New Found Power: 50 Albums That Defined 2004

Ah, memories.

We've glanced at the albums that defined 1984. Then we checked in with 50 albums that characterized 1994.

Now it's 2004's turn!

It was a year that saw tragedy—and a sea change in mainstream rock and guitar-centric music.

In 2004, the landscape of mainstream rock was jarred once again by Green Day's American Idiot. An incredibly ambitious rock opera that touched on politics, depression and suburban ennui, it shifted millions of copies and re-established the trio as the American pop-punk band.

Having had the way paved by Green Day's unbelievable success, pop-punk, melodic hardcore and emo had a field day in 2004, beginning an incredible run of mainstream success that not only brought in a fresh second wave of aggressive, melodic pop-punk to the fore, but one that has yet to entirely subside.

Metal had a tough year, losing one of its most beloved representatives in a horrendous tragedy. Darrel Abbott, known to the world as Dimebag Darrell, was performing with his new band Damageplan (from the ashes of the hugely influential Pantera) when his life was cut short by a crazed gunman.

Although the White Stripes didn't release anything new, the garage-rock revival craze could be felt in new records from the Hives and the Vines. England prepared for a second invasion with stunning debut albums from bands like the Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand. Arcade Fire made their extraordinary debut with Funeral, as did TV On the Radio with Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes.

Over all, it was a year of transition, one where few things felt all that stable. The mainstream was fluid, seemingly waiting for rock's next big move. Two thousand four was a year where many of rock's trends of the next 10 years either began or took their first steps.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.