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Best of The Half-Year  Preview
9 September 05 from Steve G 24
My favorite of 2005, so far (and I haven't bought a lot that's actually from calendar year 2005, including everything mentioned here so far, is Before All Of This by Ian McNabb. (I know glenn was a fan once. It was Ian who originally brought we to TWAS.) I don't know if it's fantastic, but he's come back from "this is the last album I'm buying" after The Gentleman Adventurer had quite a number of decent tracks (especially the slower ones). I'm not a huge fan of the acoustic side (if you will)/electric side format, but it hasn't thrown me off here either. The two b-sides from the first CD single add a nice coda as well.  

The Blue Nile's High is pretty good, but doesn't stand up to Hats. If anyone likes mellow music of perhaps that variety, you might try Steven Lindsay's Exit Music. Technically 2004, and I don't know where you can sample the songs, but it's a nice album for a peaceful afternoon, or for falling asleep to, or both (is that a recommendation?).  

Oh, here's one that people might know. Sorry if I'm not far enough off of the mainstream here, but I really like Moby's Hotel, including the second ambient disc (talk about nice music to fall asleep to).  

I still have not "got my head around" The Beekeeper, but the comments here convince me to keep going. I'm not a die hard Tori fan, but I did think From the Choirgirl Hotel was excellent.  

On a slightly tangential topic, living in Costa Rica I was able to see one of the "last" live shows by La Ley, a great rock en espanol band from Chile. And rock they did. I'm pretty sure I was the only person in the audience singing along when they did an (english language) version of Duran Duran's "Girls on Film". Their recent (2004) Historias y Histeria is a great introduction to the band, and you can buy a version with a DVD which includes 23 music videos as well, if you like that sort of thing. A number of 5-star songs in my iTunes library from that one. Their MTV Unplugged album is a pretty good retrospective as well, but there are some crucial songs you will miss, especially "Amate y Salvate" ("Love Yourself and Save Yourself") and "Bienvenido al Anochecer" ("Welcome to the Nightfall") if you go that route. Just for the record, they don't sing *exclusively* in Spanish, just 95% of the time. They have three songs in English, I believe, including a really pretty "hidden bonus track" on their Uno album (2000), and a couple in French.
7 September 05 from Dana 23
My favourite new album this year (on the and now for something completely different note) is North of the Yellowhead by Captain Tractor.
30 August 05 from glenn mcdonald 22
Report after two plays: Scream is good. Really good. If I'd heard it blind I'd easily have believed it was a new K's Choice album.
29 August 05 from glenn mcdonald 19
I'll be buying Scream tomorrow. The clips on iTMS sound great, and I'd been wondering when there was going to be anything new from K's Choice (or thereabouts).  

After spending some more time with Made in China, I'm starting to get a little impatient with a few scattered moments where spontanaeity seems to lapse into laziness, but I still think the trade-off is right overall.  

Neither the Shout Out Louds nor the Youth Group do much for me. And the new eels is one of the many things this year (at least half a dozen of which got mentioned here) where clips bored me so badly that I didn't even give the whole album a chance.
27 August 05 from Bertson 21
As far as the Eels album goes, I really wanted to like it, given how much I love Electro-Shock Blues and Daisies Of The Galaxy, and how much I loathe Souljacker and Shootennany. But I feel like it's just E signing karaoke versions of old Eels songs. It seems like a very self-conscious "return to form" album. It's not as bad as the two before it, but it feels very shallow and underwhelming up against Electro-Shock and Daisies.  

As for New Pornographers, I still think Electric Version is one of the five best albums of the decade so far, and I love the new one, though not as much.
26 August 05 from jer 8
It's still new yet, so it's possible that my initial rush of enthusiasm may die down (as it has a little bit with Michael Penn's latest, I must admit) but I'm absolutely loving Twin Cinema so far. At least four or five instant pop classics, and a bunch of other songs that are merely wonderful. The Shout Out Louds disc is still my favorite pure pop record of '05, but this is a very close second.  

