by carl wilson

... of the Year


You know, you're not intending to do it, but then you read all the others and you get itchy.

The top 10 in order, left to right, row by row:

sunset.jpg aerial.jpg has a good home.jpg runtheroad.jpg trapped.jpg congotronics.jpg woods.jpg arular.jpg youain't.jpg drumheller1.jpg

That is: 1. The Mountain Goats: The Sunset Tree; 2. Kate Bush: Aerial; 3. Final Fantasy: ... Has A Good Home; 4. Run the Road (grime compilation); 5. R. Kelly: Trapped in the Closet pts 1-12 (I really mean the collected singles, rather than the DVD, but this is the only format you can get them in, and of course worthwhile watching too); 6. Konono No. 1: Congotronics; 7. Sleater-Kinney: The Woods; 8. M.I.A.: Arular; 9. Charlie Poole: You Ain't Talkin' to Me (box set); 10. Drumheller: Drumheller.

The next 10: 11. Jon Rae & The River: Old Songs for the New Town; 12. Joel Plaskett: La De Da; 13. Bettye Lavette: I've Got My Own Hell to Raise; 14. Veda Hille: Return of the Killdeer; 15. Amy Rigby: Little Fugitive; 16. Old 97's: Alive and Wired; 17. The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema; 18. SS Cardiacs: Fear the Love; 19. Brian Joseph Davis: Greatest Hit; 20. Vijay Iyer: Reimagining.

And 20 more, in alphabetical order: Bjork: Drawing Restraint 9; Blackalicious: The Craft; Richard Buckner & Jon Langford: Sir Dark Invader Vs. The Fanglord; Cadence Weapon: Breaking Kayfabe; John Cale: Black Acetate; Rob Clutton: Dubious Pleasures; Constantines: Tournament of Hearts; Deerhoof: The Runners Four; Destroyer (with Frog Eyes): Notorious Lightning & Other Works; Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Come On Back; Holy Fuck: Holy Fuck; Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions; William Parker: Sound Unity; Republic of Safety: Passport EP; Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers; Wadada Leo Smith/Quintus/et al: Snakish; Tenement Halls: Knitting Needles & Bicycle Bells; Martha Wainwright: Martha Wainwright; Lee Ann Womack: There's More Where That Came From; Xiu Xiu: La Foręt.

In plain, this was such a rocky year personally (regular readers will have a notion why) that I didn't feel my general music-tracking apparatus was in solid shape. Nor have I had time to do the usual year-end quest and catchup. I haven't even had access to most of my records for the past few months - artists, if you were hoping for a review from me that never came, I'm sorry - your record was probably covered in ash and boxed up in the wake of the house fire, or it became part of the intimidating wall-of-sound that sits atop my desk at the Globe. Next year will be better. (Right?) So my list is both more predictable and more local than one could claim really reflects 2005. (Although to be local to Toronto is certainly a more accurate reflection of this year than most!) No doubt I'm forgetting significant records, but this is a fairly good reflection of what I listened to this year. Was it a good or a bad year for music? I thought it was a poor one, but that's filtered through the dark lens of the year it was for me.

The reason that No. 1 is ranked there, besides that it's an open, empathic and novelistic work by a boundlessly gifted songwriter, is likely that it spoke to these struggles the most directly: "I am gonna make it through this year/ If it kills me." And the number 2 pick offers a generous creative outpouring from someone who has made it through to the deep centre of adulthood without losing her nerve, which is part of what feels at risk in any grim time. I believe I've said enough about number 3. And the rest of the top-rankers, frankly, were pure compensatory pleasure. Wish I'd had more time to keep up with pop music, in particular (actually more time-consuming, since it never gets sent to me - it involves whiling away time watching Much or spinning a radio dial); but certainly also jazz-improv-experimental, electronic-dance, etc.

