Thursday, February 17, 2005

THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2005...YES, 2005.

Sasha Frere Jones, a writer of very strong repute, has a blog like most people. But unlike the rest of us, Sasha writes about pop music for the New Yorker. Jones has a regular column in perhaps one of the most respected publications in America which makes him pretty damn special. But I can imagine it also makes him just as pretentious as the well-financed magazine's comics.

In a recent post on his blog (found here:, Jones has already listed his favorite albums of 2005. Yes, the coming year. Unbeknowest to you, he hears music that hasn't been recorded yet which is pretty impressive. I know some people that just want to be able to carry a tune.

So I conclude that if Sasha can do things like this (it's so weird for me to refer to him especially considering a) I don't know him b) I only read his blog once when Jenny pointed it out to me and c) his name sounds like a fried southern tofu dish), then surely I can too. After all, I can see The Gates from outside my window--I must be worthy of something great.
And maybe if I do list my prophecies for best albums of 2005, then perhaps I will be next in line to be the pop critic of the New Yorker. It seems likely considering I have interviewed many of the same artists that he has (i.e. Keren Ann, M.I.A., The New Pornographers, etc) which therein leads me to believe that both Sasha and I have similar tastes. Really, what's the difference between us?
Huh? Talent? Oh, dang. You're right. Forgot about that.

Well anyway...without further adeui, I present my favorite albums of the past month and a half, and the great ones that will be coming out in the coming nine and a half more.

1. Spoon - "Gimme Fiction" (Merge Records) -
The Austin quartet serves up another heaping scoop of sophisticated indie rock. Britt Daniel is the only lead singer that can make nasal sound sexy. Standout track: "I Summon You."

2. Doves - "Some Cities" (Capitol Records) - Recalling the grandeur of Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues, the Doves releases its third record of hazy British rock. Songs that will fill the room, like a mild air-freshener, but never overwhelm you.

3. The National "Alligator" (Beggars US) - There are two New York bands heavily influenced by Joy Division but one of them, Interpol, denies ever listening to them. The National, on the other hand, have listened to Joy Division, have internalized their limited output and then figured out how to go beyond the depressing aesthetic, bringing us to the point of joyful innovation.

4. M.I.A. "Arular" (XL Recordings) - With a keyboard and a sampler, Maya Arulpragasam adopts the persona M.I.A. to create an unconventional rap/party record that has music journalists wetting their trousers. Despite that being the case, you should still check out the album. If only to see a music journalist in wet trousers.

5. Stars "Set Yourself On Fire" (Arts & Crafts) - A year after Morrissey made his comeback, this Canadian group ups the drama ante. Consisting of members from the Broken Social Scene (which mean they're five of like, a hundred and twenty people), Stars shares in the disappointment of heartbreak so effectively, that you would expect the record to come with a gallon of Ben & Jerry's.

6. Low "The Great Destroyer" (Sub Pop) - Harmonies so entangled and serene, only a husband and wife both madly in love could produce them. The Great Destroyer is the notorious "slocore" trio's foray into rock. and the outcome is an album of autumn leaves and barren trees. Overall, this is the soundtrack to a beautiful season.

7. Beck "Guero" (Interscope) - Beck has brilliantly won the admiration of music fans, the mainstream audience, and countless hipster women. The uncontested musical genius is this past decade's John Cusack--women want to date him and guys just want to talk about their record collections with him (using the word "dude" as often as possible).

8. Regina Spektor "Soviet Kitsch" (Record Collection) - Blending Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, vaudeville, and Russian folk music....wait. No, it's actually a great album.

9. Lou Barlow "Emoh" (Merge Records) - An acoustic collection of songs that pack a potent whallop unlike anything else from his vast back catalogue. Barlow's voice is so sweet and real, it will remind you that words like "whallop" actually exist.

10. 13 & God s/t (Anticon) - Germany's Notwist teams up with California's cLOUDDEAD to record an electronic-ambient hybrid that sounds like your brain after you've drank a frozen Slurpee really quickly but only in a good way.

Potential best of 2005's that I haven't heard yet:
Stephen Malkmus "Face The Truth" (Matador)
Animal Collective feat Vashti Bunyan "Prospect Hummer" (FatCat)
Built To Spill (Warner Bros.)
Idlewild "Warnings/Promises" (Capitol)


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