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PopMatters Picks: The Best Music of 2004

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100.  What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.

BEST MUSIC OF 2004  Intro
by PopMatters Music Critics forward to 100 - 91

TOP 100 ALBUMS
100 - 91 > 90 - 81 >
80 - 71 > 70 - 61 >
60 - 51 > 50 - 41 >
40 - 31 > 30 - 21 >
20 - 16 > 15 - 11 >
10 - 6 > 5 - 1 >


Kanye West



Franz Ferdinand



Jean Grae



Brian Wilson



Loretta Lynn



Lists are a dangerous thing. You don’t have to be a fan of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity to understand that list-making, especially in the world of music, is a suspect act, filled with the snares of subjectivity and relevance and the generally unfair weighting of genres and subgenres and scenes.


And yet… and yet they’re an inevitable result of any gathering of musically-minded individuals who take it upon themselves to critically evaluate new releases for the span of a year. After spending 52 weeks of eager anticipation, swimming in hype, furtive first listens, the swells of revelation and jaw-dropping moments swirling in and out of the mundane and the profound disappointments, and amidst all that, trying to organize your thoughts and opinions into the right words to capture your reactions… well, perhaps it’s habitual behavior, or perhaps it’s the final act of hubris, but the year-end “Best Of” list is the natural outcome.


For any publication with a sufficiently large staff, that final list is almost as much a testament to the diversity and interests of its staff than the albums themselves. Sure, the cream of the crop rises to the top, but when Top 10s are compiled into a big list like this one, it reflects on the diversity of tastes that a group of writers brings to the table. To that effect, 2004’s Top 100 list displays the wide range of tastes you’re likely to encounter at PopMatters. The critical darlings are all present and accounted for, but this year not even a Top 50 could contain the range of good and great releases by artists in hip-hop, rock, pop, folk, and even country, resulting in the Top 100 list here.


As this list of releases attests, 2004 saw impressive and intriguing work from all over the map and all over the world. Many of the names are familiar, whether they’re the hot new artist of the moment or musical legends with storied careers, and all in their way contributed to a year in music that seemed to have a little something for everyone. And if you doubt the final rankings because they don’t fit your own tastes, well, 2004 was a lesson in democracy as well.


   — Patrick Schabe, PopMatters Music Reviews Editor


:. Start here to read about all 100 albums.


TOP 100 ALBUMS
100 - 91 > 90 - 81 >
80 - 71 > 70 - 61 >
60 - 51 > 50 - 41 >
40 - 31 > 30 - 21 >
20 - 16 > 15 - 11 >
10 - 6 > 5 - 1 >

Wednesday, December 29 2004

The Unbearable Lightness of List Making

Terry Sawyer lashes out at holier-than-thou music critics and gives PopMatters props, saying 'the writers here engage with popular music on an even keel, celebrating or thrashing it not like tiny gods demanding piles of first borns, but people intelligently grappling with the culture they're immersed in but not above'.


Tuesday, December 28 2004

Best of 2004: Top 10 Albums + Top 10 Singles + Top 5 Gigs

by Simon Warner - Columnist Simon Warner raves about the Killers, Elvis Costello's latest turn and the ramshackle rock 'n' roll circus that is the Libertines.


Bring Warm Socks; or, 2004 in Review

Tim O'Neil questions the value of the year-end list and stands against the tides by offering up Einsturzende Neubauten and Miss Kittin as the artists producing the year's best music.


Pretty Songs About Love: My 20 Favorite Recordings of 2004

by Dave Heaton - Dave Heaton says '2004 was about musicians who turn away from music industry nonsense and just create, about people who humbly write and sing songs that don't advertise their greatness yet have the capacity to take a genuine hold on listeners.'


Ten-and-a-Half Albums That Defined My 2004

Steve Haag would follow the Minus 5's Scott McCaughey to the ends of the earth and thinks A.C. Newman is pretty swell too.


Best of 2004

Judging by Andrew Gilstrap's list, 2004 was the year of the singer-songwriter with Patty Griffin, Elliott Smith, and Leonard Cohen producing some of the best records of the year.


Hustling West Through ‘04

Justin Cober-Lake's best of the year include two perennial PopMatters favorites, Kanye West and the Arcade Fire.


The Best However-Many-It-Ends-Up-Being Albums of 2004

Matt Cibula touts 'two discs of madness from Argentinaz most wanted' as the best of the year and heaps kudos on country artist Alison Moorer for 'daring to stand up harder against the war machine and the new religious tyranny than any other any American record did this year.'


Counting Snowflakes…

'Asking me to rate albums of one genre against one another is a little like asking me how many gears I want on my tuna, so here's a trawl through some of the amazing music I've come to love over the past 12 months, sorted loosely by genre.'


The Best Music of 2004: An Assortment of Memorable Moments

by Adrien Begrand - Adrien Begrand trolls through the best musical moments of 2004 and sings the praises of Canada's very own The Arcade Fire.


Friday, December 17 2004

The Best Music of 2004 #10-6

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #90-81

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #80-71

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #70-61

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #60-51

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #50-41

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #5-1

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #40-31

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #30-21

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #20-16

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #15-11

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


The Best Music of 2004 #100-91

That favorite rite of passage for all music critics is here again . . . the annual top 10 lists, or in this case top 100. What you have before you is our mammoth list of 100 of the best records of the year as voted on by our entire music staff.


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