FAQ | Guest Book | Mission Statement | Minions | What's Coming | What's New | What's Happened


2005 End of the Year List



  Hey look kids: it's Long-lost Minion Malimus. Crawled out from whatever rock he has been hiding under the past few years to share with you a bit... Listen to the man.  



2005 was a very good year. There were at least fifty discs that I thought "damn, I should review this." I am currently 0-50 in that regard. It's been a while since I took up the acid pen, so what I'll do here is break my favorites of 2005 down into a few basic categories, the sort of thing you're probably expecting of such a list anyway, and where it seems appropriate, I'll add blurbs of explanation. Maybe over the next month or so I'll even manage to get off my sorry ass and expand blurbs into full-fledged reviews. Until then, I offer you my humble best at a Best of 2005 list. Starting at the top...

The Best of the Best: The 7-spongers :
  1. Take Fountain by The Wedding Present: Perfect. The platonic form of pop. That from which all other descends. It doesn't get any better than this. Take Fountain is a masterstroke of genius unabashed, the bailiwick by which all else is to be rightly judged. It is better than The Beatles. Should you claim to be a lover of music and not own a copy, abdicate whatever duties currently bind you and acquire one. Else, suffer Hell, properly understood as the separation of the soul from the Divine, for as long as you shall endure. Seriously. This may be the best album ever made, a perfect coalescence of the beautiful and the profane; of melody, counter-melody, subtle flourish and sheer poetic brilliance; a work of stunning subtlety and layer, a lyrical expression that shatters the bounds of pop music and explodes into the realms of literary device. None alive and few dead have ever so thoroughly captured the pure, awful essence of heartbreak and layered it so naturally with the craft of silly love songs. Go. Now.
  2. Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs by Andrew Bird: I personally find it hard to pen exactly what it is that makes this so good. Where Take Fountain excels by taking a generally established mechanism and polishing it to perfection, Eggs plays with formula and format more. Songs start and stop a bit at odd moments. Weird, unexpected rhythms jump into things without notice. But behind it all is Bird's spacey, baritone whistling, draping through the entire disc, tying pieces together. This is unlike anything I've heard before, yet still rests completely in the singer-songwriter genre, which in and of itself is noteworthy. Combine music with Bird's oddly avant lyricism and you discover an oddly atmospheric gem. You should own this album.
  3. Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady: The year's best rock-n-roll. The band churns out Hammond-B drenched rock standards, tightly built and then allowed to meander to the edge of the abyss, as all great rock should. Layered over it all is Craig Finn's soused up bar-balladry, belted out in his unmistakable and highly evocative off-kilter recitation. Finn doesn't so much sing as yelp to the Gods his stories of addictions high and low, and the people who worship them. The album is mostly a concept, threading pro- and antagonists through the narrative of every song, and actually reaches back to the band's 2003 debut for foundation. The fact that you can't tell which addiction is more damning, the heroin or the Church, makes it all the better.
  4. Exhibit A by The Features: I think this was technically released in 2004, but I picked it up last spring. In short, it reminded me of how much I missed The Rock*a*Teens. (This was before Chris Lopez resurfaced as Tenement Halls.) The Features don't drench everything in the echoing abyss quite like Lopez, but they do manage to project that same ragged, cathartic edge. Matt Pelham seems to saunter through his songs with much of Lopez' cock-eyed surety as well. There are also similarities, if not sameness, between the two voices. Which isn't to say The Features are a second-coming of The R*a*T*s (that would be Tenement Halls), just that they mine similar veins of rock-n-roll ore. That kind of sloppy, balls-out caterwauling gets me every time. I challenge anyone who has a spine (i.e., not a folk musician) to listen to Pelham yawl out "Deeeeeeemons be gone, Leeeeeave me alone, Tonight!" and not involuntarily begin to shake that ass.
