December 28, 2005

The Best Music I Heard All Year, 2005 Edition: The Runners-up.

In alphabetical order:

Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker
   "Ryan Adams??" At least two people questioned my choice of favorite albums, but Heartbreaker tided me over some: darkly romantic ballads straight from Dylan and Parsons territory.

Aitanna77, Spring Is Coming Soon
   I think, with something of a wince, that this is what is called "folktronica." Labels aside, this is quietly arresting music, all disc whirr and guitar wisp, tweaked lullabies for cold and dry seasons.

Laura Cantrell, Humming by the Flowered Vine
   Laura Cantrell's latest album is, to my ears, most analogous to Gillian Welch's Time (The Revelator): a detour from Nashville / Scrabble Creek that confirms Cantrell as one of America's finest pop singer-songwriters who chooses to work in the folk/country idiom (not that there's anything wrong about being strictly country!).

M.Y.M.P, Beyond Acoustic / Soulful Acoustic
   If the songs weren't so interchangeable and weren't mostly picked from the same bottomless trough of Mellow Ballads, I would unhesitatingly add this pair of albums (now available as a two-disc set) to my favorite music for this year. M.Y.M.P. has a winning formula: take a song ("Waiting in Vain," Ogie Alcasid's "Sa Kanya") and pair it up with elegant fingerpicking and luscious, buttery vocals. Don't expect radical interpretations, or of new insights into the songs revealing themselves, but when you already have a set of cover versions even better than the originals, it's some kind of gorgeous indeed.

The Polyphonic Spree, The Beginning Stages of the Polyphonic Spree
   Great sunshine pop, but you really really really have to watch them in concert to get the full gospel treatment.

Sleater-Kinney, The Woods
   The profane, overdriven din from your speakers is the new Sleater-Kinney album, brought to you by a band newly, terrifyingly, unleashed.

Kanye West, Late Registration
   Jay-Z calls him a genius, and maybe you should too. It may not be as fresh-sounding as his brilliant debut (my favorite album from last year), but Late Registration is still a sonic thrill: the urgent "Crack Music," the soaring "Touch The Sky," the hilarious "Gold Diggers."

Yura Yura Teikoku, III
   Mislabeled by its promoters (at least in the U.S.) as "psych rock" (and therefore disappointing all the White Heaven / Rallizes / Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. fans), Yura Yura Teikoku is straight-up irresistible pop-infused rock that works in any language.

Next: The Best Music I Heard All Year, 2005 Edition.

Posted by the wily filipino at December 28, 2005 12:25 AM
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