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Monday, December 5, 2005

Anthony Carew's Fave Albums Of 2005

Neumu's Michael Goldberg writes: Once again, here at Neumu, we've been thinking long and hard about all the groovy music released during the past year. And there were a lot of great recordings. For the next few weeks we'll be running best-of lists. Today, we offer up Neumu Senior Writer Anthony Carew's fave albums of 2005. Dig it!

1. Frida Hyvönen, Until Death Comes (Licking Fingers): Pounding at her piano with a fearsome fierceness, frocked-up Frida comes caroling out of the Cold Swedish Winter with a set of songwriteresque songs so on fire she's cooking like Joni Mitchell in '71. The debutante dishes up a disarming disc of toe-tapping tunes trading in uncomfortable truths, none of it better than the jaw-dropping "Once I Was a Serene Teenaged Child," a with-a-bullet entrant in the little ongoing sweepstakes we call One of the Best Songs Ever Written.

2. Camille, Le Fil (Virgin): For her second-time-around, the French chanteuse concocts a cockeyed compact-digital concept-record that out-Björks Björk: a single tone — or "thread" — resounding throughout the entirety of a 15-track/36-minute suite fashioned almost entirely from mouth sounds. The resulting record is one of the most expressive, experimental commercial-pop albums in recent musical memory.

3. Mara Carlyle, The Lovely (Accidental): Lovely doesn't quite come close to capturing the illuminative glow glowing from Carlyle's whole-soul soul-music, which pirouettes through evocations of Schumann and Mozart as her cold-driven-snow voice — closely-mic'd for breath, saliva, and unsticking lips in that favored Herbert fashion — voices physical/tactual/sensual sentiments through its purified purity.

4. Antony & the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now (Secretly Canadian): Now, the warbling songbird sings transgender torchsongs of transgression, transformation, and taking wing, the pianoman's peerless pageantry so utterly Classical in its ridiculously-beautiful beauty that you quickly forget the Leather Pants guest list (Lou, Boy, Rufus, etc.) and learn to love it for all its lumps.

5. Nedelle, From the Lion's Mouth (Kill Rock Stars): Nedelle, Nedelle, hot as hell, doing it and doing it and doing it well; the San Franciscan songsmith's second solo longplayer lets her sugary-sweet singing lovingly deliver lyrical laments to dead dogs and exuberant odes to summer, both.

6. Thee Silver Mt.Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Horses in the Sky (Constellation): The only epic-Canadian-orchestral-rockband truly worthy of your love and devotion have an artistic arc that continues to head upward, unchecked; their latest/greatest Symphony for the 21st Century touching on familiar themes — love, love of animals, dead pets, the military-industrial complex, gentrification, community, mercy, hope — as it touches some sort of God in the space b'tween its (many) members.

7. Celebration, Celebration (4AD): If the snail's-pace-played funereal blues of Love Life laid you down to sleep, Celebration pray the lord you've got those happy feet, the stripped-down — drums, hand-percussion, organ — three-piece dancing on your grave as Katrina Ford spits out/up eerie secrets dredged from deep down b'neath her bloodied teeth, run rough through her ragged throat.

8. Diane Cluck, Oh Vanille/Ova Nil (Important): The noble New Yorker's least-careerist career officially gets official with this pressed-up, bar-coded compact disc; her fourth album finds her lusty strums and literary lyrics sharpened to a well-honed weapon, gear like "The Turnaround Road" tangles of chords and words to truly treasure.

9. Josephine Foster, Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You (Locust) : With a strum and a hum, the opera-school dropout drops the acid-folk frolickry of The Supposed and embraces a bit a little bit brittle, setting her sinuous singing and old-timey imagery to lonely-as-a-cloud accompaniments of autoharp, ukulele, sitar, geetar, etc.

10. Roisin Murphy, Ruby Blue (Echo): Whilst Herbie goes bananas building the tiniest worried symphonies outta radio-static, tinkling music-boxes, and glowing keytone, the Moloko vocalist nestles amidst the productional "softness" and sings sentimental song-authoring sentiments like "Last night I think I dreamt a beautiful song/ And when I woke the birds had flown/ And it was gone".

