Rocker's 2004 Rewind
by: Red Rocker
It wasn’t until December, when I began pondering a
year-end “Best Of” list, that it occurred to me what a remarkably average year
it had been for new music. The really memorable stuff (Loretta Lynn, Velvet
Revolver, Willie Nelson) jumped right out, as did the year’s big disappointments
(U2, Wilco). But when I thought of 10…or even five…truly essential records that
were pressed in 2004, the research became far more daunting a task than in years
No argument, the legends came to play in 2004. Jimmy Buffett, with the help of
an all-world cast, crafted his best studio album in more than a decade, maybe
ever! Likewise, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn each delivered bombshells by
turning to the next generation for guidance. Jack White brushed Lynn’s
Van Lear Rose with just enough
modern-day shellac to give it a luster too dazzling for stodgy old Nashville,
while Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams and others lent a hand on Willie’s
exceptional It Always Will Be.
New faces didn’t seem to stand out in 2004, but a couple of up-and-comers are
worth noting. Here’s hoping the youthful vigor of
Silvertide can ignite a
wildfire within that long forgotten guitar rock genre. Meanwhile, Franz
Ferdinand and Modest Mouse were equally promising among the Alternative Rock
radio masses. I’ve never been a fan of including Greatest Hits collections on
year-end lists, but alas, it’s been that kind of year. The Smithereens (From
Jersey It Came) and Cheap Trick (The Essentials) each posted
career-spanning offerings this past year, and both were worth their weight in
So, to review…2004, the year that was probably less than memorable as far as
striking new artists or landmark releases, at least saw two of the greatest
electronic inventions of my lifetime (portable MP3 players and satellite radio)
become household names. I guess it could be said that what we listened to this
year wasn’t nearly as intriguing as how we listened to it.
Of course, I can’t get out of here without offering up that handful of
redeemable CDs that really should have been heard, no matter upon which device.
Now, can I get a new Foo Fighters record, please?!
10. License To Chill - Jimmy
If Songs You Know By Heart is the only Buffett disc you own, this is a great
place to start expanding your 20-something collection toward adulthood.
9. Sex, Love and Rock n’ Roll - Social Distortion
Eight years is an eternity, but if Mick had lost Keith in the mid-70s, who
8. Drag It Up - Old 97s
Rhett Miller has more talent in his eraser than most singer/songwriter types
have in their entire pencil.
7. Resurrection - Brian Vander Ark
The best thing to come from a one-hit wonder like The Verve Pipe, and hands
down, the brightest star to ever fall from the Michigan skyline.
6. Fast Moving Cars - The Clarks
Part of me hopes these guys remain comfortably below the radar of FM radio and
MTV. You know, that secret obsession that is best left untold.
5. Bastards of the Beat - The Damnwells
Never heard of The Damnwells? Maybe that’s why they’ve re-released this record,
like, 20 times.
4. Contraband - Velvet Revolver
To hell with Axl!
3. Tambourine - Tift Merritt
Quite possibly my favorite record of the year, certainly most listened to. If
only we could buy stock in Lost Highway Records.
2. Van Lear Rose - Loretta Lynn
The rumors of Lynn playing drums on the next White Stripes record are probably
1. It Always Will Be - Willie Nelson
The best part? He’s probably got a new album lined up for this spring.
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