Best Albums of 2005
Compiled by Jack Foley
NOW that most music journos have named their favourite 50, 25 or 10 albums of the year, we thought we’d bring you an alternative spin on things.
While there are plenty of obvious choices for top long-players of 2005, we’re also bringing you some of the hidden gems that you may have missed out on buying.
Hence, while the likes of Gorillaz, Kanye West (pictured above) and Coldplay undoubtedly get a mention, what of Jim Noir, Diefenbach, The Chicharones or Joy Zipper?
Not heard of them? Then read on…
Alabama 3 – Outlaw
What we said: Outlaw, their fourth album, sets out to romanticise Britain’s famed criminals in the same way that American country music celebrates its history of gunslingers and gamblers. Hence, tracks such as Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds?, pay talking-blues lip service to the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery, while former single, Hello… I’m Johnny Cash does exactly what it says on the label. Both contain the trademark sound of Alabama 3, setting folk and country-tinged guitars around some pretty persuasive beats, scratches, breaks and mouth-organs, while injecting a great deal of their own quirky humour to boot.
Best tracks: Last Train to Mashville, Terra Firma Cowboy Blues, How Can I Protect You
Joseph Arthur – Our Shadows Will Remain
What we said: Our Shadows Will Remain is an epic album that rates among the most ambitious and richly orchestrated of Arthur’s career. Every track leaves a lasting impression and you’ll have trouble removing it from the CD player once you’ve heard it a couple of times. Expect it to emulate its American success and make the year best lists of countless UK critics – it’s already in mine.
Best tracks: Even Tho, Can’t Exist, Devil’s Broom
Beck – Guero
What we said: Guero is a musical tour-de-force; a glorious and victorious celebration of all things Beck, which is certain to rate among the albums of this or any year. Buy it immediately!
Best tracks: E-Pro, Girl, Black Tambourine, Hell Yes
Bonobo – It Came From The Sea
What we said: It Came From The Sea skillfully blends some of Simon Green’s choicest cuts with some choice picks from the Ninja Tune back catalogue to create a truly mesmerising collection of favourites… It offers everything you could wish for and more from a mix session.
Best tracks: Recurring, Pick Up, Hidden, Easy Muffin
The Bravery – The Bravery
What we said: While The Bravery may clearly be influenced by the distinct post-punk sound that is sweeping New York at the moment, they have enough about them to ensure that when the euphoria dies down, they’ll be among the bands still standing. We would urge an Unconditional surrender to their many charms..
Best tracks: Unconditional, The Ring Song, Fearless, Swollen Summer
Coldplay – X&Y
What we said: X&Y operates on an epic scale, emerging as a triumphant celebration of songwriting that is devoid of the arrogance of Oasis, or the pretensions of many other bands… It is a majestic return that deserves to be among the year’s biggest sellers, and which looks certain to become known as another classic for them.
Best tracks: Speed of Sound, Fix You, Talk, What If, White Shadows
The Chicharones – When Pigs Fly
What we said: Comprised of Josh Martinez and Sleep, The Chicharones are a two-man hip-hop collective who effortlessly blend some feel-good hip-hop beats with their own fun-loving attitude. But everything about the debut album is exemplary – from the musical scratchings (courtesy of DJ Wicked) to the lyrics and the whole mouth-watering package.
Best tracks: Breaking Point, Fiesta, Can’t Find The Time, Take It Easy
Diefenbach – Set & Drift
What we said: Danish post-rockers Diefenbach follow-up the release of their excellent single, Glorious, with an equally catchy third album, Set & Drift. They may not be the household name they deserve to be but that shouldn’t put you off. Seeking out Set & Drift will reward the listener with one of the very best albums of the year.
