Monday, January 02, 2006

Top albums of 2005

Another top 10 list, artist albums this time. Like other years, there was so much good music released in 2005 to choose from, it felt bad leaving some albums out. But here are the ones that made the biggest impression on me in 2005, whether through sheer originality, compelling music or lyrics or just that I came back to them again and again. Joining the iPod generation probably helped - these are probably also the albums most played on the wee white plastic box...

1. Sufjan Stevens: Come on Feel the Illinoise
The second instalment in the much feted 50 states project. And rather than running out of ideas, it’s like he’s just beginning afresh. The lyrics, the arrangements, even the lengthy song titles are all out of this world! If the other 48 are anywhere near as good as this, I’ve got a lot to look forward to in my old age!

2. Arcade Fire: Funeral
OK, they were the critical hit of the year. But deservedly so. Their music has a passion and a mad intensity that puts them way above their indie-rock peers.

3. Jamie Lidell: Multiply
So I found the most original and best soul voice of the year in an unlikely place – a white Englishman living in Berlin. Coming on like a latter-day Otis Redding meeting Prince with a definite 21st century electronic twist.

4. Antony and the Johnsons: I am a Bird Now
Forget the awards and all that. This was another original new voice, but not a soul one – just something otherworldly and very beautiful.

5. Devendra Banhart: Cripple Crow
Not just the ‘weird folk’ of his past efforts, with this album the eccentric Banhart took in latin sounds, rock ’n’ roll, southern soul and much more on his longest and most consistently great album yet.

6. The Magic Numbers: The Magic Numbers
Last year I’d have thought this much-anticipated album would have been my number 1. After a load of brilliant gigs, the recorded version was a little disappointing. But the songs are still great.

7. Low: The Great Destroyer
The Minnesota Mormons up the tempo a bit on this release, and their new desire to rock a bit more resulted in their most accomplished album to date.

8. King Creosote: KC Rules OK
Second album on the year from Fife folkie Kenny Anderson, this time produced and backed by the mighty Earlies, adding a further dimension to KC’s beautiful songs. He rules!

9. MIA: Arular
Another critics favourite, and deservedly so. Oddly making it bigger in ‘indie’ circles than ‘urban’ ones despite the jittery, funky dancehall, garage whatever she does. Oh well, it’s their loss. Good outfits too.

10. Richard Hawley: Coles Corner
Fourth album from the crooning ex-Pulp guitarist, and another set of fine set of tunes that exemplify his northern working mens’ club meets Americana sound. Only this time people appear to be taking notice. About time too.

Honourable Mentions: The Shortwave Set: The Debt Collection; Saint Etienne: Tales From Turnpike House; Franz Ferdinand: You Could Have it So Much Better; Super Furry Animals: Love Kraft; LCD Soundsystem: LCD Soundsystem

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