Monday, December 12th, 2005
So here we are, another year-end list in the cacaphony of December retrospectives. Still, if there’s one thing lists do, it allows writers to be lazy and rehash what they’ve already no doubt covered in the past although this has turned out to be one of the most time-consuming posts of the year for me, maybe ever. You’d think that writing short blurbs on the records that one enjoyed the most in the past year would be easy, but really, not so much. I can’t say that 2005 was a watershed year for music, but there was certainly enough great stuff to keep me happy as a pig in a blanket for the past twelve months.
I made a decision at the start of the year to actively seek out more new music outside of my usual comfort zone, and while I must confess I wasn’t as dilligent about that as I’d intended, the fact that four of my top ten albums came from acts I’d never heard (or in many cases even heard of) before this year ain’t too bad. I’ll be endeavouring to carry this trend forward into ’06, mainly by actually listening to more of the CDs, compilations and mp3s that I’m sent. While this will no doubt increase my exposure to bad music, no pain no gain, n’est pas? Though I have to say that looking at the release schedule for 2006, stacked as it is with many new albums from long-time favourites, I wonder if any dark horses will manage to eke their way onto next year’s edition? To do so, some very reliable veteran acts would have to drop the ball… Oh well, time will tell.
Curiously, the Top 5 of The First Half Of 2005 list I posted back in July just preceded my exposure to most of the albums that made the final cut, but a few managed to carry over and the others just barely got bumped down to honourable mention status. The final ten are listed alphabetically – I had considered actually ranking them this year, but after the clear-cut top three positions, things kind of just fell into a constantly-shifting mass that changed from moment to moment. I found it interesting that eight of the ten albums came from American acts, and two from Canadians. No British or European artists at all, though if I expanded the list out to twenty or so, the Old World would be quite well represented. What can I say? The colonies rocked the mic in ’05, yo.
And many thanks to Toronto illustrator Renée Nault for the beautiful frontispiece in this year-end retrospective. For a full-size version of the art (500K), click here – it looks even better biggie-sized. Do check her portfolio out.
So without further ado, my top 10 albums of 2005 (and ancillary lists and commentary)… after the jump.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2005
So the official schedule for the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival is up. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m only in town for the first couple days of the fest, thus limiting my options but there’s still stuff I’d really like to see. Number one is Terry Gilliam’s (that guy again!) Tideland, the film he shot while The Brothers Grimm was in studio limbo. This’ll be the world premiere, but the Elgin is one big honking theatre so hopefully I’ll score a couple tickets. Also on my wish list is Linda Linda Linda, a Japanese comedy about a groups of schoolgirls trying to assemble a rock band for a talent show. It’s iffy at this point whether or not I’ll be in town for this screening, though. Fingers crossed.
If I were around any longer, I’d definitely be trying to catch The Piano Tuners Of Earthquakes, Michael Winterbottom’s Tristram Shandy, John Turturro’s Romance & Cigarettes or Stephen Frears’ Mrs Henderson Presents. As it is, I’ll just have to file them away in the grey matter as stuff to see/rent later on down the road. Last year I bit off a little more than I could chew – six films in eight days (as well as squeezing two concerts in there). Festival films always take out a far larger chunk of your time than the actual running time – there’s the lineup an hour or more before show time as well as Q&A’s before and after the film. Usually you were looking at a three to three-point-five hour commitment per film. Even if it’s just watching movies, that takes a helluva lot out of a fella. I had also intended to maybe try and take in a gala opening this year. Not to be… maybe next year.
Also premiering at TIFF – though for just a single screening – is Martin Scorcese’s Bob Dylan documentary, No Direction Home. Since it’ll be available on DVD just three days later, it’s a wee bit anticlimactic and doesn’t really qualify as a festival must-see. The New York Times declared that neither the doc nor the soundtrack add anything new to the Dylan mythos, though I imagine that the music and images would make them compelling viewing/listening regardless (via Coolfer). Meanwhile Whas11 takes a shot at debunking the myth that the audience booed Dylan at Newport in 1965 for going electric. Their theory is that the audience was booing a MC Peter Yarrow for announcing that Dylan would only play a short set. Interesting take – now let’s see them spin the “Judas!” comment.
Coolfer fears the continuing establishment of digital music as the new normal could spell the end of the album. This would truly make me sad. Hell, I’m buying vinyl now – I’m bemoaning the end of the A/B sides. Personally, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. There is a place for the single, which is where many of the digital business models do their thing, but the album as an artistic statement, as a whole greater than the sum of its parts, will continue on – at least until all the musicians who were similarly brought up on the album – are dead and/or senile.
Lucinda Williams tells Billboard there might be another live album in the pipe to follow-up this year’s Live @ The Fillmore. Her next studio album has a tenative title of Knowing and should be out early next year.
Okkervil River will release a companion mini-album to this year’s Black Sheep Boy entitled Black Sheep Boy Appendix. The album will be out November 22, too late to pick up a copy at their November 7 show in Toronto, but it sounds like it’s a must-have regardless. By the by, Minus Story are also on that bill. Via The Catbirdseat.
Feist does two nights at the Danforth Music Hall, October 17 and 18. Tickets $25, on sale this Saturday. As much as I enjoy Ms Feist, I can give these ones a pass with nary a regret. Too much money, too much else going on.
Another Merge travelling sideshow rolls into town on October 23 when The Clientele and Annie Hayden are at Lee’s Palace.
Torontoist conducts a Tall Poppy Interview (I’ve no idea what that means) with Chuck Klosterman, who’s at the Horseshoe tonight to do a reading/signing for Killing Yourself To Live from 6pm to 8pm. Admission is free. Klosterman has a new essay up at Spin, by the way.
Fox is all about the stunt casting – The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that everyone’s fourth-favourite hobbit will be getting a role in the next season of 24. Season five, which premieres January 8 and 9 of next year, will take place 18 months after the end of season four, and feature a happily married Jack Bauer whose idyllic, terrorist-free life is interrupted when Sean Astin arrives on his doorstep and gives him just one day to throw the ring of power into a volcano. Meanwhile, according to Reuters, Charlize Theron will be joining the cast of Arrested Development for at least five episodes next season (which starts September 19) as Michael’s love interest. Umm, hobbits vs hotties? Arrested Development wins.
np – Catherine Wheel / Adam & Eve