20 December 2005

What was the best of 2005?

Hey, y'all, we're falling down on the job here! :)

This is the week most publications do their "best-of" lists for the previous year... movies, books, music and so forth. I'm working out my "Best Music of 2005" list right now, and will post it in a day or so. What about you? What did you enjoy this year, in any or all of these catagories?

Post your list or lists here- and I'm directing this not just at Catsfive and the Rev., but at all of our visitors as well. Tell us what you read/heard/saw this year that rocked!


Blogger Superfan said...

sorry to be an old grouch, but am I the only person who hates such best of reviews of the year?

not so much in personal exchanges like this, but the TV is guaranteed to be swamped with review of the year type programmes, and newspapers and magazines likewise. I find it all kind of depressing, somehow!

but hopefully to redeem my now grumpy image, I'll play the game and mention the two really special - but wildly (or not so wildly, respectively) different - concerts I attended in the last year.

the first being the reunited Iggy & The Stooges playing as part of the "Don't Look Back" concert series where bands play a key album of their career in its entirety... in The Stooges case, the album being "Fun House".

of course albums in the 60s were much shorter than now, but that only made for an even more intense 35-minutes (or however long it was; that was just the Fun House bit.. the continued the evening with classics from the first album, and a couple of new Stooges numbers from the last Iggy album). I've seen footage from previous Stooges reunion shows, and they've never been less than great, but this was evidently a very special show for them and the energy so much more because of it.

I still can't quite fathom out why, but Iggy himself - despite his advancing years - seemed -so- like the scrawny kid with the wild moves that you saw on the rare live Stooges footage from 35 years ago. maybe it's in part that he's losing a little muscle definition and so bodily looking more like he did back then; or maybe it was the context of seeing him with The Stooges, as opposed to any other band of players. he's had some -great- bands over the years, but in truth, who's ever looked at them when Iggy takes the stage... whereas the Stooges - though Iggy's creation - felt more a band of equals, and so you -would- want to watch Ron burning up the licks, or the never cooler Scotty on the drums. for whatever reason, while Iggy's moves are always Iggy's moves, they just looked particularly right with his old band.

I just wish he didn't do that thing he's gotten into in recent years, of inviting the audience onto the stage - in this case, for No Fun. if it were entirely spontaneous, then fair enough, but it's a bit like Singalong-with-Iggy (usually he does it with The Passenger on his solo shows), but it ends up with the stage being swamped with maybe a hundred pogoing idiots - either showing off to their friends, trying to grab Iggy and/or sing into his mic, or otherwise being a distraction. Ron didn't look to happy having to fight for space on his own stage, and who can blame him!

a rather more welcome on-stage guest was Steve Mackay - the guy who contributed so much to the free-jazz feel on the album of "Fun House", and now bringing the same essential saxophone sqwarking to the live show. and even when not playing the sax, his contributions were still essential - like the insistent maracas beat he added to "Little Doll".

Antony review to follow anon!

12:15 PM, December 21, 2005  
Anonymous Lee H. said...

I have to admit, I used to hate year-end recaps (the TV/magazine kind) so much I wouldn't even read them. But now, I find I always discover at least one or two great albums that I missed during the year- either because I forgot about them, or there will be stuff listed that I somehow never heard of the first time around.

I've always been interested in hearing friends' year-end lists, though, just because it's fun, and can also be informative, and fodder for discussion. So that's always cool.

The Iggy performance sounds awesome... you know this has been the year I have finally becaome as big a Stooges fan as you've been forever... heh! (About time, I know!)

2:09 PM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger Superfan said...

as someone whose whole life was turned around (kind of) through the cross pollination of musical tastes (little did -you- know, Lee, what you were doing sending me Supersonic Storybook that time!), I know exactly what you mean. my first words were just a gut reaction to list culture in general - like I love Mojo magazine, but it -is- the book of lists sometimes!

have been trying to think of recorded music that's made me go wow this year, and the one that comes to mind most is Sleater-Kinney. they were a band I'd often seen in the music mags and such, but didn't know their music, so when I came across MP3s of their last album, I gave them a go... and they're definitely a band I go back to. the vocal took a little getting used to at first, but they're just a great band.

funny thing was just weeks after I decided I liked them, I was reading Julian Cope's then latest monthly message, and he was enthusing about them too, so I was in good company. in particular he was talking about "The Woods", but I think my fave of what I've heard is an older album - "All Hands on the Bad One".

as to The Stooges, I still can't believe that I didn't do anything about it, but when I saw Asheton, Asheton, Mascis & Watt play a small club in London - an occasion I assumed would be the nearest I'd ever get to seeing The Stooges - I saw Ron Asheton wandering around inside backstairs of the venue; at one point he stood right next to me - it was a quiet area and nobody around to bother him... and I didn't even shake his hand or say hi! what -was- I thinking?!

5:39 PM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

I actually LIKE these sortsa things... I do one every year for TODCRA -- I've written basically a bunch of my entries already. Here's last year's, though... and some of the records and stuff from this year:

Barnes & Barnes - Reissues of Amazing Adult Fantasy, Sicks and the release of Kodovoner - Oglio Records rocks. As if doing a hell of a good job with the Voobaha and Spazchow reissues wasn't good enough, they also worked with Art & Artie to put out the next two albums from Rhino. And if THAT wasn't enough, they put out Kodovoner, which is basically the Holy Grail of Barnes & Barnes fans -- the unreleased, lost album from 1983, from between Soak It Up and Amazing Adult Fantasy, which fills in a nice little gap. AND it's got a bunch of bonus tracks, too! So, you know, basically, what are you waiting for? Artie did a GREAT job making these tapes sound good, and Art's liner notes are excellent too, and, you know, the music itself is pretty good too.

Blanche - If We Can't Trust The Doctors… - I saw Blanche open for the Ditty Bops last time they played in Seattle, and was surprised when it turned out to be a show where every single band was great. (The other act was Purty Mouth.) This is a strong alt.country record, and it turns out that Dan John Miller's in the new Johnny Cash biopic, too! So, how about that. Anyway, check out "Garbage Picker", "Do You Trust Me?" and "Jack On Fire" especially.

The Bran Flakes - Bounces - The Bran Flakes are pretty cool, and I'm a bit late to the party on them. Which sucks, because that's a lot of time I've missed out. I had them sorta mentally filed in the "Negativland" bin, but they're really not -- where Negativland is more based in collage, soundscapes and that sort of thing, The Bran Flakes are much more musical and into making songs. This album's from 2002, I think, but it's their most recent. And it's so catchy and good. Stuff from it just really gets lodged in your head. You might also check out the live-dub side-project from Sir Mildred Pitt, Library Science.

Laura Cantrell - Humming By The Flowered Vine - What more is there to say? This is the new Laura Cantrell record! It's a Laura Cantrell record! It's, like, by definition, awesome. You look up Laura Cantrell in the dictionary? It's gonna say "awesome". That Is All There Is To It. This is her Matador Records debut, and is slightly more poppy than her other records, but it works really well. Look, if you didn't get this the day it came out, unless you've got good reason, I'll just come out and say it -- I'm disappointed in you. You can make it up to me by getting it now.

Data Panik - Cubis (I Love You) b/w Sense Not Sense - Data Panik is the new band from bis, after they broke up a couple years ago. And, well, this is the only Data Panik release right now (though they're working on a full album), and it sounds basically like you'd expect -- it's bis. Which is good, because I love bis. The sound is most like the Music For A Stranger World EP, if you're looking for a proper comparison to which bis-era it is. It's just two songs, but they're great songs. It's a double-A side, too, but I'd have to say the A-side-eist of this single is probably "Sense Not Sense". Either way, though.

Eels - Blinking Lights & Other Revelations - It's rare to find a double album that's couldn't be reduced to one disc by cutting out all the filler, and it's even rarer to find a double album with a bunch of instrumental link tracks that you can say the same about. But here, the link tracks (with a lot of great names like "Theme For A Pretty Girl That Makes You Believe God Exists" or "Dusk: A Peach In The Orchard") are good too! Eels did a support tour for this record with a string section, and it was one of my favorite shows. A lot of their songs really lend themselves to those arrangements, though strangely, they played very little from the Electroshock Blues album -- perhaps it was too obvious.

Brian Eno - Another Day On Earth

IQU - Sun Q

Kanda - All The Good Meetings Are Taken - Full disclosure: I know the guy who runs Kanda's label, Boptart. In fact, that's how I found out about them; he gave me a copy of their CD and said "Here, I think you'll really like this". At the time, I didn't know him well at all (we'd met maybe a week earlier, and I'd just given him a copy of the first mix CD), so I was a little bit leery (I used to be in college radio, so I know how often "Hey, I think you'll like this" tends to actually mean "Here's something my band recorded on a boombox! It's all songs about how girls don't like me! Also, I drank a bunch of Draino before singing to make sure my voice sounded right!"), but I put it in that morning and OH MY GOD IT WAS GOOD. And I don't even mean that in a "Oh, I was expecting something horrible, and I got something OK!" way -- I mean that in the same way that if I had bought this album from a record store, I would have been just as into it. I keep trying to turn other people on to this record. It's EXCELLENT electropop -- very delicate sounding, very fragile, but so very, very good. Such a great sound on this album. And, hey, how can you go wrong with an album title (and a track title from their previous record!) that references Annie Hall? I love this record -- if there's a problem with it, it's that it's too short. And, as problems go, that's a pretty good one.

Ladytron - Witching Hour - This is Ladytron's debut record for Rykodisc, and apparently it was held up for 3 years due to all sorts of rights issues. It's also the strongest record of their career, and the one that's FINALLY getting them some critical respect. I loved their first two records, 604 and Light & Magic, but this one is much superior. Like they always do, they've changed their style a bit again (604 was a bit more Electropop, with much more of a Kraftwerk obsession, while Light & Magic was a little bit darker and dancier with a bit more emphasis on repetition); Witching Hour is much darker and a little bit closer to rock (but just slightly). If Light & Magic is the kind of metaphorical darkness which appears when everything is lit brightly with a pristine, sterile white surface, daring you to find what's wrong with something that's too eerily perfect, Witching Hour is what happens when the power grid in that world blows out.

