2005: A Year in Review, Part Three
This is the last installment of my top and bottom of 2005. I hope you enjoyed all of my little tidbits of wisdom. This isn’t an official announcement of my return to full-time blogging, but this is me saying that I do intend to post again. This is something I’ve missed greatly over the last several months, and maybe a few of you missed me. So, I guess this is a new start for me, and if you like what you read, please stay tuned for more updates.
Alright, enough of the sap. Time for the top.
6. Stars – Set Yourself on Fire
I got this album when it first came out and it didn’t really impress me all that much. In fact, I set it aside for several months without even touching it. A couple weeks ago I was browsing through my collection and came across the album. I threw it in and I was totally floored. Here I had this amazing album in my hands and didn’t even listen to it for months! What was I thinking? Sometimes I’m just dumb, and this is one of those cases. The highlight of the album, at least for me, comes at the end, with “Calendar Girl.” Not to be confused with the oldies song of the same name, this is a sweetly honest song that actually seems to hit home to me. I don’t know; there’s always there’s songs that speak to you deep down in your bones and you can’t figure out why. This is one of those. Anyway, the whole album is similarly beautiful, and you should listen to it.
5. Doves – Some Cities
I can’t help but love the latest Doves album. It’s not all that big of a departure from their previous endeavours, but Some Cities definitely builds firmly upon the foundation they have made for themselves. It’s a little more rock, less epic, but I think at this point they really can’t get any more epic than The Last Broadcast, and if they tried to improve upon that they’d just fail miserably. Indeed, even though I love the enormous sound they had been going with in the past, I think going the more direct rock route was a wise decision. “Black and White Town” is an obviously good choice of single. It’s catchy and it’s got a great beat. Some might consider a lot of the album to be filler, but I think that’s just because everything is of such equal caliber that it’s hard to distinguish between them. I don’t know, part of me thinks this should be lower on the list, but because I love Doves so much, it’s going to stay here.
4. The Most Serene Republic – Underwater Cinematographer
I am very surprised more people didn’t put this one on their lists. I guess maybe they just haven’t gotten big enough to get noticed by a lot of people, but this album is absolutely stellar. I mean, seriously. “Proposition 61” is ridiculously innovative, using clapping, snapping, and even beat box rather than your typical rock steady drums. These kids are already fantastic even at their debut, which almost makes me a little scared that their future records won’t hold up. I have my hopes, though. With vocals so reminiscent of Ben Gibbard that it’s scary, Underwater Cinematographer is a bit like Death Cab meets... well, at some points it’s a little like The Dismemberment Plan. I just love the mix of sounds they have achieved. I really think this is the beginning of something great, so check them out now so you can say later that you knew about them before everyone else. Hah.
If you have a hard time sleeping, maybe you should pop this puppy in and curl up with your favourite stuffed animal. I don’t think I’ve listened to an album entirely about sleep that made me so happy. Every song is very strong and could easily stand on its own, with the highlights of the album being “Are You a Dreamer?” and “Everything But Sleep.” It’s really hard to narrow the best ones down, though, since all of them are fantastic. There are obvious Christian undertones which, as a fellow Christian, I appreciate, and with the success of other Christian artists who shall remain nameless (you know who I mean), this will doubtfully be an issue with the indie rock and folk scene. The material is especially good when he plays it live as a solo acoustic set. I highly recommend attending a show if he comes in your area. Are You A Dreamer? is a remarkably good album, just make sure you don’t fall asleep before the end.
2. Ladytron – The Witching Hour
Electronica at its finest. It doesn’t get any better than this. These darlings have gone a little darker for this release. It’s not quite the same upbeat feeling that previous albums have had. I sense a little bit of cynicism in the mix with The Witching Hour, but it just goes to show how innovative and flexible they can be with their sound. “Destroy Everything You Touch” is a very good single and it’s even a little epic in a way that I find is hard to accomplish in electronica without sounding cheesy. The sound isn’t cliché at all; in fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better electronica album this year (hence the high ranking). I love you, Ladytron. It’s as simple as that.
And now, your number one, which should come as no surprise...
1. Sufjan Stevens –
Like anyone didn’t see this one coming? I mean, seriously, how many times have I expressed my undying love and affection for this man? I don’t know how else I can phrase myself.
And with that, I am done! The list is compiled and complete. Another year of music behind us, with another fantastic year to look forward to. I’m already anticipating a couple albums coming out next year, including the latest from Belle and Sebastian. Being the law-unabiding citizen that I am, I managed to snag it on the internet already and... well, that’s another topic for another day. You’ll just have to wait until next year!
So, from myself to you, I bid you a very happy new year filled with all sorts of musical merriment. See you in 2006!