Monday, August 01, 2005

Best of 2005, So Far

So far 2005 has not lived up to expectations, music-wise, as several artists released highly anticipated albums (by me at least), and none of them were that spectacular. Weezer and Daft Punk didn't even come close to what I know they have the ability to do, Coldplay and Beck both released mediocre albums that are probably the worst of their catalogues, and even though New Order and Oasis made their best albums in years, neither was a spectacular album that warrants more than a 7/10. Still, even though these albums didn't come through like I'd hoped, it doesn't mean there hasn't been some great music released this year. Here are the best albums I've found this year, in no particular order.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Once you get past the ridiculous name and the Tom Waits-with-a-pipe organ sounding first track, you'll find yourself face to face with the year's best album. They don't even have a record deal yet, but they're being hailed all over the place as the next big thing and the album is #3 on Billboard's internet sales chart, being sold exclusively through . If you'd like to take a listen, go to their website and download the three songs there at . Their sound is a bit difficult to describe, but I'll do my best. They are clearly influenced by the Talking Heads, especially in singer Alec Ounsworth's David Byrne-esque delivery, but he occasionally channels a Pablo Honey-era Thom Yorke when he needs to get loud. Another way to describe them would be to possibly say that they're like the Arcade Fire without all the crazy instruments and incessantly catchy hooks, but that doesn't do them justice. They are just awesome and have sent another breath of fresh air into the lungs of rock, showing that it hasn't all been done before.

LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem - Now, it's probably unfair to include this album because part of what makes it so good is the inclusion of the bonus disc that features all of the band's singles that were released from 2002-2004, but I don't care, I'm doing it anyway. James Murphy, co-founder of DFA Records, and crew have come up with some amazing songs both new ("Daft Punk Is Playing at My House," "Tribulations," and "Movement") and old (both versions of "Yeah," "Beat Connection" and my personal favorite, "Losing My Edge"). The rest of the album, though not as good as the songs I've mentioned, is extremely solid and can keep a party moving. Disco-punk may not have taken off like many thought it would a few years ago, but it's still lurking somewhere, and this is it at its finest.

Spoon - Gimme Fiction - The knock on this album has consistenly been that Spoon hasn't evolved over the last few albums at the same rate that they had earlier in their career. Well, since I didn't discover Spoon until only a few months before this album came out, instead of more of the same, I see three great albums (Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight, and this one) and a band that is slowly perfecting a unique sound. The songs here are pretty typical Spoon fare, though some are a little bigger in sound than what they've done in the past. Still, this is the same guitar, bass, piano and drums combo that has existed for years and frontman Britt Daniel is still writing great songs and putting his unique spin on things. Highlights include "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" and the awesomely catchy "Sister Jack."

The Decemberists - Picaresque - I never really could get into The Decemberists in the past, I even own Castaways and Cutouts, but this album takes their sound to a whole new level. From the opening track, "The Infanta," you know that you're hearing a band that has a come a long way over the last three years as drums pound and guitars blast while a string section plays lightly in the background, just teetering on the edge of explosion. Do not fret loyal Decemberists fans! Colin Meloy hasn't strayed too far from the formula that made the Decemberists who they are, he's just expanded on it, and you'll still find plenty of obscure literature references and acoustic guitars here as well (see "Eli, The Barrowboy"). The album climaxes with one of the year's best songs, the amazing "Sixteen Military Wives," sure to have you singing along in no time.

Other excellent albums of 2005:
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
M.I.A. - Arular
M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us
Ryan Adams - Cold Roses
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Stars - Set Yourself on Fire
Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
United State of Electronica - U.S.E.

Other Upcoming Albums to Look Forward To:
The New Pornograhers - Twin Cinema, August 23rd
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl, August 23rd
Kanye West - Late Registration, August 30th
Sigur Ros - Takk. . . , September 13th
Big Star - In Space, September 27th
Ryan Adams - September, September 27th (amazingly enough, he will release yet another one before year's end called 29 which will come out in December)
Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better. . . With Franz Ferdinand, October 4th
Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene, October 4th
Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel, October 18th


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