Great Albums from the Last 20 Years: 2005

Great albums from 2005 as we count down the last 20 years

As each week passes we get closer and closer to catching up to present day. For now, we are 9 years back and these albums may have you feeling a little nostalgic. In this list we have tons of bands competing against one another for Grammys, Junos, the Polaris Music Prize, and jostling for positions on year-end lists of all kinds. These albums are in no particular order and are just a few of the great albums from 2005.

Sufjan Stevens – Illinois

Illinois (styled as Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the Illinoise) is Stevens‘ 5th studio album and was released on July 4th, 2005. It’s the second record based on a U.S. state (which was part of a planned series of 50) and places, people and events related to Illinois are constantly referenced throughout the entire LP. Later, Stevens admitted that the “planned series” was a joke, 50 albums is a little much. Even though the record is about Illinois, it was recorded and produced in multiple venues around New York City using very lo-fi equipment. Critics praised Stevens‘ growth as a songwriter, which helped him chart on the Billboard 200 for the first time.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah


This is the debut record to come from ‘CYHSY’ and was self-released in the U.S. on September 13th, 2005. The band gained a generous amount of buzz on music blogs all over the web after Pitchfork gave the album a solid rating of 9/10. The success of the record all began after bassist Tyler Sargent started mailing copies of the album from his apartment. The record still managed to sell well over 125,000 copies despite having no record deal in the United States. The album cut “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” was featured on the TV series The Office as well as the 2011 film The Art of Getting By.

Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary

Sub Pop Poster

This is the debut album from the Montreal rockers. The story behind this record’s name is pretty interesting. According to interviews with the group, they were aboard the ocean liner Queen Mary, busted down a ballroom door and started a “violent seance”… they were kicked off the ship. On this debut LP the songwriting and vocal duties were split between guitarist Dan Boeckner and keyboardist Spencer Krug. The album managed to be shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. Pitchfork slotted the record at the #89 spot of their top 200 albums of the 2000s list, and they received the PLUG Music Video of the Year award for “I’ll Believe In Anything”. 


The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday

Separation Sunday is not only the 2nd release from the group, but it’s also the 2nd concept album the band delivered. The LP’s story follows three characters that were included on their previous album Almost Killed Me: Craig, Holly and Charlemagne. The majority of the record was written by Craig Finn and Tad Kubler, with the exception of 3 tracks that included contributions from Franz Nicolay and Galen Polivka. Spin magazine named it #10 on their albums of the year list and Blender noted their sound as “the best bar band in the world.”

The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

Another record that landed on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist in 2005, Twin Cinema was released on August 23th of that year. The initial response from critics was very positive, referencing the wealth of different instruments that can be found on the LP. Throughout the record you’ll hear the harmonica, ebow, melodeon, pump organ, xylophone – and most of them were played by frontman A.C. Newman. PopMatters ranked the record as #1 on their Best Music of 2005 list, and Pitchfork had it as #150 on their top 200 albums of the 2000s list. 


Stars – Set Yourself On Fire


Our Power Party headliners Stars find themselves on our great albums list with their 3rd studio album Set Yourself on Fire, released through Arts & Crafts on March 8th, 2005. I know what you’re thinking, this album could have been included on our previous list for the year 2004, but it wasn’t made available to our friends in the states until the following year. They were nominated for the Alternative Album of the Year at the 2005 Juno Awards, but it was a bittersweet loss with the winner being friend and sometimes Broken Social Scene member, Feist. There were two very notable singles from the LP, both “Ageless Beauty” and a song featured on the TV series the OC “Your Ex-lover is Dead”. 


Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

The debut record from British rockers Bloc Party, Silent Alarm was made available on Valentines day of 2005. The album got a lot of love on the UK charts peaking at #3 but on the american side of things it reached the #114 slot. The record went on to sell over 1 million copies worldwide with help from the singles “Banquet”, “Pioneers”, and the double A-side “So Here We Are/Positive Tension”. Frontman Kele Okereke was praised for his up tempo and passionate delivery, with lyrics focusing on the feelings and hopes of young adults and his views on global politics. NME named it the best album of the year and it was shortlisted for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize.


