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Well, another year has come and gone and like all music critics around the globe, the illustrious few at Hybrid Magazine have made their yearly lists of favorite albums that were released in 2005 (or thereabouts). So grab a cup of joe, kick back in the warm positively ionic glow of your computer monitor and have a read.

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bishop - music writer

bishop's top ten, I, er, mean top 7 of 2005 (You need to deserve to be in the top ten)
1) The Pixies - The Pixies Sell Out - 2004 Reunion Tour (DVD)
At the top of my list despite being a DVD because it is such an awesome collection of live Pixies material that still gives me goosebumps.
2) Dropsonic - Angels With Insect Wings
Jaw-dropping good album, that varies between extremes without overemphasis. Solid.
3) Lungfish - Feral Hymns
Lungfish continues to pump them out, some hit, some miss, this one more hit and makes me realize this band will exist forever.
4) History Invades - The Structure Of A Precise Fashion
Original, gripping and innovative while still accessible. Keep coming back to it every time.
5) The Evens - The Evens
While I would never wish Ian Mackaye to leave Fugazi, he continues to provide biting material anywhere he goes, and is balanced nicely by female counterpart Amy Farina.
6) So Many Dynamos - When I Explode
One of those that you either like or hate. I like it, I like it a lot.
7) The Black Eyes - Cough
Yeah I know this is probably a 2004 entry, but I didn't get around to picking it up until early this year. Despite breaking up, this band did leave an indelible mark in my conscience that was only furthered by this post-mortem release.

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Embo Blake - music writer

This year there was one record that I have listened to almost every day since receiving it for review. That record is Luka Bloom's Before Sleep Comes. For nearly seven months, this CD has lulled me to sleep on a nightly basis. If you love mellow acoustic music, or need the perfect record for sleepytime, I highly recommend this one. It will never leave your player. Now, on to the show...

These here are my favorite records of 2005, as far as I can remember…
1. Son Volt - Okemah And The Melody Of Riot
New line up, same great songwriting and energy. I don't know if I like it better than Jay Farrar's solo albums, but I like it real real good either way. Just good, solid rock and roll with the country edge.
2. Anders Parker - The Wounded Astronaut EP
I discovered this guy through Richard Buckner… I have since gone and found his entire catalog, including his old band Varnaline. Anders is an amazing songwriter, and he's got some cool friends.
3. Embrace - Out Of Nothing
This band is one of my favorites, and responsible for so much of the current Britpop crowd. This record builds on their sound, showing a band that continues to mature in both writing and performing.
4. House Of Love - Days Run Away
I was so psyched when I heard the original band was getting back together. And while this record isn't as great as we were all hoping, it is very good. Still making some fine Brit-rock.
5. Frog Holler - The High, Highs And The Low, Lows
My new favorite band! This Pennsylvania alt-country band knows exactly how to make electric guitars sound good, and then to drop them altogether for an acoustic moment of mandolin and fiddle.
6. Iron And Wine with Calexico - In The Reins
You can't beat either of these bands on their own, but together they are unstoppable. Great songs, great sounds, and a great vibe. Maybe this should be higher on my list…
7. Phosphorescent - Aw Come Aw Wry
This band (or whatever) makes great albums, putting the indie back into independent rock, but mixing up instruments and making a countrified sound go all awry.
8. Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
After all these years, the promise that critics were putting forth about this band years ago has finally come to fruition. This band is now worthy to be acclaimed. This record is one of the darkest and most beautiful records of the year. Tons of nie songs about death… just my style.
9. Say Hi To Your Mom - Ferocious Mopes
Eric Elbogen has created another little masterpiece of indie rock for the world. More catchy songs and quirky singing on some of the most hook-laden pop music of the year.
10. Goldrush - Ozona
I found out about this band when they were backing Mark Gardener (formerly of Ride) on tour. They also played as his band on his newest record, which maybe should have made my list… These boys play some really fine Brit-rock, stylized and pure.
11. Waco Brothers - Freedom And Weep
The greatest of indie alt-country bands returns with another sure fire hit. Some fantastic songs and the same quirky genius of Jon Langford and friends. Pure Rhythm and Country!