Haven't heard Juliana's latest, nor do I think I've heard anything by Chris Whitley, ever. The eels disc is something that sounds interesting to me but which I keep putting off on the grounds that I haven't liked anyhting since Dasies of the Galaxy.  

Also, curious: have you (glenn) heard either of Youth Group's Skeleton Jar or Sarah Bettens' Scream yet?
23 August 05 from whalemusic 20
The new New Pornographers tempers the all-out attack of their first two records, allowing the songs a little bit of room to breathe and develop. At this juncture I'm happy to say that it's holding up much better for me than either their last one or The Slow Wonder.  

Highly anticipating the arrival of the new Juliana Hatfield, which I have on order. Loved what I've heard from it thus far.
23 August 05 from glenn mcdonald 19
I'm just now listening to the new Juliana for only the second time, so I don't have much perspective on it, but my initial reactions are certainly positive. It sounds raw and rushed and hurt and alive. A vast improvement on the last one.  

I decided to skip the new Whitley after listening to samples of it and noticing that I never play the two previous ones of his. Still love Hotel Vast Horizon, though.  

The Beekeeper took me a while to really get into, too, but now every time I play it it sounds even better.  

I am now ready to admit that I'm just not a New Pornographers fan.
22 August 05 from zwirnm 18
Thoughts on....?  

Juliana Hatfield
Chris Whitley
New Pornographers  

I have some but not all of these records and (as Edward says am still trying to get my head around Tori's Beekeeper. Like the Decemberists as always. Still don't have the Eels record.
20 August 05 from edward molasses 17
I have some of the usual suspects on my favourites list so far including Low, Martha Wainwright and the Russian Futurists. I'm still trying to get my head around Tori's Beekeeper. Something tells me I'll get it eventually. The one I've been playing the most, The Unlovables' "Crush, Boyfriend, Heartbreak", hasn't been mentioned here so far though. Very satisfying, not so complicated, pop-punk (there are some samples on my blog. ; This isn't a shameless plug for my blog though since I am a little bit ashamed). And I discovered The Owls' "Our Hopes and Dreams" a year too late, but it would have topped my list last year.
10 August 05 from Ian Mathers 16
The EP is very nice - if you enjoy the album you should enjoy it nearly as much. I'm a bit put off by the length of the Godflesh best-of, but the album of theirs I got was kind of similar.
9 August 05 from glenn mcdonald 4
I'm enjoying this Jesu record, too, not least because they seem to have finally created the genre of Ambient Metal, which I've long theorized should exist. Now I have to track down their two-song 40-minute EP and at least the Godflesh best-of.
25 July 05 from Ian Mathers 14
A Series Of Sneaks is one of those elusive records I either like less or more than I remember every time I play it. Some great songs, in any case.  

Recent edition to probable end-of-year list: Jesu's self-titled debut. I have never really enjoyed or understood an album that was any sort of metal, but this I am loving. I'm hoping it will wind up being an entry into some new bands eventually.
22 July 05 from whalemusic 5
"Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" is impossibly cool. Might be my single favourite tune of the half-year...  

As for the album, from the start I loved everything from "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" up to and including "I Summon You". Used to lose focus a bit on "The Infinite Pet" and "Was It You?", come back in for "They Never Got You” and then drop out again on "Merchants of Soul". Took a couple months but lately this has changed and I’m now finding it holds up all the way through. That record’s got staying power.  

Don’t have Girls Can Tell yet, but I'm also a little hot and cold on Kill the Moonlight. Love A Series of Sneaks, though.
22 July 05 from Ian Mathers 14
"Paper Tiger", "Small Stakes", "Johnathan Fisk" and "Vittorio E" are the only parts of KtM I kept. The latter is just about my favourite Spoon song, but even if couldn't make me like the rest of the album very much.  

