Steve Strange's Best of 2005

2005 was a great year for me musically speaking. I saw a lot of awesome shows, met a bunch of new rocker friends, saw my favorite band ever, and even started writing my own songs and playing in a band for the first time in my life. Yet, despite all of that, as the year came to a close I couldn't help but feel it had been a disappointing year for new music. I listened to and enjoyed music more over the past year than probably any year before, but most of what I was listening to was stuff recorded in years past. For some reason or another, most new records I heard in 2005 ended up getting put on the shelf after only a few listens. The things I listened to most were older records I hadn't gotten around to picking up before, like Elton Motello, a few Kinks LPs I was missing (most notably the incredible 'Schoolboys in Disgrace'), FU2, the (French) Dogs, Slade, Epicycle, the Dictators first LP, a couple Headcoats records I didn't have, (the Australian) X, the Shivvers, the Orbits, Little Richard, and the Archies. Over the course of the year, all of the bands I just mentioned made more of an impact on me than most contemporary releases. Or to put it another way, if I were to make a soundtrack for my life circa 2005, there would be a lot more old bands represented than bands that actually put records out this year. Nevertheless, when I look back, there were a good number of genuinely great records released this year that I think will hold up over time and be mentioned in the same league as the above bands.

There were only two singles in 2005 that stood out to me as being really, really fucking good, and those were the Busy Signals' single on Douchemaster and the Carbonas single on Shattered. Both are essential purchases, even for broke fuckers like me.

Without any further ado, here's a list of my favorite LPs of the past year, in no particular order:

Black Lips "Let it Bloom" LP/CD (In The Red)
Probably my favorite LP released in '05. So much better than their other records it's scary. "Dirty Hands" is fucking genius as are a good number of the other tunes on here.

A-Frames "Black Forest" LP/CD (Sub Pop)
I finally get what the A-Frames are all about. Wish I'd gotten on the bandwagon in time to score a vinyl copy of the first album. I'm absolutely bonkers over about half of this LP.

Time Flys "Fly" LP/CD (Birdman)
After being initially blown away by this record, I didn't end up playing it too much over the later half of '05. I put it on a few days ago, and it still holds up. Killer tunes, funny lyrics, and spot-on production. Yep you read that right: I just complimented something Greg Ashley did.

Ponys "Celebration Castle" LP/CD (In The Red)
I thought this was chock full of good songs and a marked improvement over their first LP. I'm really surprised this record didn't get talked about more than it did. Ian's songs on the first LP never really impressed me, but "I'm With You" is such a fucking good song.

Human Eye s/t LP/CD (In The Red)
I was very into this LP earlier this spring, but like the Time Flys, haven't listened to it much lately. The first side of this record is an absolute monster, and the second half has a few drop dead killer cuts on it. I could do with out "Age" and "Chew Raw Meat", but everything else is totally tits. Way better than the Clone Defects.

Buff Medways "Medway Wheelers" LP/CD (Damaged Goods)
I'd say it's safe to say this is the best Childish related record to come out in quite a long time. Billy's take on mod meshed surprisingly well with the usual Medway sound. A few tunes on here, like the title cut and "22 Weeks" stand up there with the best of the Headcoats and Caesars stuff. If you haven't checked in on what Childish has been up to in awhile, I strongly suggest picking this up.

Reigning Sound "Home For Orphans" LP/CD (Sympathy)
Going on about Greg Cartwright's songwriting prowess is definitely belaboring the obvious, but let me just say that I listened to this LP of RS comp tracks, singles, and cast-offs as much as anything else this year. Greg is one of the only people active in today's underground rnr scene capable of writing genuinely touching songs without coming off corny or trite. Totally essential stuff here.

King Khan & BBQ Show s/t LP/CD (Goner)
What more can I say about this record that hasn't already been said? Rock n roll the way it was meant to be: wild, sexy, stupid, and fun. Absolute fucking perfection. Mark's voice is only getting better with age, as is his and Khan's songwriting.

Fevers "Love Always Wins" LP/CD (Alien Snatch)
"Love Always Wins" is a fantastic pop record. Tunes like the title cut and "Photobooth" were stuck in my mind many a time this past spring.

The Intelligence "Icky Baby" LP/CD (In the Red)
I thought I hated this band. I thought wrong. This is a really good album, and a number of the tunes are outright killer like "Tropical Struggle" and "This is a Gift." I've got it on good authority from Richard Adventure that Lars = Total Fucking Rocker, and even though I don't know the guy personally, after this LP I'm beginning to think RFA is right.

Epicycle "Teenage Suicide" LP (Rave Up)
Yeah I know this was a reissue, but this was by far my favorite record that came out all year. You can keep your KBDestruction, I'll take total retarded teenage pop godhead like this any day of the week.

I saw a lot of great shows in 2005, much too many to go into any detailed analysis, but some of the highlights were:

Portrait of the Artist with a Hack Rock Journalist - Billy Childish live @ Grumpys, St Paul, Minnesota
- Human Eye, Reigning Sound, Bad Times, and a whole lot more @ the Blackout
- Feelers and Krunchies @ the Ice Factory, Chicago, Illinois
- Carbonas and Baseball Furies @ Delilah's, Chicago, Illinois
- Catholic Boys and A-Frames @ Richard Fucking Adventure's wedding reception, Dundas, Wisconsin. (One of the funnest shows ever. Lots of wind was hawked, pitchers of beer drunk, and fried foods consumed. Plus I got to see RFA sing with the A-Frames. What could be better than that?)
- Marked Men @ Triple Rock, Minneapolis
- TEEN FUCKING GENERATE @ Southpaw, Brooklyn, New York and @ Maxwell's, Hoboken, New Jersey. (For the record, the best show I've ever had the privilege of seeing.)
- BBQ and the Black Lips @ Turf Club, St Paul, Minnesota. (Incidentally,my as-yet-unnamed band's first show.)
- Black Lips @ Some Club I Didn't Catch the Name Of, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Bottles were flying everywhere. The stage was covered in broken glass. I got headbutted from behind by Coppens a few times. It was great.)
- Raspberries @ Some Outdoor Festival Deal, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- Nightwatch (or whatever they were called) @ Some Bar That Is Open Till 4 AM, Chicago, Illinois.

So far the only band I've seen in 2006 was the Night Train Express @ Big E's in Minneapolis, MN. To call it a life-changing experience would be putting it mildly.

That's it. I'm moving to Japan (hopefully Tokyo) this March, so I might not get a chance to see most of the above bands again for a long time, if ever again. I'm really glad I at least got a chance to see all of them while I was here, plus meet a lot of great new friends like Todd & Eli from my band, all of the people I made friends with at the Blackout, Dot Dash, and my trips to Wisconsin, getting to meet a lot of TBers in person for the first time, and last but not by any means least meeting my tag team partner Richard Fucking Adventure. He is a rocker beyond compare. All in all, this year was a fucking blast.

Steve Strange
1115 Paul Parkway #102
Minneapolis, MN 55434