2004
The distinctively voiced Lanegan is sheer rock’n'roll cool and demonstrated this perfectly at the Leadmill, ably abetted by former Queens Of The Stone Age cohort Nick Olivieri
Franz Ferdinand @ Leadmill, Sheffield 17 April 2004
One of those rare occasions where we get to witness a band on the verge of something truly big before we lose them forever to cavernous aircraft hangars.
BEST FILM: Lost In Translation
An early contender back in January, Sofia Coppola’s sophomore feature featured a career best performance from Bill Murray and a career making one from Scarlett Johansson. And the emotional whallopof that final scene stayed with the viewer for some months to come.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Michel Gondry had already proved his visual genius in countless music videos – here, he restrains Jim Carrey for the performance of his career. The most original film of the year.
Shaun Of The Dead
Those of us who worshipped Spaced knew how talented Simon Pegg was, but even we didn’t expect anything as good as the first zom-rom-com. Both hilariously funny and heart-breakingly poignant.