Friday, December 23, 2005

Hannah's Albums of 2005

So, after kindly asking the entire WL team of writers to recommend their top 5 albums of 2005 (which are undoubtedly on their way) here are my own. The following records have all grabbed me in some way, have been (almost) flawless and I would, without hesitation, recommend them to all of you. As is the tradition, I have included a few sample tracks, in case you need any more convincing. And, as I've said before, these really are for sampling purposes only, and I do recommend you buy the titles concerned. As ever, downloads are limited, so get 'em while they're hot!

5. Do Me Bad Things - Yes
DMBT are something of a guilty pleasure for me. But that's okay, right? If some say it's okay to like The Darkness, then why shouldn't I adore their similarly extravagant and OTT labelmates? The band who have been dubbed the Scissor Sisters rockier cousins have turned out a collection of 10 stunning tracks. The sheer number of vocalists in the band (five on the album, but now three) allows an entertaining variety of songs, and DMBT tackle hard rockers, soulful ballads and energetic singalong poprock and make all of them sound great. They've also had a great little promotional campaign - any band that produce rainbow coloured rock candy to match the album cover are heroes in my eyes. Perhaps the only let down is that some of the tracks are too long. I've included the shortest one - a non-charting single from last year (I blame the terrible video) and one of the standout tracks from 'Yes!'.
Track to sample: The Song Rides

4. Patrick Wolf - Wind In The Wires
It was in the early months of 2005 that I was advised to purchase this album on pain of death by a good friend. He knows who he is. The genre 'electrofolk' seemed somewhat dubious, but I bought the album anyway and was pleasantly surprised by the fact I now owned and could listen to something so different to everything else that was around. While everything else could be pieced together by references to 'this band', or 'that singer', or 'that song', this just seemed unique. It's incomparable to the popular simpering singer-songwriter dross that surrounded it. 'Wind In The Wires' has scored two WL single of the weeks, as well as one special mention. Let me just say that since the time of reviewing my mind hasn't changed - I still think they're marvellous. So what is it that is so captivating about Patrick Wolf? I still can't put it into words. Buy it. Find out for yourself.
Track to sample: Souvenirs (a b-side from the Wind In The Wires single)

3. Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger
Apart from lead singer Paul Smith's hair, I find it incredibly difficult to fault these northern newcomers to the British indie scene. Their energetic, vibrant pop tunes stand out from the rest of the indie crowd. Their debut album, 'A Certain Trigger' is near-faultless, and is jam-packed with catchy hooks, cool riffs and beats that make you want to leap around like a madwoman. Believe me, I'd know. From the opening track to the closing one it's an exhibition of everything that is great about the British indie scene.
Track to sample: The Coast Is Always Changing

2. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Franz Ferdinand? Not number one? What the...? Admittedly, it was a close call. The Franz's second effort easily surpasses their eponymous debut (although 'Take Me Out', 'Michael' and 'Matinee' have yet to be bettered) and is more experimental, more 'rock' and is even more lyrically bizarre than the first. It's packed with the catchiest of guitar riffs, and like their musical equivalent of younger brothers, Maximo Park, it's full of verve and energy, too. It's mellower moments provide a much needed contrast and 'Fade Together' (with vocals by Nick, as opposed to Alex) is particularly beautiful. The only thing that lets it down is the painful tempo-changing 'Well That Was Easy'.
Track to sample: Walk Away (acoustic)

1. Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous
Albums these days just aren't consistent enough. In an interview earlier this year, WL hero Nicky Wire said it was the first album he'd played back-to-back in a long time, so obviously I felt a need to have a listen myself. Strictly speaking, it's from 2004. However, since it was only let loose in the UK this year, and its had such an impact on me it seemed criminal to leave it out of my chart. And look - it's number one! Fronted by the gorgeous Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley present some gorgeous indiepop with a country tinge, and while it's possible just to bask in the glory of the music, the lyrical content here is also a triumph. Obscure in places, irresistably clever in others and all sung with such emotional conviction - it truly is breathtaking. Every track has something different to offer, but the track I've chosen to share with you all is a prime example of all that is great about 'More Adventurous' and is also my personal favourite.
Track to sample: Does He Love You?

Some other favourites from this year:
Brendan Benson - The Alternative To Love, KT Tunstall - Eye To The Telescope, Supergrass - Road To Rouen, The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan, Hal - Hal, Coldplay - X&Y, Missy Higgins - The Sound Of White, Elbow - Leaders of the Free World, Bright Eyes - Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, NightOnlyVisual - Skylines

Thank you for reading and commenting on WL this year. Hopefully 2006 will bring yet more great music!