Top 20 of 2004

Top 20 of 2004: greg0rb's Picksgreg0rb's Picks (2004)
staff picks

Reviewer Rating: 5

Contributed by: greg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

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Greg here. I'm the staff reviewer who gets in fewer reviews because I spend way too much damn time on them, even if I hate the album. Anyway, I had a good year in 2004- I finished my first year as a classroom music teacher, then after a summer off, began my second year, which has been much easier. Though much of my daytime listening was little-kid music, there was plenty of time for me to keep up with all the great stuff in the world of underground rock.

2004 was year full of releases from old favorites of mine (Jimmy Eat World, Mock Orange, Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse, They Might Be Giants, Green Day) and newbies who are destined to become old favorites (The Killers, Death From Above 1979, Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!). It seemed that not a week went by that I didn't purchase a CD, but I'm sure that did happen. Also of note this year was that releases took on a more political spin than they ever have since most of us have been old enough to be aware of politics. Biggies were Bad Religion, Rock Against Bush 1 & 2 and some others, and even unlikely participants like Green Day and the Descendents dabbled in political messages due to the election, and although it did not go the way many of the artists had hoped, at least we were left with a lot of great songs and records.

2004 also brought the return of some great bands that resulted in amazing concerts. Braid and The Pixies both met my extremely high expectations, and equally as important for me was The Blue Meanies, especially since they are returning for good it seems. Now onto my list, which I also spent waaaaay too much time on.

