2005 was a year that saw me purchasing a bit less music than I have in years past, but there were still plenty of amazing albums that passed through my world, including two from 60-something artists that managed to land in my top 5 for the year.
eels: Blinking Lights and Other Revelations – a haunting, beautiful and moving double album from the recovering kings of melancholy. Ostensibly this is an album of songs about recovering from deaths (plural) in his family and learning to be okay again, but this is an epic album for anybody who is aquainted with heartache.
Neil Diamond: 12 Songs – This was perhaps the most anticipated album of the year for me. My all-time guilty pleasure matched up with Rick Rubin, probably the finest rock producer working today to create an album of weighty acoustic gems that rumble and sparkle. While this collection drops a dud or two, it remains a truly remarkable, outstanding album from a unique talent. If you at all liked the sound of Johnny Cash’s last few albums, you need to think about picking this one up.
Coldplay: X&Y – Sure it wasn’t as good as their last one, but it was close, and that means that it’s still a damn fine album full of heartfelt songs and solid craftsmanship.
Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard – A surprisingly darkly-toned album filled with left turns from the master of pop craft and melody. Producer Nigel Godrich wisely commanded McCartney to handle nearly every instrument heard on the album, since there are so few musicians in the world who could match him in both ability and importance. The songs here are fully-baked beauties – it’s fun to hear a former Beatle so invigorated by the muse again.
Elizabethtown Soundtrack: While I enjoyed the movie (for the most part), the soundtrack might have ultimately been more fulfilling. Littered with bluegrass-tinged acoustic nuggets from Tom Petty and Patty Griffin, the music evokes the sadness and nostalgia that so much of my favorite music done. In addition, there’s some fine stuff from small space-rock outfits like Helen Stellar as well as underappreciated later works by Lindsay Buckingham and the Hollies.
Bruce Springsteen: Devils and Dust
Ben Folds: Saving Silverman
Halloween, Alaska: s/t
ODYC: Black Sun Rising
Suggested songs to download (in order of preference)
eels – Things the Grandchildren Should Know
Neil Diamond – Hell Yeah
ODYC – Goldmine
Paul McCartney – Friends to Go
Derek Webb – I Want a Broken Heart
Coldplay – Swallowed in the Sea
Helen Stellar – io (This Time Around)