Friday, December 23, 2005

Best of 2005...

So here we go and please pardon all grammatical lapses as last night I slept little. In a general comment I'd like to point out that 2005 was, in all seriousness, a very good year for music. There were tons of strong records competing for our attentions and, sadly, many of said records will go tragically unnoticed. It's the way of all things. If you're reading this blog you probably read a lot of others as well which means that you, in my opinion, do more than your fair share of keeping the heart of rock n' roll beating merely by being curious enough to seek out that which you haven't heard. I commend you.

So how do I decide what makes Bars & Guitars top ten? Should I just go with iTunes most played and leave it at that? Perhaps but the problem there is that there are some tremendous records that came out in January of 2005 that have sunk towards the bottom of the playlist simply by virtue of the fact that I have to listen to a ton of music in order to such a well informed and generally arrogant and cynical member of the blogging elitist commmunity. For Instance, Archer Prewitt's Wilderness definitely makes my top ten though I haven't listened to it obsessively (as I once was) in months. So basically my top ten becomes a mish mash of oft played, well associated records that seem to me to have made a mark on the musical landscape of 2005. Hopefully a mark that will resonate long after we've put good ole 2005 to bed. We'll see.

My Top 10 are unranked. I just don't understand what the difference is between number 10 and number three. It's too arbitrary. They're all excellent.

The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree. Lyrcially powerful, musically interesting, Darnielle is a special musician. I keep wanting to refer to him as a 21st century Bruce Springsteen. I don't know if that makes sense or not but he's got that uncanny ability to recreate a time and a feeling. My Review

The Decemberists - Picaresque. These guys are more or less batting .1000. I was sure that the ancient mariner whale's tales, greek tragedy, turn of the century anecdotal ghost stories schtick would run its course. But no, this record is as entertaining as all that have come before. Meloy is a first rate songwriter.

Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy. Probably my favorite record of the year if I had to choose. Complex entertaining, quiet, loud. Will Scheff's voice is a broken music box full of nails and feathers. My Interview with Will Scheff

Archer Prewitt - Wilderness. Such a great listen. Covered in the sheen of 70's AM radio pop, Prewitt makes his best record. My Review

The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday A well told tale of sin and redemption, of falling and getting back up, of powders and pills, and it rocks.

Andrew Bird The Mysterious Production of Eggs. Such an unusual record. Violins. Whistling? There's more melody here than most bands create in a career. Bird is the real deal and deserves and attention he gets. My Review

Smog - A River Ain't Too Much To Love. I'm late coming to Bill Callahan and Smog. All the Smog purists look down their noses at me and insist that his earlier work was way better. Whatever. I loved this record and "Let Me See The Colts" may be my favorite single song of 2005.

Silver Jews - Tanglewood Numbers. So nice to have you back Mr. Berman. We missed you. After a harrowing plunge into drugs and despair Berman comes back from the precipice with his most upbeat and musically rocking set of songs. I always love this interchange between Berman and his wife on "Punks In The Beerlight":

Carrie: If it ever gets really, really bad (x 2)

Berman: Let's not kid ourselves, it gets really, really bad.

Gets stuck in my throat everytime.

South San Gabriel - The Carlton Chronicle. I think this record really got overlooked. It's Will Johnson's most consistent set of songs under any of his various guises (solo, SSG or Centro-matic). Maybe because the whole song cycle is about a house cat turned off the self important music snobs. I think it's impressive that Johnson could write such an affecting, beautiful record about a house cat and have it be sincere and without irony. Wonderfully twisted Americana. My Review - My Interview with Will Johnson

Iron & Wine/Calexico - In The Reins. Sure, it's only a seven song EP but those seven songs could be the best seven songs we heard all year. Let's hope they take the collaboration to the next level and do a full album in the future. It's rare that 2 artists can successfully present the best attributes of both.

Honorable Mention:

The National - Alligator
California Oranges - Souvenirs
Mazarin - We're Already There
Magnolia Electric Co. - Trials And Errors
Chris Brokaw - Incredible Love
The Rosebuds - Birds Make Good Neighbors
The Pernice Brothers - Discover A Lovelier You

Kinda, like letdowns:

I didn't love Sufjan Stevens Illinois. I found it too long and kinda fey. I still liked it but found myself drifting away pretty quickly once the novelty wore off.

Magnolia Electric Co.'s What Comes After The Blues. Trials And Errors was so full of rockin' promise and the live show rocks and rocks well. What happened to this record? Inward looking and dour (but not in Molina's oft charming way) it never gets going.

Ok. I guess that'll have to do. Have a Merry Christmas.


Blogger howard said...

Good list. I'll just have to go and look some of those up now before the family descend for the holidays.

Have a good Christmas.

2:50 PM  
Blogger bakinakwa said...

Ah, it sure feels good to see Archer Prewitt's near-masterpiece included in someone's list other than my own. Cheers.

3:36 AM  

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