i might come back and add links and stuff but i'm not into it right now so here 's this.-crish
omg count how many times i use the word "pop" "rock'n'roll" and "ass"
(note on release dates: some of these records also have uk/swedish/japanese 04 release dates in addition to their wider 05 releases...if i was writing for a magazine i might not have included these, but i'm not and dec 04 is pretty much 2005 so...)
everyone gripes about a lackluster 05, i liked it okay but it draws heavily on 2004 momentum (mia mixtape/single, annie and mu singles, GGD, and suf all were in my 04 list in some form). anyways...disclaimer, i find music to be rather hard to write about so alot of this is just practice anyway.
sufjan- come on feel the illinoise 15
let's be real. Sufjan made one of the best records of ...well probably ever. This is the biggest achievement of 2005. Well, then why isn't it no.1? hey this is my list and i like crazyness and silliness, so sorry suf. but hey i've given this boy alot of love. michigan made my 03 list and seven swans was on the 04. i've preached the suf word enough and now he needs me no more. but that's not why he's not no. 1. but about the greatness that is illinois, well it's rather self evident to anyone who spends time with it. I have met several people who claim to be unaffected by suf, but those that do listen to him do not listen in passing. This is because he is terribly ambitious songmaker and has the mindfulness/ability/careful craft to reach his aims, or come close enough. For me, Illinois seems more worked over (the life of the song is duller than the craft) which is why it appeals less to me than michigan but i dunno the "too good" complaint is the sign of someone that is too hard to please.
fannypack- see you next tuesday 14
this record was unfairly filed as forgettable. well, it actually might be sort of forgettable, but if were going to be fair we have to agree that fannypack is far and away the best group to emerge in any genre of music in the past 3 or so years. why is that you ask? Though basically the act is "we're so dumb we're clever" they have to be the most informed pop act out now. Or is it most uninformed? Unlike similar "carefree" genre shopping groups Fannypack is fueled by Matt and Fanny's beat and those guys know their influences and have a genuine love for ass music. Mixing jock jams, miami booty music, jj fad and salt n pepa on their shoulders, and name dropping brooklyn in every song fannypack are so good at being retarded that it makes actually ambitious pop groups look boring. While So Stylistic was an instant classic that can't really be followed this record has at least 5 winners "keep it up" "pump that" "you gotta know" "keep on" "seven one eight" and not to mention that "nu nu (yeah yeah)" was THE summer jam the year..at least in my life.
lady sovereign (just her)-13
vertically challenged may have been a let down of a release but the SOV still release enough singles and random tracks and colabs to make up a more than worthwhile output for 2005. Like all interesting performers, Lady Sovereign's personality almost outshines her music. Clever and cutting but not above really dumb lines but it doesn't matter cos as a listener i'm more engaged by the voice and bold energy of the performance than actual musicality of it. not to mention she's very cute and has a reputation for being an idiot and unlikeable in person. When your Lady Sovereign that's all part of it, working to your advantage making you a better superstar.
hair police- constantly terrified 12
Story: Early this year i was listening to some hair police (a different record) and i saw my former housemate Amy pull in the driveway w/ Eleanor. I had just gotten some new speakers so to test them out i cranked up the music (loud) and turned all the lights off except for the glow of my computer (too create scary effect) then i laid down dead in the middle of the room as if hair police came out of the speakers and killed me, you know to see if it would scare them. Amy hates scary things and started freaking the hell out and screaming at me and screaming in terror of the unknown monster in the upstairs. So i kept the speakers, but Amy moved out. true story.
i love it when people talk about noise and make statements like "I can't imagine anything more assaulting than wolf eyes" while listing off a bunch of bands that aren't really noise but loud punk. anyways hair police is pretty intense (maybe understatement). I can't listen to this when anyone else is home. I have to turn it up really loud, turn all the lights off (totally a night time record), scoot up right next to the speakers and kiss the next 40 minutes good bye offering myself up to be torn apart by sound. for me to listen to this record any other way is an injustice to what it can achieve. It is psychological torture, spooky rumblings are the facade but there's those monster squeals acting as the unreal light shining and pulsing through the cracks hinting at the violence that's inside. Hair Police let your mind build up the suspense and fear of if the next loud part is coming soon, if does will your head explode?
