Top 20 Of 2004
I really do not want 2004 to end. The second that ball drops and everyone
throws confetti in air, kisses some random stranger, or bangs a few pots and
pans I hit that age gap were all the exuberant categories end. The 'real'
world is only a few feet away, in the coming year I will have a college
degree under my belt, yipes! The current calendar year has been a
phenomenal one for myself personally and for music. Punknews.org officially
invited me to their staff as a reviewer and thanks to Pittpunk.com I have
developed amazing friendships everywhere in my fair city. Musically there
have been a plethora of releases from big names and even more surprising
records coming from every angle possible. Of course there have been several
unfortunate events involving a recent surge of unfortunate deaths and
several other bands being robbed or breaking down. Luckily outside of trite
quarrels we belong to a supportive scene that has witnessed a large growth
during the year and can see past the terrible events and look forward to
more lucrative opportunities.
Moving right along.I've shifted the numbers so much on the following list
that at this point I'm contemplating just leaving them unranked, but that's
not really any fun. Not to mention it'll give a handful of you something to
bicker about in the comments.
#20. Ben Kweller - On My Way
ATO/RCA (Sony BMG)
On your way to the top you are Mr. Kweller! Quite a bit of pressure on this
young man for his sophomore release and he passed with flying colors.
#19. Matt Pond PA - Emblems
I'm bewildered that this isn't all over the radio and on every kid's
#18. Elliot Smith - From A Basement On The Hill
Anti- Records (Epitaph)
It's so unfortunate that such a talented musician has left us so early.
#17. Handsome Boy Modeling School - White People
Atlantic Records (WMG)
Prince Paul and Dan the Automator return for another stellar album filled
with even more surprising cameos. A hip-hop record featuring the likes of
Mike Patton, Del, The Mars Volta, Franz Ferdinand, De La Sol, Linkin Park,
Pharrell Williams, John Oates (yes, THAT John Oates), Tim Meadows, Father
Guido Sarducci, and many more. I might be the only person in the world to
enjoy this more than .So How's Your Girl?
#16. Audio Karate - Lady Melody
Kung Fu Records
Biggest improvement of the year by far, their jump from the typical pop-punk
Space Camp to this full fledged rocker is unbelievable!
#15. Green Day - American Idiot
Reprise Records (WMG)
Taking punk rock to the level of a "rock opera" and not missing a beat.
This is not your normal Green Day, but it's just as good!
#14. Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! - Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!
There's a reason this band has to exclamation points in their name. Coupled
with this poppy, dancey, and ultimately fun record is one extraordinary live
#13. Arcade Fire - Funeral
There's so much hype surrounding this band at the moment, but this album
truly deserves every bit it's receiving. Some find the vocalist's voice to
be a weak point, but I do not hear that at all, just perfect indie rock.
#12. Voice In The Wire - Signals in Transmission
The talk all around Pittsburgh is of the Steelers and Ben Roethilisberger,
but these guys deserve just as much attention.
#11. Big D & the Kids Table - How It Goes
2004 lacked a lot of fun records, thankfully ska is still lingering around
and the spirit is as full as ever in the hearts of Big D.
#10. Hot Water Music - The New What Next
Maybe a little too polished for a Hot Water Music record, but it just goes
to prove how incredible this band is.
#9. Blood Brothers - Crimes
V2 Music (Sony BMG)
Less hardcore just as it's becoming the 'in' thing and more sasscore
(copyright Scott Hiesel) and the Bros. walk away with their most diverse and
solid release ever.
#8. Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Epic (Sony BMG)
Over hyped, commercialized, and it gets better with every listen!
#7. Planes Mistaken For Stars - Up In Them Guts
No Idea Records
Metalcore or whatever is the new emo for 2004. PMFS look more metal than Dio
and this rocks more than any other release this year.
#6. Dillinger Escape Plan - Miss Machine
Perhaps one of the most anticipated records of the year delivers in full and
#5. Jimmy Eat World - Futures
Interscope Records (UMG)
Throw out the acclaimed Mark Trombino and record one of the most
well-rounded records of your career. hmmph.
#4. Ted Leo / Pharmacists - Shake the Sheets
This may not be considered the best album from Ted Leo and his band of RX,
however it is defiantly their strongest showing to date. The band's unique
blend of genres seems to have been mastered while Ted Leo's play on words is
simple, but impeccable.
#3. Descendents - Cool To Be You
Fat Wreck Chords
Melodic punk rock at its finest. Welcome back!
#2. A Wilhelm Scream - Mute Print
With a new name this band came soaring out of the gates and produced an
amazing effort in terms melodic punk rock. Almost knocking Bad Religion off
their rocker, with eleven tracks that mix the best of now with early
nineties skate punk.
#1. Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First
Can anything slow this juggernaut down? Graffin and Gurewitz are hands down
the greatest punk rock songwriters. Ever.
Picking 20 albums out of a few hundred is hard enough, but trying to pick 20
songs out of a thousand or so is damn near impossible! Hopefully these 30 of
my favorite tunes of the year help summarize just how much quality music
we've been blessed with.