11. Jens Lekman, At the Department of Forgotten Songs and Oh You're So Silent Jens (Secretly Canadian): Cleaning out his compositional closet, Sweden's 15th Sexiest Man shows that one cat's trash can be his listenership's treasure-trove; previously unreleased/unloved numbers like "Pretty Shoes" and "The Wrong Hands" are pop-songs that most melodicists would murder their mother to author.

12. Architecture in Helsinki, In Case We Die (Tailem Bend): OK, so, I'm actually, y'know, on this record, but, forgetting my member-of-a-20-something-chorus backing-vox (and the conflicting interests that go with): Melbourne's most manic octet shoot for the stars on their second shot, setting off the fireworks and letting off the happiness as they stumble, eyes on the sky, into a most joyous, genre-straddling jamboree.

13. Why?, Elephant Eyelash (Anticon): In one self-conscious swoop, Why? goes from being Yoni Wolf to being Yoni Wolf's band. This semantic delineation is only important in the fact that his "emo hip-hop" poetry has never seemed as mighty as it does amidst all the Wilsonic piano/theremin/harmonies of this here gear.

14. Common, Be (Geffen): Common Sense comes quantifiably correct on a concise, considered, conflicted, contradictory disc whose skit-free brevity seems like so much tonic for the dude who did the production herein (some cat called Kanye).

15. M.I.A., Arular (XL): This much-awaited bill of prizefighting punched-up-drum-machine protest-pop didn't get any better than the singles that preceded it, but when those're "Sunshowers" and "Galang," what more could a girl — brown skin/ West Londoner/ educated/ refugee, huh — really hope for?

16. Gang Gang Dance, God's Money (The Social Registry): As the Gang amp up a cobbled-together concoction of cacky sounds into hypnotic, hot-footed dance jams, the hippy caterwauls of high-heel-tottering Liz Bougatsos pilot this Jefferson Airplane into stylized blue skies so bloodied and blue in their bloody blues.

17. Blood Brothers, Crimes (V2): The Cypress Hill of screechy post-apocalyptic post-hardcore harangue the American polity with a pock-marked portrait of a decaying nation sinking slowly into its sewers; the gear's lyric-sheet reads more poetic than any other disc's did this here year.

18. Dirty Projectors, The Getty Address (Western Vinyl): For those neither possessing a playbill nor playing along at home, Dave Longstreth, as Dirty Projectors, plays Don Henley, on a peyote piligrimage that pirouettes through the ragged remnants of American History, he/Henley treading on sacred soil as the racket's truncated Orchestral samples, women's choir, off-the-note croon(er)ing, and fidgety geektronic circuiteering cook up the kookiest of concept records.

19. Nikaidoh Kazumi, Nika US Tour 2003 (Compare Notes): Wandering down the American West Coast on a Mount Eerie tour, the singularly unique Japanese lass projects her wailing voice from on mountaintops, on beaches, on riverbank rocks, and on stage; this lovingly packaged box-set gives up three thematic discs — live recordings, ad-hoc improv with P.W. Elverum, video-montaged tour diary — illustrating her peculiar genius.

20. Islaja, Palaa Aurinkoon (Fonal): Finland's ice-cold countryside b'came an unlikely musical hotbed in the ought-five; Islaja's second album — a set of droning, thrumming, spiritualist ballads beamed from an alien brain — was the pick of a Fonal litter that littered the longplaying landscape with freaked-out free-folk as far as the ear could hear.

Special Bonus 2004 Sleeper: The Organ, Grab That Gun (Mint) : On first blush, this Female Interpol stand-and-deliver a sexless set of cold-war pop parading familiar reference points — Blondie, The Cure, Echo — with a strange, strained sense of seriousness. Yet, repeated exposure over prolonged periods finds the reticent melodies starting to soak through your skin, such slow-bleeding showing a full-blooded band obsessed with the idealist idea of being A Band; "Basement Band Song" an understated anthem of small-town teenaged tedium and earnest rock-dreams that speaks solely of such.

The InsiderOne Daily Report appears on occasion.



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