The self-titled debut from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was one of the biggest buzz albums of 2005. I'm not really sure why. I've listened to it three or four times now and while it's definitely a good album, I really don't see it as a huge standout from all the different stuff I listened to last year. It's a solid pop album and I wouldn't mind seeing them when they play the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill on March 9th, but for me The Eels' Blinking Lights and Other Revelations is still my favorite album of 2005.
I had never heard The Eels before I heard the single Trouble With Dreams on Sirius' Left of Center but once I bought the Blinking Lights album I was blown away. I promptly went out and bought several other Eels' albums. One of those albums was their debut called Beautiful Freak. It's a fantastic, experimental pop/folk album. My favorite tracks are My Beloved Monster (which I already knew from the fantastic Shrek soundtrack) and Novocaine for the Soul. It's hard to describe the Eels. They are experimental, but still have a bit of stripped down sound that's not too complex -- a little more mellow than most bands you'd classify as experimental. They remind me a bit of a folksy Beck. I've got a few more of their albums to check off the list soon and based on these first two, I have high expectations.
The final album I'll review today is Paul Westerberg's Folker. I haven't heard a thing from Westerberg since I discovered him through two songs on the soundtrack of Cameron Crowe's Singles back in 1992. I absolutely loved the tune Dyslexic Heart from that soundtrack but had never really heard anything else Westerberg had done. I picked up Folker as a free download during my 100 Free Songs promo from eMusic (a non-DRM'd download service I highly recommend!). My favorite tune is the first one Jingle, which just happen to hit me at the perfect time, while I was attending a Sales & Marketing conference last week in Phoenix. While I didn't find anything here that rivals Dyslexic Heart, I enjoyed this collection of singer-songwriter material, and obviously, the price was right!