2005's Best Music
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.
What follows is some of my favourite music in 2005 - oh, and a contest! It is long but I only do this once a year.
My 22 Favourite Songs of 2005
Twenty-two is an arbitrary number, but a good one. Hopefully you will know most of these but if you do not, each of the twenty-two songs is available for you to download. I hope you like them.
1. Robyn - "Be Mine!"
Okkervil River do something else. They draw the red windowshades and they kneel in their living-room - they kneel because they're turning their guitar amps up. Like I said, it's that perfect boom of word and sound, barbed yells and crushing blows. It's sinister but elegiac, scary but true. It's about murder and feeling, voices crying for sensation. "There's nothing quite like the blinding light / that curtains cast aside." The electric guitars are stuck through with spruce branches, with nails, with bits of eggshell. It's like the stamp in the middle of Wilco's "At Least That's What You Said," only instead of Tweedy's guitar solo there's the lamplight of a rhodes, the mounting panic of Will Robinson Sheff, and then a terrible tumble of drums, the searing chorus of pierced guitars, the knowledge that you're hurtling downhill, downstream, downtown, toward the smack and clasp that will make things clear. [buy]
More spell than song, a glamour spread over four and a half minutes: a moment of beauty, a moment of beauty, another. Let's all wear this song round our wrists, let's wonder at it. When does a vocoder begin to sound more human than a human? How do you write such a string of sounds, an almost unrepeating pop-song that still wraps full circle? How can I learn to sing like this? [buy direct from Imogen and avoid evil Sony rootkits]
A rock'n'roll steamship that wheels straight into the gale, straight into the whale's mouth. Old Blue dives deep, past coral towers and ravines, past death, and all the while there's Broken Social Scene inside - playing a lunatic pop-song, breathing seawater, battered by noise and bliss and that cetacean's pink tongue. If only all "art-rock" was this exciting; if only all rock songs could break surface and so brightly spout. (more StG on "Ibi Dreams...") [buy]
How can I be more clear than the pinpricking of electric guitar at 0:34? The way that glint flickers into fullblown flash - and of course the way the mountain then falls on your head. (Don't worry, you are awesome enough to fight your way out.) [buy]
What does a real life sound like, in one's twenties? (Beyond?) It sounds awkward, it sounds sloppy, it sounds well-worn and yet secretly glad. If you're lucky there's a guitar solo like a bird darting in a tree, a cute girl on backing vocals, a chorus like a Tin Man who's already got a heart and just needs to learn some up-to-date dance-moves. "There's 67 better ways to make some sense." Yeah, whatever! (more StG on Herman Dune) [buy]
Quoth i: Every instrument seems to rub a different spot, and Bill Callahan's voice comes coffeecrackly in your ear, perfectly close-and-removed, perfect perfect perfect. ... Every time each part of the song arrives (cymbal shush, violin scrape), it's like a bud springing into bloom. It seems to be on a loop, but there are those little beats of difference, voices answering Smog's song, when everything changes (slightly, slightly). And, of course, it's hysterical. ... [W]here I'm moved is when the drums gear up in the end, in the rainbow moment where all the song's rhymes and themes burst up together, astonishingly written, wry and poetic, a lesson taught, a lesson learned, a joke and a parable. And my heart just swells on a woody springtime day. (more) [buy]
Quoth i: I don't know if I've ever heard Cat Power this mystical, so urgent without being desperate, so in control of her talents. ... Jim White play[s] behind her, [a] rattle and blur that leaps against my heart. Even more startling is that she sings of hurricane and flood, yes you got it, and there are so many images fresh in our mind. "The world is gone." A violin sounds like a ukelele or else it's a plain old mandolin and I imagine ... the individual bodies that are exploding when Chan sings "the bodies are exploding", the individual humans running for cover when Chan sings "humans running for cover", the cars "intersect[ing] in the middle of the sky". ... If there's going to be a song that makes me think of Katrina, me who was in Slovenia when the storm hit, me who doesn't have a TV, me who feels a million miles away and hasn't really been able to care, well then let it be a song that's a swamp, a morass, a thick soup of sound - and also a reservoir, a pool, a gift: every twig, leaf and raindrop, every brush of snare and thump of tom, everything unrehearsed and yet perfectly placed. [buy]
