So, second week in February. It's just about time to start rolling out the 2005 Albums That Would Have Made My Best-of List If I'd Actually Heard Them In 2005. First among them, Amadou & Mariam's Dimanche a Bamako (US, UK). The record has received love from bloggers and mainstream media critics (and made a respectable showing on Pazz & Jop), so I probably don't need to say a lot about this blind married couple from Mali. Just that they make joyful noises that belie their sometimes melancholy lyrics (translated from the French here). Amadou & Mariam are heavily influenced by Western popular music (especially rock), so even if, like me, you're not too familiar with the sounds of West Africa, the record will seem instantly recognizable. And wonderful.
Artistiya - Amadou & Mariam
I've also been listening to and am impressed with Broadcast's 2005 release Tender Buttons (US, UK). Though I think this may be one of those albums I appreciate more than love. It's adventurous and full of unexpected moments and Trish Keenan has a lovely voice, but the album doesn't give me the warm feeling I associate with music that gets me in the gut.
Goodbye Girls - Broadcast
Looking forward to 2006 releases, I'm anxious for the new Wilderness LP, Vessel States. Jagjaguwar Records has announced a release date of April 11 and along with details of the album, posted a new mp3, "Emergency." The highly original Baltimore band's self-titled debut made my number four spot last year, and while I won't pretend this is for everyone, I encourage you to download the new track and "Arkless" from Wilderness' debut and give em a serious listen. Wilderness is currently touring Europe.
Also can't wait for the next Shearwater album, Palo Santo, due sometime this spring. The band's Web site has several demos and if "Turn Your Transmitters Off" is any indication, they're going in exciting new directions. In the meantime, pick up last year's Thieves EP (US, UK), if you haven't already.
There's a Mark Where You Were Breathing - Shearwater