The top albums and the top songs for the year, as selected by you!
Bruce Springsteen - Devils and Dust
Many of these songs were written in 1997 on the road during Springsteen's solo tour for The Ghost of Tom Joad, intended to be a follow-up to that Steinbeck-inspired album. Bruce says, "I like to write about people whose souls are in danger, who are at risk." He recorded nearly all the songs in a few days in his farmhouse living room.
Ryan Adams - Cold Roses
Ryan Adams has been one busy boy - this album is one of three that he has released since May. Recorded with his new band the Cardinals, this is a full-fledged, unapologetic return to the country-rock that made his reputation when he led Whiskeytown; 18 songs that play to Adams' strengths.
Coldplay - X and Y
This is the third album from this multi-platinum selling, multi-Grammy winning foursome from the U.K. It took a marathon 18 months' work before they were ready to release it, recording individually and then going back into the studio together. Frontman Chris Martin says, "This album is the most raw statement of our band, the sound of us really being ourselves."
Beck - Guero
The title Guero is a tipoff of the Latin influences on this CD, which you hear along with a collage of other styles. Beck went into the studio each day with a sense of a sound he was seeking, and then set out to find the right beat. Once he got a melody, he would type lyrics on his laptop, set it up on a music stand and sing off the screen. Beck worked to retain the depth of his previous breakup record, Sea Change, saying, "I really wanted to bring that kind of vulnerability and emotional quality into this record."
White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
Detroit's White Stripes - Jack White on guitar and vocals and his ex-wife Meg on drums - put out this CD on the heels of the multi-platinum Elephant (which won two Grammys). It shows them taking a big creative leap, pushing beyond blues and rock, substituting piano, bicycle bells, maracas and more for Jack's usual blistering guitar. Jack wrote the songs and produced the CD in about three weeks for under $10,000.
Amos Lee - Amos Lee
WFUV was an early champion of Amos Lee. We presented a live concert last year, three months before this full-length debut was released. Norah Jones was also an early fan of his and she invited Amos to open for her on an extended tour in 2005; Jones sings and performs on a couple of tracks. This CD was produced with a spare acoustic approach that lets Lee's soulful voice shine through.
Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm
Aimee Mann's songs have always had a literary quality to them, so it was probably inevitable that she would get around to making a concept album like this. The songs loosely tell the story of John and Caroline as they meet, fall in love and take a road trip across America. Aimee says, "I pictured it taking place in the early '70s... you know, that kind of white trashy redneck factor which I have a real weakness for."
John Prine - Fair and Square
This was Prine's first album of original music in nine years. Once again Prine displays his incomparable sweetness, his wicked wit and social commentary, and his common-sense simplicity with songs that turn on the phases of the human heart. Listen closely and you'll hear Allison Krauss and Mindy Smith on harmony vocals on a few tracks.
Mary Gauthier - Mercy Now
After 20 years of abusing drugs and alcohol, a little miracle happened to Mary Gauthier: She found herself writing songs instead. This, her fourth CD, dredges deep through the backwaters of her life. Gauthier says, "Somewhere along the way I figured out that the most intimate part of me is the most universal part of me. I've figured out that the artist's job is to reveal that universal human experience. There's got to be a way to go inside and pull out the bigger truth and use it as a mirror in which other people can see themselves."
(tie) Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams
This is the third CD from Jack Johnson, recorded with the same guys in the studio, so it's his familiar warm, laid-back sound. He's been touring quite a bit since his last CD, and says, "That's the idea of the title: Those adventures that I go on now, sometimes I feel like I dream them. All the tours and shows and press, it's a lot of fun, but it's a different reality."
Son Volt - Okemah and the Melody of Riot
Frontman Jay Farrar has completely reformed Son Volt for the first band release in seven years. In the interim Jay experimented with a couple of quieter solo releases, but this disc sounds muscular and driven. Farrar says, "After having done two primarily acoustic-oriented solo records and a lot of acoustic touring for several years, I was ready to get back to playing electric." The album's title refers to Woody Guthrie's birthplace, and you'll hear a reference to Woody in the first song.
- Neil Young - Prairie Wind
- Ryan Adams - Jacksonville City Nights
- John Hiatt - Master of Disaster
- Dar Williams - My Better Self
- The Decemberists - Picaresque
- Josh Rouse - Nashville
- Robert Earl Keen - What I Really Mean
- Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang
- David Gray - Life in Slow Motion
- Bob Dylan - Bootleg #7
- Wilco - Kicking Television: Live in Chicago
- Kathleen Edwards - Back to Me
- Tracy Grammer - Flower of Avalon
- Kennedys - Half a Million Miles
- Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
- Ben Folds - Songs for Silverman
- Paul McCartney - Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
- My Morning Jacket - Z
- Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
- Redwalls - De Nova
- James McMurtry - Childish Things
- Van Morrison - Magic Time
- Tori Amos - The Beekeeper
- Shelby Lynne - Suit Yourself
- Richard Thompson - Front Parlour Ballads
- The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers
- Susan Tedeschi - Hope and Desire
- Neil Diamond - 12 Songs
- Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
- Shannon McNally - Geronimo
- Spoon - Gimmie Fiction
- Raul Midon - State of Mind
- Nickel Creek - Why Should the Fire Die?
