So we’ve reached the end of the year and I thought it was time to reflect on what a great year 2005 was for music. Some of these releases were from 2004, but I only heard them this year, So that counts as 2005 for me. I’m offering every track here so you can see what I’m talking about. Download them, make a compilation, share it. I have to say without the fantastic music blogs out there, there is a lot of music on this list I would never have heard (and subsequently bought the CD). Hats off to music lovers. And now, on with the list.
1. LCD Soundsystem – Tribulations
This song has a great synth line and a great guitar solo at 2:25, and owes much to the excellent production which allows James Murphy’s vocals to breathe alongside the percussion and keyboard pulses. Probably one of the only songs this year I listened to 10 times in a row at full blast. Listen loud.
2. Gorillaz – DARE
With Demon Days, Damon Albarn produces a career best by miles, with excellent production from Danger Mouse and great performances from Roots Manuva, Matrina Topley Bird, MF Doom, That dude from the Pharcyde, De La Soul and Shaun Ryder on this track (Although he only has about three lines on it and sounds a bit incoherent throughout). Feel Good Inc, All Alone and November Has Come were the other standout tracks for me, but DARE is the one I like the most.
3. Arcade Fire – Wake Up
OOOOHHHHHH OOAAAAAAAAHHH OOOOOOHHH AAAAAH OOOOHHHH OHHHHHHH OHHHHHH OHHHHHH OOOOOHH OOHHHH OHHHH OHHH OWWWW OHHH!!!!!!!!!!! What else can you say that hasn’t already been said about the Arcade Fire? What a song.
4. Jose Gonzalez – Crosses
This is a lovely intimate song with excellent classical guitar and tender vocals. It’s very atmospheric considering it’s only vocals and guitar and that’s why I keep coming back to it. Simple yet sublime.
5. Four tet – Sun. Drums and Soil
Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet returned in 2005 with a new album Everything Ecstatic that sounded harsh and more experimental than his previous effort Rounds. By largely doing away with the things that characterised Rounds (melody and normal song structure) and adding more drums, more electronics, more experimentation, Everything Ecstatic is just more fun. Sun, Drums and Soil is a perfect example.
6. Saul Williams – Talk to Strangers
The Saul Williams gig in Crawdaddy in August was fantastic; part-poetry reading, part social commentary, part hip hop show – Just like Saul himself. His lyrics are what’s important here, and spoken-worded Talk to Strangers, the album opener has entrancing lyrics set to a haunting piano which demands attention. “the world is not a flat screen I ain’t trying to fit in. “
7. TV on the Radio – Staring At the Sun
Officially a 2004 release, it was brought to my attention from listening to Diplo’s Breezeblock Mix this year, the harmonies on this song are bleedin great and the synth just lifts it to another level.
8. Tegan and Sara – Walking with a Ghost
Only heard this song a month ago, haven’t heard anything else from them. I like your wan’s voice and the song is class and stands up to repeated listens. There’s also a good mashup where it’s mixed with Mylo called “Walking with a Ghost in Paris”, and was also covered by the White Stripes (just so you know).
9. M83 – Don’t Save us from the Flames
This French band remind me of Godspeed! You Black Emperor but with more electronics and more focus. Or they sound a bit like highly emotional robots, whatever you prefer. The harmonies on this song rock and the drums are LOUD. This song has so much energy. There’s also a great 10 minute Supoerpitcher remix, well worth checking out. The remix slows the song down and removes the distorted guitars leaving the piano stabs and harmonies in place with a subtle beat. Nice.
10. Kraftwerk – Planet of Visions
Having started the year, never really liking Kraftwerk, I finish this year listening to their back catalogue and seeing them live at Electric Picnic in a fantastic performance I wrote about earlier. It is this song though which surprised me the most. Having heard Kraftwerk before, I always assumed their sound was a bit too awkward for me. Listening to this song from their Live album Minimum Maximum, it is a rollicking electro song with great synth lines, vocal samples and gliding strings. Listen.
11. Roots Manuva – The Falling
“Guns, Bitches, Hoes, Crack. Death and disease and a baseball bat. STDs that have no name. Down in the clinic with headful of shame” – The rap song with the best lyrics of the year, was also the most stark. On Awfully Deep, Roots Manuva chronicled his depression and mental state of the past two years but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a depressing listen. Roots manages to turn his dystopian state into something positive with a more focused potent release than his previous albums.
Download MP3: The Falling
12. Shitmat – Theme from 1998 Morris Dancer Massacre
Imagine the maddest song you’ve ever heard. Imagine it faster and harder. That’s Shitmat. Everytime I listen to Shitmat, a big grin appears across my face. He played was one of the most enjoyable gigs I was ever at in the Rowing Club in Galway this year, even if it was supposedly cut short by the gardaí. On to the song, though. Frenetic breakbeats and drums sound collide to sound like a gun-toting massacre at a Morris Dancer Massacre. The meowing cat at 0:31. That amazing break at 0:44. Sailor’s Hornpipe at 1:10. That “cop killer” sample at 1:48 Then Rage Against the Machine appears from nowhere at 2:55. RUN DMC at 3:12. It just keeps going. Breakcore UK.