The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree

Yoko Ono - Season Of Glass - This is Yoko Ono's album recorded after her husband was shot, an attempt to deal with the pain and emotions resulting in that tragic murder. It's an incredibly emotional and powerful album -- while listening to it for the first time, I found myself on the verge of tears and I couldn't really place why. It's an amazing and beautiful album, though sadly a bit difficult to find (while trying to find a copy for Field Marshall Stack's birthday, I ended up hitting basically every record store in Seattle -- no dice; I think my copy might have been the last one…). Definitely pick this album up if you see it.

New Order - Republic - I just got this record not too long ago, and it's really good. The problem is that for the longest time, I'd had New Order mentally classified as a Depeche Commode (my basic reaction to Depeche Commode is that they would be pretty good if they'd maybe think of lightening up just like a skosh for reals). So, upon actually LISTENING to New Order, my reaction is kind of "Dammit, Brain!" for having missed out for so long. They put out a record this year (or maybe last year, but I think it was this year), but I don't have that one. But it's probably really good, too.

The Sacred Truths - S/T - This is another local band, and they just put out an EP. I saw them live, and was blown away -- I didn't know what to expect, and was fearing a "Look How Wacky We Are!" type band; luckily, I was wrong. They've got a sense of humor (I mean, they've got a song on here called "Unlikely Doughnut Picnic"), but it's not really "Wacky", which is always good because people who think they're "wacky" very rarely are, but it's also really musically good -- and even rarer for a self-produced, self-released EP -- it's actually RECORDED WELL. Hell, even if the EP sucked, it might be worth it for that alone for the rarity of such a beast!

The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics!!!! - If I have one thing to thank the Young Fresh Fellows for, aside you know, from the awesome music, it's for getting me into the Sonics. The Sonics are one of the quintessential 1960s Garage-Rock Bands, and this is their first record. Lots of great stuff on here -- I love "Strychnine", especially. I almost put Boom on here instead -- they're both excellent albums, although, for the most part, the covers (excepting "Louie Louie" -- the Sonics' version should have been the Big-Time Famous One instead of the Kingsmen's) aren't nearly as good as the originals, which are outnumbered by the covers. The Sonics' records are an important piece of rock history, and they're really good, too!

Sparks - Li'l Beethoven -- I've just gotten into Sparks, too, and while this album took a little bit of time to warm up to me, I've really gotten into it. Initially, the repetitiveness of the songs turned me off, but after a while it really clicked with me. I absolutely adore "My Baby's Walking Me Home", and, aside from the recitation, the only lyrics are the title. It's not a perfect album (I could, honestly, do without "How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?"), but it's really good, and, well, "My Baby's Walking Me Home" is worth the price of admission alone.

Stereolab - Oscillons From The Anti-Sun -- I've recently gotten into Stereolab, and this collection of their various single tracks (along with a bonus DVD!) is really cool. I love the version of "Jenny Ondoline" on here, and the videos are real cool, too. For a long time I resisted Stereolab, but now I dig them. I finally picked up a copy of Sound-Dust recently, too, even after using "Nothing To Do With Me" for basically everything. In fact, right now, I'm listening to a recently purchased copy of ABC Music, the disc of the BBC Radio 1 sessions. I was happy to see that it actually has "Nothing To Do With Me" on it, along with a 6 minute version of "Les Yper-Sound".

t.A.T.u. - Dangerous And Moving

Talking Heads - Brick - I've been waiting for this for years. A few years back, they announced that Jerry Harrison was working on remixing Remain In Light for 5.1, and so I held off on picking that one up. It was supposed to come out in "March" for a while, but it finally came out a couple months ago… along with all of the other albums, remastered and remixed on Dualdiscs with bonus tracks. Which is great, since the original CD masters were pretty ass. If you don't want to pick up the Brick (what is WRONG with you?), next year, the albums will be released individually, so, still, hold off on getting the studio albums until those come out. (But, in the mean time, pick up Stop Making Sense or The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads.)

They Might Be Giants - Podcast 1A - I have to admit being interested in podcasts more in theory than in practice. They seem interesting, and I've even thought about making one of my own, but have I ever listened to one? Well, I've started a couple (the Residents' Bogcast, once, but it was real boring, and the Family Guy Foxcast, but, well, that was 20 minutes and basically an audio commentary without the video, so…), but nope. However, I DID listen to this one all the way through. TMBG actually figured out how to do a Podcast and make it interesting -- mainly, very little talk, and a lot of rare/new songs. Is it preferable to just putting up a bunch of mp3s of the songs with written commentary? No, but it's not too bad, either. People Of The World: Witness This Podcast, And Emulate Same. (It helps if you've got a huge wodge of new/unreleased They Might Be Giants stuff, though.)

Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players - Volume II, Adventures In Middle America - Last night I had a dream where I was at a Trachtenburgs show, front and center, and near the end of the show, Jason recognized me and asked me to come up to introduce the band. I started by telling the crowd how I first got into them about 2 months before they moved to NYC, and spent that two months, following them around and basically stalking them. Jason glared at me when I said that, and so I sort of stuttered out a "well, you know, going to all the shows and all" and quickly went into the actual introductions, starting with Tina Piña Trachtenburg, then going to Rachel. This is the second album; it's self-released right now, but I would assume that it'll come out on Bar/None or some similar label next year.

Ween - Shinola Vol. 1

The Young Fresh Fellows - Gleich Jetzt - This is a real hard-to-find Fellows album. It's been out for a long while, but only in Japan and on an indie label, and these various facts conspired to make it real hard-to-find. But it's SO worth it. It's made up of some non-album 7"s, and some of the cuts from the first few albums re-recorded with Kurt (as this album was recorded shortly after Kurt joined the band), and as such, they're much, much more rockin'. Not that the songs necessarily NEEDED to be more rockin', but now that they are? It's pretty rad. This is actually a pretty cool starter if you're a Fastbacks fan interested in the Fellows -- there's actually a version of "On Your Hands" on here, which was a Fastbacks song. So there you go.

The Aristocrats - I am a huge fan of this joke. I even started an LJ Community no one visits devoted to it! And, well, this film is basically just this joke over and over and over again. Sure, there's also a lot of really interesting history and backstory here, but, you know, the main thing is the joke. Particularly Sarah Silverman's version of the joke - oh my god. That one ALONE -- basically, even if the rest of the movie sucked (which it doesn't) -- is worth the price of full admission. Though this probably isn't for folks who are easily offended.

Broken Flowers - This is the second Jim Jarmusch film I've seen and the first I've liked. (Well, Coffee & Cigarettes was OK in places -- since it was a collection of shorts, anyway. Some of the shorts were completely awesome, and some of them were really, really painful. It's probably much better on DVD than in a theater, because you can always skip over the sucky shorts.) Anyway, though, as everyone knows by now, Bill Murray is an great dramatic actor. And he really does that "funny-yet-sad" thing really well in this too, as he did in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. For some reason, this one didn't seem to do so well critically, but I liked it way more than I was expecting to. I thought it was great.

The Fearless Freaks - Going into this film, I was a little lukewarm on The Flaming Lips. I mean, I loved Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots of course, just like everyone else, and I love the 5.1 mix particularly of that record, but The Soft Bulletin kind of left me cold, and I was kind of thinking that maybe Yoshimi would sate me, Lips-wise. But this film sounded interesting, so I saw it. And, man, I came out a complete Flaming Lips fan, which is a pretty good endorsement of your band documentary, I'd say. Even though it's made by a close friend of the band with heavy-band involvement, it's not that gushing or anything. And, well, the scene with Steven Drozd shooting up (I don't think this is really a spoiler, it's been in basically every single review that's even been thought of being written) is completely harrowing and difficult to watch (in a good way). Even if you're not that into this band, you might at least rent it. (Unless you really, really hate them. But then you probably don't need me to say "Maybe this film isn't really for you" in that case.)

The Found Footage Festival

Funeral Parade of Roses

Good Night & Good Luck - This film puts me in the weird position of legitimately being a George Clooney fan. I thought his first film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was OK, but was trying a little bit too hard (and apparently Charlie Kaufman's basically disowned it due to changes made to the script), but this film? It is magnificent. It's a very strong contender for best film of the year. If Howl's Moving Castle hadn't come out this year, it'd have been a shoe-in, but that's just because Miyazaki basically trumps all that's not Miyazaki. I suppose it helps that I'm really interested in McCarthyism, Media, TV, Journalism and Edward R. Murrow, so basically I'm kind of a sucker for this sort of thing anyway, but it's really done insanely well. I was just completely floored by how good this movie was. Luckily, it seems to be doing pretty well at the box office (at least, well for an art-house black & white film, but you know), so perhaps you already know how excellent this film is.