- New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
- Jackson Browne - Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1
- Sinead O'Connor - Throw Down Your Arms
- Paul Weller - As is Now
- Matisyahu - Live at Stubbs
- Calexico/Iron and Wine - In the Reins
- Feist - Let it Die
Listener Results: Best 90 Songs of 2005
- Ben Lee - "Catch My Disease"
- Dar Williams - "Echoes"
- The White Stripes - "My Doorbell"
- David Gray - "The One I Love"
- The Kennedys - "Half a Million Miles"
- Tracy Chapman - "Change"
- Amos Lee - "In The Arms Of A Woman"
- Beck - "Que Onda Guero"
- John Hiatt - "Master of Disaster"
- Death Cab for Cutie - "Soul Meets Body"
- Bruce Springsteen - "Devils & Dust"
- Ryan Adams - "Let It Ride"
- Coldplay - "Fix You"
- Kathleen Edwards - "Back to Me"
- Mary Gauthier - "Mercy Now"
- Beck - "Girl"
- Ben Folds - "Landed"
- Paul McCartney - "Jenny Wren"
- Feist - "Mushaboom"
- Bonnie Raitt - "I Will Not Be Broken"
- Aqualung - "Brighter Than Sunshine"
- Ray Davies - "Thanksgiving Day"
- Jack Johnson - "Banana Pancakes"
- Paul Weller - "From the Floorboards Up"
- Jack Johnson - "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing"
- John Prine - "Taking a Walk"
- Bruce Springsteen - "All I'm Thinkin' About"
- Trey Anastasio - "Shine"
- Ryan Adams - "The Hardest Part"
- The Magic Numbers - "Forever Lost"
- Paul McCartney - "Fine Line "
- The Decemberists - "16 Military Wives"
- My Morning Jacket - "Off The Record"
- Robert Earl Keen - "What I Really Mean"
- Tori Amos - "Sleeps with Butterflies"
- Mike Doughty - "Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well"
- The Decemberists - "We Both Go Down Together"
- Kathleen Edwards - "In State"
- Jackie Greene - "Honey, I’ve Been Thinking About You"
- Frank Black - "I Burn Today"
- Fiona Apple - "O Sailor "
- Josh Rose - "Carolina"
- The Decemberists - "The Engine Driver"
- Gorillaz - "Feel Good Inc."
- Eliza Gilkyson - "Is It Like Today?"
- Spoon - "I Summon You"
- Sinead O'Connor - "Downpressor Man"
- The Rolling Stones - "Rough Justice"
- Rodney Crowell - "Say You Love Me"
- Ringo Starr - "Choose Love"
- The Redwalls - "Thank You"
- Neil Young - "The Painter"
- Matisyahu - "King Without a Crown"
- Maia Sharp - "Red Dress"
- Kathleen Edwards - "Copied Keys"
- Kate Bush - "King of the Mountain"
- John Prine - "Crazy as a Loon"
- Jack Johnson - "Better Together"
- Death Cab For Cutie - "I Will Follow You Into The Dark"
- Calexico/Iron and Wine - "A History of Lovers"
- Bruce Springsteen - "Maria's Bed"
- Beck - "E-Pro"
- Ani DiFranco - "Studying Stones"
- Aimee Mann - "I Can't Get My Head Around It"
- Son Volt - "Afterglow 61"
- Sia - "Breathe Me"
- Nickel Creek - "When in Rome"
- Ryan Adams - "Magnolia Mountain"
- The New Pornographers - "Use It"
- Neil Diamond - "Oh Mary"
- My Morning Jacket - "Wordless Chorus"
- Aimee Mann - "Going Through the Motions"
- Josh Rouse - "It's The Nighttime"
- The White Stripes - "Little Ghost"
- John Prine - "Glory of True Love"
- Moby - "Beautiful"
- Ryan Adams - "Easy Plateau"
- Amos Lee - "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight"
- Neil Diamond - "Create Me"
- My Morning Jacket - "Knot Comes Loose"
- Mary Gauthier - "I Drink"
- Josh Rouse - "Winter In The Hamptons"
- Coldplay - "Speed of Sound"
- Bettye Lavette - "Joy"
- Beck - "Scarecrow"
- Shannon McNally - "Miracle Mile"
- Amos Lee - "Colors"
- The White Stripes - "Blue Orchid"
- Brandi Carlile - "Throw it All Away"
- Solomon Burke - "I Need Your Love in My Life"