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Favorite Music of 2005

19th Dec 05 (Mon) Leave a comment Go to comments

Admittedly a lot of swapping around from my 1st Half Recap… but here are my thoughts on 2005’s Music… as of now

TOP 20 ALBUMS of 2005
1) IPB Image Sigur RósTakk (ambient & angelic), released Sept ’05: This Sigur Rós album didn’t catch on with me as quick as their two prior albums, but after several listens, it gains the top spot for the year. I still don’t agree with many people’s assessment that it is “more accessible,” but regardless, they continue to make captivating music. Web: http://www.sigur-ros.co.uk/

2) IPB Image Porcupine TreeDeadwing (modern progressive), released Apr ’05: I saw Porcupine Tree live twice within about a month of owning this disc. I think it spun in my rental car in Chicago about 8 times… then it finally sunk in. I still hold In Absentia or maybe Lightbulb Sun as my favorite PT CDs, but Deadwing made music listening in 2005 a lot more enjoyable. Web: http://www.porcupinetree.com/

3) IPB Image Sufjan StevensInvites You to Come On Feel the Illinoise (quirky folk), released July ’05: Wow. 12 months ago, I had only heard a few (boring) songs by Sufjan. Now, I’m hooked. His quirky, banjo-driven, xylophone-infused group-folkrock stylings really make me happy. His show at the Southgate House in Newport-KY this year was easily one of my top two concerts this year (Sigur Rós in Ann Arbor being the other). With two states under his belt (Michigan being the previous state album), I wonder how the remaining 48 will turn out… Web: http://www.sufjan.com/

4) IPB Image Glen PhillipsWinter Pays For Summer (pop singer-songwriter), released Mar ’05: This was in the top spot for the better part of the year. A great follow-up album to his solo debut Abulum. As of early December, Glen’s also in the studio for a follow-up to this one… yay! Web: http://www.glenphillips.com/

5) IPB Image EisleyRoom Noises (rocks more than Sixpence), released Feb ’05: Another “hadn’t heard of them 12 months ago” band. I can solely blame the Paste Magazine DVD sampler for this crush. Anyway, I’m looking forward to great music from Eisley in the years to come… assuming they can keep their sibling rivalries in check… :) Web: http://www.eisley.com/

6) IPB Image Fiona AppleExtraordinary Machine (jazzy, sultry broodstress), released Oct ’05: Long-awaited… not as jazzy or cohesive as When the Pawn, but still a stellar performance. I dig this version of the album over the earlier Jon Brion/leaked version, but I do dig the Jon Brion-produced tracks that sandwich this record the most (go figure). Overall, this album was mostly worth the wait… now if only she’d tour on her own and not part of the Clodplay: Cloding Up the Great Indoors Tour ’06… Web: http://www.fiona-apple.com/

7) IPB Image King’s XOgre Tones (melodic hardrock), released Sept ’05: 25 years and still counting… damn. I’ve been a King’s X fan for a longtime (not all 25 years, though), but their last two efforts left me nonplussed. This latest one, however, hits me square across the mouth — in the good way. Fantastic return to form, Jetydo! Web: http://www.kingsxonline.com/

8 ) IPB Image Coheed and CambriaGood Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV – Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (geekcore, emo-pomp), released Sept ’05: There are so many cheesy aspects to C&C’s sound and marketing that make me cringe (it’s such an over-the top geek-and-wank fest)… yet their sound simply sucks… me in. To quote a drummer from an unrelated band, “balls and chunk is where it’s at!” Web: http://www.coheedandcambria.com/

9) IPB Image BeckGuero (folk-tronic), released Mar ’05: One of the best Beck albums in years… reminds me a lot of Odelay. Really funky, and it fits the “folk-tronic” badge well. And he’s got a remix album of it coming out soon (entitled Guerolito)… Web: http://www.beck.com/

10) IPB Image OpethGhost Reveries (swedish death metal), released Aug ’05: The last three Opeth records had Porcupine Tree Steven Wilson at the production helm. Perhaps he was too busy supporting his own band to help the O out, but this album came out a-OK anyway. Sometimes the keyboards sound… um… dumb… but luckily there is enough thrash and growl to cover it up. Hail Satan! Hail Satin! Hail Stan! Web: http://www.opeth.com/

11) IPB Image DredgCatch Without Arms (passionate hardrock), released Jun ’05: From out-of-nowhere… I heard (and liked) Dredg’s song on the Stealth Soundtrack, even moreso than the Incubus songs that I bought the soundtrack for in the first place. Then I saw Dredg open up for Coheed & Cambria in Columbus on 9/30/05, I was hooked. Powerful melodic rock, with an ecstatic drummer and great vocals. Web: http://www.dredg.com/