Best tracks: Glorious, Circular Motions, Favourite Friend
The Dandy Warhols – Odditorium or Warlords of Mars
What we said: Easy is a classically laidback Dandy Warhols number, with Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s whispery vocal style dripped in the drug sound that the earlier monologue suggests has gone. While the effortlessly hip All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey is a real blast from the past, complete with more trumpet flourishes, a foot-tapping beat, some fine melodies and a typically humourous, anti-work ethic (great for listening to when on holiday, or driving down a Californian highway).
Best tracks: All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey, Easy, There Is Only This Time, Holding Me Up
Editors – The Back Room
What we said: It’s notable that opening track, Lights, should contain the lyric ‘if fortune favours the brave, I’ve got a million things to say’ – for The Back Room gets its messages across in the most emphatic way possible. It is a cracking debut album that should guarantee some pretty big headlines for the Editors boys.
Best tracks: Distance, Munich, Bullets
Feeder – Pushing The Senses
What we said: Having forced the sceptics to take notice with their last album, Comfort in Sound, Feeder go from strength to strength with Pushing The Senses, their fifth and most ambitious studio album. Building on the strong songwriting and engaging melodies that have become their trademark, Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose, together with new drummer, Mark Richardson, and long-standing producer, Gil Norton, have delivered an outstanding collection of songs that rate among the finest of their career.
Best tracks: Pushing The Senses, Pilgrim Soul, Tumble & Fall
The Foo Fighters – In Your Honour
What we said: It is disc two that is really worth talking about and worthy of every accolade thrown at it… so while it does play to formula at times, In Your Honour also marks a brave departure and for that we can only gush praise. It is an excellent album that is capable of reaching out and touching a whole new army of listeners.
Best tracks: Still, Razor, Best Of You, Resolve, Another Round
Fort Minor – The Rising Tied
What we said: As a hip-hop album, The Rising Tied thankfully manages to avoid some of the more obvious stereotypes of the genre, even going so far as to poke fun at them on tracks like Cigarettes (lyrics include ‘man I love this rap game, mainly cos it’s cool, everyone exaggerates a tiny little bit, make that shit sound more gangster than it really is’). Instead, it seeks to revel in its own freedom, mixing moments of social commentary and personal reflection with a wider scope.
Best tracks: Kenji, Where’d You Go, High Road, The Battle
Gorillaz – Demon Days
What we said: Co-produced by Albarn and Danger Mouse (of DM & Jemini, Grey Album fame), the album is an eclectic journey through some dark, intense terrain, punctuated by moments of unadulterated joy, and even some trips into the surreal. It is ambitious in scope, always surprising, and undoubtedly one of the albums of the year
Best tracks: Dare, Clint Eastwood, Fire Coming Out of a Monkey’s Head, All Alone
Idlewild – Warnings/Promises
What we said: That promise is fully realised in Warnings/Promises, their latest long-player, which all but casts aside their clattering punk roots in favour of a more refined style. As with a lot of Idlewild’s material, it keeps getting better the more times you listen to it, as the musical diversity contained within each song becomes more apparent, and each track has chance to breathe.
Best tracks: I Understand It, El Capitan, Love Steals Us From Loneliness, The Space Between All Things
Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams
What we said: With his laidback grooves and hooks, it’s easy to forget your own worries and ease away the stresses of the day with the comfortable knowledge that you’re in the hands of a songwriting master. Needless to say, the album comes highly recommended.
Best tracks: Sitting, Waiting, Wishing, Good People, Breakdown, Better Together
Joy Zipper – The Heartlight Set
What we said: Having hinted at greatness with their previous work, American Whip, and the EPs that preceded it, Vinny Cafiso and Tabitha Tindale now broaden their outlook to deliver an album of shimmering brilliance that just keeps getting better with each listen. I urge you to go buy this record and discover the joy of Joy Zipper for yourselves. I guarantee, you’ll be rushing out to Go Tell The World how great it is afterwards!
Best tracks: 1, Thoughts A Waste Of Time, You’re So Good, Go Tell The World
Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
What we said: It’s a measure of Kaiser Chiefs’ success, however, that they stamp their own signature on everything they do, making Employment one of the first great breakthrough albums of the year so far. Expect it to feature prominently throughout 2005.