  5. Warmer Corners by The Lucksmiths: On The Drive-by Truckers' single Outfit, Jason Isbel's protagonist tells his coming-of-age boy, "Don't sing with a fake British accent, don't act like your family's a joke." Tali Smith's voice is the reason you have to tell people that. I have pimped these guys on this site multiple times to date; Warmer Corners may be their best album to date. Brilliant Smiths-influenced Brit pop; Marty Donald writes absurdly great songs with disturbing regularity.
You might live without us, but you shouldn't: The 6-spongers:
  1. Black Sheep Boy by Okkervil River: Truly great song-writing and an engulfing aura of estrangement and lonliness. The only reason I hold back the seventh seal is that the earnestness and angst can occasionally come across as pretense. I hesitated with the full-on embrace because of it personally, but once I worked my way through my own preconceptions of what it "probably was", I found a gorgeous piece of avant pop. If you have a proto-goth streak in you already, you'll easily think I underrate Black Sheep Boy.
  2. The Alternative to Love by Brendan Benson: A jewel of a find this year. I had not heard of this guy until ARidgeley93 pushed it across the table as a one-for-one in a game of "you really should listen to this" stare. I gave up The Lucksmiths, thinking myself trumping whatever this Benson fellow might turn out to be. Turns out it was a pretty even swap. Alternative to Love is easily one of my three most listened to albums of 2005, stuffed full of single-worthy pop tunes that beg to belted out in the car. Benson works hand in hand with Jason Falkner, formerly of Jellyfish. It's that kind of bouncy guitar pop, perfect summer driving music.
  3. Bright Ideas by Portastatic: It's probably a bit cliché to say Bright Ideas is the most accomplished Portastatic disc to date, but it is. It also happens to be the best Superchunk album released this decade. It's clear that Mac has taken the energies he would have put into the 'Chunk (on the dreaded 'indefinite hiatus') and wrapped them into at least three quarters of the songs here. That Jim Wilber jumps over to 'static on this release adds to the band a structure and familiarity that only comes from 15+ years of collaboration.
  4. The Kick and the Snare by The Deathray Davies: If there is a Platonic form of Texas jangle-pop, The Deathray Davies is it. We loves them, we do.
  5. Twin Cinema by The New Pornographers: Much debate was had on the Northern Arc Satellite of 'Sponge as to the merits of Twin Cinema. Ridgeley thinks it's the Porno's best to date, a top-five release for the year. I am very fond myself, but would take Mass Romantic if it came down to cases. Still, Carl Newman could hiccup and turn out a brilliant summer pop album.
  6. Picaresque by The Decembrists: The best story telling songs I've heard in a long time.
  7. Set Yourself on Fire by Stars: If you're looking for a replacement for the recently defunct Delgados, wrap yourself up in this disc for a while.
  8. The Great Destroyer by Low: The band's last may have been their best. Continuing to add meat to the skeletal waif of their signatory slowcore only made them better. Low's is one of the saddest goodbyes to be said this year.
Recommended, should you like that sort of thing: 4- and 5-spongers:
  1. 11:11 by Maria Taylor: A great disc by half of Azure Ray. She put on a hell of a live show at The EARL as well. It would be nice to hear more of that live sound on her next release. Not that fey isn't a beautiful aesthetic, but the live set was an eye-opener for what might be.
  2. Knitting Needles and Bicycle Bells by Tenement Halls: Not the greatest of recordings, but the return of Chris Lopez is always welcomed. This is essentially The Rock*a*Teens take two, and god bless him for it. I've been thinking of making a t-shirt that says "What Would The Reverb Do?"
  3. Electrified by Dressy Bessy
  4. The Sunset Tree by The Mountain Goats
  5. This Here Is Buck 65 by Buck 65
Related Links:
  Return to the End Of Year Lists menu.
Read Malimus' lists from 2000.
Read Malimus' lists from 2001.
Read Malimus' lists from 2002.

Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Minion Roster. |Return to the End Of Year Lists menu.