Monday, January 09, 2006

My Best Pop Music of 2005

We interrupt this blog to take note of my favorite new music for 2005. I’m a pop-rock addict. I recognize an adult should have given up on this music a long time ago. Certainly I should have grown up to jazz or classical or at the least settled for country. And although I’ve dabbled in all of the above, I always return to this other stuff. It’s only rock and roll but I like it. This year’s likes. In some kind of order.

...Sufjan Stevens; Illinoise or was it Illinois. All I do know is this album is eccentric folk with a high school marching band rocking background. Always something new on each listen.

...Ryan Adams; Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights. Amazingly, he released three albums this year. The first two are stand-outs (the third, 29, hasn’t struck me yet) and I’m considering here as a great triple-album. Actually, back when albums were vinyl, this probably would have taken up five discs! No doubt he’s a genre interpreter. But a great one.

...Josh Rouse; Nashville. Catchy tunes that haven’t died on me yet. Smart lyrics. Great pedal steel. Cool strings. Great sing-along driving stuff.

...Andrew Bird; The Mysterious Production of Eggs. It’s Paul Simon intelligence (that could be taken as an insult but I mean the best of early solo Simon) tempered with real musical aptitude.

...Paul McCartney; Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. This one came out of left field on me. When it comes to the post-Beatles, I’ve been a John Lennon fan. The last thing McCartney did that interested me at the least was Band on the Run. But it appears that Paul has been making some good music the last three albums before this one. My theory. His storybook life was sadly shattered when his wife, Linda, passed. That event has tempered his silly love songs with a hint of the tragic. And so his loss is our gain. Isn’t that fact too often the wellspring of good art?

...Spoon; Gimme Fiction. This is a just a good three-piece band making really good music. Great falsettos. Catchy tunes. Witty lyrics. The 21st century Rolling Stones.

Which brings me to the ...Rolling Stones; A Bigger Bang. In the days of vinyl, when time limitations would have prevailed and the chaff separated from the wheat, this would have been a great record. As it is, it’s a worthy collection from a very tight band. And Jagger ain’t half-bad here as well.

...Fiona Apple; Extraordinary Machine. This is some weird music. It has a Burt Bacharach, Kurt Weill feel. With a feminist punk attitude. A Marlene Dietrich diva voice. And some smart well-written very poetic lyrics.

...Iron & Wine; Woman King. I’m not sure what this is. From what I’ve read it appears to be a folk minimalist expanding his palette. The lyrics are witching in more ways than one. And the music is simply mysterious. But simple.

...The New Pornographers; Twin Cinema. A Canadian super group. Without stars. Go figure. Although Neko Case is a star in my book. And her voice mixes so well with this music. It cuts through the butter like a knife. Another album that surprises on each listen.

Honorable Mentions: Richard Hawley; Cole`s Corner. Archer Prewitt; Wilderness. Bettye Lavette; I`ve Got My Own Hell To Raise. Stephen Stills; Man Alive! Bruce Springsteen; Devils & Dust. M. Ward; Transistor Radio.

And lastly an album from THE most favorite of mine that doesn’t at this point in time appear great but is probably ahead of its time (and is improving on every listen). As usual. And anyways, I'd rather listen to this guy sing the Yellow Pages than listen to any neo-soul wannabe anyday. Or anyone for that matter. The Belfast Cowboy. The Lion! As we gaze out on... This guy is god with more than a capital g. He is the alpha and the zeta. And everything inbetween. Ladies and Gentleman, straight from San Anselmo, Van Morrison; Magic Time.

And really last. A Newfie band close to my heart. I think it should have been better. But any Sea is better than none. Great Big Sea; The Hard and the Easy.


Dr J said...

Agree (of course) with your last choice, Greg. BTW, there's a new album coming out supposedly in March.

Oh my common one, with the coat so old, and the sufferin' so fine....

aum dada said...

dr j, i read about that. a county album. with 3 originals and the rest covers. looking forward to it of course. you should check out the bettye lavette. it cracks my top ten on every other day. unfortuantely yesterday was the off day. it's a great collection of songs. terrific production by joe henry i believe. and great raw voice. van i'm sure would approve.

Pop Princess said...

Hi Greg,

I've done a Pop Best of 2005 too...quite different to yours!

Great site you have though!

Luv Pop Princess xo

P.S. If you want to check out my site it is

BeckoningChasm said...

Love Andrew Bird's lost-in-time stuff. It wouldn't be out of place between commercials on old "Suspense" shows.

His stuff is like an odd, angular glimpse at an alternate reality. Which, alas, removes it just slightly from vital, but stuffs it straight into "listen to this..."