An unreasonable attempt at a best of list: 2005

I am by no means qualified to make one of these pretentious lists that overpopulate our newspapers, music magazines, websites, blogs, etc and I really could care less except for the fact that I actually do think about this stuff a lot. So do my friends, my co-workers etc. I could hardly say I have listened to everything out there and honestly it seems these selections below are fairly obvious and mainstream choices for those “in the know” (so to speak)… these are just the albums I kept going back to over and over in my car (when i had one) and my ipod…they are the ones that trigger instant moods for me. So here goes… in no particular order

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals — Cold Roses

This guy sure puts out a lot of music…probably too much. I mean 3 albums in one year and the first one was a double album. But I’m loving this guy’s vibe right now. Every album is a sampler platter of distinct types of country music that he tries on for a spot and then like a chameleon changes it up. This album, was in full Grateful Dead mode in the American Beauty\Workingman’s Dead- era, between the guitar work, the singing and so on. It was definitly the one I was going back to the most out of the three.

Morning Jacket — Z

Once again, this was the album that made me pay attention to this band. I dont know if it was the production, the song selection or just me adapting to Jim James’ reverb drenched voice. This album is nearly perfect to me…especially ‘Wordless Chorus’ and ‘Gideon.’ I listened to it this morning in fact.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

This band is becoming huge. And for once I feel like I knew about them early. Had the album and saw them in concert long before their exposure on NPR and NYTimes which is always kinda cool. It will be interesting to see what they put out and when…whether they can put out a good followup, but not do it too quickly or offer a stupid remix like Bloc Party did. Will they live up to the hype…probably not, but hopefully the quality of the band will catch up w\ the quality of the album.

Fiona Apple — Extraordinary Machine (both versions)

I loved it early in February when the leaks came out…it further solidified my love of Apple and producer\composer\singer-songwriter Jon Brion. While the hype and controversey made it more interesting, the music was incredible w\ the arrangements and instrumentations. The new Mike Elizondo-version is good too, though different. The songs hold up the same and sometimes the sound quality and production are better…then the leaked version wasnt the final mixes. The sound textures are great and moody but I often find myself wanting to hear some of the instruments and arrangements of the Brion version…maybe they could make a double album w\ both versions or make a directors cut comprised of both versions.

Broken Social Scene — Broken Social Scene

This album is great and full of energy. The songs are great and I am never sure how many people play in this band. I always appreciate these types of musical collectives that show that the band is bigger than the parts…This album is never schizophrenic like one might think…

Feist — Let it Die

The debut of the sometimes member of Broken Social Scene, Leslie Feist is quite stellar…it has one of my favourite singles on it ‘Mushaboom’. Great sexxy voice and she looks good too.

Sigur Ros — Takk…

This album is so refined and raw and cold and emotional all at the same time. Their albums always remind me of winter and spring…death and life.

Spoon — Gimme Fiction

I think this is another album that made me pay attention to this band more thoroughly. I found myself putting this on while walking home a lot.

Paul McCartney — Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Is it a return to past form? A step towards the future? Something that looks back positively of regretfully. It seems to be the most romantic and depressing thing McCartney has done since Abbey Road. Nigel Godrich’s production further gains some cred for making Paul relevant again. I listed it b\c expected to hate this album, but actually really like it a lot. Its dark, melancholy and beautiful…especially ‘How Kind of You’ which sounds like it could go on Beck’s Sea Change record.

Sufjan Stevens — Come On Feel the Illinoise

I think this might be my favourite album of the year, hands down. The dense arrangements and layers of instruments: strings, horns, banjos, guitars, choirs and so on into oblivion, are amazing to say the least. There is nothing more I can say about this that no one else hasnt already thought or written. But I put this one on all summer in KC in my car, on my iPod walking around DC, on my computer. I showed it to everyone, and couldnt get enough of this work. I think ‘Chicago’ was my anthem for wanting to move to the city, and ‘Casimir Pulaski Day’ was the anthem for lost love. Lyrically and musically this one really caught me offguard and hit me.

Well thats it… here are a few others that i liked alot this year…
White Stripes — Get Behind Me Satan
Flotation Toy Warning — Bluffers Guide to the Flight Deck
New Pornographers — Twin Cinema
Andrew Bird — Mysterious Production of Eggs
Bright Eyes — I’m Wide Awake Its Morning
Bloc Party — Silent Alarm
Franz Ferdinand — You Could Have it So Much Better

i could go on forever so ill stop…notice the lack of jazz here…i think there was very little in the way of new jazz…the Monk\Coltrane At Carnegie Hall was the best jazz record of the year and that was recorded in 1957. Its sad for the state of current jazz that something like this (as great as it is) sounds more immediate and vibrant than anything that came out. Where were the big statements from these guys. There were some solid but slightly underwhelming jazz records: Brad Mehldau Trio- Day is Done; Dave Douglas- Keystone; James Carter\Cyrus Chestnut etc- Gold Sounds (pavement covers).

well thats it…another long post…but i will be done now. no more lists until 2007. huzzah.

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