2005 was a big year for me. I graduated from high school and started my first year of college. I got my first girlfriend and even wrecked my car for the first time (and not the last.) Throughout those events, music was a constant. I spent my teenage years in a rural area, so driving down country roads blasting music with the windows down was a regular occurrence. While 2005 was a milestone year as far as life achievements go, it also was the year that I truly began to expand my musical tastes to include more extreme and experimental forms of music.
Over the last few months, I listened to nearly 400 different albums. I didn’t always finish the ones I didn’t like, but I made myself give them a fair chance. I discovered quite a few records that I had never heard before and I highly recommend forcing yourself to listen to music outside of your usual wheel house-you never know where you will discover your new favorite band.
As always, I used Rate Your Music, Discogs, Wikipedia, and Spotify to compile this list. So if there are any mistakes or albums you think I missed, feel free to let us know in the comments.
25. Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
If it weren’t for my friend Matt, I probably would have never become a Coheed and Cambria fan. I had heard them a few years earlier on a Warped Tour comp and thought they had some catchy melodies but I couldn’t get into Claudio’s voice. In college, my friend would listen to them nearly every time I was in the car with him but it would be a few more years before I truly gave them a listen. After breaking up with my then fiance–I spent an entire week listening to Saves the Day’s Through Being Cool and Coheed and Cambria’s first two albums non-stop. By the end of that week I was a full fledged emo fan, a genre that I had spent years making fun of.
Good Apollo…Vol. One is the band’s third album and their most successful to date. While I don’t love it nearly as much as their previous records–The Second Stage Turbine Blade and In Keeping Secrets–it still has some of the best Coheed songs ever written. The album starts off with two introductory tracks, the instrumental “Keeping the Blade” and the acoustic “Always & Never”. Things don’t really get going until track three, “Welcome Home”, the biggest hit Coheed and Cambria have ever seen and a staple of their live show. “Ten Speed (of God’s Blood and Burial)” and “The Suffering” are the two best cuts from the album, but there honestly are not any bad songs. The only complaint I have about the record are the four seven plus minute songs at the end of the album, which finds the band at their proggy-est.
I suppose I should mention the sci-fi element to the lyrics, but I have honestly never paid attention to the story so I can’t tell you what’s going on. C&C have become one of my all time favorite bands, and I’ve been a fan of nearly everything they’ve released even the oddly produced Year of the Black Rainbow and the over thought Afterman double album. Good Apollo…Vol. One remains a high watermark for the band and rightfully cemented the band’s legacy.
24. Suffering and the Hideous Thieves – Ashamed
I’m a massive Ninety Pound Wuss fan. The raw and passionate vocals from front man Jeff Suffering incite a reaction like too few singers. So naturally it has taken me ten years after their last album to give Suffering and the Hideous Thieves a proper listen. I had heard snippets of songs over time and they always seemed so bizarre, lending to my listening hesitation. Turns out, this was a huge mistake.
Ashamed was the third and final full length from this Seattle collective who are a hard band to nail down. The band’s punk roots are most obvious with Suffering vocals, and the final three tracks sound like they would have fit right at home on an emo album. The first half of Ashamed contains an odd blend of alt.-country, traditional folk music, indie rock, and classic hymns. Beautiful violin and piano work add to the melancholic mood of this record overall. The Hideous Thieves have been compared to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but the similarities are purely cosmetic. For example, “I Will Always Find a Way” is set to a waltz beat and is followed by “Don’t You Stop Believing” a completely a cappella track with a hint of Sacred Harp singing, and then “As You Like It” is a sparse math rock track reminiscent of Slint or Rodan.
After Ashamed, Jeff Suffering left the band to focus on his family as well as his work at the controversial Mars Hill Church(which he would later leave). The Hideous Thieves wrote an album without him, completely without guitars but it was never officially released until this year when it was put up on bandcamp.
23. REDS – Is:Means
My love of the Revolution Summer sound knows no bounds. If your band is compared to Rites of Spring, Embrace, or Moss Icon–it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will at least give it a listen and I’ll probably like it. The core side of, Emocore later evolved into screamo that the genre never really bounced back from. REDS were a screamo band from New York that sounded like the perfect blend of those two sounds. I don’t know much about this band, and the little bit of research I did led me to another phenomenal screamo band called The Fiction which featured members of Saetia.
