I guess this is a good way to start my new DJ blog for 2006.
Here are my Top 10 favourite albums of 2005. Although I'll play a lot of different stuff at a club, this is the music that came out this year that I enjoyed the most. It's also the music that will inspire me as an artist for years to come.
Everyone's a critic these days, so I'll try to keep my comments relatively short. Here goes...
1. Kings Of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak (RCA)
I almost forgot this album 'cause I listened to it so much that I thought it must have been released in 2004. Simply put, this is one awesome rock n' roll album. It was the soundtrack of my former band's roadtrip to Chicago in April. Produced by Ethan Johns, who also did their first album, as well as Ryan Adams' "Rock N Roll", he matches and surpasses the amazing guitar sounds from both of those records on this one. Hands down, this is the most rocking (and best) album of the year.
2. Gorillaz - Demon Days (Parlophone)
Before this year, I never really gave Gorillaz much of a chance, because I hated "Clint Eastwood" from their first album. It's weird, 'cause I'm a big Blur fan, so you'd think I'd have given it a chance. Well, a friend gave me a copy of this one to play the first single (Feel Good Inc.) at the club. I played the single a couple of times, and then one night decided to listen to the whole thing. I was blown away! Damon Albarn has incorporated all the best things from later Blur albums (Think Tank, 13) while still progressing and adding dance and hip-hop into the mix. It's all over the place, but somehow all cohesively fits together.
3. Beck - Guero (DGC)
Beck never ceases to amaze me. I'm a big fan of all of his albums, but "Sea Change" in particular was my favorite; and one of my favorite albums of all time. I knew he wasn't going to make that album again, but since he seems to keep reinventing himself, I wasn't sure what he'd do. This is now my favorite Beck album. It has everything good from all of his albums all rolled into one. Oh, and there's also "Guerolito", which is a remix album of all the tracks on "Guero", by artist like Air, Boards of Canada, and AdRock. It's also a pretty damn good album.
4. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better (Domino)
I wasn't sure if these guys could make an album as good as thier 2003 self-titled debut. It doesn't move too far away from the sound of that album, but they are moving forward for sure; and since they're one of my favorite bands right now, that's great. On first listen I was thinking that they'd maybe done too much "Michael" and not enough "Take Me Out" with this album, but the more you listen to it, you see that there's a lot more creative ideas coming from them. Apparently they're already in the studio recording the next one. Sweet!
5. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (Vice)
The best new act of 2005 in my mind. The album has lots of really cool sounds and ideas. I saw them live in Detroit this year and had a chance to meet and talk to them. It was a pretty sloppy live show, but it was still great though, 'cause I left thinking "I can do this". I think that's part of the appeal of Bloc Party though. And it almost seemed like these guys were the first rock act to release an album with remixes of every song on the original. "Silent Alarm Remixed" was so good that I almost put it on this list instead; but you couldn't have the remixes without the originals, right? So this is #4.
6. My Morning Jacket - Z (ATO)
I was introduced to their 2003 release, "It Still Moves" earlier on in the year and loved it. So I was really excited about this one, and couldn't wait 'till it came out in October. To me, this album is kind of a mix between the experimentaion of a band like Radiohead, and the great sounds and jam-outs of their previous album. Produced by John Leckie, who did Radiohead's "The Bends", and you can tell. It's awesome!
7. Doves - Some Cities (EMI)
Outstanding! A mix of the best sounds and ideas from their first two albums. I wasn't sure what to expect from these guys, but this album definitely lived up to all expectations. Still not sure if they'll ever top "Lost Souls", but I sure hope they do. They're definitely experimenting more with sounds and ideas. I wish I could have seen them live this year. It would be cool to see how they reproduced this album live.
8. Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary (Sub Pop)
Over the year, the hype surounding Montreal's music scene started to get really annoying. I mean, the population is almost 4 million, so they should be putting out their fair share of both good and bad music, right? Anyway, it doesn't matter where these guys are from - this is a great debut album. Produced by Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), it was probably the best Canadian release of 2005.
9. Babyshambles - Down In Albion (Rough Trade)
After hearing this, you can tell that while Carl Barat may have had the drive and guitar prowess, Pete Doherty was the real creative force behind the Libertines' music; particularely the second (and last) album. Apparently this album took a while to make - band members quit or were thrown out, Pete was in and out of rehab and drug-fueled binges. Definitely worth the wait though. Hopefully Pete survives long enough to make another album. Oh, and this, like both Libertines albums, was produced by Mick Jones of The Clash.
10. Spoon - Gimme Fiction (Merge)
Released in early May, this turned out to be a great road trip CD for the summer. It was another case of "how can they top their last album" (Kill The Moonlight). It's not quite as good as that, but does have some of their best songs ("My Mathematical Mind", "Two Sides/Monsieur Valentine"). Anyway it was definitely good enough to make the Top 10 list this year. Plus it came with a nice 4-track outtakes disc, with a great acoustic version of "I Summon You".
Because 2005 was such a great year for music, the following albums, although not in the top ten, deserve to be mentioned, as they are each brilliant as well...
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl (RCA)
The Dandy Warhols - Odditorium (Capitol)
The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan (V2)
Nada Surf - The Weight Is A Gift (Barsuk)
Team Sleep - Team Sleep (Maverick)
Death Cab For Cutie - Plans (Atlantic)
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cold Roses (Lost Highway)
Queens Of The Stone Age - Lullabies To Paralyze (Interscope)
Sigur Ros - Takk... (DGC)
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Worlds Apart (Interscope)
I should have just done a top 20! Oh well - maybe next time.
If you'd like to listen to samples of these albums, you should be able to find them at www.cduniverse.com. You can also find legal MP3 downloads of some of the artists at music.download.com.