I admit I haven't heard all of Gimme Fiction so I'm mostly witholding judgement but the few songs I did hear have done very little for me. Glad to hear a few other people agree with me about Girls Can Tell, at least we seem to be in the majority here!  

I forgot to mention a few other records in my original post: Brian Eno's Another Day On Earth and Engineers' self-titled debut. I'm actually really surprised at how much I'm enjoying the former, especially given how little I liked it at first.
22 July 05 from Dolph Chaney 3
Glad to see other folks mention the Sage Francis album. I have a very tiny hip-hop percentage in my collection, so I'm not someone who could lay claim to aficionadoness, but "A Healthy Distrust" is something special.  

I also think "Girls Can Tell" is Spoon's best album thus far (a view which gets me no respect here in Chicago, but at least it's agreed-with at vF!). My problem with "Kill The Moonlight" is mostly in the running order -- "Small Stakes" and "The Way We Get By" are just too similar to my ears for it to work as an album's opening pair. (It's not like this is "Disintegration," where every non-single is supposed to be part of the same long song.) But "Paper Tiger" is one of my top 3 Spoon songs (with "Everything Hits At Once" and "Chicago At Night"). So, Ian, I'm right there with ya on those two rekkids.  

The songs from "Gimme Fiction" did come over much better live, but I really like the way it flows from track to track (until the last two).  

I am the only indie fan in the world who finds M.I.A. grating as hell. I accept my fate. The other record released that date with a similar vibe was by Mahjongg, and that hits that particular spot way better for me.
22 July 05 from james.herdman@gmail.com 15
Ian, I somewhat agree with you. I love "Kill the Moonlight", but am largely undecided on "Gimme Fiction". "Girls Can Tell" is absolutely awesome. The only thing I can hold against it is that it's not "Kill..." (aside: I feel the same way about "Sunset Tree", by Moutain Goats: it's fucking awesome, it's just not "We Shall All be Healed").  

I think part of the reason why I'm having such a hard time with "Gimme Fiction" is that "Kill..." was my first Spoon album which came in with a wonderfully rugged minimal sound, something I absolutely adore. "Gimme..." is so much more filled out, almost to the point of excess.  

Anyways, I digress. To come back to the original topic at hand, in addition to the albums I've already listed I'm really enjoying Caribou's "Milk of Human Kindness" too. Dan Snaith is a weird dude, but he's got some good shit out there.  

Can anyone who's heard the new Animal Collective disc tell me if it's any good? Bear in mind that their previous two releases, in my opinion, are some of the best things I've ever heard.
21 July 05 from Ian Mathers 14
I am apparently the only Spoon fan around who adored Girls Can Tell but only liked about four songs from Kill The Moonlight and less from this one.  

And my tolerance for Conor Oberst extends to about half an hour of music that makes me nostalgic for first year university and the immature wreck I was then.  

M.I.A., on the other hand, I am coming around to slowly...
21 July 05 from John 13
For some reason, I seem to have liked a ton of stuff this year, and I haven't even heard some of the things that lots of people obviously like (Mountain Goats, Andrew Bird, Antony etc.).  

M.I.A., Arular (maybe obvious, maybe not quite worthy of the hype, but unbelievably catchy and the consensus record of the year so far for 3/4 of my family).  

Bright Eyes, Wide Awake (obvious)  

Sleater-Kinney, The Woods (For me, like a repeat of A Ghost Is Born: I keep thinking I'm about not to like it, but that never happens. Much better and more interesting than the last two S-K records.)  

Rachid Taha, Tekitoi? (Actually, my favorite record of last year, but the American version wasn't released until 2005. Taha could be the most "important" pop music artist working in the world today -- an Arab secular humanist, responding to 9/11. Moving and great, although not so much the Arabic cover of Rock The Casbah.)  