Is:Means was the band’s only release besides a three song demo and is so good that they probably didn’t need to say anything else. “Things I Meant to Say” and “The Blind Believe” are just two blistering tracks out of the ten found here,but really there isn’t a missed shot here. The rhythm section is nothing to be trifled with, especially Randy D’Amico’s bass. Vocalist Evan Kilgore’s shouts never dip into the screechy end of the spectrum, leaving those elements to the guitars by Dima Drjuchin.
REDS were a little known band, who made a little known album but the world is better because of them. I’m just here to spread the gospel of Is:Means; an album by another band among the echelon of bands who released one record and called it quits.
22. Transistor Transistor – Erase All Names and Likeness
For those unfamiliar with Transistor Transistor, they were a New Hampshire screamo band featuring members of Bucket Full of Teeth, Orchid, Wolves, Versoma, and Trap Them. With a pedigree that strong, it’s no surprise this album is as great as it is. What transpires on Erase All Names and Likeness is a masterclass of the genre. TT played on the harder end of the genre but also dabbled in experimental moments that bring to mind Converge’s You Fail Me.
I did not become familiar with Transistor Transistor until their final album, Ruined Lives, in 2008, but it didn’t take me long to discover this impressive record. I’ve enjoyed screamo for a while now, but have always gravitated towards the oddities-the bands who don’t fall into the usual “here’s some pretty soft parts/now here’s the heavy part with screaming.” Transistor Transistor’s angular guitars clash with beefy riffs to create a cacophony of savage beauty.
To wrap this entry up, I’ll just leave you with my favorite line from the song “Transistor Transistor vs. Everyone”. “God bless you Mr. Dylan for the mess that I’ve got myself in. Just bury me in the van, I’ll never fall in love again.”
21. Starflyer 59 – Talking Voice Vs. Singing Voice
Jason Martin has been releasing albums under the Starflyer 59 moniker since 1993. In that time, he’s released 13 full lengths, a multitude of EPs and singles, not to mention his myriad of side projects. What started as a My Bloody Valentine rip-off evolved into a phenomenal catalog of songs ranging from Brit pop to alt. country, back to shoegaze.
Talking Voice Vs. Singing Voice was the ninth SF59 album and saw Mr. Martin playing with elements of dream pop and new wave. Joining him this time around is frequent collaborator Frank Lenz (Fold Zandura) and Dirk Lemmenes (Focused, Stavesacre) as well as a number of string accompaniments.
Starflyer 59 spent years on Tooth & Nail Records, often overlooked and under-promoted, which is possibly the reason the band never gets the attention they deserve. Oddly enough though, they were recently name dropped in an NPR review of the new Deafheaven album New Bermuda, so maybe they will begin to garner more recognition. It is also worth mentioning that Jason is still at it with a new album in the works.
20. The Bomb – Indecision
Any self respecting punk should already be familiar with Jeff Pezzati. Famous for his “whoa-oh’s”, Pezzati was the lead singer of the seminal punk band Naked Raygun-who released their final album in 1990. Nine long years later The Bomb was formed along with members of The Methadones, Noise By Numbers, and The Story So Far and released their first EP.
Indecision is the second full length and easily one of the best punk albums of 2005. The melodies on this record are just incredible. Pezzati’s trademark vocals make nearly every song instantly easy to sing-along to. Recorded by the equally legendary J. Robbins, Indecision was released on Thick Records on CD. It’s possible not many people heard this record on it’s initial release, but thanks to multiple reissues on vinyl by No Idea Records the album will hopefully live on in our hearts and minds.
