011606: the top eleventy one of two thousand and five (Part 3)
originally aired 2-4am January 17, 2006 on CFMU
Still? Yes goddamnit. This guy is nuts. Part 3 of the 111 album countdown.. and we all know the significance of 111 divided by 3! (not particularly anything, but absence is as important as presence). and Heeeeere we go!
62: Deerhoof – The Runners Four (Spirit Ditties Of No Tone)
A sprawling, strange collection of lopsided, loopy somewhat psychedelic indie rock. With 20+ tracks to choose from there’s a lot of variety.
61: Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask (A.T.H.F.)
Danger Mouse and MF Doom team up with Adult Swim to create a rather interesting collection of raps about immature adult cartoons. Dark and layered yet spare production and MF Doom’s weathered sounding raps create a murky atmosphere and the Adult Swim samples make it rather demented. Cool.
60: Yann Tiersen – Les Retrouvailles (Kala)
A collection of sparkling and gentle decidedly French sounding melodies from the man who brought us the Amelie soundtrack. Guest spots from Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and Stuart Staples (Tindersticks) give a few of the finest songs of the year, and the rest of the album is infinitely listenable, if a little repetitive
59: Cuff The Duke – Cuff The Duke (I Really Want To Help You)
Oshawa natives deliver a highly enjoyable album of countryrockbluegrass. A simple album, and not even deceptively simple: You’ve got your catchy hooks, jangly instrumentation, and lyrics about the travails of working class life. An album for the common people.
58: Calla – Collisions (So Far, So What)
New album is fortunately much less aimless than previous offerings. There’s louder guitars and more straightforward melodies, and it’s all pretty bleak. Most of the music ends up being processed into a haunting, uneasy delivery. Quite good, but doesn’t fully realize its potential.
57: The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers (Mornings Eleven)
British popsters recall the days of the shiny pop tunes of the sixties where harmonizing voices lament the complexity of relationships. Simple, but delightful.
56: Røyksopp – The Understanding (Someone Like Me)
Follow up to 2001’s spectacular Melody AM sees this Norwegian production duo straying away from ethereal chill-out to more traditional Euro Electro, or something. They definitely know their way around a pair of synthesizers and the result is lovely. The live show is definitely notable.
55: Gorillaz – Demon Days (O Green World)
The animated dudes are back with another album, and it is just as fun and eccentric as their first. The formula remains basically the same – hip hop and alternative and rock all filtered together into a batch of catchy, danceable tunes.
54: Depeche Mode – Playing the Angel (A Pain that I’m Used to)
A comeback of sorts for these dudes who are primarily associated with 80s nu-wave movement. They sound like themselves, and may be accused of rehashing, but they are pretty near the top of their game. The electronic beats sound manufactured and vicious as they should, matching David Gahan’s voice perfectly.
53: Sage Francis – A Healthy Distrust (Agony in Her Body)
Some very fine hip hop from the Sage. Songs both political and personal generally communicate an atmosphere of anxiety, mostly thanks to Sage’s voice and lyrics (there’s some awesome lines in here). The production is fittingly dark, lurking in the dark streets and slamming us with intensity as required.
52: Cristian Vogel – Station 55 (Neon Underground)
Electronic pioneer monsieur Vogel operates on his own terms, and it’s rather hard to place him in any specific category. As is often not the case on full length electronic releases, there’s a huge amount of variety here and a healthy dose of bizarre, dark, infectious and jazzy productions.
51: The Boy Least Likely To – The Best Party Ever (Be Gentle With Me)
A rather lurvely little collection of unabashedly hyperhappy indie-pop. “I’m happy ‘cause I’m stupid.” Well, we’re happy you’re stupid then, because my day is made that little bit more bearable by your chirpy, chipperness-inducing melodies.
50: The Books – Lost And Safe (An Animated Description Of Mr. Maps.)
A more conventional album from one of the least conventional groups going. Some melody and sometimes logical lyrics get added to the reversed guitars and mangled samples from here, there and everywhere. For some reason all these strange sounds sound really excellent together, and this is certainly a highly unique album.
49: Edan – Beauty and The Beat (Rock and Roll)
Edan reminds us of the classic hip hop of the mid or even nearly 90s. A more organic production style, though it’s very layered and a little bit psychedelic. For some reason I feel this album should be tie-dyed.
48: Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better With (Walk Away)
Sophomore release from the indie bozos that split the world in half in 2004. They progress somewhat with fuller productions, and some (more accurately one) slower ballads (done quite well, too), but the formula remains largely intact; but it’s a rather infectious and successful formula so that’s no reason to complain.
47: Architecture In Helsinki – In Case We Die (Do The Whirlwind)
At times goofy, but incredibly tight little bits of pop. There’s a couple songs on here that just won’t get out of your head, even if you beat it with a stick (your head I mean). Horns, synths, even sitars, guitars and sound effects create a sort of carnival atmosphere like an incredibly colourful acid trip.
46: Animal Collective – Feels (Banshee Beat)
More acid! Yay! I think they call this psychfolk. A bit like an acoustic Four Tet with lyrics; all sprawling, textured, untraditionally structured bits of this and that. It’s all quite complex and compelling and these guys clearly have leet skill; I just can’t quite get it to give me an emotional connection
45: The Eels – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (Railroad Man)
A double album from the band that managed one mainstream hit. Remember Novocaine for the Soul? This is a really wonderful listen. Not all the songs are gems, but there’s 33 of them and there’s a whole wealth of interesting things to discover; from country, to happy pop, to folky approaches, and yet it all hangs together pretty well.
44: Black Mountain – Black Mountain (Druganaut)
Gritty bluesrock from Jupiter. Actually it’s from British Columbia (that’s where I’m from!) This album is one I often enjoyed significantly while listening to and then forgot about until a few months later when I would appreciate it again. An intriguingly different collection of songs.
43: Fiery Furnaces – EP (Sing For Me)
Not exactly sure this fits my own criteria for inclusion, but I put it on back in February and after so long one can’t cut it. This is a sort of collection of odds and ends from the Fiery Furnaces previous, overlong albums. I find this concise picture of their unique sense of melody and arrangement much more listenable than their rather overwhelming LPs. And 40 minutes sure ain’t bad for an EP.
42: Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene (Superconnected)
Hotly anticipated followup to 2002’s You Forgot It In People. There’s some awesome guitars and tunes here no doubt, and I find it more immediately accessible than their aforementioned hypemachine, but it is lacking some of its subtlety. The barrage of 50 odd instruments can be a bit overwhelming, but there’s some wicked songs at the core.
41: The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan (Take, Take, Take)
A radical departure from Elephant. When you’re one of current popular music’s most well regarded guitar players, recording an album largely on marimba and piano is a … well, Jack White thing to do. It works quite well, though. Their signature style remains intact, but it’s lovely to see it from a rather different angle.
40: The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday (Stevie Nix)
Badass dirty guitar rock backs half-sung tirades about growing up and being a part of the music scene. Clever lyrics and quite excellent music combine for a rather unconventional but engaging and really quite awesome experience.
XX: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – B-Sides And Rarities (Right Now Im A Roaming)
This ain’t in the countdown but it’s a worthy mention. Hey, 3 CDs for the price of one is not shabby in the least.
… to be continued…