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The 10 Worst Parts of 2005

By Peter Hepburn | 27 December 2005

Rather than join the cavalcade of voices singing the praise of 2005 or listing away all the terrific albums that came out this year (there were quite a few), it seems like I’m beholden as a critic to paint the other side of the picture, pointing out the shortcomings of the year. So, here goes: the 10 worst parts of 2005!

1) Beck fans. They just don’t like me, but man do they love Beck. Even when he puts out a stale, boring album that’s a subpar reworking of much of his earlier material. The only caveat here is that, in most ways, I fall firmly into this group as well.

2) The Books getting their asses handed to them with Lost & Safe. Okay, so imagine one of the most innovative and Artistically Important bands in America puts out its best album to date. What’s the critical reaction? Indifference bordering on hostility, of course. The backlash hit strong against the Books, which is odd seeing as they seem to be, if anythign, getting better. But I just listen to the music and comment on it; what do I know.

3) Not having a copy of The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle with me for a semester in Chile. I spend weeks washing the taste of Devils & Dust out of my mouth only to find myself in distant lands without one of my favorite records of all time. This was due to the fact that I own the album only on vinyl (used, $4 at Smash Records, Washington DC) and have never got my shit together to just download the thing. Still, five months without “Incident on 57th Street” à “Rosalita” à “New York City Serenade” and one begins to lose track of Great Music.

4) Missing The New Pornographers on tour. With Neko Case. And Dan Bejar. This was also due to being in Chile, and, along with Olivia Tremor Control in NYC, the only concert I really truly regret missing. I’m planning on making up for this by seeing the Silver Jews play as many times as physically possible come March of ’06.

5) Vashti Bunyan’s Lookaftering. Boring, just like her first record.

6) Spoon’s Gimme Fiction. Eno & Daniel manage to take their minimalist rock to its next logical step, it just turns out that it’s a pretty boring place to be. The album is almost untouchable—so perfectly manicured, coldly planned out, and rhythmically impersonal that one is left to marvel at the perfection of it while not actually giving a shit about the record on anything but a technical level. The best moments the band has ever had (see Girls Can Tell and A Series of Sneaks) are when Daniel actually shows some emotion. That seems to have been removed from the vocabulary here.

7) The Constantines’ Tournament of Hearts. Having entirely lost the script, the Constantines wander aimlessly into irrelevance. Listening to this album followed in quick succession by their self-titled debut is enough to bring tears to my eyes. And whose idea was it to let the other guy sing?

8) Devendra Banhart. Only ‘cause he stiffed me on an interview. Still my favorite overly prolific Venezuelan love child hippie.

9) Dave Newfeld. He certainly had his shit together for You Forgot it in People, but I can’t help but blame him for Broken Social Scene being the convoluted mess it turned out to be. Better luck to Ohad Benchetrit in 2006.

10) The Decemberists’ Picaresque. Dropping from their usual three-awesome-songs-per-album ratio to a disappointing one good track on the entire damn thing, Colin Meloy and co. deliver their worst album to date. Admiration for the first two albums seemed always premised on the idea of potential for the future, and while The Tain certainly seemed to be the band making good on that, Picaresque moves in a decidedly different direction.

etc.) There are of course many other albums/events/individuals/movements that fit well onto this list. However, as much as I’d love to write a thousand-odd words on the death of indie rock and the return of new wave, I just don’t have the patience or time (and hopefully you wouldn’t have either to read it). After all, I’ve got my copy of The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle back, so I’ve got things to do.