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Monday, January 2, 2006

Steve Gozdecki's Favorite Albums Of 2005

Neumu's Michael Goldberg writes: Longtime Neumu contributor (and Contributing Editor) Steve Gozdecki has unerring taste, which means that usually, the albums he digs are albums that I dig too. While I haven't heard everything on his list yet, the fact that he feels so strongly about Block Party and The Ponys and Franz Ferdinand and Living Things bodes well for the others on the list that I hope to get to in the coming year.

Neumu Contributing Editor Steve Gozdecki writes: It's a 10-way tie for first. Some years are just that way.

Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Fierce Panda): Alternately comedic and deathly serious meta-rock, with songs about rock 'n' roll and rockin' songs that make you wanna roll with it in the best possible way.

Babyshambles, Down in Albion (Rough Trade): Meet Pete Doherty, functional smack addict, burning twice as bright for half as long. Sounding much more like The Libertines than The Libertines themselves did on last year's sophomore swan song, Doherty and his new outfit bring the ambition and gutter poetry that again threaten to bring out the Clash comparisons.

Bloc Party, Silent Alarm (Vice Records): My first listen to this album made me feel as if a focus group had been formed to develop the ultimate Steve-friendly album: strong, guitar-based melodies coupled with funky rhythms, yelping vocals and a vaguely leftist agenda. Subsequent listens — and the remix album — told me the committee had succeeded.

Editors, The Back Room (Kitchenware/Sony BMG): Back in the mid-'80s, "The Back Room" was the name of a venue for all-ages shows where kids from my high school would rock it in new-wave cover bands. Editors go back to those same roots, but manage to push their love of the old found sounds somewhere new, making something warmer than most of their cold contemporaries.

Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better (Sony): Don't hate them because they beat the sophomore slump; hate them because they've released a pair of absolutely killer albums within the space of two calendar years. And then love them love them love them for being so smart, sexy and sassy.

Living Things, Ahead of the Lions (Jive): With nary an iota of subtlety nor restraint, this St. Louis four-piece comes out swinging hard, borrowing the sounds of the MC5, the Stooges and the Dolls in order to deliver their pro-peace, anti-war message. To call them shameless thieves would be to imply that thievery is still even possible here in the age of sampling and file swapping.

Peter Bjorn and John, Falling Out (Hidden Agenda): Pure, dewy-eyed, vaguely psychedelic pop from Stockholm that, like nearly every disc on my 2005 list, could've been made just about any time in the past quarter century. Fortunately for us, it's new and vital and worth checking out in the here and now.

The Ponys, Celebration Castle (In the Red): Regrettably, I missed the chance to hype their debut last year. Happily, I found this second album to be even better — smart art-punk that celebrates the streets and makes you want to tell the man that you know his plan and ain't gonna take it no more. Liquid courage delivered aurally.

Portastatic, Bright Ideas (Merge): Mix three parts of pure and glorious power pop and one part experimental balladry. Pour over Mac's cracking, compelling voice. Shake well. Consume. Repeat.

Kanye West, Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella): He creates thick soundscapes, writes with an insightful pen that lets you know he's bad enough without drowning in the gangsta nonsense, and delivers with an understated, hip-hop-scotching flow that makes Mr. West the first platinum rapper to be worth a damn in quite some time.

The InsiderOne Daily Report appears on occasion.



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