01 January 2006

EAR FARM's Top 15 albums of 2005 redux

This list was originally posted on December 1st. That's like wicked early and stuff but I did that so as to not be too influenced by the many other list makers out there. So, here is EAR FARM's list once again. No, it hasn't changed - just thought it'd be nice to revisit now that the year is actually over. This time around, EAR FARM will also be giving you a bit of editorial commentary and one song from each of these albums to check out for yourself - further proof that these are musics you should be spending money on. Click the title of the album to go buy it somewhere, click the artist's name to go to their site, click the (+) to read what some critics have to say, and click on the song name to listen. As always, please feel free to comment, complain, leave your own "tops of '05" list, or tag the comments to this post with graffiti.

15. Arular by M.I.A. (+) - listen: "Sunshowers"
What can I say? I got this album in the summer and it was so totally the perfect summer album. I should've been cruising in some Jeep with its top off, bumpin this joint and scammin bitches. THAT would've been the way to properly enjoy this mixture of sweet beats and kick ass female rap; but wait, M.I.A. is actually saying something with her words! Politically charged dance/rap from Sri Lanka via London? "Shit yes" I say. The only real question I've got is what kind of staying power this album has, and thus it got the #15 spot. But hey, Stylus placed it at number ONE in their list.

14. Picaresque by The Decemberists (+) - listen: "16 Military Wives"
I love this band, I do, it's just that I think their first two albums are better than this one. Or is it that I feel like this album didn't move far enough forward and instead it's more like they're treading water? The scope of this album is up two or three notches from The Decemberists' previous efforts with an army of new instruments backing them...perhaps I shouldn't compare this album to others by The Decemberists but to the others released this year. Yes, okay, that's why I placed this album at #14. Whatever, don't be confused just because I am - this is an excellent album by a band you must see live.

13. The Woods by Sleater-Kinney (+) - listen: "Jumpers"
This album rocks, that's as simple as I can put it. Do you like rockin shit? Go get it. This is Sleater-Kinney growing up and putting out (maybe) their best album yet some ten years into their career. They're looking back to the 70's and 90's for inspiration but still moving forward with the music - I think I may have screwed up by not putting this higher. Magnet thinks so, they've got The Woods at number one on their list.

12. The Mouse and the Mask by Danger Doom (+) - listen: "Sofa King"
I wonder where all of the supporters of this album went... Seems like right when The Mouse and the Mask was released everyone was all way into it but then when list season came around they left it for dead. Anyway, I wanted to give at least one proper hip-hop album a spot on this list. Kanye's album could've made it as, it IS very good (maybe not as good as he thinks) but this Danger Mouse/MF Doom/Adult Swim collaboration is so fucking creative and fun, I love it. Btw, what a year Danger Mouse had.

11. Birds Make Good Neighbors by The Rosebuds (+) - listen: "Boxcar"
Pros: The Rosebuds are from North Carolina, they're on the best indie label out there, and they made one killer record called Birds Make Good Neighbors

Cons: Not enough people know of them so you don't really believe me when I tell you how good this album is

10. Take Fountain by The Wedding Present (+) - listen: "Always the Quiet One"
For a while I kept telling myself that I didn't really like this album that much. It wasn't vintage sounds of The Wedding Present, but then it's not like it was totally Cinerama either - more something in between with a little western flair added in. I listened anyway though, it still being one of the better albums out there, convinced it'd not make my year end list. Then when it came time to make my list, I gave the album one more listen and it dawned on me that this album is better than most of the crap that was released this year that has bozos pissing themselves. True dat.

9. Feels by Animal Collective (+) - listen: "Turn Into Something"
In college I knew this girl who was really smart and very creative but only marginally cute. She could paint like crazy but was slightly socially inept and weird. Then she discovered acid and got even more weird, withdrawn, and creative. Somehow though, eventually, I ended up developing a crush on her. Comprend? Good because Animal Collective has been, for me, the musical equivalent of that girl and this album might just be the beginning of my crush on them.

8. The Runners Four by Deerhoof (+) - listen: "You Can See"
Another experimental indie band hitting another near perfect bullseye. The feeling I get about this album is that it could end up being Deerhoof's finest when all is said and done as I can't currently imagine them topping the excellence on The Runners Four. Original, creative, fun...with ease they walk a fine line between convention and invention with the songs on this album and they do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it RIGHT.

7. One State Two State by The Light Footwork (+) - listen: "Mensa, AZ"
Time will tell how, and if, the world (outside of music bloggers) reacts to this album but it made my list because it dominated my iPod during the last few months of this year. Equal parts Pavement, Beulah, and Pixies but never not sounding completely like themselves; The Light Footwork won me over with smart lyrics, catchy tunes, and fine production. I'd think that most people reading this right now would enjoy this album, or already own it. Oh yeah, the great artwork is just icing on the cake.

6. Illinois by Sufjan Stevens (+) - listen: "Jacksonville"
50,000,000 music critics can't be wrong, can they? Illinois tops so many lists it's darn near annoying. You know what though? There's a really good reason everyone is head over heels for this album. It's the sound of an artist painting a folk-pop masterpiece and if I didn't take my own personal taste into account when compiling this list Illinois might've been at number one here as well.

5. The Great Destroyer by Low (+) - listen: "Everybody's Song"
If it's possible for Low to sound anything remotely close to pop-rockish then this is it. Wait, don't let that put you off. Much like the Sleater-Kinney album mentioned earlier, this record finds a veteran band re-developing their sound thanks to work in the studio with Dave Fridmann. I've been listening to The Great Destroyer for eleven months now and still find my love for the album growing. Oh, and it's really great winter music.

4. Twin Cinema by The New Pornographers (+) - listen: "The Bleeding Heart Show"
This was the first album that I considered as a potential "best of the year". Thing is, that was back in August when it came out. If anything, the sun drenched indie pop music these guys make just can't be taken in large doses. That's not to say this album isn't one of the best of the year (the collective talent of this band is staggering at times), it's just that I'm not exactly still listening to it with any regularity. But, given some time away from it I'm sure that very soon I'll be going back to remember why I immediately fell in love with Twin Cinema.

3. Open Season by British Sea Power (+) - listen: "Oh Larsen B"
Without a doubt, this album sits so highly on this list because I am in love with British Sea Power. They can do no wrong in my eyes and, unlike most others, I really adore their sophomore effort. While it is less abrasive, less overtly daring, than their debut album, Open Season is equally worthy of attention. The sound is more calmingly melodic and icy and stark. Actually, I prefer this quote from the review in The Guardian: "It's a triumphant lesson in sweeping gracefully towards the mainstream with your imagination and mystery intact."

2. Give Blood by Brakes (+) - listen: "What's in it For Me?"
Two great cover songs. Snappy, fun, catchy and quotable originals. Give Blood kicks ass like Indiana Jones did when he shot that swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

1. Z by My Morning Jacket (+) - listen: "Off the Record"
A true masterpiece. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this album at this point in My Morning Jacket's career reminds me of The Bends by Radiohead and I'd almost not at all be surprised if My Morning Jacket's next album becomes the album of the 00's the way Ok Computer did in the 90's. What really sealed Z's top spot in my list was seeing these guys live for the first time this year. I was blown away.

18 artists whose 2006 album I'm really excited about:
Arcade Fire
Belle & Sebastian
Built to Spill
The Flaming Lips
The Futureheads
The Pixies
Pretty Girls Make Graves
The Walkmen
Yeah Yeah Yeahs


mp3hugger said...

Wahay I am that girl who took your acid, throat still hurts, thanks for diluting it! Ah that was a sweet top 10, love the brakes album, perhaps they have started a new genre 'provincial punk'. Tee hee, regards for the new year. mp3hugger

kendra said...

I love every song on Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary. Where's the love? And don't give me any bs about their live show.

Lons said...

Wow, great selections. Love the Decemberists album, British Sea Power, New Pornos, Light Footwork...Plus, I'm proud to be on the extremely select list of bloggers giving End of the Year love to "The Mouse and the Mask."

nick said...

great picks; "the great destroyer" and "the woods" especially.

can't wait for new built to spill! it's been so long!

great blog!

simmerdown said...

great for you my budget is about one new album a year. what's up with the music industry price gouging

BionicBuddha said...

I just discovered this blog and I know that I will keep coming back..the music pics rock....yes, I know people throw the term around loosley, but it does in any event.

Narwhaler said...

excellent list! Animal Collective's new album is amazing.

chris said...

silversun pickups - carnavas
the black angels - passover
band of horses - everything all the time

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