Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the 40 best bands in america: armchair novelist edit.

so, the big news of the day is how information leafblower made their second-annual "top 40 bands in america" list. i suppose this list is going for quality instead of who is REALLY at top, because if that were the case, we'd have bands like goddamn nickelback on the list. most of my favorite blogs were invited to send their top-ten lists, and since i'm an unknown in the blogging community, i thought it would be appropriate to make my own top-ten.

also, in an event suitable only for the scourge of the internets known as "the armchair novelist", i am going edit information leafblower's top-40 list. i'm not going to change anything around, you anti-revisionists; i'm just going to add my opinions.

armchair's top-ten american bands for 2005:
(no worries: fresh cherries from yakima is nowhere on this list)

one. the decemberists:
[arguably] america's best songwriter started off the year with a well-recieved solo tour with an outstanding morrissey covers ep, that's not only probably selling for ghastly amounts on e-bay, but further heightened his legendary obsession with [arguably] the world's best living songwriter. in march, he and his troop of vagabonds came to seattle and put on one of the best shows i've ever seen in my life [with people singing along to the then-unreleased album, which wouldn't be out for another four days]. our hero released the album, traveled the world, brought paper whales on stage, and covered fleetwood mac with death cab for cutie in new york. colin meloy should be having the best year of his life.

two. death cab for cutie.
released their major-label-debut, and got in the top five. say what you want about ben gibbard, but for a seattle boy like me, death cab for cutie getting the credit they deserve is like the seattle seahawks winning the superbowl. although plans is not their best work [like i've said before; it's not their worst, either], if transatlanticism is the album that got them to the big dance, plans is the album that will turn them into future prom kings.

three. clap your hands say yeah.
i first heard about this band from brooklyn vegan, and from there, the hype was a big mushroom cloud. they self-released one of the best albums of the year, and has a direct distribution deal in america [no label, bitches]. they get more shine than the band they're opening for. and after what should be called "overexposure", they're still riding the wave all the way to the bank [they make $8 off of every album sold, bitches]. plus, "in this home on ice" is the frontrunner for song of the year.

four. bright eyes.
now, although you can't put the words "conor oberst" without putting "pretentious" in the same sentence, with i'm wide awake, it's morning, the boy done good. he actually caught up to the massive amounts of potential that critics were gassing him up with. if he learns how to get off of his soapbox and stops preaching to the choir about the ills of society, and focuses on writing songs as fucking good as "landlocked blues" and "lua", then all of those "next-bob dylan" claims will have a little merit.

five. mf doom.
[arguably] the world's best rapper, known for being notoriously prolific, hasn't let us down in 2005. although he [only] came out with one album this year, and he jumped in bed with a major corporation to do so, it's still [without question] the year's best rap album. what else did he do this year? he hopped on a sped-up soul sample, and became one of the only known people in the world who can absolutely BURN rza on his own beat. that's right, my favorite rapper still has the game sewn up like thread and bobbin' bonus pack.

six. sufjan stevens.
in the second-installment of his absurdly ambitious "50 states project", he created what a vast majority of critics are calling the best album of 2005. sufjan effortlessly balances emotion [the "oh my god" in "john wayne gacy jr.'], sincerity ["chicago"] and humor [his five-night stand in new york city, where each night had a different theme] unlike any other songwriter of this generation. sufjan will undoubtedly go down as the definitive singer/songwriter of this decade.

seven. iron & wine.
both of his full-length albums are critically heralded. all of his ep's [especially the two he released this year] are the most impressive run of non-album material this side of NOBODY. only kyp malone from tv on the radio has a more impressive beard. and he's the father of two young girls. you fucking wish your dad was this cool. not even MY dad is that cool, and my dad looks like jay-z.

eight. kanye west.
hate him or love him, sometime this year-- before or after the now-classic george bush rant [us black people have been saying georgie doesn't care about us for like six years, now. it's not exactly a shock], before or after he paid two million dollars to make his sophomore album, before or after his tantrum at the american music awards [and subsequent... and predictable.. redemption at the grammy's]-- kanye west unseated eminem as the world's biggest rapper. if only for that reason, he gets applause from me.

nine. devendra banhart.
with cripple crow, devendra steps out of the stupidly-named "freak-folk"genre, and becomes an acclaimed songwriter. this effort is easily the most expansive record of his career, creatively as well as musically. plus, his backing band's name is "hairy fairy". oh, and he has the third-most impressive beard in indie-rock.

