Stars – Set Yourself on Fire
I’m so glad these songs were recorded. Thank you, Canada, for yet more beautiful, perfect moments. This is an album so flawless and so enthralling that every time I listen to it, I always have to start over from the beginning and hear it all over again.
• One great track: “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”
Eisley – Room Noises
Eisley hooked me with their 2003 Marvelous Things EP and I resolved to keep an eye on these kids. And, lo, 2005 arrived and so did an album of (mostly) new material from Eisley which did not fail to amaze. Heard just once, pieces of these songs will dwell in the head for ever more.
• One great track: “Telescope Eyes”
Death Cab for Cutie – Plans
We all know Death Cab signed to a major label. Who cares. Let Ben and that balding man and the rest of them do what they want, just as long as they continue to release stuff as good as this.
• One great track: “Different Names for the Same Thing”
Shout Out Louds – Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
They come from a cold place, and I guess this album was originally released years ago in that cold place, but to me it was shiny and new and haunting when I first saw the “Very Loud” video (and, uh, the setting for the video is a cold place too). The song burrowed its sweet self right into my chest and stayed with me for days. There are many other moments of clarity and greatness on this oddly- but fittingly-titled album.
• One great track: “Very Loud”
The National – Alligator
I still don’t understand all the fuss about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and I will now go on record saying, as many others have said in a more timely fashion, what the hell? They toured with the National, and I happened to catch one of those infamous shows at which most of the audience left just prior to Matt Berninger’s appearance on stage. I watched CYHSY. I thought to myself, hmm, I don’t get it. The National followed. My eyes rolled back in my head with happiness. To the people who left Neumo’s way too early: what the hell?
• One great track: “Abel”
Beck – Guero
I always liked Beck but I never loved him until this year. Granted, I love him like a friend, it’s not like I want to kiss the guy. But he’s still deserving of inclusion at a respectable slot in my Top 10.
• One great track: “Girl”
Dungen – Ta Det Lungt
I can’t understand what they’re saying and that drives me halfway to madness. Swedish sounds to me like a language almost as inscrutable as Hopelandic. The music it’s set to, however, is as accessible and catchy as anything else I’ve heard this year.
• One great track: “Panda”
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
I heart Canadia! After wowing me with You Forgot It in People (especially that ditty about an underage girl) BSS have stuffed my stocking with some additional unforgettable songs, and album cover art that reminds me of German Expressionism.
• One great track: “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)”
Pelican – The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
I had to include one album that just rocked. Rocked like nobody’s business and burst everybody’s eardrums. Pelican delivered the best entry of the year and boy is it epic.
• One great track: “March to the Sea”
Explosions in the Sky – How Strange, Innocence
I apologize for including a reissue in this list. But dangit, How Strange, Innocence is great material that very nearly approaches the quality and depth of their later compositions. Which is to say that it is better than all but nine other albums released this year.
• One great track: “Remember Me as a Time of Day”