Without a doubt, "Live 8" was the biggest musical event of the decade. Musicians from around the world came together to perform, raising awareness and charity for those poverty stricken countries in sub-Saharan Africa. That was one side of Live 8; the other included the boosting of personalities, album sales and going from a B-list celebrity to an A-list celebrity. Outside of the Anglo-Saxon pop domination and Live 8, The United States of America had a year of exciting independent rock music. it certainly wasn't the best year of the decade for music, but it will be remembered. Here are the albums that deserve a mention.
Sigur Rós - Takk...
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
M.I.A. - Arular
10. Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
The jangly guitars, the sex-laced lyrics and the rather large membership make Broken Social Scene more like a cult or lifestyle, than a rock band. And their 2005 self-titled third album does a great job of summing up the entire A&C culture.
9. LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem's debut shifted the shape of independent music in USA. The once guitar defined 'post-punk revival' scene finally had a dance-punk contender. James Murphy released two discs, 100 minutes long in early 2005. It wasn't just the FIFA populated "Daft Punk Is Playing In My House", it was a lot more than that. Disco music had made a comeback and LCD Soundsystem was right at the heart of it. "Great Release" and "Too Much Love" showed the intelligent electronic style, whilst "On Repeat" had the psych and new wave feel. LCD Soundsystem are regarded as one of the best artists of the 21st century, and all three of their albums make our lists.
8. Broadcast - Tender Buttons
Broadcasts’ third and final album was arguably their most prolific. They were influenced from the psychedelic rock bands of the 60s and the electronic/avant-garde artists of the 90s such as Stereolab. Tender Buttons sounded like a modern electronic version of the post-punk outfit Young Marble Giants. Tracks like "America's Boy" and "I Found The F" were as much post-punk as they were lo-fi and electronic. The mix of dark aesthetic music and exciting textures proved vital in Broadcast's existence as an important neo-psychedelia artist.
7. The National - Alligator
The National are one of those artists that you either stick with or ditch. I have latched myself onto The National for a number of years and I’m happy I did. Alligator is their third album and one of their best to date. The music has an underlined magical quality that hasn't been matched since. It's slightly depressive but in an exciting and amusing way. They play whole-heartedly and tracks such as "The Geese of Beverly Road" need to be heard.
6. Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain
The Rhode Island noise-rock duo is known for their harsh aesthetic created by drums and bass. Alike Death From Above 1979, lightning Bolt have used severe effects and most importantly distortion to create their sound. It's a polished album that has many high points such as the aggressive thriller "Birdy".
5. Animal Collective - Feels
Listening to Animal Collective is an experience. Feels is their sixth studio album and is the last great experimental / odd ball album they released. The content is truly astounding, such as the drone like "Banshee Beat" and the pop oriented "Grass". The setup was far different on Feels, each member contributed enough and they tuned their instruments to an out of tune piano. It worked and Feels is recognized for its experimentation, it also acts as the last freak-folk Animal Collective album.
4. Vashti Bunyan - Lookaftering
35 years after Vashti Bunyan's forgotten debut, Lookaftering was released. Her follow up album needed to proove something, and it did just that. Her music is the essence of folk. Her English nature and traditional instrumentals were key benifactors in Lookaftering's sucsess and Bunyan of all people excelled in 2005. Bunyan had backing by Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Robert Kirby, the man behind Nick Drake, played a vital role in the brass side of Lookaftering.
3. Kanye West - Late Registration
Sampling was going downhill in commercial music, but when Kanye West released his second album, sampling was re-written. His excellent storytelling fitted the beautiful samples such as Natalie Cole's "Someone That I Used To Love" on "Heard 'Em Say". My generation will never forget the Curtis Mayfield sample "Move On Up" on the Lupe Fiasco kick-starter "Touch The Sky". We had "Gold Digger", "Drive Slow" and "Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Late Registration has excellent production and saw Kanye at his ultimate best.
2. Antony and The Johnsons - I Am a Bird Now
Antony & The Johnsons second album featured Candy Darling pictured on her death bed. The album cover is just the start of the sadness involved with this album. Antony Hegarty has one of the most powerful voices in British music. Tracks on this album are excessively emotional. Chamber pop is a genre that can come across weak at times, but I Am a Bird Now is by far the strongest chamber pop album I’ve ever heard. Guests such as Lour Reed and Boy George may sound cheesy, but trust me... It works. "You Are My Sister" is a beautiful piano piece with Boy George singing the chorus. "Fistful of Love" features vocals and guitar by Lou Reed. Possibly the most interesting and honest track on this album is the closer "Bird Gerhl". The string work is exquisite and structure works nicely as the final track.
1. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Sufjan Stevens fifth studio album is his most expansive and technical. Illinois was the theme and Stevens nailed it. Tracks such as "Chicago" have become indie pop anthems, while the earlier brass heavy tracks such as "Jacksonville" and "Come On! Feel The Illinoise!" was merited for their structures and varied instrumentation. All 22 tracks tell a story either through the lyrics or their title. It's a delightful concept album that is still listened to and listed as one of the best albums of the 00s.