#20. Clare Bowditch - What Was Left. The first of 3 Aussie acts on the top 25, Bowditch's record came out at the end of '05 in Oz but it took me a while to get it here. I first heard her on a collection of covers of Neil and Tim Finn songs and then again on another cover compilation doing Rufus Wainwright's "Halleluja". All of this was great stuff, so I decided I wanted to hear her sing her own songs, and to the internet I flew like a flash, to order her CD for a whole lot 'o cash. I've listened to this record pretty much all year and i'm sure it will be one I keep going back to over the years. Favorite Tracks: Divorcee by 23, Little Self Centred Queen, Lips Like Oranges.
#19 Ani DiFranco - Reprieve. This woman just doesn't quit. It seems that year in and year out she has a record to offer. That amount of writing normally means that there are a few tracks on each record that could have been left to be a "b-side" or a free net download, and Reprieve is no different. One thing you always know you'll get from Ani is a great group of well written songs. This record is easy to listen to in the background, but also great to take the time to contemplate. Favorite Tracks: 78% H2O, Millennium Theatre, Hypnotized.
#18. The Cardigans - Super Extra Gravity. I may be one of the only people to be excited about the return of The Cardigans. Their new record comes on the heals of continued success in Europe despite nobody in the states thinking about them since '96's "First Band on the Moon." This new disc has a lot of the same feel as the band's older work, but their maturation is evident too. I have always been a sucker for Nina Persson's vocals, and the rest of the band have a truly unique sound that still rings true. Favorite Tracks: In the Round, I Need Some Fine Wine..., Godspell.
#17. The Dresden Dolls - Yes Virginia. I really enjoy the way the Dresden Dolls approach their music, and the style that is pretty much all their own. This record was panned by people ranging from the music media to some of the groups own fans, for not being enough like their last record. I personally found this record to be much better than their other work. Yes Virginia has all of the Cabaret flair and style that made them note worthy, and yet has a decidedly more polished feel to it, which I see as a good thing. They are still very different to other acts in their approach, but now they have a bit more professional sound. Favorite Tracks: Shores of California, Sing, Backstabber.
#16. Cat Power - The Greatest. Inky and I got the chance to check out Cat Power live in NYC this summer, which was good on a few levels. Chan Marshall had a tough year in '05 leading up to a drunken suicide attempt and thanks to the help of her friends she has fallen back in love with her music. She started up the tour again under her performing name Cat Power and you could tell she was loving performing again. Her music is deep, and impactful without being overly pretentious. Which is more than I can say for many of her fans. The record make a great listen even if you hadn't heard about what Chan was going through when she made it. Favorite Tracks: The Greatest, Willie, Lived In Bars, Living Proof.