Best tracks: I Predict A Riot, Modern Way, You Can Have It All, Born To Be A Dancer
Magnet – The Tourniquet
What we said: Having won many fans with his massive debut, On Your Side (which included the hit, Lay Lady Lay, and provided soundtrack fodder for everything from The OC and Six Feet Under to Mr and Mrs Smith), Magnet has followed it up with an even more invigorating sound that truly establishes him as an artist of genuine warmth.
Best tracks: Fall At Your Feet, Hold On, The Pacemaker, Believe
Nine Black Alps – Everything Is
What we said: It’s easy for guitar bands to get lost amid the current revival that’s sweeping all before them at the moment, so it comes as some relief to find that Nine Black Alps avoid that trap and justify their hype with debut album, Everything Is. The long-player positively explodes into life with tracks such as Get Your Guns, Shot Down and Southern Cross, thereby heralding the band’s arrival as Manchester’s newest darlings.
Best tracks: Southern Cross, Intermission, Just Friends, Unsatisfied
Jim Noir – Tower of Love
What we said: Dazed And Confused hailed Jim Noir as ‘the Mancunian Brian Wilson’, while NME described his music as ‘luscious but simple’ adding that ‘it’s sure to bring a smile to your face’. Both descriptions are particularly apt. Some of the melodies belong in Beach Boys territory, while the music has a dreamy, happy go lucky quality about it that makes it completely intoxicating. It’s difficult not to fall in love with.
Best tracks: My Patch, I Me You I’m Your, Eanie Meany, In The Key of C
Robert Plant – The Mighty Re-Arranger
What we said: Music fans are therefore be advised to Rearrange their own record-buying wish-list to ensure that this humdinger doesn’t get omitted from it. It’s an out-and-out classic from one of rock’s true legends.
Best tracks: Shine It All Around, Dancing In Heaven, The Enchanter
Platinum Pied Pipers – Triple P
What we said: Triple P has the feeling of a classic. It’s an album like Primal Screams’ Screamadelica or Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On in that it takes the listener on a trip of different feelings, emotions and thoughts. It’s not that the tracks in themselves sound so different, but the way the album hangs together. It’s like a mini journey of styles but it never loses the thread that holds it together.
Best tracks: Stay With Me, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
RSL – Every Preston Guild
What we said: It’s not an album to be deconstructed and examined for its technical ability [though I’m sure it would pass that test], it’s an album to play on a rainy day when you wish it was summer, or on a summer’s day when the grass is green and life can’t get any better. It’s an album that’ll put it’s arm around you and say ‘come on, it’ll be alright. Let’s have a beer’. I told you, it’s your new South American friend.
Best tracks: Star
Nitin Sawhney – Philtre
What we said: Two years after the release of his highly-acclaimed Human album, the multi-talented musician returns with Philtre, an inspiring collection of songs that take the listener on a journey through global culture, Indian classical music, Bengali folk, traditional flamenco, blues, old soul and R&B.
Best tracks: Mausam, Spark, Footprints, Koyal (Songbird)
The Stands – Horse Fabulous
What we said: It’s appropriate that The Stands’ new album should contain the word fabulous in the title given that’s the best way of describing the record as a whole. For having impressed greatly with their brilliant debut, All Years Leaving, the Liverpool four-piece return with an even more ambitious collection of Sixties-influenced pop-rock songs, in the form of Horse Fabulous.
Best tracks: When The Night Falls In, Mountains Blue And The World Through My Window, Nearer Than Green
Kanye West – Late Registration
What we said: The College Dropout introduced the world to West on a grand scale and was rightly showered with praise, sales and accolades. His sophomore effort, Late Registration, is the sign of an artist brimming with confidence, yet not afraid to diversify.
Best tracks: Gold Digger, Diamonds From Sierra Leone, Touch The Sky, Heard Em Say, Hey Mama