Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Year That Was: 2005 - Part VI (5-1)

Note: The Toaster Talks will post the entire Top 100 songs and the Top 10 Albums of the Year tomorrow. These songs, as opposed to earlier songs on the list, will be available for download for a few weeks.

:: 5 ::

The Decemberists | “We Both Go Down Together” | Picaresque

There is hardly a lull on this masterpiece recording by our favorite literary indie rockers. From songs about maritime vengeance in the “belly of a whale” to slightly veiled digs at the war to romantic epics about treason and spies to this Romeo and Juliet-esque ode centers on what now might be criminal sexual assault (“You wept, but your soul was willing”?). It makes no difference which Meloy-penned track you choose - “We Both Go Down Together” just happens to be the Toaster’s favorite - this is the best album of the year.

Artist Site:
Buy Picaresque

:: 4 ::

The Mountain Goats | “Broom People” | The Sunset Tree

John Darnielle performs like a younger, much more cognizant (but equally as fragile and intense) Brian Wilson. His semi-autobiographical The Sunset Tree proves once again that every subsequent Mountain Goats release can be seen as an improvement on the last. There’s a refined aspect to the songwriting, the delivery of the vocals, the subject intensity (it’s an album about child abuse) that just wasn’t there on We Shall All Be Healed. The succinct passion that is front and center on “Broom People” leads the Toaster crew to deem Darnielle at least the singer-songwriter of the year - if not that of the post-Elliott Smith generation.

“Half-eaten gallons of ice cream in the freezer, fresh fuel for the sodium flares. I write down good reasons to freeze to death in my spiral-ring notebook. But in the long tresses of your hair, I am a babbling brook.”

Artist Site:
Buy The Sunset Tree

:: 3 ::

The New Pornographers | “Use It” | Twin Cinema

Bliss, we tell you. Fucking pop bliss. It’s also worth noting that the live show -- hell, just having A.C. Newman and Neko Case on neighboring mics -- is not to be missed.

Artist Site:
Buy Twin Cinema

:: 2 ::

Sufjan Stevens | “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is out to Get Us!” | Illinois

This marks Sufjan’s third appearance in the Top 30, a feat unparalleled for what not the album of the year (it’s a close second, docked by the wayward instrumentals and the fact that this is not the last song on the album - it’s a no-brainer!). “Predatory Wasp” is Sufjan’s lush arrangements, diary-like lyrics and staggered momentum at its absolute best - indeed, it’s a close second to the No. 1 song of the year.

Artist Site:
Buy Illinois

:: 1 ::

Devin Davis | “Giant Spiders" / "The Choir Invisible” | Lonely People of the World, Unite!

Anytime a song comes around that makes you sing along and love the world, no matter your mood, its importance cannot be overstated. To the Toaster, Devin Davis has made a perfect record on this one (especially when paired with “The Choir Invisible,” which acts as Giant Spiders Part II). It started out as the song of the summer, discovered - as so many songs are for me - by Bryan, who featured it on an impressive June compilation. It ended up soundtracking our favorite moments of the year - road trips, post-concert/party cool-downs, power hours, July 4th roof parties (note especially the fireworks in “Choir”) and oh-so-many sing-alongs.

“There’s a dirty sock in my hair; I don’t remember putting it there…”
“But if we’re curled up behind some thick, lead wall, we should be fine if we can survive the GIANT SPIDERS! No I won’t sit still til I’m upside-down in the back of your eyes. Lonely people of the world, unite!”

Artist Site:
Buy Lonely People of the World, Unite!

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