Monday, May 17, 2021

Countdown to 30: My Favorite Album From 2005


Mark my words, 2005 will be the last easy year I have for a while. Obviously we're reaching a point when I began listening to new music as it came out, so you're going to have to get buckled in for a wild ride here soon. But not yet. 

My runner-up album for 2005 is an absolute heartbreaker, Death Cab For Cutie's Plans

Plans was the first album I heard by Death Cab, and I heard it not too long after it came out. The album focuses heavily on death. Lead singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard says of it, "One of my favorite kind of dark jokes is, 'How do you make God laugh? You make a plan.' Nobody ever makes a plan that they're gonna go out and get hit by a car. A plan almost always has a happy ending. Essentially, every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time. I really like the idea of a plan not being seen as having definite outcomes, but more like little wishes."

The most popular track from the album is probably "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" or "Soul Meets Body," which were both very popular in the indie music community. The songs that hooked me though were recommended to me by someone on LiveJournal whose name was also Emma, "Marching Bands of Manhattan" and "Crooked Teeth." When I first bought the CD, I was also struck by Gibbard's Lennon-esque "Different Names for the Same Thing." "What Sarah Said" is an absolute tear-jerker nearer to the end of the album. "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" even ended up as the theme song for one year of Vlogbrothers videos.

Plans is beautiful, the songwriting sad and yearning, and at times even upbeat in a sad way. It's not my favorite album of the year though, as much as I love it.

Also in 2005, a college band named Tally Hall released the original version of their debut album, Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, an album named for the incredibly unique interactive, coin-operated museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan, near the University of Michigan where the gentlemen studied. Tally Hall were making a unique style of music. They nicknamed it "wonky rock" and then later "fabloo" when they felt that the former description left people trying to figure out what elements made something wonky rock. 

At times they were compared to Queen, but they also rapped on "Welcome to Tally Hall." Their songs were funny, as in "Banana Man," but could also be touching as in "Be Born," a song encouraging a baby to finally decide to be born into the world. "Greener" borders on pop punk, but "Spring and a Storm" is almost experimental in its oddity. The band also generated some weirdness in their image. They elected to always appear in ties, to help them stand out from other bands floating around campus. They made the uniform just a little weirder by making the ties a unique color for each band member.  The ties were also used as a means to identify them. They had their own web series in 2008 with many of their songs from Marvin's given music videos, as well as sketches and sometimes a plot for the week (let's make an internet show, Zubin is dying, etc.).  

Every song on Marvin's brings something to the table. Each song is just a little different from the last one, no matter who wrote what. The guys shared writing duties on the album, primarily between Rob Cantor, Joe Hawley, and Andrew Horowitz. 

Photo taken in 2005, just after
I presented one of my films
to the committee I received a
grant from.
I became aware of Tally Hall when they were announced as one of the opener's for a Rooney show I was going to see. At that moment in history, I had enough time on my hands to research the openers for every show I went to, and in this case, thank goodness for that! I listened to the other opener's music and felt nothing, but instantly connected to the music of Tally Hall. When I went to the show, I got to speak with Andrew Horowitz for the first time and realized how genuine these guys are. I had some friends of Tumblr the next year that I met through the Monkees community, and they were also fans of Tally Hall. Fast forward a year or two and my sister and I end up seeing the first and last show of their final tour. After the last show ever, everyone lingered, including the band, as though no one really wanted the night to end. Their final show is still one of the best ones I've ever been to. 

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum stands out to me as one of the most interesting albums I've ever heard. I had my boyfriend listen to it when he was trying to figure out how to link different genres on his album. It will always make me smile and it's my favorite album released in 2005.

*Ahem* leaderboard please!

Join me tomorrow for my favorite album released in 2006.

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