Last year, I used a formula to describe my Top Ten favorites pieces of music for 2004. A friend of mine once said that all music reviews could basically be summarized as thus: "Like the bastard lovechild of (so & so) and (so & so) in (name of place) on (altering substance)." This is true. So, I apply that to releases of 2005.
But before I launch into my oh-so-important opinions, I just have to qualify: there's a lot of music out there. There's not a lot of money in my pocket. I also don't have the time to download like crazy. So what we have here is what I have access to, and I suspect there were plenty more great records that came out this year that I will discover in the future. That's one of the great things about music - you can keep finding great stuff as you go along... which is good, because I didn't get super excited about anything this year.
Then there's the fact that we all like different things, blah blah blah. So anyone who reads this blog with any regularity has an idea of what I'm into, and that's all over the map. This year, I think I let my inner hipster run amok. Here goes:
10. Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm a Machine (Vice)
"Like the bastard lovechild of Queens of the Stone Age and Gang of Four in Amsterdam on L*U*S*T." Ok, this came out towards the end of 2004, which is the only reason it ranks at 10. I would have ranked it higher, because it is pure, balls out frenzied rock-dance-thrash-bliss. And live, they kicked my ass in the kindest Canadian way possible.
9. Low - The Great Destroyer (Sub Pop)
"Like the bastard lovechild of Joy Division and Blur in Glasgow on Heroin." The band would probably hate that description (being church folk and all), but this album is both menacing and humorous and melancholy much in that way that smack addicts hanging out in flophouses are.
8. Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah - s/t (self released)
"Like the bastard lovechild of the Talking Heads and the Dresden Dolls at the Circus on Nitrous." Ordinarily, this would sound horrifying to me. But this band pulls off the indie quirk in the most interesting and hooky way... and I had no desire to run screaming. Hand claps (as advertised!) and everything.
7. Lady Sovereign - Vertically Challenged EP (Chocolate Industries) "Like the bastard lovechild of Monie Love and Ms. Dynamite in London cranked on Caffeine." She's speedy, cheeky, and she jams.
6. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - Cold Roses (Lost Highway)"Like the bastard lovechild of the Grateful Dead and Neil Young in Nashville on Ego." Ryan's at his best when he's a fucked up country singer. At least, I think so. Hell, he released 3 albums this year alone - if he can't self edit, then I'll pick the version of Mr. Adams I like best! (And don't think I don't crush on this guy the more snotty he gets. Damnit.)
5. Iron & Wine - Woman King EP (Sub Pop) "Like the bastard lovechild of Nick Cave and Nick Drake in the Southern Swamps on Moonshine." A groovy gothic barnstomper of a collection, filled with religious imagery and songs about girls. And the electric guitar, even! (Oh, and I liked the thing he did with Calexico ok, but this is way better.)
4. Fruit Bats - Spelled in Bones (Sub Pop)
"Like the bastard lovechild of the Shins and the Flying Burrito Brothers in Topanga Canyon on loads of Marijuana." A sweet and sour pop gem, full of indie hippie love and confusion.
3. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl (Red Ink/RCA)
"Like the bastard lovechild of The Band and Spiritualized in Memphis on Religion." The BRMC boys find God, the blues, and a little honky tonk taste good with a touch of their old school gee-tar fuzz. Some fans may have felt a bit betrayed that they didn't come off sounding like Jesus & Mary clones again, but I thought they did this Americana thing pretty darned good.
2. Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures (Sub Pop)
"Like the bastard lovechild of Neutral Milk Hotel and Fleetwood Mac in Big Sur on 'Shrooms, man." Hell, I don't know what Zach Rogue is singing half the time, but the other half is great. The melodies, the harmonies... There is something majestic about it. This album simply soars.
1. M.I.A. - Arular (XL)
"Like the bastard lovechild of Missy Elliott and the Slits in the Carribean on ecstasy." Booty politics for this generation rules the nation. This rebel girl knows how to take care of business, and I have yet to tire of this mishmash of third world hip hop dancehall electronica whatever... Free your mind and your ass will follow... indeed.
You know, both Rogue Wave and Iron & Wine made my list last year too... but they are just that awesome, really! Other stuff that didn't quite make the cut but I really enjoyed: 50 Foot Wave's Golden Ocean which had Kristin Hersh screaming like a banshee. Bloc Party's Silent Alarm was more disco bauhaus than the Fall, and very tasty, especially in the dark. The Mark Lanegan & Isobell Campbell EP Ramblin' Man is a sweetly haunting offering promising an interesting full length. Formerly shelved and then shared as a time capsule, Greg Dulli's Amber Headlights was also a nice holdover till the upcoming Twilight Singers album (expected in April); harsh and groovy songs, just like we like 'em. Sharon Jones brought back the funk old school style with the delicious Naturally. One guilty pleasure of mine was the self titled Dead 60's Rancid/Clash ripoff - because they did it so well. LCD Soundsystem's first full length was pretty great most of the time," fo' sho'," but I really dug getting all the earlier singles on the bonus CD... what can I say? I'm coming to love the Decemberists' Picaresque more & more, their stories of love and angst picking away at my cold, cold heart. Broadcast's Tender Buttons was a surprise of beautiful pop electronica, with more direction than I've heard from them, ever. I got excited about Sleater-Kinney again because The Woods rocked so hard, and "Golddigger" was the goddamn single of the year, with Kanye West's CD Late Registration backing it up most of the time. And how about that reggaeton? I don't know who half the acts are, but I'm learning. If it's in Spanish and my Colombian mom hates it, then there's something good there - right now I just appreciate that it sounds kinda different & makes ya move.
And that's just what I remember.Music is a good thing, let's keep digging it up.