19. Latterman – No Matter Where We Go..!
2005 was an odd year for punk rock. Screamo, hardcore, and metalcore were dominating the scene while indie rock continued towards mainstream success. Punk had seen a boom in the earlier part of the decade but by 2005 a lot of big names had broken up and most of the bigger bands today had not formed yet. Sure, Fallout Boy, Paramore, and Panic at the Disco all released albums that year but they were closer to pop than punk. Alkaline Trio released Crimson to very mixed reviews. Propagandhi practically became a metal act. Looking at their impact today, it’s pretty obvious that the two most important punk albums of 2005 were Against Me!’s Searching for a Former Clarity and this record from a little Long Island band that inspired an entire generation of punks today.
Community centered songs about sexism, racism, homophobia and other important social issues were surrounded and uplifted by hooky guitars and tremendously catchy vocals. The duel vocals of Matt Canino and Phil Douglas were like magic, not unlike Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard before them. The music is so insanely upbeat, I’m bobbing my head as I’m writing this and not singing along is impossible. A few years ago it almost became a joke how many bands sounded like Latterman, but there is no denying how original they really were.
18. I Hate Myself – 3 Songs
I Hate Myself was a three piece band from Gainesville, FL comprised of brothers Jim and Jon Marburger on guitar and drums and bassist Steve Jin. Known for their bizarre lyrics as much as their brilliant blending of emo and screamo, among debates as to whether they were a joke band or not. The Marburger brothers decided to end I Hate Myself not long after their sole full length to start Burnman, but got together to record this little EP in 2005.
Released as a single sided LP on No Idea Records, 3 Songs is one of the bands strongest outings in their all too brief discography. Instead of bringing the bands original bassist back in or finding a new player, Jon decided to perform the bass duties alongside his drumming. The resulting sound on 3 Songs is some of the warmest production the band ever achieved, making it quite depressing that they broke up again immediately to form Die Hoffnung. “Roy Sullivan, by Lightning Loved” and “Roy on the Make” are probably two of the best I Hate Myself songs ever recorded, with final track “The Lightning Says” consisting of the brothers singing “I love you” for over two minutes.
The Marburger brothers reunited most recently in 2010 to perform a pre-Fest show which bums me out so much that I missed. No Idea has been promising a complete discography reissue since 2005 but it is yet to materializ. Being a fan of this band is quite frustrating.
17. Extol – The Blueprint Dives
Out of all the records on this list, The Blueprint Dives is one of the only two albums I actually listened to in 2005. One day I decided to check out the local Family Christian Bookstore to see if there was anything new that I wanted to check out. Browsing through the shelves not finding anything I was particularly excited for, I saw this album on display. I had no idea that Extol had even released anything since Synergy, even more to my surprise I had stumbled upon this record the very day it was released. Back in 2005 my access to the internet was slightly limited still having dial-up meant I didn’t get to listen to much music online. I learned about new music from HM, a Christian magazine that focused on heavier music, but it was on a bi-monthly schedule so if something came out during an off month then it was possible there would not be an interview or even an ad for it until the next issue came out.
Extol was already a pretty important band to me. They had become well known as a band who changed their sound on every release to tackle whatever sub-genre of extreme metal was on their mind. On Burial they offered a weird take on black metal, Undeceived pushed closer to death metal, and Synergy was straight thrash. So it was a huge mystery as to what The Blueprint Dives was going to sound like. What I heard was something way more melodic than Extol had ever released before. Clean singing dominated the album with only the occasional shouted vocals similar to their thrash material. Tracks like “Pearl” and “Gloriana” were entirely sung without even a single growl. Initial reviews compared this album to prog-metal giants Opeth and those influences can be heard but the biggest reason for their change of sound was the band’s lineup. After the exit of longtime guitarists Christer Espevoll and Ole Børud; lead singer Peter Espevoll and drummer David Husvik decided to recruit their band mates from their garage rock side project, Ganglion.
The album became one of their biggest successes, earning them a nomination for a Spellemannprisen (Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy) for best metal album. Over time it’s even become my favorite album in their catalog. The band disappeared for a very long time after this album, but reunited in 2013 to release a new album. They also recently put out a documentary about their long and varied career.
