Wednesday, 21 December 2005

2005: A Year in Music [Part 1: Overview]

With only a week and a half to go, one can almost smell the new year just around the corner.

In true Wireless Cranium tradition, it's time to unveil a retrospective look at the year that was. But unlike last year's post, I'm going to drip feed it to you Stylus Magazine style. Builds up the tension better that way. And it will be easier to consume smaller posts rather than a mammoth one.

So here's a quick schedule of my next 6 posts (including this one).

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Top 10 songs of the year
Part 3: Albums that didn't make the cut (honourable mentions, jury's out, disappointments)
Part 4: Top 10 albums of the year
Part 5: Musical discoveries of the year
Part 6: Re-evaluation of 2004 list

Part 1: Overview

2005 was an excellent year for new music releases, easily the best since 2002. The fact that I'm saying this while it is still 2005 is quite important. Very often, I won't realise how good a year is until it has passed. It often takes me a few years to catch up to the year that was.

From my vantage point, 2005 is already great. And this is coming from someone who has purchased 180 CDs this year. That averages out to almost 4 albums per week. Lots of music to consume. Very difficult to give the 2005 albums time in the rotation and give them a fair go. Thankfully, the iPod has made this much easier. Which leads me into the next paragraph...

2005 was also the year of the iPod for me. It seems a bit odd to be saying this, since I only acquired it in November. Nowadays I can listen to whatever music I want whenever I want (well...except in the car because I haven't got my iTrip yet. But it's on the way!) So now when Pete emails me and says How good is this excellent obscure Joy Division track? I don't need to say to him I'll let you know tomorrow. I can listen to it there and then. Yes Pete, it's a choice cut I will reply.

So what made 2005 so great? Well firstly, there were no major disappointments. There were some minor ones which I will get to in future posts. But there were no albums like Badly Drawn Boy's One plus one is one that made me think that an artist or band had completely lost the plot. But simply having no disappointments does not make a year great. It's great releases which make a year great. And 2005 had no shortage of great albums. Many artists and bands who had only hinted at their greatness on previous releases really pulled through this year.

On the gig front, I got to see many of my favourite bands. There were the Go-Betweens, Teenage Fanclub and Oasis (for the 3rd time) gigs in the latter half of the year. The Whitlams gig was a nice freebie, as was Pete's RocKwiz teammate Glenn Tilbrook. There may have been a few gigs earlier in the year, but for the life of me I can't remember what and when they were :-( Good thing I have my blog postings to remind me about gigs now!

In 2004, the announcement that Brian Wilson was going to finally release SMiLE had fans salivating in anticipation. In 2005 it was Kate Bush's Aerial (her first release in 12 years) that had the fans sitting on the edge of their seats. 12 years between albums? That's a seriously long time between drinks. I guess she (kinda) made up for it by releasing a double album. Did it live up to its expectations? Did the hype machine kill this album? Did the hype machine kill any other albums? You'll have to watch this space.

See you in the funny pages!


  1. Jiggs, I believe the JoyDiv track I was referring to was Decades, from Closer. What a song!
    On the music front, this year has seen a continuation of my switch to AM radio, and few CDs purchased. But, I too have joined the iPod fraternity, and I must agree that those gigs we've seen have all been fantastic. The Fannies especially, but it was also a thrill to see Liam and Noel in the flesh.
    Looking forward to the rest of your 2005 posts!

  2. Yes, I do remember that the song was Decades and I agree it's a great song. Incredible swansong closer, obviously taking on a more eerie quality because it was the last song on their album before Ian Curtis hung himself.

    Wouldn't that be a good list - final vocal performance on final album of an artist who committed suicide (or died in unnatural circumstances)?

    Some examples:

    Joy Division - Decades

    Whitlams - If I only had a brain (eerily appropriate)

    Crowded House - Skin feeling (yeah...I know it was over 10 years later)

    Elliott Smith - Can't make a sound (these songs titles could be considered premonitions)

    Nirvana - All apologies

    Nick Drake - From the morning

    INXS - Building bridges

    John Lennon - Dear Yoko

    ...and many more

    Anyway, I was surprised for you to say the Fannies especially, because I was under the impression that the Oasis gig was your favourite of the year.

  3. Well, I probably enjoyed the Oasis show slightly more, but for me the Fannies gig really got me into them. I liked them before it, but now I can't get enough. In fact, on my iPod top played song list, they occupy the top spot with Start Again, and have several more in the top 25. In fact, a good idea for a blog (perhaps in the new year) would be getting people to list their top 10 most played on their iPod, and the play count of each song...

  4. Since I've been mostly listening to albums on the iPod, the top 25 will probably consist of all the tracks of the album I have listened to most. Cause when it's on random it has a huge selection of tracks to choose from so it's unlikely that a track will repeat...


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