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Kevin Forest Moreau's Top 10 Albums of 2004

1. Green Day: American Idiot (Reprise)
In terms of ambition, punchiness and flat-out hooks, nothing else this year touched this pleasant surprise of a rock opera, courtesy of a pop-punk band known for album titles like Dookie and Nimrod. Who would have thought?
2. Snow Patrol: Final Straw (A&M/Universal)
Gary Lightbody isn't a Teen People pin-up like Coldplay's Chris Martin, but he can match Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow for anthemic, Bic-waving ballads ("Run") any day of the week. And his melodic pop-rock strengths ("Gleaming Auction," "Chocolate," "Spitting Games") can't be denied.
3. Drive-By Truckers: The Dirty South (New West)
Parts of this album lag, but when the Athens quintet is on, it fires on all cylinders: thoughtful character studies, fiery laments, stomping riffs and insinuating arrangements.
4. Mark Lanegan Band: Bubblegum (Beggars Banquet)
The gravely singer's most stylistically diverse and cohesive set, full of disquieting ballads, simmering desert rock and new apocalyptic blues yowls. Amazingly, Lanegan's cigarettes-and-bourbon voice sounds as supple as ever.
5. U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope)
A bit too populist eager to please to qualify for masterpiece status. Still, this album doesn't lack for charms, and it packs a lot of heart along with its soaring melodies.
6. Tom Waits: Real Gone (Anti-)
From bohemian bard to human beat box: Waits stretches the parameters of his music and his persona on this affecting and occasionally visceral album.
7. The Twilight Singers: She Loves You (One Little Indian)
Greg Dulli drenches a grab-bag of diverse cover choices (Bjork, Mary J. Blige, Skip James) in his moody noir-rock atmospherics, and produces an impressively effective theme album.
8. Ludacris: The Red Light District (Def Jam South)
For once, the Atlanta rapper's potty mouth and thug posturing don't distract from his amiable Everydawg persona and his nimble way with a singalong melody. The result is the most listenable -- and likeable -- album of his career.
9. Patterson Hood: Killers and Stars (New West)
The Drive-By Truckers' driving force wrestles with a dark night of the soul. Luckily, his sharp songwriting and storytelling skills are up to the task.
10. Now It's Overhead: Fall Back Open (Saddle Creek)
Producer and Bright Eyes figure Andy LeMaster comes into his own as a vocalist and songwriter with this quietly assertive collection of dark-edged, danceable indie-pop.
Notable near misses:
Top 10 Songs of 2004:
  1. "Jesus of Suburbia" Green Day (American Idiot)
  2. "Spitting Games" Snow Patrol (Final Straw)
  3. "Where the Devil Don't Stay" Drive-By Truckers (The Dirty South)
  4. "Miracle Drug" U2 (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
  5. "Demons & Fiends" Robyn Hitchcock (Spooked)
  6. "Get Back" Ludacris (The Red Light District)
  7. "Day After Tomorrow" Tom Waits (Real Gone)
  8. "One Hundred Days" Mark Lanegan Band (Bubblegum)
  9. "Back on the Radio" The Hiss (Panic Movement)
  10. "Musidora" Isidore (Isidore)

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