12) IPB Image Foo FightersIn Your Honor (power-pop rock), released Jun ’05: Pure double-album pop enjoyment. Dave Grohl continues to impress me with his relentless delivery of great rock tunes. It seems effortless for him. Kurt is missed, but after its all said and done, I think Dave might win out as being the better pop songwriter… Web: http://www.foofighters.com/

13) IPB Image The MobThe Mob (hardrock übergroup), released Nov ’05: A supergroup made up of a bunch of ’80s washouts (from Winger and Night Ranger) and also Doug Pinnick from King’s X (“and also” meaning he’s not included in the “washout” category). Doug sings on most of the album, and it doesn’t really sound dated like I thought it would (mainly due to Doug’s involvement, mind you). It’s got some classic rock / hairband overtones, but again only “overtones.” Overall it’s a great record!! It can be had directly from the Italian label for as much as Amazon is hocking it for… but there’s a slight “PSOL* issue. Web: http://www.kingsxonline.com/

14) IPB Image Ben FoldsSongs For Silverman (piano pop with fuzz), released Apr ’05: Ben continues his solo path, while bringing back the sound very reminiscent of “The Five.” His new bassist and drummer definitely harken the sound of Darren and Robert from BFF. This album is solid, which is usually expected from the songwriting likes of Mr. Folds. Web: http://www.benfolds.com/

15) IPB Image TristezaA Colores (experimental twitchy instrumental rock), released Nov ’05: Tristeza continues on even after Jimmy LaValle’s departure to dedicate his time to his solo effort, The Album Leaf. Both bands, Tristeza & The Album Leaf, have a similar style. I dig ’em both. If you like mellow, yet ecstatic, instrumental-tronica… you’ll dig ’em, too… Web: http://www.trstz.com/

16) IPB Image The SquirtsSquirts II: Resquirted (fantastic melodic rock with a dumb name), released sometime in 2005: I always loved The Mustard Seeds… a melodic, pop-sensible hardrock band from SoCal. They only released two albums… :( But, but, but… ringleader Matt Bissonette is a busy muthafunka. 2005 alone saw three Matt Bissonette-related releases, and one of his side bands, The Squirts, has a really close to Mustard Seeds vibe (as do two of his other sidebands, Jughead and Raising Lazarus). Walrus, take note. Anyway, this Squirts album is pop-rock delight. Catchy throughout and chunky when it matters. The last track, “Lobster,” is reason enough to buy the CD. Yeah, I know, dumbass cover art (and band name for that matter), but it’s really, REALLY GOOD. And it’s completely indie… a purchase directly benefits Matt Bissonette and his family. Web: http://www.mattbissonette.com/17) IPB Image Ani DifrancoKnuckle Down (the folkstress who needs no description), released Jan ’05: This album is probably Ani’s most solid since Revelling / Reckoning. The packaging is superb as well… which is something she’s taken a shine to as of late. Web: http://www.righteousbaberecords.com/

18 ) IPB Image Erin McKeownWe Will Become Like Birds (pop singer-songwriter), released Jun ’05: I bought this album due to Peter Mulvey guest vocalling on it. I continue to enjoy this album for the other 11 songs that are sheer singer-songwriter pop-delight. Web: http://www.erinmckeown.com/

19) IPB Image CopelandIn Motion (power-pop rock), released Mar ’05: One of my rock heroes is Ken Andrews. I got into him backwards… first ON, then Failure (then Year of the Rabbit, in the correct order). Regardless of all of that, I noticed his imprint on Copeland right away, almost subconsciously. Anyway, I stuck around due to the great vocals (vocals are usually the “make-it-or-break-it” with me). Mr. Marsh’s vocals are a delight for me. Web: http://www.thecopelandsite.com/

20) IPB Image HeadphonesHeadphones (melancholically sung synth-pop), released May ’05: I dig David Bazan’s Pedro the Lion music a lot. This seemingly one-off project with TW Walsh was great as well… casio-sound and all. Web: http://www.headphonesmusic.com/

*- PSOL = PayPal for Speakers of Other Languages.