16. Cursed – Two
What needs to be said about Cursed? Chris Colohan is beloved in the hardcore scene thanks to his time fronting bands like Left For Dead, The Swarm, and Burning Love. While the band was fairly successful while they were active, they really didn’t become quite so influential until they broke up. If you go to nearly any hardcore blog today, half of the comparisons will be to Cursed, Botch, and Engineer. The buzzsaw twin guitars combined with a killer rhythm section and Colohan’s ferocious vocals were intense, and their use of black metal and sludge techniques made them unique for the time.
Two is full of some of the bands biggest songs. “Head of the Baptist”, “Clocked In, Punched Out”, and “Hell Comes Home” are all excellent tracks, and throw in the bands iconic “he-goat” on the album cover, and we’re looking at an instant classic here. While I don’t believe the album is as incredible as their first record, it still stands the test of time and clearly defined a place for Cursed in the history of hardcore.
15. Clockcleaner – Nevermind
Philly noise rock trio, Clockleaner were known for their antagonistic stage antics as much as their recorded output. Fronted by the intense John Sharkey III, Nevermind was named as a sarcastic jab at Nirvana’s breakthrough album. They were often compared to other noise rock groups like The Jesus Lizard, Big Black, and Flipper but Clockcleaner always struck me as more abrasive.
Nevermind was supposedly recorded while Sharkey was suffering from a case of bi-lateral amnesia after a serious car accident. The album is a mess of reverb drenched shrieking guitars and howling vocals while the rhythm section brings to mind later Black Flag albums like Slip it In and Loose Nut. The lineup for this album mostly consisted of just Sharkey and drummer Richie Charles Jr. The band wouldn’t gain a full time bassist until the album was released.
Harsh and off putting would be the best words to describe this album. Clockcleaner are not a band for everyone, but I’m constantly amazed by how great this album is, and is a marked improvement from their debut The Hassler.
14. The Evens – The Evens
Ian MacKaye is a man who needs little introduction. Minor Threat and Fugazi are two of the most important bands to every come out of the punk and hardcore scene. That’s why it’s such a surprise to me how overlooked The Evens are. Joining Ian is his wife Amy Farina who is known for her time in The Warmers, an equally underrated band that featured Ian’s brother Alec (The Faith, Ignition).
This self-titled debut consists entirely of Amy on drums and Ian on a baritone guitar with both providing vocals. While this is comes across as a sort of acoustic project, no song ever borders on repetition. The choice of baritone guitar gives the band a completely unique sound. Every aspect of this album is incredibly dynamic, the drums and guitar each playing creative rhythms.The Evens are a protest band of sorts, reminiscent of the 60’s folk movement. Scathing indictments of the government, big businesses, and social issues are the bands modus operandi.
This album easily stands up to MacKaye’s work in his previous bands, and any self respecting punk should be listening to it.
13. Requiem – Storm Heaven
If you have ever considered yourself a fan of the legendary anarchist metalcore band Catharsis and never listened to Requiem, you need to immediately stop what you are doing and listen to this record. Storm Heaven is the logical continuation of Passion and Arsonists Prayer, and a crust masterpiece.
Featuring several members of Catharsis, Requiem were a very short lived band and only ever released this one album. I hesitate to use the term “epic” to describe Storm Heaven, due to the cheesy reputation that word has, but there is almost no other way to put it. Intense male and female vocals are combined with a style of guitar playing unlike any other in crust. The album also includes gorgeous violins and a drum corp. finale.
Haunting, powerful, operatic, and downright crushing. It is a crying shame that Requiem never put out anymore music. I cannot recommend this album more highly.
12. British Sea Power – Open Season
If you couldn’t tell by their name, British Sea Power are an indie band from the United Kingdom. As an American, I’m not entirely sure how popular BSP really are. I assume that because of the amount of albums they’ve released including scores to a few different films, that they do quite well. In the US, they seem to sell a fair amount of albums but many times I see their records in discount and used bins in record stores. In fact, I don’t know very many people in my circle of friends who have even listened to them.
Whatever their fanbase, BSP are easily one of my favorite bands (or should I say “favourite”.) I distinctly remember stumbling across them on the heyday of Blogspot, where there were thousands of blogs providing download links to any record you could possibly want. They were initially described as part of the Joy Division inspired wave of indie bands that dominated England at the time, though I never felt that was an entirely apt description.