My Top Twenty Albums of 2004

#20. Death From Above 1979 - You're a Woman, I'm a Machine
Last Gang Records (Canada) / Vice Records (US)
This drum & bass duo just squeezed onto my radar in the last month and managed to find their way onto my list in the last days of the year. The amount of noise created by just two people is astounding. It's aggressive and dancey, harsh yet somehow catchy. It's a win-win.
#19. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake the Sheets
Lookout! Records
We all know the moniker this guy has acquired around this website, and I finally got a taste. All the songs are solid, smart punk rock, no bones about it.
#18. Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous
Brute/Beaute Records
No, I have not really heard their older stuff so I don't give a damn if this is different. What I hear is a great blend of indie rock, folk, alt-country and pop.
#17. Q and Not U - Power
Dischord Records
They are dancier and synthier than ever and I love it. Falsetto rules, too.
#16. Magnetic Fields -i
This was my introduction to the underground songwriting genius that is Stephen Merritt, and he lives up to the title almost. I'd call this synth-less offering "classical-indie-pop", full off strings and acoustic guitar, with every song being like nothing you've heard this year and great on the ears.
#15. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Lyre of Orpheus / Abattoir Blues
Anti- Records (Epitaph)
What an introduction to a legend for me. Actually two albums meant to be listened to separately, they are different stylistically but both strong and interesting indeed. This was a bit of a change of pace for my listening, and much appreciated. [review]
#14. Travis Morrison - Travistan
Barsuk Records
Pitchfork be damned! The former D-Plan wonder now has no one to hold him back and he can do whatever the hell he wants. Maybe that makes for an errant song or two, but I love them as well. This man can do no wrong.
#13. Ben Kweller - On My Way
Although it didn't fully live up to my expectations after his debut Sha Sha, it is still a damn good rock/alt-country record and I expect great things from this guy forever and ever.
#12. The Hives - Tyrannosaurus Hives
Interscope Records (UMG)
Love these Swedes. A little new wave this time around, but still enough of their kickass rock to deny them trend-rider status. At least when they do go new wave, they pick the right band to copy: Devo.
#11. Jimmy Eat World -Futures
Interscope Records (UMG)
We all know now that this is the best mix between the rock of Static Prevails and the beauty of Clarity.
#10. The Killers - Hot Fuss
Island Records (UMG)
I can't help liking this. New Order meets the Cure, these 80's revivers were only kids in the 80's like most of us, but damn they sure nailed it anyway.
#9. Elliott Smith - From a Basement on a Hill
Anti‚?? Records (Epitaph)
After reading that article in SPIN about how his former-abusive stepfather may have had something to do with the editing of the tracklisting, I am left wondering just how great this album could have been had Smith completed his vision. It is still great and leaves his discography nearly flawless, but this was supposed to be his White Album, a double disc full of organic goodness. Nevertheless, the album is a worthy swan song for one of the greatest singer/songwriters of our generation.
#8. The Blood Brothers - Crimes
V2 Music (Sony BMG)
If you like them, you'll like this album, if you're too hip to like hip bands then you won't like it. As I see it, they stayed as obnoxious as they like to be, yet made it more accessible and listenable through the use of grooves. Fantastic!
#7. Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! - Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!
Polyvinyl Records
Some of the most unique pop songwriting I have ever heard. Some tracks are great pop on the surface and are more traditional songs, while others use vocal ostinatos and rounds not typically found in pop music. The album in its entirety is a tough, almost frustrating listen at first, but well worth the effort. It will change the way you listen to pop rock.
#6. Ryan's Hope - Trials of Recession
Double Zero
Despite being marred by production issues, the songwriting on this disc is consistently outstanding. Incredibly catchy yet powerful and with melodies metalheads will be crooning to and breakdowns the rest of us can't help but headbang to. [review]
#5. The Mountain Goats - We All Shall Be Healed
4AD (Beggars Group)
Darnielle is still doing the hi-fi thing with a real studio and all that, but the songs are still dead-on awesome and I do enjoy hearing him rock out now and then with drums. You either love The Mountain Goats or you have never heard them, really.
#4. Green Day -American Idiot
Reprise Records (WMG)
What more could really be said about this album? I'll just say that it's great to see them still trying new things after all these years. I loved Warning and although this backsteps a little sound-wise, it is still a fresh concept for them, call it a rock opera or not.
#3. Colossal - Welcome the Problems
Asian Man Records
Jazzy yet rockin', intricate yet powerful, and full of baritone vocals and searing trumpet, the Chicago foursome leaves their few comparisons in the dust with this album. [review]
#2. Mock Orange - Mind is Not Brain
This band deserves to be way bigger than they are for how long they've been making great records, each with a logical evolution from one to the next. This is by far their best, a Northwest sound with an Indiana attitude. [review]
#1. Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Epic (Sony BMG)
Sure, every frat boy in America can sing the first verse to "Float On" but that doesn't change the fact that this hard working band has been producing great music for a decade and has now released their most concise and consistent record yet. They did not compromise their sound at all to attain this recent success; one listen to "Bury Me With It" or "This Devil's Workday" will prove that. Congrats, fellas.
Top Five EPs of 2004
#5. Vaux - Plague Music
Equal Vision Records
More of the three-guitar onslaught and entertaining song titles. Bring on the next full length.
#4. The Whirlwind Heat - Flamingo Honey
Dim Mak
A bizarre EP, the first ten song EP I've ever encountered, but which also contains some of the most unique noise I've heard. From dance-pop to hardcore to hip-hop this band dabbles in everything, but just for minute. [review]
#3. Mates of State - All Day
Slightly less sugary but still sweet. Growth can be seen especially on the ballad "Drop the Anchor", and "Goods [All in Your Head]" is like three awesome songs linked together. Keep em' comin' you two!
#2. Rescue - Flamingo Minutes
How did we get two of the top five EPs with "Flamingo" in the title? Call this a mini-LP instead of an EP if you will, all I know is it's a short and fantastic batch of songs that showed me that Rescue can be tech andlistenable. [review]
#1. Cougars - Manhandler
Thick Records
‚??This band is the whole reason I am doing an EP list- gotta spread their name around as much as possible. Kick-your-ass gritty rock with horns and keys, a wall of sound for sure. The only downside is that the production is not as strong as Nice, Nice but the songs more than make up for it.
Five Biggest Disappointments of 2004

Note that these are not albums I hate, after all I shelled out cash to get them. They were just not up to my expectations.