(do yourself a favor and don't listen to this on headphones, or while doing anything else i.e. reading)
architecture in helsinki-in case we die 11
The best thing about in case we die is how much crazyness they get away with. the songs are packaged and built so well and so easy to like that you don't think about it but when you break it down the record is so ridiculous. boring indie band (fingers crossed...yawn) turns into over the top, Muppet voiced, ADD orchestral pop awesomeness. finally a band that doesn't just stop with one crazy tuba part or one one crazy voice part or one sugary melody but piles them on until each song feels epic even though they are 3 minute pop songs. After hearing this I thought AIH needed their own cartoon that could come on before the Junior Senior cartoon. I still stand by it. Especially after seeing the "Do the Whirlwind" video, which is a top video of the year.
animal collective- feels 10
this should be higher, i know. But seriously what am I going to say about this record. The AC have become masters at taking their decidedly left field energy and channeling it into gushy, heart stealing pop songs. That's how i honestly feel. I don't think this is freak folk, or freak anything. They songs are reverb layered, backup vocal laden (listen to all those "woo"s and "whoa"s), fully arranged, and earnest (in their own way, there may be a wink but they're not cynics) songs that are vaguely about love (sometimes directly). I guess what my point wishes to be is that this is the pop of today, and everyone else should takes notes or fall behind.
the thing though (for me) is that like with sung tungs, the purposely unpaced tracklist is somewhat hard to get through for a boorish pop fan like me. i usually stop after "banshee beat" or "daffy duck"
broadcast- tender buttons 9
this is a cool record. i think that's a good word for it, "cool". anywho broadcast are a good band and i think this is a somewhat underrated achievement. This record may not be as instantly affecting as Ha Ha Sound but i think i like it alot more. I just find myself listening to it alot and listening all the through. When i'm not listening to it, it comes to my mind and i think "hey i should listen to tender buttons". Also the BEST album cover of the year.
nautical almanac- cover the earth 8
before i saw this band live all i had was an mp3 track called "wielding the reflex fiddle" which was just someone playing some strange string instrument sounding thing. Then i saw them live and loved it. stage left tall lanky dude spazzing out breaking his bass and screaming into some strange pickup cable in his mouth, stage right another dude hitting his drum kit really hard, screaming too, and in the middle the girl of the group aimlessly fiddling with her noise boxes or violin while moaning or making spiritual connections with crazy drugged out audience members who were also the event's cook despite the fact they were crazy dirty and wearing no clothes. Bizarre performance and Oh yea and really interesting music. Same goes for the record which is reproduced live very well. so same sort of review.
afrirambo- kore ga mayaku da, A', and whatever the other record i have is 7
2 Japanese girls make noisey rock'n'roll. This number 7 spot is for three different releases I got this year, that I assume to have come out in 05 or 04. I know nothing about them. But did you read where I said, "2 Japanese girls make noisey rock'n'roll"? What? do you need to know more? Actually to call what Afirambo does noisey rock'n'roll doesn't really do it justice. There is a deliberate "out there" quality that makes them very dada, especially with their aggressively silly vocals/lyrics. Sure Afrirambo makes 3 minute pop rock songs, but they'll put a strange hum behind everything, or they'll play 20 seconds of a 3 minute pop song and spontaneously shift into a lengthy noise wash or random screaming or start a totally new song three quarters of the way through. It is this deconstructionist approach that makes them so fun. Afrirambo take you a radical trip where logic is invented and you'll believe anything coming out of a these energetic girls mouths.
