Favourites of 2005, Part 2

This is a track-by-track overview of the songs that I picked as some of my favourites of 2005. For the full track list see beautiful moments, not to be forgotten. Check out previous parts of this overview: Part One.

5. The National - All The Wine

The National - Alligator

There’s something about Matt Berninger’s voice and The National’s music that invokes scenes of smoky bars, nearly deserted parkways, and their lonely inhabitants, desperate for connection but too proud to seek it out. The National remind me a bit of The Tindersticks but with a much more dynamic, expansive sound; both bands tap into a vein of emotions that is as complex as it is raw.

All the Wine is a song I listened to a lot this year, and its swaggering, confident protagonist (“I’m a perfect piece of ass”) was the perfect counterpoint to many nights spent working into the wee hours.

6. Rogue Wave - California

Descended Like Vultures

This is one of those songs that immediately appealed to me. It has all of the building blocks for a song I might like: it’s based mostly around an acoustic guitar, with bittersweet lyrics, a beautiful melody, and beguiling simplicity. Add in a tinge of melancholy to keep everything coloured a weaker shade of blue and chances are I’ll like it.

This album (Descended From Vultures) received generally mixed reviews. While I think it’s terrific, I can see where some people could find fault with it. There’s something about the enjoyment of this record that seems fleeting to me. Though great, there isn’t a sense of timelessness to most of the songs; they seem rooted to the time and place that they were released.

Still, this particular track has a resonance with me that I think will endure. When Zach Rogue sings, “so screw California / and friends that are never there” it’s a moment that seems as memorable to me as any.

7. Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day


Speaking of timelessness, this is one for the ages. I’m not sure if there’s much I can add to the volume of accolades Sufjan Stevens received in 2005, so I’ll leave it at this: listen to this entire record in a quiet room with your headphones on. If I had to choose one album as the best of the year, Illinois would be it.

Choosing a single track off of this record was difficult, so I relied on iTunes to tell me which track was played the most this year, and Casimir Pulaski Day was the winner. But the entire album is stunning.

8. Josh Rouse - Streetlights


I’ve been a big fan of Josh Rouse ever since I first heard his first album Dressed up Like Nebraska back in 1998, and this year’s release of Nashville didn’t disappoint. In my opinion this is his most consistently solid release yet.

Rouse is one of the rare performers that manages to skirt the edge of the dreaded mainstream AOR sound without falling prey to its banality (*cough*JohnMayer*cough*), and Nashville is another affirmation of his agile songwriting skills.

So it was with much anticipation that I went to see him play at Lee’s Palace this year. Unfortunately, I found his live show to be solid but uninspired. There’s something about seeing an live show that basically serves up the recorded material with no surprises that kind of annoys me.

This was complicated further by Rouse’s stage presence, which was relegated to mostly closed eye crooning while swaying ever-so-slightly in one spot. I don’t expect bands to deviate wildly from their recorded material, but I do expect live shows to be more than just human jukeboxes replaying songs as perfect note-for-note renditions.

All of this said, it doesn’t take away from the greatness that is Nashville. This is one of those records that’s perfect for almost any mood, and as such I found myself playing it a lot this year.

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