17. MIA - "Hombre"
Quoth i: We need to cut to the meat of the matter in a patented Said the Gramophone run-on sentence. The song's clear and obvious claim-to-fame, the wet and beating heart, the energizing whip-snap, is that killer fiddle hook, that four-note earworm, that vivacious blast, that indian sneer of strings with the thunderstomp of drum-and-shaker. And if you don't fall in love with the tune in the first two seconds, you will when Andrew Bird drawls "coulda died... shoulda died". Or when you notice the weird electric guitar that's stalking through the briar in the back, with long long legs. ... Or when "Fake Palindromes" ends (it ends!) after a scarce two minutes and fifty-two seconds. "I want to drill a tiny hole into your head," he sings. Well sign me up - just let me hear this thing again! Put it on a whirling repeat in a purple room with the blinds drawn. Run through that barrage of images, the formaldehyde-swap, the singles ads, the blood in her eyes. And then open the wardrobe and loose the violins, the super strings, the brown swooping things what lift me out the closed window and straight to the moon. [buy]
The reason this is one of my favourite songs of the year is because of what happens at 4:08. What happens? The same thing that happens a couple minutes earlier. But this time something's come over me, some regression to my Polish countryman's roots, to the tall-boots and high-jumpin' dance-steps. I am whooping with sneakers on, I am rolling my eyes, I am wearing this band's hype like a cape. I am introducing the Medieval poles to disco-beating indie rock, and I bet you they are loving it. [buy]
Finally a song where I feel like Petit Nicholas, skipping to school, my leather satchel swinging alongside me. If Stephin Merritt is gonna be a stuck-up grump, a no-fun bully, it is so good that Agent Simple has been discovered. Finally - a wry and clever friend who writes songs for the Mister Men to sing along to, heads waving in the breeze. (What Dan said.) [buy]
So, yes, Said the Gramophone has another contest. Boston's Brian Michael Roff and The Deer released an album this year called Inventory. It is a great record, dusty late-summer alt.country with a harvester's generous smile. I last wrote about it in April.
Brian is offering up a copy of Inventory, a copy of the ultra limited Pre-Inventory promo EP, and a BMR button. And shipping! And what do you need to do?
These are my ten favourite albums of 2005:
1. Final Fantasy - Has A Good Home
10. Page France - Hello, Dear Wind
(Runners-up: Young Jeezy, Antony and the Johnsons, Fiery Furnaces, Jon-Rae and the River, Sunset Rubdown, The Clientele, Damian Marley, Clem Snide, The Evens, Jose Gonzalez, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ...)
To win BMR's prize-pack, all you need to do is to pick your favourite album of 2005 and then write a haiku about it. Three lines, a total of (5+7+5=) 17 syllables.
Then either email me your haiku with the subject "CONTEST ENTRY", or post your haiku as a comment on this here post.
(Did I mention how great the packaging is on Inventory? It is an elegant hand-made somethin'-special.)
Tuwa has two terrific songs and apt accompanying words. I particularly love the Ian Love track - just Josh Rouse enough to please, hurtling forward with stars in its eyes.
Plan B is selling prints of some of the fantastic photos that have appeared in the magazine. Outstanding shots of Afrirampo, Daniel Johnston, Kevin Blechdom, Arcade Fire, Devendra Banhart, and many more. A total steal at £10 each (or five! for £20). In related news, the December/January issue of Plan B has short reviews by me of the new Robyn and Mt Eerie records, and of Explosions In The Sky's visit to Edinburgh last month. Let me know if you pick it up.
The December issue of The Skinny has, among other things, a review by me of Stars (I know, the UK is slow), and another episode of StG-lite, The Easy Gramophone (starring Devin Davis, Bishop Allen, Dizzee Rascal, and more).
