Top Twenty Albums of 2004 (at mid-year)

So far, we have only one masterpiece, a smashing compilation, a few very, very good albums, and no severe disappointments. These the best albums of the year at its halfway mark.

1. Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans
2. Sam Phillips, A Boot and a Shoe
3. Tompaulin, Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt
4. Nellie McKay, Get Away From Me
5. PJ Harvey, Uh Huh Her
6. TV On The Radio, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
7. The Magnetic Fields, i
8. Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose
9. AC Newman, The Slow Wonder
10. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
11. Detachment Kit, Of This Blood
12. Hello Goodbye, Heart Attack
13. Tamas Wells, A Mark on the Pane
14. The Contrast, Fade Back In
15. Morrissey, You Are The Quarry
16. Various Artists, Shanti Project Collection # 3
17. The Marlboro Chorus, Entangled
18. Mary Lou Lord, Baby Blue
19. Kilowatt Hours/The Rum Diary, Split
20. S PRCSS, Taste Like Daughter

# 3 was a delightful surprise

# 6 has considerably grown on me since it came out in March

# 5 and 7 just keep getting better

# 15 and 18 have a few great songs, but could've been better

# 1 will be hard to top



This is one of the most unsettling films I've ever seen--even more so than Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't want to say too much about the plot, because it's best going into it knowing as little as possible, so read on at your own risk.

This is a startling change of pace for director Michael Haneke from his last film, The Piano Teacher. I wouldn't go so far to say that there's a total de-emphasis on style, but most of what transpires happens so naturally--yet, it all feels so surreal, too. The cinematography is innovative and unforgettable without being flashy. This film really gets at the essence of human behavior when the world's been irrevocably changed by some kind of crisis. Think 28 Days Later without zombies, but some sort of invisible, undefined, haunting presence, rendered with remarkable ambiguity.