I was toying with the idea of doing a top 5 or so albums of 2005. Since, I, um, actually paid attention to music, this year [not dissertating, obviously]. Stuck in an office staring at the computer monitor for 8 hours a day – every day – does that to you. I also, happen to have some peculiar tastes and am a bit less forgiving to the popworld. So, in an effort to combat my snobbery, I turned to my partner-in-concert-going-crimes sven. Him with warm ebullience. Remarkably, he agreed to do a joint top 10 albums of 2005 with me -over IM and lunch. We co-wrote the list [belatedly, I realized we shoulda gone writeboard] and it appears on his site as well.
Of course, the best albums produced this year would be the efforts of my friends and colleagues. Ed Yazijian‘s Six Ways to Avoid The Evil Eye which had a limited 32 print run in a wholly customized fashion [ahem]. So, no, you cannot buy it, anywhere. Though, maybe I can persuade Ed to do an iTunes release. However, Paul Kerschen’s The Pacific Theater is available and demands your attention. Also, Scott Schaafsma and his crew Magnus have their second release Portable Sun available for your rockin’ pleasure.
Read on for the list.
|#10. Low – The Great Destroyer
The ever-melancholy Low hit 2005 early with a much darker album. A departure from previous work that bordered on lullaby tunes, Destroyer garnished the band a new group of fans that were easily put off by their prior efforts. As their tempo stepped up, so did their sales. With tracks like ‚ÄúMonkey,‚Äù ‚ÄúCalifornia,‚Äù and ‚ÄúDeath of a Salesman,‚Äù we‚Äôre hoping that this album is a hint of what is to come from this band hailing from Minnesota.
|#9. Madonna – Confessions on a Dancefloor
Yes, Sven is gay. It’s part of his DNA that he is shamelessly drawn to this woman [should we hold that against him? -sepoy]. This seamless album flows from the first track to the last with high energy beats. While Confessions flirt with our dancin’ feet, the lyrics provide depth which is scarce amongst most dance albums. “You’re not half of the man that you lied to be,” stands to be the best lyric amongst a sonic sea of insight. The only track that we would have retooled would have been the lyrics to “I Love New York.” After listening, we vowed to never visit again.
|#8. The Decemberists – Picaresque
All hail the “Infanta!” [All also urge Colin to take some time off in 2006 -sepoy.] The Decemberists joined the list in 2005 with another album of melodic storytelling. Picaresque‘s songs covered topics from spy-crossed lovers, to the digestion of whales, and even athletic aspirations. A lot of people ask us, “Yo! Dude, why you gotta be all crushin’ over this indie band? You like some hipster or somethin’?” We usually just allow the CDs to speak for themselves. Eventually, they’ll understand (as we do) that Colin Meloy just writes wonderfully crafted and
|#7. Gorillaz – Demon Days
We weren’t big fans of Gorillaz’s first album. And we didn’t pay much attention to it this time around either. Then, we realized that “O Green World” was something like pop perfection. And “El Manana”. And “Feel Good, Inc.” And Dangerdoom had MF Doom over. Heralding the beatzalicious The Mouse And The Mask – which couldave been on this list. We tell you!
|#6. Stars – Set Yourself On Fire
The Elefant of this year, Stars’ third record is great pop. These canadians could stay a beloved local band, but their cheekiness elevates them over many a pretenders. This won’t save your soul but you can sing it out loud in your car to your heart’s content; Coldplay be damned. [And this album totally starts out with bestest quote everz, “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire!” -sven]
|#5. Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
[Another canadian [super] band and one more coming. What’s up with that? -sepoy] We are big fans of You Forgot It In People and this sounds very little like that earlier record. That still doesn’t mean that it is not a damn fine record. Still, of everything on this list, this record is the one with the question mark in my head [not even gonna say anything about Sven’s Madonna]. In years hence, will I reach for this over YFIIP? In related news, Lisa Feist had her own solo record come out. Check it out, if only for the single “Let It Die”.
|#4. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
Ah, the canadian super group [wait, or is that BSS? -sepoy]. The New Pornographers gather
|#3. My Morning Jacket – Z
Someone said that this was MMJ’s OK Computer. Damn, we wish we had said that. This is the record that blew our socks away this year. Totally unexpected. Their first album It Still Moves was equal parts CCR, LynrdSkynrd with a side of fried chicken. We lourves it. This, however, is where MMJ’s sound becomes their own. “Into the Woods” with the carnival beat is perhaps the song of the year [Yes, it starts out “kitten on fire, baby in blender. both sound sweet.” How can we resist!?].
|#2. Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel The Illinoise
Besides pizza, there’s nothing more that Sven loves than a concept album. Put a theme to an album, and you got his dollar. The second of Sufjan’s 50 State project, Illinoise delivers the history, emotion, joy, and horror of the state that Sven and Sepoy currently live in. How could it not be up there on our list? In truth, we debated on making it number one, but then Sepoy was all like, “Dude! Amazon made it #1 on their list. We can’t be all like Amazon, dude.” Then Sven was all like, “Yeah. Tots [short for TOTALLY]! We can’t be all similar to the website… that we look at… every waking minute… of our spare time at work… while dreaming of all the stuff… that we can’t afford. Yeah. There’s just no way.” So, it ended up bein’ our #2, yo.
|#1. Andrew Bird – Mysterious Production of Eggs
When we started to think about this list, we knew for sure that Andrew Bird would be on it. We would’ve never predicted that he would rise to the top. Sepoy has been a fan of Bird’s strings and horns since Squirrel Nut Zippers [Remember that swingers fad? Poor band got killed by it. I did just see that they have a Best of..]. Bird, a Chicagoan, went on his merry solo way and had a couple of fairly good albums. You should, for example, find his cover of “50 Pieces” off Thrills as well as “Fatal Flower Garden” off of Bowl of Fire [see, iTunesMusicStore is your friend]. However, while those records had sparks of brilliance, this is all golden. Bird toned down his flourishes and sang [don’t forget he whistled alot, too! -sven] the happiest sad album you will ever listen to.
These would fall under the “SO CLOSE. BUT NO CIGAR. CAUSE OF THE SMOKING BAN ‘N JUNK” category:
Josh is Sven’s new crush. While Ryan Adam’s is coming out with four albums in a year [one was a double disc], Josh put out a quality CD that pleased most critics. And more importantly, it pleased us. THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE YOU WILL READ ABOUT!
Rogue Wave avoided the sophomore slump with Vultures. “Love’s Lost Guarantee” is guaranteed to tug at your heart strings as you throw back that bottle of Tequila another Thursday in a row. Even worse, while watching The O.C. on mute.
Guilty pleasure of the year. There is no need for this made-up band of hot daughters of record execs and producers from LA to exist. But, it does and the record is singalongy good. And, they hot. You know?
This album is like the best of… Beck. Some great tunes and def. one to get turned up to 11. But, let’s wait for the next one, shall we?
We live in Chicago. We habitat on the South Side. If we didn’t have him somewhere in this post, he would like send his Gap clones in sweater vests to beat us up-n-stuff.
p.s.: Some other recommendations: The National’s Alligator is the rich man’s Tindersticks. And the lyrics are KILLER. Do check this band from Ohio. Also, Spoon’s Gimme Fiction, Silver Jews’ Tanglewood Numbers, OK Go’s Oh No.