Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 2004
By Zach Patterson Tuesday, 22 Jun 2010

2004 was a great year for indie rock, metal, and dance grooves. That’s seriously like 90% of this list. And I have absoluely no problem with that. Read on to check out what our top 20 albums for 2004 were…

Arcade Fire – Funeral

Why it’s on this list: The Arcade Fire took me by surprise with their debut album. At the time I was steadfastly not into most indie rock at the time, but somehow the Canadians grabbed me and wouldn’t let go (maybe it’s my natural attraction to Canadian musicians?). At its core it is simple and anthemic, but there are so many layers of instrumentation and subtle melody that expand on that base simplicity. The dreamy, layered sound combines with lyrics about various youthful troubles and conceptions to pull the listener into a fantasy world that is at times comforting and other times reaffirming of adolescent angst. Funeral is ambitious from beginning to end, but it works so well due to the underlying simplicity. – Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: Rebellion (Lies) Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) (link) Wake Up (link)

Chromelodeon – The Dark Sword of Chaos

Why it’s on this list: The Dark Sword of Chaos begins with a wall of sound, led by a haunting synth that sounds taken directly from Dawn of the Dead. I remember the first time hearing “Chaosium Sword” live before I knew anything about Chromeldeon, and thinking “Holy shit, this is amazing. I need to buy this right now.” I promptly went back to their merch table and bought everything there. I wasn’t the only one. DSOC is a true masterpiece, not just because it’s a classic cover album of the game Ninja Gaiden II, but just because it’s a deep, rewarding album by itself. Combining a mixture of leading synths, guitars, bass, drums and accordion, Chromelodeon created an album that was amazing even without knowing a damn thing about the game or its music. That is the kind of video game cover music I love. It captures the spirit of the original NES tunes (and at times even far surpasses the mood the original conveyed) and at the same time, if you just randomly were listening to it, the sound textures and depth of the music would most assuredly catch your ear. The album sounds like a mixture of Goblin-esque horror soundtrack tunes mixed with upbeat rock and chip sensibilities. It has great variety and manages to be atmospheric and creepy in one song (“Thunderstorm”) and a fast, uptempo rock tune in the next (“The Parasprinter”). It also has the feel of a “complete” album, as, even though it is short at around 30 mins, it takes you on a bit of a rollercoaster through the album and ends with a the perfect closer in “Ending”. This was easily one of the most popular albums of the year for the writers on our website, and likely my favorite single game cover album ever made. – Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Chaosium Sword

Chromelodeon – Chaosium Sword
Found at

The Parasprinter Ending

Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine

Why it’s on this list: God I love this album. The music is full of fury, intensity, sexuality, thrash, and funk. From the first song on the album, you get the idea pretty quick as it blasts you with (what sounds literally like) screaming bass and straight up thrashy metal drums as the high pitched hard edge punk vocals pop in. From there, DFA1979 takes you on an all-too-brief trip through one of the most fun albums of the year. This is such a sexed up beefy album that is just blistering with energy that played even better live, as they were also one of my favorite live shows of 2004. They came out and played pretty much nonstop for an hour with no breaks between songs, playing like men possessed and dripping head to toe in sweat. What’s even more impressive is that they achieve this sound and intensity with two people, Jesse F. Keeler on bass and occasional synths and Sebastien Grainger handling drums and vocals. I have a soft spot for duos that can make more with less, and you certainly never get the impression that the album lacks anything. But perhaps the greatest moment on the album is the fantastic closer, Sexy Results, which just kinda slows down the record for a greazy, let’s-fuck ending. It’s got a memorable thick heavy bass line laying down this dirty funk feel and the drums almost a dance beat as Grainger smuts up the place with his seductive lyrics and vocals. Give it a listen below. Awesome album. – Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Sexy Results Romantic Rights (link) Cold War (link)

