I'm dishing out my Best of 2005 selections in three healthy portions. Every year, I make a "Best of" mix for my friends, and this year I purchased a good deal of music, necessitating a three volume mix. I'm going to offer ya'll the same mix for download. This week, we begin with volume one.

But before we start, a prelude is needed. I'll eventually share my Top 10 albums of the past year. But first, I'd like to focus on songs, rather than records. Since I became so involved in blogging this year, I've been concentrating more and more on individual mp3s, er... songs. And that in turn got me more interested in making mixes once again. Then, in November, they let me back on the airwaves. So once again, "singles" have become a point of fascination more so than albums.

Anyway, my goal in life has never been to make MONEY -- just to make enough money to be able to spend some money on RECORDS. That goal didn't change in 2005, despite starting the year on a ridiculous effort to curb my spending. I anointed the burden my "Year Without Music". (Yes, I actually thought I might be able to go an entire calendar year without buying more than one record per month. Ha!) What you're holding in your hands right now is Exhibit No. 1, proof that I failed miserably in my yearlong fast. (I did make it about five-and-a-half weeks, give or take a week. Still, I would make a poor Buddhist monk.) I live to buy records -- guilty as charged -- and I have now accepted this fate.

Music journalists will often write that such-and-such year was a truly awesome year in music, or an absolute snooze fest. But I don't listen to 'em. Sure, 2005 may not hold water compared to, say, the year Punk broke in 1977 or Beatlemania in 1964. But fuck, if we're going to compare every year to the standard-bearer of all years, then why don't we just stop looking forward and instead make out with our copy of Never Mind the Bullocks? My point: Every year is a pretty swell year in music, if you know where to look. It's up to the excavator to uncover the gold. But I do admit that some years the process of finding the booty can be trying, to say the least. I mean, I don't have unlimited funds after all. (If anyone wants to hook me up to that end, drop me an e-mail.)

I spent a good deal of the year looking backward, purchasing records by obscure '60s garage rock bands from Holland and collecting psych-rock compilations from Asia and Latin America. But I also purchased a bunch of albums recorded over the past year or so. Due to such non-2005 purchases, I sadly can't tell you if the new Beck or Broken Social Scene is worth a shit. Sorry.

One final note: I don’t claim to be a music critic, but I am a music fanatic. These songs may not be the best of the best in your book, but they sure made my year more enjoyable. Maybe they'll work some magic for you as well.

The Noiseboy

Songs are listed in no particular order, other than the order in which they appeared on the mix. All songs are from records that I purchased -- no iTunes downloads, no mp3s cribbed from blogs, no feeling guilty over not owning the album's actual artwork. Barring a few reissues of recently recorded music, all songs appeared on albums whose original release was in 2005.

The Noiseboy's Best of 2005, Volume One

Animal Collective - "Did You See the Words"

Sung Tongs didn't grab me on first listen, but AC's newest album, Feels, is full of a certain warm energy that lends the album both an immediacy and a coherency that's simply potent. If a demographically diverse grouping of third-graders could be cobbled together, locked in a hut for a year quietly practicing their chosen instruments, and then loosed on society in a free concert for the masses, "Did You See the Words" is what they would sound like.

Akron/Family - "Running, Returning"

Another NYC band whose folksy cacophony struck me dumb this year. Supposedly, they put on one hell of a live show, which I'll find out for myself in a month when they play in town.

Cass McCombs - "Sacred Heart"

One of the 2005's finest feel good tunes. I know the lyrics are somber, but the songs still makes me feel giddy. I think it's those '80s synths and the guitar crescendo heading out of the chorus. Sorta makes me think of The Chills and East River Pipe in an oh so good way. Why Cass McCombs isn't as popular as the Pope I just don't know.

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - "No More Shoes"

I wrote Stephen Malkmus off years ago, and then he goes and pulls this shit on me. If this is what growing old sounds like, then count me in. Who knew the dude could still rock like this?