In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, December 20 at 5:13 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (25)



2005 was another great year for hip-hoprecords, even if you don't like the southern stuff. Great albums include:

Common - Be
Dangerdoom - Mouse and Mask
The Game - The Documentary
Quasimoto - Further Adventures
Cage - Hell's Winter
Little Brother -Chittlin Circuit 1.5
Little Brother - Minstrel Show
9th Wonder & Buckshot - Chemistry
Felt - Felt 2: A Tribute to Lisa Bonet
Blueprint - 1988
Greenhouse Effect - Columbus or Bust
Cadence Weapon - Breaking Kayfabe
P.O.S. - Ipecac Neat
Perceptionists - Black Dialogue
Aesop Rock - fast Cars EP


Posted by Graham on December 31, 2005 8:06 PM



I've got it Carl, and agree... I'm probably the only person in Kitchener-Waterloo that owns all but two of Rat-Drifting's albums (Draperies and Guayaveras are the only two I've yet to get my grubby paws on). I would heartily agree about Mr. Thorpe's disc! Great stuff...

Did you see the January Wire yet? Full page article (essentially) on Rat-Drifting! Couldn't believe it. And to hear them mention our Tranzac... I was elated.

Another pretty cool albeit short Toronto disc this year was Lenin I Shumov's EP. I really like their blend of early Einsturzende Neubauten, Birthday Party and B-52s (or something like that).

Posted by Nick Storring on December 31, 2005 2:54 PM



hey, Nick, that's a completely fair question. My rationale was basically that I was excited about Drumheller as an ensemble in a big way - as much for its potential as for what it had done so far. For that reason I listened to that album a lot, and as I said in the intro to the list, that was the main criterion I used in assembling the list. That said, I don't think the Drumheller album is a complete realization of where the band was (and I hope still is) headed; it's an energized starting point.

But I probably should have put Rob's album higher up - certainly somewhere in the top 20. It's a commanding set of solo performance pieces, and one I should have given more listening time. I think the reason is that Rob's record suits a more peace-and-quiet listening context while Drumheller was music better suited to my peripatetic, unsettled year.

While we're talking about Rat-Drifting by the way, I should mention that Josh Thorpe's Flocklight release is also worthy of your attention.

Posted by zoilus on December 30, 2005 11:25 PM



hi carl,

time to discuss the esoteric aspect of your list. at first glance I didn't even notice rob clutton's "dubious pleasures" and assumed (mistakenly that it was released in 2004). i thought if anyone would sing its praises it would be you... and you sorta did.

if i was gonna have a rat-drifting disc in my top 10 list it would've been it for sure! i'm kinda surprised that the two aren't reversed. while i love drumheller, i feel like that rob clutton disc is a total gem... completely unique and beautiful. to these ears drumheller draws on a very familiar vocabulary and almost cariacturizes it (not that it's a bad thing, but i just find the rob clutton disc so striking). i'm not really usually a fan of solo instrument discs.

it's just funny, because i know of many people who were really enthused about the rob clutton cd, and i don't frequently hear people talking about rat-drifting projects that way. i don't even live in toronto either...

anyway... yeah... just curious why the clutton was so far down!


Posted by nick storring on December 29, 2005 10:33 PM



Dave, remember these from '04?

Snoop f/Pharrell -- "Drop It Like It's Hot"
Jay-Z -- "99 Problems"
Jay-Z --"Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
Ghostface f/Jadakiss -- "Run" (see also the remix)
Jadakiss -- "Why?"
J-Kwon -- "Tipsy"
Fabolous -- "Breathe"
Cam'ron -- "Get 'Em Girls"
Petey Pablo -- "Freek-A-Leek"
Lloyd Banks -- "On Fire"
Daddy Yankee -- "Gasolina"
Terror Squad -- "Lean Back"
Twista -- "Overnight Celebrity"
Twista f/Kanye and Jamie Foxx -- "Slow Jamz"
Pitbull -- "Culo"
Akon f/Styles P - "Locked Up"
Nas -- "Bridging the Gap"
Federation -- "Hyphy"

Not to mention the UK stuff: Dizzie, The Streets, Wiley, etc.

