Top 10 of 2005
Since everyone else gets to do one, here is my top 10 list for the year.
1. Jamie Lidell - Multiply
To this day I still can't tell if this is a self-parodying genre exercise, or somehow this white British dude found a way to channel the sex and swagger of black soul music. Either way, Multiply is flawless, both a soundtrack to the bumping of a house party and the regretful morning after.
2. The Constantines - Tournament of Hearts
Performed with great restraint, Tournament of Hearts is the sort of record Joe Strummer would have loved, punk in message (but not tempo), urgent, and wildly passionate. This is punk music for those who hung up the patches and rebellion a long time ago. Still, if you want to recapture that feeling, the ache and wonder of when you first heard the Clash, Hüsker Dü, or even Jawbreaker, this is your record.
3. The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree
I've had this record for close to nine months and I can still barely make it all the way through, start to finish, without either passing out due to the intensity of John Darnielle's lyrics or just getting a little teary eyed. One of the few Mountain Goats albums that is more fact than fiction, this poetic glimpse into a fractured childhood ranks as his best work to date.
4. Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
Their retarded bar band riffage matters not when your singer is like a drunken saint—half genius and half raving lunatic—stammering out some of the cleverest lyrics ever put to song.
5. Sun Kil Moon - Tiny Cities
This collection of Modest Mouse covers from Mark Kozelek makes me wish that all Modest Mouse songs could be sung by Kozelek's warm personable voice, instead of Isaac Brock's retarded lisp. Ouch.
6. Astronautalis - You and Yer Good Ideas
A criminally overlooked and misunderstood album from a scrawny white kid from the track-housing suburbs of Middle America. Falling through the cracks of hiphop and scaring the pants off indie kids, Astronautalis is bold enough to adore Calvin Johnson, sample Kate Bush, and name drop Tupac, all in the same song.
7. Crooked Fingers - Dignity and Shame
Eric Bachmann's tales of alcoholic heroics and failures have been with you for over a decade now, so it says a lot that Dignity and Shame might be the best work he's done. Less sad bastard, and more drunken Mexican cowboy, it's the kind of record you pray is not the soundtrack to your life, because if it is you got problems, kid.
8. Page France - Hello, Dear Wind
Forget Sufjan, the best neo-Christ folk record this year belongs to this unheard-of Maryland band. Sure they might be batting cleanup for Team Jesus, but their Neutral-Milk-Cab-for-Cutie pop music is without a doubt the year's best hidden find. Get into them now to guarantee a 2006 of "I told you sos" to your indie-snob friends.
9. Swords - Metropolis
Local band that used to have the record for most pretty people onstage shocks the holy hell out of us all by making an epic pop album that is nowhere near as over-indulgent as you might expect.
10. Pernice Brothers - Discover a Lovelier You
Much like all their previous records, this came and went with barely a whisper, but also like their previous records, Discover a Lovelier You is absolutely brilliant.