cream of ’05

Thirty-three and a third.
Hey music fans. Huh? You’re not a music fan? Better just leave this one alone then and wait till tomorrow’s post, because it’s about as musicy as it gets.

To begin with, this is post #472, yesterday’s post was #565 – meaning I first drafted this nearly 100 entries ago. It’s been through some work since then; some shuffling and a couple drop/add sessions. But, I’ve been working on it so long, tweaking this and fine-tuning that, and I’m finally happy with how it turned out.

Y’know, I would’ve thought that last year would’ve been a tougher year to pick a “top 10” albums, because for some reason I look back on it as a really good year for music. But, when I really think about it – the reason I see it as a particularly amazing year for tunes is just because it’s the year the Funeral came out. In reality though, 2005 was an amazing year for music. The year brought so many great albums, it was extremely hard to pick only ten… so, I picked 25 instead. And, this time, I decided to give a little blurb on why each of the top-15 LPs landed where it did (please don’t underestimate the stylesheet-wizardry that made this all possible). Enjoy:

15. Aqueduct – I Sold Gold

So people say it’s cheesy and thin; so it’s been on car commercials; so I “discovered” it on the OC – big deal, I still like it. Maybe it’s my affinity for the one-man-band, part of that little hidden dream in me – a closet Elliot Smith or Emitt Rhodes just holding out on his first stellar album. So, I don’t care what you say about Aqueduct, how low you rate it, because I like it – and that’s what counts.

14. The Cloud Room – The Cloud Room

I guess this is what you could call a latecomer for the two-not-not-nickel, but I still had plenty of time to digest it and decide that is definitely deserved a place in my list. For some reason, I lump this album with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! (not because of musical content, just for some I got ’em at the same time and they were in competition in my player reason) – but the Clouds just beat CYSHY all around for me. Sure, every song sounds a like some other band – but that’s not always a bad thing.

13. The Ladies and Gentlemen – Small Sins

So the guy likes to whisper, who cares. The craftsmanship here is undeniable. Short little pieces of one-man-band poptronica with the catchiest tunes. I liked this album as soon as it hit my ears, which is something of a rarity for me. With a sound that’s just “good,” not overly-complex or dense, I bet you’ll like it at first blush too.

12. M83 – The Dawn Will Heal Us

I love albums with no words, partially because most people don’t. Sharaun hates music with no words, says she can’t get into it. To me, some of the best music is that which can stand on it’s own without lyrics. And hey, bad lyrics can ruin great music – so wordlessness may be your best bet if you’re no Jim Morrison. Anyway, with each moody atmospheric track, this disc does not disappoint.

11. Clor – Clor

Squeaky, blippy, synth-pop-punk, vocals that, at times, recall Malkmus, and bouncy little tunes freshly thawed from the 1980s freezer. Oh, what, that’s all you have on this one D? You’d think 11th on the list would warrant a little more color, but I suppose if you can say it in a sentence then perhaps a sentence is all ya need.

10. The Decemberists – Picaresque

While not as strikingly brilliant as their first two full-lengths, Colin and crew’s 3rd strike at the iron is a slow burn. Although the mood set with Infanta doesn’t exactly permeate the entire album, there are more than enough rollicking sea-chanteis to keep the Ship In A Bottle set smelling pitch and salt. Actually, the more I go back and listen to this album, the better it sounds. Guess I just have a thing for mariner songs peppered with words from long-forgotten thesauruses.

9. Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene

You Forgot It In People was outstanding. So when Beehives turned out to be crap, I was really bummed. I think that’s what made me ignore this album for so long after actually getting it. I had it, just sitting there, waiting. I even started listening to it a couple times, but never paid it a proper amount of attention. However, when I finally did get around to listening to it with a critical ear – I found myself grinning ear-to-ear. Awash in buzzy guitars and singalong harmonies, turns out it’s just as good as You Forgot It In People, if not better.

8. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

Hey, FM programming managers, check it out! Another one of those 2005-sounding bands sounding like that hot 2005-sound. Pick a catchy single and get it in heavy rotation stat. These guys have undeniable commercial potential, and as heads-in-our-arses indie elitists, we sometimes need to recognize that’s not always the kiss of death. This is good, folks, and even if you hate your kid sister singing hooks from your latest records – you gotta admit that this is one fresh effort. So get it, or listen for the 4:4 remix coming to a skating rink near you.

