Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Top 10 Albums of 2005

As we begin the new year, I feel it is my obligation as one who thinks his musical tastes are better than everyone else's (and I'm only half joking) to let everyone know what I think about the music of 2005. This list is, in no way, meant to suggest that these are the best albums in 2005. Nor are they even supposed to represent what I think are the best albums of 2005. Instead, these are the ten albums that affected me the most, either emotionally or asthetically, and that spent the greatest amount of time in my CD player. And I love every one of them. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you my top 10 albums of 2005:

10. Ladytron - "The Witching Hour" (Rykodisc)
I'm a sucker for female singers, electronic instrumentation, and any droning kind of music that reminds me of shoegazer. Enter Ladytron. I seriously thought I was listening to the female Depeche Mode at first. The vocals seem to melt into the synth and envelope the rest of the song. Whatever that means. They're just really good, okay?!

9. M83 - "Before the Dawn Heals Us" (Mute)
I had never heard of M83 before when this album was recommended to me. Okay, so they're kind of emo, but I thought since they're ELECTRO-emo, I'd let the squeeze onto my list. Many of these songs are cinematic in scale, evoking lush soundscapes and cathartic moments. Any band that can evoke both The Cure and My Bloody Valentine mixed in with ambient atmosphere is alright with me.

8. The Joggers - "With a Cape and a Cane" (Star Time)
This is a band that I just started listening to, but I had to find someone to take Q and Not U's place! These guys do so quite nicely, with math-rock melodies that would make even the most hardened of Fugazi fans proud. The hooks are not always apparent at first, but that's what makes them so effective.

7. Animal Collective - "Feels" (Fat Cat)
I'm a pretentious music nerd, and even I have to admit that "Man, Animal Collective is weird!" This is not a band for those of you who don't like to be challenged by your music. However, this is the first one of their releases that I feel like I can sing along to. And I do. They're one of the most prolific and intellegent bands out there today, and "Feels" doesn't let down.

6. Architecture in Helsinki - "In Case We Die" (Bar/None)
This eight peice outfit from the land down under completely surprised me with their hyper/happy/kiddie/laid back yet taken completely seriously brand of pop. They use every intstrument the could get thier hands on, and the album is a circus of instrument and vocal change-ups that will only make you ecstatically yell "Dude!" At least, that's what I did, and then I sang along......and I didn't even know the words yet! Listening to the vocals on "Wishbone" prove my theory that sometimes it's the not so good singers who make songs more fun. This does not apply to the Sugarcubes, however.

5. Sleater-Kinney - "The Woods" (Sub Pop)
I swear I'm not a sexist, but most girls just do not rock. It's a scientific fact. The exception that proves the rule are the girls from Sleater-Kinney, and they rock enough to make up for the slack all you other girls are leaving! With "The Woods," the trio has gone in an edgier, more powerful sounding direction, and it suits them well. Corin Tucker's bandshee voice is as impressive as ever. I also had the pleasure of seeing them live this year, and I seriously think Carrie Brownstein is channeling Pete Townshend. Most guys don't have moves like that girl!

4. The New Pornographers - "Twin Cinema" (Matador)
Seeing these guys live was one of the more memorable performances I've seen in years. The crowd only fueled their enthusiasm, and it was obvious why they're one of the most beloved indie pop bands around. A.C. Newman takes the wheel for the majority of "Twin Cinema," and it's definately a good thing. With one listen, you will not be able to keep from humming these songs! I even tried cutting out my own vocal cords with a grapefruit knife, but even that didn't work!

3. Cursive - "The Difference Between Houses and Homes" (Saddle Creek)
Okay, so I worship a the alter of Tim Kasher. I admit it. I was a little wary when I heard Saddle Creek would be releasing a CD of rare 7" Cursive songs from the pre-Domestica incarnation days. Yes, they sound like an immature version of the Cursive we know today, but this album makes up for that with rawness and energy. Instead of songs you could take or leave, these are essentials cataloging the beginning of one of today's most intellegent rock bands. With the departure of cellist Gretta Cohn in 2005, I am excited and optimistic to hear how the Cursive boys adapt. This is my #1 most anticipated album of 2006, but "The Difference Between Houses and Homes" is a pretty good appetizer.

2. Bloc Party - "Silent Alarm" (Vice)
You bought the new Franz Ferdinand, didn't you? Well, if you're starting to feel like those cliche' "rock dance" rhythems are getting tired, check out this other foursome from the Great Britian. Bloc Party will make you want to dance before you even realize that you want to dance, since they do it using a completely different drum/guitar dynamic. There are some of the catchiest songs I've heard all year, and I can't stop listening to this album. God, I wish I would've found it sooner!

1. Sufjan Stevens - "Illinoise" (Asthmatic Kitty)
No other album this year was, in my humble opinion, as emotional, epic, beautiful, distressing, or complicated as "Illinoise." It is without a doubt my number one pick, by far. I will admit that I am new to Mr. Stevens's work, but from the first track of this album becamse immersed in his intricate songwriting and orchestrations. At over 75 minutes of music, this album is not an easy listen, but after many journeys with it so far, I can confidently say that it is a rewarding one. Since those of you who know me know how I am one for the "high fives," "Illinoise" receives the highly coveted 2005 Irrational Ecstasy Best Album High Five Award. Well done, sir!


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