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Kingblind.com Top 15 albums of 2005 (#4 thru #1)

Well folks here it is… our final top 15 albums of 2005. From 38 writers in 8 countries we have tallied all the votes, crunched the numbers and POW… this is it… broken down into 3 groups (15 to 10. – 9 to 5. then 4 to 1.) Here is our list. And just in case you are wondering, the number 1 was a real bitch. We thought that a tie might be in order, however, we did finally decide on just ONE… Well enough talking.. ONTO THE LIST!!! (Notice the UK / USA split. Interesting. It just happened by chance.)
Number 4 thru Number 1 (The USA Vs. UK battle of the best!!)

1) The Hold Steady:: Seperation Sunday (New York City, NY)
The Hold Steady’s major players once called themselves Lifter Puller. This must be mentioned in the opening of every review of their work until the end of time, because every time the words “Lifter Puller” are uttered, a few hundred albums are sold. The group has that kind of limited but sterling reputation. Judging solely from Separation Sunday, they’ve earned it. This is the kind of album that comes around every year or two and convinces us that seventies-style rock is back with a vengeance. Writers somehow seem to miss the implication that if this breed of rock is “returning”, and doing so on a regular basis, it never really left us in the first place — but that’s really beside the point. It’s all bullshit anyway. And if there’s one thing Separation Sunday reminds us to do, it’s to always, always cut the bullshit. There’s a lot to say about Separation Sunday. There might be something to learn from contrasting The Hold Steady’s simple and occasionally minimalistic “rocking is awesome” formula with The Decemberists’ assertion that more is, in fact, more. The two groups have a few things in common. Craig Finn can’t even fake talent as a vocalist, but his lyrics are perfection, and his powerful, charismatic spoken/shouted delivery sells them. He doesn’t go out of his way to rhyme thesaurus words, but he does tell really good stories — mostly in the form of rough, charming character sketches that sound like honest factual reports or the kind of brilliant lies you launch across pool tables. He does a lot of talking about women, because women are awesome. That’s really the sort of explanation he’d probably give if you were dumb enough to ask. “Women are awesome.” Why does Separation Sunday include some really rocking guitar solos? Because guitar solos are awesome.
Picking a favorite song from Separation Sunday is like pulling teeth. The Hold Steady strike a beautiful balance between simple, sublime rock ‘n’ roll and the nuanced layering of sounds. From the classy female background singers to the organ breakdowns and piano flourishes, every song on the album is as weightless as it is propulsive, as addictive as it is satisfying. It’s tempting to get into specific songs one by one, but that isn’t necessary; if you’ve got any sense, you’ll be discovering them on your own soon enough. Besides, our mission now is to cut the bullshit. So let’s do that. Here are the facts: Separation Sunday stands a chance of being one of 2005’s true classics. You’ll listen to it for years. If you’re even vaguely open to the idea that classically styled rock could be exciting under any circumstances, you need this record.
Your Little Hood Rat Friend:: (MP3)
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2) Spoon:: Gimme Fiction (Austin, TX)
Gimme Fiction is Spoon’s loosest, most eclectic effort yet. While still sounding like themselves, the Austin-based band manages to evoke a number of other artists on their fifth full-length. (It’s a neat trick.) On proto-glam opener “The Beast and Dragon, Adored,” Britt Daniels channels the David Bowie of The Man Who Sold the World. Then there’s slinky jam “I Turn My Camera On,” where he conjures up Prince or Mick Jagger, circa “Miss You,” by singing in a higher register. As indicated by the title, “Sister Jack” sounds like early Who (i.e. “Happy Jack”), while “They Never Got You” sounds like Plastic Ono Band-era John Lennon. Do all these different styles hang together? For the most part: yes. After the triumph of Kill the Moonlight, Spoon could have easily rested on their laurels and issued another album just like it, but Gimme Fiction proves they would rather evolve than stagnate.. Their fifth full-length is nothing short of a dizzying, soulful masterpiece, easily the most expansive work in their career. “Gimme Fiction” is a sprawling, exhilarating, filler-free album of keenly focused artistic vision and ambition.
Sister Jack:: (MP3)
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3) Bloc Party:: Silent Alarm (London, UK)
Styled more along the lines of a revolutionary cell than a band, Bloc Party approach the medium of rock’n’roll with the sort of high seriousness usually reserved for philosophy lectures. Yet on Silent Alarm, this “autonomous unit” of smart, wiry London youth don’t just succeed in reinvigorating the artform–they come pretty close to reinventing it from the ground up. Whereas early singles like “She’s Hearing Voices” found the band still attempting to chisel their own image out of familiar post-punk reference points–The Fall, Joy Division, and Gang Of Four, to name but three–newer tracks such as “Like Eating Glass” and the prickly “Price Of Gas” find Bloc Party pioneering a freshly-minted template of staccato percussion, expansive soundscapes, and cryptic lyrics that artfully straddle the political and the personal. Russell Lissack has forsaken that overdone hallmark of post-punk, brittle tortured-fretboard skronk, in favor of an effects-laden guitar sound that adds genuine prettiness to Bloc Party’s edgy rush. But it’s Kele Okereke’s vocal that’s the band’s most flexible facet, morphing from frothing anger to breathless desperation. “Are you hoping for a miracle?” he bays, on “Helicopter”. Yes? Well Silent Alarm ably fits the bill.
Banquet:: (MP3)
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4) Kaiser Chiefs:: Employment (Leeds, UK)
The Kaiser Chiefs shamelessly rip off their heroes, copping the Clash’s political might for “I Predict a Riot,” Blur’s vision of cool Brittania on “Saturday Night” and Brian Wilson’s “Caroline, No” for, er, “Caroline, Yes.” But they do such a wonderful job, it’s hard to notice or even care. So just give in and start doing that ’80s bounce-dance thing to the band’s debut disc, already. Employment is thrilling from beginning to end, packing in 45-minutes of exuberant Britpop melodies, na-na-na choruses and buzzsaw guitars that make Franz Ferdinand look like a bunch of stiffs. These guys know how to work it–after all, it’s in the album’s title.
NA NA NA NAA:: (MP3)
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