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Thursday, December 22, 2005

My Top 25 Favorite LPs in 2005

My Top 25 Favorite LPs in 2005

Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
1) Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Download: Sufjan Stevens - Illinois Sufjan Stevens - Chicago

Well, this is a no-brainer. I looked for excuses not to make this #1, but I couldn't. In fact, any of the top 4 could have been #1 in my list at some point. However, Illinois is one of those rare albums that you fall in love with instantly and continue to love throughout the year. Working with the 50 states motif, which would be a thematic limitation in the hands of a lesser artist, Sufjan does his homework and rewards listeners with a depth and variety that is lacking in his earlier LPs. An accomplished and heartfelt album from one of America's best songwriters.

M.I.A. - Arular
2) M.I.A. - Arular
Download: M.I.A. - Arular M.I.A. - Bucky Done Gun

M.I.A. and Dizzee Rascal bring grime to the masses, beckoning even the stiffest of indie kids to try their moves on the dancefloor. M.I.A. is the Missy Elliott of grime, basically blowing away the competition with tight beats and production so that it doesn't even matter what she's talking about. Whatever you think of her lyrics, which range from fun to politically controversial, there's no denying that her style of grime will be a force to be reckoned with in the streets for years to come.

Kanye West - Late Registration
3) Kanye West - Late Registration

'Late Registration' would be in my top 25 based solely on the strength of the singles. Its merits as an album have really grown on me. What I like best about it are the subtle innovative elements that crop up in unexpected places on the album thanks to Jon Brion's production: like the acid that starts up in 'Gold Digger' at 2:40 and the gorgeous strings and intermittent piano on 'Gone'. If you get past the annoying "Forever Ever" chorus, groove to the subtle acid bassline in the verses of 'Diamonds from Sierra Lone', which seamlessly blends with the majestic elements of Shirley Bassey's original (yeah, I know he ripped the sample without permission).

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
4) The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Download: The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

While I was not immediately blown away by Twin Cinema, repeat listens confirm that this is indeed The New Pornographers most accomplished album to date. Words can't describe how much I love The Bleeding Heart Show, Use It, Stacked Crooked, Sing Me Spanish Techno, and the title track. These tracks have an inexhaustive musical longevity in my playlists.

Deerhoof - The Runners Four
5) Deerhoof - The Runners Four
Download: Deerhoof - The Runners Four Deerhoof - Wrong Time Capsule

Deerhoof are one of the most unique and exciting bands that I've been recently exposed to. Think The Boredoms meets Sonic Youth with strange lyrics and unpredictable instrumental arrangements. This is a soundtrack to a schizophrenic mind, and I mean that in the most benevolent sense. For starters, "Twin Killers" is a minimalist favorite with twangy guitar and chipmunk vocals; then try "O'Malley, Former Underdog" and "Wrong Time Capsule".

The Decemberists - Picaresque
6) The Decemberists - Picaresque
Download: The Decemberists - Picaresque The Decemberists - The Engine Driver

The lyrics are intelligent, tragic, poignant, and full of imagery. Colin Meloy's distinctive voice and skillful songwriting help the band realize their full potential. This album delivers several classic tunes, including 'The Infanta', 'We Both Go Down Together', 'Eli, the Barrow Boy', 'The Engine Driver', 'The Mariner's Revenge Song', and the brilliant '16 Military Wives'.

Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
7) Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
Download: Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary Wolf Parade - Shine a Light

Initially, I didn't think much of them. But this mysterious and beautiful album has grown on me tremendously. Moving past 'Modest Mouse meets Arcade Fire' comparisons and similar silly descriptors, their style is distinct and complex, but enjoyable and eventually, upon repeat listens, strangely accessible.

The National - Alligator
8) The National - Alligator
Download: The National - Alligator The National - All The Wine

This great album snuck up on me and blew me away just a few months ago. Matt Berninger's stalwart baritone carries the emotional ballads with ease. In their best songs, the instruments blend together with the background vocals until a beautiful aural experience is orchestrated.

Tipper - Tip Hop
9) Tipper - Tip Hop*
Download on NEXT PAGE: Tipper - Tip Hop Tipper - Learning is Remembering feat. Epcot (open in new window)
Preview the album here

Amazingly, this one isn't on any lists that I've seen. It's a uk-only release, fairly limited being that it is only distributed on the artist's own small label. However, it's one of the best nu-breaks albums I've heard. It's a shame that only one of the following: Isolee, Vitalic, Boards of Canada, Fischerspooner, or Röyksopp seems to respresent the obligatory token 'electronic album' on people's lists. Dave Tipper basically re-invents the genre and takes it to a whole new level with his chunky beats, booty-shaking bass, altered turntable samples, disembodied/flangered/cut-up squiggly samples, and rhymes from collaborator Epcot. If you like hip-hop, Bristol trip hop, turntablism, or breaks, you owe it to yourself to check this out. Also, if you need something to test your sound system (home or auto), I recommend this CD.