The Fucking Am – Gold

Why it’s on this list: Take two amazing but opposite bands (Trans Am, The Fucking Champs) and have them create an EP together. What do you get? TransChamps’ Double Exposure, a decent but overall not mindbottling collaboration. Try again, this time name the band The Fucking Am and title the album GOLD. Now we’re cooking. While the first EP of this epic alliance was middling, the second try is a full success. Opening up is “Bad Leg”, a chugging, burly, and whimsical romp of Fucking Champs flavor. But next Trans Am gets a shot with “The Gauntlet”, a stern and mysterious bit of krautrock. The highlight of the album is without a doubt the incredibly titled “Doing Research For an Autobiography”. This song is worth the price of admission. It’s 60’s psychadelia and 70’s guitar heroics wrapped in good times and warm feelings. The song meanders through guitar and organ solos only to return to guitar licks that will put a smile on your face. You will weep when you hear the song ending but don’t fret, there is an encore. It’s tough to follow all that up but “Taking Liberties” gets its groove on with some sly 70s inspired glam rock with foxy and mischevious lyrics. The next song “Powerpoint” recalls the energy of the opener. Wrapping up the album is an incredible trilogy of songs I like to call “The Gomez Suite”. Each of the songs (“Acoustico Gomez”, “Elastico Gomez”, “Electrico Gomez”) recall similar themes but each is done in a unique way, creating a nearly 20 minute psychedelic musical journey. This collaboration more than makes up for the mediocre first attempt. It’s a perfect blend of metal, krautrock, and baked out acid washed psychedelia. – Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: Doing Research For An Autobiography

Hot Snakes – Audit In Progress

Why it’s on this list: I see and hear Hot Snakes wherever I go: quotes of their songs find their way into my daily routine and grunts of frustration have been replaced by “hep!”s. Once again the quadfecta of Reis, Froberg, Wood, and Rubalcabra have unleashed a masterpiece of blistering songs with infectious grooves, with lyrical content ranging from the mundane (“Think About Carbs”) to the absurd (“Hi-Lites”). This rare versatility embodies the genius behind Hot Snakes, but let it be known that I would never adore this band to such an obsessive extent were it not for the emotional connection I have formed with my friends who also enjoy their music. There are countless instances where we would sing along to the songs in car rides or toss out quips to each other at bars. The music surpasses itself in this regard, and Audit In Progress transformed over time, no longer just an album but a living memory. – Sherv Recommended Tracks: Plenty For All Reflex () Braintrust (link) Hi-Lites (link)

Infected Mushroom – IM The Supervisor

Why it’s on this list: This was the album that got me firmly hooked into electronica. I’ve listened to this album on repeat for hundreds upon hundreds of hours, as it backed my addictions to Unreal Tournament and Starcraft. It isn’t the most pure (or best) example of psytrance or goa trance, as Infected Mushroom have a rather distinct style, but there is still lots of squelching and that familiar, intoxicating build-up in every song that’s a hallmark of both genres. There are more legit vocals and less samples than previous IM albums, but they aren’t as distracting or out of place as they would seem, especially considering the lack of sci-fi movie samples crowding the mix. The album is a solid mix of a standard pounding 4/4 beat, spastic and danceable synths, on-and-off growling guitars, extremely deep bass and a smattering of odd, repetitive vocals. It takes Goan and Middle Eastern styles, throws a low pass filter on them and slots in some standard rhythm drums – all very good for high energy, psychedelic dancing or maybe some enthusiastic mind expansion. Simple, but appropriate. – Mike Callahan Recommended Tracks: Ratio Schmatio Horus The Chorus (link) Noon (link) Stretched (link)

Isis – Panopticon

Why it’s on this list: This is the third full-length release by Isis, a Boston-born band, and my friend Matsu was responsible for dragging me out to see them play at The Middle East in support of this album. I had tried listening to Isis before but at the time I just wasn’t ready for the wall-of-sound onslaught that they have perfected…and yet, something about this album pulled me in fiercely like a ship lost in a whirlpool. Given the 6 or so years I have had to enjoy their work since, Panopticon is (in my opinion) their most accessible album; the idiosyncratic Isis drone and coarse growl are ever-present, as are iterative melodic breakdowns. The album naming scheme adopted by the band conjures up vivid images in conjunction with their music, and Panopticon is no different. Perhaps it’s just the power of suggestion but in its entirety this album emits powerful waves of claustrophobia embedded in hopelessness with even the melodies sounding lonely and wistful. I actively recommend this album to anyone eager to delve into Isis’s catalog for the first time, but do so quickly for they are conducting their farewell tour at the time of this writing! – Sherv Recommended tracks: So Did We Wills Dissolve (link) Altered Course (link)

