There has been a lot of great new music released this year, and these are the albums that have really made an impact on me. Since I got my iPod last January I have greatly expanded music collection with a lot of cool stuff. Half this stuff I would have never listened to just a year ago, and have just recently started liking. Others fit my brain so perfectly I probably would have liked it as a toddler.
Before I list the best, I think I should mention some of the disappointments for me. Ben Folds and Death Cab for Cutie both released average records with a couple of great songs on each, which is ok, but not what I was hoping for. Weezer and System of Down both seem to have forgotten who they are and what made people like them in the first place. The Mars Volta and The Dandy Warhols dove head first into the experimental pool and apparently drowned. Still, there was a lot of great new stuff this year, some from new bands and some from old. These are in no particular order.
The Arcade Fire – Funeral
Technically this came out at the very end of 2004, but I am including it here since 2005 is when it showed up on the radar. This is currently my favorite album, it just clicks in every way. They definitely have their own sound, but they aren’t so far out there that it takes a long time to start liking them. From the genius final minute of Crown Of Love to the awesome chord progressions of Rebellion (Lies), the whole album feels like it is going somewhere.
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
This album grew on me when I didn’t really expect it to. It has a lot in common with The Arcade Fire, but Broken Social Scene has a slower, less refined sound. It’s great chill out music.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
This is what you would get if you crossed Radiohead with Modest Mouse. The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth is one of the best songs of the year, and the whole album is very solid.
Imogen Heap – Speak for Yourself
I had to import this from the UK after hearing Hide and Seek on The O.C. I really liked Imogen’s previous Frou Frou album, but this is so much more. I have a weak spot for electronic music, and this just hits perfectly. I can sit and listen to Hide and Seek and The Walk on repeat for hours and not get tired of them.
Rilo Kiley – More Adventurous
This is almost country, which makes it all the more surprising that I have it on this list. Jenny Lewis has one of the most pleasing voices I have heard, and songs like Portions For Foxes and Accidentel Deth have great hooks.
Sigur RÃ³s – Takk…
I have Sigur RÃ³s’s previous albums, but I can’t say I really got into them, they were a little too mellow and uninteresting for my tastes. Takk on the other hand has an energy and brightness that I can really get into. With this record they have moved just far enough away from their post-rock roots into something all their own.
Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
This is without a doubt the most original album this year. It seems like Sufjan will try anything, and it all works. Every song on the album is great in it’s own way, there are some with catchy hooks, some with long instrumental sections, and some that are slow and emotional.
Coldplay – X&Y
Given the disappointing showings most of the other established bands made this year, I was surprised by Coldplay, who put out their best album yet. They picked up the beat on a lot of songs into the range I like, and made an album that doesn’t sound like more of the same, yet still sounds like Coldplay.
The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
My new found affinity for folkish music brought me back to The Mountain Goats, after I dismissed them a year ago for being too dull. This is a powerful album, and it is only helped by the better production values as compared to their previous records.
Hopefully we will have just as good a year for music in 2006.