7. The Bravery – The Bravery

What can I say? 2005 saw the revival of 1980s synth-rock, and, to me, the Bravery did it best. This is rock music for everyone from the shrieking TRL set to the thick-rimmed-glasses, refuse-to- dance crowd; the kind of synth-heavy rock that’s dancey enough to make everyone happy. And, although there was no shortage of it this year – I like this go at it the most.

6. Ratatat – Ratatat

I downloaded this album because I like the name, honestly – it wasn’t one of those read-a-review-first games of catch-up. Luckily, inside were some tunes just as awesome as the name. Another collection for the lyric-phobic, but decidedly more hip-hop bent at times. Set in my memory as a February trip to Taiwan – this album will always recall 2005 to me.

5. Little Brazil – You and Me

OK, so, commence finger-pointing and mocking. I know, I know, but I can’t help it. I really liked this album. It was kind of a “heat of the moment” thing, as, listening to it now, I can somewhat see through whatever it was that blinded me at first. Anyway, it still deserves a spot on my list, because, after all, I wore the grooves off this short album for a memorable little slice of 2005.

4. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

Know what? I didn’t even like this album. Nope; not at all. But, so many people online kept ranting and raving about it, I thought I’d go back and give it another chance to impress me. Call it peer-pressure or whatever, but that re-listen did the trick – and I was hooked. I love Newman’s song style, it’s an original thing today – unlike much else of what’s out there, and this album doesn’t disappoint on that. Who knew though, that an album you don’t even like at first can end up as your 4th best on the year – go figure.

3. The Most Serene Republic – Underwater Cinematographer

I have no idea why this album didn’t get more recognition, it’s absolutely brilliant, and, in reality, could just as easily change places with #2 and I’d be just as happy with the list. Reminding me a little bit of the Broken Social Scene’s best moments (which makes sense, seeing as they share BSS’s label), the record is wall-to-wall good without exception. For some reason tho, it went over without much fanfare. Don’t let that fool ya, it’s outstanding.

2. Architecture in Helsinki – If We Die

I left this blurb for last, because, for whatever reason, I couldn’t think of much to say about this album. I mean, it’s been nearly a year since I was taken in by it – so even my young mind has grown superlative-foggy. However, I only need a fresh listen to remember what it is I love about this album. I love the fact that people ask me if I’m listening to an album by Sesame Street’s Elmo, love the “gayness” of the songs (not the gaynesss-meaning-happy gayness, but the two-dudes-holding-hands gayness). Whimsical, fantastic, and even retarded at times – it never fails to make me smile. Now, how’s that for a review? “Retarded?”

1. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary

When I first heard this album, I never thought it’d end up at #1 on my list. But, deeper listening brought on nothing but undying love. Near the beginning of the year, I can remember saying, “It’s really gonna take something amazing to knock that Architecture in Helsinki album out of my #1 spot.” It did.

And now, the shortlist of albums that were at one time either in the top-15 and slowly bubbled off the top, or hovering near the bottom waiting to receive their number – which never came. All these efforts come highly recommended, and in reality could’ve been on the list had I compiled it on a different night or published it a week or two later. So, if you happen to be Mr. Banhart or Mr. Stevens, please don’t be disappointed you only made the Honorable Mention list – you’re still alright in my book:

Now, for a twist, and because I’m on a roll, the top 3 albums that weren’t released in 2005 (and therefore wouldn’t be eligible for the above list) but were discovered by me in 2005:

And, even though I didn’t do “blurbs” about the “honorable mentions” and “discovereds,” I felt I had to comment on the Friday Night in San Francisco album. You may think, being the self-proclaimed music aficionado that I am, I would’ve heard this album long ago when I was in the frenzied-exploratory phase that every burgeoning music nut goes through. You know, right about the time you finally “discover” Bob Marley, acknowledge Dylan’s genius despite his whine, and realize that Miles Davis is a God. But, I didn’t discover this album until this year (The Kooper & Bloomfield is really just more Super Session, so you could consider me familiar with that already). Suffice it to say that I should’ve known about it earlier, ’cause it truly rocks tits.

OK folks, I’m completely typed-out. Happy listening, take care. (First “true” entry from India tomorrow.)

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2 Replies to “cream of ’05”

  1. I think that you probably know that the previous commenter was not actually me, but a clever imposter. Your list is great, although I would have re-ordered alot of those choices. However, where is Koufax? The Cribs? Hard-Fi? The NIN Comeback? And my prediction for hot new artists – The Loveninjas?

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