#5. They Might Be Giants - The Spine
Where do you go after being the best quirk-rock band in the world for two decades? I guess you just go for a straight-up rock album. I still consider these guys my favorite band of all time (I guess I'm a nerd), but this album just doesn't stand up to even their previous album, 2001's Mink Car (not counting 2002's children's album No!.) I still like The Spine, but probably just cuz I love them so much.
#4. Piebald -All Eyes, All Ears, All the Time
SideOneDummy Records
I like this album, I do. But just in coming off of We Are the Only Friends that We Have this one just doesn't have the same addictiveness. Can't say they didn't try though.
#3. Taking Back Sunday - Where You Want to Be
Victory Records
I will admit I loved their first album upon first listen, and I still like it. Their hardcore fans say their sound hasn't changed, but I think it has, and honestly the hype just brings it down more.
#2. Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First
Epitaph Records
Process was an amazing comeback, and now I've forgotten about them again. Not that it's that much weaker of an album than the previous, it's just‚?¶ the same.
#1. Midtown - Forget What You Know
Columbia Records (Sony BMG)
After reading that AP interview with them prior to the release, I was expecting so much; a return to their rawer, punker roots and no more of that over-produced stuff. Well it is raw a little I guess, but it just sounds like they were trying way too hard to be depressing.
Albums I Ignored in 2004
Sparta - Porcelain
Geffen (UMG)
It must be better than Wiretap Scars, but I don't care enough to find out.
Interpol - Antics
Hype, hype, hype. I've heard this album was disappointing even to fans, but I haven't even heard more than half the album. I was not impressed; they are not that special, people!
Muse - Absolution
Yeah maybe they sound like "Radiohead with balls" or whatever, but I really don't see what the fuss is all about. This album came out in 2003 anyway.
Best Record of 2003 That I Didn't Hear Until 2004
Coheed and Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth:3
Equal Vision Records
I took a category Scott invented last year and gave the award to a band he hates. It was not intentional, I swear! I love this album and damn those of you who don't.
Most Anticipated Records of 2005

Alkaline Trio, Murder By Death, Coheed & Cambria, Bright Eyes, Against Me, Death Cab for Cutie, Thursday, Motion City Soundtrack, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Thrice, Suicide Machines and Ryan's Hope.

2004 Mixtape Mix Tape
  1. The Killers - On Top
  2. Modest Mouse - The View
  3. Travis Morrison - Born in ‚??72
  4. Of Montreal - Disconnect the Dots
    Try to be in a bad mood with the song on, I dare you.
  5. Franz Ferdinand - Darts of Pleasure
    If every song were as good as this and "Take Me Out" this would be on my list for sure.
  6. Q and Not U - Wonderful People
  7. !!! ‚?? Shit, Sheisse, Merde Pt 1
    Shaking your ass is even more fun while cursing in three languages.
  8. The Mountain Goats - Pigs that Ran Straightaway into the Water, Triumph Of
  9. Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes
  10. Ben Kweller - My Apartment
  11. Iron & Wine - Naked as We Came
    A beautiful song off a close runner-up.
  12. Mock Orange - Payroll
  13. Colossal - I'll Look at You When the Dying Starts
  1. Death from Above 1979 - Blood on Our Hands
  2. Thermals - A Stare Like Yours
    Extremely addictive song!
  3. Cougars - Phil's Collins
  4. Descendants ‚?? ‚??Merican
    Catchy-as-hell tune from a decent returning album.
  5. Ryan's Hope- In a Sea
  6. Blood Brothers - Love Rhymes with Hideous Car Wreck
  7. Walking Concert ‚?? Run to Be Born
    Great song off what I could have been the next Rival Schools album.
  8. They Might Be Giants ‚?? Experimental Film
  9. William Shatner ‚?? Common People
  10. Sondre Lerche ‚?? Two Way Monologue
  11. Hidden Cameras ‚?? I Believe in the Good of Life
  12. Nick Cave - Get Ready for Love


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (January 7, 2005)

Bad Religions album was an absolute Top3 record for this still very young century!

