Top 20 albums of 2005

Harry Rubenstein and David Brinn offer each of their picks for the year's 10 best new releases.

bright eyes disc cover88 (photo credit: )
bright eyes disc cover88
(photo credit: )
Harry Rubenstein's Top 10 ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS I am a Bird Now A compelling pop album of cabaret featuring Antony's incredibly unique voice as the lead instrument. MY MORNING JACKET Z MMJ draws upon a myriad of influences yet still remains an undeniably unique force. With the band's leap into space rock the only place for MMJ to go is up and beyond. SPOON Gimme Fiction Gimme Fiction is a sexy yet mysterious rock album that delves into noir territory, borders on the dramatic and has the swagger of early Rolling Stones. NEW PORNOGRAPHERS Twin Cinema This Canadian supergroup has been on a mission to create the perfect pop song, and on their third album, they come closer than ever. BRIGHT EYES I'm Wide Awake It's Morning Conor Oberst delivers an irresistible album of country-inspired ballads, sometimes whimsical, sometimes political, but always brutally honest. Oh, and background vocals from the mythic Emmylou Harris don't hurt. SUFJAN STEVENS Illinois An ambitious 24-song tribute to the great state of Illinois shines in all of its glorified acoustic excess. M. WARD Transistor Radio With the voice of a gramophone and intricate guitar playing, M. Ward has brilliantly captured the sounds of yesteryear with his fragile voice and bittersweet songwriting. THE RAVEONETTES Pretty in Black With the noise level turned down and the reverb turned up, Danish retro-rockers The Raveonettes shine on their third effort, a serious homage to Buddy Holly and Sixties pop. KELLY CLARKSON Thankful Although Thankful saw its release in the states last November it took a good six months to hit our shores, so I'm counting it as a 2005 release. In attitude, Clarkson is the Pat Benatar of her generation, though if she keeps pumping out great rock tunes such as "Since U Been Gone" and "Behind These Hazel Eyes" her staying power will leave Benatar's legacy in the dust. BALKAN BEAT BOX Led by Firewater and Gogol Bordello veterans Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat, Balkan Beat Box is an insane amalgamation of folk, electronica, klezmer, Balkan melodies and North African music. It's the ultimate co-existance album. And it's damn fun. David Brinn's Top 10 THE TEARS Here Come The Tears The remnants of Suede find a renewed sense of purpose with robust power pop - suitable for anyone who still laments the loss of The Smiths, Mott the Hoople, and T Rex. RYAN ADAMS Cold Roses The genre-mixing rock & roll wild child returns to his alt-country roots, with Jerry Garcia's ghost paying a gentle visit. COLDPLAY X&Y Pretentious? Maybe, but Chris Martin and friends were practically alone this year in their lofty goals to create lasting rock anthems - and succeeded. WILCO Kicking Television No matter how good their studio albums have been , kicking television proves Wilco is even better live. This double disc contains oodles of spine-tingling poetic moments, along with a fair share of Sonic Youth outbursts. AIMEE MANN The Forgotten Arm America's most penetrating singer-songwriter (of either gender) connects with a TKO in this shaggy, Seventies-drenched boxing love story. YEHUDA LEDGLEY The Quiz From Jerusalem via Canada, Yehuda Ledgley has produced an unassuming low-fi gem that eases effortlessly between gorgeous, introspective folk, and updated psychedelic pop, thanks to an endearing indie attitude. JOSEPH ARTHUR Our Shadows Will Remain Like his mentor Peter Gabriel, Joseph Arthur manages to encompass a huge range of styles, while tweaking the emotions with his melodies, arrangements and vocals. GARBAGE Bleed Like Me What could have been their meek swan song was instead their best album yet, combining Shirley Manson's "girl group" vocals with crisp, hook-laden sonic pop. NEW ORDER Waiting for the Siren's Call These post-punk pioneers sparkle 20 years into their career with a spry, jangly guitar sound, and upbeat modern dance rock. BRIGHT EYES I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning Conor Oberst, aka Bright Eyes, surpasses the "wunderkind" tag with this intense, expansive opus, ranging from solo acoustic to Gram Parsons' country, to fullfledged anthems. Folk-rock for the 21st century.