Known Johnson

January 4, 2006

The year that was: 2005

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 2:13 pm

I’ve been doing these best-of lists for years now, and I always find it frustrating trying to decide which albums belong where. It always seems to depend on what has most recently received the most attention from me, which means that an album released in June that I listened to for months, then lost interest in when something came along that replaced it until December, might not receive the recognition it deserves. A while back I realized that I have two modes of music enjoyment: there are bands I just plain love who will always be at the tops of my lists – Rush, Aimee Mann, King Crimson number among a few others that will likely never leave that coveted spot in my universe. They are bands that manage to turn out something that I return to over and over, regardless of whether the critical reception of their output has diminished. I am fan, to put it simply. And there are “the others” – albums that I stumble upon one way or another and which manage to fight their way to the top of the heap, finding themselves on repeated listens long after others have waned from view. To put it simply again, I’m picky about what I buy, and I’m picky about what I keep – if I stop listening, it’s very often permanently, and I jetison them from my collection. What remains are my favorites.

So this year I’ve decided to break the list down a bit differently – the main list is composed of the albums that I just plain enjoy the hell out of. Trying to rank them seems pointless to me – they all get their moment in the spotlight with me for a time, and quite frequently. I’ve also included some further lists of other things – disappointments, disappearing acts, etc. While I try to spotlight the best, there are times when it’s justifiable to point out the real letdowns.

With time, I plan on breaking this down further – some things deserve some extra attention as to why I loved them so much. Keep tuning in – they’ll be coming along sometime soon.

The favorites:
Adrian Belew: Side One
Adrian Belew: Side Two
Brendan Benson: The Alternative To Love
Andrew Bird: and the Mysterious Production of Eggs
John Coltrane: One Up, One Down
Miles Davis: The Cellar Door Sessions 1970
Depeche Mode: Playing the Angel
Rob Dickinson: Fresh Wine for the Horses
Dave Douglas: Mountain Passages
Dave Douglas: Keystone
Dave Douglas: Live at the Bimhuis
The Evens
Bill Frisell: East/West
Iron & Wine: Woman King (EP)
Iron & Wine with Calexico: In the Reins (EP)
Damien Jurado: On My Way To Absence
Low: The Great Deceiver
Aimee Mann: The Forgotten Arm
Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
Brad Mehldau: Day Is Done
Nine Horses (David Sylvian’s new “band”): Snow Borne Sorrow
Nine Inch Nails: With Teeth
Glen Phillips: Winter Pays for Summer
Archer Prewitt: Wilderness
Son Volt: Okemah and the Melody of Riot
Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
The White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan
Wilco: Kicking Television

Music DVDs:
Elvis Costello: Club Date – Live in Memphis
The Flaming Lips: Fearless Freaks
Peter Gabriel: Still Growing Up – Live & Unwrapped
Guided By Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion
Rush: R30
The Tragically Hip: That Night In Toronto

Fell off the radar (still like them, but for whatever reason don’t listen to them much):
Bruce Dickinson: Tyranny of Souls
Mike Doughty: Haughty Melodic
Peter Himmelman: Imperfect World
King’s X: Ogre Tones
Mercury Rev: The Secret Migration
Minus the Bear: Menos el Oso
Bob Mould: Body of Song
The National: Alligator
Opeth: Ghost of Perdition
Pelican: The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Doug Pinnick: Emotional Animal
Robert Plant: Mighty ReArranger
Martha Wainwright

Mild disappointments (I’ll listen with some frequency, but lament what they could have been)
Beck: Guero
Tim Booth: Bone
Death Cab for Cutie: Plans
Decemberists: Picaresque
matt pond PA: Several Arrows Later
Porcupine Tree: Deadwing
Super Furry Animals: Love Kraft

Major disappointments (I’ll likely never want to listen to these again):
Dream Theater: Octavarium
Eels: Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Ben Folds: Songs for Silverman
Mars Volta: Francis the Mute
Queens of the Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze
Weezer: Make Believe

Time will tell (too new (to me) to judge, but I’m very, very impressed with them):
Robert Fripp: Love Cannot Bear
Jose Gonzalez: Veneer
New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
Sam Prekop: Who’s Your New Professor?
Smog: A River Ain’t Too Much to Love
Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary

Time has told (albums I was really looking forward to, enjoyed at first, but now register a mere “feh” and some of which will likely find themselves relegated to the “Major Disappointments” category):
Trey Anastasio: Shine
Broken Social Scene
Foo Fighters: In Your Honor
Garbage: Bleed Like Me
Gorillaz: Demon Days
Michael Penn: Mr. Hollywood 1947
The Pernice Brothers: Discover a Lovelier You

And let’s not forget what hasn’t been listened to this year – I already know of a few things that would deserve a spot on the list, but I simply haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet (Ryan Adams’ Cold Roses is an obvious one, for example.) As I said, keep checking back – this list is fluid for the new few days as I remember things that deserve to be spotlighted for one reason or another.


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