Open Season was the band’s second full length album and saw the band softening their sound a little. BSP play a style of indie rock that could be compared to the Arcade Fire, though I have always found them far more enjoyable. Vocalist, Yan also reminds me slightly of David Bowie’s softer songs. I can’t name a track on this album that I don’t like, but the standouts are probably “Be Gone”, “Please Stand Up”, and “The Land Beyond”.
Who knows if they ever plan on playing the states again, but until that day I will hope to see them play live.
11. Arab Strap – The Last Romance
After ten years and six full lengths, Scotland’s favorite melancholic duo decided to call it quits after the release of The Last Romance. Though there was no animosity between Aidan Moffat and Malcom Middleton, the two felt that the time had come to lay Arab Strap to rest.
Arab Strap were known as early pioneers of slowcore but, the band’s swan song found the group moving in a poppier direction. Despite the usual lyrics of sexual encounters, drug use, and heavy drinking, these songs manage to sound more up beat than their earlier material. This record has elements often compared to fellow Scottish band, Mogwai, but does include a handful of Arab Strap’s trademark acoustic songs.
Since the band’s breakup, Middleton and Moffat have each stayed busy releasing albums fairly often. Moffat has said that the band will likely never record a new album, but may collaborate again in the future under a different name. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a potential reunion, though I’m not going to get my hopes up.
10. The Aquabats! – Charge!!
“Now, stand back! For your own safety!” Thus begins the fourth and possibly best album from everyone’s favorite superhero rock band. Charge!! was released six years after The Aquabats! Vs. the Floating Eye of Death! and it’s easily their strongest material to date.
After dropping most of their ska elements on their previous album in favor of synth heavy pop punk, this album was the triumphant return of The Aquabats! Slimmed down to only five members. Every song is incredibly catchy and a ton of fun to sing along to, especially “Nerd Alert!”, “Look at Me (I’m a Winner)!”, lead single “Fashion Zombies!”
It would be another six years before the next Aquabats! album would be released. In that time the band focused on touring and the creation of “The Aquabats! Super Show!”, a kids show starring the band as themselves. Front man, MC Bat Commander, also known as Christian Jacobs also created and developed the Nick Jr. show Yo Gabba Gabba!
9. Paul Baribeau – Paul Baribeau
Folk punk can be a tricky genre; if done poorly, you wind up with obnoxious crusties with acoustic guitars singing about trains. Alternately you get things like Ghost Mice and Defiance, Ohio, whom I do not personally enjoy but have their own steady following. On the positive side, the genre produced Andrew Jackson Jihad, Pat the Bunny, Mischief Brew and This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb. Fortunately Paul Baribeau falls on the better side of the folk punk genre without any of it’s corniest trappings.
I would almost argue that this self-titled is even punk at all if not for his steady, fast palm heavy chugging. Consisting of fourteen tracks of nothing but Paul’s scruffy yet sincere voice and simplistic acoustic guitar, the songs feel more like straight forward folk. Heartbreak seems to be the main theme of the record, with a few upbeat love songs that have lyrics that that border on cutesy but Baribeau’s golden voice saves them from going overboard. It’s rare that an album with such stripped down production can be as good as this one, but more so it is a testament to the strength of Baribeau’s songwriting.
8. The Bruce Lee Band – Beautiful World
Mike Park is a legend in the ska/punk scene. Not only has he been running Asian Man Records and releasing albums from the likes of Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, and Lemuria since the mid-90’s; he’s also been in legendary bands such as Skankin’ Pickle and The Chinkees.
The B. Lee Band as they are alternately known, began releasing albums in 1995 and featured members from Rx Bandits and Less Than Jake. They played a form of third-wave ska that took major influences from 80’s two-tone bands like The Specials. Ten years after their debut Park and company released Beautiful World.
This six song EP may be short, but it includes some of the strongest songs in Park’s lengthy career. Some of the albums highlights are the organ heavy “Last Words in the Morning”, “Forward and Back” and my personal favorite “Running Out of Time”. Unfortunately it took another ten years for the Bruce Lee Band to release another album, 2014’s brilliant one-two punch of Community Support Group and Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend.
