Best of 2004: #9 -- Belleville Demos 2004
On the heels of their first two fantastic full-lengths, Belleville recorded and then scrapped what would have been their third album, due to concerns that their change in sound might be too jarring for their devoted No Depression fanbase. Thankfully, they didn't erase the master tapes, because Demos 2004 is an absolutely magnificent pop gem. Truth be told, their change in sound is really more subtle than jarring.
Belleville are once again led by the immensely-talented Mark Caputo, who not only shares the same musical sensibility as Joe Pernice, but has an eerily similar voice. In many ways, the transition from their previous album to Demos 2004 is also similar to the evolution from Pernice's early work with the Scud Mountain Boys to the gorgeous pop of last year's Pernice Brothers album Yours, Mine & Ours. But make no mistake about it -- Caputo isn't merely a Pernice clone, he's definitely his own man with his own superb band. Even though Demos 2004 may never be released, I can only hope Belleville's official third album is even half this good whenever it finally sees the light of day.