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2005, Year-End Review Part 4: Best Music and CDs


Providing solace to the soul, as poetry finds its way into song, the music we listen to all year long not only serves to act as the soundtrack of our lives, the songs we hear generally succeed, as well, in offering inspiration, reflection on the issues in our lives, and a welcome opportunity, at times, to simply tap our toes and dance around in our kitchen.

During the course of 2005, VanRamblings discovered all sorts of great music: Jem, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Bic Runga, Emiliana Torrini, Sarah Slean, Stina Nordenstam, and Tift Merritt — among a raft of other fine artists, none of whom quite made our Top 10 list for 2005 (but are goood!).

Sometimes that was because the artist didn’t release a new CD during the course of the year, and other times it was because the artist was in a follow-up position to those who did make the Top 10, barely missing out.

Whatever the case, whether it be the artists referred to above or the artists that find themselves on VanRamblings’ Top 10 CD releases of 2005, all of the music offered by these artists is just about as irresistibly and breathtakingly beautiful, passionate, emotive, and gloriously produced and rendered as any music written at any time during our brief history on Earth.

Here’s hoping you enjoy VanRamblings’ Top 10 CD release choices of 2005.

1. Antony and the Johnsons: We’ve written about him before, and even posted a song and a video. Antony Hegarty’s music is exquisite and moving. Not for the cynical; just for the rest of us. By far, the best album of 2005.

2. Sufjan Stevens: Sufjan Stevens has taken on a gargantuan task. During the course of his life, he intends to record 50 albums, one for each of the states in the country just to the south of us. So far he's succeeded in writing about Michigan and, in 2005, Illinois. Melodic, orchestral, propulsive and cheery, reflective, political, and just about as uncynical and lovely as one could possibly imagine, Come On Feel The Illinoise is a keeper.

3. CocoRosie: Breaking onto the music scene with their award-winning 2004 debut, La Maison de Mon Reve, CocoRosie are just a little bit industrial, as well as narratively dreamy, hypnotically enchanting, and exquisitely redemptive. Please find below two CocoRosie songs, one from their début, La Maison de Mon Reve, and the other from their 2005 release, Noah’s Ark. Click on the song to hear it, or right click and choose “Save link / target as ...

(Due to unusually heavy traffic, VanRamblings has taken down the songs below; we'll be looking into an offsite host for the mp3s.)

mp3-icon.jpg blank.gif CocoRosie - Good Friday (for Lori), from La Maison de Mon Reve.

mp3-icon.jpg blank.gif CocoRosie - Brazilian Sun, from Noah’s Ark.

4. Imogen Heap: VanRamblings first heard of Imogen Heap — she at the tender age of 17 — when we saw her in concert at a club in the basement of the Hotel Georgia, ‘the next big thing’. Well, not quite. But here it is eight years later and Ms. Heap is all growed up, and her promise fulfilled. Full of hope, Speak For Yourself is trip-hop par excellence; a must-have CD.

5. Kanye West: With Late Registration, Kanye West has followed up on the promise of his debut, College Dropout, and turned out a poignant, buoyantly melodic, and always accessible sonic masterpiece. Another ‘must-have’ CD.

6. Fiona Apple: We waited for six long years for the release of a new Fiona Apple album, managed to find a version of the album online for download (which we promptly set about to do) in the spring of 2005, and when Sony finally got around to releasing Extraordinary Angel, we bought it. And migosh was the wait worth it. Confessional, moody, bluesy and quietly intense, this is another must-have 2005 CD release. In concert, with Coldplay, at General Motors Place, on Thursday, January 26th at 8 p.m., we’ll be seein’ ya there.

7. Miranda Lambert: All of 21 years of age, Miranda Lambert brings new life to a somnambulant country music industry, just about the brightest new voice on the scene, and the best new pop, rock and country artist of 2005.

8. Bright Eyes: Songwriter and lead vocalist Conor Oberst has his champions and his detractors, but there’s no denying the hushed, rambling, bluesy and anecdotally progressive virtuosity of I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.

9, 10 and ... All Canadian artists, none of whom receive airplay on Canadian radio (although you'll hear lots of these artists on both XM and Sirius satellite radio, where each of them broke big this past year), Broken Social Scene, The Arcade Fire and Stars are not just Canadian artists, they’re world artists. We’ll write about why we love each group later this month, so c’mon back.

During the month of January (once we get the latest round of technical glitches with our website, and server, resolved), VanRamblings will provide mp3 samples of each of the bands and artists. See ya back here often (and that means you, the divine Ms. L, as well as our other constant readers).

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at January 2, 2006 12:23 AM in Music


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