7. Earth – Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method
Out of all the records on this list, Hex may be the most important album to my musical development. Before I had been introduced to Earth, my musical taste focused primarily on bad Christian metalcore with some remnants of nu-metal. This album opened the doors for so many different kinds of music. Dylan Carlson and crew were active during the early 90’s and were responsible for pioneering drone metal and huge influences on Sunn O))) and slew of other bands that appeared in the mid-00s.
Hex was the first album released by Earth after a lengthy hiatus and instead of yet another pure drone album, they wrote an incredible nine track album of Ennio Morricone inspired country western drone songs. This was a huge departure in sound for Earth, and it paid off becoming one of their most critically acclaimed albums.
I don’t listen to much drone these days due to me not really having the patience for twenty minute songs consisting of nothing but feedback; but Hex is an album that I can put on at anytime and still be amazed by these gorgeous songs.
6. Amateur Party – Sounds and Halls to House Them
Amateur Party are one of the most underrated bands in punk rock. Fronted by Mike McKee formerly of Kill the Man Who Questions and founding member of Armalite with Atom Goren and Dan Yemin-both of whom have garnered more attention. McKee is joined here by members of Off Minor, Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack, Limpwrist, and Saetia.
Sounds and Halls to House Them was the bands first EP and is made up of six fantastic tracks. Their sound is hard to nail down, seeming to take influence from Fugazi and other DC bands. Jangly guitars, McKee’s shouted vocals, funky basslines, and random horn playing are set to political lyrics inspired by McKee’s time in the Philadelphia scene make them the closest thing we have gotten to the Minutemen since fIREHOSE.
I’ve adored this band for a few years now, loving every album as much as the last. They’v sporadically released albums over time with their most recent being a digital single in 2013. They’ve never been a very active band, but this album is truly a hidden punk rock gem.
5. Lucero – Nobody’s Darlings
Nobody’s Darlings was Lucero’s fourth album, and after Tennessee and That Much Further West, these Memphis boys decided to kick things up a notch. While this record feature a lot of songs that fit in with the bands usual melancholic tone, they decided to inject a little more energy into the mix.
“Watch it Burn” and “Anjalee” are two raucous tunes that set the mood for the rest of the record and along with a few other tracks they are some of the most upbeat the band has ever written. What makes this album especially powerful though are the handful of songs–“Sixteen”, “Bikeriders” and especially “The War”–that have become staples of their live show.
I’ll admit that I was a little late to the game when it came to Lucero. I’d heard a few songs through a friend, but I wouldn’t get into them until a few years later. It’s only by going through their catalog that I discovered this particular record. While it’s not my favorite, it’s easily in the bands top five releases.
4. Brakes – Give Blood
Brakes or as they’re known in the states, Brakesbrakesbrakes, are a UK band featuring Eamon Hamilton who played keyboards in British Sea Power for three years. I discovered this band during my time working in one of those big box retail bookstores with a music department. One of the cool things about this particular department was the listening stations that allowed you to look up pretty much anything you wanted. Of course they only played thirty second teasers of songs but that was usually enough to get a taste of what a band sounded like. So while trailing through the similar artists listed under British Sea Power I saw this bands name and gave them a listen.
Give Blood was Brakes first full length album and is a style of indie rock that one wouldn’t expect from a British band. It often seems like Brakes go out of their way to distinguish themselves from their peers. A number of songs have a bit of an alt. country vibe even going as far as covering the Johnny Cash song “Jackson”. The album’s biggest hit is “All Night Disco Party” which is strange considering how no other song on the album sounds like it. Of course you can’t talk about Brakes without mentioning “Cheney”, “Pick Up the Phone”, and “Hi How Are You?”-three super short and very loud tracks that are over and done in under a minute.
There is just something about Eamon Hamilton’s voice that pulls me in. He can sound gruff one second, then as smooth as can be the next, and all while maintaining his natural accent.This is an album that I’ve come to hundreds of times over the years and I will probably continue to do so.