mu- out of breach 6
Any record that calls you a "bitch" in the first 10 seconds is automatically my favorite thing ever. "welcome to mu world, bitch!" is how mutsumi greets you and maurice fulton gives the twisted psychotic singer a perfect backdrop of Psycho string stabs and a fat as hell groove. Mu makes house music for people who hate house music because it's too tame. afro finger and gel is one of my favorites ever so i had high hopes for this, and i wasn't really let down, it's really just more of Mu but it's not repeating. Mu continue to be uncompromising originals and they don't care if you "get it". I mean what's there really to get? their songs have always followed basic dancehall structure, sort of, when i saw them perform last year it was a party. people cheered at the hits and danced the whole time. It's exciting, i feel that hits like "Paris Hilton" are great representatives for the changing the face of dance music (which is, along with noise, the most progressive genre at the moment)
coco rosie- noah's ark 5
boring acoustic new weird america folk act becomes awesome looking out there pop act. very good move if you ask me.
antony and the johnsons- i am bird now
this record is just. It puts me at peace. I find it to be a very universal record just as i find antony's songwriting voice to speak to everyone.
m.i.a. - arular 4
The best record to come out sense Kid A. um... shit. I'm tired of writing. I'll change this later.
the knife- deep cuts 3
here is another group that sort of defies definition. Intelligent swedish brother/sis duo that write songs with overt art house themes dealing with feminism, sexuality, and non pop things like taxes but packages it up in catchy club ready synth pop. In a sense, the Knife's resistance to being typecast as left field art group that no one cares about so they sort of do this sort of trojan horse of content thing, getting you dancing and singing first and thinking next is one of the oldest tricks in the book. not that it's even a trick, no one can write "butt shakin'" music this effectively without spending a good amount of time tuned into hit radio. so if you're noticing a trend yet in what i like, it's pop music made by aware and ambitious musicians mindful of the history of music capable of making references and using influences creatively, these type of artists are today's phil spectors and brian wilsons. also they have one of the best quotes i've read this year: "Most art (and music) is shit. But it’s worth listening to and look at, ‘cause when you finally see something you like, it’s fantastic."
annie- anniemal 2
the first line of my review of anniemal said : "I wish I capable of articulating what pop music means to me. " A great pop song is the most affecting thing in the world; more than movies, more than paintings, more than conversation, more than human touch. I don't know why. i am happiest when i'm listening to music, and my favorite music has the vague "pop" label. do i think about love alot? no. do i go out to the mall alot or go clubbing? no (i would go clubbing more if people played good music). so i can't say anything interesting about Annie because I'm too emotionally tied to her music in a way that i don't even understand and am not going to try to.
gang gang dance- god's money 1
so why do i like this record so much. no one else really seems to (my buddy kevin has given it the thumbs up and i know gabe holcomb likes it), it hasn't gotten all that good of reviews and they sure as didn't make the cover of CMJ, i mean those are important things, right? Maybe if i was in New York the hype and hipster fans would get to me and i wouldn't think it was the best record. But here in Kansas removed from any kind of credible scene God's Money was exciting. More than that, I was inspired. This was what i was waiting for. This is something that their other records hinted they could achieve but you never knew if they would be brave enough to make something that rides so many lines it could be easily dismissed by, well, everyone. It almost was. The normal kids said it was too weird and the weird kids said it wasn't as weird as they used to be when the truth is the word weird shouldn't be apart of any GGD discussion. I don't view GGD as abunch of arty looking twenty somethings sitting around making noise, while there is totally a sense of playfulness it remains informed and thoughtful. This is evident from the diverse influences (from druggy dub, world melodies (i hear asia, and south america), vocal oddities of kate bush and cocteu twins, sample based pop collagists, to hip hop, dancehall percussion etc...) and the ideas of structure and composition presented in God's Money. I'm not smart enough to know exactly what's going on in all their songs, but there is a definite challenge of what is "pop"? and what is "art" ? does a pop song come with a limiting structure? Does an art song have to maintain certain abstractness? I may be totally wrong but it seems to me that Gang Gang Dance blow up these assumptions without trying to. The only obvious effort here is that of an effort to make engaging and fun (cool) music. Anyways, my under-worked thoughts may not be that interesting but i do know i really love this record.