Anonymous (January 7, 2005)

That Bad Religions latest album is now considered a let down is pretty PATHETIC! But like someone has said before, punk fans/website opinions have changed quite a bit in the last 5 years.

Anonymous (January 7, 2005)

The Used is totally screamo emo.

Taking Back Sunday is the model of screamo emo.

Coheed and Cambria is just screamo.

Interpol and The Hives are part of this try to look like the Beatles and play music with no melody trend.

Modest Mouse..........they are just plain crap. I don't even know what to call them.

Anonymous (January 3, 2005)

You're a douchebag.

muskawo_ (January 3, 2005)

Crap Bands:

Modest Mouse
Taking Back Sunday
The Hives
Coheed and Cambria
The Used

These types of bands have hijacked the punk rock scene as I knew it. How do fans of Lagwagon, No Use, BR, PW etc....all of a sudden start liking this screamo emo crap.

too bad none of those bands are screamo or emo.

Anonymous (January 3, 2005)

Crap Bands:

Modest Mouse
Taking Back Sunday
The Hives
Coheed and Cambria
The Used

These types of bands have hijacked the punk rock scene as I knew it. How do fans of Lagwagon, No Use, BR, PW etc....all of a sudden start liking this screamo emo crap.

muskawo_ (January 3, 2005)

I agree with you about piebald and TMBG. I loved "we are the only friends..." so much, I used to listen to it all the way through, which I can't do very often with albums. I can't get into "all ears.." at all. Also, I listen to the spine a lot as background music in my room.. and it's a cool album... but definately not their best. I think I liked that ep they bought out before the album... "am I awake" is a rad song.

Oh yeah, I only got into coheed this year after I burnt their cd for free from the library. I didn't listen to them earlier cause they are such a hyped up band (to me, anyway) and I heard one song year ago and didn't liek the singer's voice so I dismissed it. But I really love them now. I listen to the album on the walk to work on my md all the time now. I know it's poppy prog nerd crap to a lot of people but it's catchy and good to listen to... and sometimes thats all that should matter.

Marty_Mcfly (January 3, 2005)

I know exactly what you're saying on the comment about Midtown. I read that article and after listening to the album I was very let down. It is almost the same as the last album but a little more produced. A step back.

Anonymous (January 2, 2005)

hey greg, good call on the ryan's hope cd! they are by far my fav chicago band in years. i hope that next year they make everone list again!

greg0rb (January 2, 2005)

undergroundscene is exactly right. If it were 97 or 98 and I had made list it would probably be NOFX, Rancid, Lagwagon and Strung Out at the top. But not now.

Also, Chinatown, I dont understand why you hate my list. I saw your list posted on adam's, and I like a lot of your shit...you got colossal, iron and wine, of montreal... i think maybe you just havent heard some of this stuff and you should check it out.

theundergroundscene (January 2, 2005)

Good fucking call on the Midtown. People praise that shitfest like it's the second coming of God.

It's so terrible.

And to the poster a few down, all of those skatepunk bands have released piss-poor albums as of late. If I posted a "most disappointing" list, Bad Religion, NOFX, Strung Out, and AFI would all be on it.

Anonymous (January 2, 2005)

I love this website but the people who call themselves "staff" that are writing these reviews are absoultely perplexing me.

I thought this was called PUNKnews.org.

What happened to the good old days(like five years ago), when bands like Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid and AFI were at the top of every punk rock fan's list.

sethcohen (January 2, 2005)

that rilo kiley sucks. you should take the time to listen to the older ones it will change your mind.


