Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Best Of The Year - Part 11
Jordan Kurtz is a book&music store employee/musician/wannabe from Saskatoon, SK. He's been involved in a variety of bands over the years, including: The Uptown Five, Boycott Scott, Autumn Tides, The Absent Chutes, and Tuxedo Mask. Most recently he has turned down offers to play with Up The Bum and Buffet Of Death. He is also editor and co-creator of Bring Back Vinyl. These are the 30 best albums of 2005 according to him.
"Contrary to many people, I thought 2005 was an excellent year for music. Maybe not as good as 2004, but THAT was an above average year. Regardless this is a little late, but I took a few days to reflect on the year and in doing so realized that I almost forgot entirely about a few albums. Better late than never I guess. Oh, and sorry that this is the only list with pictures, I swear I just figured it out tonight. And I would add them to all the others, but it took fricking forever. Anyway, next year things will be more organized."
Ok, enough of that, onto the list. (click to enlarge)
25. Project 86 - ...And The Rest Will Follow. A tough album to place. Incredible bursts of creativity and emotion, too many disappointing hooks. Plenty of unexpected curve balls and risk taking, too much presumable contrived genre blurring and over thinking. Sharp as hell lyrics are (as with every Project release) the best part of this record. Example: "We once drew some lines in black, and right now it's about time we took them back." A respectable, ambitious album from a still underrated band, still searching for their sound.
24. The Juliana Theory - Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat. Finally. I've been waiting for a REAL follow up to Emotion Is Dead for almost 6 years. Not that Love didn't have it's moments, but Deadbeat is ALL moments. The Theory were dropped from Epic records not long before this album came out, so as hard as it might be to find, it's worth the digging.
23. Discover America - Psychology. Twothirtyeight was good, Discover America is fabulous. This is everything Chris Staples was meant to be.
22. Coldplay - X&Y. The good half of this album is
more than enough to make up for the weaker half. A wonderful, albeit predictable album judged unfairly and often more for it's context than it's songs. If this was a band none of us knew, and if none of us had unfair expectations, this would be on every Top 10 list of the year. There are songs on X&Y that will outlast many of the ones on the previous two records.
21. Sarah Harmer - I Am A Mountain. Sincere, simple, under-appreciated. If holding back is harder than letting loose, this was a very difficult album to make. Leaving her traditional band and sound by the wayside, Harmer opts for an Emmylou Harris/Johnny Cash sort of stripped down intimacy. Easily one of the best Canadian artists around.
20. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better. You really couldn't have it much better. The most hyped band of the last 5 years have no trouble living up to boiling expectations everywhere. Whatever country they're from, has never sounded so good. "Do You Want To" is the best song of the year.
19. David Crowder Band - A Collision. If ever there was a gray area in music, it's the tightrope walk of reviewing a "worship" album. Conversely, if there was ever an area of the industry where mediocre music was justified in the name of ministry, it's the "worship" "genre". David Crowder Band has done more for the musical credibility of "worship" than any major label artist before them. A Collision was an obvious direction for the band to move in, sounding more like an attempt at an epic, indie, spiritual album than a church-ready corporate worship release. This album is the perfect example of creative worship music, relevant to both the churched AND the un-churched.
18. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm. Bloc Party are sick of American guitar players. They're sick of copy-cat American rock. And it shows. Their slick mish-mashed guitar work, and thick cockney accents are more than enough to keep imitators at bay. Along with wonderfully simple songwriting, and above average indie drumming, they easily swagger their way onto this list.
17. Thrice - Vheissu. Welcome to the jungle. Thrice spent the last couple of years totally isolated from the entire music scene, and in doing so raised the bar for said scene to a wonderful new place. There are pros and cons to an Vheissu. They have effortlessly blown away every band in their scene, but have also set themselves up for a tough next album. Seriously, where in the world do they go from here? I guess it's not so important WHAT they do, as long as they keep doing it.
16. Motion City Soundtrack - Commit This To Memory. Every once in a while I get really pissed off when I listen to a record for the first time. It happens when I stumble across something I knew existed, but didn't know I'd love. And it happens, when nobody takes me aside and says "listen, Jordan, you HAVE to listen to this, trust me, you'll love it." I figure if I have the time to do it, others would return the favor. It happened with Thursday, it happened with Days Away, and it happened with Motion City Soundtrack. I can't believe I almost never heard this.
15. Hot Hot Heat - Elevator. Take a page from the Hot Hot Heat
playbook. If it ain't broke don't fix it. But if you can, try and make it more awesomer.
14. Acceptance - Phantoms
. Over-produced, over-done, under-appreciated. Phantoms
is unabashed, radio friendly stadium rock, for punk scenesters secretly in love with bubble gum pop. Acceptance
is the next/first true contender in the race for emo success and longevity.