Oneida - "Lavender"

A fucking phenomenal record from one hell of a band. Oneida's The Wedding is a dizzying, daring assemblage of aural delight. Two thumbs up!

Black Mountain - "Don't Run Our Hearts Around"

I love me some dirty, Hawkwind-esque riffage. In my interview with Black Mountain from early last year, frontman Stephen McBean told me that he loves the Grateful Dead as much as any band this side of Bay Area speed metal purveyors Exodus. If you listen to this behemoth in that context, it all makes sense.

Jackie-O Motherfucker - "Hey! Mr. Sky"

Unlike the rest of Flags of the Sacred Harp, this song perfectly captures that archetypal Palace Brothers lull.

Magnolia Electric Co - "The Dark Don't Hide It"

Sometimes I think Jason Molina does nothing besides wander along train tracks with an eighth whiskey in his ass pocket, howling at the moon. I didn't like What Comes After the Blues as much as MEC's studio debut, but even a mediocre record from diminutive Molina stands taller than efforts from his peers.

Andrew Bird - "Fake Palindromes"

I've never been much of a fan of Andrew Bird or his Bowl of Fire, but The Mysterious Production of Eggs caught me by pleasant surprise. Here's one for you vocabulary buffs: surely, this is the only time the words formaldehyde and fratricide have been used in a rhyming sequence in a song.

Jose Gonzalez - "Crosses"

Technically, the album that this song is from, Veneer, came out in 2003. I bought it in 2004 as an import, and Hidden Agenda reissued it in 2005. Since precious few knew about it prior to last year, it makes an appearance here. Double-tracked vocals can get annoying, unless they're sung by the Swedish-born son of Argentine parents. This record is well worth owning, so go forth and purchase.

Okkervil River - "For Real"

I saw these guys play the tiny upstairs of Mike & Molly's when they were just freshman. My how they've grown into handsome juniors. Black Sheep Boy, despite rave reviews upon release, is not getting the sort of year-end list respect it deserves.

Wolf Parade - "I'll Believe in Anything"

Pitchfork loves these guys. Wee! I don't think Apologies to the Queen Mary is as good as advertised, but when these boys from Montreal hit their stride, they strut with their chins high.

The Living Blue - "Tell Me Leza"

A big step forward for this Champaign-Urbana quartet. "Tell Me Leza" is proof that morphing into a Flying Nun-influenced power-pop band will get ya a hit record! The full length, Fire, Blood, Water, is a more raucous affair, lacking some of the polish of this single, but not hurting for guts.

Destroyer - "An Actor's Revenge"

Dan Bejar teams up with those zany kids in Frog Eyes to re-record selections from his 2004 album Your Blues. Personally, I enjoyed the synthetic strings and analog keyboards of Blues, but it sounds good in rock 'n' roll redux, too.

Jennifer Gentle - "I Do Dream You"

Listening to this Italian duo's take on Syd Barrett is like being high on the wacky weed and getting a wedgie from an Oompa-Loompa. Garage rock Single of the Year, hands down!

M. Ward - "Hi-Fi"

Following up 2003's Transfiguration of Vincent is a tall order, so I don't fault M. Ward for failing. Besides, "Hi-Fi" is one of the best songs he's penned.

Iron & Wine - "Evening on the Ground (Lilith's Soung)"

Sam Beam proves he isn't a pussy. Folks, that's a distortion pedal!

Dead Meadow - "At Her Open Door"

If not for those pesky Swedes in Dungen, Dead Meadow would have won Concert of the Year honors from Jukebox Upchuck. Seductive stoner rock? You betcha! Romancin' the bong never felt so right.

Next week: volume two of The Noiseboy's Best of 2005.


Blogger Jerimee Bloemeke said...

this is amazing. worth the wait.

2/05/2006 12:28 AM  
Blogger jon manyjars said...

Welcome back!

2/06/2006 9:21 AM  

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