Bjork is one of the few artists I feel perfectly comfortable sacrificing my masculinity to promote. She's solidified her spot on this exclusive list with her fifth post-Sugarcubes solo album, Medulla. One of the most progressive major-release albums to come out in some time, Medulla is constructed almost entirely of voices, ranging from Bjork's Icelandic wail to guest beat boxing. Whether the album profoundly moves you or just pisses you off, Bjork deserves credit for pushing things forward 20 years into her career.
Elvis Costello and the Attractions
You've seen the MoveOn.org and Rock Against Bush CDs at Tower, right? The rockers have good intentions, but the track lists aren't inspired. Let's look back to 1979 and Elvis Costello's third album, Armed Forces. Costello recognizes that any effective political album can't lift itself onto a soapbox. Instead, Elvis takes a larger look at the world. Armed Forces doesn't have the punk energy of My Aim Is True and This Year's Model. What it does have, though, is the lyrical wit and scope that makes the album relevant and fun, even in 2004.
Bastards of the Beat
I've always said that if a musician can write just one really great lyric, that's all I need to be a fan. Case in point: the Damnwells, who have been successfully feeding my desire for sappy lyrics with an album's worth of cleverness. All summer I was "Sleepsinging" and crying over a "Kiss Catastrophe," right along with the four Brooklyn boys. I even got my boss to pick up a copy, and though he actually referred to them as "that band you love, the Damnations," I know it won't be long before his love affair with Alex Dezen's vocals begins.