Posted by: Dave on January 5, 2006 at 9:23 pm

Dave Powers
(As posted on, January 2005)

Every year brings a couple of excellent debut albums. This year John Legend and M.I.A. were up to the task. But to those in constant search of impressive new sounds and artists, 2005 may feel like a letdown after the unprecedented onslaught of newcomers in 2004. Not only did Kanye West, Franz Ferdinand, My Chemical Romance, The Arcade Fire and The Killers hog half of my top 10 with their top-notch debuts last year, each of their profiles grew in 2005. But 2004 was an anomaly.

This year we should celebrate the fact that indie icons Stephen Malkmus and Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes) each added another masterpiece to their stellar catalogs, the long awaited return of Fiona Apple, the emergence of The Decemberists, The Mars Volta and Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, and the continued excellence of mainstream but indie-minded celebrities The White Stripes and Beck.

I got to hear (at least part of) more than 600 of the 2,000-plus studio albums with new and original music released in 2005 and posted reviews on this site nearly every week. As usual, I focused mostly on mainstream rock, indie-rock, hip hop, metal, pop, electronica, r&b, and alternative country. Despite the digital music revolution’s threat to turn the music industry into a song/single’s game, it’s good to know that many artists are still interested in and capable of making quality, full-lengths. Here are my picks for the 20 most complete, ambitious and well-executed albums of 2005 (followed by 20 honorable mentions):

1. Stephen Malkmus Face the Truth (Matador)
2. Bright Eyes I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (Saddle Creek)
3. Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine (Epic)
4. John Legend Get Lifted (Sony Urban Music)
5. M.I.A. Arular (XL Recordings)
6. The Decemberists Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars)
7. The Mars Volta Frances the Mute (Universal)
8. The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan (V2)
9. Damian “Junior Gong” Marley Welcome to Jamrock (Universal)
10. Perceptionists Black Dialogue (Definitive Jux)
11. Annie Anniemal (Big Beat)
12. Beck Guero (Interscope)
13. Turin Brakes Jackinabox (Astralwerks)
14. Criteria When We Break (Saddle Creek)
15. Shout Out Louds Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (Capitol)
16. The Mountain Goats The Sunset Tree (4AD)
17. Danger Doom The Mouse and the Mask (Epitaph/ADA)
18. Fannypack See You Next Tuesday (Tommy Boy)
19. Common Be (Geffen)
20. Cage Hell’s Winter (Definitive Jux)

Honorable Mentions

21. The New Pornographers Twin Cinema (Matador)
22. Corrosion of Conformity In the Arms of God (Sanctuary)
23. Sons and Daughters The Repulsion Box (Domino)
24. J-Live The Hear After (Penalty/Rykodisc)
25. My Morning Jacket Z (ATO/RCA)
26. C-Rayz Walz Year of the Beast (Definitive Jux)
27. 31Knots Talk Like Blood (Polyvinyl)
28. The Giraffes The Giraffes (Razor & Tie)
29. Nine Inch Nails With Teeth (Nothing/Interscope)
30. OK Go Oh No (Capitol)
31. Orenda Fink Invisible Ones (Saddle Creek)
32. Kanye West Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella)
33. Ben Folds Songs for Silverman (Epic)
34. Fischerspooner Odyssey (Capitol)
35. Coldplay X & Y (Capitol)
36. Slim Thug Already Platinum (Geffen)
37. Franz Ferdinand You Could Have It So Much Better (Domino/Epic)
38. The Hold Steady Separation Sunday (Frenchkiss)
39. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals Cold Roses (Lost Highway)
40. Crystal Skulls Blocked Numbers (Suicide Squeeze)

3 Responses to “Top 20 Albums of 2005 (Plus 20 More)”

  1. Vutello Says:

    Hey, Powers: I know this is NEW Music Nation, but what about some more LISTS. Top of the 90s, 80s, Rap of all TIME. Check me.

  2. Dave Says:

    I have worked lists into some of the News Notes posts. Check these on Pavement, The Cure and The Smiths:

    I’m all for getting some other old lists in there. Most likely they’d be tied to a current event, like these were.

    Also, The Playlist Picks section of this site is pretty LIST-tastic if you ask me. Check it.

  3. New Music Nation » Blog Archive » The Mars Volta The Bedlam In Goliath (Universal) Says:

    […] Sound: More of the same wicked and menacing wails, pummeling drums, spastic basslines, shredding guitars, terrifying sound manipulations and all-around relentless, noisy creepiness that you’ve come to expect from The Mars Volta. But The Bedlam In Goliath is actually their most conventional and manageable album yet. Yes, there’s still over 70 minutes of music and yes, the aggressive prog rock freakouts on here aren’t for the faint of heart, but these 12 tracks feel more like songs (often long songs) than anything else they’ve done. They occasionally groove funkier than ever before and sometimes channel classic Black Sabbath doomsday riffs, though they usually turn those stylistic choices into something more frenetic and disturbing. Heavy Rotation tracks: “Goliath” (Top 20 Songs of 2008 Candidate) Medium Rotation tracks: “Wax Simulacra”; “Aberinkula”; “Cavalettas”; “Ilyena”; “Agadez” Recommended: If you’ve been frustrated by The Mars Volta’s tendencies to launch into long, aimless sound experiments in the past, you’ll be happy to find that The Bedlam In Goliath is their most focused album by far. The tempo mellows from time to time, but for the most part, Bedlam is a furious barrage of mayhem and boundary-pushing experimentation. It’s not their best album, that would be Frances The Mute (my #7 album of 2005) but it is their second best. Grade: B+ […]

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