The Top 35 of 2005
35. Belle & Sebastian – Push Barman To Open Old Wounds
34. The Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
33. Roisin Murphy – Ruby Blue
32. Spoon – Gimme Fiction
31. Jamie Lidell – Multiply
30. Fisherspooner – Odyssey
29. Doves – Some Cities
28. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
27. The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
26. The Wedding Present – Take Fountain
25. The National – Alligator
24. The Life and Times – Suburban Hymns
23. Architecture In Helsinki – In Case We Die
22. Boards Of Canada – The Campfire Headphase
21. Tom Vek – We Have Sound
20. New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
19. Okkervil River – Black Sheep Boy
18. Devin Davis – Lonely People Of The World, Unite!
17. The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
16. The Decemberists – Picaresque
15. Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary
14. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
13. Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
12. Hood – Outside Closer
11. The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike! (US version)
10. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
9. Nine Black Alps – Everything Is
8. Feist – Let It Die
7. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods
6. The Capes – Hello
5. Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock and Roll
4. Stars – Set Yourself On Fire
3. Cloud Cult – Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus
2. Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself
1. Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel The Illinoise!
Favorite Songs of 2005
Doves – Black and White Town
The Frames – Finally
M83 – Don’t Save Us From The Flames
Stars – Reunion
The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives
Cloud Cult – You Got Your Bones To Make A Beat --> Interlude --> Washed Your Car
Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy, Jr --> Jacksonville
The New Pornographers – The Bleeding Heart Show
Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline)
Imogen Heap – Hide & Seek
The Capes – Supergirls
Art Brut – Good Weekend
The Life And Times – My Last Hostage
Engineers – Come In And Out Of The Rain
The Go! Team – Junior Kickstart
Devin Davis – When I Turn Ninety-Nine
Junior Senior – Hello --> Hip Hop A Lulla
“Why Can’t The Rest Of The Album Be This Good” (good songs on disappointing albums)
Coldplay – White Shadows
Ben Lee – Begin
M83 – Don’t Save Us From The Flames
The Frames – Finally
Soulwax – e-Talking
Most Apply-Named Track on an Album
Weezer – This Is A Pity
The Most Awesomely Bad Song of the Year
Tatu – Cosmos (Outerspace)
Biggest Disappointments of the Year
10. (tie) Coldplay, American Analog Set – Not terrible albums, but exactly what we all expected from two bands who have settled into a formulaic rhythm.
9. Ben Folds – His first solo album was great, but the song-writing and production failed to impress me this time around. Landed is good, but he ruined Judy with instrumentation (like Ben Lee ruined Gamble Everything For Love). And is that a tympani on Jesusland? Seriously, Ben. The crowd can perform your harmonies and brass parts for you, but extraneous percussion is our of our league.
8. Dave Matthews Band – They would be ranked higher if my expectations were higher, but at this rate their next album won’t even be worthy of this list. Or my ears. Once you get used to the very odd sounding sampled percussion (from a band with one of the best drummers around no less) “Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd“ is the only song worthy of repeat listening.
7. M83 – “Don’t Save Us from The Flames” was the first single I bought in years and worth nine bucks, easy. The rest of the album wasn’t worth the four extra dollars.
6. Moby – Bland.
5. Mars Volta – The first album of 2005 to be deleted from my iPod. It sounds like Dream Theater decided to record an album about frijoles and enchiladas while sucking helium.
4. Our Lady Peace – “Wait, OLP released an album this year?” – Bret
3. Idlewild – A disappointing follow-up to The Remote Part, this album actually made me cringe the first time I heard it. Roddy’s predisposition for ironic juxtaposition becomes unbearable at times. Try looking with your eyes wide open… I think the future is already here… But I’m connected to the places I don’t feel connected from. Luckily, the songs come out pretty good live. The “happy birthday” in the first track actually sounds cynical, “Welcome Home” becomes a sing-along and his musings on what is and is not actually seem thoughtful. Blame the production on this one. The amount of compression makes me want to kill the engineer. Standard, pop treatment for a band that has way more energy than they were allowed to convey on this record.
2. New Order – I can usually look past bad lyrics in favor of good music, but when a band writes lines like “Real love can’t be sold/It’s another color than gold” and “You sure know a lot for a girl” in the same song, the distraction is just too much. Critics have been saying New Order’s lyrics were crap for a while. Now it’s almost too obvious to critique.
1. Weezer – It’s my own fault for getting into The Blue Album and Pinkerton before the release of this one. If I had paid attention to their last two albums I might have had an idea of what was coming, but honestly, even then I don’t think I could extrapolate their downward trend far enough to prepare myself for this atrocity. “This Is A Pity”. Yes, Rivers. Yes it is.
Top Shows of the Year
Sleater-Kinney @ Moore Theater, Seattle
To see the grrrls perform the new album in its entirety two block from our hotel in front of their hometown (more or less) crowd was great, but being the first show of their tour it seemed they still needed some time to gel.
The Decemberists @ Irving Plaza and Webster Hall
The Webster Hall show was great because of Colin’s antics and the Irving Plaza show had a fantastic setlist including The Bagman’s Gambit and our first experience with The Mariner’s Revenge Song, but neither show was as good as The D’s in ’04.