Architecture in Helsinki - In Case We Die
10) Architecture in Helsinki - In Case We Die
Download on NEXT PAGE: Architecture in Helsinki - In Case We Die Architecture in Helsinki - Wishbone (open in new window)

Twee pop was never supposed to be taken too seriously. But Architecture in Helsinki charms listeners and critics with twee pop gems that are sugary sweet but substantive.

Vitalic - Ok Cowboy
11) Vitalic - Ok Cowboy*
Download on NEXT PAGE: Vitalic - Ok Cowboy Vitalic - My Friend Dario (open in new window)

If Fischerspooner or Röyksopp collaborated with Benny Benassi, it might sounds something like this. As much as I liked the albums by Fischerspooner and Röyksopp, this one blows 'em out of the water. Listen to the loud stomper 'Poney Part 1', the Chemical Brothers-esque 'My Friend Dario', and the glitchy electro-noise of 'No Fun' if you don't believe me (and forgive the two throwaway closing tracks).

Isolee - Wearemonster
Download on NEXT PAGE: Isolee - Wearemonster Isolee - Schrapnell (open in new window)
12) Isolee - Wearemonster*
If robots needed sexy music to procreate, they'd listen to Isolee. With more meat than IDM, this is a fairly minimalist yet funky cross of house and Detroit techno. They call it "microhouse". What is that? A useless genre moniker if I've ever heard one. Needless to say, this album is in fairly unique territory as far as electronic music goes. Check out 'Schrapnell' (soundtrack to a 21st century hoedown), 'Today' (a robot serenade), and 'Pillowtalk' (a plodding yet sensual robotic mating call).

Laura Cantrell - Humming by the Flowered Vine
13) Laura Cantrell - Humming by the Flowered Vine
Download: Laura Cantrell - Humming by the Flowered Vine Laura Cantrell - 14th Street

Would you argue with the late, great John Peel? No? Neither would I. This album is slower and more contemplative than her previous releases. Laura Cantrell has the perfect voice for country and even those who hate country can at least tolerate and, hopefully, enjoy this. '14th Street' is a carefree song about infatuation (and stalking). 'Bees' is a cover of an old country song about someone on their deathbed longing to see their loved one again; I defy you to not get chills down your spine when listening to this ("Searched the streets for old friends / met only strangers / none who remember / none who would take me home").

The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart
14) The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart
Download: The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart The Go-Betweens - Here Comes a City

The Go-Betweens return with their best album since The Friends of Rachel Worth in 2000. "Here Comes a City", the Cure-meets-The-Smiths tune "Statue", and the country-inflected pop of "Born to a Family" are ones to check out.

Animal Collective - Feels
15) Animal Collective - Feels
Download: Animal Collective - Feels Animal Collective - Grass

When I first heard this, I asked myself, wtf is this and why do people like it? Much of the lyrics are indecipherable, but that doesn't make the music unenjoyable. It may take a while to grow on you though. I have grown to love songs like 'Grass' and I try to sing along mindlessly.

Robyn - Robyn
16) Robyn - Robyn
Download: Robyn - Robyn Robyn - Konichiwa Bitches
We've been waiting for a white version of Missy Elliott. Ok, so we haven't. And no, she's not a white Missy. She's more pop (a la Gwen), than hip-hop, but don't underestimate her. She knows how to rock some killer hooks and has a keen pop sensibility. "Be Mine", "Who's That Girl?", and "Konichiwa Bitches" crowd my playlists.

John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt
17) John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt
Download: John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt John Vanderslice - Trance Manual (live) (note, live version is not on the album)

Sigur Rós - Takk
18) Sigur Rós - Takk

Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
19) Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Download: Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning Bright Eyes - Lua

Ladytron - The Witching Hour
20) Ladytron - The Witching Hour
Download: Ladytron - The Witching Hour Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch

Dangerdoom - The Mouse and the Mask
21) Dangerdoom - The Mouse and the Mask
Download: Dangerdoom - The Mouse and the Mask Dangerdoom - Mincemeat

My Morning Jacket - Z
22) My Morning Jacket - Z
Download: My Morning Jacket - Z My Morning Jacket - Off the Record

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
23) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Download: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood
Download: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Over and Over Again (Lost & Found)

The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
24) The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
Download: The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan The White Stripes - Blue Orchid (live at glastonbury)
Download: The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan The White Stripes - My Doorbell (live at glastonbury)

