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The Best in Music 2005

The list of openly gay musicians grows every year, increasing the range of styles and genres from gay (and gay-adjacent) artists. Meanwhile, our musical hetero icons and newcomers keep turning out the music we love to hear. Dont see your top picks on the lists? Submit a comment and tell us which 2005 groove we missed. Mikel Wadewitzs Top 10 Albums of 200510) Various Artists, The Best Mashups in the World Ever Are From San Francisco Sure, there arent any original songs on this collection, but how can you resist a pairing of Kraftwerks The Model and RuPauls Supermodel or Missy Elliotts Get Ur Freak On and Le Tigres Deceptacon? Um, you cant. 9) Tracy Chapman, Where You Live Chapmans fame has waxed and waned over the years, with fans waiting for her to catch some of the spark of her 1988 debut. Where You Live finally delivered the intimate and hard-hitting songs we always knew she had in her. 8) Eric Himan, Dark Horse Hunky folk-music pin-up boy (yes, there is such a thing) makes good on the promise of his earlier albums, delivering simmering, heartfelt tunes about love, love, and love. 7) Martha Wainwright, Martha Wainwright Rufus sister proved she had some tricks up her own sleeve with this commanding slice of offbeat folkand solidified her own queer-icon status with songs like Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole and Ball and Chain. 6) 50 Foot Wave, Golden Ocean Proving that punk music can be made by women approaching 40, Kristin Hershshe who sounds and swears like a longshoremanplugged back in her electric guitar and made the term last gasp nymphomania both sexy and scary. 5) Sigur Rs, Takk Lead singer Jnsi Birgisson makes less sense than the Cocteau Twins Elizabeth Fraser, but the Icelandic quartets fourth album makes you believe in the hidden people of the countrys lava flows. (And did we mention his boyfriend helped design the album cover?) 4) Sufjan Stevens, Illinois Is he or isnt he? No one seems sure, but it doesnt diminish the power of Stevens majestically beautiful folk-pop on this, the second installment of his ambitious 50 states project. He even manages to make a heartbreaking ballad about John Wayne Gacy. 3) Jennifer OConnor, The Color and the Light OConnor was the years most interesting queer artist we never heard of. Her eye-opening album got her a deal with Matador Records and reminded us how good literate folk-rock can be. 2) Antony and the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now A gender-bending, genre-busting artist, Antonys riveting cabaret-inflected piano ballads are like little stabs to the heart. You feel each and every one, and yet you cant move out of the way. 1) Sleater-Kinney, The Woods The trio from Portland, Ore., channels their inner Led Zeppelin and come out swinging. Bombastic, challenging, and chill-inducing, The Woods is possibly this accomplished bands finest moment. Barry Walters Top 10 Albums of 200510) Pet Shop Boys, Back to Mine The Pets program two discs drawn from their own record collections: Chris Lowe favors vintage dance-floor anthems and Dusty Springfield, while Neil Tennant connects the dots between contemporary classical, ambient electronicaand Dusty Springfield. 9) Le Tigre, This Island Remixes [EP] Eight remixes spread over three songs means this EP isnt meant for sustained listening, but Junior Seniors remix of Nanny Nanny Boo Boo and Morels rearrangement of After Dark particularly improve on the already fine originals. 8) Madonna, Confessions on a Dancefloor Not quite the disco extravaganza this was hyped up to be, the enduring goddess nevertheless generates her gayest music in ages, particularly on I Love New York. 7) The Tears, Here Come the Tears Metrosexual London rockers Suede articulated queer love and loss in the AIDS-ravished early 90s, and here ex-Suede singer Brett Anderson and guitarist Bernard Butler reunite to recall those dramatic days, particularly on The Ghost of You and A Love As Strong As Death. 6) Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better Although theres nothing here as incredibly gay as their debuts Michael, the second disc by this Scottish dance-rock group does get extra points for including the line Your famous friend, I blew him before you on Do You Want To, its first single. 5) Kanye West, Late Registration The ultra-hot producer-MC dared to decry both hip-hop homophobia and presidential racism this year, and his sophomore disc is the most musical rap album to hit the mainstream sincehis first one. 4) Antony & the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now From Peter Hujars haunting deathbed photo of Candy Darling on its cover to the delicately tortured art-songs inside, Antonys super-queer aesthetics are as finessed as they are severe. 3) Hey Willpower, Dance [EP] Imperial Teens Will Schwartz leaves behind guitars and indie-rock for flagrantly fizzy dance-pop on a four-track teaser that conflates queer sex, ridiculous dance routines, and franchised donuts. 2) Atomic Swindlers, Coming Out Electric Ornate and audacious lesbian-fronted space-rock that recalls Ziggy-era David Bowie fronted by Pink Floyd? More, please. 1) Soul Jazz Records Presents Nicky Sianos The Gallery Wanna imagine what it was like to be queer, funky, and fabulous in pre-plague Manhattan? This is the gay 70s disco underground chronicled in Andrew Hollerans novel Dancer From the Dance.David Ciminellis Top 10 Albums of 200510) Ari Gold, Love Will Take Over: The Re-mixes OK, I admit I bought the Bruno Gmnder coffee table book Ari Gold not for the free CD that came with it but for the artful photos of the buff Bronx babe that it showcased. Once I got over staring at the photos I found the remixes of his dance-pop hit Love Will Take Over (from his 2004 release Space Under Sun) was harder to get out of my head than his half-naked photos. 