Jesu – Heart Ache

Why it’s on this list: I was a huge Godflesh fan at the time that Justin Broadrick closed that band down and started this new one. Whereas Godflesh was generally a two-piece with a rotating drummer/drum machine, Jesu is Justin working solo with session musicians on certain albums. However, this album was all Justin and it was the perfect release to show the softer side of Justin. Granted, it’s not an especially soft album as there are some rather heavy and crushing parts, but this EP with two 20-minute songs is the perfect indicator of where Justin had been and where he was headed with his music. Though Justin had written some long sprawling pieces under his Godflesh project before (Go Spread Your Wings comes to mind), none of those pieces flowed and changed nearly as well as Heart Ache or Ruined. It was also the perfect release for me at the time, as it was somehow the sound that I was specifically looking for to inspire my own work. It has in so many ways, not to mention that it inspired the length and flowing nature of my Dark Side of Zebes album under my Amaranthine Skies project. This is easily one of my all-time favorite albums. – Jason Vincion Recommended Tracks: Heart Ache (Part 1) Heart Ache (Part 2) (link) Ruined (Part 1) (link) Ruined (Part 2) (link)

Man Man – The Man In A Blue Turban With A Face

Why it’s on this list: The first time I (we, Zach and I) saw Man Man we were blown away. We had no idea who they were, their first album wasn’t out yet, and they were opening for The Advantage. Their stage show was a frenzy of instrument switching (many of them not really instruments) and an energetic display of bizarre musical abilites. Since that first fateful encounter both Zach and I have become big fans and have pulled in some others to join us. Their debut album is a great amalgamation of jazz and ragtime influence under an outlandish guise. The lyrics tell of tales of heartbreak, regret, and reminiscing of better times through intriguing metaphor and veiled story telling. At times fierce and unrelenting and other times somber and regretful, The Man In A Blue Turban With A Face is entertaining throughout. – Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: 10 lb. Moustache Against the Peruvian Monster (link)

Mark Lanegan Band – Bubblegum

Why it’s on this list: If you like even any single part of Mark Lanegan’s career, you’ll like Bubblegum. An amalgamation of all his prior projects, the album has at least a handful of songs for everybody. For Screaming Trees fans, there are the biggest burners Lanegan’s done solo in the tracks Sideways In Reverse and Driving Death Valley Blues. For those who liked his bluesy, mournful dirges of Field Songs, there’s When Your Number Isn’t Up, Bombed and Morning Glory Wine. Even Queens Of The Stone Age fans can find some Desert Sessions-esque crooners here when he collabs with PJ Harvey on Hit The City and Come To Me. I’m a fan of all three interpretations of Lanegan, and this album hits the spot. There are a few fillers, but you like any or all of these styles, you’ll appreciate how the album is nicely segmented between them. It isn’t anywhere toward a cohesive, steady theme, but it works in its own way. For either long time fans or relative newcomers, I can’t help myself but recommend Bubblegum as the definitive Mark Lanegan career album, as it seems to make a statement of his versatile life for him: “This is who I am and what I’ve done. Enjoy.” I certainly have. – Mike Callahan Recommended Tracks: Hit The City Wedding Dress (link) Sideways In Reverse (link) Morning Glory Wine (link)

Mastodon – Leviathan

Why it’s on this list: Concept and theme albums generally get a bad rap and for good reason. They never deliver the experience they intend. However, Mastodon are one of the few bands that excel. The followup to their Fire themed album Remission, Leviathan tops it in every way. Metal and ocean are married together and I can promise you they will never divorce. Drawing inspiration from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, each and every song paints the picture of Captain Ahab’s struggle against the white whale and one could argue that no other band could ever execute such a concept as well as Mastodon. “Blood and Thunder” explodes out of the gates screaming “I think that someone is trying to kill me” with it’s thrashing guitars and massive throat-shredding chorus. The lyrics conjure up perfect imagery of the battle that lies ahead of Ahab. It’s an explosion right out of the gates and there’s plenty more where that came from. “I Am Ahab” continues the pace while the following slow-burner track “Seabeast” marches about until it’s monstrous finish causes your head to just fall off. “Aqua Dementia” is just plain brutal and features Scott Kelly of Neurosis going hoarse on vocals. His presence was needed for such an insane and angular song. Leviathan is fast paced, well constructed and every song is just as good as the last. By the time finish the epic “Hearts Alive”, you will need calm breeze of “Joseph Merrick” just to catch your breath. This is elemental metal at it’s finest and probably the best work of Mastodon’s

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career. If you’ve still never listened to a single track from Mastodon, this is the perfect place to start. – Matt Gulbrandsen Recommended Tracks: Iron Tusk Blood and Thunder (link) Sea Beast (link) I Am Ahab (link) Aqua Dementia (link)

Minus The Bear – They Make Beer Commercials Like This

Why it’s on this list: Honestly, I think I had almost all the early Minus The Bear albums and EPs on my lists for top albums each year in the early 2000’s because they are all good, solid, catchy albums that beg for multiple listens. I’ve listened the hell out of all their stuff, as they are something of a personal favorite of mine, so I’ve tried to be objective about where they stand in context of the best albums of the year. So why then is one of their EP’s, one of the hardest standards to judge a band by, on the top albums of 2004? Well, quite simply, this perhaps best displays the band’s strengths and has no fat to cut. Occasionally a band can fool you with a great, short EP, and then release a full length where they just can’t really fill the time allotted, and that EP simply was a bit of a tease on a promise they couldn’t deliver. Not so here. Instead, Minus The Bear presents everything that makes them great. In 6 songs, they play their own brand of infectious poppy indie math rock and deliver some of their best songs to date, with the energetic dance-y opener “Fine + 2 Pts” to the intense drumming in the rockin’ “Dog Park” and the crazy noodling of “Pony Up!”. Their sound doesn’t quite fit in any easy description (i alway thought their music just feels quirky and has an easy listenability factor) but “They Make Beer Commercials Like This” is essentially the best introduction to the band, and if you haven’t listened before, be sure to check this out. – Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Dog Park Fine + 2 Pts (link)

Neurosis – The Eye of Every Storm

Why it’s on this list: When I first heard about this album, people were saying that Neurosis had gone soft. I was skeptical to their summations, as Neurosis had a tendency to get quiet at times, but never soft. Such is the case with The Eye of Every Storm, as it’s easily their most quiet album, but it’s still intense at times and definitely immersive all the way through. It fit the natural flow of Neurosis rather well, as they had built to the peak of their intensity on Through Silver in Blood, and had slowly been ebbing off of that and approaching their work with a more organic sound. The Eye of Every Storm finds Neurosis exploring the empty space a lot more and only kicking in the distortion when necessary. There is definitely a stronger focus on songwriting with this album, though Neurosis have never been slouches in that department. The songs on the whole are longer and are given a chance to stretch out and breathe more. It certainly is a calm and relaxing album for Neurosis, but to use the word “soft” is definitely a poor way to describe it. – Jason Vincion Recommended Tracks: Burn No River to Take Me Home (link) A Season in the Sky (link)

Pig Destroyer – Terrifyer

Why it’s on this list: Terrifyer was my introduction to Pig Destroyer, and the first time I put on the first disc, it was definitely

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a terrifying listen. I don’t think I had ever heard an album so aggressive and caustic before, and I’d been listening to death metal and grindcore for at least 10 years prior to first hearing the album. The songs are short and to the point, most of which don’t cross the 3 minute mark, let alone the 2 minute one. The vocals are full of venom and tell terrifying tales, and the lyrics paint gruesome pictures of life far beyond the everyday trials and tribulations of normal life. By the time the disc is over, I’m exhausted and disoriented in the best way possible. Then there’s the second disc! It’s a near-40 minute piece called Natasha that’s done in 5.1 stereo surround sound, and it’s a sprawling piece full of creepy ambience, haunting parts, and sections that hit like a sledgehammer. I don’t have the speakers to enjoy the full 5.1 experience, but I can tell that it’s a very full mix listening to it in stereo. Pig Destroyer have always been a favorite extreme artist of mine since first hearing them and they really outdid themselves with Terrifyer. – Jason Vincion Recommended Tracks: Gravedancer Towering Flesh (link) Natasha (Part 1) (link) Natasha (Part 2) (link) Natasha (Part 3) (link) Natasha (Part 4) (link)

Pinback – Summer In Abaddon

Why it’s on this list: While I certainly loved Blue Screen Life (see 2001), I know an equal amount of people who think the album is a bit of a forgettable snooze. Their followup, Summer In Abaddon, while in a similar vein to BSL, has much more of a pulse. This is obvious from the opener, “Non-Photo Blue”, which has a lively guitar riff and memorable hooks. It’s got a great chill groove that rocks in what has become a typical Pinback way. It definitely grows on you with multiple listens. But much like BSL, this is an album that really just steeps you in a certain “feel”. The music is introspective and has great atmosphere. Each song feels unique but they all flow together well. Additionally, the lyrics are tight and the wordplay and delivery through Smith and Crow is clever, quick, and catchy. This works well with the more upbeat approach, making the band a lot easier to listen to casually and not being a “when I need to clear my head or am feeling down” type of band. I think it also helps the the production is better, the playing is tighter, and the album is shorter. Songs don’t just blur into one another like BSL or their first album did, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. In short, it’s not a huge departure from their past work, but it’s a tighter, more focused record that is a great relaxing record to listen to. – Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Non-Photo Blue Soaked (link) Bloods On Fire (link)

Prince – Musicology

Why it’s on this list: Prince released Musicology in 2004 to the delight of fans and critics. Prior to this, Prince was fading in popularity and his albums were lacking direction. Musicology returned Prince to icon status and is one of his most complete albums. Combining funk, pop, and rock gives Musicology a classic sound at times that are reminiscent of Motown. Other songs illustrate Prince’s ability to weave together a retro sound with a modern sound to create a wonderful hybrid. Prince has also lyrically created a masterpiece. The lyrics are simple and powerful. Before this album, Prince started to overuse metaphors and his lyrics became too complicated. The lyrics on Musicology are cleaver yet understandable and simple yet deep. “A Million Days” is a beautiful love song, “Dear Mr. Man” is a cool protest song, and “Life ‘O’ the Party” is a fantastic dance song. Prince was able to recapture greatness, and without this album Prince’s legacy would have remained largely in the 1980’s and early 90’s. Luckily, Musicology allowed him to stay relevant and remind people how great of an artist he is. – Charlie Goodrich Recommended Tracks: Musicology

Prince – Musicology
Found at

A Million Days Life ‘O’ the Party Cinnamon Girl

Ratatat – Ratatat

Why it’s on this list: Ratatat’s sound is something that is just uniquely wonderful to listen to. The band’s duo combine guitar riffs and and an ocean of smooth synth that washes across you and drowns you in a groove that steps masterfully between genres. There’s a bit of electro-dance pop here, with many songs that are definite butt shakers, but it also has hip hop sensibilities, with head nodding tracks throughout the album. While it is all instrumental, one of the album’s greatest feats is the ability to convey emotion and drum up imagery by saying nothing at all. The interplay between the guitar and synth is perfect, as they are occasionally harmonic, and other times play a hard edged/groove dynamic. It’s just a great album to get lost in, as the songs seem to flow so well into each other without being repetitive, and the album just seems to saturate the listening space with a wall of pleasurable sounds. – Zach Patterson Recommended Tracks: Seventeen Years Breakaway

Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse

Why it’s on this list: Sonic Nurse still stands out in my mind as one of my favorite albums from the group. While a return to form for the group as whole, it nonetheless delved into the noise and other experimental no-wave shenanigans the group is known for, but the song writing and lyrics are powerful and more mature, almost painfully so at times. The albums’ penultimate track, “I Love You, Golden Blue” is, for me, a definitive moment and something that holds a special place in my heart. At the time I first heard it I was reaching the end of my year long study abroad in Kobe, Japan, which to this date remains in my mind as one of the most fruitful and joyous years of my life. As Kim Gordon whispers pensively: “Is it time to go? Is it a place I know?”, it feels like a part of me is being torn apart. Those lyrics may not be deep or particularly abstruse, but they impart a small bit of knowledge that’s easily forgotten throughout life: every good thing will one day come to an end, and the future is never certain. This interpretation of the album as a whole is undeniably more personal than anything latent within the album, but the music and my personal experiences have become inseparable, and isn’t that one of the great things about music? – Matt Gburek Recommended Tracks: I Love You, Golden Blue Dripping Dream (link)

Tortoise – It’s All Around You

Why it’s on this list: After the masterpiece album TNT and the incredible followup Standards, it seems that some fans felt that It’s All Around You was a bit of a let down. I never understood that sentiment as I enjoy it just as much as any Tortoise album. The album is much less organic sounding and gives off a sort of cold but comforting vibe, but that’s alright by me. It’s a different Tortoise album for a different mood. At times It’s All Around You overwelms me. After the upbeat opener (“It’s All Around You”) and the soothing “Lithium Stiffs”, the band turns to the heavy and brooding “Crest”. At first the song is dreamy with a droning bass and then lifts off into the upper atmosphere. The following song, “Stretch, You’re Alright”, turns to the rhythm section for a funky groove while the guitar and vibraphones work inquisitive melodies. These songs confuse me emotionally; they provide that reminiscent feeling of simultaneous joy and meloncholy. The album continues like this and at the end I am always left confused but wanting more. – Andrew Raub Recommended Tracks: Lithium Stiffs/Crest Salt The Skies (link) Salt The Skies (Live in Studio) (link)

Zombi – Cosmos

Why it’s on this list: I’ll never forget the first time I saw Zombi perform. Well, I’ve actually forgotten a lot, such as who the headlining band was (Red Sparowes?), but I could never forget how absurd I found their entire setup and sound to be initially. And yet, almost miraculously, my feelings made a swift 180 as the subtleties of their seemingly simple songs sank in. As definitive as it is as zombie movie music, Zombi’s Cosmos is a stellar aural treat that revived my appreciation for synths and simple repetitive melodies; every song title is the name of a constellation, further contributing to a lonely tone (a la zombie apocalypse). – Sherv Recommended Tracks: Orion Gemini (Part 1) (link) Gemini (Part 2) (link)

Autolux – Future Perfect – Assembled by Greg Edwards (Failure) and produced by T-Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Though) Autolux covers more ground than most power trios could ever hope to and create a. Their definitive 80’s to 90’s alt-rock sound pays homage to the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab though still sounding like something all its’ own. FP is a cloudy day album that can be played in any weather. – Matt Gu.
Listen: “Plantlife” link
Madvillain – Madvillainy – This is my most quoted hip hop album of all time and it’s easy to see why with so many fucking genius rhymes. The loose concept of old, 50’s television “villains” is an excellent backdrop for this hip hop funhouse and the lo-fi production and short song format works extremely well. Don’t touch this album like there’s AIDS on it, listen, and repeat indefinitely. – Matt Gb.
Listen: “Rhinestone Cowboy” link

One Response to “Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 2004”

  1. Mike Callahan Says:

    The Gomez Suite is the official soundtrack to the life of the Chihuahua of Good or Bad Omen.

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