Wednesday, 21 December 2005

The best albums of 2005

25. The Fall - Fall Heads Roll
Pounding, lurching and the equal of anything in their catalogue.

Best track – Pacifying Joint

24. Adam Green – Gemstones
The dickheads at Q gave this no stars. That just proves how fucking great it is.

Best track – Down On The Street

23. Ryan Adams – 29
You do sense that Adams is still struggling to nail down his artistic identity but many of the songs on 29 are the most beautiful he has ever written.

Best track – Strawberry Wine

22. Pajo – 1968
Airy, stirring and surprisingly sweet, 1968 has the former Slint man in delightfully winsome form.

Best track – We Get Along, Mostly

21. The Time Flys – Fly
Juvenile, reckless and very nearly perfect. One of the best punk albums of the last decade.

Best track – Jailbait

20. Nada Surf – The Weight Is A Gift
Alright, they rarely meander from the safe-haven of melodic indie-pop melancholy but Nada Surf make timeless records that show a complete disregard for musical fads and fashions.

Best track – Blankest Year

19. Mercury Rev – The Secret Migration
A little way short of 1998's Deserter's Songs but The Secret Migration is an uplifting, joyous celebration of all the beauty in the world of Jonathan Donahue's boys.

Best track – In A Funny Way

18. Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary
The move to Sub Pop has helped Spencer Krug tidy up the rough edges of their earlier EPs and allow their magnificent songs to shine through the chaos.

Best track – Fancy Claps

17. iLiKETRAiNS - Progress Reform
Never mind it's apparent status as an EP, it has eight fucking tracks, which is enough for me to consider it an album. Super-serious and devoid of any humour, Progress Reform is macabre gothica played through waves of distortion. Just brilliant, all told.

Best track – Terra Nova

16. Ry Cooder – Chavez Ravine
The most poignant, authentic and fun history lesson you'll ever have.

Best track – Chinito Chinito

15. Kanye West – Late Registration
So expansive and ambitious, it makes his debut sound positively lo-fi but more importantly it does what few hip hop artists have managed and delivers on the promise second time around.

Best track – Gold Digger

14. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
An album destined to become the standard bearer for this era of post-punk. Angular, edgy, pulsating and makes you want to dance your ass off.

Best track - Helicopter

13. M.I.A – Arular
Aggressive, antagonist, political but downright funky and sexy. Remarkable and revolutionary global pop.

Best track – Pull Up The People

12. Edan – Beauty & The Beat
It was easy to predict that Edan would've returned with another tribute to the golden age of hip hop. What wasn't so easy to predict is that he'd wrap his rhymes up in 60s psych-rock. An incredible mishmash of genius.

Best track – The Science Of The Two

11. Ben Folds – Songs For Silverman
Like all Folds records, it's a little corny and a little clichéd but it's also tender and heartbreaking.

Best track - Landed

10. The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
Baffled as many fans as it delighted but Get Behind Me Satan marks a huge step forward in the evolution of one of the world's great rock bands.

Best track – The Denial Twist

9. The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
That The Hold Steady made one of the best albums of last year was some achievement, that they followed it just twelve months later with an equally great album is quite something else.

Best track – Stevie Nix

8. Damien Jurado – On My Way To Absence
Damien Jurado might be the most consistent artist in the world at the moment. Ever since 1999's Rehearsals For Departure his solo work has been of a staggering high level. On My Way To Absence isn't as dark as his last solo venture but it is richer and more inviting.

Best track – White Center

7. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
CYHSY arrived with such a barrage of hype, it would've been easy to be dubious but this record is an absolutely thunderous debut that points to absolutely colossal potential.

Best track – Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood

6. Bright Eyes – I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Stripped down, this is the sound of a young man who's totally fucked off with his country but it's the closeness and honesty that ensures this is Conor Oberst's second consecutive masterpiece (I'll ignore the substandard Digital Ash In A Digital Urn).

Best track – Road To Joy

5. Sigur Rós – Takk…
Not since Moby's Play has an album been quite so ubiquitous but to criticise Takk… for being the backdrop to nearly every news report this year would be churlish. Only Sigur Rós seem capable of making music that is so frail and so muscular, so noisy and so beautiful. A truly, truly amazing album.

Best track - Saeglopur

4. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
A unique and extraordinary achievement. An absolute work of art and, miraculously a new high watermark in Sufan's canon.

Best track – Chicago

3. The National – Alligator
Wow! The National really went for it with their third album. Their previous two long-players hinted at brilliance, but this is their first masterpiece. Alligator is gossamer light at times and thrashing and pounding at others. Matt Berninger delicious everyman lyrics are better than ever. Smart, witty, powerful and absolutely fucking brilliant.

Best track – Mr. November

2. The Silver Jews – Tanglewood Numbers
2005 was the year that Dave Berman finally unmasked. His depression and his drug use became public knowledge but instead of shifting into the shadows he roared back triumphantly with his first true rock album. "Where's the paper bag that holds the liquor / just in case I feel the need to puke" was the year's best opening lyric. Powerful, moving and remarkably self-assured.

Best track – Punks In The Beerlight

1. Antony & The Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
Johnny Cash's Hurt notwithstanding, I can't remember the time a voice moved me into a hushed awe. I Am A Bird Now is tough, honest and beautiful; an album that finds hope in amongst heartbreak and loss. It's like nothing else you've heard this year, or indeed any other year. Rightly recognised by most as the year's standout album.

Best track – Hope There's Someone

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