Best new albums and movies of 2005

2005 was good year for both music and movies. Here are a few of the ALL staff’s favorites from the past year

The Decemberists released one of the top albums of 2005.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Best Albums of 2005:


The White StripesGet Behind Me Satan

With Get Behind Me Satan, the White Stripes delivered one of the most diverse albums of 2005. In this album, listeners can hear some ’80s-style metal, jazz, country, bluegrass and plain old rock-and-roll. Jack White is one of rock’s most versatile musicians, and he is the best pure guitarist since Jimi Hendrix. Of course, he can play just about any other instrument, too. Periodically on Get Behind Me Satan, Jack plays marimba and piano. Almost every song on the album could be a single – they’re poppy and fun, but insightful and musically superb. The bluegrass-tinged “Little Ghost,” the bouncy “Denial Twist” and the Janis Joplin-like “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)” are just a few of the albums highlights. And don’t forget about “Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)” – how can you go wrong with a line like, “So let’s do it, just get on a plane and just do it like the birds and the bees and get to it”?

– Seth Roy


The DecemberistsPicaresque

If an alien civilization was to stumble across a copy of Picaresque amid the floating dust of our exploded planet some time in the far future, it would probably mistake our society for a sea-faring, adventure-seeking band of swashbucklers. And while that may not be the case for most of us the Decemberists definitely are the musket-wielding type. Expertly mixing healthy doses of old-world charm into contemporary hits, the Portland, Ore., natives crafted one of the best albums of 2005 from little more than a string bass and a mandolin. If that wasn’t enough to solidify them as one of the best groups in music today, their stage act, complete with costumes and a large cardboard whale, bowls over all who see it.

– Jason Hall


LCD SoundsystemLCD Soundsystem

If you thought that spine-tingling disco rock was getting stale, think again – LCD Soundsystem gave the subgenre a Chuck Norris-stylized roundhouse kick to the face when it released its self-titled debut last June. “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” is probably the year’s best single, complete with rejuvenating bass lines, hand claps alongside Blue Oyster Cult-influenced cowbell and painfully addictive synthesizers. Even the lyrics will make you want to dance your ass off, with lyrics about fistfights and dancing inspiring a party at all times. Songs like “Tribulations” and “On Repeat” contain more of the same funk-generating beats, with heavy lyrical alliteration that allows the punchy rhythms to become completely subversive. If you find yourself unable to get down to LCD Soundsystem, you’re probably a Yanni fan.

– Ben Breier


Bloc PartySilent Alarm

One of the most inspired and well done albums of 2005 comes from UK natives Bloc Party with their full-length debut Silent Alarm. Silent Alarm goes for an indie rock/punk feel reminiscent of 80’s post-punk group Gang of Four without blatantly ripping them off. The album isn’t one that plays it safe either – the sappy songs (“Blue Light”, “So Here We Are”) avoid being melodramatic by having lyrics that are grounded in reality, such as “Blue Light’s” “You’ll find it hiding in cupboards / It will walk you home safe every night,” while the quicker songs possess truly catchy guitar solos. The true joy of the album comes from lead singer Kele Okereke’s half-spoken, half-sung lyrics to the excellent guitar and drum work. Above all, the album has a consistent flow and keeps you coming back for seconds.

– Andrew Gaug


The Mars VoltaFrances the Mute

The Mars Volta was formed by two former members of At the Drive In – singer Cedric Bixler Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. The band’s 2005 release, Frances the Mute, is its second full length studio album. The album is a mixture of indie and progressive rock, like Coheed and Cambria only better.

– Gabe Gott


Best Movies of 2005:


The Dying Gaul

A perfect mix of top-notch acting (Patricia Clarkson, Campbell Scott and Peter Sarsgaard caught up in an adultery-ridden gay love triangle!), clever screenwriting and nail-biting suspense. The Dying Gaul came and went with little fanfare December, but its oversight is criminal, given the quality of its three lead performances and the twisty script by director Craig Lucas. Forget Brokeback Mountain, The Dying Gaul turns gay relationships amongst “straight” men on its ear, and Clarkson has way more scenery than Michelle Williams to chew as Scott’s suspicious wife. Track this beauty down when it hits video in March.

– Andrew Hampp


Sin City

Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) raised integrity for money-geared, mainstream Hollywood when he succeeded in making the most faithful comic book movie ever. Quitting the Director’s Guild to loyally co-direct with the comic’s legendary creator, Frank Miller (“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”), Rodriguez shot the film entirely in front of a green screen at his Troublemaker Studios in Texas. Kill Bill‘s Quentin Tarantino joined the project to guest direct the tale of deadly prostitutes and cool badasses who battle the corrupt authority of Basin City. Seamless transitions from the comic book to the silver screen left all audiences breathless. The end result was a violent, pen-and-ink world brought to life by fantastic graphics and an amazing cast of characters.

– Ally Melling


Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is by far the most touching, honest and beautiful romance to play on movie screens in years. It’s not a masterpiece because of its controversial subject matter, but because the message of the film hits home to everyone watching. These heroes can’t be who they really are in a society that doesn’t understand them – and who hasn’t felt like that hundreds of times in his own life? And the more the movie explores these two perfectly complex characters, the more we feel for them and ache for them. Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams are perfect, and Ang Lee’s direction is fantastic. Movies don’t get better than this, and I have no doubt in 50 years Brokeback Mountain will be uttered in the same breath as Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind.

– Bob Taylor


Saw II

A large number of horror movies hit theaters in 2005, and Saw II was the best by far.

Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) has returned to teach more life lessons by putting people in terrifying situations that are difficult to survive. The twist – Jigsaw has never killed anybody. His victims kill themselves. This time, Jigsaw’s past is revealed, giving viewers a chance to look deeply at the man creating the awful situations they are watching.

This is one of a few sequels in film history that stands up to the original. The introduction creates unbelievable tension that gets right under the skin and helps hold your attention for the duration of the film. It delivers the gore, suspense and plot twists that horror fans have come to expect. For those of you who think the twists in the sequel can’t match up to the original – think again. This one will hold you on the edge of your seat all the way to the pulse-pounding finish.

– Ryan Haidet