Cheb-i-Sabah, La Kahena (more cool music in Arabic, although this is more a Maghrebian version of the better cuts on Moby's Play)  

Spoon, Gimme Fiction (better than the last one, which was pretty damn good)  

Decemberists, Picaresque (not better than the last one, but pretty damn good)
20 July 05 from James 12
I'm contemplating my year end list and how I'm going to approach it for my blog. I'm not as big a music consumer as many and am still catching up on some older stuff (I just bought Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" a year ago, for example). So, like Jer, I'll end up including a few older albums too. However, in no particular order:  

1. LCD Soundsystem. This album has left my car only briefly, and even then only to show someone else what some seriously righteous music sounds like.  

2. Bright Eyes, "I'm Wide Awake..." Obvious? Yes :)  

3. Sleater-Kinney, "The Woods." Great album. It took a little getting used to, but I'm falling in love with it.  

4. Mountain Goats, "Sunset Tree." It's like catching someone looking at themselves when standing naked in front of a mirror.  

Honorable mentions: Walkmen, "Bows + Arrows"; Blonde Redhead, "Misery of Certain Damaged Lemons"; Daft Punk, "Human After All" (say what you want, i like it).
18 July 05 from Brian Block 11
I also have a question for pretty much anyone. As i'm currently poor, i've been unable to follow up on some of the more interesting free MP3's i've found on the web. Has anyone bought the albums that go with these songs:  

Applied Communications, "Do You Know What I'm Saying?"
Skeletons and Girl-Faced Boys, "Git"
Static Age, "Ghosts"
Troubled Hubble, "Ear, Nose & Throat"
Wilderness, "Arkless"  

And, if so, how did the albums compare?
18 July 05 from Brian Block 11
Albums certain to be on my year-end top ten:  

Sage Francis, a Healthy Distrust
System of a Down, Mezmerize
Tori Amos, the Beekeeper  

Also excellent:  

Architecture in Helsinki, In Case We Die
Beck, Guero
Count Zero, Little Minds
Decemberists, Picaresque
Fiery Furnaces, EP
Low, the Great Destroyer
Mountain Goats, the Sunset Tree
Pedestrian, un-Indian Songs
Regina Spektor, Soviet Kitsch
18 July 05 from Ian Mathers 10
Also, glenn, he sounds nothing like Amon Tobin but you really need to hear Susumu Yokota if you haven't. I think Symbol is wonderful (obviously), but Grinning Cat, The Boy And Tree and (on a more minimalist ambient bent) Sakura are all amazing.
18 July 05 from Ian Mathers 10
I will be very surprised (and delighted) if my top five changes much before the year ends:  

01. Readymade - All The Plans Resting
02. The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree
03. Eluvium - Talk Amongst The Trees
04. Low - The Great Destroyer
05. Susumu Yokota - Symbol  

Also right up there:  

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Magnolia Electric Co. - What Comes After The Blues
Teenage Fanclub - Man-Made
Hood - Outside Closer
The Russian Futurists - Our Thickness
17 July 05 from danzp 9
I just read the other day that Embrace's "Gravity" was written by that Coldplay fellow. The news made perfect sense and disappointed all at once. For a second I thought I might not have posted it in this thread had I known. Then I felt like a right snob and let it go. Shoot, maybe I'l even listen to Coldplay a little closer...
16 July 05 from jer 8
Someone else who likes Shout Out Louds! Cool! After seeing them open for the Futureheads in February and listening to "Very Loud" (on the free EP they handed out at the show) obsessively over the last few months, I had really been looking forward to this one, and it didn't disappoint. Still, it just has not caught on with others like I had expected it to.  

Elsewhere, I should note that Antony and the Johnsons have yet to move beyond just being "interesting" to me even if the album *does* sounds much less staggeringly weird to me now than it did when I first heard it, I'm still waiting for the rest of the Russian Futurists album to click with the in the same way that the absolutely awesome "Paul Simon" does, and I still need to figure out why it is that I don't enjoy the Decemberists more.  

