Punk Year in Review 2004

Punk Year in Review 2004
American Idiot (Reprise)
They haven't reinvented the wheel, but on American Idiot, Green Day reinvented themselves and produced their best effort since Dookie. While many apathetic punks flirted with politics this year, none embraced their newfound sense of social responsibility like this Berkley, California trio. While the title track is a no-brainer condemnation of the current political climate, this dives deeper into a nation at war with itself. By following the story of Jesus of Suburbia and the more volatile St. Jimmy, American Idiot weaves a story of love, hope, and disillusionment in a manner that evokes classics like Tommy and The Wall. While the band took some great chances musically, most notably on the lengthy "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming," their classic punk structure remains intact. Alone, each song may sound like nothing more than Green Day, but together, American Idiot is a statement too loud to ignore. Sam Sutherland

The Empire Strikes First (Epitaph)
Bad Religion's 13th album finally lives up to the band's promise of the last 20 years and delivers a thought-provoking, archly political album that actually feels like commentary instead of academic plaintiveness. For The Empire Strikes First, with Brett Gurewitz back in the band, the pieces have all fallen back into place again and Bad Religion created the album of their career. Bill Adams

Cool To Be You (Fat Wreck)
The undisputed kings and originators of the nerd-pop/surf punk sound return, a little older and not much wiser. Songs move beyond the lovelorn yearning of their youth and jokes about farting to adult politics and the fucked-up state of the world. Despite growing up, the band certainly didn't get old — the music is as rocking as ever, maybe more so. Stuart Green

The Pleasure To Remain So Heartless (Cowboy Versus Sailor)
Completely unpredictable and energetic, Kane Hodder's schizophrenic songwriting is the only constant as it flips from screaming to singing while juxtaposing noise, pop, punk and indie. Both melodic and manic, Kane Hodder shines on tracks like "Attack of Tir Asleen," where Andy Moore's vocals are at their most pleasurably addictive. Jasamine White-Gluz

Initiation (Nitro)
An extremely impressive release laden with emotion and beautiful noise. Vocalist Aimee Echo has a voice that gets deep inside you; she snarls and chokes over deep bass lines and then unleashes a silken wail. For all its dark content, it brims with promise. Liz Worth