If you made it this far: thank you.Posted by Sean at December 6, 2005 3:00 AM
Regarding Why?'s Elephant Eyelash:
Surrealists break up
Peter Licht: 14 Lieder
A moment of joy,
Sean : I playied some of the music for Bubbie...she REALLY likes it...strange !!!
This is the longest thing I have ever read in the world.Posted by Ash Karreau at December 6, 2005 10:39 AM
excellent choices i reckon. that robyn album will v. shortly be mine, particular thanks for the tip on free delivery on that one.Posted by Anonymous at December 6, 2005 11:07 AM
great selections and certanly the smog and herman dune would be on my list as well (if I wasn't so lazy)
ps redesign is nice too, at first I wasn't so sure but now I forget what the old site even looked likePosted by craig at December 6, 2005 11:14 AM
I enjoyed your list. It's nice to see there's other people out there who can enjoy both The Broken Social Scene AND Kelly Clarkson.Posted by Alex at December 6, 2005 11:27 AM
winner should let us post their 17 on http://reviewhaiku.org.
well, we really like BMR too and think that would be super dee-doooooooper.
how now brow cow!!Posted by k at December 6, 2005 11:53 AM
Wow! Thanks so much for such a comprehensive lovebomb of music! You continue to raise the bar you helped create in the first place!Posted by Yoshi at December 6, 2005 12:24 PM
You're grey and green and
(Sunset Rubdown: Snake's Got A Leg)Posted by Sam at December 6, 2005 2:10 PM
Sorry. Revised after I mistyped:
(Sunset Rubdown: Snake's Got A Leg)Posted by Sam at December 6, 2005 2:12 PM
tim kinsellas- "crucifix swastika
some say pretentious
Great post, I like the Strokes song as well.Posted by HumanityCritic at December 6, 2005 2:30 PM
Thanks for posting the sugababes, can't get enough of that song.Posted by Milo at December 6, 2005 2:59 PM
Hi, it's been far too long since I've been here - you're in Edinburgh permenantly now?! I don't suppose you'll remember me, I'm from Glasgow and emailed you just before you came over. Anyway, just to say hey and that is SOME LIST! I completely agree with you about Casimir Pulaski Day too - it's definitely on my mix of the year.Posted by lism. at December 6, 2005 3:21 PM
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
(Wilco: Kicking Television)
The blur of crying
Deerhoof "the runner's fore"
Japan feels the West,
the stop start stutter
(wolf parade:apologies to the queen mary)
i feel kinda like ThaxPosted by trevor at December 6, 2005 6:32 PM
About "EP" by the fiery furnaces:
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
As a trumpet blares,
he states his wonder
Sufjan Stevens! Illinois! Yes!
Can we make multiple entries? As long as its for the same album?Posted by Yoshi at December 6, 2005 8:04 PM
Not that I don't stand by my entry... I do!Posted by Yoshi at December 6, 2005 8:06 PM
"Whatever it is
(Imogen Heap's Speak for Yourself)Posted by K. Hill at December 6, 2005 8:29 PM
Devin Davis- Lonely People of the World, Unite!
(new to me in 05 anyway)
White black bang hit crash
What I'm looking for
Brendan Benson's An Alternative to LovePosted by Fernando at December 7, 2005 12:05 AM
Deerhoof, "the Runners Four"
A tinny child voice
I originally read "Pick your favourite albums of 2005." The key being the fact that I pluralized album. So, here are my top 10 favourite albums of 2005 in haiku form.
Noah Floating to Illinois!
Fantasy ark scene:
(sufjan stevens - illinois, caribou - the milk of human kindness, cocorosie - noah’s ark, antony - im a bird now, final fantasy - has a good home, buck 65 - secret house against the world, broken social scene - s/t, animal collective - feels, bell orchestre - recording a tape the colour of light, jana hunter = blank unstaring heirs of doom)Posted by Lindsay at December 7, 2005 3:34 AM
just write 'i love you'
(jason anderson "the wreath")Posted by justin at December 7, 2005 7:20 AM
from the infanta
(picaresque)Posted by tim. at December 7, 2005 7:37 AM
This is wonderful! All of it!
