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2005 Year-End Artist Survey

Jan 01, 2006 Web Exclusive
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Paul Smith
Maximo Park

Top Ten Albums of 2005

1. Smog: A River Ain’t Too Much To Love - Bill Callaghan has been writing some of the best songs of recent times that concern the human condition. He adds a delicate touch and a warmth to his usual brutal truth-telling.

2. Arthur Russell: World Of Echo - This reissue sounds like a dream might, with moments of beautiful clarity woven into patches of abrasive electric cello. Fragments of Russell’s ache of a voice betray his romanticism and lyrical precision.

3. Pajo: Pajo - A wonderful guitar player cements his reputation as a softly compelling

4. Field Music: Field Music - Music this special doesn’t come along very often. Complicated pop songs combine with strings and personal confusion. Meticulously performed and conceived.

5. Sufjan Stevens: Illinois - Pick any of the songs on this record and it will stand alone as an impeccable vignette. Put them altogether and you get an occasionally overwhelming testament to one man’s unique and humane vision.

6. Electralane: Axes - Driven guitars and krautrock rhythms are added to a strangely orchestral quality to produce an addictive and attractive new direction for rock music.

7. Brian Eno: Another Day On Earth - His ambient works collide with his vocal musings on an album that drifts along in a gorgeous, melancholy, meditative state.

8. Iron & Wine: Woman King EP - Richly descriptive words and ghostly harmonies from Sam Beam, owner of the best musical beard since Garth Hudson. Intimate and absorbing songwriting.

9. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Matt Sweeney: Superwolf - Haunting and humorous beastly sketches from a master wordsmith and a spectral guitarist. Sometimes it roars and sometimes it rambles. A great journey.

10. Sun Kil Moon: Tiny Cities - I am grateful for any opportunity to hear Mark Kozelek’s mournful voice, and on this album of Modest Mouse covers, he transforms the words into his own. Very pretty guitar-playing, too. This guy is a heartbreaker.

What was the highlight of 2005 for either you personally or for the band?

Personally, I was blown away by seeing Les Demoiselles D’ Avignon by Picasso in real life at the MoMA in New York City on a blazing hot summer day. As a band, playing Glastonbury in front of a packed tent just after our album had come out. It felt like a pivotal moment for us in our own country.

What was the low point of 2005 for you?

Losing prized possessions and some dignity after a horrifically drunken night following a triumphant hometown gig.

What are your hopes and plans for 2006?

Recording another album that connects with people around the world, and then getting out on the road to play the songs in person.

If you could drop a copy of one album in the mailbox of every American citizen, what album would it be?

The first Wu Tang Clan album.

Will the iPod, and its ability to combine all genres and its emphasis on individual songs, render the album format irrelevant?


With Kate Bush, Gang of Four, Ray Davies, Scott Walker, and others issuing new releases, what icon needs to return and make another album?

Joni Mitchell.

With the mainstream success of artists like Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, The White Stripes, and Franz Ferdinand, has the meaning of “indie rock” shifted? Has the term lost all meaning?

That term signifies a lifestyle choice now and has done for a number of years. Independent music will never lose its potency if its creators hold true to the term.

If you couldn’t be a musician, what other profession do you think that you’d enjoy and why?

I would love to paint and draw, and was teaching the subject before I was in the band. The perfect job us the one where you feel creative and fulfilled.

Do you feel more or less optimistic (about music, about your personal life, about the world in general) than you did a year ago?

More optimistic, personally, because our music has connected with people on some level, going a tiny way to justify my existence! The world in general seems to fluctuate between chaos and instability, as always.

Arcade Fire broke through in 2004. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Wolf Parade broke through in 2005. Who will be the “it-band” of 2006?

Field Music should be, but won’t be purely because they will never pander to what other people think is cool.

If you had/got to switch careers with another artist or band, who would it be and why?

Prince, so that I could possess that voice and that talent. Oh, and the moves. Especially the splits.

We are now over halfway through the ‘00 decade. What five albums stand out from the last five years as the best?

Life Without Buildings: Any Other City. This is the best, believe me.

What, in your opinion, is the most pressing problem that is affecting the world right now and if you had the power, what would you do to address that problem?

How can anyone pin it down?

Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?

We seem to be surrounded by conflict. Too many barriers. Too many preconceptions.


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