Dinosaur in Trouble: proudly serving Twin Cities music geeks

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Top 10 Albums of 2005

I was thinking of appending an “honorable mention” to this list of the best albums of 2005, but when I realized that my honorable mention list included over 100 albums, I decided that it was OK for me to be a little more exclusive. Needless to say, a lot of great albums aren’t getting the credit they deserve. Unjust as it may be, my decision to eschew the honorable mentions is a testament to how overwhelming the music of 2005 was. It is also a testament to the sheer brilliance of the albums that did make the list. Make no mistake; the albums on this list are the cream of the crop. Out of the thousands of albums released throughout the world in 2005, these ten made the biggest impression on Dinosaur in Trouble. After reading this list, I recommend making a trip to your local independent record store – collect all 10!

#10
Say Hi to Your Mom
Ferocious Mopes

(Euphobia)

Ferocious Mopes would be a real downer if Eric Elbogen didn’t lighten things up with his relentless wit and biting sarcasm. Instead, it is an extremely satisfying collection of some of the year’s most memorable songs.

#9
Math and Physics Club
Weekends Away / Movie Ending Romance

(Matinée)

Here’s the reason I’m not too concerned with Belle & Sebastian’s recent change in direction: albums like Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister were powerful enough to inspire a whole new generation of indie poppers. These new bands are dedicated to preserving the genius of B&S’s early work. But few bands succeed so brilliantly as Math and Physics Club do on their debut E.P., Weekends Away, and its follow-up, Movie Ending Romance (which, together, qualify as one full album…that was the final word from the Dinosaur in Trouble jury).

#8
STNNNG
Dignified Sissy

(Modern Radio)

“We’ve got a new National Anthem! We’ve got a new National Anthem! We’ve got a new National Anthem! We’ve got a new National Anthem! Aren’t you glad to be in America?! We’re all fucking crazy!”

#7
Wolf Parade
Apologies to the Queen Mary

(Sub Pop)

People like me who absolutely despise Bon Jovi finally have an anthem-rock band to call our own. Maybe ten years from now, drunken frat boys in their drunken frat boy bars will be chanting along to “I’ll Believe in Anything” the way they currently chant along to “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Let’s hope that never happens – this album deserves a much brighter future.

#6
Akron/Family
Akron/Family

(Young God)

Throughout the past year, I heard many cynics complain that no one is creating “new” music. Each and every time I heard this uneducated complaint, I referred the complainer to Akron/Family. Akron/Family is by far the most ambitious, forward-thinking, and rewarding debut since Architecture in Helsinki’s 2004 gem, Fingers Crossed. With albums like this, there is no excuse not to be optimistic.

I really didn’t want to like this album. I wanted to be the first to say that Sufjan Stevens was overrated. It was a futile task. It was stupid of me to even try to find faults with this album. Sufjan could give up on his 50 States Project right now and he’d still have a chapter secured in the rock and roll history books.

#4
Angels of Light & Akron/Family
Akron/Family & Angels of Light

(Young God)

2005 really was the year of Akron/Family. Between touring as Akron/Family and as Michael Gira’s backing band in Angels of Light, they somehow found time to release a genius debut, an exclusive tour CD, a dazzling Angels of Light full-length, and this exceptionally strong split LP. Both Akron/Family and Angels of Light saved their most accessible, in-your-face rockin’ songs for this release, and both bands did their part in ensuring that one half of the spilt is just as vital as the other half. In effect, Akron/Family & Angels of Light is an album that you can actually play at a party without your friends asking, “Can’t we put on Weezer, or something?”

#3
Thee More Shallows
More Deep Cuts

(Turn)

Three words can describe this album: perfect, perfect, perfect. In fact, the perfection embodied in this album is almost as eerie as the album itself. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only reason More Deep Cuts didn’t nab the #1 spot is because I, like most human beings, am insecure and I fear perfection. RIYL listening to music on headphones alone in dark rooms with your eyes closed. But be careful, it might bring a tear to your eye.

They’ve done it again! Last year, Architecture in Helsinki grabbed my coveted #2 spot with their astonishing debut, Fingers Crossed. Talk about consistency! Furthermore, this year, like last year, Architecture in Helsinki is the only non-North American band to even make it into my top ten. It takes a momentous album to maintain that distinction. In Case We Die is an instant classic and its influence is sure to be felt for years in the world of indie rock. Indeed, critics have been busy thinking up names for the new genre that is inevitably springing from Architecture in Helsinki’s visionary work (hyperprog?). In Case We Die joins the elite few albums (Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper’s, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, etc.) that have seamlessly harmonized experimentation with accessibility.