Posted by Jody on December 24, 2005 6:09 PM



aside from Kanye, i can't remember 04. anybody want to make me a mix CD? i'll trade.

Posted by Dave M. on December 24, 2005 12:06 PM



I liked the Juelz Santana and have liked some of the others when I've heard them, which is usually only once or twice - as I've said, I've just been out-of-touch the second half of this year. So my impression could be wrong. But do you disagree that the past couple of years were stronger than this one, Dave? I never meant to say anything more sweeping than that, not "hip-hop sucked this year."

Posted by Zoilus on December 23, 2005 12:27 PM



ten (okay eleven, i forgot Beanz) singles that aren't by anybody yet mentioned here but that put shame in the game of those dissing 2005 hip-hop:

11) Beanie Siegel - "In The Air"
10) Mike Jones - "Back Then"
9) Ying Yang Twins - "Badd"
8) Trina - "Don't Trip" f. Lil Wayne
7) Juvenile - "Get Your Hustle On"
6) Paul Wall - "Sittin Sideways"
5) Lil Wayne - "Fireman"
4) Young Jeezy - "Go Crazy" rmx f. Fat Joe, Jay-Z
3) Bun B - "Draped Up"
2) Juelz Santana - "Mic Check"
1) Lil Kim - "Lighters Up"

and i didn't even like Edan or Dangermouse or any of that junk but surely somebody here must. even if you don't dig H-Town there was a lot to love in '05.

Posted by Dave M. on December 22, 2005 11:26 PM



Frog Eyes:



Posted by zoilus on December 22, 2005 3:02 PM



I must find me these
Frog Eyes
that you speak of.

Posted by sherwin on December 22, 2005 10:53 AM



Carl, you're right on about the other singles. "Wait (The Whisper Song)" made my Pazz & Jop list, "Random" just missed it. I love the Gwen Stefani album, but didn't dig "Hollaback" as much as the other singles. As far as cheerleader pop goes, my 2005 fave was Fannypack's "Keep It Up." MP3 here:

RE: the Brazilian Girls, really do check them out live if you get a chance. (Their drummer is ridiculous; seeing him play reminds me of when I first saw Marc Ribot years ago, stealing a show out from under Tom Waits.) For anyone in New York, the BGs are currently playing a late late night residency on Sunday nights at Nublu (tiny E. Village club), where they're working out stuff for their folo-up album. It's the best show in town.

Posted by Jody on December 22, 2005 10:18 AM



Fair points, Guy, but I think you can read "overrated" just as subjectively as "best of," and I think it remains valuable for people to have arguments against particular pieces of music, as counterpoint to the ones for it. It's not AS valuable as praising the underlooked. But still of worth.

Posted by zoilus on December 22, 2005 6:14 AM



I always find strange arguments about which album is the most overrated. This is because if I dont enjoy an album lots of people say is good i assume I am the problem and not the album (as in I dont get it or its not my thing).

I invoke the the hype to quality ratio:

I think by far the most out of proportion hype to quality ratio this year belongs to the arcade fire. Which is a very good albu but for heavens sake music critics of the world, its not THAT good. Still, I blame myself.

I also think anthony and johnsons (which in the UK at least are talked about in hushed tones usually reserved for a new lucian freud exhibit). Might have been acceptable if not for the out of control hype to quality ratio. I must be the problem.

Sufjan and the Decemberists on the other hand are about even in my books.

WHat is dissapointing is when hype to quality ratio is offset too much in the opposite direction. Hardly anyone even bothered to review Patty Griffins last album which is in a very subtle way a small masterpiece. Life isnt fair.

Also judging by the Laura Barrett concert in my friends living room tonight (to 6 people) there is enough quality to support much much much more hype. She will star in many top 10 yr lists next year. Carl Wilson ahead of the game yet again.

