Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Best Of 2005 (Rough Draft)

Pop Kulcher's Best Of 2005
Made an initial run at a Best of 2005. (I've been doing these for years; you can see my collection of annual compilations here.) I typically wait until a few months into the new year; that gives me a chance to pick up some things I may missed during the preceding months but read about on various end-of-year lists. I've still got a few last-minute items on order, and will probably swap out a few of these, but here's the dry run. (NOTE: These are listed in the running order of the mix, not based on preference, with the exception of the first couple tunes.)

1) New Pornographers, "The Bleeding Heart Show"
2) My Morning Jacket, "Off The Record"

As noted below, my two favorite songs of the past year, hands down. I still need to give the New Ps' disc a chance to grow on me, as I found the album a bit grating at first; in contrast, I loved My Morning Jacket's Z disc right off the bat, though I'm not quite as high on it right now.

3) The Orange Peels, "Circling The Sun." By far the best (and most poppy) song on an otherwise decent, if not awe-inspiring, sunshine pop album.

4) Death Cab For Cutie, "Soul Meets Body." Yeah, maybe it's a bit too commercial, but it's a great song off a great album.

5) Big Star, "Best Chance." One of several stand-out tracks on the surprisingly solid (but deeply flawed) "reunion" album.

6) Of Montreal, "Requiem For O.M.M.2." After a string of imaginative, twee epics, Of Montreal issues its second EP of electronica-infused alt-pop; like the last one (and like much of what's come before) it pushes one's tolerance for eccentricity but has a couple strong tracks.

7) Bright Eyes, "Another Travelin' Song." I probably like Bright Eyes more than I should, as (like Death Cab) they're probably more appropriate for Zanax-popping college sophomores pursuing a major in poetry and a minor in vermouth quaffing; but the 2005 acoustic album is pretty decent, and this upbeat country number (with Emmylou Harris) kicks serious ass.

8) Teenage Fanclub, "Slow Fade." Stand-out track from an otherwise ok album; their glory days are behind them, but they can still churn out memorable pop tunes like few others.

9) Ben Folds, "Landed." Something of a guilty pleasure, as Folds veers dangerously close to sappy Carole King territory here. But great chorus.

10) Green Pajamas, "The Secret of Bethany's Mouth." One of my favorite neo-psychedelic bands, though their latest album, like several others, has a couple killer highlights and a lot of filler.

11) Fountains of Wayne, "Maureen." New track off their collection of b-sides; a bit of a "Stacy's Mom" retreat, but still fun.

12) Bettie Serveert, "Attagirl." Like Teenage Fanclub, their glory days are in the past, but they continue to evolve and experiment. Nice, jazzy feel to this one.

13) Son Volt, "Afterglow 61." Always been more of a Tweedy guy than a Farrar guy, but the new album's got some strong rockers.

14) Matt Pond PA, "So Much Trouble." Embarrassed to say I discovered these guys through a Neutral Milk Hotel cover on an episode of the O.C.; but the new album is great, with lots of mellow, rustic folk-pop.

15) Dressy Bessy, "Small." Another album of 3-chord bubblegum punk, the Go-Go's crossed with the Ramones.

16) Stephen Malkmus, "Mama." Surprising number of stand-out tracks on his third post-Pavement solo album, but this is the poppiest.

17) Pernice Brothers, "Saddest Quo." Though I was underwhelmed at first, their 2005 album has really grown on me. Tough picking just one track.

18) Sufjan Stevens, "Come On! Feel The Illinoise!" An epic track, nearly 7 minutes of Broadway-infused melodic strangeness. If the rest of the album were this amazing, it would live up to the hype.

19) Mazarin, "For Energy Infinite." Sort of filling the void left by Neutral Milk Hotel (but far less intense), Mazarin's oddball indie-pop deserves a wider audience.

20) Kingsbury Manx, "And What Fallout!" Their fourth album of Pink Floyd-drenched rustic melancholia is their weakest, but still a few fine, headphone-friendly tracks.

21) Oranger, "Sukiyaki." Gotta say, found their latest album to lose a lot of the creative spark of earlier efforts; nothing wrong with another new-wave-ish, Weezer-esque jagged pop band, but no real standout tracks here. This one'll probably get cut when I put together the final mix.

22) The Bats, "Bells." I was elated to see these under-appreciated New Zealand mellow popsters get back together after a decade apart. Not their best album (and this track will probably be dropped), but not bad, either.


At 2:16 AM, Anonymous Trevor Evans-Young said...

Nice list Mark. I have been a long time reader of your site and whenever I am in the mood for great pop stuff, I check it out. I love all of your mix tapes of the years gone by, and the ones of "the history of rock" or whatever. Your site got me into lots of stuff, including The Bats, The Soft Boys, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The Feelies (among some others I can't think of right now). Keep up the great work man. - Trevor e.y.


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