Embo's favorite shoegaze records of 2005:

1. The Curtain Society - Every Corner Of The Room
Even though the band has grown a bit more towards a rock sound, they remain rooted in the finest shoegaze traditions. Some very fine moments of Ride-like glory.
2. A Northern Chorus - Bitter Hands Resign
Just classic 'gazer music. If there hadn't been Curtain Society, this would have been number 1 by a long shot.
3. Silver Screen - The Greatest Story Never Told
Probably the best Slowdive record since Slowdive.
4. Sciflyer - The Age Of Lovely, Intimate Things
Even with the lack of real vocals, this album is destined to be considered a classic of the genre. These guys really know how to rock and make dense layers of sound come alive!
5. Boo Radleys - Find The Way Out
This B-sides and rarities compilation was meticulously chosen to really show quite a bit of the band's unique sound and ability. It's a must for anyone who didn't collect all fo the singles, or just wants to know more about this way underrated band.
6. Lanterna - Desert Ocean
Possibly the most beautiful shoegaze record of the decade thus far, Lanterna create lush soundscapes that are reminiscent of early Slowdive, but without vocals. It's great!
7. Tyko - A Long Way From One to Zero
A great Ride-style wall of noise band. Never heard it? You should! These folks know how to rock, keeping it noisy but well controlled.
8. Sigur Ros - Takk
Are they shoegazer? Not really, but I think I'm finally starting to understand a little bit of how this band works… kind of.

Favorite DVD releases 2005:
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Shoot The Neds: In Concert
Son Volt -Austin City Limits

Most anticipated releases of 2006
Richard Buckner, Beth Orton, Slowdive (re-issues with bonus tracks!), Charlatans U.K. (allegedly with a domestic release! Woohoo!)

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Gareth Bowles - music writer

2005 turned out to be an excellent year for music - new albums from established groups, a few hot newcomers, and some incredible comebacks from old favourites, some of whom I feared would never again record anything new.

The Bats - At the National Grid
The much-loved Bats finally resurfaced this year, having rewarded themselves for becoming the epitome of the New Zealand sound by taking a ten-year break. At the National Grid is a sublime comeback, ranging from the lovely, hushed strum of "Western Isles" to the droning "Horizon" and "Mir", balancing sparkling, memorable melodies with just the right touch of noise. A fine introduction for those who've never heard the band before, and worthy of standing alongside Silverbeet and Daddy's Highway for you fans.

Doves - Some Cities
Following on from two fantastic albums of "melancholic yearning" (thanks to my writing hero Jack Rabid for the phrase), these moody Brits came on somewhat more aggressive on Some Cities. From the fantastic opening one-two punch of the title track and "Black & White Town", the album never lets up the intensity, ranging from aggressive pounders like "Sky Starts Falling" to the beautiful, reflective "Snowden". Great live shows, too.

The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart
I loved the Go-Betweens' 80s albums so much that it would have been very hard for the reunited core of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan to re-ignite my passion with a new line-up, despite both singer/songwriters having released excellent solo albums in the interim. The previous reunion albums (2001's The Friends of Rachel Worth and 2003's Bright Yellow Bright Orange) fell short, but Oceans Apart is an almost complete return to form. Listen to McLennan's "Finding You" or Forster's "Darlinghurst Nights" and marvel at one of music's most empathic partnerships at the top of their form.

Teenage Fanclub - Man-Made
TFC have been the standard bearers for insanely tuneful power pop since the early 90s. Having started out as a tuneful mishmash of Big Star and Dinosaur Jr, they've gradually mellowed through recent albums to arrive closer to Byrds territory, even getting into the neighbourhood of Crosby, Stills and Nash. With three hugely talented singer/songwriters on board, a new TFC album is always a smorgasbord of delights; Gerry Love's tunes on Man-Made take a little longer to lodge themselves in your psyche than previous gems like "Star Sign" or "Sparky's Dream", but end up as addictive as ever, and Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley are as reliable and distinctive as ever.

