8. Deerhunter - Cryptograms / Fluorescent Gray
You just knew an Atlanta band would have to show up somewhere in the list--and this year I didn't have to stretch even. This year saw Deerhunter release a fantastic full length CD, Cryptograms, as well as a very underrated EP, Fluorescent Gray, which essentially represents a third side to Cryptograms, evoking the traditional LP structure. It's been an eventful year for Deerhunter, including garnering critical acclaim and suffering an armed robbery (in my own neighborhood no less). Never straightforward, the tracks on Cryptograms veer from ambient interludes that served to separate the most disparate tracks to seamlessly move into songs that are both addictive while challenging to the listener. Not to mention, this album may have one of the best covers of the year.
7. Radiohead - In Rainbows
I have a confession to make. I've never really understood the whole fascination with Radiohead. Don't get me wrong, The Bends and OK Computer are both fantastic albums that I totally appreciate, but that I've never been able to love. So this may be a surprise entrant, even though many critics probably have this as their top album of the year. So with this entry, that old impasse may finally have been broached with In Rainbows. I love this album. I can't get its songs out of my head after listening, something I've never been able to say before. Equally interesting is how Radiohead saw fit to deliver this album, as a pay-as-much-as-you-want download from their website. I have no idea how much money they actually received per copy on average, but we know that money goes directly to the artists, not some set of suits, and anything that turns the RIAA on its ear gets kudos from me.
6. Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
When talking about Explosions in the Sky, I must first give a considerable tip of the cap to Dilettante in Distress, who first alerted me to this incredible Austin band. Listening to All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is equally evocative of the wide, desolate landscapes of Texas (her words again) as it is of a mundane train commute to work. What the band lacks in lyrics is more than made up by inspired instrumentation and haunting sounds. More often than not at work, I find myself playing this album to metaphorically get outside and wander around.
5. The National - Boxer
The last we heard from The National, there were landing at the number 2 spot on my 2005 list with Alligator. So, what's changed since then? Very little in terms of quality. In fact, I've seen Boxer listed more often at the top spot across the music blogs than probably any other album. That's not to say Matt Berninger and company didn't evolve. Boxer is a much more introspective album than Alligator, and the sound suits them. They eschew the harder edged rockers that I found so distinctive on Alligator ("Mr. November, "Abel") for a much quieter sound that paints a vivid picture of the malaise of 21st century life (though much differently than Bloc Party's Weekend in the City or The Good the Bad and the Queen approach a similar subject).
Next up, albums 2, 3, and 4.
NP: "Joyless, Joyless" - Minus Story