ten. okkervil river.
they opened for the decemberists in the spring, made what is more than likely the best record of 2005, and not much else. let the music speak for itself.

honorable mention: tv on the radio, ryan adams.

armchair's edit of the top-40 bands in america:

one. sufjan stevens. [deserves to be here. 'nuff said.]

two. the national. [should be lower, just because their opening band upstages them on a nightly basis. i know it's the hype's fault, but if the national had album of the year, they wouldn't have this problem.]

three. kanye west. [should be on the list, but not so high. way to blow up his ego. like he needed it or something.]

four. lcd soundsystem [don't care for them. don't see what the fuss is about.]

five. sleater-kinney. [finally getting the respect they deserve. the new album's overrated, though. my sister, who almost exclusively listens to r&b, really likes "jumpers", though.]

six. the hold steady. [sorta like harvey danger, but the singer doesn't sing. so, it's like harvey danger meets art brut. they're okay.]

seven. green day. [they made the most artistically ambitious album of their career, and they got rewarded heavily for it. american idiot is the only green day album i actually like.]

eight. the fiery furnaces. [UNDOUBTEDLY, the most polarizing band of our generation. you either love them or you hate them. noone says, "fiery furnaces? they're aiight, but nothing special." me? i can't stand their music. that's just one man's opinion, though.]

nine. the decemberists. [my number one. my second-favorite band of all time.]

ten. spoon. [britt daniel is one of the most underrated songwriters in music today. "i turn my camera on" is easily one of the best songs of 2005.]

eleven. the mountain goats. [john darnielle is one of the only living american songwriters that will put on equal billing as colin meloy, and that's saying A LOT.]

twelve. my morning jacket. [don't love them, don't hate them. they're okay.]

thirteen. fiona apple. [definitely the comeback kid of 2005. give her a game ball.]

fourteen. rogue wave. [they're not a knockoff shins like people think, but they're also certainly not as good.]

fifteen. bright eyes. [i've said enough about conor. i really like dude's songs, though.]

sixteen. kelly clarkson. [double-u, tee, eff? seriously. someone's got some explaining to do. i think her indie-cred is due in whole to hipsters' obsession with irony.]

seventeen. death cab for cutie. [fuck backlash. i still love them.]

eighteen. animal collective. ["who could win a rabbit" > feels as a whole.]

nineteen. ryan adams. [mark my words. 29 is going to be the best record of his career. even better than heartbreaker.]

twenty. crooked fingers. [i can't say anything, because i've never heard a crooked fingers song.]

twenty-one. kings of leon. [my friend ryan saw them when they opened for u2, and said they are amazing live. i really like "taper jean girl."]

twenty-two. we are scientists. [meh, they're late-comers into the genre.]

twenty-three. devendra banhart. [should have been higher. i guess there's no demand in america for spanish folk songs like "in niel". it's my favorite off the album.]

twenty-four. okkervil river. [golly, they're good.]

twenty-five. mf doom. [in an alternate universe, mf doom would be where kanye is on this list.]

twenty-six. gwen stefani. [i used to have a crush on her in 7th grade. i'm so over it.]

twenty-seven. andrew bird. [he's the most amazing whistler i've ever heard.]

twenty-eight. black keys. [did they do anything this year? oh well, they're good.]

twenty-nine. someone still loves you boris yeltsin [i've heard of them, but haven't heard them. blogs, you have forsaken me.]

thirty. two gallants. [they're good enough to be on saddle creek. then again, so is criteria.]

thirty-one. american analog set. [another band i've heard of, but haven't heard. oh well. something tells me i'm not missing much.]

thirty-two. sunno))) [something tells me i don't want to hear of these guys.]

thirty-three. the juan mclean. [not really my thing; that's all.]

thirty-four. giant drag. [i've heard one song. and it's prety good. i know better bands that should be on this list.]

thirty-five. iron & wine. [he's had more and better releases this year than a lot of people. it's a fucking crime sam beam's not higher on this list.]

thirty-six. wilco. [they didn't do much this year, but still should be higher.]

thirty-seven. antony and the johnsons. [i'm not really into the band.]

thirty-eight. out hud. [meh...]

thirty-nine. john vanderslice. [one of the better songwriters on this list, but still comes in lower than both kelly clarkson and gwen stefani.]

fourty. explosions in the sky. [double meh..]


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