It Was A Very Good Year

Thank God 2005 was such a great year in music. 2004 was less than memorable, and we definitely needed some good music to ease the pain of the Bush reelection. This year we teamed up with our good friends at Catch.com, polling our enormous staffs to come up with a well-rounded list. Yes, we have enormous staffs. And no, we don’t mean it that way. Thanks for stopping by this year. We’ll be back next week after the war on Christmas is over. We’re planning a preemptive war against New Years. They have aluminum tubes.
Hopefully in 2006 the trains will be running.
Thanks again to Kevin at Catch.com for collaborating. Check out his hilarious “‘Twas the War Upon Christmas” when you’re done reading.
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20. The Boy Least Likely To
The Best Party Ever
[Too Young to Die]
We guess this is what we get for owning a Culture Club album at one point; liking the heck out of this way-too-quaint-and-daffy effort. We thought we were off the hook because we got Kissing to Be Clever by scamming Columbia House. Guess not. Has anyone seen our crayons? We want to make a drawing for each of these songs. And then rotate them on our refrigerators. We’ll start with “Warm Panda Cola.”

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19. Lightning Bolt
Hypermagic Mountain
[Load]
Not quite as rocking or essential as last year’s Wonderful Rainbow, but Hyper and Magic nonetheless. This CD validates “noise” rock by refusing to skimp on the riffs and melody. It totally redeemed all the other unlistenable stuff on the Load label. We would have preferred the title SpasticWiccan Mountain though.

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18. Wu-Tang Clan & Various Artists
Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture
[Babygrande]
This experimental collision between Wu-Tang and several of hip hop’s underground stars yields a stunning array of inventive samples underpinning a slew of quality tracks that cut right to the marrow. Your head will nod, yes it will. But you will not look dope. RZA is dope. You, not so dope.

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17. Animal Collective
Feels
[Fat Cat]
Animal Collective just keep getting better. Sung Tongs made us feel like we’d done some unsettling mix of meth and painkillers. Listening to Feels, the buzz was consistent. We just felt stoned. Feels is beautiful in moments, but paranoia-inducing in others, like you want to unplug the phone and lock the door. Animal Collective’s so-called “freak-folk” continues to amaze.

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16. Stars
Set Yourself on Fire
[Arts & Crafts]
We always wanted Everything But the Girl to not suck. Stars seem to share our concerns. Set Yourself on Fire is filled from start to finish with some of the year’s best melancholy pop tunes. “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” ranks among our favorite songs of the year. If we were giving an award for best string arrangement, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” would win hands down. And while we’re on the subject of best songs of the year, what the hell is up with Pitchfork selecting Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” as the number 4 song of 2005? Admitting to liking R. Kelly’s is one thing. (We confess). But Kelly Fucking Clarkson?

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15. Various Artists
Run the Road
[Vice]
A UK grime comp released by Vice Records. That’s all we’re going to say because once a Vice review led us to purchase a Detroit Cobras CD. For that reason, this review will end right about here. Fuck Vice.

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14. Shining
In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster
[Rune Grammofon]
Listening to this for the first time reminded us of the rush we got the first time Last Exit burrowed its way into our ear canals. The first track “Goretex Weather Report” tore our faces off, threw them on the ground, and then fucking laughed at them. These Norwegians take a whole slew of influences and pulverize them into a bunch of instrumentals that reveal new secrets every time you explore them. It’s like the ultimate desert island disc because it regenerates itself over and over with each listen.

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13. Bloc Party
Silent Alarm
[Vice]
Okay, Okay. People hyped the shit out of this record. But Silent Alarm was the rare exception to the rule where the hype was actually warranted. That said, it would have made a PERFECT five song EP, and could have been trimmed down. Nevertheless, the pure, unbridled suckiness of Andrew WK, should force indie music makers into a ten year sabbatical from anything to do with the word “party.” Thank God Bloc Party isn’t doing Coors commercials. [Kevin of Catch.com had to be wrestled into submission to include this record since “it sounds like U2.” He also “got a little tingly” when we wrestled him into submission. We let him suckle our necks.]

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12. M. Ward
Transistor Radio
[Merge]
M. Ward’s greatest fault is that he tries to sneak up behind you and it can take him months to walk around and get in your mug, but when he finally does it’s a slow build to something quite endearing. All of the grainy film and static tends to delay your appreciation for the complexity and originality of this recording, but it’s worth spending a lot of time with. And lately we’ve been doing a lot of that, much to the dismay of our John Fahey and Bobby Charles recordings.

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11. Devendra Banhart
Cripple Crow
[XL]
If Devendra continues to sound this good, we’ll stop making fun of him for not wearing shoes onstage.

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10. Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs
[Righteous Babe]
Very Rufus-Wainwrightian at times (yes, that’s a word), but without the thick layers of drama and taffeta. Supposedly at one time he was trying to lead some kind of alt-swing movement, which was obviously one of the worst ideas ever. This is stuffed with so many great ideas, we don’t how they managed to squeeze them
all onto the plastic.

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9. Art Brut
Bang Bang Rock & Roll
[Fierce Panda]
We’ll admit right off the back that this is an enormously stupid album. They should have named this Drool Drool Rock & Roll. Totally moronic. And fucking brilliant: “My little brother just discovered Rock & Roll/My little brother just discovered Rock & Roll/My little brother just discovered Rock & Roll/He’s only 22 and he’s out of control.” If you love the Modern Lovers’ debut as much as we do, well, you’re a very smart person.