3. Portastatic – Bright Ideas
My freshmen year of college, I decided that I was going to join the school news paper and I especially wanted to write music reviews. Once I got the position, I went online and looked for any shows happening that week. I didn’t see any names that I recognized so I picked one that was happening at a venue a friend recommended. The show was Portastatic and Tenement Halls two bands that I had never heard of before. I asked some friends to go with me but no one could. My then girlfriend was also going to see a pre- Four Thieves Gone Avett Brothers, but it was a 21+ show and I couldn’t get in. I got to the venue and the show is running behind which made me nervous because I had to pick my girlfriend up whenever her show was over and I thought that she would be waiting for me and since this was before texting I wouldn’t know for sure. So I watched all of Tenement Halls’ set and probably four or five Portastatic songs before I left. Turns out that her show was no where near finished and I was so irritated I made her leave her show early too.
Years later I was shocked to discover that Portastatic was a side project from Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan. Bright Ideas was Portastatic’s fifth album and their first recorded in a full studio instead of their earlier 4-track approach. McCaughan’s non-Superchunk music never sounds that far off from his main band’s work though this album features a little bit of acoustic instrumentation and some electronic accouterments.
I regret not understanding what I was seeing that night ten years ago. I did write that article about the show, and I remember complaining about the lead singers voice. Oh the follies of youth.
2. Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This to Memory
This is a perfect record. It’s also the only record by Motion City Soundtrack that I actually like. In fact I’ve talked to few people who feel the exact same way about this album. So how is it a band can make one perfect record and then never release anything that comes close to being half as good?
I can’t name a single bad song on this album. “Attractive Today”, “Everything is Alright”, “Feel Like Rain”, “Make Out Kids”, “L.G. FUAD” are easily some of the greatest pop punk/emo songs ever recorded. Infectious melodies, crossed with choppy guitars, and a sprinkling of keys, come together like the follow up to Get Up Kids’ Something to Write Home About that we didn’t get with On a Wire.
This is one of my all time favorite albums and an instant classic. So what could take the number one spot for 2005?
1. Bear Vs. Shark – Terrorhawk
Bear Vs. motherfucking Shark. Of course this is the number one album of 2005. Have you heard this thing? This is some next level shit. BVS levels mountaintops. If Commit This to Memory was perfect, then Terrorhawk is is a goddamn masterpiece. “Catamaran”? C’mon son. “5, 6 Kids”? Can’t touch it. When I was putting together this list, Dylan asked me “So, Terrorhawk was the best album of 2005 right?” Fuck yes it was.
In fact I’m gonna let him tell you how good this album is:
(Dylan put your motherfucking rant here)
How crazy is this shit? How is music like this even possible? Who brings together Motown catchyness, off-kilter Fugazi power and intense weirdness of At the Drive-In? How much of a shame was it that this album came out amidst releases from Equal Vision scene fodder like Chiodos and Armor for Sleep? This album was being advertised next to stuff like 30 Seconds to Mars and Hawthorne Heights when I was trawling for music on Purevolume. I associated this album with some of the worst music to come out during my youth for years. How different would my life have been had I clicked on of those banner ads? This album broke my brain when I finally gave BVS a shot. It was like hearing Zen Arcade for the first time again! You don’t get moments like that often.
Marc Paffi sounds like a demon possessed Springsteen, like Bob Mould at his most heart-wrenching, like Ian Mackaye at his most frantic. There’s weird electronic blurps, saxophone honking, keyboards, blasts of feedback and grainy background scream therapy. Still it maintains focus, it isn’t just rampaging intensity, there are beautiful slow moments through out. “I Fucked Your Dad” has a sweet Clash-y melody and requisite dub effects and songs like “What a Horrible Night for a Curse,” “Baraga Embankment” and “Song About Old Roller Coaster” could go toe to toe with anything Cursive ever released while at times pushing out Neurosis’ slab-like but triumphant heaviness. Stripped of all the layers and little details you would still be left with meticulously crafted songs, wonderful but weird introspective lyrics, bouncing post-punk bass lines and the Brendan Canty-ist drumming this side of The Argument. “Sink your teeth in on the deep end of faith…”
See? What’d I tell you? Why haven’t you gone to listen to it yet?