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Reports of Its Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated/2005’s Also-Rans

           

So, as promised, here’s the update with the list of 2005 releases that almost made the best-of list. Before I get to the almost-ready-for-primetime players, however, perhaps a word is in order about how, at least this year, I made my choices.

[Insert visual of taj climbing onto his soapbox].

The primary criterion is that I wanted to include the best albums I had heard, what were to me great collections of songs, through and through. This way of thinking might seem anachronistic to people who have accepted, for whatever reasons, the recording industry/music journalism conceit that, in an age of mp3 downloads, full-length releases are passé, much less important than singles chosen à la carte. The evidence supporting that conceit is, at best, ahistorical. There have been other periods—since the introduction of the 45-rpm single, for example—when some segments of the U.S. population, particularly teenagers and young adults, were more inclined to purchase singles rather than full albums, with the major motivation for favoring singles perhaps being cost. In those selfsame years, however, albums still sold, and many sold quite well, even when, say, the Starland Vocal Band or K.C. and the Sunshine Band were all the rage (Rumors, Hotel California, Frampton Comes Alive or Dark Side of the Moon, anyone?). In other words, the logic that says “why buy an album that sucks when all you want is the single” might be less an indication that current audiences (pace their predecessors) are abandoning albums than it is that they are abandoning overpriced albums that suck. If you release and enthusiastically market material that doesn’t insult their tastes and intelligence at far less than usurious prices, I’m talking to you labels large and small, audiences just might buy them … in large quantities. (This article makes a similar point.)

[Insert visual of taj stepping down from his soapbox.]

The items included in this list most certainly do not suck, but they also are not as consistently good as those that you’ll see listed on the Faves page in a day or two. Each and every one (in the sun) has several high points, but for my tastes, those points are separated by more low points than their counterparts. All are worth checking out, particularly since your tastes and mine probably don’t completely overlap. Indeed, if you’ve been lucky/savvy enough to get your hands on the ECI podcasts, you’ve heard tracks from many of these releases and can seek them out yourself. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you hear. Think about it this way: these are the items that almost made it. My listing them is still an endorsement. They include projects that were largely one-person in project studio affairs as well as super-indie and major-label refugee work—all of which are signs that, at least where my tastes are concerned, the majors need to do some retooling (more on that in a future post). Things that are not on this list, though, well.

Anyway, enough of the pre-ramble. Here are the things that almost made the list. I leave you a day or two to wonder about what did…

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