Thursday, December 15, 2005

It's time for my Top 10 Albums of 2005. I had thought this was going to be quite straightforward, but then I realised that whilst there have been two albums that have stood out for me this year, there have also been a LOT that I have quite liked in one way or another. So, what are the final 10? Well, we'll kick off with my favourite two releases of the year by Robert Plant and Ryan Adams.
  • Robert Plant and The Strange Sensation - Mighty Rearranger. Who would have thought that after all this time, Bob Veg would come up with a record this good? Not me, for one. This is seriously the best thing Plant has done since mid-period Zeppelin. There really isn't a duff track on this record - no filler at all.
  • Ryan Adams and The Cardinals - Cold Roses. Ryan decided to release 4 albums this year. As it is with the third due out next week, he is only going to make it to 3, but still not a bad effort. Cold Roses was the first of the year's releases and is a wonderful double album chock full of Grateful Dead tinged country rock.
  • Ryan Adams and The Cardinals - Jacksonville City Nights. Ryan and the Cardinals again, but this time with a more tradition country sound. But once again full of great songs.
  • Depeche Mode - Playing The Angel. The return of DM saw the band release their most focused album in many years, and saw Martin Gore eventually let some Dave Gahan songs onto a DM album. A wise move, as one of those songs Suffer Well is one of the highlights of the album. Already looking forward to the UK dates in April 2006.
  • Arcade Fire - Funeral. I've also had a soft spot for Canadian bands, Weakerthans, The Pursuit of Happiness, er, Rush ... and it looks set to continue with AF. The album contains for tracks called Neighborhood, features the beautiful Crown of Love and the marvelous single Rebellion (Lies)
  • Eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. There's only one Mark Everett. His life has not been the happiest these past years, which is reflected in this collection of songs, which are strangely uplifting.
  • Kate Bush - Ariel. Really? Only 12 years since the last album you say? Yes it really had been that long and this album was awaited with anticipation and fear. Thankfully, Bush can still deliver the goods and, especially on the second CD, shows she still write great songs. There are a couple of dreadful moments on the album - Pi especially - but the final three songs Somewhere In Between, Nocturn and Ariel, represent my favourite end to any album this year, and rank up there with Bush's best work. The sound of the album could maybe have done with moving on a bit - as it sounds like the Hounds of Love production over again, but that is a minor gripe.
  • Garbage - Bleed Like Me. Making up for the tameness of their last album, Beautiful Garbage, this took you by the throat a bit more, with Shirley Manson sounding better and angrier than ever. Also in the track Why Do You Love Me they had one of the best singles of 2005.
  • Aslyn - Lemon Love. Kicking off with the Todd Rundgren tinged piano riffs of Just Enough this album, part co-written and produced by Guy Chambers, Robbie Williams' former producer and co-writer, is the kind of female pop/rock that I have always had a soft spot for. Aslyn, who sounds a bit like Jill Sobule on a couple of tracks, has produced (along with Arcade Fire) my favourite debut album of the year.
  • KT Tunstall - Eye to The Telescope. This came out at the start of January, and has remained in my listening throughout the year - also saw her live twice this year too. Well crafted folk/pop.

So that is the 10. It was tempting to include the new Ryan Adams album on one listen - yes, it IS that good. But what about the ones that got away. I would like to make honourable mentions of Nine Inch Nails - White Teeth (Trent back doing 'industrial' as only he can); Public Enemy - New Whirl Order (Chuck and Co back with their best album in a while); Judas Priest - Angel of Retribution (No, really. Rob Halford is back, and this album contains a handful of great songs); Charlotte Church - Tissues and Issues (a veritable mix of styles resulting in a pleasing debut 'pop' album); Soulwax - Nite Versions (after a hard rock tinged last album, we got one of the best dance albums of the year); Paul McCartney - Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard (surprisingly strong album from Macca which was certainly his best in a long while); Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better (whilst their debut album was over-rated, this follow up was surprisingly good); Loudon Wainwright III - Here Come the Choppers (NO one does what Loudon does better than Loudon. Still a class act); Liz Phair - Somebody's Miracle (good solid pop) and Gemma Hayes - The Roads Don't Love You (Only just missing out on the top 10, a fine follow up to her excellent debut Night on My Side).