9) The Bobbleheads, Automatic Fun If R.E.M. married the Barenaked Ladies, their offspring would probably sound a lot like the easy, breezy melodic pop harmonies on this 2005 Out Music Awardwinning trios Automatic Fun.8) Jinx Titanic, Booted and Cuffed This groovy party-rock band may have had to change its name from Super 8 Cum Shot for marketing reasons, but they havent lost their sense of humor or their skill at cranking out cool, catchy rockers about everything from leather sex to bagging porn boys. 7) Three Dollar Bill, Parody of Pleasure In 2005, Three Dollar Bill survived lineup changes and frontwoman Jane Dangers motorcycle accident. Not ones to go down for the count, Chicagos homocore rockers jumped back up on their socio-political soapbox and set American apathy on fire with rock-and-roll rants set to a steady beat and unpredictable lyrical lambasting. How can you not love a band whose musical state of the union address includes songs like Jesus is Crying and Patriot Wact. Eat your heart out, Green Day. 6) Ani DiFranco, Knuckle Down Buffalo, New Yorks poster girl for bi curiosity puts aside the political for the personal with a dozen soft, subtle, and undeniably empowering tracks about love, lust, and loss. Only this folk-punk poet could write a song comparing a lover to a Seeing Eye Dog in a way that would make even Patti Smith envious. 5) Madonna, Confessions on a Dance Floor The rest of this disc is so good that its easy to forgive Madonna for rhyming New York with dork on the one weak track, I Love New York. (Then again, at least its not as bad as using super-duper and Mini-Cooper in a rap rhyme.) 4) Melissa Etheridge, Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled Melissa Etheridges take on two classic rock songs (the Janis Joplin staple Piece of My Heart and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Refugee) is in good company among her 15 other timeless tracks, including the inspiring I Run for Life, a classic on the horizon. 3) Bob Mould, Body of Song The ex-Hsker D frontmans body isnt the only thing thats changed (from husky to hunky). The newly pumped-up pioneering pop-punker melds rock, pop, and electro experimentations into one killer body of songs. 2) Judas Priest, Angel of Retribution This is the original bands first release in 15 years, and the first since lead singer Rob Halford publicly came out of the closet. As soon as Halford belts out his signature scream on the opening track, the appropriately titled Judas Rising, he proves to macho metal heads everywhere that though he may be a big ol homo, he can still kick some serious butt. 1) Brian Grillo, Stomping Back on Fire Stripped down, raw, and unplugged, former Mr. Fancy never sounded betteror cut closer to the heartthan with this searing collection of edgy, dangerously personal punk-rock blues. Grillo is the closest thing the homocore scene has to having its own Eddie Vedder or Jim Morrison. The only difference is, this ardent singer/songwriter eloquently rambles about sex, politics, and being burned by celebrity instead of L.A. women and unstable 13-year-olds. Brian Dillards Top 10 Albums of 200510) Superchumbo, Wowie Zowie Few exploit the dark-yet-cheesy vibe of progressive house better than producer Tom Stephan, who drafts a wide range of veteran divas (including ex-boyfriend Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys) for this rumbling, off-kilter debut album. 9) Pet Shop Boys, Battleship Potemkin Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe take a break from electro-pop for this sweeping, classically inspired soundtrack to Sergei Eisensteins 1925 silent film masterpiece. 8) Kym Mazelle, The Pleasure Is All Mine Fifteen years after her last full-length outing, the Chicago house diva returns from the guest-vocalist wilderness for a surprisingly moody collection of crisp, simmering floor-fillers. 7) TIE: LCD Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem / The Juan MacLean, Less Than Human These mainstays of the hipster-approved DFA label make retro-futurist dance anthems with ferocious attention to detail and plenty of grit; who says the Beatles, the Fall, and Pink Floyd cant rub elbows with New Order and Derrick May? 6) Saint Etienne, Tales from Turnpike House Gooey backing vocals, disco thump, suburban nostalgia, and English pride: Fifteen years in, Sarah Cracknell and company still have stars in their eyes and an unquenchable appetite for cosmopolitan pop. 5) Sing-Sing, Sing-Sing and I When Lush looked up from their shoes for the last time in 1995, who knew that Emma Andersons follow-up project would be maintaining the dream-pop tradition a decade lateror that the music industry would be stupid enough to let an album this good remain self-released? 4) Feist, Let It Die Her roommate Peaches may be the sleazy pansexual icon, but this Canadian chanteuse unleashes sublime MOR hooks and contemplative songwriting on her Gonzales-assisted debut. Wonder wholl have more staying power? 3) Various Artists, Six Feet Under: Everything Ends HBOs Fisher clan may be pushing up daisies, but this eclectic soundtrack provides the perfect eulogyespecially on Sias exquisite Breathe Me, which accompanied Claire Fishers final fade-out in the series finale. 2) Sleater-Kinney, The Woods Ex-girlfriends Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (along with ace drummer Janet Weiss) trade in their angular punk moves for a collection of eerie, classic rockinspired songs about things that go bump in the night. 1) Kate Bush, Aerial She spent the last 12 years showing us how to be invisible, but art-rock icon Kate Bush returns with her most ambitious and rewarding set since 1985s Hounds of Love.
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