2005 has been a very poor year, especially for guitar based tunes, although with the likes of The Artic Monkeys and Plan B on the 2006 horizon it does bode slightly better. Having said that I heard a preview of The Strokes new album and it was a pile of horseshit.
Their was surprisingly few re-issue highlights in 2005 but the one stand out is a truly exceptional record: Pearl by Janis Joplin. It came out all repackaged and with a bonus disc of live wailing and is a must for anyone wishing to hear the greatest white female voice in Rock and Roll.
Before I lay on you my Top Three Albums of 2005 I have some honourary mentions to make, starting with the last addition to my epic CD collection in 2005: 29 by Ryan Adams, where (in a year of quantity over quality) he hits his stride in a beautiful, understated record. He seems to be in his Dylan phase and the longer he stays there the better.
Speaking of a Dylan phase, Bright Eyes and I'm Awake and it's Morning is another acoustic based winner with wicked lyrics and a sense of political urgency; while Tom Vek's We Have Sound plugs in to the thin, mercury noise of mid-period Dylan and throws in some looped beats and interesting sounds to meld a startling piece of original music.
As for the big hitters, Coldplay (X&Y), Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have it so Much Better) and The White Stripes (Get Behind Me Satan) don't disappoint, maintaining high musical standards in their search for uber-band status; although the samey nature of these albums stops them from being truly great releases; they seem to have stayed within their boundaries somewhat.
Two final shout-outs go to the excellent Mitchell Brothers and A Breath Of Fresh Attire, which although far from perfect is a wonderful slice of London life in an accessible Grime/Hip-Hop format and holds perhaps my favourite song of this year: Alone With The TV and the GLC, who have managed to produce a comedy album as funny as the first and the joke isn't even wearing thin yet: SAFE AS FUCK.
So my Top Three Albums of 2005 are (in no particular order):
- Kano: Home Sweet Home. Takes the best bits of Grime, the best bits of Hip-Hop, the best bits of just about every other pop music genre and makes an album that should have launched him to worldwide stardom and his flow is fast, furious and beautiful. The fact he is still only slightly famous shows how morally bankrupt the music business is.
- System of a Down: Mezmerize. Clever heavy metal that draws on a bewildering array of influences and world music styles and leaves SOD as the leading light in heavy metal by a royal mile and the lyrics take on the political issues of the US to boot. Metallica could never make a racket like these guys. Pity Hypnotize wasn't as good...
- Antony and the Johnsons: I Am A Bird Now. The voice of an angel, mixed with some of the most jaw-dropping lyrics and sweeping, epic soundscapes creates the finest album of 2005.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!