Sufjan sings Illinoise.
Kudos for giving top honors to "Has A Good Home" (was my personal second choice), but why no Final Fantasy in your top songs? "This is the Dream of Winn & Regine" is amazingly lovely (and even better live, without the techno-beats).
Still, nice choices all 'round. (And I'm glad I'm not the only one that prefers the MSR remix of Ageless Beauty!)Posted by Beth Hamill at December 7, 2005 3:31 PM
final fantasy "has a good home"
please please please he screams.
some albums came out
Final Fantasy - "Has A Good Home"
fragile like winter
three women coming
(sleater-kinney, the woods)Posted by brendan at December 7, 2005 7:28 PM
Pitchfork hype be damned,
Regarding Sufjan's Illinoise
As the music gives
These songs set the tone
(Herman Dune - Not On Top)Posted by Dave at December 8, 2005 12:15 AM
Embrace death and life
Death Cab for Cutie - "Plans"Posted by Anonymous at December 8, 2005 12:23 AM
I can hardly BELIEVE you didn't include Of Montreal, that's crazy, just craziness. You are a crazy-man.Posted by Anonymous at December 8, 2005 3:25 AM
M. Ward warbled while
Such wonderful haikus!
Anonymous - I know, I am astounding. :) You may also wish to remark upon the glaring omission of "Illinoise" from my favourite albums... (This was no accident: I am astonished at the way people are celebrating the album as a whole.)Posted by Sean at December 8, 2005 4:37 AM
Oh, and Beth - The songs on 'Has A Good Home' are astonishingly consistent, but they (particularly "Win and Regine" and "Please Please Please") cracked my top 30 and not my top 22. This was a year of fantastic tunes and much fewer fantastic records.Posted by Sean at December 8, 2005 4:40 AM
Archer Prewitt - Wilderness
Always keeps going
The first submission for the 25th Annual Said the Gramophone Favourite Album Haiku Contest:
I could never "get" Broken Social Scene. They're beyond me, I guess - too overproduced and lacking interesting ideas and melodies. On the other hand, I tried real hard to dislike Okkervil River, but failed miserably. "For real" is definitely tops.Posted by death to cd's at December 8, 2005 12:15 PM
I just got to downloading the songs (my connection was slow when I posted last night) since I just knew about 7 out of the 22 and... good stuff. I completely passed over LCD Soundsystem and it seems I should've paid them some attention.
Also, glad I'm not the only one to leave out Illinoise on my top ten. really, I do think the Michigan album was better anyway.Posted by Amber at December 8, 2005 12:42 PM
Is it possible
Holy shit is that Kelly Clarkson song good. What planet have I been living on that I hadn't heard it before?Posted by AS at December 8, 2005 6:45 PM
Page France - Hello, Dear Wind
Estranged to Jesus
(The Hold Steady- Separation Sunday)
He almost killed me.
End of year list? Fun!
Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving (3-LP)
We listen slowly.
i had no idea
Bursts of sound swelling
Sigur Ros, TakkPosted by Steph at December 10, 2005 3:52 PM
That Imogen Heap song... on first listen, wow. On listens 2 through n-1, I found myself wishing I could hear a real a capella version of it. On listens n through now, an uncomfortable feeling has crept in that this could be a songwriter's demo for a killer 80s power ballad. Chameleonlike.
That might be more than 17 syllables.Posted by rodii at December 10, 2005 4:36 PM
To death to cd's: I have the absolute opposite sentiment. To me, For Real sounds too emo/Saves the Day, as much as I try to like it, while Ibi is this amazing mixture of guitar, drum, and pure emotion.Posted by Simon Kornblith at December 10, 2005 8:31 PM
wow, robyn? who knew. i remember her from a quite a few years ago when she was making white but catchy R 'n B songs that did quite well. look...uh..listen to her know. very nice! thanks for the re-introduction! :)Posted by wes at December 10, 2005 9:42 PM
the land of lincoln
(sufjan stevens - illinois)Posted by musick at December 10, 2005 10:10 PM
pulse that never ends
(ivy - in the clear [nettwerk america])
regarding: BSS - "BSS"
what becomes the stretch
Songs sweet and sad like
(The Boy Least Likely To- The Best Party Ever)Posted by miranda at December 11, 2005 10:47 AM
"is this john denver?"
