Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My 10 Favorite Albums Of 2005

Even though it's still technically 2005 and there is still new music coming out (Mary J. Blige's new album just came out before Christmas), it's time for my year-end favorite albums list. You may notice that a lot of albums that appear on others' lists may not appear on this list. This is because I haven't been able to listen to as much new music as I would've liked this year. Ideally, this list would contain a lot more than 10 albums. Oh well...

Demon Days by Gorillaz: Even though the strains of "Feel Good Inc" became tiresome after a while thanks to constant radio airplay and that iPod commercial, this album is just a ton of fun to listen to. Filled with a diverse set of guest stars (De La Soul, MF Doom, Ike Turner...Dennis Hopper?), a consistent sound courtesy of producer Danger Mouse, and a dark (but not sad or depressing) sensibility, Demon Days is an album good enough for "real" bands to be jealous of.

Be by Common: Common's long-awaited collaboration with fellow Chicago native Kanye West pretty much lived up to the hype. Common sounded rejuvenated lyrically while Kanye played to his strengths and provided some of the best soul music-backed beats of his career so far. Be shied away from most hip-hop album clichés (short running time, no skits, few guest stars and only two producers) and succeeded in proving that Common is still one of the best rappers out there.

Get Behind Me Satan by The White Stripes: I have to admit that I didn't really jump onto The White Stripes bandwagon until the release of their previous album Elephant (more specifically, the song "Seven Nation Army"). However, Get Behind Me Satan was good enough to make me stay on the bandwagon. I'm continually amazed at how Jack and Meg can make such good, creative music out of so few elements.

The Understanding by Röyksopp: Few artists can make a very good album that sounds radically different from their previous one. However, Röyksopp did just that. The light breeziness of their mostly instrumental debut Melody A.M. gave way to a darker, stronger (and mostly vocal) sound on The Understanding. Excellent production and surprisingly good lyrics made this one a lot of fun to revisit.

Late Registration by Kanye West: While this album wasn't as great as Kanye lead us to believe, it still was far from bad. It contains some of the richest musical arrangements I've ever heard on a hip-hop album and Kanye's lyrics are solid for the most part. I still get songs like "Addiction" and Crack Music" stuck in my head sometimes.

Thunder, Lightning, Strike by The Go! Team: This debut album from the UK group is the perfect album to listen to when you need a pick-me-up. Cheerleading-style chants, hip-hop-style drums, guitar, harmonica, and even banjo are combined to create a unique, peppy sound that sounds original and old-school at the same time. It's quick, harmless, and immensely enjoyable to listen to.

The Campfire Headphase by Boards Of Canada: The more things change, the more they stay the same. This duo's album managed to both move forward (the use of live instruments) and look backward (somewhat similar in tone to their first album) while sounding a little more accessible than their previous albums. It's a great album nonetheless.

The Cookbook by Missy Elliott: Missy's first album without primary production by longtime collaborator Timbaland is not necessarily as good as her earlier efforts...but it proves that she doesn't need him in order to create good music. With a flexible structure that has songs devolving into scratches, a good variety of guest stars, and what I hope will be the first of many collaborations with fellow Virginians The Neptunes ("On And On"), it's fun and distinctly Missy.

Stand Alone Complex O.S.T. 2 by Yoko Kanno: If you think animated series can't have good music, think again. This album, technically the third soundtrack release for the anime series Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, is quite good. There are a variety of genres to be found here from power pop and electronica to jazz and rock. It's a solid effort by Yoko Kanno, arguably one of the most versatile composer/producers working today.

Get Lifted by John Legend: This album was such a breath of fresh air in R&B that it doesn't matter that it was actually released in December of 2004. After memorable background appearances on others' songs, John Legend moved to the forefront with this excellent release. With an organic, old-school sound (and without the pretentiousness of some "neo-soul" artists), John Legend established himself in a genre where it's hard for contemporary male singers to stand out from the pack.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, I have to agree that Yoko Kanno kicks all kinds of ass.