Coldplay - X & Y
Chris Martin and company had left me somewhat, ahem, cold on previous albums, but X&Y made me a convert. It's an epic, atmospheric record that reveals new layers on each listen. I particularly love guitarist Jon Buckland's steal of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" as the theme of "Talk" (see my beloved Luna's version of "Neon Lights" for more proof that a man-machine song can sound fantastic no matter what instruments are used to render it), but nearly all the songs on X&Y convinced me to believe the Coldplay hype. Truly an album to immerse yourself in.

The House of Love - Days Run Away
This one wins this year's "Not Until Hell Freezes Over" award - main man Guy Chadwick and irreplacable guitarist Terry Bickers reunited for a set of new songs after an extremely acrimonious breakup during the recording of the second House of Love album. As soon as the duelling guitars of "Love You Too Much" roar into earshot, it's obvious that Days Run Away is a fine set that harks back to the group's incomparable first three records - unfortunately only available as a UK import, though.

Elbow - Leaders of the Free World
More Manchester (England) moodiness on Elbow's third album - they just keep on improving. Leaders of the Free World starts out just like the previous two records with a hypnotic, repetitive highlight that just keeps building - "Station Approach" could well be the best song on the album. But there's plenty more delights to be had within, making this possibly the group's best yet.

Engineers - Engineers
This is my new discovery of the year, and a beautiful record for relaxing or falling asleep to. Engineers make a swirling, romantic melange of shoegaze and space-rock, with a strong melodic influence that recalls the more orchestral Beach Boys work, or especially Dennis Wilson's solo Pacific Ocean Blue. Lovers of Slowdive, Spiritualized or the aforementioned Wilsons could do a lot worse than pick this one up - another record that I've returned to over and over this year.

Gang of Four - Return the Gift
One of the most influential bands in all of modern music returned in 2005 with by far the best live show I saw all year, in large part due to getting the original rhythm section of bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham back in the fold, and backed it up with this set of rerecorded highlights from their back catalog. A couple of points docked for not recording anything new - I'd have loved to at least hear more of the later songs (like this year's live standout "I Parade Myself") redone with the original lineup, as the originals suffered from lesser players and weedy production - but Allen, Burnham, singer / percussionist Jon King and guitarist Andy Gill's coruscating, jaw-dropping playing sound as amazing as ever.

British Sea Power - Open Season
Military uniforms and large stuffed birds on stage, singly-named band members, dreamy vocals and string-laden arrangements - can the 80s be back already ? Open Season follows on nicely from BSP's first album The Decline of British Sea Power with a beautiful set of songs that evoke a wistful, sunlit mood. This is a band that's making amazing progress - can't wait to hear what they come up with next. A tour of obscure, disused military bases over here like they've previously done in the UK, maybe ?

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David DeVoe - music editor

1. Kent - Du & Jag Doden
2. Son Volt - Okemah and the Melody of Riot
2. The Frames - Burn The Maps
3. Mike Doughty - Haughty Melodic
4. Dwight Yoakam - Blame The Vain
5. Rob Dickinson - Fresh Wine For The Horses
6. Alison Krauss and Union Station - Lonely Runs Both Ways
7. Embrace - Out Of Nothing
7. Van Morrison - Magic time
8. Dramarama - Everybody Dies
9. Domino Kings - Some Kind Of Sign
10. Marty Stuart - Badlands
10. Willie Nelson - Countryman

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Bill Donovan - music writer

With the dawn of the new year, I have resolved to re-devote myself to the teachings of our Lord and Saviour and to resist the temptations of wickedness that are drowning this world. I must purify my soul to prove my worthiness by shunning sex, rock n' roll and meth first thing in the morning. Rock n' roll, of course, being the devil's music will no longer hold sway over my soul. With the lord as my witness, it will make no difference whether the music spawns from Knights In Satan's Service, Slayer or Sarah McLachlan, I'll no longer find myself in sympathy for the devil. As part of my re-birth, I'm afraid I won't be able to pass judgement on those things that God condemns - devil music chiefly among them. However, I have made allowances to fulfill former responsibilities and after checking with the Lord I've been summoned to give the Top 10 List according to my Top 10 Friends with a quick explanation as to why their opinions once mattered to me.
1. My Chemical Romance - 3 Cheers for Sweet Revenge - as nominated by Chad, an inveterate pot-smoker and hooligan. Chad plays bass better than I do, most likely because of a short-sighted pact he's made with the devil.

