Here, in no particular order, are my favorite songs from 2005.
Washed by the Water, Will Hoge (available for download at Hoge’s web site)
In a song as inspiring as it is inspired, Will Hoge leads a gospel revival for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. “Down here we are washed by the water, the water can’t wash us away.”
Call to Love, Crooked Fingers (from the album Dignity and Shame)
A magical duet capturing the dialogue between a man and the woman whose love he is trying to regain. You’ll be charmed by the catchy pop melody even before you’re engaged by the lyrics.
Your Little Hood Rat Friend, the Hold Steady (from the album Separation Sunday)
Take guitarist Tad Kubler’s blazing power chords, add keyboardist Frank Nicolay’s percussive accompaniment, and top off with singer Craig Finn’s energized rants and you’ve got a rock and roll classic.
Live the Proof, Jim Boggia (from the album Safe in Sound)
This is power pop confection, er., perfection. Boggia perfectly combines a driving rock beat, an astounding pop melody, and uplifting lyrics. “You view a problem like you’re stuck inside it, what if you were born to rectify it… Its no dream, we can begin the world anew. Here and now, Live the Proof.”
Mercy Now, Mary Gauthier (from the album Mercy Now)
Gauthier’s restrained vocals and sparse production give this gospel-based folk ballad a quiet authority. When it was used to accompany images of the devastation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, it became a prayer for America.
Older Girls, the Rudds (from the album Get the Femuline Hang On)
Hands down the catchiest guitar playing of the year, punctuated by some knock-out sax riffs. Only John Powhida could write a song about the biological clock, “When the clocks tick-tocking, the boots will start knocking for the Older Girls…” with a gang of female singers chanting, “1968, who do we appreciate!”
The Girl I Can’t Forget, Fountains of Wayne (from the album Out of State Plates)
The masters of power pop deliver another gem propelled by a knock-out horn section and the band’s trademark sense of humor. “It was a night I can’t remember with a girl I can’t forget.”
Three Words, Todd Thibaud (from the album Northern Skies)
Thibaud crafts a winner with this acoustic-driven rock track that you’ll be humming for days. Lyrically, he consistently delivers with clever lines like “Always caught up in some such drama and I never understood the play.”
Bring It Home Again, Charlie Sexton (from the album Cruel and Gentle Things)/The Worst Part of a Broken Heart, Shannon McNally (from the album Geronimo)
Two hauntingly beautiful songs with a common thread in Charlie Sexton’s sparse production by Charlie Sexton.
I Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long, Hayes Carll (from the album Little Rock)
“Do they do it for the money, do they do it for the love” sings Hayes Carll in this ode to life as an aspiring songwriter in Nashville, “Bourbon eyes and stolen pistols seems all that comes my way, I’m gonna burn down all my bridges, grab a car, and drive away.” Lazy in musical feel but not in craftsmanship, this track firmly establishes Carll as a rising country talent.
My Favorite Revolution, Eugene Edwards (from the album My Favorite Revolution)
Ok, so this list is heavily weighted to power pop… This powerhouse track hearkens back to early Elvis Costello with guitars that pack a punch and a melody that’s infectious.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.