PRINT December 2004

Music: Best of 2004

Johanna Fateman


1. Kiki and Herb (Royal Albert Hall, London) Finally a venue grand enough to showcase the hallucinatory architecture of this duo’s masterful, genre-spanning medleys. Kiki and Herb—looking fantastic—delivered their coup de grâce (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”) to a confounded audience waiting patiently for headline act the Scissor Sisters.

2. White Magic, Through the Sun Door (Drag City) Mira Bilotte’s voice is beautiful and the production is trippy. Perfect songs for feeling sad—or spending the night alone in a haunted house.

3. Tracy & the Plastics, Culture for Pigeon (Troubleman Unlimited) Those already addicted to Wynne Greenwood’s cable-access, Candyland-style feminist audio/video projects will welcome the stepped-up production values of this recording, while new listeners will find the vocal intimacy of Culture for Pigeon the perfect introduction to her conceptual world.

4. Lesbians on Ecstasy (Art in General, New York) To celebrate the release of feminist art journal LTTR’s third issue, the charismatic, Montreal-based LoE performed their DIY techno reworkings of classic tunes by mainstream lesbian artists such as k.d. lang and Tracy Chapman to throngs of cultural producers in this sweaty nonprofit venue. Their debut album is out now on Alien8 Recordings.

5. Hot Chip, Coming On Strong (Moshi Moshi Records) A couple songs on this record sound like lost Wham! demos, but with shaky, deadpan vocals and rich, analog-emulating synths. A five-keyboard, front-of-stage lineup makes their live shows all the more impressive.

6. Gravy Train!!!!, Hello Doctor (Kill Rock Stars) The pansexually hedonistic electro–punk rockism of Gravy Train!!!! became super meaningful to me the night I could hear echoes of their chaotic set while I shook hands with Gloria Steinem during a lunar eclipse.

7. Les Georges Leningrad, Sur les traces de Black Eskimo (Alien8 Recordings) Les Georges’s noisy grooves have been refined since they debuted their pirate/caveman art rock with Deux Hot Dogs Moutarde Chou. This record is catchier and more danceable but still menacing and cool.

8. Usher (Saturday Night Live) The idiosyncrasy of Usher’s ultrapop virtuosity won me over during his solo dance break in Yeah, performed with Ludacris on SNL. It can’t be easy to shine within such a totally sanitized format.

9. Missy Elliott’s celebrity playlist (Apple iTunes Store) I’m into celebrity playlists in general as a newly evolving form of public speech, but I have to admit Missy’s is one of the few totally listenable ones available on iTunes. A mix of old school hip-hop and contemporary rap that presents, in her words, “some of the hottest songs on the sickest beats ever. Holla!!!”

10. E.S.G. (Metropolis, Montreal) With an all-female lineup spanning two generations, E.S.G. is an enduring live phenomenon. When the shaker came in loud, everybody started screaming. Legendary!

Johanna Fateman is a member of the New York–based feminist electronic punk band Le Tigre. Their new album, This Island, is out now on Strummer/Universal.