13. The Rocket Summer - Hello Good Friend. Hanson meets Dashboard Confessional. Meets Billy Joel, meets Ben Folds. Meets Anberlin. Enjoy it now while you can. In a year everyone will claim that they "discovered" them. And all those people are wrong. I did.
12. Days Away - Mapping An Invisible World. Dear major label that rejected this album. Sucks to be you. This band WILL make a huge name for themselves. Start kicking yourselves.
9. Sufjan Stevens - Come On Feel The Illinoise! If John Mayer was bigger than his body, Sufjan is bigger than his country. This album is brilliant beyond words, and finds us heart to heart with one of the most talented and insightful artists to call himself a child of God.
11. Beck - Guero. There are very few instances where being speechless is justified. What is there left to say? Beck Hanson lives on an entirely different musical planet, where rock is rap, folk is techno, and mistakes can't be made. Why even bother trying to create music? He's so far ahead of the pack that nothing else seems to matter. When I listen to Guero, I forget that there are other CDs in my house, let alone anywhere.
10. Stars - Set Yourself On Fire. I owe many people an apology about this album. More than a few of the top 10 lists we received included this gorgeous album, but I was positive it was released in 2004. I think I was wrong, especially after RollingStone put it on their list of the 50 best records of the year. Anyway, better late than never. The point is, this record is incomparably beautiful. A pop masterpiece to say the least. It's so refreshing to hear an accessible, poppy, over-achieving indie band, that isn't pretentious, and isn't afraid of good production.
8. Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
. The riddle of the year: Was Plans
so good, because it's so good, or does the true value of this record lie in the fact that it represents the way everyone would love to see their favourite indie band achieve mainstream superstardom. There was no selling out. There was no contrived image makeover. There wasn't even a noticeable improvement in production quality. Death Cab
just did what they always do. Avoid the trends, write good songs, and listen to your heart... as it breaks.
7. Sigur Ros - Takk. When was the last time you invented YOUR own language? Or your own genre... yeah, that's what I thought
6. The Academy Is... - Almost Here
. It looked like 2005 was going to be the year that the world got acquainted with TAI's unique hook heavy, sing along song, pop/rock sensibility, when out of freaking nowhere two less deserved bands on the same record label, stole the spotlight. Unfortunately 2005 is more likely to be remembered as the year that Fall Out Boy
became every eleventeen year old emo girl's new favourite band, and the year that Panic! At The Disco
wouldn't get the hell out of the #1 spot on PureVolume (we get it...you've had a lot of plays). Whatever this year is remembered for, don't let Almost Here
slip through the cracks. This is one the catchiest albums of the year.5. Waking Ashland - Composure. Many an untrained ear simply wrote this album off too soon. If that was you, follow these easy steps and you'll be on your way to listening enjoyment. Step 1: Resist the temptation to call them a Mae knockoff, because they are so much more, and contrary to popular belief, Mae did not invent the piano. The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori. Probably a considerable amount of time earlier. Step 2: Get on board. If you do not jump on the bandwagon now, you will be run over by it...many, many times. Step 3: Pick up a copy soon. I sort of stole Phil's burnt copy. And don't expect C-diddy at Parable's to cut you a deal under the table either. That's not how he does. 4. Blindside - The Great Depression. It seems as though Blindside are never satisfied. And it's relatively inconceivable that a group of Christian boys from Sweden could start a hardcore/punk band in the early 90's, gain a fierce, loyal following, get signed to a major label, sell millions of albums, split from said label, and after all that create what could be their best album yet. The Great Depression is proof for the world that they continue to flawlessly tightrope across genre lines with ease, and somehow, without ever losing fans, manage only to pick up more steam.
3. Mae - The Everglow
. Just as worthy of the #1 spot when it came to songwriting and arrangement. The sheer scope of it all is so impressive that even though it may not be the most superior album musically or creatively, it took #3 with ease this year. If not the most flawlessly cohesive album, it is inarguably one of the most important.
2. Caribou - The Milk Of Human Kindness.
I don't, nor will I ever understand how Caribou
isn't the most popular band in the world. The Milk Of Human Kindness
is practically flawless. Ambient atmospherics and techno explosions brush carelessly in and out of sometimes incoherent lyrics, while never losing sight of the heart or drive of each song. This is an instant classic, comfortable in the company of high rollers like Lemon Jelly's "Lost Horizons
makes FatBoy Slim
look like a pile of puke.1. Copeland - In Motion. Contrary to what that Dave Sherin will tell you, this is much better than anything on his list. Truth be told this wasn't the "best" album of the year. It was my favourite album of the year. The one to which memories will be forever attatched, and moments forever remembered. In Motion will become buried treasure for future generations of wide-eyed young lovers who want to enjoy the last gasp of sincere, authentic, emo, before it became the next hair metal. Aaron Marsh has the best falsetto in the pop/punk/rock world.
5:08 a.m. *