(the mountain goats - the sunset tree holyshitsogood.)Posted by eh at December 11, 2005 10:16 PM
My favorite album of the year is Sufjan Stevens - Illinois.
Small whisper wailing
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah,
What measure of man
(Smog - A river aint too much to love)Posted by kid quiet at December 12, 2005 2:49 PM
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
Posted by mbagg at December 12, 2005 3:41 PM
how splendid, how nice
Posted by bmr at December 12, 2005 7:27 PM
Seas of fictions surge:
(The Decemberists: Picaresque)Posted by Judith at December 12, 2005 11:10 PM
It's past the deadline, but I want to write a haiku anyway.
Icelandic dream rock
I echo Vic's sentiments; for how can this album go unrepresented?! [The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday]:
Too hopeless to hold,
OK SO FINE I'M BLIND.Posted by Christopher at December 13, 2005 3:51 AM
Hi, you dumbfounded me. I tried to fully listen to 6 songs from the list and they are all boring boring boring. Glad I did not miss a thing. Keep it up, 2005 was good for you. Cheers.Posted by Anonymous at December 16, 2005 3:45 PM
I don't know who you are or how i got to your site and I'm not into hiku, but thank you for turning me on to some new music that flew completely under my radar in 2005.
You got fine taste.
Best in '06
-jeffPosted by NA at December 18, 2005 2:09 PM
I am not Chinese.
I just discovered Van Morrisons Moondance.
Meigsx.Posted by sir schmeigs at December 19, 2005 10:02 PM
I found your site after searching google for "Casimir Pulaski Day", a song that I like alot and was curious about.
Thanks for posting links to all this great music. I downloaded them all and made a cd for my wife.
Information about the Casimir Pulaski historical figure here:
I have to say that your list of the best singles of the year is one of the best I've seen. You've pick 22 winners in my books (not that really matters). Thanks for also leaving the links up long enough for those of us who are a little slow to be able to enjoy the great music!Posted by ryansenseless at December 24, 2005 5:55 PM
YOU PEOPLE ARE FRICKIN WEIRD!! ...WHO GETS ON SITES LIKE THIS? ITS BULL SHIT HAHA
i love rap music
Love your blog, not only cuz of the song choices but because i have to think to understand what youre saying :). Just a quick question: Am i the only person in the world who can't stand 1 thing by Amerie, mayb it just got overplayed for me but i absolutely hate it.Posted by Micah at January 2, 2006 11:37 PM
If you could only pick one, what would be your vote for best song of the century? Esquire magazine’s trying to find out the No. 1 winner - try the single elimination battle royale at http://www.esquire.com/bestsong !Posted by MUZaaaaaK at January 23, 2006 2:45 PM
CoOl!!!Posted by Lisa at February 2, 2006 11:36 PM
Thanks for posting your picks. I downloaded them ages ago and just really listed to them a couple of weeks ago while I was lucky enough to be vacationing on a warm beach (I made a playlist of them all)
My favs were
Some of the others I could do without, and some were okay, but these 6 are briliant. Sufjan's is the best. Such a beautiful sad song. I see you have a guilty pleasure for dance pop too. That's okay! ;+)
Cheers.Posted by palpable at April 12, 2006 6:30 PM
Merrrrrrr . Your list was shit!!!!!!!!.
God bless you steve irwin
Steve was told to wear 30+ protection to protect him from the rays.Posted by Doug at September 9, 2006 12:25 AM
There is so much fantastic music out there...thank's for putting together yet another good list. I had heard some, and definitely had been missing out by not hearing others. Sufjan is brilliant, as are the New Pornographers; and I have NO idea why I have not been listening to Andrew Bird until now. Word.Posted by Andrew at October 27, 2006 1:50 AM
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