2. Clutch - Robot Hive / Exodus - as nominated by Ass Hat, who's up to his elbows in intemperance being a brewer by trade. Ass Hat once played a Clutch album of mine so regularly that I gave it to him because the sound of Neil Fallon's voice was driving me to drink.

3. Turbonegro - Party Animals - as nominated by Dave, an entrepeneur with a philosophy degree. Nobody discredits God more than Dave.

4. The Gorillaz - Demon Days - as nominated by Chris, a water commissioner and admitted sadist. Pervert.

5. The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan - as nominated by the Sajbels, alumnae. Tom introduced me to Polvo while Weezy showed me how to smoke three cigarettes in 11 minutes.

6. M.I.A. - Arular - as nominated by Jennifer, an altruistic friend who has tried to impress upon me how unreasonable it is to judge a woman's personality by her buttocks. Jesus would smile upon Jennifer, if she wasn't Jewish.

7. Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits - as nominated by Throner, a chemist for Big Pharma and possibly the smartest person to ever listen to R.K.L.

8. The Shins - I'm Wide Awake It's Morning - as nominated by Caitlin, an investigator. Caitlin eats pizza in bed. Regularly.

9. The Libertines - The Libertines - as nominated by Groskopf (aka Sprig Merkus), artist and reknowned mensch. Groskopf sporadically shaves and appreciates argyle, which I believe is the direction Jesus himself would have gone if he had managed to live through his 30's.

10. Supagroup - Supagroup Rules - as nominated by my own self with considerable embarrassment and humility as I was supposed to review this but didn't and the only time it left my CD player was for a weird fling I had with Kelly Clarkson, which doesn't really warrant an explanation - it just happened. Things like that happen to me. I have been stuck in a world between Ted Nugent and Linda Ronstadt for years now and there's nothing about Kelly Clarkson that I'll apologize for.

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JD's Top 10 (or so) Things I Listened To In 2005

Retroactively, I would apply the HM Must Hear Music brand to Inouk's No Danger.

There was some really great music this year, although the last few months have mostly been a drag. In year's past, it's been hard finding ten albums that belonged here. This time though, it's hard to bump out any of the ones below. The New New Wave seems to have peaked and crashed all in the last year and a half, and the retro-Garage sound is but a distant memory.

Time Stands Still:
· Inouk - No Danger - First timers make music like this? I don't believe it. The segue between the first two tracks still makes my hair stand on end.
· The Flesh - The Flesh - Any band that makes me reference James Tiptree, Jr. has got to be emotionally fucked and thoroughly brilliant.

Seems like forever:
· Slim Cessna's Auto Club - The Blovdy Tenant Trvth Peace - The band from the end of the earth comes back from a mediocre 3rd album to produce a mature and refined fourth helping of backwoods quirk.
· Uber Cool Kung Fu - 3 - The '80s live on. And so do my jokes about Robert Downey, Jr.
· Kilroy - The Neon Gate - Some dude in his basement channels The Who and The Rolling Stones (among others) and does it right. Damn.
· Foetus - Love - Has all the drama of rock opera, and the unquantifiable strangeness that is Jim Thirlwell's hallmark.
· The Fiery Furnaces - EP - Unique; a little half-assed and thoroughly enjoyable silliness.