Eisley - Room Noises
25) Eisley - Room Noises
Stream: Eisley - Room Noises Eisley - Telescope Eyes
Stream: Eisley - Room Noises Eisley - Golly Sandra (live)

* denotes not released in the U.S. yet
Only full-length LPs (i.e. iron and wine's excellent eps are not included)
Albums distributed internationally last year but not in the states don't count in my list (i.e. annie, the go! team, feist, mylo)

the longest list of honorable mentions you'll ever see (alphabetical order):
yes, i really listened to all these albums, really
aesop rock - fast cars, danger, fire and knives
a-frames - black forest
aimee mann - the forgotten arm
andrew bird - andrew bird & the mysterious production of eggs
antje duvekot - boys, flowers, miles
antony and the johnsons - i am a bird now
arctic monkeys - i bet you look good on the dancefloor
art brut - bang bang rock and roll
autechre - untitled
beck - guero
big star - in space
bill ricchini - tonight i burn brightly
blackalicious - the craft
bloc party - silent alarm
boards of canada - the campfire headphase
the boy least likely to - the boy least likely to
the bravery - the bravery
brendan benson - the alternative to love
brian eno - another day on earth
broken social scene - windsurfing nation
buck 65 - the right here is
bullette - the secrets
bunky - born to be a motorcycle
calla - collisions
cam'ron - purple haze
caribou - the milk of human kindness
chamillionaire - the sounds of revenge
the chemical brothers - push the button
the church - el momento descuidado
clipse - we got it 4 cheap vol. 1+2
coldplay - x&y
common - be
dead meadow - feathers
death cab for cutie - plans
devendra banhart - cripple crow
doves - some cities
dressy bessy - electrified
editors - the back room
eels - blinking lights and other revelations
elizabethtown original soundtrack
elliott smith - basement ii demos
the fiery furnaces - rehearsing my choir
final fantasy - has a good home
fiona apple - extraordinary machine
fischerspooner - odyssey
four tet - everything ecstatic
franz ferdinand - you could have it so much better
fruit bats - spelled in bones
the game - the documentary
the game - stop snitchin', stop lyin'
garbage - bleed like me
girls aloud - chemistry*
goldfrapp - supernature*
gorillaz - demon days
the high dials - war of the wakening phantoms
the hold steady - separation sunday
hot hot heat - elevator
ida - heart like a river
imogen heap - speak for yourself
ivy - in the clear
jack johnson - in between dreams
jamie lidell - multiply
jason collett - idols of exile
jeff hanson - jeff hanson
john cale - black acetate
jose gonazlez - veneer
junior senior - hey hey my my yo yo
kate bush - aerial
kelley polar - love songs of the hanging gardens
keren ann - nolita
laura veirs - year of meteors
lcd soundsystem - lcd soundsystem
louis xiv - the best little secrets are kept
low - the great destroyer
lucero - nobody's darlings
the mars volta - frances the mute
masha qrella - unsolved remained
m83 - before the dawn heals us
m. ward - transistor radio
madonna - confessions on a dance floor
the magic numbers - the magic numbers
maria taylor - 11:11
martha wainwright - martha wainwright
metric - live it out
michael penn - mr. hollywood jr., 1947
mike jones - who is mike jones?
missy elliott - the cookbook
the mountain goats - the sunset tree
music from the oc mix 5
nada surf - the weight is a gift
new order - waiting for the sirens' call
nine inch nails - with teeth
of montreal - the sunlandic twins
ok go - oh no
okkervil river - black sheep boy
out hud - let us never speak of it again
paul wall - the peoples champ
prefuse 73 - surrounded by silence
public enemy - new whirl odor
rachel stevens - come and get it*
the raveonettes - pretty in black
r. kelly, tp.3 reloaded
rogue wave - descended like vultures
roll deep - in at the deep end*
röyksopp - the understanding
roots manuva - awfully deep
the rosebuds - birds make good neighbors
ry cooder - chavez ravine
saint etienne - tales from turnpike house*
shivaree - who's got trouble
shout out louds - howl howl gaff gaff
sleater-kinney - the woods
spoon - gimme fiction
stars - set yourself on fire
the subways - young for eternity
sugababes - taller in more ways
super furry animals - love kraft
system of a down - mezmerize
talib kweli - right about now
tATu - dangerous and moving
thievery corporation - cosmic game
three 6 mafia - the most known unknowns
the twin atlas - sun township
the wedding present - take fountain
wilco - kicking television: live in chicago
youngbloodz - everybody know me
young jeezy - let's get it: thug motivation 101
z-trip - shifting gears

DJMonsterMo | 8:14 PM |


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