Picks 30 to 11


    [more:]30. Lightning Bolt: Hypermagic Mountain [Load]
    Recorded live on two tracks, Hypermagic Mountain is the most visceral and terrifying Lightning Bolt record to date. With mind-blowing artwork by drummer Brian Chippendale and actual liner notes (a Lightning Bolt first), this was a must-have record in 2005. ~Josiah Hughes
    “Captain Caveman” (MP3)

    29. My Morning Jacket: Z [ATO/RCA]
    By trimming thirty minutes off their standard record’s length, the members of My Morning Jacket have paradoxically managed to broaden their sound, cutting the fat to give us ten songs that jive, moon-walk and cock-rock in equal measure. ~John MacDonald
    “Off the Record” (Audio)

    28. Sean Price: Monkey Barz [Duckdown]
    One half of the now-defunct Heltah Skeltah, Sean P reintroduces himself with a record about being the brokest rapper alive. It stands out amongst the hip-hop’s bling generation based on content alone – don’t count on 50 rhyming about his “piece of shit truck smelling like vomit and ham” anytime soon – but dude raps his ass off on top of that, you fuckin’ onion-head bastids. ~Mike Krolak
    “Onionhead” (MP3)

    27. The Mountain Goats: The Sunset Tree [4AD]
    After fifteen years, forty releases and visits to (apparently) every city in the world, John Darnielle finally releases a cohesive record – a semiautobiographical road-trip journal of definitive beauty. Angst for the memories. ~Ian McCarthy
    “Dance Music” (Stream)

    26. The National: Alligator [Beggars Banquet]
    This Brooklyn band rolled out Alligator in April, exposing singer/epicenter Matt Berninger’s abstruse masculinity through a groveling vocal that scrabbles over rushing and crystalline guitars through thirteen songs tinted with a sadness and anxiety derived equally from a Midwestern simplicity and a New York City complexity. ~Adam Brent Houghtaling
    Audio/Video (Streams)

    25. DangerDoom: DangerDoom [Epitaph]
    While the rest of the indie hip-hop world raps about consciousness, relationships and politics, MF Doom prefers oddball wordplay (“sing a song of slap-happy crappiness/ he came to blow like it was strapped to his nappy chest”), non-sequiturs and shaggy-dog stories. DJ Danger Mouse is the perfect foil, wrapping Doom’s blunted flow in funky shag-carpet beats. And in a bizarre coup, the skits that feature characters from the Adult Swim Network never get tired. If there’s a loopier hip-hop album in existence, I don’t know if I could handle it. ~Etan Rosenbloom
    “Sofa King” (Stream)

    24. Spoon: Gimme Fiction [Merge]
    Dancing in the mirror or hypnotized with headphones, Gimme Fiction‘s attention to groove and pop sense is only outdone by its perfect simplicity. John Lennon would be so proud. ~Matt Liebowitz
    “Sister Jack” (Stream)

    23. Edan: Beauty and the Beat [Lewis]
    With Beauty and the Beat Edan’s built a whole new machine combining Brit mod-rock chops with Cold Chillin’-sounding raps. This is easily some of the most innovative use of samples you’ll hear all year, and if you can get over Edan’s over-accented delivery you’re in for a real treat. Either way, there is no denying the creativity behind this tightly wrapped package, from the cover art, to well-chosen guest appearances, to seamless segues between tracks. ~Bryan Whitefield
    “Fumbling Over Words that Rhyme” (MP3)

    22. LCD Soundsystem: LCD Soundsystem [DFA/Capitol]

     – Or I want James Murphy to be my father, and related stories ~Aaron Richter
    (Album stream)

    21. Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers [Drag City]
    With Stephen Malkmus on guitar, David Berman decides he’d like to rock. The negative multiplier of 2001’s somber and depressing Bright Flight. ~Jon Easley
    “How Can I Love You If You Won’t Lie Down?” (Video)

