I like comics and I like records and I like ranting. Sadly, I can only tell you what my favorites in two of those categories are because, you know, my rants are all my little babies and picking one of them is just cruel.
Comic of the Year, 20041
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Aaron in LA told me to read it after I was initially dismissive, not being overly keen on Lost At Sea, but this was just a perfect piece of magical realism that made me crack a wide grin for the entire time I spent reading it.
- DC: New Frontier made me remember why I like superheroes in the first place. Smart, gorgeously drawn and colored, and uses history perfectly to make you believe in the ideals of the Silver Age.
- Global Frequency #12, which was late but so totally worth it. The spaceflight nerd in me cheered a bit and for once, Warren Ellis’s ideas and storytelling were on an even keel with one another. Gene Ha’s art was freaking beautiful – I nearly bought page from this at the recent BiMonSciFiCon Nerd Fest, but $150 made me wince.
- JLA: Classified #1 had the perfect amount of madness and destruction thanks to Morrison embracing the spandex, which sounds filthier than it is.
- Two Sisters was a sprawling spy novel by Matt Kindt, whose excellent work on Pistolwhip proved to be just a starting point for him. World War II was never this gorgeously rendered.
- New X-Men #151-154. Other people have criticized Grant Morrison’s last X-Men arc as unreadable and confusing, but it was more satisfying to me than I expected, even with Mark Silvestri’s art. Surprisingly touching in the end, and every clever thing done by Grant has now been completely undone by Claremont and Austen. NuNuMarvel: Like OldNuMarvel, but suckier! Come back, Bill Jemas.
- Then there’s We3, finishing my Morrison Trifecta2 for the year. With Frank Quitely’s insane idea of what comics art should be and characters I found surprisingly easy to empathize with, this was the crown jewel in Vertigo’s lineup this year, despite dismal sales.
Album Of The Year, 2004
Mouse On Mars, Radical Connector. Poptastic melodies, deep grooves, and Dodo Nkishi’s passionate vocals are nothing like the sound this German band started working with about a decade ago, but this record is so, so perfect in its own ass-shaking way.
- RJD2, Since We Last Spoke takes the last 40 years of funk and distills it it into a razor-sharp hip-hop masterpiece.
- Modest Mouse’s second sell-out album, Good News For People Who Like Bad News is a rock record I don’t much mind, which is high praise from my neck of the woods.
- Never Never Land from UNKLE. Jesus. It’s dark, sprawling, and worth the 6-year wait, even without DJ Shadow’s touch.
- Blockhead’s Music By Cavelight features tasty, melodic hip hop from the guy who made Aesop Rock and other Definitive Jux artists bump a little harder.
- I by Stephin Merritt’s Magnetic Fields project is a concept album that never grates and manages to cross genres as smoothly as a BMW switching lanes while bombing down the Autobahn. Heartbreak, disco, folk, and melancholy all meet and leave the listener touched.
- Miss Kittin’s solo debut, I Com, is snarling electro-punk at its best and anyone that knows me heard “Meet Sue Be She” at least once in my presence. Addictive fun.
- Orbital’s final record, The Blue Album, is not the best they’ve made, but between opener “Transient” and its fusion of strings and beats (a sure way to get me to notice what you’re doing) and the grand “One Perfect Sunrise” (my favorite track of the last year) it ends up being a fitting coda to a career that’s helped redefine electronic music.
1Special note should be made to the fact that I wanted to like Eightball #23 much more than I did, but I want to say that is one of the most technically perfect comics I’ve read in years. I know it’s rated very highly with a lot of people I respect, but it left me utterly cold despite my admiration for what Clowes does.
2I enjoyed Seaguy, but only because it was just so damned weird and Cameron Stewart’s art was a delight. As a comic, it made a great piece of pro-drugs propaganda.