these are great too.
jackson and his computer band and jason forrest.
delia gonzales and gavin russom-days of mars
lightning bolt- hypermagenetic mountain
danny & the nightmares- freak brain
lost sounds 5 blacks and the birth of the recording industry
numero group label
marissa nadler- the saga of mayflower may
the fiery furnaces- rehearsing my choir
ariel pink-worn copy
jason forrest- shamelessly exciting and lady fantasy ep
Murderbot- amerie "one thing" remix, onlyworld vip bw purple skank AND fi you/ twilight zone
this guy worked at kjhk when i was a freshman and ran a disco show. i never really met him but anyways now he's making records and turns out he's the eccentric cheesy pop r'n'b, jungle ragga, fast beat freak (which is a really good thing). Three or so releases this year, i'm really impressed, not in the sort of "oh this guy is from kjhk and this is good " impressed but "holy F this is brilliant" impressed. especially check out the one thing remix and purple skunk el debarge sample at about 2 min. great great. seriously.
Magic is Küntmaster- whatever the name of this record is
scary scary, video on the cd is scary. i seriously cannot watch the whole thing i found it so terrifying. great music though
go team- "huddle formation"
"ladyflash" is the first love but "huddle formation" is the idea of the go! team at it's most realized. their dirtiest fastest track with the most fun/silly playground samples i could ever imagine existing. from the first lines "ahhhh beep! beep! (ahhh) walking down the street! " i'm just ...wow...happy to hear it, every time.
edan- "promised land"
Beauty and the Beat is probably my favorite rap record of the year. Really intelligent and fresh samples, creatively used (he draws heavily from 60's psychedelic pop) and Edan is a good sometimes great MC, but i think better songwriter. Take "Promised land" this is my favorite track and pretty representative of what i like about edan.
patrick wolf- "the libertine"
wolf parade- "i'll believe in anything"
an okay record but this is the song that show me i can still be "touched" by an over sincere/dramatic rock tune.
out hud- "how long" and the rest of let us never speak of it again
ha, this is a great record but all i can remember is hearing this song like ever time i turned on the radio last spring. the entire town of lawrence was smitten with this song and totally forgot that it wasn't just a single. Out Hud were also show stealers at intonation. "how long" key to success: ill as hell bass part, synth string intro set up, lyrics about dancing, and dr. dre keyboard line into rad nintendo chorus. (nintendo sounds 2005 hot trend)
skygreen leopards- "child adrift"
ellen allien- your body is my body/ down / magma
i really like ellen allien and these three songs off thrills shouldn't go unmentioned.
ladytron- "destroy everything you touch"
does this record still have a chance at being a hit with high school girls? i hope so, it they deserve each other (truly).
weird war- "word on the street" and " girls like that"
russian futurist- "2 dots on a map"
ttc- "dans le club"
hank- "god slick" and i assume the rest of how to prosper in the coming bad years
atten all "fun loving" rock bands. take some notes on hank's awesomeness
jens lekman- pocketful of money
junior senior- "i like music (w.o.s.b.)"
look junior senior, if you're going to be carefree and earnestly cheesy then just do it. don't TRY to do it like you do on the rest of this album. you manage to finally stop worrying about it and actually relish pop magic on this song and it's non-stop goodness.
black dice- "smiling off" (dfa remix)
let down of an album, saved by this great remix.
jennifer gentle-i do dream you/the garden pt. 2/ nothing makes sense
final fantasy-peach plum pear (joanna newsom cover) and has a good home-
blood on the walls- awesomer- mary susan
senor coconut- coconut fm
sublime frequencies- everything- especially radio pyongyang