Posted by guy tanentzapf on December 22, 2005 3:24 AM



Jody's on the button about hip-hop's weak year. I can't quite bring myself to love a Toby Keith song, but otherwise I wouldn't subtract from his list, just add "Since U Been Gone," "Wait (The Whisper Song)" (I manage not to listen to the words just the sound on this one - as an anachronist, Jody can recognize the power of novelty, and this one seems rather unprecedented) and, probably my real favourite, "Hollaback Girl." Also Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning." Of overseas singles Robyn's "Be Mine!" and Rachel Stevens' stuff. (*Much* better than Annie.) I liked Kanye's singles, still haven't heard the album. Oooh, and grime singles - Lady Sov's "Random" and Kano's "Remember Me." I liked the Foo Fighters' single "The Best of You," to my own surprise. Of political interventions, "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" by the Legendary K.O, and even Bright Eyes' "When the President Talks to God."

I tried Brazilian Girls on your say-so way back, Jody, but never could quite get into it. Seeing them live woulda helped, I suspect.

Sherwin is seemingly the only man on earth not in denial about Wolf Parade, who actually sound like the exact midpoint between Arcade Fire and Frog Eyes, but so far nowhere near as good as either. I think the hunger for more from Montreal does explain their embrace - but also that they seem to have their aims in the right place. I'm still hopeful for their *next* album.

Posted by zoilus on December 21, 2005 10:07 PM



Hi Carl!

It's me, Sherwin. I'll be in Toronto next week and if you're there I might see you at one of the things.

Hey thanks for listing me as a fave blog on that Toronto life thing a little while ago. I got all these lovely hits from people.

As for music, these days I am listening to Wolf Parade. I can't believe how much they're like the Arcade Fire. Thank god. They have that same angsty pain riding on that relentlessly hopeful riff. I was sad because I was wearing my Arcade Fire mp3s out. I was killing their album with overplay, but then my friend gave me Wolf Parade and now I have my fix until the next Arcade Fire album. Hopefully I'll be able to jump from one to the other forever. Or until I get sick of the sound. They are ridiculously similar. It's just what I needed. I feel like the Montreal "sound" respawns in different bands, the way that Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan can both be James Bond.

Hopefully I will see you at one of the insane parties this coming week!



Posted by Sherwin on December 21, 2005 5:47 PM



dear sir -

re: "At least I didn't list Sufjan Stevens. Though it's okay, it's definitely the overrated record of 2005."

i most respectfully disagree. that would be twin cinema.


sincerely yrs,


Posted by lisstless on December 21, 2005 5:00 PM



I'm excited to catch up with some of the records on Carl's list that I missed. Here's two cents on '05 from someone who doesn't listen to much indie rock:

I agree with Carl that it was a sub-par year, especially in hip-hop, the genre that has generally given me the most pleasure over the past decade-plus. I don't really love the production aesthetic of most southern hip-hop (esp. Houston stuff) which is probably why this year didn't move me much.

As usual, I loved my fave singles more than I loved my fave albums. Top tracks included "1 Thing" (Amerie), "Trapped in the Closet" (all 700 episodes), "Tekitoi" (Rachid Taha), "As Good As I Once Was" (Toby Keith), "Hate It or Love It" (The Game & 50 Cent), and others.

My top album (by far) was the debut by Brazilian Girls, an amazing record that was bewilderingly slept-on by critics, who I suspect dismissed the band out of hand as some sort of Eurotrash "chillout" outfit. In fact, they're the hottest live band I've seen in years, and are great, witty songwriters.

Hot trend for 2006 prediction: 1906.

Posted by Jody on December 21, 2005 4:59 PM



With the Mercury Prize, that's def. true, but Antony's not getting quite as fawned over in the year-end lists.

Posted by zoilus on December 21, 2005 3:06 PM



> At least I didn't list Sufjan Stevens.
> Though it's okay, it's definitely the
> overrated record of 2005."

*Ahem!* *Cough!* *ANTONY!* *Cough!