    20. 13 & God: 13 & God [Anticon/Alien Transistor]
    Destined to be incredible, this collaboration between the Notwist and Anticon’s Themselves was one of the most challenging of 2005. Without feeling contrived, the record combines indie rock and hip-hop unlike anything before it. ~Josiah Hughes
    “Men of Station” (MP3)

    19. Common: Be [Geffen]
    Okay, so there are songs on this album I listened to twice and never again, and I wish the two Dilla beats were more rugged (why “The Movement” was put on a video-game soundtrack instead of this album I’ll never know). But Common has a way of inspiring you and making his songs a part of your everyday life that is refreshing, especially coming from a hip-hop world obsessed with telling you about everything you’ll never have. Hip-hop got one of its favorite emcees back. Pretty much everyone I know bought this and bumped it everywhere they went this summer. ~Bryan Whitefield
    (Streaming audio)

    18. Sleater-Kinney: The Woods [Sub Pop]
    How to make a friend’s head explode in three easy steps: (1) Invite friend over, (2) place friend next to speakers with volume high and The Woods queued, and (3) press play so that “The Fox” can unleash its rock ‘n’ roll beast. A perfect album opener, this track sets the tone for Sleater-Kinney’s seventh full-length and first for Sub Pop. What should’ve sounded like a band growing older and easier on the ears with age is a record that rocks harder than anything in the veteran act’s catalogue. ~Austin L. Ray
    “Entertain” (MP3)

    17. Feist: Let It Die [Interscope]
    You love this. Your friends love this. Your parents love this. The old lady who lives next door loves this. Know why? It’s fucking gorgeous. ~Mike Krolak
    (Press kit)

    16. M.I.A.: Arular [XL/Beggars]
    I can’t remember the last time a record hooked me with such immediacy as Maya Arulpragasam’s proper debut did. I put the disc in my player with the speculation that only a jaded rock critic can summon and prepared myself to be underwhelmed. “What is all this nonsense about bananas?” I stammered as the first track sputtered away. Excellent beat, smile-inducing rhyme, rinse, repeat. By the time “Bingo” hit, I was grinding all up on myself and would’ve totally taken my dancing partner home for some sexy time if it weren’t for the fact that I was alone and in my apartment. But I digress. ~Austin L. Ray
    (Streaming audio)

    15. Stars: Set Yourself on Fire [Arts & Crafts]
    There are little musical ideas that pop in on Set Yourself on Fire and never return. Then there are items that pop in on these elaborately gorgeous songs that resonate for the album’s length, so that moments in “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” stay with each subsequent track, never failing to remind us in “Ageless Beauty” or “One More Night” that another listen is imperative: There isn’t a cymbal to be missed. Delicate, lush, flawless. ~Dominic Umile
    (Album stream)

    14. Bloc Party: Silent Alarm [Vice]

     Vox populi for topping 2005 best-of lists on both sides of the Atlantic, Silent Alarm buzzes and whips with the energy of a downed power line without ever losing focus of precise melody. Guitars swell and stab, recalling the ricocheting shoegazer movement and the angular pulse of post-rock’s finest moments. ~Adam Brent Houghtaling
    “Banquet” (MP3)

    13. John Legend: Get Lifted [Sony Urban Music/Columbia]
    Released a few days before the new year, so it’s eligible for a Grammy this year. Quite simply, the best R&B record since Voodoo. ~Matthew Gasteier
    (Streaming audio)

    12. Ghislain Poirier: Breakupdown [Chocolate Industries]

     Poirier’s arrangement of laser squeals and stitched-together mini-symphonies is startlingly abrasive and shattering, even upon first listen. His technical prowess provided a fitting soundtrack for 2005. Christ, the techy, bleep-heavy beats on this album are dope. ~Dominic Umile
    (Streaming audio)

    11. Little Brother: The Minstrel Show [Atlantic]
    The closest 2005 came to a classic hip-hop record, the trio from North Carolina expresses the ever-growing frustration many have with the growing emphasis of materialism and sexism hip-hop, all in the key of that soulful post-Native Tongue boom-bap. ~Rafael Martinez
    (Album stream)

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