Pauses for a moment:
· The Two Tears - Enjoy Yourself - Your little sister; who can really rock. Necessity is the mother of invention, and nothing creates necessity like a shoestring budget.
· The Reverend Glasseye - Happy End and Begin and Our Lady of the Broken Spine - Jesus, I hope this circus never comes to town. Amen. Yeah, that's a prayer; now, roll over Bradbury.
· Crash Berlin - Crash Berlin - Dirty, seedy and driving.
· Layton - Grand Design - Over-produced and pretentious. What's not to love about that?
· Instant Camera - Alive on Departure - Look at it: AOD is DOA backwards, in meaning and in spelling. Kinda creepy. I said they might make it here and so they have. But I couldn't bump any of the others from the list, so now I have 12.

Biggest Disappointment:
· Single Frame - Body. End. Basement. - I'm not too worried about a sophomore slump from these guys. They're still one of the few bands that actually matter. This album isn't bad, but damn it, I'm needy and I expect so much. I listened to it again, recently, wondering if my expectations had been unrealistic but I found the same problems I harped on before.


10 best albums of the last 5 years. (in no particular order)
Can you believe it? 5 years of Hybrid!

· Echobrain - Glean
· Single Frame Ashtray - Burn Radio Airtest & Wetheads Come Running
· Inouk - No Danger
· The Flesh - The Flesh
· Pidgeon - From Gutter With Love
· Queens of the Stone Age - Restricted
· Blurt - The Fish Needs a Bike
· Ike Reilly - Salesmen and Racists
· Goddamn Gentlemen - Sex-Caliber Horsepower

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L. Keane - music writer

1. Dandy Warhols - Odditorium Or Warlord Of Mars
The comeback record of the year. After the disco of Welcome to the Monkey House I had given up hope, but the band is back with a great new set of neo-psychedelic songs.

2. The Frames - Burn The Maps
The little Irish band that could releases their most thoughtful and mature record to date. Amazing songs and melodies that take a while to get you, but they do get you in the end.

3. Shaggy - Clothes Drop
So urban and so good, Shaggy does it up just right, Dog.

4. Perishers - Let There Be Morning
Brilliant Swedish Brit-pop. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that!

5. Bob Mould - Body Of Song
Bob Mould finally returns to making rock and roll the way he always should… forget those synthesizers, Bob.

6. Madness - The Dangermen Sessions Volume 1
Madness returns with an album of covers… just as fun as ever!

7. Nickel Creek - Why Should The Fire Die?
Traditional bluegrass takes a modern twist as this trio continues to develop into a strong presence in both pop and country circles.

8. Say Hi To Your Mom - Ferocious Mopes
This kind of quality indie pop makes me giddy. Fun and clever.

9. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cold Roses
Still not as good as Whiskeytown ever was, but among the 3 records he released this year, this was by far my favorite.

10. The Knitters - The Modern Sounds Of The Knitters
Members of X team up with Dave Alvin for great alt-country fun.

11. Ronnie Bowman - It's Gettin' Better All The Time
A real nice traditional sounding bluegrass record.

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Heidi Lamer - music writer

2005 Top Ten Plus One List of the "not-so-esoteric" one …

11. Hot Hot Heat - Elevator
Nobody liked this much in the music world except me. I bopped my head and sang along to this catchy, upbeat album all summer long.

10. Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
OK, so this one was from 2004, but I only discovered it in 2005 (I know; lay off). We'll soon find out if they were only a novelty act, but at least for this album I loved the glammed up, seventies disco and funkified AOR these progeny of Elton John, the Bee Gees and other classic glam-queens were laying down.

9. Beck - Guero
I love this guy, pretty much regardless of what he puts out. I was especially happy to get back to the computer generated pounding of "E-Pro" and the freaky pop of "Girl."

8. White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
A totally sexy release from rock's most talented invertebrate and his beatific yet plucky "sister." From the classic White Stripes power chords of "Blue Orchid" to the saucy, bite-the-hand-that-feeds lament of "Take Take Take," Jack and Meg continue to beguile with a new direction to their offbeat brand of garage rock. And it is a brand; soon to be as easily consumed through a straw.

7. Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth
These guys are like an old shoe; they're not really coming up with anything new here, but their cocksure, guitar-driven formula is still a resounding success.

6. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
This was the band people loved to hate after too much media exposure of Kele's rock-from-on-high persona. Why? Their debut album was so goooooood! Russell Lissack's unprepossessing but masterly wielding of his Telecaster (tell me you don't love when he splits off and goes crazy in "She's Hearing Voices") and Kele's emotionally evocative vocals make this so much more than some Top Of The Pops flash in the pan.

5. Supergrass - Road To Rouen
Supergrass has been one of my favorite bands for years, and this album doesn't change that status. I hate to always call them "cheeky," but shit, that's what they are. Their irreverent style is tempered on this album by a slightly more grown-up and even sentimental theme that makes them even more likeable than before, and perhaps more accessible to a wider audience.

4. Franz Ferdinand - You could Have It So Much Better
I know I'm the only one at Hybrid uncool enough to love this album, but I defy you to point me to a more solid ass-shaker than this sophomore effort from the world's favorite skinny-trousered Scots. I would give it all away to be able to play guitar like these guys.

3. Robbers on High Street - Tree City
These kids from New York are a revelation. Others have found Robbers On High Street to be derivative of Spoon, but whether they are or not I really don't care. Ben Trokan has raw talent that doesn't come around often enough, and his appealing, John Lennon vocals and the band's deceptively simple arrangements combine for a full-length debut that rocks from start to finish and that leaves me eager to see what they've got next.

2. Brendan Benson - Alternative To Love
Brendan Benson's music is pretty close to pop perfection. Alternative to Love is yet another example from this ridiculously talented artist of an album that is both light and breezy enough to be the perfect soundtrack to your summer love affair, yet cut through with a dark undercurrent of melancholy introspective enough to take you through your gray and rainy autumn break-up.

1. Girls In Hawaii - From Here To There
This was my most interesting discovery of the year. These six Belgian guys make gorgeous, layered, atmospheric and accessible rock that I recommend to anyone and everyone who'll listen.

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Rey Roldan - music writer

1. Nightmare of You - Nightmare of You
* the perfect mixture of snotty arrogance, jangly guitars, and witty retorts Manchester-style, NYC's Nightmare of You are more British than they care of admit... and it's that the beauty of the band... By claiming to be nothing, it's more of an incidental homage than a blatant ripoff. This one burned holes in my car, my home stereo, my computer and my iPod.

2. Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
* Music this fun and guiltless is so rare (not since Imperial Teen's "On" has music been such a nonguilty pleasure).

3. Tegan & Sara - So Jealous
* The sleeper hit of the year. Amazing harmonies, disjointed melodies, and an ear for infectious pop rhythms make this record perfect in every way.

4. Kasabian - Kasabian
* Let's just say I miss the 90s... big time.

5. Hey Willpower - Hey Willpower
*Granted it's only an EP, but these four tracks pack more punch than most anything I came across this year. Who ever thunk that quiet li'l Will from Imperial Teen had such a humongous R&B/Pop bone in his body?

6. The Burnside Project - The Finest Example Is You
* This is one of those records that haunt you, pushing and prodding you to slap it on again, and when you do... you swoon and forget how crappy that last Depeche Mode record was or how silly the latest New Order "Greatest Hits" is... because combined, The Burnside Project takes the best bits of both bands and adds an indie sheen befitting of Modest Mouse or Postal Service.

7. M.I.A. - Arular
* So, she sucked at Coachella... but that didn't mean I wasn't going to search her out, and I'm so glad I did. Lo-fi hiphop hasn't been this sexy/dirty since Peaches did the same thing to electroclash.

8. Let Go - Let Go
* Let Go are my boys... Yeah, it's a wee bit of a conflict since I'm their publicist, but Jamie Woolford totally outdid himself with this record. Amazingly complex, yet amazingly pop, this record isn't a continuation of his old band The Stereo. It's the sound of a genius rediscovering his muse.

9. The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike
* Disposable pop, indie style. Overplayed in my car and on my iPod, it's cheesy without the aftertaste.

10. Panic! At the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
* I wrote these guys off way too early, thinking I'd have to endure 40 minutes of agonizing screams, yelps and other silliness. But damn, when I got around to it and gave it room to breathe, this record came out of the woodwork with a vengeance. This ain't emo, damn it.

