This year has been one of those years when I've needed some retail therapy. Luckily this has coincided with a good year for music. I have bought an outrageous amount of albums this year and I really should be ashamed of myself. At the last count I had bought 32 albums released THIS year alone. I don't think I should count the albums that I've got this year that were not released in 2005. The result of this is that it's been more difficult than normal to compile a best of, but never one to shirk where there is a list to be drawn up (it's one of the only blokey things do well), here goes.
Best Gigs of 2005
1. Ben Folds at Cambridge Corn Exchange.
2. Bob Mould at Mean Fiddler London
3. Dinosaur Jnr at Koko Club London
4. Editors at The Junction Cambridge
5. Echo And The Bunnymen at Reading Festival.
I went to about 20 gigs this year (Reading is counted as one) and seen well over 70 acts. A good year for live music.
Best Song of 2005
1. Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole by Martha Wainwright - Like The Goldfish I have been completely captivated by the wonderous Ms Wainwright. This song is surely up there with Ben Folds Five's 'Song For The Dumped' as a the best song ever for someone who has just been chucked. Despite repeated plays it always sends a shiver up my spine. It is quite frankly a work of a genius.
2. Mr November by The National - A Reading Festival discovery for me. This band are all that is good about US indie. If there was any justice they would be massive.
3. I Predict A Riot by Kaiser Chiefs - Great song for leaping about the front room (in a crip fashion) pretending to be a rock star. Ricky Wilson is, in my opinion, the best front man of all the new wave of bands this year.
4. Monkey by Low - Opening track from the kings of Soft-Core latest (and maybe last?) album The Great Destroyer. I saw them twice this year and they were as great as ever. The year has been somewaht curtailed by Alan Sparhawk's mental illness unfortunately and what with the departure of bass player Zak Sally we don't really know what the future brings. I hope it gets sorted as this is my favourite band (especially live).
5. Rock 'n' Roll Queen by The Subways - There has been quite a bit of hype surrounded this bunch of whipper-snappers and I was pleased to see just how good live they are. It may not be hard core but it is great fun and oh Charlotte is soooo cute ;-)
Worst Songs of 2005.
1. Beautiful by James Blunt - I wish this bloke had stayed in the army then we wouldn't have had to hear this shite. God knows why he is held in such esteem and has sold so many records. He is a fourth division Damien Rice.
2. Nine Million Bicycles In Bejing - Katie Melua - Katie shocked her loyal fan base with this dirty and dangerous death metal tune. The sublimal satanist message had the religious right up in arms. Er...just kidding. More drival that is like LISTENING to paint dry.
3. I can't be arsed to write anymore about shite music.
Best Albums of 2005
1. Martha Wainwright by Martha Wainwright - Why do the British public listen to insipid nonsense like Katie Melua when they could have music from the soul like this fabulous album.
2. Illinois by Sufjan Stevens - I was unaware of his music until quite recently but I'm completely sold. The man is a musical genius. He plays virtually all the instruments on this album of quirky, uplifting songs. A contender for the crown of the king of Americana.
3. The Back Room by Editors - Birmingham's finest have been a bit overlooked in my opinion but then they do offer something a little different than the rest of the new 'art-school rock' bands. They sound a little like U2 when they were good 20 years ago and are an excellent live band. The next big thing? Maybe.
4. Ozona by Goldrush - Hard to categorise, Goldrush are another of my favourite discoveries this year. They are part Americana, part indie and even remind me of Orange Juice at times. Well worth a listen.
5. Alligator by The National - There is a lot of quality music coming out of North America at the moment and The National are no exception. Their sound is definitely influenced by the 80's indie scene in the UK and that ain't no bad thing.
6. Government Commissions by Mogwai - A bit of a cheat this, as it's a collection of Peel sessions recorded for the great man's show over the years. However, it shows just how bloody good Mogwai are live. The control they have over their complex sound is astounding. I cannot wait to see them at the ICA (capacity approx 300) on 11th January.
7. Funeral by Arcade Fire - There is something weird going on in the Kingdom of Canada. There is so much bloody brilliant music coming out of the country. For years we've had to put up with Bryan Adams and Celine Dion and for the last few years the scene has exploded. There are The Dears, God Speed! You Black Emperor, A Silver Mount Zion and Do Make Say Think. Now we have the wondeful Arcade Fire. They stole the show in the Radio One tent at Reading and this album was a joyful, uplifting experience. Next year should see Broken Social Scene arrive to try and take them on. Canada is fast becoming the place for great music.
8. The Great Destoyer by Low - Minnesota's finest export since Bob Dylan, Low have been around for 11 years now. This may not be their finest album but there are enough great moments to keep the fans happy.
9. Cold Roses by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - What can you say about Ryan Adams? Well I think the guy is a genius. He has produced three albums this year alone. The third, 29, isn't out until 19th December and is reportedly the best one, however, this was a wonderful slice of alt-country. And a double album at that. How Adams writes so many quality sonngs is beyond me, but he keeps on doing it.
10. Ambulance Ltd by Ambulance Ltd - Another quality slice of US indie with a definite British feel. I saw them supporting The Dears in London this year and thought that they were the better band. The release of their debut album later in the year didn't disappoint.
Well that's it. It's been an excellent year for music this year and that despite the shite that is in the charts. If you cast your net a little wider and are prepared to take a chance on a few things you'll bound to come up with a winner.
I'm already looking forward to new albums by Broken Social Scene and Belle and Sebastian and gigs by the later and Nick Cave, Mogwai, Bob Mould and Sigur Ros in 2006. Happy days.