Best '04 albums that I'm just finding now: Ming + Ping, Mingping.com; Ms. John Soda, No P or D; Stars, Set Yourself On Fire (an '05 release for you Americans); Tegan and Sara, So Jealous  

Worst '05 Album so far, by far: Billy Corgan, TheFutureEmbrace
15 July 05 from Chris Gerth 7
Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree
Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
The Foxymorons - Hesitation Eyes
The Frames - Burn The Maps
The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
Neva Dinova - The Hate Yourself Change
Spoon - Gimme Fiction
Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
Drunk Horse - In Tongues
14 July 05 from danzp 6
5 Albums:
Decemberists - Picaresque
Citizen Cope - The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth*
Buttercup - Sick Yellow Flower
Russian Furturists - Our Thickness  

5 Songs:
Stars - "Ageless Beauty"
Embrace - "Gravity"
Sleater-Kinney - "Entertain"
Sloan - "All Used Up" & "Try To Make It"
Great Lake Swimmers - "I Will Never See the Sun"  

*Though this is, in typical Oasis fashion, one of the worst album titles ever.
14 July 05 from whalemusic 5
1. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods
2. The Decemberists – Picaresque
3. Spoon – Gimme Fiction
4. Martha Wainwright
5. Brian Eno – Another Day On Earth
6. Joel Plaskett – La De Da
7. The Russian Futurists – Our Thickness
8. Low – The Great Destroyer
9. British Sea Power – Open Season
10. The Go-Betweens – Oceans Apart  

Honourable mentions:  

Greg Keelor – Seven Songs for Jim
Wintersleep – untitled
Aimee Mann – The Forgotten Arm
Eels – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
A Northern Chorus – Bitter Hands Resign  

Slightly disappointing:  

Tori Amos – The Beekeeper
Emm Gryner – Songs of Love and Death  

Anticipating:  

The Constantines
Broken Social Scene
13 July 05 from Bertson 1
Disappointments of the year so far, for me:  

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead- Worlds Apart
Spoon- Gimme Fiction
Of Montreal- The Sunlandic Twins
13 July 05 from glenn mcdonald 4
Here are five that seem destined for a year-end top-ten from me:  

Low: The Great Destroyer
Tori Amos: The Beekeeper
Jorane: The You and the Now
The Frames: Burn the Maps
50 Foot Wave: Golden Ocean  

Honorable mentions and further thought to Tullycraft, Regina Spektor, Zapruder Point and Kent. Belated mention to last year's albums from Magnum, Tegan & Sara and Utada Hikaru. Weird-genius award to Björk's Army of Me collection. Dud of the year so far: the Posies.
13 July 05 from Dolph Chaney 3
Spoon - Gimme Fiction
The Decemberists - Picaresque
Sage Francis - A Healthy Distrust
Marianne Faithfull - Before The Poison
Need New Body - Where Is Black Ben?
Eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Stephen Malkmus - Face The Truth
Heartless Bastards - Stairs and Elevators
Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
13 July 05 from jer 2
The Top Five, as of this moment:  

1. Bright Eyes, I'm Wide Awake It's Morning
2. Youth Group, Skeleton Jar
3. The Bloc Party, Silent Alarm
4. Regina Spektor, Soviet Kitsch
5. Shout Out Louds, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff  

Also good: the other Bright Eyes album, Epoxies, Christine Fellows, Emm Gryner, Aimee Mann, The Mountain Goats, Maria Taylor, The Weekend
13 July 05 from Bertson 1
Given that we're now half-way through the year, I figure it's time for lists. My favourites so far this year:  

Bloc Party- Silent Alarm
Andrew Bird- Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs
Low- The Great Destroyer
Wedding Present- Take Fountain
Maximo Park- A Certain Trigger
A Silver Mt. Zion- Horses In The Sky
Art Brut- Bang Bang Rock N Roll
Books- Lost And Safe
Thunderbirds Are Now!- Justamustache
Mountain Goats- The Sunset Tree  

Anyone else?
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