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J. Sipes - music writer

After reading the other 'Top 10 in 2005', I feel much better about my list (I am insecure in that way). I am not going to go into any depth about why these bands made my list because, as Hybrid readers, I know you are all very hip indie kids and my choices will not need any explanation (that, and I am very, very lazy). This is my list:

1. Iron & Wine with Calexico - In the Reins
2. Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
3. Talib Kweli - Right About Now
4. Black Eyed Peas - Monkey Business
5. System of a Down - Mezmerize
6. tunng - Mother's Daughter and Other Songs
7. Scott H. Biram - The Dirty Old One Man Band
8. Calexico - The Book and the Canal
9. Low - The Great Destroyer
10. Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits

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Emily Strong - music writer

I probably say this every year, but 2005 was a truly great year for music-so good, in fact, that my annual Best Of mix actually took three discs, and could easily have taken four, had I not shown some modicum of restraint. It should come as no surprise, then, that true to my tradition, I couldn't narrow my Top Albums of 2005 down to ten. And even getting it down to twenty actually caused me physical pain. So here it is, my Top Twenty of 2005:
1. Andrew Bird - …and the Mysterious Production of Eggs
2. Animal Collective - Feels
3. Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
4. Architecture In Helsinki - In Case We Die
5. Casiotone For the Painfully Alone - The First Two Albums
6. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - s/t
7. Final Fantasy - Has a Home
8. The Frames - Burn the Maps
9. Grizzly Bear - Horn of Plenty
10. John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt
11. Junior Senior - Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
12. Kasabian - s/t
13. Montag - Alone, Not Alone
14. The Narrator - Such Triumph
15. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
16. Pilotdrift - Bubblecraft
17. Sigur Ros - Takk
18. Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
19. Tom Vek - We Have Sound
20. Wolf Parade - Apologies to Queen Mary

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Whit Strub - music writer

10. R. Kelly - TP.3 Reloaded
9. UHF - All Our Golden Tomorrows
8. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
7. Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
6. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
5. Opeth - Ghost Reveries
4. The Decemberists - Picaresque
3. Bright Eyes - Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
2. Mia Doi Todd - Manzanita
1. The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree

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tom topkoff - assistant music editor

For once, I'm gonna be serious in my introduction. 2005 was one heck of a year, and I'm glad it has passed us by. Personally, it has been a year of tragedy, triumph, getting my head together, a Zen re-birth, and lots of other personal matters not fit for the page ('cuz it's none of yer damn business). The one thing that I can say is that it has been a banner year for music. In 2004, I had a bit of a problem coming up with my top ten. This year, I had a hard time just whittling it down to that top ten. Is it because the releases were better, or did I just seek more solace in music this year? That is a question that only the Buddha can answer. So, after much thought, here's what I came up with:

Best Live Show Of The Year: Doves at ACL. I was busy roadie-ing my ass off at this year's Austin City Limits music festival, and I had some great artists on my stage. But, I did have an opportunity while one of my bands was on stage to go over and check out the set by Doves. I love 'em. In fact, they're my favorite new Brit-pop band. I knew they'd be good, but their set blew me away. A great respite from the 108 degree heat I was working in on that final day of the festival.

Best Live Record: Café Tacvba - Un Viaje. No wonder these guys are so huge. This set (now make sure you get the full on release with the two full live CDs, the bonus live EP and the DVD) proves why they are so loved. I've seen them live before, but nothing prepared me for the hours of enjoyment that this set gave me this year.

Best Record of '04 I Didn't Hear 'til '05: Split Lip Rayfield - Should Have Seen It Coming. If you're familiar with these guys, I need to say no more. If you aren't, they're the best thing that has happened to bluegrass since Grandpa Jones picked up a banjo.

This Year's Honorable Mentions:

George Strait - Somewhere Down In Texas. My favorite country artist, hands down. This new release is a bit more mature and a bit more toned down than previous offerings, but he got me with the ode to my home, "Texas" and the other solid material on the disk.

