Summary for the lazy: 2005 wasn’t a great year for interesting new music, but there were a few gems in there. I also found out that some artists I’d heard of, but never listened to, are very good.
Also of note is that I seem to have become a grumpy old man in my early 20s.
Being people who are relatively new, in that they may not have first appeared in 2005, whom I first heard of this year
1. Bloc Party (Silent Alarm) — this album came out in February, and still gets a reasonable level of playing time. Unlike the other bands who came to my attention during this time — The Bravery and the Kaiser Chiefs come to mind as bands best forgotten – Bloc Party are still worth listening to. I look forward to their next album.
2. Patrick Wolf — I first heard of Patrick Wolf when I was in Holland for Lowlands. My friend Dirk recommended that we take a listen to this singer/songwriter, and it was well worth our time. We saw him live at Lowlands too, one of the highlights of the festival this year.
3. Editors — Another band recommended by Dirk. They remind me of Interpol and Joy Division, and have produced an album that is a good listen, if a bit samey.
4. Diefenbach (Run, Trip, Fall) — My flatmate Tom and I saw this band supporting Mylo. I bought their album at the gig. I’ve long since stopped listening to Mylo, but Diefenbach still get regular outings on the drive to work.
Patrick Wolf — I first heard of Patrick Wolf when I was in Holland for Lowlands. My friend Dirk recommended that we take a listen to this singer/songwriter, and it was well worth our time. We saw him live at Lowlands too, one of the highlights of the festival this year.
Diefenbach (Run, Trip, Fall) — My flatmate Tom and I saw this band supporting Mylo. I bought their album at the gig. I’ve long since stopped listening to Mylo, but Diefenbach still get regular outings on the drive to work.
Old but New
Being great bands who I knew existed prior to 2005, but I had not listened to their music before. Some of these are somewhat surprising.
1. Nick Cave — a favourite of my girlfriend, she drew me into Nick Cave. It took a while for me to truly love the guy, but once you’re there, it’s great. Each song is a story, inventive and engaging and rewarding repeated listening as you see more depth in the lyrics each time.
2. The Cure — yes, many of the songs were familiar, but I’d never bought an album and taken time to listen to the songs. Far better than I imagined.
3. The Clash — I bought London Calling on a whim in Fopp and was surprised to find an album that was quite so plain enjoyable to listen to.
And others I’ve found: DJ Shadow, Portishead.
Being bands and singers that are popular this year; however, how they managed it with such lack of originality, talent, song writing skills or a combination of all three makes me feel sad.
- Arctic Monkeys — here’s one I really don’t get. These guys apparently got popular via their website — rather than big label pushing — and had a number one song before I’d even heard any more than their name. Later, I heard their song a few times in clubs; I thought it was nothing special. Last night, however, I heard their number one song for the first time on the radio. I’m aghast at how these guys have managed to be so popular. The song was dire; uninteresting and uninspired. An exercise in how you don’t need a record company to over-hype you.
- Kaiser Chiefs — somewhat fun the first song around, but the album was boring and I don’t understand the appeal any more.
- James Blunt — monotonic drivel, yet number one for a large amount of time in the album chart. I’ve apparently heard three different songs by the guy, I’m not sure as they all sounded identical to me.
- Magic Numbers — see Arctic Monkeys; more uninspired clap trap that has somehow weaned itself into peoples’ affections.
In no particular order, other music-related things that sadden me: X-Factor and other reality TV singing rubbish, Will Young, new Hip Hop, yet more uninspired dance music, most FM radio stations, most other popular music.
Here’s to 2006 being an improvement!