- Rise Against - State Of The Union
- A Wilhelm Scream - The Rip
- Voice In The
Wire - Ash Black
- None More Black - Oh, There's Legwork
Water Music - All Heads Down
- The Falcon - Huffing The Proverbial Line Off The Proverbial Dong Or The
Blood & The Frog
- Bad Religion - Let Them Eat War
- Audio Karate - Gypsyqueen
- Gamits - Dotted Lines
- Day - Holiday
- Descendents -
Nothing With You
- Strung Out - Her Name in Blood
- Lawrence Arms - Necrotism: Decanting The Insalubrious (Cyborg Midnight)
- Planes Mistaken For Stars - Pigs
- Dillinger Escape Plan - Highway Robbery
- Zutons - You Will You Won't
- Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Me and Mia
- Modest Mouse - Bury Me With It
- Blood Brothers - Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck
- Head Automatica - Please Please Please (Young Hollywood)
- Paris, Texas - Hip Replacement
- Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! - In Green
- Matt Pond PA - Summer (Butcher Two)
- Jimmy Eat World - The World You Love
- Limbeck - Perfect Teeth
- Ben Kweller - Hospital Bed
- Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
- Motion City Soundtrack - When You're Around
- Say Anything - Admit It!!!
- Handsome Boy Modeling School - A Day In The Life (Featuring RZA & The
Mars Volta & AG)
Top 3 DVDs:
Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album) [Deluxe Edition]
I was leery of this at first, figuring it would ruin a perfectly good thing.
I was well off as somehow a perfect record got even better with the beefed
up songs, mound of extras, and beautiful liner notes. Weezer also deserves
props for the DVD they released this year. If the "Mykle & Carli" scene
doesn't get to you, then you have no heart.
#3. Anti-Flag - Death of A Nation
Blah blah blah blah blah blah. The amount of material on this DVD should be
a standard of 2005.
Video Capture Device: Treasures From The Vault 1991-2002
Coupling the reissue of the Blue Album Weezer released a complete DVD
of music videos, live footage, studio footage, and several other little
tidbits of media that provide over three hours of entertainment! If the
"Mykle & Carli" scene doesn't get to you, then you have no heart.
Top 3 EPs
#1. Against Me! - We're Never Going Home
Fat Wreck Chords
This isn't quite the traditional DVD we're used to of either a show or a
mixture of live material and videos. It's a tour documentary almost that
follows the Gainesville band around the U.S. as labels fight for their
rights. Suspenseful, hilarious, and even comes with a drinking game!
#3. Mates Of State - All Day
Although its just a short EP there's a lot of growth between the king and
queen of cute here. This release makes me really happy and puts an urge in
my feet to dance!
#2. The Falcon - God Don't Make No Trash Or Up Your Ass With Broken Glass
There's more Chicago all-stars in this band than the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls,
and Bears combined! Fast and gritty punk done right.
#1. None More Black - Load & Loathing
File Under Black without the terrible production. Yes it depresses me
that this still isn't Kid Dynamite, but I think I'm ready to accept the fact
and get over it. I think this band has finally figured out who they are and
I'll be eagerly awaiting their next full length.
Motion City Soundtrack / Limbeck - Split 7"
Blue Collar Distro
I really wanted to give this to the Alkaline Trio and One Man Army but I
can't get over how incredible Limbeck's cover of "Perfect Teeth" is, I may
prefer it over the original! On the other side of this rare 7", Motion City
Soundtrack represents what music is to me, fun, fun, fun and something to
dance to as well.
Rise Against - Siren Song of the Counter Culture
The album starts off hard, loud, and powerful, but after that it's all
The Mr. T Experience - Yesterday Rules
This is not a bad record at all, but I wanted less country-rock and more top
The Vandals - Hollywood Potato Chip
Kung Fu Records
Throw in the towel, please.
The Faint - Wet From Birth
Saddle Creek Records
Again, not that this is a terrible album; I just expected so much more from
the band after a three year hiatus.
Best Records Of 2003 I Didn't Hear Until 2004
Various Artists - Rock Against Bush Vol. 1
Fat Wreck Chords
Although the events of November 2nd did not go as many of us had planned and
tried so hard to prevent this collection of political fused songs poses as a
milestone to modern punk -- A throw back to the old days when rebellion
against the government filled every 'punk' album. Plus that None More Black
Anticipations For 2004
The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic
This is one of my top 5 favorite records of the year; unfortunately it came
out during the last one. We lost three amazing songwriters when this band
left us in an awful car accident.
This will be a tough year to top, but the future looks bright with albums
ready to come from Alkaline Trio, Against Me!, Strike Anywhere, Agnostic
Front, Comeback Kid, Gatsby's American Dream, Choke, Big Wig, Paint It
Black, Gratitude, Inspection 12, Millencolin, Propagandhi, Reel Big Fish,
Rocket Summer, Aquabats, Motion City Soundtrack, Brand New, and plenty more.