Orishas - El Kilo. From Cuba via France, Orishas' blend of hip-hop, Latin and Cuban sounds, and sunny rhythms make even the darkest winter day seem like a fiesta drowned in Corona and lime. Need a bit of sunshine? Check this shit out.

Biggest Surprise Release of 2005:

Miranda Lambert - Kerosene. When I got this CD, I had no idea that she was on that silly Nashville Star TV show. Hell, she's only 19, can sing like a bird, is damn cute, and writes almost all of her stuff. It's a grower to be sure.

…and now the moment you've been waiting for:

10. Interpol - Antics. This may have technically been a 2004 release, but I had the pleasure of immersing myself in Interpol this year. Love 'em to death! Being a huge Joy Division, Stereolab, Echo & The Bunnymen fan, I can't help but love everything this band does.

9. Moaners - Dark Snack. Rising from the ashes on one of my favorite alt-country bands, Trailer Bride, Melissa Swingle takes the two person line-up that's becoming so popular and brings out the dirty slide blues aspect to great effect. Sounds like heroine mixed with Jack Daniels after a three-foot bong hit.

8. Willie Nelson - Countryman. To be truthful, I thought this record would be a bit of a laugher. As much as I love Willie, who woulda thought he could do a reggae record? Man, was I shocked and pleased with the material and the execution of this record. It truly shows how reggae, gospel, country and the blues are joined at the hip. Don't be fooled…it's well worth the time.

7. Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth. I have nothing more to say that "I Love Oasis!!" Sure it sounds like everything else they've done, but they do it sooooo well that I can't help it that I keep returning to these guys year after year.

6. Babasonicos - Anoche. The most popular band to ever come out of Argentina, and I can see why. This pop is smart, not cliché, very consuming and thoughtful all at the same time…now if I could just understand Spanish I may have it all figured out.

5. British Sea Power - Open Season. I'm glad I haven't seen this band live and witnessed all their gimmickry as I have nothing else to go on but the music. They are fast becoming one of my favorite Brit-pop bands, buoyed by the single "Please Stand Up" (probably my favorite single of the year), this disk hits on all fronts and has really captivated this listener.

4. Brad Paisley - Time Well Wasted. I've always liked the way that Paisley slings his guitar and comes up with the catch phrases, but never had one of his albums. Don't know how this one compares as a whole to other works, but it kept my boots a tappin' and the beer a-flowin this year.

3. Ivy - In The Clear. Kind of surprised that this record hasn't really shown up on any top lists I've seen this year. Again, the themes of maturity and a band really hitting their stride are what makes In The Clear so strong. Sure, there aren't as many sugar-coated pop numbers on here as on past releases, but the songwriting, and Dominique Durand's voice keep getting stronger and stronger. A record definitely worthy of more praise than I've seen given to it.

2. Doves - Some Cities. Like I said when I talked about the best live show, Doves keep getting better and better. This record is a full-on work of art from the first note to the last. They keep impressing me with their ability to craft a song that is both hook laden and atmospheric and thoughtful at the same time. Definitely a band to be dealt with in the future.

1. KMFDM - Hau Rock. One of my favorite bands of all time, KMFDM had a banner year. First they celebrated their 20th year of existence (man do I feel old), released an amazing record, went back to Russia for the second time…and they're back in the studio already plotting their next mercenary effort. Hau Rock builds on the resurgence they displayed on WWIII, and have taken it up a notch. Also credit Sascha Konietzko's return to analogue keyboards for the thick and all encompassing sound. And just to make matters even more over the top, this is the third record with the same core group of people. They are indeed becoming a cohesive unit and helping "Kaptain K" make some of the best music they've ever done. PS-If you love KMFDM, sign up for their e-mailing list. It's probably the best mailing list for a band I've ever been on. It's regularly dispersed, has lots of great information and keeps you thoroughly updated. They certainly do love their fans, and we love them too!

Here's hoping that all of y'all have a fantastic 2006. I truly believe that this year will be one for the record books!

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