The Best Music of 2005

All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen counts down listener picks for the 10 best CDs of 2005, with NPR music reviewers Will Hermes, Tom Moon and Meredith Ochs. They also share some of their own favorites from the year and take calls from listeners. This program originally webcast live on NPR.org Dec. 16, 2005.

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The Best Music of 2005

Extraordinary Machine

Extraordinary Machine

  • Artist: Fiona Apple
  • Album: Extraordinary Machine
  • Song: Extraordinary Machine

"Because she is an incredible poet, period. She can express what so many women feel in relationships so eloquently and the music is so beautifully written that the feeling inevitably permeates; and, like the best artists, she is getting better with time." - Grace

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  • "Extraordinary Machine"
  • Album: Extraordinary Machine
  • Artist: Fiona Apple
 
Takk

Glósóli

  • Artist: Sigur Ros
  • Album: Takk
  • Song: Glósóli

"Maybe an obvious choice but quite a deserving one as well. The feeling brought about from this entire album is one I had never felt before and it returns with every listen. I find it hard not to feel some sort of strong emotion when playing ANY of Sigur Ros' music, but this album was by far the most captivating. They may not think that they are absolutely amazing (as is shown time and time again in interviews with the band members) but I will readily admit to being that wide-eyed fan in the audience: mesmerized, intrigued, and nearly in tears." - Alea

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  • "Glósóli"
  • Album: Takk
  • Artist: Sigur Ros
 
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

  • Artist: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • Album: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • Song: The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is epitomized by the tumbling, sometimes liquid contorsions of the vocals. The music follows in kind, forming a sound routed in the melodicism of pop, but that reflects the fractured and claustrophobic mood of early-Talking Heads. This music tumbles forward, but it is always on its toes and it always delivers a slanted hook. - Chris

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  • "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"
  • Album: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • Artist: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
 
Gimme Fiction

I Turn My Camera On

  • Artist: Spoon
  • Album: Gimme Fiction [Bonus CD]
  • Song: I Turn My Camera On

"Popular music tends to sound the same in times when formulas start wearing off. It is starting to happen with alternarive rock, all we hear nowadays are washed out versions of Green Day. Spoon comes with a fresh sound, exploring different styles and witty lyrics." - Louis

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  • "I Turn My Camera On"
  • Album: Gimme Fiction
  • Artist: Spoon
  • Label: Merge
 
Z

Wordless Chorus

  • Artist: My Morning Jacket
  • Album: Z
  • Song: Wordless Chorus

The My Morning Jacket record is a masterpiece. I'm haunted by these songs, which have penetrated by consciousness like no others since Beck's Sea Change. The disc is jarringly beautiful. And it grooves and rocks, too. And thanks to All Songs Considered for the 9:30 Club broadcast of their October show. I couldn't make it to the concert, but listened live and was blown away. - Jeremy

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  • "Wordless Chorus"
  • Album: Z
  • Artist: My Morning Jacket
 
Picaresque

6 Military Wives

  • Artist: The Decemberists
  • Album: Picaresque
  • Song: 6 Military Wives

This album was such a breath of fresh air. It was seemly different from anything I've ever heard. It was very well composed, and inovative. I was completly blown away by what I was hearing the first time I listend to this album. Truely amazing! - Timothy

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  • "6 Military Wives"
  • Album: Picaresque
  • Artist: The Decemberists
  • Label: Kill Rock Stars
 
Get Behind Me Satan

My Doorbell

  • Artist: The White Stripes
  • Album: Get Behind Me Satan
  • Song: My Doorbell

"This record) felt like an ecosystem's edges -- fecund, violent places where life is sophisticated and smart and opportunistic. (It) seemed to straddle times, and genres, and ideas. I like the music I hear to feel like the ripply edge where sheet metal sharpens when it is torn in two. That's what this music sounds like." - Whit

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  • "My Doorbell"
  • Album: Get Behind Me Satan
  • Artist: The White Stripes
  • Label: V2
 
Plans

Marching Bands of Manhattan

  • Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
  • Album: Plans
  • Song: Marching Bands of Manhattan

"Plans is an album that I mention because it truly is a very well "planned" and pleasant album. I had not given Death Cab For Cutie much attention as they seemed to be the flavor of the week at one point this year. However, a careful listen to this album had me carrying those mental images and hooky harmonies with me constantly. I was a person haunted." - Michael

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  • "Marching Bands of Manhattan"
  • Album: Plans
  • Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
  • Label: Atlantic
 
I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Road to Joy

  • Artist: Bright Eyes
  • Album: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
  • Song: Road to Joy

"Verbose young Nebraska boy, hailed by many as the new Dylan, arrives in the Village, does drugs, meets beautiful people, gets drunk, attends protest rally, and writes country-folk album about his experiences with Emmylou Harris singing back up. How could it not be in the top 5?" - Hannah

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  • "Road to Joy"
  • Album: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
  • Artist: Bright Eyes
 
Illinois

Chicago

  • Artist: Sufjan Stevens
  • Album: Illinois
  • Song: Chicago

"Sufjan Stevens new album isn't just this year's best album, it's the best album to come out in several years. In an era when most of the music we hear is derivative of eras past, it's not just a relief to hear something as fresh as "Come on and Feel the Illinoise," it's downright extraordinary. Sufjan Stevens' sound is his alone. Add his ambition (the 50 albums for 50 states project is unlike anything in the history of music) to his sincerity and lyrical ingenuity and it's no wonder he's produced an entire album's worth of songs that send shivers up the spines of all different kinds of music lovers around the world." - Kyle

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  • "Chicago"
  • Album: Illinois
  • Artist: Sufjan Stevens
  • Label: Asthmatic Kitty
 

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