One of the perks of my job is that I get to ask people to do things and impose very strict constraints on what they're doing. And then, when doing the same exact thing, I get to completely ignore those constraints. Hypocrisy, some might call it. Me? I call it a power trip.
A good example is this annual hullabaloo that wraps up the best music of the year. Every newspaper, magazine and website does it, and each person feels that their list is the quintessential distillation of the year's sounds. Thus bound by tradition, I've incorporated The List into my coverage calendar. By getting local musicians, promoters and other various music types to pitch in, I've hopefully made it more interesting. I ask those contributors to limit their lists to 200 words. Me? I'll take 800, thanks very much.
The main reason I take up so much verbiage with my list is because I hate doing it. I've been a contributing critic to the Village Voice's annual "Pazz & Jop" poll for 10 years now, and I've yet to be satisfied with one of those lists. So every year, my retrospective look at the year gets longer and longer, in some misguided effort to avoid missing the album that, sure enough, winds up (three years later) being the only album I've kept. I hope this year I've gotten close to reflecting not only what I thought was excellent about music in 2005, but also what I actually liked. Even now, though, as I look at this list, it feels woefully incomplete and misrepresentative. Maybe it's because there are 5,000 songs on my iPod that aren't here; maybe it's because the whole idea of distilling 365 days of listening into 800 words is as impossible as it is self-aggrandizing.
1. M.I.A.: Arular I said so last year, everyone else said so this year.
2. Spoon: Gimme Fiction Our generation's Who, but nobody knows it yet. Heartfelt rock that doesn't let its brain trip over its balls.
3. Alkaline Trio: Crimson So sue me. My inner 13-year-old couldn't stop singing along to this record (really loudly), while my outer father-of-two wore its black-clad imagery as proof that I was still into what The Kids dig.
4. Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary I hated this record the first few times, and then I was suddenly struck with the notion that Wolf Parade could single-handedly rescue the notion that indie rock can be smart and catchy without being coy and condescending.
5. Javier Garcia: 13
6. Anoushka Shankar: Rise
7. Jello Biafra & The Melvins: Sieg Howdy! As good as Jello has sounded in years. Ferocious.
8. Open Hand: You & Me Arena rock for smart people.
9. Inkwell: Chaos Reveals Rhyme
10. White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan No I didn't. Yes I did.
11. Summerbirds in the Cellar: In the Hands of the Hunter It All Becomes Dead
12. Kronos Quartet & Asha Bhosle: You've Stolen My Heart: Songs From R.D. Burman's Bollywood
13. Various Artists: Favela Booty Beats No, I didn't know how funky the favela was until M.I.A. told me. I'm glad she did.
14. Low: The Great Destroyer
15. Grand Buffet: Five Years of Fireworks I want to marry Lord Grunge.
16. Various Artists: Stubbs the Zombie
17. High on Fire: Blessed Black Wings Until The Sword release their album, this will keep me in good metal stead.
18. Various Artists: 4 Women No Cry
19. Animal Collective & Vashti Bunyan: Prospect Hummer EP I liked this better than the Vashti record that AC was on and the AC record that Vashti was on. Weird.
I know these are all obvious, but hell, they're singles. They're supposed to be obvious.
1. Kunal Ganjawala: "Salaam Namaste"
2. The Pussycat Dolls: "Don't Cha"
3. Kaiser Chiefs: "Every Day I Love You Less and Less"
4. All-American Rejects "Move Along"
5. The Decemberists: "Sixteen Military Wives"
6. Gorillaz: "Feel Good Inc."
1. Autolux at The Social
2. Acid Mothers Temple at The Social
3. Dinosaur Jr. at House of Blues
4. Iron and Wine at The Social The (re-) introductions were weird.
5. Black Label Society at House of Blues