The New Pornographers @ Prospect Park, Webster Hall and Bowery Ballroom
Webster was a good show despite being at Webster and Prospect Park was decent once we moved up closer to the stage but their best show this year was the hour long CMJ gig at Bowery Ballroom which was sans-Neko (I heart Kathryn). A.C.’s banter was great (“Rock bands only ask rhetorical questions… know what I mean?”) and a fantastic cover of “My Best Friend’s Girl” almost bumped this show onto the list. Alas, there is only room for ten.
10. The Capes @ Museum of Television and Radio – Wednesday, September 14th
This show was part of KEXP’s live broadcast during the CMJ festival. Alex, Bret, Mike, Cheryl Waters and I all fell in love with this band with their first song. You haven’t heard of them yet, but neither have the guys at Other Music, SoundFix or Earwax so we’re definitely qualified to say that we discovered them. With a bassist named Rupert and a drummer named Rupert, how couldn’t you love them?
9. Idlewild @ The Downtown – Tuesday, September 15th
Alex, Bret Mike and I were pressed up against the stage to hear Idlewild headline The Syndicate’s pre-CMJ party. I got there just before they went on so I wasn’t quite as drunk as the other guys (ahem, Mike), but Idlewild’s short set didn’t disappoint. We helped Roddy hail a cab afterwards and topped the night off by getting trashed at 12”. The entire night was a telling clue to the amazing week that was to come.
8. Nine Black Alps @ Mercury Lounge – Tuesday, July 19th
I never really got into Nirvana when they were still playing shows, but Nine Black Alps invoked my teen spirit ten years too late. Yes, you can understand their lyrics (they are British after all) and they aren’t quite as crazy as Kurt & Crew (so maybe they’ll be around longer) but when grunge makes a comeback Nine Black Alps will be to blame.
7. Art Brut @ NorthSix – Saturday, November 11th
The greatest thing about going to shows at NorthSix is the proximity to our apartment. We showed up early to see Test Isicles open, went home for an hour while the second band played and came back to see Art Brut. Lead singer Eddie Argos has incredible delivery and the entire performance was full of incredible energy, which is even more impressive considering the band played Jersey, England and then Brooklyn in three days.
6. The Life and Times @ NorthSix – Wednesday, September 14th
After coming home from my first full day of CMJ I realized there was still a show going on three blocks away and half-dunkenly decided to check it out by myself. This was my first trip to NorthSix and I sat in the “stadium seating” while The Life and Times blew me away with their enormous albeit three-piece sound. The only stage lighting they used were three halogen work lamps which cast their shadows on the back wall. Minimal lighting, minimal crowd, maximum rock.
5. The National @ Bowery Ballroom – Friday, September 9th
Alright, I’ll admit it. I bought these tickets because of the buzz surrounding Clap Your Hands Say Yeah who were opening this show. It was unfortunate that most of the crowd came for the opener because The National were absolutely amazing. I only knew a few of their songs which worked out perfectly. I was absorbed by the whole show instead of hoping for a few songs. The entire set had a fantastic sense of ebb and flow, climaxing in Mr. November which is a song that must be seen live to be appreciated.
4. !!! @ S.O.B.’s – Friday, September 16th
Topping off a night which included the Arts & Crafts showcase at Hiro Ballrooom, Thursday (and open bar) at Webster Hall, Immaculate Machine at CB’s, Bret getting trashed and Cursive at Bowery Ballroom, !!!’s performance at S.O.B.’s blew my mind. They didn’t go onstage until after 1am but we all danced our ass off for their entire set. Alex tried to pick me up at one point. It wasn’t me. Supposed Ryan wasn’t pleased. Drenched in sweat and tired as all hell we caught a cab back to the apartment after another amazing night of CMJ madness.
3. Sasquatch Music Festival @ The Gorge – Saturday, May 28th
My first trip to Seattle was topped off by our trip out to the Gorge for this one-day festival. We camped out and got there early enough to catch the end of U.S.E.’s set. Bloc Party and Arcade Fire were incredible on the main stage and A.C. Newman, Joanna Newsom and Benevento-Russo Duo were great on the second stage while Smoosh and Visqueen rocked the third stage. Jem and Kanye were decent, Wilco was incredible and the night was topped of by a long set by The Pixies.
2. Sufjan Stevens @ Bowery Ballroom – Friday, August 19th
The first of five Bowery dates by Sufjan Steven’s Pep Band and the Illinoisemakers Spirit Club. I hadn’t gotten into the album much by this point and if it wasn’t for this show, I don’t know if would have ended up as one of my favorite albums of the year. As good as the album is, I still prefer the way everything sounds live. The funked-up bass line at the beginning of Night Terrors… the hush that came upon the crowd during songs like Sister, John Wayne Gacy, Jr and Casimir Pulaski Day… the balloon deluge at the end of Metropolis, the sporadic cheerleading, Sufjan’s embarrassed smile… it all added up for one of my favorite shows of all time.
1. Cloud Cult @ 169 Bar – Thursday, September 15th
CMJ – Day 2. I saw The New Pornographers at Bowery, ran up to Central Park to hear the Arcade Fire show and back down to the Knitting Factory for Saturday Looks Good To Me. We caught Eastern Conference Champions and Head of Femur before Bret split for the Wrens. For the next hour I would be found sipping Pabst at a tiny bar on Canal Street with a beat up PA that barely had enough inputs for the band. I was absolutely floored by Cloud Cult. It’s been years since a band grabbed me like that. Like Sufjan, the album is incredible and the live performance is amazing as well but in totally different ways.
Better on the Album
Better on the Stage
Life and Times
Amazing On Both
Nine Black Alps