Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Best of 2005

So there are all kinds of lists out there of the 'best' of 2005. First of all, M.I.A. and Diplo are the MOST over rated musicians I've ever heard of (unless you're talking about how HOT M.I.A. is). For all you mash up kids out there, have fun with them. For everyone else, who agree that Dangermouse had a COUPLE good ideas on the Grey Album, forget the hype. Unhappy overlapping and beats fighting each other are not my cup of tea. I love Kid Koala, I love Amon Tobin. Listen to them for a while, and then try and come back and tell me Diplo has any skills. Oh, and I won't even go into how messed up it is that the 'hipsters' are jumping on the Kelly Clarkson bandwagon. I'll admit I liked her interview in Blender... but that does not make me like her music any better.

So here goes, my (revised) top 20 albums of 2005:

-20. Daft Punk - Human After All
They make electronic robotic music sound beautiful. This is their most robotic album to date, and in my opinion, their best.
-19. Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
Was it worth the wait? Probably. The better question is which version of this album is better, the early mixes which got released on the internet or the official release. I think the early mixes are slightly better for most of the songs.
-18. Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions
I don't care if you thought the movie sucked, Seu Jorge's acoustic laid back (and Portuguese) versions of David Bowie's songs were wonderful.
-17. Herbalizer - Take London
Herbalizer has yet to make a bad album, and each they make is better than the last. Let's hope this continues in the future.
-16. Matisyahu - Live From Stubbs
The Hasidic reggae artist isn't just a novelty. He's got the talent to back up the unique background.
-15. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
I REALLY didn't want to like Sufjan. Too much internet buzz. But you can't not like him. He makes heartfelt, smooth, endearing songs. Sufjan for President.
-14. Breakestra - Hit The Floor
It's like a mix tape, but all the music is done by the same band. This is the BEST party cd of the year, and deftly combines funk and electronica.
-13. Quantic Soul Orchestra - Pushin' On
Z-Trip has nothing on these guys. Soul, Mo-town, and Hip-hop combined with downtempo electronica. Oh, and they make their own music, they don't just spin it. Nuff said.
-12. Sigur Ros - Takk
Not as beautiful or sweeping as their past albums, it's still better than almost anything else released these days. It's the decade of the Scandinavian Invasion.
-11. System Of A Down - Hypnotize And Mezmerize
Along with Incubus, System Of A Down is proving that main stream hard rock doesn't have to suck, and it can even make you think.
-10. Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams
Following a slight sophomore slump on On and On, Jack Johnson follows up with his best (and least radio played) album yet.
-09. Gorillaz - Demon Days
Without Dan the Automator or Del, Gorillaz sophomore effort is suprisingly still great. Danger Mouse has done a good job, though releasing Dirty Harry as the first single was a VERY bad idea. Fire coming out of the monkey's head with Dennis Hopper is transcendental.
-08. Mike Doughty - Haughty Melodic
Proving that he could make good music without Soul Coughing, Haughty Melodic isn't as progressive as anything Soul Coughing made, but it's still great.
-07. Jose Gonzalez - Veneer
Beautiful. With Elliot Smith out of the picture, who will hold Nick Drake's torch? I think it's Jose Gonzalez. This is a great prequel to his vocals on Zero 7's Garden.
-06. One Self - Children Of Possibility (And Children Of Possibility Instrumentals)
I think DJ Vadim is finally home. Blu Rum 13 is a TOTALLY underrated MC. This album will slip through the cracks.
-05. Skalpel - Konfusion
Cut off Amon Tobin's sharp edges, and you get Skalpel. Ninja Tune forever!
-04. John Butler Trio - Sunrise Over Sea
John Butler should be 1000 times more famous than he currently is. Radio stations, please play his music.
-03. The Tiny - Close Enough
Their music haunts me day and night. Long live the Scandinavian Invasion!
-02. Alice Russell - My Favorite Letters
The Quantic vocalist gets her own album. Step aside Norah Jones, Joss Stone, etc.
-01. Blockhead - Downtown Science
Instrumental Hip-Hop is the sound of the future, and Blockhead does it the best.

Honorable mention: White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan, Yonderboi - Splendid Isolation, Amon Tobin - Chaos Theory Soundtrack, Parov Stelar - Seven And Storm, Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth, Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself, Doves - Some Cities, Audioslave - Out Of Exile, John Mayer Trio - Try! Live In Concert, Nada Surf - The Weight Is A Gift

For now, since I'm still in process of getting a server for listing files, here are a couple tracks (courtesy of betterpropaganda) of the above artists:

Sufjan Stevens

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Jets Overhead - The bridges between you and me

Thank God (Jesus/Satan/Al Gore/Etc) for the Internet. Without it, I highly doubt I would have ever come across Jets Overhead (or the vast majority of the music I listen to now). Most recently, the internet was able to BRIDGE the gap between me and this wonderful Canadian band.

Jets Overhead have recently released their first full length studio album, Bridges, and let me be the first to guide your tired feet onto their causeway.

The sound of this band is not entirely progressive. They are somewhere in between Belly and Explosions in the Sky, and they wander through the this landscape with great success. Their post rock tendencies are what really bring this band forward for me. Basically, they have yet to amaze me, but have yet to disappoint. What I enjoy the most about this band is their consistency. Their entire catalogue is available from their website, and here you can see an obvious growth from the demos to the EP to Bridges, but in each step ALL of the songs are great. If the step up from the EP to Bridges is any indicator of where this band is heading, I'll follow their bridges where ever they build them.
I definitely recommend going to their site and downloading ALL of their songs, however I've included my three favorites from Bridges for your listening pleasure. As always, a big thank you goes out to the band for producing and providing these wonderful gems.

Jets Overhead - All The People
Jets Overhead - Bridges
Jets Overhead - No More Nothing

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ani Difranco - Punk folk music

So I've recently been on a hiatus... no biggie, I was having a hard time finding the mp3s I really wanted available from the artists OWN website. Well, I just came across a wonderful nugget from the self made woman herself, Ani Difranco.
Ani is the truly independent music producer, and walks the avenue few musicians have the guts or grit or luck to do by owning and running her own bootstrap record company (Frank Zappa is among the few others to have been successful in this avenue). Her output is inconsistent in style and in quality, but everything she does is 100% Ani. Her better output is among the best music EVER made.
I was very reluctant to get into Ani's music initially. Being labeled 'chick music' I was under the impression that it would be along the lilith fair crew sound and totally foreign to my male perspective on life (aka militant lesbian). However, I quickly came to realize that its a lot easier to write Tori Amos off into this field (though heterosexual) than Ani. Ani is BI-sexual (she dated many women and a few men before marrying her husband and pissing off the hypocritical portion of the gay and lesbian community). Due to this open outlook, the man hating seems to be more balanced with a general hate of all the evil PEOPLE of the world. Her battle songs are one part Bob Dylan, one part Saul Williams. Even her softer, happier stuff can be some of the most well crafted insightful songs you can come across.
Anyway, she's recently been on a more introspective and softer kick, but that doesn't mean she's put away the boxing gloves. When everyone else was laying down in the face of government pulling our rights away from us at the end of 2001, Ani was fighting back with songs like self evident. Enjoy, courtesy of Ms. Ani D.

Ani Difranco - Self Evident
2 Bonus songs from betterPropaganda.com:
Origami and Studying Stones (click on 'listen' to download the songs)