Picks 10 to 1




    10. The Books: Lost and Safe [Tomlab]

     Listen to Lost and Safe at high volumes. Let it saturate your consciousness. Stop talking. Note how it seems more robotic than their previous albums. Note how it seems just as human as their previous albums. Think about what an achievement this is. Put “Smells Like Content” in the middle of every single mix you make this year. Wake up to this album every day. Go to sleep to it every night. If significant others do not enjoy it, dump them. Don’t explain why – they won’t understand. This album could be your life. ~Etan Rosenbloom
    (Album stream)

    9. Deerhoof: The Runners Four [Kill Rock Stars]

     A great drummer, a tiny singer and more fearlessness than most bands have. Deerhoof may be the Perfect Band. ~China Bialos
    “Wrong Time Capsule” (MP3)

    8. Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary [Sub Pop]

     “I’ll Believe in Anything” makes the case for best single of the year, but the songs surrounding it on Apologies to the Queen Mary are great in their own right: spastic and frenzied, melodic and tender, raucous and heavy; a debut album that already sets the bar. ~Matt Liebowitz

    7. Animal Collective: Feels [FatCat]

    Each release from these four seems to be more accessible than its predecessor, and Feels may be the perfect introduction to Animal Collective’s child-like logic and spastic tendencies. “Purple Bottle” has to be the group’s best yet. ~Kevin Dolak
    (Streaming audio)

    6. The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema [Matador]

     The Pornographers left their strict power-pop comfort zone for an amalgam of rhythms and moods, and it paid off big-time. The catchiest songs of the year, hands down. I could listen to this for days on end. Actually, I have. ~Mike Krolak
    (Streaming audio)

    5. Beanie Sigel: The B.Coming [Def Jam]

     Recorded prior to Beanie’s trial for attempted murder, The B.Coming paints a picture of a man boxed into utter hopelessness and staring down the face of barrel. Desperation and hunger drive Beanie to record the definitive album of his career and finally realize his potential. ~Rafael Martinez
    “Wanted (On the Run) feat. Cam’Ron” (MP3)

    4. Sufjan Stevens: Illinois [Asthmatic Kitty]

     Is it over-orchestrated? Frustratingly self-indulgent? Guilty of unbearably drawn out song titles? Absolutely, incontrovertibly brilliant? Yes, yes, yes, all of the above. ~Patrick Coffee
    “Casimir Pulaski Day” (MP3)

    3. Okkervil River: Black Sheep Boy [Jagjaguwar]

     If there were an award for most-improved band, it would go to Okkervil River. Expanding beyond the country-inflected sound of their first three albums, the band members show they know their way around a hook, too. Vocalist Will Sheff’s scrappy voice resonates pain better than pretty much anyone’s. Conor Oberst should take notes: This is how it’s done. ~Justin Sheppard
    “Black” (MP3)

    2. DJ Muggs vs. GZA: Grandmasters [Angeles]

     The best hip-hop record of the year is further proof that members of the Wu-Tang are making some of their best music while the rest of the world looks the other way. Close to perfect. ~Matthew Gasteier
    (Album stream)

    1. Andrew Bird: The Mysterious Production of Eggs [Righteous Babe]

     The Mysterious Production of Eggs is an album composed of tiny details: the way Bird’s whistling hangs in the background on “Sovay,” the elegant a cappella motet in “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left,” the subtle violin layering throughout. Though they could easily float by unnoticed, take one away and the album’s effect wouldn’t be the same. Bird’s songs are wildly unconventional, but they sound comfortable and eerily familiar. A lot of that is his voice, a flexible and world-weary croon with the same emotional depth as the album itself. ~Etan Rosenbloom
    (Album stream)

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