2004: Jeff's Top Ten Favorite Albums

by Jeff Clutterbuck

This was the first year that I really realized that good music still exists, and didn't die out in 1976. It was a treat for me to discover new artists that impact me as much as my favorite older artists. It's ironic then, that the top spot in my list is occupied by one of the great minds of pop pretty much last seen 40 years ago. So, without further adieu, the list of my ten favorite albums to come out in 2004.


10. Maroon 5 -- Songs about Jane

Gee, the first album and I'm already off to a bad start. Technically Songs About Jane came out in 2003, but this year led to the band being recognized. It's a great, funky pop album with a bit of an edge to it. I have high expectations for their next CD.

9. Elton John -- Peachtree Road

This is an indulgence on my part. Elton John is one of my favorite artists, so I was naturally delighted when I heard Peachtree was going to be a country/gospel/rock type album reminiscent of his early 70's work. It met my expectations and fulfilled them, showing Elton John can still craft meaningful albums.
8. Trans Siberian Orchestra -- The Lost Christmas Eve
All good things must come to an end, including the TSO Christmas album trilogy. The Lost Christmas Eve is the final piece of the puzzle, and continues with the unique sound TSO has perfected over the years.

7. Josh Rouse -- 1972

This album is definitely one of the better pop/R&B efforts of the year. The title quite suitably expressed how this album sounds. Many elements of the '70s pop/disco era are present, which makes for a fun listen.

6. U2 -- How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

For starters, I don't like U2 very much. However, "Vertigo" made me go out and buy the CD. I can now see why people simply adore this band. There are moments on this album that rival the great singles of the Joshua Tree era.
5. Ben Folds -- Speed Graphic, Sunny 16, Super D
In the absence of a regular studio album, Folds released these three EP's over the course of late 2003 to this past summer. Combine all three, and you have another brilliant work from Folds, highlighting his gift for great melodies, outstanding piano playing, and smartass lyrics.

4. Wilco -- A Ghost Is Born

This is what I thought Coldplay was going to sound like. Dark, brooding, and trippy "Spiders, (Kidsmoke)" alone makes this album worth listening to. Couple this with Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, and you have two works most artists would give their left arm to have created.

3. Green Day -- American Idiot
Punk has never been my favorite genre, but after hearing American Idiot was a concept album, I had to see what the fuss was all about. It turns out this is a brilliant album. The harmonies are not what I expected from a punk album, clean and smooth, the riffs stay in your head for a long long time, and the story makes you think. Those are important qualities for concept albums to work.
2. Scissor Sisters -- Scissor Sisters
Any other year, this would have been #1. Elton John, The Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, there are times on this album when you could swear you were listening to them. A brilliant fusion of modern dance with '70s pop and disco.
1. Brian Wilson -- SMiLE
This isn't just the album of the year, it will be one of the best albums of the decade. SMiLE is simply genius, an American pop symphony. Brian Wilson has reaffirmed his status as one of the greatest musical minds alive. It's just a shame we had to wait 37 years to hear it.



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