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John Paulsen music year in review, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand

2005: The year in review
by: John Paulsen

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Like the year before, 2005 was a good year for rock. There were a number of highly anticipated albums that lived up to the hype, several good debuts, and a few veteran bands released breakthrough records. Thanks to the internet, I see the music business transforming from a push system (big record labels marketing what they feel will sell) to a pull system (consumers picking and choosing with more information, better access and greater variety). MySpace.com has become a powerful marketing tool for established artists as well as up and coming bands, while music blogs and podcasts are quickly becoming the new word of mouth. It’s never been easier to find good music.

So here’s what I found.


1. The White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan (V2)
With the versatility on display on Satan, Jack & Meg get the nod over Franz Ferdinand. From bluegrass (“Little Ghost”) to metal (“Blue Orchid”) to pop/rock (“My Doorbell”) the duo covers just about every base and, even more impressively, somehow makes it all work.

2. Franz Ferdinand: You Could Have It So Much Better (Sony)
The Scots’ sophomore effort is a bit more complex than their debut, but just as good. It’s mostly dance-rock, but there are a couple of fine ballads as well. Every song is strong, which is rare these days.

Beck: "It’s nice to have a happy Beck back."

3. Beck: Guero (Interscope)
After the intimate and somber Sea Change, Beck came back strong with Guero, which is a solid collection of upbeat rock tracks. “Girl” is one of the best songs of the year and “E-Pro,” “Hell Yes” and “Que Onda Guero” aren’t too far behind. It’s nice to have a happy Beck back.

4. Spoon: Gimme Fiction (Merge)
Though “I Turn My Camera On” didn’t make as big of a dent as “Float On,” Fiction is Spoon’s version of Good News For People Who Like Bad News. That is, they just might be this year’s Modest Mouse – a hard-working band, finally getting their due. Exploring the lower frequencies like none of their contemporaries, this Austin band hit home runs with “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” and “They Never Got You.”

5. Kaiser Chiefs: Employment (Universal)
The best debut of the year, Employment is packed with catchy, aggressive songs, including “I Predict a Riot” and “Everyday I Love You Less and Less.” The English lads also show some versatility on the Clash-esque “What Did I Ever Give You.”

6. The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema (Matador)
Another album that is solid throughout, Cinema took me completely by surprise. Featuring energetic, up-tempo and melodious rock, Twin Cinema is a damn good album, highlighted by “Use It,” “Sing Me Spanish Techno” and the disc’s title track.

7. Hard-Fi: Stars of CCTV (Atlantic/Necessary)
Another British band obviously influenced by The Clash, Hard-Fi is a group to watch. Stars is a solid album (“Better Do Better” and “Tied Up Too Tight” are highlights) but you should also check out Cash Machine EP, which includes “Sick of it All” and a great cover of “Seven Nation Army.”

8. Hot Hot Heat: Elevator (Sire)
Like Franz Ferdinand, the Canadian quartet’s sophomore effort is a bit more complex than their terrific debut, but the album doesn’t really suffer. The highlight: a three-song set on the back half – “Island of the Honest Man,” “Middle of Nowhere” and “Dirty Mouth.”

9. Louis XIV: The Best Little Secrets Are Kept (Atlantic/Pineapple)
Secrets falters a bit towards the end, but the first seven tracks range from good to great. “Finding Out True Love Is Blind” got most of the play, but the title track, “Illegal Tender” and “Pledge of Allegiance” are worth listening to. Also, find “Marc” – it’s a surprisingly intimate ballad from the Illegal Tender EP.

10. Caesars: Paper Tigers (Astralwerks)
After a name change (from Caesar’s Palace), they broke through with the catchy (yet slightly annoying) iPod diddy “Jerk It Out,” but it turns out that these Swedes can really put together a good album. The second to last track, “Soulchaser” is the best song on the disc and one of my Top 10 songs of the year. Of the thirteen tracks on the disc, there are only a couple of clunkers.

Very Honorable Mention:


Kings of Leon: Aha Shake Heartbreak (RCA)

I received this disc in late 2004 and had it mislabeled as a release from that year. Then I saw it on someone else’s list and, well…you get the picture. Like their debut, Heartbreak doesn’t really have a single that would reel the masses in via rock radio (though “The Bucket” and “King of the Rodeo” come close), but it is chock full of good songs. Other highlights include the slower “Milk” and “Day Old Blue,” but really, the whole album is solid. Had I labeled it correctly, it would have landed somewhere around #4.


1. Beck: "Girl"
2. Aqueduct: "Hardcore Days and Softcore Nights"
3. The White Stripes: "My Doorbell"
4. The Bravery: "Public Service Announcement"
5. Gorillaz: "Feel Good Inc."
6. The Decemberists: "16 Military Wives"
7. Weezer: "Beverly Hills"
8. The Bravery: "An Honest Mistake"
9. Caesars: "Soulchaser"
10. Spoon: "The Beast And Dragon, Adored"
11. The Hold Steady: "Your Little Hoodrat Friend"
12. The New Pornographers: "Use It"
13. She Wants Revenge: "Broken Promises For Broken Hearts"
14. Franz Ferdinand: "What You Meant"
15. Ben Lee: "Catch My Disease"
16. British Sea Power: "To Go To Sleep"
17. Spoon: "They Never Got You"
18. Franz Ferdinand: "Do You Want To"
19. Aqueduct: "Growing Up With GNR"
20. Hard-Fi: "Sick Of It All"
21. Louis XIV: "Finding Out True Love Is Blind"
22. The Willowz: "What's Wrong Is Right"
23. The New Pornographers: "Twin Cinema"
24. The White Stripes: "Take, Take, Take"
25. The Eels: "Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)"
26. Black Mountain: "No Satisfaction"
27. Kaiser Chiefs: "I Predict A Riot"
28. The Arcade Fire: "Cold Wind"
29. She Wants Revenge: "Sister"
30. Nada Surf: "Blankest Year"


Band with the Best New Sound:
The Hold Steady

Best New Song That Fans of Classic Rock Would Like:
The Tom Collins: “Back of Your Mind”

Songs Most Likely to Bring a Tear to a Glass Eye:
Flunk: “Play”
Bright Eyes: “First Day of My Life”
Bloc Party: “Blue Light”
Fruit Bats: “TV Waves”

Best Album from 2004 that I didn’t hear until 2005:
Dogs Die In Hot Cars: Please Describe Yourself

Best Songs from 2004 that I didn’t hear until 2005:
Mando Diao: “Jeanette”
Sia: “Breathe Me”

Best New Songs by some Old Farts (relatively speaking):
Ric Ocasek: “I’m Thinking”
Rolling Stones: “Rain Fall Down”

Special thanks to Epic for finally releasing this song:
Fiona Apple: “Extraordinary Machine”

Do my musical tastes line up with yours? Feel free to drop me a line at jpaulsen@bullz-eye.com and recommend a song.






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