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8. Okkervil River
Black Sheep Boy
[Jagjaguwar]
We weren’t that impressed with Will Oldham’s release this year, Superwolf. It had some nice moments but was pretty dull overall. Thankfully, Black Sheep Boy filled the void. It had the same folky, Americana vibe. One of 2005’s nicest surprises. Edith Frost and Ox helped ease the pain too.

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7. LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem
[DFA]
We’ve loved James Murphy since his early days with MoWax and U.N.K.L.E. The DFA icon is the sultan of electro-swing. Daft Punk should be doing more than playing at his house party. They should be letting him produce them.

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6. M.I.A.
Arular
[XL]
Who knew we’d ever cherish a Sri Lankan rap record?

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5. Bright Eyes
I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
[Saddle Creek]
He’s annoying. And he’s not the next Bob Dylan. He told a crowd in Texas who’d paid to see him perform “I don’t know if you know this, but I hate your fucking state. I’d put a fucking gun to my head before I’d live in your state… if you were a normal Texan, you’d probably be roping steers and raping Indians.” If this record wasn’t so wonderful, we’d have a hard time forgiving Bright Eyes for being a Dumb Ass.

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4. Chad Vangaalen
Infiniheart
[Sub Pop]
Every once in a while the overall mood of an album will intrigue you more than the actual songs it contains. In this case, we’re captivated by both the mood and the songs. Calling this “golden” pretty much covers it.

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3. Of Montreal
The Sunlandic Twins
[Polyvinyl]
No one listened to this record. Indie fans have given up on the Elephant Six collective, we guess. But their youngest stepchild, Of Montreal, deserve a chance. This is hands-down the most underrated CD of the year. Its as equally complex as it is melodic. Plus you’ll feel a little less gay listening to it than their previous masterpiece, The Gay Parade. That is, unless you listen like to listen to The Sunlandic Twins on your iPod all lubed up and naked in a gay bath in Budapest, like we do.

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2. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
[Clap Your Hands Say Yeah]
Sure, a lot of people compare them to the Talking Heads, but what they forget to tell you is that this may be the best Talking Heads album, too. Maybe the best one by Television and Modest Mouse, as well. Hell, throw just about anyone in there and that statement will be true.

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1. Sufjan Stevens
Illinois
[Asthmatic Kitty]
Not only the best album to come out this year, but also one of the best concept albums of all-time. Maybe the best. Towering and majestic one moment and solemn and soothing the next (sometimes in the same song), this is an utter triumph and deserves every accolade it’s been lavished with since its release. Nearly 75 minutes of music and we wouldn’t want to be without one note of it. Ever.

–EP of the year–
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Iron & Wine/Calexico
In the Reins
[Overcoat]
Just a wee bit better than the other wonderful EP I&W Samuel Beam released this year (Woman King) because of all of the sawdust,
bullet casings, and peanut shells Calexico has spread across the (killing) floor. There’s also a song with whistling on it, which satisfies Rock Rule #347: “Almost without fail, adding whistling to a song makes it better.” If you liked Wilco better then than now, you should definitely buy this. If not, you should still buy this. It’s just that simple.

Overrated Albums of the Year
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Antony & the Johnsons
I Am a Bird Now
[Secretly Canadian]
Five words: Tiny Tim was more talented.

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The Hold Steady
Separation Sunday
[Frenchkiss]
Six Words: Frat Boy Rock for Indie Kids.

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Wolf Parade
Apologies to the Queen Mary
[Sub Pop]
Seven Words: The Shelf Life of Unrefrigerated Vanilla Yogurt.

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Vashti Bunyan
Lookaftering
[Fat Cat]
Wake up and smell the decade. There’s a very good reason why Melanie hasn’t made a comeback. And nothing on Lookaftering is even remotely close to being as good as Melanie’s hit “Brand New Key.” And Vashti probably doesn’t have a brand new pair of roller skates. Just a pair of sandals. With flowers painted on them. And maybe “Vashti” painted across the middle strap. Except it’s misspelled. Because the guy who made the sandals was stoned.

Worst Album of the Year
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Fiery Furnaces
Rehearsing My Choir
[Rough Trade]
Holy shit, experimental can be good. But this record sounds like it was mixed by someone who mastered in “Ironic Geek Noise Pop” at the Rhode Island School of Music Deconstruction. It’s a prime example of an art school education gone wrong. A horrible, horrible, horrible record.
Best Music Website 2005
BrooklynVegan

FREEwilliamsburg’s Most Anticipated Release of 2006
Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit

Catch.com’s Most Anticipated Release of 2006

Miighty Flashlight/Mike Fellows and Quasi (favorite albums in 2002 and 2003, respectively)

Thing That Brought FREEwilliamsburg The Most Pleasure In 2005 That Wasn’t Music
The Andy Milonakis Show
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Thing That Brought Catch.com The Most Pleasure In 2005 That Wasn’t Music
Tom Cruise Kills Oprah. Honorable mention: Leeroy Jenkins.
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–Click here for Catch.com’s Best of 2005 List–

–FREEwilliamsburg’s Favorites After the Jump–

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