Favorite Music of 2005
This is a post in progress. I will update it 'til it's done.
Here are the albums from 2005 that I have listened to, listed in order of preference.
Low The Great Destroyer Alan Sparhawk's songwriting is varied and consistently impressive on this album. The straight-up(ish) rockers ("California," "Just Stand Back"), the slow builders ("Pissing," "Cue the Strings"), the dynamic loud/softers ("When I go Deaf," "Silver Rider") are sequenced in a way that makes for a really riveting listening experience--the sunny opening hook of "California" breaks through the minor key menace of "Monkey;" at the end of the album the loud, distorted guitar climax of "Pissing" is followed by the simple acoustic, "Death of a Salesman," which is followed by the relatively peppy "Walk Into the Sea" to close out the album. It's an enjoyable, intriguing ride start to finish. The Great Destroyer beats Illinois basically because it's more concise, and it avoids repeating itself. I go back and forth, though. Sometimes I think Illinois beats The Great Destroyer.
Sufjan Stevens Illinois What more can I say about this album that hasn't already been said? The drama! The pageantry! The horns and banjos! Irresistible.
Okkerivl River Black Sheep Boy Will Sheff sings the crap out of these songs (especially "For Real," one of my favorite songs in a long time). Like The Great Destroyer this album has a nice variety of songs sequenced in a way that keeps it interesting. The fuzzy keyboard, the horns, and the occasional strings, synth and electronic effects, and steel guitar blend into a rich, versatile sound that serves these songs very well.
Deerhoof The Runners Four I love the adventurousness and unpredictability of this album. Satomi Matsuzaki's voice hasn't gotten any less hideous, but it's an integral part of the Deerhoof sound, which is unsettling and shrill in all the right ways. The songs have gotten bigger and more complex, and more rewarding. I'm a sucker for manic noise, so a lot of these songs do the trick. "Running Thoughts" puts me in a trance.
Spoon Gimme Fiction The funnest Rock n' Roll record of the year. There's enough going on and enough weirdness to keep it from being conventional, which sets this album apart from the other rockers on this list like the White Stripes, the Black Keys, and Sleater-Kinney, but it's not too smart for it's own good. It's still a lot of fun. This album has some of the coolest jagged guitarwork I've heard (see "The Beast and Dragon Adored," and "My Mathematical Mind").
Wilco Kicking Television There are so many perfect moments on this album. Like near the end of Via Chicago when Tweedy quietly sings the melody while the band alternately bursts into chaotic noise and remains silent. Or like when Tweedy and Nels Cline go wild on the guitar near the end of Spiders. The choice and sequence of songs was great. The few country-tinged mid-tempo songs that they played were a nice respite from the aural assault of the surrounding material. Nels Cline's guitar adds a lot to the bands sound. I can't wait to see what he brings to the studio. Kicking Television's only flaws are that Tweedy's vocals on the up-tempo songs were kind of lackluster and I would have preferred that the album were a straight recording of one performance instead of selected songs from a few performances.
The Mountain Goats Sunset Tree "I am a babbling brooooook!" I was surprised by the sonic depth and variety of this album.
Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs Richly orchestrated pop. Well-crafted songs. Not quite on Par with Sufjan, but in a similar vein. Hands down, the best whistling of the year.
The Decemberists Picaresque Great songs. Great stories. Great characters. Great fun.
My Morning Jacket Z
Bright Eyes I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Wolf Parade Apologies to the Queen Mary
The New Pornographers Twin Cinema
Stars Set Yourself On Fire
Magnolia Electric Co. What Comes After the Blues Jason Molina has the best voice for singing country since Jay Farrar. This album has several really beautiful down tempo alt.country tunes and a couple of Neil Young-esque rockers. The sound is not exactly novel and the songs don't do much that is too exciting, but this is well-excecuted and beautifully sung music. The album would have benefitted from one or two more high energy songs.
Animal Collective Feels Animal Collective put together a good bunch of novel noises and textures. The songs themselves don't move much, but the energy and inventiveness of the sounds make for an enjoyable listen.
Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine
Death Cab For Cutie Plans
Broken Social Scene Broken Social Scene
The Black Keys Rubber Factory
Sleater-Kinney The Woods
The Mars Volta Frances the Mute
Antony and the Johnsons I Am a Bird Now
The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan
Nickel Creek Why Should the Fire Die?
Neil Young Prairie Wind
The National Alligator
Devendra Banhart Cripple Crow
Eels Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah