Oh, 2005 – what can you really say about such a great year? I mean, they all really have their own unique twist into the overall spectrum given the vast range and possibility of music. Personally, this one just seemed to be a week-in and week-out journey (every Tuesday) of new horizons and voyages ready to be taken on, head-on. So, after all that “whatever-speak,” enjoy, as always.
Jarrod Church’s #1 Album – All We Know is Falling by Paramore
I’ve scratched my head over this one for a long time, since, well, 2005 actually. Considering four of my top five albums of all-time came from this year, in particular, is both a gift and a curse (that’s a saying, right?). Nevertheless, I was staring at the unfortunate task of differentiating between the four. I had three others to think about – Kezia by Protest The Hero, Good Apollo Star I by Coheed and Cambria and Crimson by Alkaline Trio. Now that I feel a little better that I at least got to mention my predicament, let me tell you why Paramore‘s debut will forever staple itself in my mind as “Tops of 2005.” Aside from AWKIF being the basis for the first eight times I saw the band, the ten tracks were, simply put, raw. A young, fresh band, newly signed to the then “little” Fueled By Ramen label, with open eyes and open hearts, led by an eager teenage (early half, by the way) Hayley Williams – needless to say, they were ready to take on the world. And, although it took two more years and the release of 2007’s Riot (name-dropping, like a son-of-a-bitch) for the natives from Franklin, Tennessee to hit it big – well, they had already done that, long ago (two years, to be exact), in my eyes – and heart.
Jacob Testa’s #1 Album – Illinois by Sufjan Stevens
2005 was the first complete year that I was really starting to become interested in a lot of the types of music that I still listen to today, and yet, this album is somewhat of an outlier for me. From the lush orchestration and folky feel to the hushed vocals and sweeping dynamics, this record is stunning from open to close. I didn’t actually discover it until early 2006, when it had topped many best-of lists for the year prior and caught my attention by the sheer number of times I came across its title. Without previously hearing a note, I bought the album and gave it a listen. I haven’t looked at any album the same way since. For me, these songs were foreign and intriguing, and I knew I was hearing something truly special. From the majesty of “Chicago” to the secretive “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” to my personal favorite, “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!,” every little interlude and lengthy piece of song craft comes in its perfect place to create a vivid image of Illinois and its history. This record is my benchmark of quality for new music. I love all of Sufjan’s later work, but I would give so much for a return to this project (Pennsylvania, please!).
Zac Lomas’ #1 Album – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness by Coheed And Cambria
Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness is a lot to handle in name only, but clocking in at one hour, eleven minutes and thirty-eight seconds, Coheed and Cambria’s third studio album is also a lot for one set of ears to appreciate. Yet, the splendor of this album was still able to fascinate fans and those unfamiliar to the band’s previous work. With intricately crafted guitar solos and riffs, demonstrating once again that Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever may be the best one-two punch of guitar players in the first decade of the 21st century, the album catapulted Coheed into a prominence all their own. It not only featured the instant classic and ever-popular epic “Welcome Home” but other fan favorites such as “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)” and “The Willing Well” series. The searing shredding on this album is still stunning seven years later and will most likely remain as their seminal album featuring the original lineup. And who can forget that big red “IV” on the cover?
Landon Defever’s #1 Album – Oh No by OK Go
2005 was a crazy-good year for music. Seriously. When looking back at all of the phenomenal musical offerings, I immediately threw my arms in the air and almost gave up trying to narrow down my absolute best album. However, after careful deliberation, I ended up going with OK Go‘s second studio full-length Oh No. Though it wasn’t an easy choice, I knew that Oh No would have to be my #1 record. When the album came out, I remember being completely floored. It possessed an exciting punch of sex, energy and rock-and-roll all at once, and still holds its own well to this very date. Some people choose to remember OK Go for their revitalization of the modern music video, while others remember them as having to hear “Here It Goes Again” being played during every car and soda commercial imaginable. However, I choose to remember OK Go for Oh No, a collection of 13 truly rollicking tracks that remain just as awesome seven years later.
Corey Hoffmeyer’s #1 Album – Vheissu by Thrice
Not only one of the best albums of 2005, but of all-time, Thrice’s Vheissu is a testament to the band’s highly creative side. Of course, it began the band’s slow move away from the post-hardcore scene, but the album is still that perfect blend of new Thrice and old meeting almost directly in the middle of the musical spectrum. With some of my favorite Thrice songs of all-time present (“Of Dust And Nations,” “Red Sky,” and the still powerful “The Earth Will Shake”), Vheissu is easily one of my favorite albums ever produced, and remains the band’s magnum opus.
Tim Dodderidge’s #1 Album – Flyleaf by Flyleaf
It’s a bittersweet time to be a Flyleaf fan, with frontwoman Lacey Sturm leaving the band before the band’s most recent release, New Horizons. But that doesn’t diminish the connection I have to the band’s debut self-titled record. Sturm throws down her penchant for screaming in some of the more notable tracks, where rough, fluid guitar melodies bounce around her unique, oft-raspy vocals. The poetic, depthful lyricism describes Sturm’s venture from atheism to Christianity, and it’s far from sugar-coated. Much of this record is raw, and Sturm holds nothing inside. Raw emotions encapsulate “Sorrow” with feelings of sadness and a spark of optimism; “Fully Alive” and “Red Sam” surface past thoughts of suicide and depression. The palpable closer always brings a tear to my eye, where Sturm and guitarist Jared Hartmann harmonize in the chorus (“Choris romance says goodnight / close your eyes and I’ll close mine”). It’s these moments when I’m reminded of the faith I had when I first heard the album, and how much it’s grown since then. Thank you for the journey, Lacey.
Nick Niedzielski’s #1 Album – Commit This To Memory by Motion City Soundtrack
2005 was a loaded year as far as music releases go. The Academy Is…, Armor For Sleep, and Sufjan Stevens all put out some of my all-time favorite albums that year. But in the end, the choice was an easy one. Commit This To Memory is a perfect album. It effortlessly blends synth-pop and aggression, and Justin Pierre’s neurotic, often depressing lyrics add a darkness to the album that is contrasted by the sunny moog lines throughout. The album shows Motion City Soundtrack’s versatility, from more upbeat rockers like “Everything Is Alright,” “When You’re Around,” and “Make Out Kids” to more dynamic tracks like “L.G. FUAD” and “Together We’ll Ring In the New Year.” Closed out by two of the best songs the band has ever written, “Hangman” and “Hold Me Down,” Commit This To Memory shows the band perfectly finding their sound, building on their amazing debut I Am The Movie, and creating a classic.
Jason Gardner’s #1 Album – Kezia by Protest The Hero
As difficult as narrowing down a year might be, Protest the Hero‘s breakout full-length kind of made this year a little easier. It wasn’t enough that the band was displaying ridiculous musicianship or penning some truly memorable stuff this time around – they had to do it when they where almost entirely under the age of 21. From the wizardry of “Heretics & Killers” to trumping the metalcore boom with “Turn Soonest to the Sea,” this is a record that offers so much that it takes a near handful of listens to even take it all in. Even taking away the consideration that it laid the foundation for the band to take even bigger risks on their next two albums, Kezia stands as a high point in the metal scene as a youthful execution of both skill and passion in grand fashion.
Kaitlin Nichols’ #1 Album – Silent Alarm by Bloc Party
From the relentless guitar riffs and the percussive melodies of “Helicopter” to the repetitive energy and eerie vocals of “She’s Hearing Voices,” Silent Alarm takes no prisoners in this awesomely upbeat album from British rockers Bloc Party. Their debut album, Silent Alarm sets the tone for the successful career to come from this indie outfit. This album, in particular, was one of my favorites in high school and so I can’t help but give credit where credit is due. A noticeable theme throughout is the use of percussion, and quick tempos backed by a repetitive rhythm. This formula proves successful though, having produced a wonderfully energetic and cohesive album. With this album, Bloc Party has made a name for itself, differentiating from notable Brit-rockers like The Cure but erring on the side of the Scottish Franz Ferdinand and setting the bar high for other UK indie bands like Two Door Cinema Club and Bombay Bicycle Club. Silent Alarm is an indie dance-rock venture sprinkled with surf-punk that creates an infectiously catchy and manic tour de force. And did I mention how sexy British accents are?
Sebastian Fonseca’s #1 Album – Demon Days by Gorillaz
How do you follow up a debut so wild and over the top that it includes a hip-hop song inspired by the music of a Clint Eastwood western, only to be followed seven tracks later with a Cuban ballad sung by a member of Buena Vista Social Club? How do you find your own identity when your band’s image is four fictional misfits? If you’re Damon Albarn you take everything you’ve learned as a musician and icon and you apply it all at once. You can use De La Soul to write a massive hit single. You can enlist Bootie Brown of The Pharcyde for a powerful anti-war song. You can write the most ambiguous tearjerkers of your career. You can add a dance track with a British entertainment personality. You can employ legend Ike Turner for a chaotically soulful number. You can even end the record with a classically influenced piece. Gorillaz did all of this on Demon Days, and came out with the most inventive pop record of the 21st century.