The National – Alligator


The third studio record to come from our friends The National was released on April 12th, 2005. This record had a significant impact on the growth of their fan base with favourites such as “Mr. November”, “Secret Meeting” and “Abel” found on the LP. The band played album cut “The Geese of Beverly Road” at the wedding of the man who produced the record, Mr. Peter Katis. The album was featured on numerous year end lists with both Uncut and Planet Sound ranking it as the 2nd best album of the year. 


Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene 


This self-titled release is the third record to come from prolific indie rockers ‘BSS‘ and it dropped through Arts & Crafts on October 4th, 2005. In addition to the extensive lineup the group usually has, other artists who provided contributions to the record include K-os, Jason Tait of The Weakerthans, and Murray Lightburn of The Dears. It took the album a few years, but it did achieve gold status in September of 2012. The album went on to win Alternative Album of the Year at the 2006 Juno awards, and it was also shortlisted for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize.

Death Cab For Cutie – Plans

When it was released on August 30th 2005, drummer Jason McGerr noted there was continuity between their previous album and this one saying, “if Transatlanticisim was an inhale, Plans is the exhale.” The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard top 200 and was certified platinum by 2008. The album was recorded over several months at a farmhouse studio in rural Massachusetts where singer Ben Gibbard said was “virtually in the middle of nowhere.” This process proved to be a helpful one from the band gaining them two Grammy nominations for both Best Alternative Music Album of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Coldplay – X&Y

X&Y is the third record to come from our friends across the pond, Coldplay, and was released on the 6th June, 2005. The album was originally supposed to be produced by Ken Nelson but after dissatisfaction from the band with the way things were sounding, they opted for Danton Supple to be brought in. After two very successful previous albums there was a large amount of hype surrounding X&Y, and it delivered by selling 8.3 million albums, the #1 selling record of 2005.

Bright Eyes – I’m awake, It’s Morning

I’m Awake, It’s Morning is one of two Bright Eyes albums to be released on January 25th, 2005 along with Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. Like their previous record, the recording was done in Lincoln, Nebraska at Presto! Studios. The band continued their theme of opening their LPs with a spoken recording, but this one was done by singer Conor Oberst himself. The intro is a short story about two strangers on an airplane about to crash into the ocean, and nearing impact one of the passengers starts to sing the opening track “At the Bottom of Everything”. They performed this song on the Late Late Show but instead of the short story, Oberst dedicated the song to Arnold Schwarzenegger and George W. Bush, who he said are “two men I admire a lot, for their biceps and for their creepy, fascist agendas.” The record was named Rolling Stone’s 8th best of the year, but Planet Sound listed it as #1.

White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan


This is the 5th studio album to come from the White Stripes, as they continued to use the simple colour scheme of red, black and white for their cover art. Get Behind Me Satan was once again recorded at Jack White’s studio Third Man, and although the production was basic, it switched from what were very guitar-driven songs to more piano-driven melodies. There were more instruments that were seldom used prior to this record as well including the mandolin on “Little Ghost”. The album had three singles: “Blue Orchid”, “My Doorbell” and “The Denial Twist” which helped it win the 2006 Grammy for Alternative Music Album of the Year.

My Morning Jacket – Z


The 4th studio LP to come from psych rockers My Morning Jacket, Z was released on October 4th, 2005. The songs on this record came across as more polished then their previous work, making use of synths and incorporating reggae and dub influences. The reverb heavy tracks we had heard before are now a thing of the past, the songs on this album were more focused and shorter. Production duties for Z were left in the hands of John Leckie, famous for his previous work with bands like the Stone Roses and Radiohead. It was the first time the band had someone else produce an album of theirs, as singer Jim James was in charge of that department beforehand. Pitchfork named the LP #146 on their list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s, calling it My Morning Jacket’s “OK Computer.”