#1
The Mountain Goats
The Sunset Tree

(4AD)

Sigh.
Bet you didn’t expect me to give the #1 spot to an old indie rock veteran. Well, you’re right – I didn’t give anything to anyone. The Mountain Goats earned this honor. There’s no way around it, The Sunset Tree is the best album of 2005. Few songwriters can make you hang on every single lyric the way John Darnielle does. Few songwriters can make you care so deeply about every one of their songs. Few songwriters can be so incredibly prolific, and yet release their most impressive work fourteen years after their debut. Few songwriters can write such hauntingly beautiful songs…period. 2005 was a great year.

Your comments are more than welcome.

7 Comments:

Blogger rocknrollstar said...

Love your 2005 list...

You're summary on Wolf Parade made me lol! Totally agree...

Architecture in Helskinki was awesome @ 7th Street entry a few months back (after Arcade Fire)... I'm sure you were there, so I need not go on...

A few of your other picks I'm not too familiar with yet... you're right, I'll have to make yet another trip to the Fetus/Cheapo.

Love your blog man, thanks for linking to me!

-Steve-

12:04 PM

 
Blogger rocknrollstar said...

Whoops, reading through your archives... Of course you were @ Architecture in Helsinki! And most of the other great local shows this year it looks like...

OK, time for some other people to comment...

12:16 PM

 
Blogger Lee said...

Architecture's show at the Turf Club was also an incredible experience. I’d be surprised if any other Australian band has ever come through the Twin Cities twice in one year. We’re pretty lucky.

12:46 PM

 
Anonymous Hema said...

Thank you for your blog. You are my guru of cool.

3:01 PM

 
Blogger Driver2165 said...

hey, thee more shallows sounds really promising. thanks.

10:18 AM

 
Blogger Lee said...

Yes, get their album! That's the best advice I could possibly give anyone right now.

12:06 PM

 
Blogger Chris said...

hey Lee, great list! Mine will differ from yours, but will have similar entries...I just have to get to it is all...

11:15 PM

 

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Tapes 'n Tapes



When I first started going to school at the U of M, there were four record stores in Dinkytown. Four record stores, and the Bon Appetit hosted nightly all-ages shows. I was in Heaven. Of course nothing that good ever lasts, but the changes in Dinkytown haven’t been all downhill. Yeah, there’re only two record stores now, the Bon Appetit was sabotaged by angry landlords, and hockey rioters set stuff on fire, but there’s been a slight rebirth recently. The Varsity Theater, which lay dormant throughout my entire college career, finally reopened its doors to the public earlier this year…and it is faaaaaancy! I doubt that even in the days when bands like Green Day graced the stage of the old Varsity Theater did anything in Dinkytown look so…well, pretty.


Flavor Crystals and the Varsity Theater

All the couches had been taken by the time I arrived at the Varisty last night, but I was fortunate enough to find an empty chair. As I sat gazing at the streaks of colored light dancing through the fog swirling about the spacious theater, I realized that I had just missed Duplomacy’s set. I was looking forward to seeing them again, but I guess that’s what I get for arriving fashionably late. I was extremely thankful, however, that I did not miss Flavor Crystals. Their dreamy shoegaze was a perfect fit for the surreal atmosphere of the Varsity Theater. Flavor Crystals’ music just wouldn’t have conveyed the same emotion in a bar. Their set was the ideal way to introduce me to the Varsity Theater.


Flavor Crystals

The real reason I walked to Dinkytown through the freezing drizzle, however, was to see the headliner (freezing drizzle, by the way, results in the best snow for making snowballs, as Flavor Crystals discovered when some friends of theirs pelted them with snowballs during their set). Tapes ‘n Tapes caught my attention last year when they came out of nowhere to release one of the year’s most memorable albums. Tapes ‘n Tapes was a masterpiece of chaotic Pavement-inspired indie rock, and it quickly turned out to be my favorite local release of last year. With this year’s release of The Loon, Tapes ‘n Tapes solidified their reputation as one of the most creative bands in the Twin Cities. Even though The Loon isn’t as, um, messy as Tapes ‘n Tapes, it is still extremely unique and infectious. The Loon has been in constant rotation in my CD player and my iPod, so the least I could do was show up at Tapes’ big Varsity Theater show before they headed out on tour. Totally worth it. Tapes ‘n Tapes put on a very gratifying show. Thus, I didn’t at all mind the slushy walk home.


Tapes 'n Tapes

So there you have it; two things to be excited about: the renaissance of Dinkytown, and the genius of Tapes ‘n Tapes.

