Monday, January 02, 2006

My Top 13 Favorite Albums of 2005

Artist: Stars
Album: Set Yourself on Fire
Release Date: March 8th
Label: Arts & Crafts
Comments: A runaway choice for me. This Montreal-based band blew me away with the strongest set of the night at a Central Park concert also featuring The Decemberists and Death Cab for Cutie. Every song on this record is incredible, and although they've flown under the radar for quite a while, being featured on The OC Mix 5 might change that.
Key Track: Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: Picaresque
Release Date: March 22nd
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Comments: March was a good month for music. The Decemberists own the number two slot on this list, which makes them the best current American band. Their songs are less rock songs and more accurately described as short stories set to music. Colin Meloy is able to craft these fictions with seashanty melodies along with elements of humor and intellect.
Key Track: The Engine Driver

Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Album: Illinois
Release Date: July 5th
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Comments: I've driven from New York to Chicago. So has Sufjan Stevens. He's alright by me.
Key Track: Chicago

Artist: The New Pornographers
Album: Twin Cinema
Release Date: August 23rd
Label: Matador
Comments: This record was finally released at the end of August after a summer of anticipation, and did not disappoint. AC Newman and Neko Case's Canadian supergroup keeps pumping out the power-pop hits with their third consecutively strong album. This album also served as the constant soundtrack to my first week of classes in the Fall semester.
Key Track: Twin Cinema

Artist: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Album: Selftitled
Release Date: Early Summer
Label: Self-Released
Comments: The most talked-about band of 2005 shows up at a respectable number five. Extraordinary what blogs and a catchy name can do for a unknown, unsigned band from Brooklyn.

Key Track: The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Album: Plans
Release Date: August 30th
Label: Atlantic/Barsuk
Comments: Say what you will about this OC-ified band's first major label release. Despite being whored out on MTV, this record is an indie-pop gem. Get out your Hollister polos, kids.
Key Track: Crooked Teeth

Artist: The Magic Numbers
Album: Selftitled
Release Date: October 4th
Label: Capitol
Comments: Engaging harmonies and energetic songwriting are what makes this little-known band from the UK so great. Another British invasion maybe?
Key Track: Forever Lost (Live on KCRW)

Artist: Architecture in Helsinki
Album: In Case We Die
Release Date: April 12th
Label: Bar None
Comments: They went from being total unknowns from Australia when I saw them open for Ben Kweller and Death Cab for Cutie in April of 2004 to being quirky sensations of the indie community in a matter of months. Their sophomore release is just as strong as their first.
Key Track: It's 5!

Artist: Ben Lee
Album: Awake is the New Sleep
Release Date: February 22nd
Label: New West
Comments: This lesser-known third of The Bens doesn't get enough credit. Lee's albums are consistently fantastic, and this catchy record is no exception. The music was even featured on Laguna Beach! Come on!
Key Track: Catch My Disease

Artist: Ben Folds
Album: Songs for Silverman
Release Date: April 26th
Label: Sony
Comments: Ben Folds left his Five behind, and it was four years since his catchy Rockin' the Suburbs was released (9/11/01). Ben is all grown up, and this mature record of piano rock shows that he hasn't lost his stuff.
Key Track: Jesusland

Artist: Spoon
Album: Gimme Fiction
Release Date: May 10th
Label: Merge
Comments: With a larger than expected back catalog, Spoon intimidated me when I attempted to become a fan of their's after I discovered them through The OC. I picked up their new critically-acclaimed album in Haight-Ashbury when I was vacationing in San Francisco over July 4th weekend. I was not disappointed. Everything they say about this band is true.
Key Track: Sister Jack

Artist: Feist
Album: Let It Die
Release Date: April 26th
Label: Arts & Crafts/Interscope
Comments: Sometimes openers are even better than their headliners, as was the case at a Broken Social Scene concert I went to a few months ago. Simple and beautiful songs and a soothing and tender voice has this only solo female artist on the list. Bright Eyes tries to cover her, and fails miserably.
Key Track: Mushaboom

Artist: Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree & Elliott Smith
Album: Thumbsucker Soundtrack
Release Date: September 13th
Label: Hollywood
Comments: Great soundtrack to accompany a great film. All original music scored by Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree along with some great songs from the late Elliott Smith as well.
Key Track: Move Away and Shine

Honorable Mention
Artist: Hartley Goldstein
Album: Songs in the Key of Zoloft
Release Date: Late Summer/Early September
Label: Self-Released
Comments: I didn't feel quite right putting this on my actual list since it's technically only a debut EP, but I've played no other artist more than Hartley Goldstein since I discovered him back in late September. His tongue-in-cheek songs comment about being a bearded Jewish sensitive indie rocker, Woody Allen films, and growing up New York City during the 80s watching WPIX. Need I say more? Plus, he's a really nice guy.
Key Track: A Love Song for Annie Hall

Song of the Year
Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone


At 1/04/2006 9:31 AM, Anonymous Marianne said...

haha. you are so obsessed with that Kelly Clarkson song, it's disgusting.

At 1/22/2006 9:43 PM, Blogger steve mcfarland said...

I'm not commenting on your No Pants post (apparently), though I thank you for the link! I'm commenting instead on your tremendous Top 15 - mine is that blog of mine if you want to compare and see how damn similar we are.

In other news, you've inspired me to really listen to 'Set Yourself on Fire.' I just procured both 'Set' and 'Heart,' and have fallen in love with 'Heart,' the newer album is sort of just the other batch of good songs that comes up on iTunes after 'Heart' is done. I'll give them the listen they deserve upon your recommendation, though.

I assume you'll be at the show in... February? I forgot. I have tickets.


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