More great music-related stuff that came out in 2005, but not necessarily new. Or not necessarily CDs. But all worth owning. If I’d gotten this up earlier, I’d say any of these would make great Christmas or Hanukkah gifts. But if you’re looking for something to spend those Amazon.com gift certificates, any of these will do just fine:
One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found (Rhino) | Immerse yourself in an undiscovered world of bad boys, crushes, heartbreak and giddy elation. Avoiding any of the big names and singles associated with girl groups, Rhino brings a Nuggets approach to the ’60s pop genre, making for one of the most enjoyable releases of 2005 — new, old or otherwise. (Read my more lengthy review, complete with a few mp3s.)
The Fall – The Complete Peel Sessions | There is no band more associated with the Peel Session than The Fall and this is perhaps the band’s ultimate career-spanning compilation. You can follow Mark E. Smith and his one zillion lineup changes though radio sessions for his most famous fan, John Peel. In some cases, the Peel Session versions of songs are better than the ones that would end up on albums. If you are a Fall fan, The Complete Peel Sessions is nothing less than essential.
DIG! (Palm Pictures) | Ondi Timoner‘s wildly entertaining documentary tells a familiar rock n’ roll tale, one filled with crazy nights, substance abuse, out-of-control parties, temper tantrums, art-versus-commerce debates, "musical differences," onstage fights, and smashed sitars. But to see it unfold in all it’s horrifying glory before your eyes is what makes this DIG! so amazing. If you loved the movie, the two-disc DVD is a must-have. Almost all of the deleted scenes (of which there are loads) and commentary tracks (the Dandies, the BJM [minus Anton, natch], and Timoner each get their own) are as illuminating as the movie itself.
Jens Lekman – Oh You’re So Silent Jens
(Secretly Canadian) | This almost made my list of 20 Best Albums of
2005 but as it’s a compilation of EPs and singles, I stuck it here.
Somewhere between Jonathan Richman and Stephin Merrit lies Sweden’s
Jens Lekman. For pure listening pleasure this tops last year’s proper
debut, When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog. His lyrics are
funny, romantic and sincere; his songs are catchy; and the production
is clever if hastily recorded. He’d better think about crediting all
those samples though, or someone (members of The Left Banke in
particular) might get mad if this ever sells enough of this CD to give
him a pocketful of money. You should also go see him live — it’s a very entertaining show. Free MP3s from Secretly Canadian: "You Are the Light" and the Left Banke-sampling "Black Cab."
New Order – Item (Rhino) | Finally, a DVD compilation of New Order‘s arty, weird and influential music videos. While most groups were shooting straightforward performance clips, New Order made short films, in which the band would often make mere cameos. Jonathan Demme, Katherine Bigelow and other then-cutting-edge filmmakers worked on their clips, most of which don’t seem dated at all. Even their ’90s-era videos are pretty amazing, even when the songs are less so. (Though we have the "Crystal" video to blame for The Killers name.) This two-DVD set also includes a gushing documentary made in conjunction with their 1992 album, Republic, that has some rare television appearances that rounds out the package nicely.
Circulus – The Lick on the Tip of an Envelope Yet to Be Sent (Candlelight) | Found in the basement of former Island Records president Chris Blackwell comes this lost nugget of psychedelic Medieval folk from 1971. OK, not really. Circulus are to the hippie freak-folk scene what the Darkness are to glam and hard rock. But they believe it, man! When they perform "Power to the Pixies," they aren’t singing about Frank Black. (According to this feature in The Guardian, they kicked out a member when he admitted he didn’t believe in fairies.) If you can listen past the lutes, transverse flutes, lizards, and songs about wizards, this is a pretty great album. It still won’t make you like mead, though. Here’s an mp3: "We Are Long Lost"
Various Artists – Children Of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1995 (Rhino) | The Rhino folks score again with this sequel to their seminal garage rock compilation, Nuggets, this time featuring bands influenced by the original. Unless you worked in college radio in the mid-’80s, you probably haven’t heard the bulk of these bands. Which is good, as you’re about to have your mind blown by these unearthed sounds. Many of these songs from UK and European bands (including a nice handful of early Creation Records releases) are seeing their first-ever Stateside release. Highly recommended.
Talking Heads – DualDisc Brick (Rhino) | You’re probably unaware of this, but some of today’s "cool" and "indie" bands (like Clapping Hands Are Saying Yeah and Frank Ferdinand) have been influenced by these New York nerds who got their start way back in 1975. Here’s your chance to catch up with them in this 30th Anniversary big box set that features remastered editions of all their studio albums, all of which are in the new and expensive DualDisc format. There are loads of previously-unheard outtakes, and the DVD side of each disc has the band’s music videos and lots more. If you don’t want to plunk down the $140 for this baby, individual DualDisc editions of each album (the Remain in Light outtakes are fantastic) will be available in early 2006.
Orange Juice – The Glasgow School (Domino) | Four young lads from Glasgow, Scotland, send scenesters into a tizzy with their arty m�lange of scrappy guitars, disco beats, witty wordplay, and tailored fashion sense. Does that sound familiar? It’s not who you think. Twenty-five years before Franz Ferdinand took us out, Orange Juice were "The Sound of Young Scotland" with aspirations of becoming the punk rock version of Chic. The Glasgow School compiles the entire output of their early years on influential Scottish indie Postcard — tunes that served as a blueprint for such followers as the Pastels, Belle & Sebastian, and, yes, Franz Ferdinand. Now if someone would just reissue their Polydor compilation, The Esteemed Orange Juice, we’d be in business.
R. Kelly – Trapped in the Closet Chapters 1-12 DVD (JIVE) | Maybe "Best" isn’t the right word for Trapped in the Closet, but I recommend it to everyone just because you have to see it to believe it. The narrative is so literal, the music videos are almost redundant, but it only adds to the weirdness. And if I hadn’t watched this, I would’ve never realized that "midget" rhymed with "kitchen." The DVD menu plays the basic kerplop backing track as a loop, so it’s fun just to leave that on and make up your own lyrics to whatever you happen to be doing around the house. "The tea kettle is whistling but I’m out of Darjeeling/So I’ll have to drink this gross Celestial Seasons crap my mother left here last time she visited/Now I’ll check my email…" Also be sure and check out the "Commentary Remix" where you get to watch Kells watch his videos and say things like "See there when I just looked at the camera. I did that ’cause, like, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing." Neither could we, Kells. Neither could we.