I don't think this is their best album either, but it does not suck in any way, shape, or form

Anonymous (January 1, 2005)

Great List,

but Modest Mouse is far from #1, hell it's not even close to as good as their last two releases.

earth23 (January 1, 2005)

TMBG's "The Spine" did suck a huge amount of ass (they're my fav all time band as well). But their transition to more of a rock style has me remembering the album "John Henry" which was a total shock after the classic albums "Flood" and "Apollo 18".

nepaindiepunk (January 1, 2005)

kudos for listing william shatner's 'common people'

Anonymous (January 1, 2005)

not bad. That jimmy eat world album is hideous though. Not up to their standards at all.

vocalyouth (January 1, 2005)

I agree with you about Piebald.

Anonymous (January 1, 2005)

Hooray, a list I can mostly agree with. Jesse can eat some shit.

bemused (December 31, 2004)

This list is the "most like mine" out of the ten. Great list man


joeg (December 31, 2004)

hmm, no social distortion yet in the last few lists i've read. and god dammit i will take it any day over blood brothers or the killers.

burntorangepeel (December 31, 2004)

Best cover album of the year:

The Late Great Daniel Johnston

Best songs of they year:
True Love Will Find You in the End - Beck (from the above album)
Love Everybody; Shreds of Boa - Presidents of the United States
Tack - The Descendents
End of the World - The Living End

Best Live Act -
#1 - New Blood Revival.
With Operation-Ivy-type speed, this band knocked my socks off. I'd never heard of them before I saw them, but they were incredibly fun, with talent to back it.
Honorable mentions:
Tsunami Bomb, The Living End, The Briefs.

bizzlebrizzle (December 31, 2004)

10.)Wrangler Brutes - Zulu
9.)Sex Positions - Self-Titled
8.)The Gamits - Antidote
7.)Pulley - Matters
6.)Rise Against - Siren Song Of The Counterculture
5.)Still Crossed - Love and Betrayl
4.)Minus The Bear - They Make Beer Commericals Like This
3.)Only Crime - To The Nines
2.)Dillinger Escape Plan - Miss Machine
1.)Strung Out - Exile In Oblivion

My most anticipated for next year:

Paint It Black
Kill Your Idols
7 Seconds
The Loved Ones
New Mexican Disaster Squad

Anonymous (December 31, 2004)

I sort of agree. It's kind of sad that the worst list comes from a music teacher.


bizzlebrizzle (December 31, 2004)

So far this is the worst list out of the bunch.

burntorangepeel (December 31, 2004)

My top ten:

10. Eminem - Encore (not necessarily punk, but oh well, it's still a good listen)
9. Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards - Viking
8. Tiger Army - III: Ghost Tigers Rise
7. Flogging Molly - Within a Mile of Home
6. Presidents of the United States of America - Love Everybody
5. Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First
4. The Vandals - Hollywood Potato Chip (Best Album Title though)
3. Green Day - American Idiot
2. The Living End - Modern ARTillery


1. Descendents - Cool to Be You (This year, I easily listened to this album more than anything else I own. Fantastic.)

Most anticipated albums of 2005: Beck, Sage Francis, AFI, and Transplants.

Anonymous (December 31, 2004)

modest mouse sucks dick.

good list though, better than HEIN. fucking foreigner.

Inspection12e (December 31, 2004)

that rilo kiley sucks. you should take the time to listen to the older ones it will change your mind.


Crookedsuperhero (December 31, 2004)

Colossal are so good.

Anonymous (December 31, 2004)

Well this is the exact opposite of jesse's picks. Gotta say I like his more

sciulli (December 31, 2004)

I agree with the Modest Mouse #1 nod, and the high rankings for Green Day and Colossal.

Anonymous (December 31, 2004)

Second, sorry.


johnnydanger (December 31, 2004)

sick, another indie rock lamer

o for 2 on top 20 lists

Anonymous (December 31, 2004)

Nice list.


Anonymous (December 31, 2004)

Modest Mouse as #1? Wow, I absolutely hate that album; I had to sell it to a used record store because its glossiness was hurting my eyes every time I flipped through my CD wallet to get to an album. Anyway, good list. More concise than Jesse's, and a lot more easy on the eyes too.


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