Honorable Mention:
Tori AmosThe BeekeeperAudioslaveOut of Exile, ClodplayX&Y, The Mars VoltaFrances the Mute, and Derek WebbMockingbird.
IPB Image / IPB Image / IPB Image / IPB Image / IPB Image

TOP 5 Eps of 2005
1) IPB Image Iron & WineWoman King (whispy americana), released Feb ’05: If I didn’t force myself to split “Fav Albums” from “Fav EPs,” this EP would probably crack the Top 5 Fav CDs of 2005. Great songs, great vocals… it got me back into Iron & Wine. Web: http://www.ironandwine.com/

2) IPB Image The Album LeafThe Red Tour -EP- (electronic-fused organic instrumental rock), released Jan ’05: Originally available on TAL’s 2004 tour, but not commercially available to the rest of us until early 2005… this great EP whets the appetite for their follow-up to In a Safe Place which should be out sometime in mid-2006. Web: http://www.thealbumleaf.com/

3) IPB Image Iron & Wine with CalexicoIn the Reins (whispy americana stops over in a bordertown), released Sept ’05: More of an Iron & Wine record than Calexico. Sometimes the combination works, and sometimes it seems awkward. Luckily, again, it’s more I&W… overall a great CD for 2005. Web: http://www.ironandwine.com/

4) IPB Image EuphoneV (jazzy groovy post-rock), released Apr ’05: I saw Euphone open up for Sunny Day Real Estate in 2000. They were a primarily instrumental band, and when there was singing, the drummer sang. They had a nice vibe and were on indie Jade Tree. I love their records. This EP caught me by surprise. Its five songs clock in at only 13 minutes. However, I could listen to it on repeat for hours. It’s not instrumental anymore either. It’s also a completely solo effort by the drummer (Ryan Rapsys played all instruments & sang). It’s very well recorded for being basically a “bathroom”-type recording. Very well received! In concert, I hear he drums, sings, and plays organ. Wow! Chicago peeps… check him out sometime. Web: http://www.recordlabelrecordlabel.com/

5) IPB Image Pristina featuring Sarah MasenSo Alive (indie alt-electronica), released May ’05: Well, it’s been 4+ years since Sarah Masen released any music. She is desparately missed, but this Pristina single/EP with some Sarah Masen vocals hit the spot for now. Sarah, got anything in the works? Web: http://www.pristinamusic.com/

Best Use of a Horse’s Ass (or Horse’s Ass Paraphernalia)
Over the Rhine‘s Drunkard’s Prayer
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Best Instrumental Album
Tristeza‘s A Colores (runner-up: Mogwai‘s mostly instrumental Government Commissions)
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Best Soundtrack/Score
Thumbsucker Soundtrack featuring The Polyphonic Spree & Elliott Smith (runner-up: Screaming Masterpiece Soundtrack featuring a dozen+ great Icelandic artists)
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Best Debut Album
Eisley‘s Room Noises (runner-up: HeadphonesHeadphones)
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Best Concept Album
Sufjan Stevens Invites You to Come On Feel the Illinoise (runner-up: Coheed & Cambria‘s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV – Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness)
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Best International Release (US label)
Sigur Rós‘s Takk… (runner-up: Porcupine Tree‘s Deadwing)
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Best International Release (non-US label) i.e.- harder to get ahold of…
Múm‘s Loksins Erum Við Engin (runner-up: Yann Tiersen‘s Les Retrouvailles)
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Best Local Album
The TimesBegin from Cincinnati, OH (runner-up: Shrug‘s Whole Hog for the Macho Jesus from Dayton, OH)
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I heart CDBaby. Support local / indie music!!

Best Indie Album
Sufjan Stevens Invites You to Come On Feel the Illinoise (runner-up: Ani Difranco‘s Knuckle Down)
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Best Album Packaging & Design
Fantômas‘s Suspended Animation and its 30+ page spiral calendar with illustrations by Japanese artist Yoshimoto Nara (runner-up: Ani Difranco‘s Knuckle Down)
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Best Album Artwork
The Iron & Wine and Calexico collaborative In the Reins -EP- painting (runner-up: Sufjan Stevens Invites You to Come On Feel the Illinoise‘s cease-and-desist-inducing “Superman cover”)
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Biggest Disappointment
Gary Cherone‘s solo debut Need I Say More -EP- (he didn’t need to say more, he just needed to say it better)
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Worst Album Art (for an otherwise stellar album)
The Squirts Resquirtedgreat album, very Matt Bissonette/Jughead/Mustard Seeds-y, yet dumb, dumb, dumb cover…
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and since I didn’t want to end on a sour note, here are three more “Best Of” winners…

Best Use of Nature on an Album Cover
King’s X‘s disguised trees on Ogre Tones (runner-up: Copeland‘s sleek In Motion)
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Best Book on CD
Noam Chomsky‘s Imperial Ambitions (runners-up: George Carlin‘s When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? -and- Al Franken‘s The Truth (With Jokes))
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Best Album named “Suspended Animation
Fantômas‘s Suspended Animation definitely over Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci‘s first solo album under the same name
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yes, I like lists… and the “concatenate” function…

~Dan – np: nellie mckay‘s “the big one” from the forthcoming album pretty little head (early front-runner for Best of 2006)

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