Erick Elric's Best of 2005

No matter what "they" say, every year is a good year for music. Some elpees that I enjoyed and perhaps will always enjoy, even when bones are brittle and whiskey has no power:

Human Eye - s/t (In The Red) -Time machine punk. (Best of the past, best of the future.)
The King Khan and BBQ Show - s/t (Goner) - Instant classic, just add liquor.
USA is A Monster - 'Wohaw' (Load) - Striking ever deeper towards some sort of ancient American truth. Also, totally fucking awesome progpunk blending shit like Minutemen, Sun City Girls, Magma, Melvins, and Lightning Bolt.
A-Frames - 'Black Forest' (Sub Pop) - Revealing a few new shades of both light and dark, making fun of impending apocalypses or perhaps just our (my?) obsession with it, A-Frames keep on chuggin that death train. Airtight.
Gris Gris - 'For The Season' (Birdman) - Greg Ashley is a fine songwriter, a talented arranger, a keen-eared producer, and a hell of a loud-ass guitarist. His band rules. Greg is quickly building one of the finest catalogs in the Western Rock World.
Roue' - 'Upward Heroic Motive' (Exit Stencil) - Local faves, powerhouse moves, sincere motives, fun dudes. Fusing finest moments of Sonic Youth, Unwound, Trail of Dead, Drive Like Jehu, but exploding them out in whole new patterns. Capable of vicious fury and elegant psychedelic noise.
Black Lips - 'Let It Bloom' (In The Red) - Yields two of my personal songs o' the year: "Boomerang" and "Not a Problem," total killers. Overall, very nicely done and full of stuff to chew on. Time Flys - 'Fly' (Birdman) - Just fucking fun, right? Great catchy songs, perfect rough, but clear production, nice playing. I can't believe how much their hair was talked about. The songs hold up as well as any, and better than most.
Country Teasers - 'Live Album' (In The Red) - A very Fall-style live LP, with chopped up bits and weird reverses of songs, plunging you headlong into a dizzying headache of mutant rock. "Was I at this show?" you ask. Of course. We all were. It's still goin on, right now, can't you hear it...?
Six Organs of Admittance - 'School of the Flower' (Drag City) - Not even my favorite by Mr. Ben Chasny, but certainly a fine distillation of his mesmerizing guitar-playing and distant, forlorn voice. Meditative, enveloping, it feels kinda womb-y. Bring in Chris Corsano on some traps and you've sold me.
Sightings - 'Arrived in Gold' (Load) - This might be last year. Black hole, but still rock somehow. Even fleeting moments of chromium funk. 'Drawings of Patient OT' Neubaten discovering its sexuality via intravenous use of cocaine. Not destructive, seductive.
Psychic Paramount - 'Gamelen From The Mink Supernatural' (No Quarter) - Gives me hope for the coming days. Hits sweet spots previously charted by Laddio Bolocko, Guru Guru, and Hovercraft. Completely blasting instrumental power trio abstract avant rock, for what has become the leading US label for such things.
Lightning Bolt - 'Hypermagic Mountain' (Load) - A bludgeoning of operatic proportions. Not necessarily my fave LB LP, but nobody does it better than these fools. Individual tracks will smash you silly like a giddy, newborn super-hero.
Times New Viking - 'Dig Yourself' (Siltbreeze) - Late entry, but liking it for sure. Crushing semi-heavy on this perfect encapsulation of all things that were good in indie rock circa '92-93: noisy, squalling guitars, simple but highly effective melodies, boy/girl "harmonizing," lo-fi, but boomy and powerful production (courtesy of golden oldie Mike Rep). Let's do the Time Warp again! It's great! And from Columbus, of course. Don't burn that city down quite yet.
These records also yanked my crank: Intelligence - 'Icky Baby' (In The Red), Tokyo Electron - s/t (Shattered), Animal Collective - 'Feels' (Fat Cat), Konono no.1 - 'Congatronics' (Ache), The Locust - 'Safety Second, Body Last' (ThreeOneG), Et Sans - some long French title (Alien8), Futureheads - s/t (some major), and probably more I'm forgetting...

Some 7"s that set mine ears alight:

Functional Blackouts - "Chemical Bath" (Wrench) - I could still go for a 10 minute version of "Chemical Bath," but I'll settle for this well-recorded noise-punk chaos. When they finally get into the riff it sounds bad-ass.
Final Solutions - "My Love is Disappointing" (Shattered) - These guys have become damn near top dogs with their take on jerky, neurotic post-ness. This one has 3 slices of perfect, spiky pop.
Tyrades - "On Your Video" (SmartGuy) - This band will last and their singles will last and this one matches their previous high points. They get swirly and ominous on the A-side, then bring it back home, cuts and all, on the flip.
Parts and Labor - "A Great Divide" (Cardboard) - A band that has never stopped evolving and has only grown more adept at balancing their twin obsessions with melody and noise. A sudden twist into anthemic Husker Du-crossed-with-Lightning Bolt (for some quick shorthand) territory and things seem strangely hopeful.
Catholic Boys - "Hurt To Hate" (Bancroft) - Was this this year? Ah well, I'm a bit late to the altar, but this band kicks ass. I dig the 50s rock getting beat up by 80s hardcore thing that they got goin.

But really, the best albums of every year are the reissues. Finally a chance to acquire much-loved records that I only had on cassette or CDR or, even worse, never could find or afford. Or were just never available. Things like:
The Ex - 'Singles. Period' (Touch and Go)...'Vancouver Complication' comp (Sudden Death)...Mirrors - 'A Green Dream' (Birdman)...Karate Party - 'Black Helicopter' (S-S)...Scritti Politti - 'Early' (Rough Trade)...The Fall - 'The Complete Peel Sessions' Box Set (Sanctary)...Dirtbombs - 'If You Don't Aleady Have a Look' (InThe Red)...George Brigman - 'Jungle Rot' (Solid/Bona Fide)...Black Time - 'Blackout' (InThe Red)...'No New York' comp (Universal/Lilith)...Reatards - 'Teenage Hate' (Goner)...Delta 5 - 'Singles and Sessions' (Kill Rock Stars)...Not to mention the remastering/issuing of albums by Stooges, Brian Eno, Can, and The Gun Club.

Ulitmately, though, music is best experienced live:
Tyrades, USA is A Monster, Roue', Black Lips, Fatal Flyin Guilloteens, Gris Gris, Hunches, Animal Collective, Get Hustle, Human Eye, We March, Federation X, Gogol Bordello, Lives of the Saints, Parts and Labor, King Khan and BBQ, Lives of the Saints, Green Milk From The Planet Orange, and The Mirrors were some of the best bands I saw in the last year. Chris Corsano (drums) and Paul Flaherty (sax) may have provided the most spellbinding performance I saw all year. I will say that I miss having bands play at my house. And now I must go earn some more bacon from the pigs. Out.