Mmm … Scottish

Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand
Domino Records

The latest greatest rock import, or a continuation of the rock’n rehash revival tour? ‘Tis the question.

I really don’t know, but these three Scottish lads are makingwaves (turning heads, whatevs) in the States for familiar reasons -danceable, poppy, Marquee Moon-inspired rock with a slight tinge ofold-fashioned evil.

So what sets them apart from the rest? For one, they don’t suck.Oh, and did I mention they’re Scottish?

Kanye West
The College Dropout
Roc-A-Fella Records

Hip-hop has never approached the subject of dropping out ofcollege, or at least an MC has never devoted an entire album to theidea. Producer Kanye West has made one of the 2004’s top albums(hip-hop or otherwise) around the theme of finding success withouta college degree.

A combination of street cred (South Side Chicago), notoriety(Jay Z ties) and buttery rhymes has shot Kanye to the top of pop inthe last three months. Yeah, yeah. College has become joke? Degreesare just pieces of paper? Kanye West may be onto somethingthere.

The Magnetic Fields
Merge Records

Doesn’t it seem like The Magnetic Fields would have broken upafter releasing a 69 song, three-disc album? How do you follow thatup? That’s like Floyd trying to follow up The Wall. Can’t really doit.

So Stephin Merritt and Co. decided to write an entire album infirst person. All fourteen tracks begin with the word or letter”I,” hence the title of the album. i is the same oldupbeat-yet-melancholy pop music from 69 Love Songs, but with a moreorganic feel. It’s almost entirely acoustic, but you wouldn’tnotice if not for the absence of synthesizer so heavy on “LoveSongs.” And for that, i is the most beautiful album The MagneticFields have ever created.