Grizzly Man

Howl's Moving Castle

Jesus Is Magic - I wonder how many positive reviews of this film had something along the lines of "Jesus may or may not be magic, but Sarah Silverman sure is!" I don't care enough to look it up, but it would be interesting to see, since it's a really easy and lame headline, but newspapers typically tend to shy away from joking about Jesus. Speaking of which -- the Seattle Post-Intelligencer review for this was HILARIOUS; 90% of the review (which was a couple columns) was about how Sarah Silverman's comedy is easy and cheap and offensive-for-the-sake-of-being-offensive and that it heralded a big downfall in comedy and doesn't she know any nice jokes and all that jazz. But the last paragraph was this begrudging "But it IS funny…", which just cracked me up, since being basically a stand-up comedy concert film (though one that is shot pretty well; it's not the Stop Making Sense of Stand-Up films or anything, though), you'd think that'd be one of the more important things. But being a daily paper, they've got to write for the dead-and-dying I suppose, who would be typically all horrified at Sarah Silverman's jokes. (Speaking of which, too, in Salon there was a letters column about this film, and someone wrote in talking about how deeply offended they were by her joke on SNL about 10 years ago -- "Well, Kevin, I guess the most important event of this past week was, of course, the wedding of my sister, Susan Silverman, to Yosef Abramowitz. It was a really neat wedding, too, you know, ’cause they took each other’s last names and hyphenated it. So now my sister’s name is Susan Silverman-Abramowitz. But they’re thinking of shortening it to just “Jews." -- and I'm thinking, "Man, if THAT's the most offensive thing you've heard Sarah Silverman say…") Anyway, it's really short and not all of the bits work well (in retrospect, anyway; when they're on screen, they're HILARIOUS), but you should really see this if you get a chance. It'll probably show up on HBO soon, anyway.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou - This came out last year, but I just now got around to seeing it when Criterion put out their 2-disc set of it. (Awesome Mark Mothersbaugh featurette on there, BTW.) And, I don't know, even though it's probably the weakest Wes Anderson film, it's STILL Wes Anderson, and I love Wes Anderson. And this is the second Bill Murray film on here. Henry Selick even contributed to it (he did the various wonderful creatures they come across)! I know the David Bowie Portuguese covers weren't for everyone, but I thought they worked. If for some reason you haven't been watching Wes Anderson's stuff, it's probably better to start with Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums, but whatever. It's still clear that he totally bogarted all of the "Anderson" allotted talent from P.T. "Not Barnum, Because That Would Make Him Kinda Cool" Anderson.

The Meaning Of Life - This was part of The Animation Show, Volume 2, which, I suppose should also appear here, but this is the main thing I remember from it, because it was 5+ years in the making. I really like Don Hertzfeldt's stuff a lot, and this was really interesting. I'd love to see it again (only seen it once), and I thought it was really cool; just an amazing piece of animation, from an artistic standpoint -- especially since everything was done in-camera. Really beautiful. Not nearly as funny as his other stuff (which I think turned some people off, since all his other stuff is, well, hilarious), but still a really great film. Really cool and impressing. It's hard to say much more about it -- after all, it's only 14 minutes long, so to say much more would give everything away. Watch it!

The Nomi Song - Like Fearless Freaks, I came out of this a fan. It's Andrew Horn's great documentary on the new-wave-opera-what-have-you singer Klaus Nomi. Unlike with the Flaming Lips, though, I went in vaguely remembering the name (after all, he was part of the spiritual guidance of the Moog Cookbook, if "Uli Nomi" is any indication). So, I went in thinking "This would be kind of interesting to see; I know nothing about the music, but maybe that'd be cool, too". Then, I found out I'd actually SEEN a live performance of him on Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (Michael O'Donoghue's parody of the Mondo Cane series of films, featuring Mondo Insanity, Mondo Candido and "Mondo Bondage"), and just forgotten about it! But still, though, the fact remains that after coming out of that film, I started tracking down the two Klaus Nomi albums (and seeing that there's about a million best-ofs, which is strange since one CD will actually hold both albums in their entirety). Although, even if you don't like the music, it's a really great, sad story.

Palindromes - I am a huge Todd Solondz fan. I think everyone knows this, as I basically announce it at every opportunity. I mean, I even have a copy of Fear, Anxiety & Depression on VHS (don't bother, though -- there's a reason Solondz has disowned it). I even really liked Storytelling! However, he's really outdone himself with Palindromes. I know Field Marshall Stack actually likes this one better than Welcome To The Dollhouse; I don't think I'd go quite that far, but it's close. It's much more successful than Happiness, which I also loved. I'm not sure if talking about the Gimmick of the film is fair game (every review mentioned it, but I don't really want to spoil it), but I just want to say that even though it sounds really gimmicky and sounds like pointless showboating -- it REALLY, REALLY WORKS in the context of the film and everything. This is also one of Solondz' most (or, perhaps, only?) visually beautiful film -- there's a lot of really striking shots. He's finally broken out a little from the standard Solondz "Set up the shots in a no-frills way to just have the actors do their thing" mode. Though there was a little bit of experimentation with shots in Storytelling as well -- it's much better here, though. Of course, since it's Solondz, there were a lot of reviews who were all "OMG!!! HE IS ALL MESSED UP!1111!11 HE HATES HIS CHARACTERS!!!!11!111 WHAAAAOOOO!!111!1!" and basically, those people are idiots.

Wallace & Gromit:The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - This film is great. You should see it right now. But come in 10 minutes late if they're still pairing it with that hideous Madagascar short about the penguin Christmas thing. (I have no idea why they decided pairing those would be a good idea, considering that, well, the short is already awful, but made much worse as it's immediately before a film that shows them how it SHOULD be done. At least they didn't put it AFTER the feature; that'd just be cruel.) For a while, I got sick of Aardman (I blame the Chevron cars which were completely oversaturated AND also based on the Creature Comforts short (and now series), which is the one Aardman thing I've ALWAYS hated. Sorry, just never found it funny, important, poignant or anything other than mind-crushingly boring.) and just couldn't stand to see anything with their style. I am so glad I am finally NOT sick of Aardman, because if I was, I would have missed out on this excellent movie for very stupid reasons. (I still need to see Chicken Run in fact.) Anyway, everyone, I assume knows Wallace & Gromit (if not, where have you BEEN?), and this is basically just a feature-length adventure of theirs; although, unlike a lot of shorts-expanded-to-features, Nick Park & Company know exactly how to handle their (wonderful) characters and the film doesn't drag at all and there's no sense of padding or of stapling two or three shorts together to make it a full-length thing (*coughcoughStewieGriffinStorycoughcoughthoughthat'sexactlywhatitwasandtheywereupfrontaboutitbutstillitwasreallydisjointedandtobetruthfulnotreallyallthatgreatbutitdidhaveitsmomentscoughcough*). Just a really excellent, excellent film. And the cool thing -- the audience when we saw it on opening night was basically equally cut between kids and families and adults -- and everyone in the house enjoyed it as far as I could tell the exact same amount -- immensely. We need more family-friendly films that are INTELLIGENT and don't just string together a bunch of pop-culture references that'll make the film completely out of date in 3 years because they're all basically "Hey, remember that show The Apprentice? Wasn't that awesome when Donald Trump said 'You're fired!'? That was hilarious because now a BEAR is saying 'You're fired!' It's PURE COMEDY!"

The Andy Milonakis Show - This show is possibly the stupidest thing on this list. But, oh MAN is it my kind of stupid. It's surprising that Jimmy Kimmel seems to surround himself with people who are way more talented and awesome (Adam Corolla excepted) -- he discovered Andy Milonakis, and he's dating Sarah Silverman. So, how about that? Anyway, though, this is one of those great shows that you can just sit down and watch a bunch of and actually feel your brain shrinking and your IQ dropping like 20 points. But it's SO glorious when it does. So many quotable lines from this -- hell, so many quoteable lines from the themesong. "Got peas on my head, but don't call me a pea-head/Got bees on my head, but don't call me a bee-head/Bruce Lee's on my head, but don't call me a Lee-head".

Moral Orel - The Best Christmas Ever - This is the Christmas Special by Dino from Mr. Show and Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and it's REALLY GOOD. Really impressive, really -- it's good to see that Adult Swim is getting back into experimental comedy, rather than "Hey! Here's some shit that we came up with when we got high! We'd go back to it later and make it funny now that we're sober, but, eh, you idiots will eat up any crap we do." It might not air again until next year, but hopefully you can download it. It's really, really excellent. I was really just incredibly impressed with the way they did this one.

Wonder Showzen - This show is probably one of the most offensive things on TV. It's strange -- they censor, say, South Park to hell and back, but if they were to air the most offensive South Park uncensored, it wouldn't hold a candle to the sheer "Dear GOD" nature of even the blandest Wonder Showzen (probably the episode entitled "Patience", which, well, you've GOT to see). I'm pretty difficult to shock, and there's stuff on that show that's left me completely gob-smacked. I'm really not typically one for Shock Comedy, or Shock-For-Its-Own-Sake comedy, but there's something different about Wonder Showzen. Perhaps it's the real kids on it. I don't know. But whatever it is, you have to see this show, and it's surprising to me that Fundie Nutjobs haven't started protesting it and raising a stink. My only guess is that whenever someone who WOULD protest it stumbles across it, their head explodes from the sheer horror at what they're seeing. So, you know, Wonder Showzen provides a valuable public service. I still like what Tycho said about the show: If they really want to come across as chivalrous defenders of virtue, they need to go after Wonder Showzen.
Have you ever seen this show? It's on your "MTV2." I don't really
get offended, you should see some of the videos I have on my desktop for ready access, but if I was the sort of person who got offended for show and tried to get famous for it Wonder Showzen would be the tool I'd use to finally dismantle that pesky First Amendment. If Charles Schumer or some other professional scold were to bring this program to wider public attention, it wouldn't be like the Videogame Controversy, where they get up and yell, and then someone reminds them we live in The United States Of America, and everybody sits down with their hands neatly folded until the sequel. No. If the populace at large saw Wonder Showzen, there would be no public hearings, no televised debate, and certainly no warning. You would just wake up one morning and your television would be gone. Yeah, pretty much…

Dan Clowes - Eightball #24 - Wow, two issues in two years! He's a MAD MAN! (To be fair, though, in the interim, he's been working on the new film Art School Confidential and, oh yeah, he's doing insanely good things with comics which is bound to take a while.) Like #23 (re-issued this year as the book Ice Haven), it's a one-issue stand alone story called "The Death Ray", and is typical Clowes fare -- by which I mean Excellent, Emotional And Brilliant. It's got a similar structure to #23, with the collection of different strips, although where in #23, it was a bit more intertwining, most of the strip-breaks are closer to chapters than a collection of 30 odd separate-but-intertwined short stories. If for some weird, strange reason, you haven't read any of Dan Clowes' work, get to a comics shop NOW.

Paul Collins - The Trouble With Tom - Hooray! New Paul Collins book! This one's about Thomas Paine -- or, more accurately, the earthly remains thereof. See, where most people get buried and that's about it, Thomas Paine, probably the most controversial founding father, was dug up and did a World Tour of sorts, and got lost somewhere along the way. Paul Collins looks at that, along with the people who were influenced by Thomas Paine's writings and how they figured into the big ghastly game of "Where's Waldo". It's really interesting -- and it features an aside about E.B. Foote's medical books for children, including a Victorian-era sex-ed manual starring a monkey! A MONKEY.

Dave Eggers - How We Are Hungry - This is the new short story collection from Dave Eggers. I think it technically came out in 2004, but oh well. This is a much better, more mature Eggers -- much less in the way of apologizing for things he thinks the reader might see as "hokey" or "untrue" or "lame" or whatever. (This is basically the equivalent of the hardcover version of You Shall Know Our Velocity! before he put the Hand's Point Of View Section in the middle which completely undermined an excellent book. Basically, everyone should either read the hardcover version, or if they get the paperback, paperclip the middle 50 pages together and call it good.) I love the first and last stories especially.

Chris Elliott - The Shroud Of The Thwacker - This book was a little bit more in the "Comedy Novel" vein than I'd been led to believe (even though it IS Chris Elliott), but it still actually DOES work as a novel. It's better than Daddy's Boy, anyway, although I actually liked that one, too. And, hey, Chris Elliott is brilliant at comedy, so, there you go. In typical Chris Elliott fashion, he's the main character, but there's some really interesting twists that also may involve him mistaking a modern hoax for a Victorian-era hoax and incorporating it accidentally into his novel and getting into all sortsa trouble. In real life, not in the novel. I mean, well, he gets into all sortsa trouble in the novel too, since then it'd be kinda boring, but you know. Whatever. It's good, which is my point, and you should read it. Because, hey, it's Chris Elliott! I love Chris Elliott.

Brian Eno - A Year (With Swollen Appendices) - I'd been wanting to read this for a while, and I found a copy at Powell's Books in Portland, OR. And boy, did I find a copy -- they had like, 2,000 of them. (They also had More Dark Than Shark, but that was like 40 bucks, so…) Anyway, it's Brian Eno's diary for the year of 1995, along with a bunch of essays. I love the way it goes wildly between high-minded concepts about the nature of music and interactivity and all that stuff to stories about him using Photoshop to make porn actresses breasts and butts comically large, or the story about him watching Monty Python's Flying Circus and having to urinate, but he didn't want to get up, so he pissed into a wine bottle he had nearby… which, after realizing that he'd never in his life tasted urine, sipped from. Brian Eno is AWESOME.

Also: This right now is a temporary link, mainly why it's not a real-live post yet, and when there's a permanent link, it WILL be a post, but for "7 Days And A Limited Number Of Downloads", this will get you a zip file of my Dub Club Xmas Mix CD. So, yeah -- if you care about getting it NOW, I'd get it asap while the gettin's good. If you can wait, then, y'know, don't worry bout it. If you don't care about getting it at all, well, then, FINE, be that way.

7:50 PM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger J.P. said...

Lee has probably already seen this list at Plastic, so I'll inflict this on the rest of you for the sheer hell of it!
This is mostly verbatim from my blog post and Plastic post. I'm not putting in all the links, if you wanna see the linkage, you'll hafta head over here.
My top 25 picks:
25. Doves - Some Cities. Another solid album of dreamy Britpop.
24. The Shout Out Louds - Howl, Howl, Gaff, Gaff. Good, solid, unpretentious rock-n-roll from Sweden (I think)
23. The Decemberists - Picaresque. A good album, but one that left me slightly underwhelmed. Seemed like they were trying just a bit too hard...
22. Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak. Less southern and more soulful than its predecessor - a surprisingly entertaining & coherent album considering that you can barely understand the lyrics.
21. Kaiser Chiefs - Employment. Lotta fun, this album is. Very bouncy.
20. The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema. This one made my list mostly because there are a handful of awesome singles on it, but I was very disappointed by it, overall. For me, their first two albums are much better.
19. The Russian Futurists - Our Thickness. Catchy, electro-pop by the one-man-band that can, and does, move you.
18. Tall Grass Captains - She Moved Through. Throwback guitar pop a la Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe.
17. Ash - Meltdown. Released in '04 in the UK, this was finally released this year with little fanfare. Too bad, 'cuz it's a great album. Catchy rock with the guitars getting a metal-esque sheen. Big-time sounding arena rock - the Foo fighters wish they could make an album this good.
16. The Click Five - Greetings From Imrie House. My guiltiest pleasure of the last year. Pure power-pop sugar. Ridiculously catchy. If you liked The Knack's debut album (from way back when), you oughtta like this.
15. The A-Sides - Hello, Hello. Beatle-esque pop from Philadelpia. Pays tribute to '60's pop without sounding derivative. Very solid album.
14. The Orange Peels - Circling The Sun. Summery pop music from the folks at Parasol. Played this one a lot at poolside this Summer.
13. Black Mountain - S/T. Sexed up stoner rock. Kinda/sorta. Sabbath, Zep, and various others from the '70s are referenced on this disc.
12. The Happy Bullets - The Vice And Virtue Ministry. Giddy lit-pop that outdoes the Decemberists. Seriously, this is the record that the Decemberists should've released.
11. System of a Down - Mezmerize. Truly a bizarro, kinetic, frenetic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink fusion of metal and Armenian folk music that goes all over the map, yet still manages to stay focused and slay everything in its twisted path! Best metal/hard rock disc of the year.
10. Stubbs The Zombie - V/A (Soundtrack). Various alt-rockers take on tunes from the '50's (mostly) for this soundtrack for a video game. Endlessly fun!
9. M.I.A. - Arular. Sri Lankan hip-hop extravaganza! Best hip-hop/electronic/whatever album of the year. She's got a very unique vocal style that almost sounds perfect for the beats on this album. Well worth checking out if you're into adventurous music.
8. Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary. Much-hyped Canadian band lives up to all the glowing accolades with a great mix of Modest Mouse-inspired rock. And indeed, Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock was at the helm or the recording of this album.
7. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy. Black-hearted, alt-countryish album of dark, engaging tunes. This is one of those albums that grows better with each listen.
6. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. Forget the haters that dismiss Conor Oberst - the man can, and does, write some amazing songs. This is a great album that features Emmylou Harris guesting on vocals with the man-child who gets all the Dylan comparisons. There are some absolutely gorgeous songs on this album of gothic Americana. Ignore it at your own peril.
5. The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers. Pure pop bliss. Hooks and harmonies galore. This is timeless, classic stuff.
4. Spoon - Gimme Fiction. Perfect, highly textured, indie-pop. Layer upon layer of interesting sonics. There's some killer singles on this album, too.
3. The Tah-Dahs - Le Fun. Witty, clever pop that sometimes blisters your ears with its ferocity. Killer fucking hooks are all over this album. I took a flyer on this after reading the Coke Machine Glow review and downloading the available track, and I'm damned glad that I did. If you like Ted Leo, The Pixies, and Husker Du/Bob Mould then this disc should be right up your alley.
2. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois. This album deserves every freakin' good word written about it. A terrific, terrific album.
1. The Earlies - These Were The Earlies. Dreamy, psychedelic indie-pop. Originally released last year in the UK, it got its proper U.S. release earlier this year, which is a good thing for those not willing to shell out for the import price. Anyhow, there is a ton of stuff going on and swirling around on this album. This album touches on everything from the Beach Boys to the Flaming Lips, yet doesn't really sound like any of them. There is no filler on this disc, which mangaes the neat trick of being instantly accessible, while revealing new layers and growing deeper every time you listen to it. As you might expect, it's a super headphone album, too. My absolute favorite album this year! If you like the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Grandaddy, Spiritualized, or My Morning Jacket* you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

*Haven't heard their latest yet if you're wondering why it didn't make this list. Also haven't heard latest discs from The White Stripes, Clap your Hands Say Yeah, The Mountain Goats and several others who may or may not've made the list...
In this day and age, anyone who says that there's no good music out there isn't trying very hard. It was a fine year for tuneage, and I'm looking forward to next year's albums already!

3:48 PM, December 22, 2005  
Blogger Lee H. said...

These are great lists already... I already can tell I'll be referring back here on my first shopping binge of '06 at Amazon or Other Music. :)


I know it's an obvious choice, but my hands-down favorite of the year is New Pornographer's "Twin Cinema." It punches that little button in my brain that lab rats have to take cocaine to activate. Over and over and over again, until I almost forget to eat or sleep.

In no particular order, other favorites from this year:

Sufjan Stevens "Illinoise"

LCD Soundsystem (self-titled)

The Juan MacLean "Less Than Human"

The Angels of Light "Play Other People"

Royksopp "The Understanding"

Moby "Hotel" (for some reason it was completely reviled by the critics, but I love it)

Ladytron "The Witching Hour" (see Rev's description above- he nailed it)

The White Stripes "Get Behind Me Satan"

"Yellow Pills: Prefill" (a collection of obscure power pop)

Nine Inch Nails "With Teeth"

The Mountain Goats "The Sunset Tree" (nakedly confessional and yet thrilling to listen to)

Stars "Set Yourself On Fire" (an '04 release in Canada but an '05 release here, I'm told)

And this year also had some kickass reissues, including: The Cure's "Faith," "17 Seconds,"
and "Pornography," sounding better than I ever thought possible, and the Kirsty MacColl collection "From Croydon To Cuba," which is 3 CDs of Kirsty's perfect, underappreciated pop sensibility.

Kate Bush's "Aerial," Sigur Ros' "Takk..." and Brian Eno's "Another Day On Earth" should be on here, but I feel like those albums are going to take me YEARS to fully appreciate- which is a compliment, not a criticism.

Likewise, I've really gotten into Okkervil River's "Black Sheep Boy" and "Black Sheep Boy Appendix," but I just got them a week or so ago, and I haven't clued into them enough for them to be favorites yet, though I suspect they very well may become that.

Also, JP's statement above bears repeating: In this day and age, anyone who says that there's no good music out there isn't trying very hard. It was a fine year for tuneage, and I'm looking forward to next year's albums already!


8:18 PM, December 22, 2005  

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