Posted by ryan on December 21, 2005 2:46 PM



I think "household name" is a fairly huge exaggeration. Joel has a good reputation among obsessive music heads in Canada but he's someone who really ought to get played on the radio and so forth, and he doesn't. He plays smaller venues than a lot of much younger bands, and I think that's a shame.

Sean - The Veda album is another solid one from her, though no great leap - a lot of piano and electronic and other enhancements, with Veda's usual tone-scientist-of-the-unseen aesthetic fully operative in vocals and lyrics. A less volatile album than some of hers. And the Old 97s disc is in a lot of ways the ultimate Old 97s album - a double live set, from a band that has (imho) always been at its best as a live group. Repertoire basically a best-of. Leaves the last album and Rhett's solo disc in the shade. (I hear he's planning another of those next year - hope it's better than the last, which was soporific.)

And mainly due to you I've heard about a quarter of the Herman Dune record - still on the fence about it, need to listen to those songs more before I'm keen to get the rest.

In any case mine is decidedly too much of an indie-rock list. As such it's solid, but also as such I don't feel it's quite "on." At least I didn't list Sufjan Stevens. Though it's okay, it's definitely the overrated record of 2005. (The Decemberists, whom I generally dislike, at least rank as much-improved this year.)

Posted by zoilus on December 21, 2005 2:42 PM



I'd say Plaskett is a household name (in independent music fan households) across this land. I like your list, Carl, but I always find there's all these end-of-year discoveries that I didn't get to or didn't know about when they were released. (e.g. picaresque, illinois, the woods...)

I have a not-to-shabby Top 10 of my own, I like to think, but I guess there's just too much new music to listen to in a year. That's why I think it was a great year in music... of course, I also got the chance to go to Coachella in California, which opened me up to a bunch of new stuff and made me excited about artists I was just getting into or seeing for the first time.

Anyway... thanks for the list.

Posted by Mason on December 21, 2005 1:28 AM



Hee...I'm laughing because I just walked in my door this evening, carrying your #5 under my arm.

I mean, what a phenomenon, really. I sincerely hope that the next 50 years will bring us myriad academic theses on the subject, as the whole "Closet" cycle just *screams* for rigorous intellectual analysis and interpretation.

Also, it's great to see JP's La De Da in your list too. Though there are definitely quite a few "essential" tracks in the ol' back-catalog, La De Da is easily my favourite as a "whole album" (and that cute-ish story behind its making only adds to its appeal, for me).

And hey, Joel still remains relatively unknown down here in the States, but I trust he has some degree of celebrity in Canada proper, right? As in, it's not just a Haligonian thing, right?

Posted by ryan on December 20, 2005 9:32 PM



kate bush's aeriel was poo

Posted by zach on December 20, 2005 8:13 PM



Cant argue with that choice for number 1. Ive cried with that album more than any other album this year.

I have to admit to not hearing some of the ones on your list ill go and hunt them down, this is what end of years lists are all about I reckon.

This was a decent year for music.I can easily think of 6 fantastic albums realeased this year. Thats a lot. (sufjan stevens-Illinois, Bright Eyes - im wide awake, elbow -leaders of the free world, the doves - some cities, the decemberists - Picaresque, and the mountain goats).

Add to that a whole wack load of very very good albums (great lake swimmers, Iris Dement, spoon, low, crooked fingers, richard hawley, Iron and wine + calexico).

The only thing is there wasnt an album or two that was towering over the rest. Basically we are ripe for some big shift. The last time i felt this way was in 1992. The new smells like teen spirit is lurking around the corner.

Posted by guy tanentzapf on December 20, 2005 7:59 PM



A sound list, and certainly doesn't feel as conciliatory (in a bad way) as a whole lot of others I've seen. Am curious about the Veda Hille and Old 97s records - heard nothing of the former and only one (great) song from the latter. I'm a big fan of Veda, though - can you say a few words on either? I need to figure out if I ought to seek them out.

Did you hear the Herman Dune record? You oughta.

Posted by Sean on December 20, 2005 7:01 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson