Monday, November 21, 2005

Best of the Year?

I had trouble settling on a best-of music list this year, at least this early. But here's what I was able to scrounge up and what I'm sticking to for the time being.

1. Sufjan Stevens, “Illinois” (Asthmatic Kitty): Pretty, whimsical, moving, an indie-rock update (or throwback) to the Penguin Café Orchestra.

2. M.I.A., “Arular” (XL/Beggars): A truly of-the-moment hodge-podge, great fun despite dating immediately.

3. The Hold Steady, “Separation Sunday” (French Kiss): Classic rock revivalism by way of Craig Finn’s brilliant and funny stream of conscious lyrics.

4. The Go-Betweens, “Oceans Apart” (Yep Roc): The first of the reconvened pop act’s albums to not just match past glories but in some cases surpass them.

5. Sleater-Kinney, “The Woods” (Sub Pop): Smart enough to admit that something fresh was in order, and talented enough to pull it off.

6. Head of Femur, “Hysterical Stars” (SpinArt): The Beach Boys by way of XTC, orchestral spazz pop featuring everything but the kitchen sink.

7. Richard Hawley, “Coles Corner“ (Mute): Rainy day ghost story snapshots of Sheffield by way of Sun Records.

8. Low, “The Great Destroyer” (Sub Pop): Too easy to take for granted, if only because they make such power and grace seem, well, easy.

9. Andrew Bird, “Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs” (Righteous Babe): The melodies finally catch up with the wordplay and arrangements.

10. The Rosebuds, “Birds Make Good Neighbors” (Merge): Indie-rock by the numbers, but with uncommon innocence and emotional honesty.

Weak year for music? Maybe. I couldn’t find any hip-hop or electronic music that compelled me, though many albums entertained me; I’m going to give the second Kanye another chance ASAP, and maybe the Edan another chance. Does Dalek count as hip-hop? Some heavy-hitters like Depeche Mode, New Order and Madonna made albums I love but which need more time for their relative merits to sink in or fade away. There were a bunch of great discs from around the globe that I would sort of feel patronizing including. And in the end I could make a list of 50 reissues full of unearthed gems– from a slate of esoteric Soul Jazz comps (Brazil had a new wave?) to Rhino’s Girl Groups box – that I enjoyed more than most new albums released in 2005.


Blogger Nick said...

Is this your Pazz and Jop ballot from 1995?

7:59 AM  

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