Monday, December 19, 2005

Troy's favorite fifteen albums of '05

In a year that showcased new recordings from musical juggernauts like Nickelback, Ashlee Simpson and Scott "Hey-Remember-Me-From-Creed?" Stapp, I had a hard time choosing my favorite records. I just couldn't narrow it down to only 10. And since I was a B-Team All-Star in all things sports in my high school career, I'll begin with my 5 Honorable Mentions before giving the records I liked most this year. (Sorry Mr. Stapp that you didn't make it "Higher" on my list...)

The 2005 Album B-Team

Feist --
Let It Die

LCD Soundsystem --
LCD Soundsystem

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah --
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Brendan Benson --
The Alternative To Love

British Sea Power --
Open Season


Top Ten

Wilderness10. Archer Prewitt --
Wilderness

This is a richly textured record attempting to change the adjectives associated with "folk." It works--it's off-kilter at times, exploring unique chord structures and instrument combinations, but the songs are never lost. It's an emotional album that I've played all year long since it came out in January.


Judy, Judy (mp3) - Archer Prewitt

Ferocious Mopes9. Say Hi To Your Mom --
Ferocious Mopes

A boy named Eric records these songs from his bedroom in Brooklyn. No one is writing songs about robots and ghosts and space travel like SHTYM. The lyrics are geeky and the sounds are quirky and the melodies are crazy catchy. I don't know quite anything else like this.


Recurring Motifs In Historical Flirtings (mp3) - Say Hi To Your Mom

Fisherman's Woman8. Emiliana Torrini --
Fisherman's Woman

My favorite Icelandic recording of the year! Instead of the trip-hop direction of her last record, Torrini gives some of the prettiest singing and most organic sounds I've heard in a long time. Romantic and yet dark lyrics don't end up coming across as a downer here--the songs are pleasing and smart and refreshingly uncomplicated.


Nothing Brings Me Down (mp3) - Emiliana Torrini

Let There Be Morning7. The Perishers --
Let There Be Morning

This is the most beautiful rock record of 2005. This Scandanavian band has lush arrangements, purposeful tempos, earnest vocals, intentional instrumentation and the most somber songs. This is the perfect tea-and-a-fire-Saturday-afternoon-not-planning-to-leave-all-day recording.


Weekends (mp3) - The Perishers

Warmer Corners6. The Lucksmiths --
Warmer Corners

Album #7 for these Aussies. It's their best yet. They've added a fourth member and some strings, horns and organ alongside the effortless bass-playing and jangly electric guitars. The lyrics are as smart as ever and the singing as smile-inducing.


The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco (mp3) - The Lucksmiths

The National/Alligator5. The National --
Alligator

It's emotional and dark and beautiful and mournful and appropriately optimistic. Vocals remind me of those great 80s moody crooners. The songs are diverse and yet not schizophrenic. My favorite song of the year is on this record. Probably the album that most ambushed me in '05.


Mr. November (mp3) - The National

In Case We Die4. Architecture In Helsinki --
In Case We Die

If sounds were like candy, this record would give me multiple cavities. Not since the Polyphonic Spree has a record captivated my ears like this one. Virtually every sound imaginable makes an appearance here--and somehow it all works. It's catchy and fun and insane and brave. Creative off the charts!


Maybe You Can Owe Me (mp3) - Architecture In Helsinki

Nashville3. Josh Rouse --
Nashville

This record is the one most likely to be in my father's vinyl collection. It's not blazing any musical trails to be sure--it's simply fantastic AM soft rock, bringing me back to childhood. Rouse's voice and soothing guitar-playing continue here alongside his playful songwriting.


It's The Nighttime (mp3) - Josh Rouse

Lamentate 2. Arvo Pärt --
Lamentate

Maybe the most celebrated composer alive, Pärt's music is mesmerizing. A work for large orchestra and piano, this recording is the most calming and centering I've ever heard. As usual, his tempos are painfully slow, the instruments sustained and breathless. There are hushed lows and tingling fortes. For people who claim "classical is boring," I'd fist fight you over this record.


Pregando (mp3) - Arvo Part

Leaders of the Free World1. Elbow --
Leaders of the Free World

This is my favorite British band. Unlike the safe songs of Coldplay, there are sounds on this record that, as a musician, I simply cannot figure out how they were created. Guy Harvey's voice remains whispered and yet somehow confident and present. The songs are subtly layered and stirringly epic at times. The first six songs are the strongest off a record in a long time. There is an edge and balanced cynicism present alongside beauty and longing. Easily my favorite record of the year--maybe the last two years!


Forget Myself (mp3) - Elbow

7 Comments:

Blogger Amy said...

A very good list (of course)! I must track down that Arvo Part--sounds extraordinary.

11:15 AM  
Blogger D said...

Excellent list & mentioned some I definitely missed! Good to see Lucksmiths and Perishers on there.

D

11:53 AM  
Blogger -tr0y- said...

thanks D and Amy--aren't lists like these so subjective??

2:33 PM  
Blogger thevitaminkid said...

I am disappointed that no blogger yet has given even an honorable mention for Ivy's latest, In The Clear, a hypnotic little gem. Coldplay also put out a solid record this year, but it is receiving little recognition in the mp3 blogosphere as I know it.

I am glad to see Feist and Josh Rouse here. I bought Feist. I've heard three cuts from the Rouse CD and it sounds very promising.

8:19 PM  
Blogger -tr0y- said...

i did mention Ivy on my other blog (thebaldtrain.blogspot.com) as an album i liked this year--just didnt make my top list. the coldplay record is beautiful--just too safe for me i guess.... (and probably too popular and i'm a snob.)

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Dave G. said...

Troy,

Great best-of list. And even though many of your picks are new to me, your write-ups made me instantly want to listen to the mp3s you posted. Thanks for introducing me to some great stuff.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Shehab Ahmed said...

amazing list, i had heard of some of the artists you wrote about, but every artist is extraordinary. definitely will be coming back to this blog. thanks

4:50 AM  

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