Thursday, December 15, 2005

Obligatory Top Ten Albums of 2005

Oh goodie, it's that time of year again. Time for every music geek out there to compile the obligatory top ten o' 2005 list. Much thanks to Shawn Delaney and Sound Opinions, who's top ten lists have provided the motivation to complete this beast.

I'm not even going to bother to number these suckers, and this really ain't even a top ten list. Think of it more as a "the ten albums released in 2005 that impressed me most over the course of the year, either due to originality or replayability. Or maybe I think you just need to know about them."

YOU MUST GO LISTEN TO THESE ALBUMS IMMEDIATELY:

Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike: The name says it all. Take the descendants of gypsies and expose them to punk rock and you get their native music infused with punk riffs and attitude. A fun album that will have you dancing and smashing dishes on your floor.

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm: This is a great, great album. Unfortunately, I could have sworn I had this album late last year. As such, I've become a bit worn out with it, and all the press they seem to be getting is, well, getting ridiculous. Are the Brits just happy to have a Brit rock band that isn't totally white for a change? "And he's the lead singer?!? Quick, call NME!"

Jamie Lidell - Multiply: Techno DJ does a turn as neo-soul crooner and turns in a vocal performance that needs to be heard to believed. I saw him live this year, and it was a performance I won't forget. While he could easily slip into derivative parody, his love of the music wins you over.

The Soviettes - LP III: Just some fun punk rock from this Minneapolis based band. Bringing together influences from both coasts, the albums filled with head nodding 3 minute diddies. Bonus points for female vocals and the Soviet-retro cover art.

Autechre - Untilted: Always a perennial favorite of mine, this album gets a nod because it's some of the most listenable Autechre released in years. Yes, that's right, I used the word "listenable" and "Autechre" in the same sentence. You can actually hear melodies in there. I swear! What else are you supposed to listen to when you code?

Prefuse 73 - Surrounded By Silence: Ah, hip-hop tracks that push the limits of sampling and experimentation, free from the in-da-club bling-bling nonsense that's been polluting too much of hip-hop today. More producer than artist, he's talented as hell. In fact his entire discography is held high in my regards.

Four Tet - Everything Ecstatic: Music that spans genres and defies classification. Part hip-hop, part electronica, with an organic feel that hints at rock influences. Terrific, original music.

Thievery Corporation - Cosmic Game: Who said downtempo was dead? Sure, they don't stray to far from familiar territory, but this ain't rocket science people! They continue to lay down groovy beats and great mixes.

Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better: Not as good as their debut, but a great sophomore effort. They show much more diversity than the first album, but don't try so hard that they lose their sound. Bonus points for their trademark sharp, stylish attire.

LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem: The man behind DFA shows why he's got the NYC music scene wrapped around his finger. Electronic grooves, sharp samples, and high energy punk attitude combine for tracks that kept this album in my stereo all summer long. Smart music that doesn't take itself to seriously. Second only to Maximo Park, and even then only because it was release early this year.

Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger: Absolute favorite of the year. I cannot stop listening to this album on the iPod or on vinyl at home. Sure, the music isn't too remarkable, but talented. Sure, his vocal range isn't the greatest, and his lyrics don't always rhyme. But, and this is a big but, the mother of all buts I tell you, there is an emotional quality to the lyrics that is so genuine and true that it hits me to the core. Maybe I'm just a sucker for an album full of good, real long songs. Maybe I'm just a sucker for anybody who performs in all black save for white leather shoes and skinny white leather belt. Maybe I'm a sucker for anything released on Warp, even a rock album. Sorry, I just love this album. I tell you all now: you will come crawling to me and apologize when this band storms the world of rock in a few years time. You've been warned.

THE BITCH LIST:

White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan: What a load of over produced bollocks. Jack White got a bit too full of himself and his abilities as a producer. Consequently, he took the "do a lot with a little" genius of the White Stripes and did too much, leaving nothing worth listening to, save two tracks.

Boards Of Canada - The Campfire Headphase: This was a good album, but strayed too far into acoustic territory, and away from the soft bip-beep-bop sounds of computer love that has endeared me to Boards. Good stuff guys, but you broke my heart a bit.

Beck - Guero: Turns out he's a Scientologist. Official immediate blacklisting. And Sea Change was such a good album. Dammit!

Gorillaz - Demon Days: Crap. One good song.

Royksopp - The Understanding: Crap. No good songs. Should have been called The Misunderstanding, 'cause I can't understand how the same guys who released 2001's Melody A.M. could have put out this eurotrash stinker.

Yeah, okay, so there are eleven albums up there, but if you can put eleven in and call two a tie then I so can I. Cheaters. It's a top ten. TEN! Period!

6 Comments:

Anonymous Bob said...

Some others worth mentioning...

Arcade Fire: Funeral
The Hold Steady: Separation Sunday
Common: Be
Vitalic: OK Cowboy
M.I.A.: Arular

no particular order

Fri Dec 23, 02:42:00 PM PST  
Blogger Chico said...

Funeral was released in 2004.

Common's Be was a really good album, but still filled with too much black middle class musing's about god and black culture for me to really, really dig it.

Yeah, probably should have given M.I.A. a nod.

Haven't heard the others, gimme gimme gimme.

Wed Dec 28, 08:50:00 AM PST  
Blogger Samuel A Love said...

Greg Kot of the Trib (and DeRogatis) both raved about Be, calling it Common's answer to "What's Going On." I'm with you Chico, great beats but needs to sharpen the social commentary to reach Marvin Gaye status. Love "The Corner" with the Last Poets tho...

Wed Dec 28, 10:03:00 AM PST  
Anonymous bob-the-contrary said...

I discovered Arcade Fire this year, but didn't realize it was released last year. I stand corrected. (still want to mention it anyway)

And Common-Be...it wasn't worth mentioning? Wow...harsh. Too much god, middle class & black culture? That excludes a good chunk of Hip Hop.

Marvin Gaye? Well, do we really want to start comparing *anything* released in 2005 to "What's Going On" (which is what I assume is 'Going On' here)? I suspect Kot was just proping up local talent and was a bit overzealous.

As for the Sound Ops guys...I'll just say that Moby, White Stripes & Coldplay were all in Jim's top 10 and The Kaiser Chiefs were in his top 30 (nuff said), and I've never heard of 1/2 the shit on Greg's list (which is better than what Jim offered up).

"I guess the heavy stuff ain't quite at its heaviest..." -taken out of context from "Hornets!, Hornets" by The Hold Steady.

Wed Dec 28, 10:47:00 PM PST  
Blogger Chico said...

Ya know, I was thinking of doing a list of best albums/bands discovered this year, considering that most of the music I found was released before 2005. (Hell, I totally fell in love with Blondie and Television this year. Did I mention how much I love Television? Television?!?!!)

You're damn right, I do exclude a lot of hip hop. While Common and Kanye are a much welcome respite from the krunked up, gangsta, in-da-club hip hop that's been dominating the scene for the past few years, I still think the content needs to mature some more before I'll be able to really identify with it. Of course, they weren't aiming to identify with my chalkie ass, so live and let live I say.

I think the biggest problem is that hip hop's lost it's experimental and convention defying nature as it's become the mainstream (or did the mainstream become it?) That's why when I'm looking for hip hop, I'll want Prefuse 73 or Beans or the like. Music that's about the music.

Yes, I think hip hop's in a sad state today. It's bloated and soulless, like so much in this country.

I was also pretty disappointed with the Sound Opinions list. They can be forgiven for their drooling over Common and Kanye, but Moby? White Stripes? Coldplay? Ladytron? Gimme a break.

Thu Dec 29, 08:49:00 AM PST  
Blogger h.Lo said...

LOL on the Beck comment. ;)

Thu Jan 05, 07:36:00 AM PST  

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