Archives:
Duplomacy @ The Turf Club: September 21, 2005

3 Comments:

Blogger rocknrollstar said...

Totally agree on Tapes 'n Tapes. Genius, perhaps my favorite local album of the year...

12:17 PM

 
Blogger Lee said...

Yeah, it's been difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what makes them so great. They just are. I haven't been able to stop listening to their new album.

12:34 PM

 
Blogger Shawna said...

AHHH I am so jealous but also so glad you saw Tapes n' Tapes at the Varsity! I was going out of town the very day they played and I thought to myself how badly I wanted to go! Wonderful review and I am happy to report I got a video ipod for xmas to tote the local music love around.

1:51 AM

 

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Havin' at It



Ha! You didn’t honestly think that I could let this year come to an end without writing another feature on The Haves Have It, did you?


The Haves Have It

The karaoke singers upstairs in the Spring Street Tavern were severely upstaged by the post-hardcore craziness shaking the Club Underground on the 14th of December.

The raucous quartet, Kitcar, kicked things off. This was my first encounter with Kitcar, and I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed. Their sloppy, but intense line of attack shook the winter right out of me.


Kitcar

Maiden Korea…my how they’ve matured since I last saw them! Well, I guess that was to be expected since the last time I saw them was over three years ago. They’ve definitely come a long way since writing songs about getting their hearts broken by household cleaning products (but seriously, I recommend seeking out their song “Swiffer” – it is the ultimate emo song). Yeah, it was nice to see them again. Very good set.


Maiden Korea

I love The Haves Have It. Even though their set was riddled by technical difficulties, and faulty speakers, they still kicked my ass. Word has it that The Haves Have It just got out of the studio. Oooh, 2006 is looking good already! On top of that, they will be sharing a bill with Belles of Skin City, Dessa, Unknown Profits, Digitata, Duplomacy, and The Divebomb Honey for the Rock for Roe benefit show at the Triple Rock (January 22). There’s no way in Hell I’d miss that!


The Haves Have It

Archives:
The Haves Have It @ The Triple Rock: September 15, 2005
The Haves Have It @ The Triple Rock: August 12, 2005
The Haves Have It @ The 7th Street Entry: July 9, 2005
The Haves Have It @ house party: May 21, 2005

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The Earlies


The Earlies

The Earlies have finally reached America!

About a year ago, I found it necessary to listen to The Earlies’ Beta Band-ish opus, “Morning Wonder,” at least seven times per day. Of course, I craved more, but unfortunately, the rest of their recorded work wasn’t available outside of Great Britain.

Oh, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel! Thanks to our wise friends at Secretly Canadian, not only was These Were The Earlies released in America, but The Earlies finally had a reason to tour our vast continent. This fortunate turn of events landed them at the 400 Bar on December 9th, 2005.

Local rockin’ singer-songwriter, Matt Marka, opened the show. Not who I’d expect to open for The Earlies (the 400 Bar always does that), but his set was enjoyable, nonetheless. As an added bonus, Matt brought along an extra Christmassy sweater so he and a lucky audience member could match. Aww.


Matt Marka

I had the opportunity to see The Earlies earlier this year during SXSW, but due to some major technical difficulties, their showcase was cut down to about four rushed songs (fortunately, I befriended some old college buddies of The Earlies’ vocalist, Brandon Carr, who kept me thoroughly entertained throughout the long downtime). I’m convinced that The Earlies’ misfortune at SXSW was still fresh in their minds, and they reentered America with the intent of proving themselves to any skeptics. At the 400 Bar, they certainly played like a band that had something to prove. Their spot-on harmonies, and swirling instrumentation made for a superb performance. Thanks in part to the absence of any technical difficulties, The Earlies confirmed that their live show definitely lives up to their excellent recorded work.


The Earlies

Archives:
The Earlies @ Maggie Mae’s (SXSW): March 17, 2005

4 Comments:

Blogger Driver2165 said...

Matt Marka is a punk ass bitch, with worse friends.

10:42 AM

 
Blogger Lee said...

Did I catch a hint of sarcasm? Is it safe to guess that you’re buddies with Matt? [If not, I apologize – I’m totally not trying to imply anything about your character.]

12:04 PM

 
Blogger Driver2165 said...

nope. his music is fine, if bland, i just don't like how he and his friends treated julie doiron at the turf club, and i'd take half a julie doiron over four thousand matt markas any day.

5:55 PM

 
Blogger Lee said...

Perhaps they were just jealous. I mean, we all secretly wish that we were Canadian, don’t we?

6:31 PM

 

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